The final disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi's characters from her manga Inuyasha are not mine. However, this plotline and the manipulation of her characters' personalities were. Thank you for unknowingly letting me borrow them, Takahashi-sama. However, Arena, James, O'Hara, Ron, Samantha, Paul, and other characters mentioned in this story that has never made an appearance in the manga or anime of Inuyasha are my own creations. Mine! BWAHA! Please don't borrow them without my knowing.
Final Author's Note: It's here. The final chapter. Relief. Dismay. Contentment. Doubt. I'm twisted by conflicting emotions. This has been my baby. My most popular and easily written fiction, now over:::sniff:::
Of course, it wouldn't have been as popular or such a joy to write if not for you, my wonderful and caring readers and reviewers. I thank you ever so much for your patronage of questions, concerns, flames, encouragements, and praises. I read every single one and kept them close to my heart (well, maybe not the flames). God bless you all! And please don't make yourself scarce! This is not my last fic, not by far.
Goodbye, everyone. Huggles!
Now get reading!
NOTE! This final chapter is dedicated to Szahara: Hope this keeps you entertained! Oh, and let your roommate know that this is dedicated to her as well! Buh-bye. :::cries:::
The Silent Hanyou
He held the stems tenderly against his chest, along with the rolled up parchment, and breathed in the sweet scent of fresh flowers and dew. Serenity bathed this place, sewing peace and nostalgia within the atmosphere, and it was as if by the sun's golden kiss upon the stone, God was lending a hand, to help him…to help him say goodbye.
A real hand of flesh, blood, and bone weighed heavily on his shoulder, giving strength, and indicating that it was time.
Eyes of love and quiet respect watched him as he took his few steps forward. He remembered just hours before another walk that he had done, and his ears were consumed from the ghostly sound of applause and screams and whistling.
The hand fell away and he didn't look back. He grew closer to his destination and his heart filled with an indescribable emotion. It caused a small smile to travel along his lips.
"Hello father. Hello mother. I have wonderful news."
There was no reply, no warm recognition or greeting but a breeze then combed through his hair. Inuyasha closed his eyes and allowed the cool cleansing of tears to tickle down his cheeks. By the scent of salt in the air, he was not the only one to leave society's rules behind at the gate.
He looked back at the marble, pallid and pure. His parents shared a headstone, and their names were carved eloquently, close and intimate. It was always their wish to be together, even at the end.
Inuyasha went down to his knees and bowed low, laying the bouquet of simple lilies at the base. They had been his mother's favorite. He still remembered the elated laugh she would give when his father would surprise her with them at the end of a long hard day. Inuyasha then opened up the parchment, his diploma, and laid it down as well, only to have it roll back in on itself.
"Now the person ye all have been waiting for. He has dealt with more tragedies and difficulties than any other student I have ever encountered. You know his story, you know his past; he's been on every news station and television show the world over. Can ye believe there was a time he didn't speak?"
Laughter and stifled chuckles echoed along the gymnasium walls.
"We must all agree that he is a remarkable boy, a survivor, a one stubborn and determined student and now the day he has waited for is here. Please put ye hands together for the son of Touga and Izayaoi Takahashi, valedictorian and one of Shikon High's most memorable students, Inuyasha!"
He straightened and whispered throatily, having to take a deep breath before finally emitting, "I did what I promised you, mother. I…I've graduated." Inuyasha laughed stiffly. "And actually, I was…I was valedictorian. I had to make a speech and everything. Ron Smith, remember him? He even recorded it and is going to show it on his T.V. show. Oh right, I forgot to tell you that he quit his job as a news reporter. He moved back home to the states but came to visit and see my friends and I graduate today."
"Your speech was great kid." Ron clapped him on the back.
"D-Don't you think it was a little too short?"
"Those are the most memorable. Did you know Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address was only about four minutes?"
The man nodded, "I'm sure nobody here will ever forget it."
His fingers twisted around each other, him struggling to keep his voice level. "I got accepted at a college too. I…I'm not sure what I should major in. B-But Kagome is going there also. I told you both about her. We've been going out for over three years now." And I'll be asking her tonight. Inuyasha added silently.
"It's here! It's here! Inuyasha, our letters, they're here!" Kagome ran into the living room, heaving and sweating. She waved the envelopes jaggedly in the air.
"No way! Let me see!" She handed it to him and Inuyasha read the formal lettering with rising excitement and dread. "Let's open them on three okay?"
"Two…Hey! You were supposed to wait on three!" Kagome pouted and followed her boyfriend's actions. They read silently.
"Oh my gosh…"
"What did yours say?"
"You go first."
Inuyasha swallowed, "At the same time?" She nodded.
"I MADE IT!" They yelled at the same time.
"No way, you did?"
"Oh my gosh…"
"Do you know what this means?"
"WE'RE GOING TO THE SAME COLLEGE!" They bounced around the room, punching the air and dancing on the couches. "COLLEGE!"
"Sake's on me tonight!"
The hush was both soothing and uncomfortable. Soon Inuyasha found himself launching in a one-sided conversation and he didn't care that there was an audience standing behind him any longer.
"Miroku and Sango are going to another college, but it's not too far away from ours. We're planning to visit each other on weekends, and…you know, take Shippo, Rin, and Kohaku to fun places, like the beach or something. Rin, Shippo, Kanna and Kohaku are doing great in school by the way. Kaede's determined to stay principal until they graduate also. She'll live forever, I'm sure of it. Kohaku's been living with Shippo and his parents, and they're both going to be trying out for basketball soon. I know, I know, Shippo's small but he's fast."
"You're going down, Kohaku!" The little kit jumped for the ball but Kohaku only raised it above his head, too high for Shippo to reach.
Basketball was their bonding sport, an activity that proved to help Kohaku's healing process. His memories with Naraku were fuzzy but there were still times that he woke up from disturbing nightmares. Basketball was the one thing that helped him feel normal, that helped him to join the outside world again.
Kanna's was art. In the beginning, her pictures were horrible and twisted, consisting only of blacks and blues. But as her counseling continued and with the love of her new family and friends, she too began to heal like Kohaku. It was soon discovered as well that Kanna had developed a little crush on Sango's little brother. Her paintings for him were the most elaborate and beautiful.
She and Rin would spend hours together, they had become fast friends, painting and coloring pictures for their loved ones. Most of them would go to Shippo and Kohaku. Kanna would shyly hand it to her crush while Rin would boldly kiss hers on the cheek. Shippo acted like that was gross, but everyone knew he secretly enjoyed it.
"You can do it, Shippo! Jump!" Rin yelled from the sidelines. Kanna clapped her delicate palms together, her ivory cheeks now tinged with the fairest hint of pink.
"Go Kohaku." She called quietly.
"Hey, watch this girls!" Shippo winked, somersaulted through Kohaku's legs, climbed up his back and batted the orange ball out of the boy's hands. Laughing, he bounded after it.
"Ah man." Kohaku groaned. "Come on, Shippo, that's cheating!"
"Nu-uh! Your height is cheating!"
Rin and Kanna jumped to their feet and applauded. "Yay!"
Inuyasha paused and smiled, "You guys should be proud of Sesshomaru by the way. He's doing great with Rin and Kanna. And guess what? He and Kagura are even expecting one of their own too! Not sure if it's a boy or a girl yet, but it like he's told me plenty of times, he doesn't 'care either way as long as the child is healthy.'"
"We're getting a new baby, sister!" Rin grabbed Kanna's hands and twirled themselves around in a circle.
"Wow. When is he coming?" Kanna whispered.
"You mean she." Rin paused and tapped her chin. "You know sister Kanna, I don't know. Let's ask Fluffy!" Rin beamed and the girls skipped off, Rin dragging Kanna by the hand. "Fluffy?"
"Yes, Rin, Kanna. What is it?" Sesshomaru peered down at them over his reading glasses.
"When will the new baby come?"
Sesshomaru pushed his glasses higher up the bridge of his nose, "In about nine months, Rin."
The girls pouted. "Ah, that's a long time!"
"Yes, it is." Sesshomaru noticed Kanna twirling her foot along the carpet and understood that it was her silent way of wanting to ask something as well. "Yes, Kanna? Do you have a question too?"
Kanna nodded. "Um…I was wondering…where do babies come from anyway?"
Rin hopped in excitement, "Yes! Yes, Rin wants to know too! Where do babies come from, Fluffy?"
Sesshomaru blanched. "U-uh, K-Kagura? Just a second girls, um…Kagura! Kagura! The girls want to ask you something!" He got out of there fast, without waiting for Kagura's reply.
Rin and Kanna glanced at each other in confusion.
"I think it's a secret."
"Yeah. Adults are weird."
A petal from one the lilies, fell off and the wind pulled it to his right knee. Inuyasha picked it up and gently caressed it. "They made their own business by the way. I don't really understand what they do but it's conjoined with Arena and James' company in America. They came to visit today too, along with their little boy Paul. He's two and really smart, he already knows how to read a little and can speak Japanese and English! It's amazing. He's actually been teaching English to all of us. I know a few words." Inuyasha laughed heartily. "But I'm not too good at it."
"Kitty. Kiiiiitttty." Paul slapped Inuyasha's knee, slurring the word long and loud. "Inu say, Inu say."
Inuyasha chuckled, "Um…Kaaa…"
"No, no! Inu silly. Kitty. Kitty!" Paul giggled and twisted around in glee. His sandy brown locks bouncing lightly on his head. "Kitty!"
"Oh, Kitty!" Inuyasha poked his round toddler belly. Paul doubled over in laughter.
"Yay! Inu say kitty!"
"Thanks to you, Paul. You're a great teacher!"
Paul smiled, clapping his hands. "Yay!"
The hanyou sobered and added, "Sesshomaru and his squad aren't agents anymore, like I told you awhile ago. But O'Hara is teaching his own karate classes, or something of the like. He's really good and making a fine profit. He can't do bills or taxes to save his life though, so he has to have his parents help him." Inuyasha chuckled. "I just met them today. They're very nice people and live way on the other side of Japan. Did I mention that O'Hara's engaged? Her name is Samantha and she's from Britain. She's perfect for him, and boy can she make a cup of tea."
"I'm sorry! Looks like I made the peppermint tea a tad too strong. I apologize. Guess I should leave the tea making to my demon cutie." Samantha, a darling woman in the depths of a rich youth, tousled O'Hara's hair. O'Hara turned bright red.
"Samantha." He stammered.
She smiled, her jade eyes glittering wickedly. "Oh right, I also forgot not to embarrass you. Oops. Pardon me, my mistake!" Her smile only grew bigger when he stared at her in aggravated dismay.
Inuyasha liked her already.
There were plenty of smothered laughter and scoffing behind him, lightening up the mood and causing the silent graveyard to sparkle and warm up. Inuyasha continued to laugh himself; his heart light and tears now dry.
"Reporters have finally stopped following us everywhere. There were people from all over the world wanting to make documentaries or biographies about us. Remember? It was so annoying! Things are finally starting to quiet down though. Of course, it's far from being normal." Inuyasha bowed his head, his eyes staring into the middle distance. Everybody waited.
He started again with a slow effort. "There are still some people who hate me, who hate all half-breeds. But mom and dad, it's so much better than before. There are more couples like you. And people are even adopting hanyous! Laws have been passed and…it's amazing. People I don't even remember, from years ago, have come up to me and…and apologized or asked me for forgiveness. Even this bull demon and wolf demon who would beat up a few years back."
"I just…you know…I…I didn't know…I was…everyone was doing it and…"
Inuyasha waited, wondering vaguely if he was dreaming.
"Just…sorry 'kay? If I…if we could make it up for you…we would. I…I know what it's like to lose your parents." The bull demon, his name Kohei, could not meet the hanyou's gaze. He had grabbed Inuyasha's shoulder from a group congratulating him about his speech and had just blurted out an apology, after a good nudge from his wolf demon friend.
The wolf now, Akihiro, patted his friend's shoulder. "We both do. Sorry, man. We…uh…good speech." He cleared his throat uncomfortably.
Inuyasha nodded, licking his lips, "Um…thanks and…" He tilted his head uncertainly, "Thanks." Inuyasha slowly smiled. "Thanks."
Akihiro and Kohei grinned themselves, a soft relief reflecting in their eyes.
Inuyasha tossed his head in astonishment. "Yeah…its just…things have changed dramatically. And…I think you two were the ones who started it."
Never hate who you are or who created you.
"Thanks mom…dad…it's good to see you again. We'll be leaving for college soon but I'll come back to visit, don't worry. I…uh…" Now that the aura of reminiscence and melancholy had passed, Inuyasha grew more aware of the people watching him and the words he had uttered. He swallowed and said, "I love you.
Inuyasha bowed low, let out a steady breath, and came to his feet. The hand of flesh and blood was back on his shoulder, patting softly, telling him good job, good words. Inuyasha looked back and smirked softly at his older brother. Sesshomaru looked older but more refreshed, the years of seeing death and violence behind him now. He gave a curt nod.
Inuyasha stepped back.
It was his turn now. But Sesshomaru, for it was his way, would do so silently, would say goodbye in mind but not of mouth. It didn't matter.
Inuyasha rejoined the group. Everyone was there, even Ron. It could be easily considered unorthodox but it didn't matter to him. This was his family, just as much as the two in heaven.
Kagome welcomed him with open arms, her eyes glittering with tears, and kissed his cheek. "Good job, Inuyasha."
It was over.
Inuyasha lumbered across the lawn, collapsing his fatigued body against the Goshinboku tree. In the few years he had stayed with the Higurashis, this was his favorite place on the property. In his mind, he had claimed it as his own, as his place to muse and mull over things.
The massive plant was lush and fat with freshly growing leaves and pink flower buds, welcoming spring with open branches. Its sweet perfume, of flora and wood, relaxed the graduated hanyou as he closed his eyes.
To think about it, to try and accept it, was difficult. It was over. His promise was complete. He had graduated.
What to do now?
What are you talking about? You have college and not to mention…that. His palm immediately rested on the bulge in his pocket. He pulled the object out and glided his fingers softly over the velvet. His veins went sharp with cold adrenaline and he shifted in excitement and nervousness.
He was probably going to mess the whole thing up but there was no doubt in his mind about her response. Well…the conversation after her response had him a bit edgy. She would most likely scoff at the idea of doing it before college or having to plan through college or having to wait until after college. Inuyasha felt a little foolish. Maybe he should wait?
"Were you nervous?"
Sesshomaru looked up from his coffee and newspaper, "What do you mean, little brother? Nervous about what?"
The hanyou twisted in his chair uncomfortably and with a tinge of annoyance, "You know! To Kagura. How did it go? How did you do it? Were you nervous?"
The demon stared pointedly, unseeing at the headlines before realizing what Inuyasha had meant. He swallowed and murmured, "Oh."
"Was that why you came to visit today, Inuyasha? Can't think of how to ask?" He folded the paper neatly and downed his cup, grinning wickedly over the rim. " Nervous?"
Inuyasha growled, "Well, duh that was why and no! No…uh, I'm not nervous and I know how to ask. I was just…wondering how you did it…" The mutt punched his knee, "So tell me already!"
His older brother laughed, "Would you like to tell him, Kagura, my dear?"
The woman, who had been eavesdropping from the kitchen, came into the perimeter, drying her hands on a dishtowel. It was a bizarre sight indeed, to see her doing household chores. Inuyasha was much more accustomed with picturing her with a gun and handcuffs.
Kagura smirked, "I don't know, honey. You'd tell it a lot better than me. After all, it was…very romantic."
Sesshomaru, shockingly, grew a bit red and he coughed uncomfortably in his hand. Inuyasha caught the sarcasm in the woman's voice and asked confusedly, "What? How did he do it?"
"Well!" She pulled up a chair and sat down, enthusiastically sitting tall and erect, ready to tell the tale.
Sesshomaru panicked, grabbing her hand, "Kagura…don't you dare." He growled with warning.
Kagura wasn't fazed by the dangerous tenor. She rolled her eyes and patted his knuckles. "Fine. I'll save that story and embarrass you later."
"Wait, come on, tell me! I have to know now. What did he do?" Inuyasha leaned forward with apprehensive amusement. Another way to torture his older brother? He simply had to know. It was essential!
Kagura shook her head, "Sorry Inuyasha. Not today."
"But--!" Her pointed glare zipped his lips and Inuyasha sighed, "Fine."
Sesshomaru exhaled in relief. Saved by the wife.
"But don't think I'll forget about this."
But only for now. The dog demon winced.
Kagura laughed in delight and rested her chin in the palm of her hand. It hadn't taken long for her to learn to laugh so freely. Freedom did that; love did that. Now she had both.
"It doesn't matter how you do it, Inuyasha, or how you ask. It just depends if it comes from the heart. Kagome will love it any way it's done and her answer will never change, you know that." The wind demon interlaced her fingers with that of her husband's, the humor now dwindling. "Love doesn't ask for perfect words or perfect circumstances, only that it's sincere."
Inuyasha nodded, smiling softly, "Yeah, okay." He gave another curt nod, feeling more determined. " Thanks Kagura, big brother. I'll see you guys later." He stood from the table and started to walk to the door.
"Good luck, Inuyasha." Sesshomaru muttered before he left.
Yeah, I'll definitely need it.
"They're finally gone!"
Inuyasha gasped and bumbled with his little object before finally resting it on the grass behind him. Kagome slid the kitchen door closed with her elbow before making her way towards him. She was in her pajamas and was carrying two mugs of, by the smell, warm tea.
Her smile was bright and her steps were still as jumpy and hyperactive as earlier that morning when receiving her diploma. Inuyasha couldn't understand how she could still be so energized. After the speech he had to do at the end of the procession and not to mention the visit with his parents, he was wiped.
"You look tired," he quipped sarcastically and accepted his mug, goose bumps riding up his arms by the heat.
Kagome giggled and plopped down beside him. "There's no way I can fall asleep."
"Then why didn't you go partying with everyone? You said they left, right?" He took a sip and groaned in pleasure at the taste.
"Yeah, it took them long enough to do get out the door. And I have to say; Miroku and Sango have clever convincing skills. They managed to convince O'Hara and even his parents to join them."
Inuyasha snorted, "You're joking. They'll be real party animals."
Kagome nodded in agreement, relaxing against his shoulder. Inuyasha shifted to get more comfortable and prayed that she hadn't seen the "object".
"They had tried to convince me to come too but I know you were tired and besides…I thought it would be nice to spend our first night as graduates alone…together." Kagome breathed in deeply and stared up at the stars. "It's beautiful out here."
They rested in silence, long after their cups had been emptied and as the minutes ticked by, Inuyasha's heart started to beat faster. He needed to do it tonight. This was perfect, he knew.
"Yeah?" She mumbled and her arms wrapped around his middle.
"Well, I…there was something that I wanted to ask…to ask you…and…"
"Hey…what's this?" Kagome straightened and in her delicate fingers…was the "object".
Inuyasha's insides froze and shattered. "No…no, don't look at that!" He tried to grab at it but, though rare it was, Kagome managed to dodge his slashing palm.
"Hey, what's your problem? What is it? Is it special?"
"Yeah, it's special but you can't look at…no! No, don't open—"
She had opened the "object".
It had been a velvet-layered box.
Inside was a diamond ring.
A wedding ring.
Kagome's hands trembled as she flittered her eyes over the beautiful heart-shaped stone. It was tinted pink and was nestled on a golden band. "It's…it's gorgeous. Is it…is it yours?" It can't…could it…no…right?
"Yeah." Inuyasha huffed dejectedly. "It's mine."
Inuyasha stared down at his lap before meeting her eyes, "Well, no actually. It's not really mine." Guess this is the best time.
"Wait…no?" Kagome scrunched her brows, wondering why she was fighting against tears.
"No." Inuyasha gently caressed her wrist before taking out the ring. Don't mess this up, man. He then slid up until he was on one knee. "It's yours."Oh…
"Inuyasha…" She breathed his name, feeling warmth trickle down her cheeks.
"Kagome," Inuyasha coughed, clearing his throat, and she then noticed his pale complexion and puppy dog-ears, which flicked around haphazardly. It was true. "Will you marry me?"
We're only eighteen. We have to go to college. We can't be preparing for a wedding while studying for midterms. We can't do this now. We need to wait. But that would take four years or more. We can't wait that long. We can't…we can't…
Those thoughts fluttered at the speed of light and crashed to death just as fast. Kagome tackled the boy, screaming, "YES! Inuyasha, YES! Of course I'll marry you!"
No hesitation. No questions. No scoffing. And there was none after the known reply afterwards. Inuyasha tried to bring them up, struggling through his shocked stiff tongue. "W-we…we can wait after college or…we don't need to…whatever you want to do, Kagome."
But she wouldn't have any of that. She kissed him, again and again, silencing his attempt to create coherent sentences. "Let's do it now."
Kiss. "We have time before we leave for college. Let's get married now. We'll be husband and wife while we go to school! Won't that be fun?"
"B-But…are you sure?" Kiss. "You wouldn't mind? Because I'd l-like to but I wasn't sure…" Kiss.
"Of course I would! What? Wait? You got to be kidding! I wanted to marry you three years ago!" Kiss. Kiss.
Kiss.Three years ago…from the very beginning…
Inuyasha smiled against her lips and the shock melted, replacing it with hot-blooded excitement. YES! Kagome mock-screamed as he grabbed her around the waist and jumped to his feet, then twirling her around and around. "Yes! Yes!"
"Inuyasha, you dope, stop! I'm getting dizzy!"
The hanyou, bright faced and definitely no longer tired, placed her back on the ground. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but Kagome, man! I've been pulling my hair out for months, wondering what you'd think and…I'm sorry that the stone is a little small but I wanted to engrave it also and…"
"Yeah! See?" He still had the ring in his hand and Inuyasha angled it so that she could read inside the loop under the dim porch lighting. My love. My light. My angel. My best friend.
"Oh." Kagome sniffed, sliding the ring on her finger and hugging her fist to her chest. "I love it, Inuyasha. But not as much as I love you, you silly dog!" She tackled him again.
After a time of celebration, the couple was back at the tree, whispering contentedly in each other's arms. "This one was my first choice. Somehow, this pink jewel just looked perfect. And what was even more amazing was that I had the exact amount of money with me to get it! 'Course that was after I went and asked permission with your grandpa and mom, Souta too." Inuyasha rubbed his thumb along her knuckles and over the stone. It fit and looked like it had been meant to be on her finger her entire life.
Kagome chuckled, "You mean they knew about this the whole time?"
"Yep, Miroku and Sango too. Pretty much everyone."
"Man." Kagome couldn't stop looking at it. It was so…beautiful. And he got it…for her. "Must have been hard to keep that a secret."
"It really isn't and you should know. Miroku is going to ask Sango tonight too isn't he?"
Kagome gasped, "He told you too? I thought it was just me." She laughed, "Wow. It's a night of wonders and never ending joys."
"And sappy corniness."
Inuyasha nuzzled her neck, "I'm just kidding."
Kagome arched up her head and kissed the underside of his chin, "I really am happy, Inuyasha."
Kagome closed her eyes and kicked her legs aimlessly over the side of the Goshinboku branch. "We won't fall if we fall asleep up here right?"
"Don't worry." Inuyasha tightened his hold. "I'll keep you safe."
"I never doubted that, Inuyasha." She yawned. "I've never doubted that."
Her gentle snores proved to be a soothing lullaby for Inuyasha. He rested his head atop of hers and stared half-lidded at a luminescent full moon.
There had been a time, long ago, when impending death and torture had been his only companion. A time where he had given up, had accepted, the fact that he was alone. A time when he would not scream, plead, whisper, and instead chose to remain in a grievous silence.
That had been Inuyasha's life.
A life of blood, a life of tears, a life of sorrows and nightmares but now it was finally over. Not to say that life's difficulties would end there, at the top of the Goshinboku tree. He was sure they would find plenty. They would prevail, though. They would survive.
Inuyasha closed his eyes.
Love, laughter, adventures, new experiences, it had just begun. The old life, the old chapters, they were over. Him being along, that was over.
He was engaged. He had found his soul mate. He had said goodbye to a past of horrors and now the faces of his parents lived in his memory, alive and smiling, no blood, no scars, and no wounds. Not any more. He had lived. He had been reunited with his brother. He had found friends. He had found love.
Life Observation #1: To give up is to die.
#2: To forgive is to heal.
#3: To love is to be born again.
Welcome to Inuyasha's life.
He wouldn't have it any other way.
In the depths of the Goshinboku, the branches embraced the sleeping couple. The tree sang sweetly in the night breeze and it was as if, by the strange occurrence of its pink blossoms slowly opening and releasing its petals to be taken off by the wind, the Goshinboku was weeping. Its tears of joy decorated the ground, falling upon the lawn and the roof, even dripping through the rafters of another small building and landing softly within a dusty abandoned well.
Their story would continue and this old tree knew, they would finally have a happy ending.