AN: Thank you for all the awesome reviews! After so many nice comments, it makes me feel ashamed to post this. It's so… unfinal, and brings up things which could have easily been discussed before hand, but I didn't want to detract from the real issue of the story: Kei and Fuu's relationship. So… I post the final chapter of CiA, the epilogue, and I wish that I could have done better to give this story a brilliant way out. So for those of you who don't want to continue: don't. For those of you interested in my idea of "crap" or who are genuinely interested, read on.
The PoF (See you in D&H)
Kei woke up to sunlight streaming through her window. She rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed, hearing someone moan beside her. She was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't a dream. Fuu lay in bed beside him, still clad in his black jeans, an arm thrown around her shoulders protectively. Fukou's memories were awake once more. It would be odd at first for him, remembering all the things in the past. Kei knew. She had been through it herself. But eventually the two parts of his mind would come together like two meeting drops of water on a windowpane, and Kei would be there for him through it all.
She turned away from the window to see Sango and Miroku leaning against her desk. Sango sat in a chair, her legs braced on either side of it and her long hair hanging over hers shoulder. Miroku's hand was laced through her hair, a smile plastered across his face. Both of them were a little see through, like ghosts. It was the first time Kei had seen Sango outside of her dreams. She yawned, still mostly asleep. She was somewhere in between being awake and in the dream world, a place of magic where her dreams projected themselves into the real world.
"Astral projections?" she wondered out loud, arching a curious brow as she clung tighter to her pillow, using it as a brace as she lay in bed.
Remnants of a pleasant dream, actually, Sango's cool voice was said. You expressed some concerns in your dream that I thought I'd try answer for you.
"Okay, but why is he here?" she asked, gesturing the Miroku as she sat up in bed.
The man smiled. He had been smiling already, looking proudly between his incarnation and the ghostly form of his wife, but he suddenly looked just at her. Kei had to smile back in return, and she felt her heart give a tiny jump. Even in death, his eyes were still deep blue. For a man who'd been dead more than five hundred years, Miroku was a very attractive man. He knew it, too. His clear, deep voice echoed inside her head, like the whispers of the wind through the leaves. There's a part of me in you too, Kei. It's very hard to be as close as you were to me without me having made an imprint on your life. Likewise, Fukou has some of Sango in his mind. Some of her personality, copies of the traits he admired in her, things he couldn't help but emulate in his life…
"Probably the mood swings," Kei joked, looking down at the man sleeping next to her.
And that would be me in you. Now then, you wondered why you needed to awaken me, of what exact trouble Fukou was in? Kei nodded. Well, as best as I can explain it, although the memories in his mind weren't active his subconscious was still aware of it. Rather than face his fears, he mourned over them and allowed them to fester. He had no way of fixing the matter of Arashi. How was he supposed to deal with killing his daughter because he was weak from old age, and fearing that she hadn't been able to defend herself better because he had failed as a teacher? He couldn't. So he just let them fester. That was why he was bitter, that and his father. He should start to really open up now… especially now that he has you.
Kei smiled and blushed faintly. "So Sesshomaru-sama telling him that Arashi had lived past that fight was enough to make his memories reawaken?"
Yes, Sango answered. I'd expect that he'll have nightmares at first, the same way that you did. Both of us were very scarred from that lifetime, and deeper scars were still brought over, like the mark we share on our back, Kei. He'll dream about the kazaana, and he'll try to push you away while he confronts the fear of accidentally losing you, but he'll pull through.
Smiling down at Fuu, she nodded. "I know he will. Miroku was always so much stronger than me. So was Fukou. I always had a supportive family. He's always had no one. If I'd had no one, I would have died long ago. I'll be here waiting for him."
That's not entirely true, you know, Miroku pointed out. He's always had you.
"And he always will." With her promise, the two ghosts faded away. Kei looked out the window, sighing with contentment. She didn't even worry what would happen when her parents found out that she and Fuu had slept in the same bed. She was just continuing to bask in the moment.
"Mornin', Kei," Fuu yawned form beside her. She smiled at him and leaned down, planting a kiss on his forehead in greeting. He leaned his arms behind his head, trying not to think about how messy his hair must look. "Have I ever told you that you're beautiful?"
She blushed deeply and shook her head. He seemed surprised. "I thought I had… I'll have to tell you that more often," he grinned, leaning up to kiss her mouth gently. His arm looped around her as he drew her back down. "Now come back to bed, Kei. It's Sunday. We can sleep in today. I don't want to get out of this bed with you, not for all the money in the world."
"That reminds me… why did you see Sesshomaru?" she inquired. Before he could answer, the phone was ringing. Kei leaned over Fukou to answer it. "Moshi moshi?"
He watched as her face became more and more grave, yet somehow he remained silent. She hung the phone, and looked at him. "Kaede-chan is missing. She's been gone since last night."
Everyone was out looking for Kaede: her parents, her friends, Fuu and Kei, and their families… They searched for hours, and told everyone they could that she was missing in hopes that they would join the ever-expanding search party. When the two met up with Jou while searching a shopping mall for Kaede, they told him what happened, and he promised to tell his dad. His dad was a cop at the precinct near the school. Jou assured his friends that he would get his dad to forego the thirty-six hours required to file a missing persons report.
Jou smiled. "After all," he had told them. "I like Kaede-chan. She's the only other girl besides Kei who doesn't think that spiders are creepy and who thinks that putting green jell-o into the fountains in the mall is the most amusing thing she's ever seen."
They regrouped that evening, at the shrine. Kei never remembered Kagome looking so shaky, or Inuyasha look so worried. The other people drifted away, and Kei assured her parents she would be okay. She'd sleep over at Fuu's house after they made some supper for Inuyasha and Kagome and made sure that they ate, and they would resume the search in the morning. Kei would have said anything to get rid of her parents so that she and Fuu would really get the opportunity to discuss things alone with Kagome and Inuyasha. The only place they had left out of their search was the well-house.
"The well?" Kei inquired when they were alone.
Kagome frowned at Kei's inquiry, but it disappeared after she looked away and leaned upon Inuyasha for support. Kei watched her eyes mist over as he kissed Kagome's hair, trying to be supportive. "No. She's not there. I… I don't know how. Inuyasha…" She reached up and squeezed her husband's hand as he froze at the mention of his name. "He tried going through the well to see if she had gone through the other side to see Arashi, but… It… it's been sealed up. I don't know how, but I suspected this would happen eventually. Someone had to seal up the well so that I unsealed it 1997. It figures it would be Arashi-chan. Oh," she added, weakly smiling at Fukou. "It's nice to see that you finally have all of your memories back, young man. We've been waiting for you for a long time. I suspect that maybe your powers might start to wake up again, now."
"Powers?" He looked confused for a moment. Then he smiled. "Oh. You mean all of the monk-stuff… actually, I'd prefer that they didn't, otherwise I might need lessons to start using ofuda again. I want to concentrate on university. Besides, Kagome, your powers were different than mine. You had so much of it, your powers couldn't help but be active once you hung out around demons. I doubt I have that much power."
"Only time will tell… now can we get back to the issue here?" Inuyasha growled. Kei was eyeing him; she had been eyeing him since she had gotten to the shrine. There was something different about him, but she couldn't figure out what it was.
"The sword!" she gasped. True, he did look scruffier than normal, but on a closer look she noticed that for once the sword had left his side. "Inuyasha, where's Tetsusaiga?"
His face fell, suddenly looking older than it did. For the first time, Kei noticed the crow's feet at the corner of his eyes and the laugh lines lining his mouth. His voice was bitter when he spoke. "I don't know where it is. The only other person who can hold Tetsusaiga is a human, or a half…. She took it with her…" Realizing what that meant he looked both angry and confused. "Kaede only takes that sword when she does through the well! That stupid bi…" The word died in his throat when Kagome shot him a look that could have killed even a full-blooded demon. Inuyasha controlled his anger, but barely. "If the sword is missing, it means she's gone through the well, but how did she go through?"
"She went through before the well was sealed, obviously," Fuu pointed out.
"Then the question is not where has she gone, but how do we get her back from five hundred years in the past when the well is sealed from the other end?"
Kagome began to look a little hopeful. "The mask! A… and the demons! Inuyasha! Remember the mask? And that big floating demon thing that looked like a baby chicken playing a flute?" Inuyasha looked at her like she was insane. "Demons exist nowadays as they do back then, and things can be sealed! You were sealed, and so was the mask, and that sword we had, the one that possessed you! Maybe Kaede is sealed up somewhere!"
It seemed like a long stretch, but Inuyasha just looked plain pissed at the idea. They all watched until his face paled to the point where his silver hair began looking darker than his skin. Kagome clutched at his red shirt frantically, leaning on his for support both physically and spiritually. Inuaysha's hands had dropped from her as if her skin had burned him. He evn avoided her eyes, and they were surprised to hear his voice sound so feral.
"Don't suggest such a thing," he snapped. Kagome opened her mouth to argue, but his voice grew louder. "Don't! I don't want to hear it! My baby is not sealed away somewhere, do you understand me, Kagome? I was awake for those fifty years! I could feel everything, every drop of rain that fell on me, every bug that landed on my nose that I couldn't fight off, every mosquito bite, every comment that someone made while passing by me… it was torture enough for fifty years! Do you really want our daughter to have gone through all of that for ten times that amount of time?"
"No… no…" Kagome said, shaking. He bottom lip began to shake. Inuyasha stared at her and then crushed his wife to his chest fiercely, promising that he would find Kaede, even if it killed him.
"You don't have to look very far," a new voice sad. Kagome blanched at the sound of the voice. Everyone turned to see two new people approaching, the taller man looking around in case anyone was lurking nearby. The dying sunlight reflecting off of red hair revealed the identity of the younger boy.
"Jou! What are you doing here?" Kei asked, rushing forward to greet her friend. Jou smiled at her and hugged her back.
"I told Dad, like I promised, Angel. He told me everything, about the Sengoku Jidai… actually, he's been telling me since I was a baby, but I had never believed him. But when I told him about this, he told me where to find Kaede."
Kei watched with wide eyes as Jou's father walked towards Kagome, whose legs were visibly shaking. Her eyes were wide as she stared up at the stranger. He pulled off the police cap he was wearing, and smile shyly at Kagome. "Kagome…"
'Shippo!' Kei whirled around, barely hearing Shippo tell Jou he could relax and be himself. She watched in a mixture of fascination and horror as the ears pointed themselves, and his teeth elongated. A tail poked out shyly from behind his legs, bushy and white-tipped. His eyes were still as blue as ever.
He also looked only ten years old.
"Jou…" Kei growled.
"Don't blame me, Angel. Ever since you told me you believed in things like kitsunes, I wanted to tell you, but Daddy wouldn't let me."
Kei glared at him. "That's it!" she cried, pouncing him and pinning him to the ground before tickling him mercilessly.
Fukou sighed and rolled his eyes. He turned his attention to Kagome, who was trying to get over the shock of seeing Shippo all grown up. "Shippo," he said, "my memories are still a little confused. If Jou's a kitsune, then why did he grow up with us?"
Shippo smile at his reincarnated friend. "Because it was all an illusion. We can make ourselves illusions to pass as humans, but it requires power, and control, both of which take time. Jou there can only manage about ten years, more or less. So you watched him grow up from the age of six to the age of seventeen. After this year, he would have gotten an acceptance to a university overseas, and he could have started all over again. I have to keep him in the school system, you see, so that he can have companionship. Myself, I can keep an illusion for more than a full human lifespan, but that would be immoral. Can you imagine me going to high school and flirting with human girls who are almost five hundred and fifty years my junior?"
"No," he grinned. "I can't."
"Shut up, both of you," Inuyasha growled. His arms were still around Kagome, protecting her. "Where the hell is my daughter?"
"Right there," Shippo said, gesturing to the tree.
They all looked at him like he was nuts, except for Kei, who grinned triumphantly. "I was right. There is someone asleep in the tree…" she whispered to herself.
"You sealed up my daughter?" Inuyasha yelled and lunged at Shippo, his claws outstretched. Fukou caught Kagome and steadied her. "You put her in that prison? You… you…. I'm going to rip your head off of your shoulders, Shippo!"
Kagome patted Fuu's arm reassuringly. "I'm okay now. Let me up. I know how to get her out of that tree."
"Are you certain?"
"Yes… Haven't you noticed that unsealing things and purifying things seem to be my specialty?" she joked. While Inuyasha still chased Shippo, Kagome approached the tree. Kei, Jou, and Fukou, watching, gripped each other's hands tightly. They watched as Kagome began to turn the slightest shade of glowing, glittering pink. She slowly walked forward, arms outstretched. She slowly reached for the tree… and, like a ghost, her arms passed right through the tree. The three people watching couldn't help it: they gasped as she reached further into the tree.
Even Shippo and Inuyasha stopped fighting, watching in awe as Kagome reached into the tree, and then began to step back. Inuyasha cried out his daughter's name when he saw his daughter, possessed by the same ethereal pink glow which had surrounded Kagome, emerge from the tree and held in the hands of his wife. His bare feet skidded on the ground as he rushed to the tree.
Shivers ran up Kei's spine when she heard the fear and hope in Inuyasha's voice.
Kagome fell to the ground as she finished pulling her daughter from the tree. Kaede fell with her. She was crying, breathing heavily. She was brushing her daughter's hair as Inuyasha came to a stop beside them, falling over them and crying silently. Kaede was clutching the sword in her hands. He tore it form her grasp and flung it to the side, checking his daughter over for injuries and holding her hands. When she suddenly yawned, everyone jumped, even Inuyasha. Kaede finished yawning and then stared up at her parents.
"Daddy," she said, making Inuyasha cry harder. Kaede reached out a hand and touched her father's cheek. She was every bit as alive, young, and healthy, as she had been when she had disappeared. "Daddy, don't cry. I'm sorry I took the sword without asking you. I just wanted to practice making the sword transform. I didn't mean to get caught back in the Sengoku Jidai! But I had the most amazing time there, Daddy!"
Feeling like they were intruding, Jou, Kei, and Fuu turned and began walking away, their steps in stride with each other. Kei, between the two most important young men in her life, grinned. Shippo had disappeared, but she knew that he'd be back, and he'd no doubt get into their lives and hearts once more.
"What should we tonight, boys?" she asked them, forgetting that one of the boys was really a ten year old kitsune who was really sixty human years old. She grinned, feeling ecstatic. Everything was perfect in the world, if only for one glorious night. "There's that new movie that's coming out. But it's rater R, Jou, so you can't see it."
"Aww! Come on!" Jou whined.
"Personally, I think that we should practice fighting. Obviously there are demons still around, and given the fact that we've been friends with one of them since we were in grade school, I think it's time that we practice our abilities to discover yaki. And we have the perfect specimen right here."
"Don't mess with me, Fuu," Jou warned. He grinned at the both of them. "I think we should go and call over Shin and ask him to hang out with us. Forget going to the movies. Dad has to work tonight. Let's all go over to my house and pig out on pie. Unless you two are worried about losing your lady-like figures."
"Jou, if you eat anything like your dad, you could eat us out of house and home," Fuu teased. Kei just reached over and ruffled Jou's hair as Fuu thought of something else. "You know, I do have that book Sesshomaru-sama gave me. We could read it tonight, each of us taking a turn to read a passage from the book. It might tell us what happened to Kaede."
"I think that's the best idea yet!"
"As long as we can also have Shin and pie!" Jou said loudly, catching the excitement.
"I think that can be arranged," Kei laughed. She looked up at Fukou and smiled at him. "Have I told you yet today that I love you?" He shook his head no, and she rectified it then and there.
"I love you, Fuu."
"I love you Sango… I mean, Kei… I mean… Damn. This is going to take a while to get used to, you know that?"