Only Her Reincarnation

Disclaimer: Don't own it.

Note: The place and relationship are not related to any specific time in the series. This is just to let you know that if it seems a bit strange, it's only a one-shot. Kagome may seem a bit out of character, but you have to consider what her feelings are. I know I said in Campfire Closeness that I probably wasn't going to do any more Inu/Kag fanfics, but I just felt I had to write out this brief idea.

I was standing in front of Goshinboku, thinking about Kikyou. Her last visit here had been one of desperation, reminding me of Naraku's plan of destroying his human heart so he could kill her without having the hesitation of human emotions to get in the way. I could never allow that bastard to touch Kikyou. I hated him for loving her. I hated him for making us go against each other fifty years ago. I hated him to no end. He deserved nothing more than everlasting pain in hell where he belonged.

"I am the only one who can protect you!"

I wanted to protect her, to keep her safe. I wanted her to be at peace and not have to worry about Naraku always wanting her soul in his twisted way. I could say he wanted her dead… but she's already dead.

"Inuyasha, why did you betray me!"

"What? I didn't betray you!"

I don't understand why Naraku had some kind of grudge against me in the first place. I didn't even know him before he absorbed all those youkai. When I first started to feel affection for Kikyou, something I had never felt before, it had been broken too easily. Naraku had set us up. He wanted to make us hate each other.

It worked. We weren't strong enough, so we were both killed.

Only after I was wakened by a strange girl who had a suspiciously similar resemblance to Kikyou did I learn the truth.

By then, it was too late. Kikyou had died, and I…

I was still alive, but the wound her arrow had dug into me was deep. In fifty years, it had never healed. A reminder to the past which could never be re-done. A reminder of what Kikyou and I could have been.

But after I had been woken by the strange girl, even though their personalities were completely different, I grew a reluctantly strong bond of friendship with the girl. At first, I refused to get along with her, always being rude and complaining constantly about the jewel shards she had shattered, blaming everything that went wrong on her. I still remember the first time she had revealed just how much she cared about me as a friend.

"What about me? You can't trust me, either?"

It took her a while to understand that while I was growing up, I had always been treated with rudeness and neglected from other groups, that I was always the outcast from my own village and that everything was always blamed on me, simply because…

Simply because I was a hanyou.

I was half-demon, and half-human. The demons would not accept me because half of my body had human blood, and humans were absolutely detested for their weak emotions and limited abilities to fight. Humans were useless. The humans would not accept me because I also had demon blood running through my veins. I was a danger to them, so they closed off from me, forcing me away. I belonged to nothing. So I longed to become a full demon.

I would have all the power I ever wanted, especially if we finished the Shikon no Tama. I would not have to rely on anyone to help, and I could destroy any demons that tried to challenge me. I could be my true self.

But the strange girl slowly got through to me, trying to understand my weaknesses so she could accept why I acted how I acted.

"Kikyou this, Kikyou that. Whoever she is, I'm not her, because my name is -"

Kagome. The one person I could fully trust at all.

She was the one who, with her particularly bad aiming skills when I first met her, broke the jewel in the first place. It was her responsibility to help me find them, no matter what. I barely let her visit her family in the modern world because I wanted to finish collecting the shards, lest they get into the wrong hands and I have to figure out how to solve more problems.

"Three days. Three days, and that's all. Otherwise I'm going to come and get you. We haven't got time to be wasting away.

"You're the one that shattered the jewel in the first place… you should knowbetter than anyone that the shards need to be found as soon as possible.

"Stupid wench. What's so important about all these 'tests' that you have to take? There are jewel shards that need to be found, and we need your help."

Ironically, she turned out to be Kikyou's reincarnation, so it suited the predicament of finding tiny pieces of pink glass shattered all over the countryside just fine. She could sense them with her miko abilities. The only problem was fighting to get them free of other youkai, or having to make our way past dangerous territory to put them back into the shape they once formed.

The only other thing that stood in our way was… Kikyou herself.

Kikyou had been brought back to life, but only made of clay and soil, and she disliked Kagome to a point where she was almost successful in killing the girl. I did not, could not, believe that Kikyou had tried to kill Kagome.

"Kagome, what happened? Answer me! If you're going to tell me that Kikyou tried to kill you -"

"Then don't ask!"

Kagome would not put anything against Kikyou. She would not make me go against her incarnation; it would not be right.

In some odd way, I still loved Kikyou. But it was more than that. I owed her my life. Kagome still has not realized that yet, or if she has, she has not spoken of it. Perhaps it would cause her too much pain.

Suddenly, the sound of soft footsteps drew me out of my thoughts. It was Kagome.

"Inuyasha?" she asked softly, stepping up behind me to put a supportive hand on my shoulder. I moved away, glaring at her.

"What do you want?" I demanded.

"I was just worried about you. You've been kinda quiet lately. What were you thinking about?" she said, a strange, sad expression coming over her features as I moved away from her.

As much as I knew it was going to hurt her, I had to say it. "Kikyou. What else would I be thinking about? I made a promise to her and I intend to keep it."

"Are you still going… going to go with her? To hell?" Kagome asked. It took everything I had not to show a shocked expression. She had never been this direct with me before.

I snorted, trying to act like I didn't care about it. True, I still loved the undead priestess in a strange way that Kagome could never understand, but I also… I had grown to care for Kagome more and more. "Why do you care?"

"Because… I…" Kagome stuttered, and her face reddened as she fought to think up a response that wouldn't embarrass either of us. After a moment, she clenched her fists, allowing her temper to fuse for once. "How come you can never give me a straight answer!"

"Why do I have to give you a straight answer?" I shot back, and she took a step back, slight fear replacing her momentary anger. "This is my business, isn't it? So stop… stop trying to change my mind, because I'm not gonna!"

"I was just wondering," she said in an annoyed tone. "Sheesh, you'd think that someone caring about you would be a bad thing by the way you act sometimes." Although she tried to sound frustrated, I thought I detected a hint of sadness in her voice.

"I don't need anybody to care about me. I've been fine since I was a kid, it's no different now," I said roughly, turning around and crossing my arms.

"I didn't mean that you didn't need someone to care about me… I meant that you make it seem like such a bad thing. It's not sympathy, Inuyasha," she said, turning to face my back. "It's just what… what friends do." Her voice took on a softer quality.

"Feh."

"Inuyasha?" This time, she stepped closer to me, even as I tried to block my senses from her scent. I could not allow her to - to distract me.

"Now what?"

"I'm not… I can never be as good as Kikyou was for you, can I." I turned to face her, and I panicked when I saw her head lowered, her bangs shielding her eyes. She was still, and her voice was unnaturally quiet.

"Wha…?"

"It doesn't matter how many times that I tell you that I like you for who you are, for simply being yourself. It doesn't matter how much I improve my archery skills, even if I hit my targets accurately. It doesn't matter if I help you find the shards because even if they will all be found one day, you'll be using them to become fulldemon and I'll go back to my own time and I'll probably never see you again.

"It doesn't matter what I do, because you've always compared me to Kikyou. You say you don't, but I know that is the reason why you act this way. Other demons have said that I'm just Kikyou's reincarnation, that I could never be as fast or as smart or as mature as she is, but that's only because I am myself, and I am a completely different person, regardless of my appearance or my priestess abilities. I can be no one else. I am Kagome, and nothing can change that fact. "

Her voice wavered, and as she looked up at me, I saw a few tears run down her cheeks. "I always remind you of her, but I'm not her. I can't be her, because I am who I am, just as you are Inuyasha. Kikyou may be better than me, but I gave you one thing that she has never given you."

Just as I was deciding on whether or not to reach out and touch her, to offer some sort of comfort, even if it was awkward, she turned and started walking away, pausing when she reached the edge of the clearing. She didn't look back, but I didn't need to see her face to know that her heart was breaking.

"I gave you acceptance. Kikyou only wanted to be with you if you became human. She did love you, but she also wanted to use your love as an excuse to give up her job of guarding the jewel. I have never forced you to do anything. I love you for being you, Inuyasha, but that's not enough, is it?"

She didn't give me a chance to reply before she said her last statement, paralysing me with shock and a little bit of... regret?

"It will never be enough, because… Kikyou loved you first."

All I could do was stare after her. You're right, Kagome. You're absolutely right… it will never be enough because it can't be enough. I don't love Kikyou, but I owe her my life. That is the only thing that can repay the debt of her following me into death.

I'm sorry.