Jinenji sighed and took in a deep breath, feeling the now reunited earth greeting lost roots and soil with such mirth was astoundingly profound to one such as him, and he couldn't help his smile as the earth sang out the miko's deeds.
He half closed his eyes to hear of her exploits, and let out a quiet chuckle when he was informed of her interaction with the reikai…and then his face saddened as he saw what she would have become. The other path that might have been was possibly easier and explainable- but it would have killed her. Their Heiwa no Miko was a strong one, but her strength had always been in helping others.
Jinenji let out a sigh and felt the earth titter in sympathetic response before it as back to rushing around and greeting long lost roots and mixing the fauna so that the makai and the nigenkai could start to coexist after such long separation and adaptation.
Jinenji grinned and stretched his neck to look over the gathered Eschew…just as they were going to adapt.
Inuyasha smirked and scratched his nose, catching the scents he had missed for so many centuries as it teased along the wind and flowed through the grass. There was something about smelling humans freely again that made him think of home.
He cursed happily under his breath, a byproduct of trying to annoy Kagome even as far back as the Sengoku Jidai that he had never quite shaken. He grinned; it was always fun to watch her color in indignation at his more colorful vocabulary.
He had gone years without that…
They had gone through a lot to get here, and Inuyasha breathed deeply as he recalled the painful months securing alliances and fighting wars over territory.
"Keh…" Reikai should start watching over wars more closely, you never knew what sorts of powers or intentions were driving it. And he grinned and let out a barking laugh as he concluded that reikai didn't matter anymore.
It was only through their stupidity that he was returning home.
They were all returning home.
Ayame huffed and looked up from under her bangs with a smile. Kouga was grimly proud, standing as a warrior with battle scars to prove he had fought for this day. The wolves around them were wagging their tails like puppies, but they too were scarred and battle weary…for their miko.
Inuyasha was as uncouth and cursing as ever, but his face was smiling and Ayame could practically see the pride wavering off his form.
Sesshoumaru stood as stoic as ever, but there was a pleased glint she had only seen in his eyes after a particularly good hunt, for his exile left him with nothing but the hunt as he became a ghost like legend in the immediate makai.
Ayame swallowed and finally looked to Shippou, having to bypass all the other demons and hanyou and allies that had joined and believed for the better part of their lives…and even glossed over those who didn't have to believe because they knew; Jinenji, Totousai was hiding somewhere, Shiori the bat hanyou, Souten…Ayame shook her head, wondering if they were all somewhat enemies of the kind miko at one point in their life.
But Shippou, who once stole from Kagome and ran from her, he was standing with his hands crossed over his chest, face tilted to the sky and eyes sparkling as he gazed over the masses in formal array. Ayame sighed, but the smile fought its way onto her lips as she watched him.
Such a proud family that miko had.
And then she ginned, pushing aside all her doubts and worries, because it was time for the family reunion.
Shippou began laughing as the formal energy lessened and the exultant air of achievement and joy ran through all the ranks. Shippou could feel her, and his laugh was taken up by many of the others before there were shouts of greetings and lively proclamations ringing through what was once an awe silenced field where makai and reikai and ningenkai had met.
He grinned insanely, rolling his head on his neck before he spun on spot – to see the reactions of all his comrades; Sesshoumaru stood with his chin out in pride and contemplation and the wolf lord and Ayame were grinning and flushing humbly as those of the more wolven forms danced about their feet with wagging tails, the earthly Jinenji sat and lumbered out a breathy sigh with his eyes glittering and face tilting with a smile from his superior birds eye view, and he saw Inuyasha and the young Shiori happily bickering about how Kagome had figured out a way around the barriers that they would have never thought of, mainly because they weren't used to working in tandem with the other spiritually aware.
'Let it be their mistake,' he thought rather vindictively, 'but let ours be weakness only in the joy of having our miko and friend among us again.'
Sesshoumaru smirked as he felt Jinenji lumber out a pleased sigh, and felt his eyes glint with inner mischief when the kitsune grinned like only his kind could. He took a deep breath and ignored all this, searching out the aura of their miko and finding it as if it was one solitary and proud island in the daunting sea.
His eyes softened and he focused them to find her in the mass of bodies and movement, but only had to follow the very enthusiastic form of a certain red kitsune to the front of the ranks facing their demon gathered.
Sesshoumaru smiled and tilted his head as he watched her greeting, and found as he walked to greet her that he couldn't control that slight tilt of his lips.
The two soul sibs were always amusing when you put them together after all.
As long as they knew he wasn't to be a target for any antics… (And as he glanced at Kagome and saw her trembling face he amended that thought and walked a more brisk pace, thankful for his aura that parted the crowd so he could reach their miko faster) and as long as she was content.
He growled slightly and then purposefully walked the now clear path to their miko, not able to help his eyes softening or the quicker pace in his step.
Kagome needed them… All of them.
And so be it.
There was an animated shout, then the vague form of some tailed demon bounding through the broken ranks and dodging the dawdling wayfarers as they slowly started to mingle with the other race. Kurama watched as the male broke through the invisible line that had kept the crowd from Kagome, and watched her face light up with her smile and her eyes sparkle like he hadn't seen them before- even when she had mischievously averted their questions and curiosity.
Her laughter rang out, joined by the male as he jumped right up to her and lifted her into such a bone breaking hug that had Kurama surprised either of them didn't break any bones- for the forceful hug was returned whole heartedly by the miko herself. She was spun in the air, settled own briefly with the demons hands on her shoulders before he grinned and pulled her into another jarring hug.
"Kagome! I am soooo happy to see you! You wouldn't believe how hard it was to stay around these losers when all I could think about was your kind grace and unfading beauty." The redheaded man pulled back and swooned dramatically, one hand delicately braced against his forehead and the other clutched over his heart.
Kagome smiled and shook her head, slapping the demon in the shoulder. "You know Shippou-chan, I think that would work better if you were shorter and still called me sister."
Kurama took a step back and tilted his head… 'A kitsune?'
The red kitsune grinned how only a fellow kitsune could- charming and menacing all rolled into one flash of teeth and jaunty tilt of the chin. "Sooo, Kagome-neechan. Is that better?"
Kurama was shocked to note her blue eyes wetting with tears, and then watch as the kitsune calmed down with a gentle and understanding smile as he stepped closer to the miko and pulled her into a more serious hug. He touched her face and then his hands went down to pull her own up and place them on his cheeks firmly.
"Kagome-neechan, I am here. We all are, and you can't cry right now because you are clouding the sapphires I still haven't stolen."
The miko gave a watery chuckle before she tried valiantly to smile at Shippou.
A low rumbling voice spoke up from behind them all. "You should know kit, that she won't let you touch her eyes." There was a considering pause. "And she needs to get her tears out, even for such petty fears as never seeing us again." There was a note of exasperation in the voice, and Kurama turned his head slightly to look at the speaker and shocked himself into stasis. "The Heiwa no Miko should know that her Eschew are not so easily defeated."
'Holy shit! The Sesshoumaru is actually at this kind of gathering…! Inari-sama must…oooh, no wonder.'
'Youko…?' Kurama's response was dazed, and he back up a step involuntarily as more youkai and Sesshoumaru stepped forth.
'I had thought…no,' a veiled glance at Hiei, 'we had all been thinking of an awakened reincarnation due to the crisis circumstance of being trapped…and then scrolls and history available to train her due to her residence at the Higure shrine….' Youko hunched over his shoulders, hands cupping his elbows and eyes darting about their mind space, as if the answers were hiding in the shadows of thought.
'Youko, you are not saying that this is the original?'
Youko grinned as Hiei's eyes slid over to them with a knowing smirk.
Kurama shook his head and gave in.
'She knows the kitsune personally, that is why she was immune to us when we were questioning her.' The silver sent a speculating glance over the other demons that had mingled into the mass of spiritual ningen. 'I have no doubt that she is the original,' he clapped his hands together and smiled with glee, 'now we need to figure out how and why she got all these unusual allies.'
Their mutual musing was cut off as Shikato and Souta ran off with a shout. He only vaguely followed them to the form of a silver haired inu-hanyou…and then the looming mass of the ever reputed Jinenji stood up from his already considerable seated height and lumbered his way over to Sesshoumaru and a conversing Higurashi son.
He felt his teammates being drawn into chary conversations, heard the relaxed murmurings of races (races get that!) mingling together with only the initial awkwardness of strangers meeting and not some clashing of doomed races fated to kill and maim and fear…
'King Enma is going to have a fit…' And Youko grinned insanely.
Kurama chuckled half heartedly, casually turning his head to watch the miko of peace, the original Miko of Peace, walk up to him with a smile and a relaxed and amused contentment in her eyes.
He regarded her with amusement, as he noted the group of unaware humans clamoring about at the entrance in confusion and panic. He let out a snort of laughter and Kagome grinned sadly without looking where his attention lay. "They make fools of themselves quite easily don't they?"
Kurama let his smile soften and his head tilt to regard her from under his bangs. "I would think that the Miko of Peace wasn't prone to such thoughts."
She snorted and grinned, like any other normal person in the world, as she turned to fully face him. "I'm only human." And then her smile softened as her eyes caught the sight of the races mixing and talking and laughing.
"You are a human who had contact with demons before the barrier, hardly normal."
"It's nice isn't it?" She completely subverted his implied question, and he smiled at Youko's laughter in his mind.
"I have never seen the races so, you are certain this was the better path?"
Her smile turned grim. "It wasn't the easier path, but it is the right one."
Kurama turned to her with silent regard, wondering how those words took on such a vindictive tone- like history was coming to haunt them for their mistakes and she was only trying to make them look around at their stupidity.
She glanced up at him before looking away, her eyes flashing such a solid blue that he startled and his eyes widened. "I have told many people about dust and ashes, things that are forgotten or viewed as mere nuisances." She sighed and her head titled, hair falling over her shoulder and face going content as she watched everyone again. "Humans were once prey and vermin, demons were menaces and myth- and what they once were, both races, was forgot."
Kurama tilted his head… "You think they should remember and coexist?"
She shook her head. "I think that now they can coexist without needing to remember. There have not been any race wars for centuries, there is no prejudice on the sides of the humans to fuel any bias, and the demons I have in control of Makai are all rather open-minded." She snorted at some inner joke as she looked in the direction of Jinenji and Sesshoumaru.
"That will be a hard path." 'And she knows it.'
She nodded her head absently before her eyes flashed and she snapped her attention to him. "At least no one is forgotten."
Youko watched her through his eyes, taking in the firm set of her limbs and high tilt of her chin- the unmistakable wetness of her eyes. 'I dare say that once…she was forgot…'
Kurama took a deep breath… "When were you forgotten?"
Her startled eyes turned to him, and he marveled at catching her off guard when she had always been impervious previously. He watched her swallow with a watery smile. "Once, in the process of my hospital stay only one of my family remembered my promises, once I was in love and set aside for the better woman, once I was told that I was dreaming and that my knowledge was of no use, once I had a father who is now nothing more than a stranger, and once…" she looked at him softly. "Once I was remembered, and it has made all the difference."
Kurama was about to attempt offering comfort in some phrase or other, but Kagome displayed her kitsune qualities again and changed the subject without any indication she was ardently doing so to still both their discomfort- she laughed. "I always did think my brother should join the track team."
Youko observed her sharply from his mind space, noting with a small rather affectionate smile that she was changing the subject more for their ease than hers…
He barked out a laugh as he saw the convenient distraction in her brother. Souta was running along with a laughing Shikato, the kitsune Shippou happily chasing their heels and letting out teasing words and taunting laughs.
Souta spotted his sister and his face lit up, but Kagome stuck out her tongue at him and started laughing at his now panicking expression.
Kurama laughed as Souta rushed by, yelling at his sister as she continued laughing and then encouraged Shippou with some well worded praise. The three boys continued, and Kurama watched with some surprise and awed satisfaction as they wove and played through the mingling ranks…and eased any tension there was.
Ningens watched and smiled, letting down their subtly tense shoulders and turning those smiles to demons; demons honestly laughed in affection and amusement, opening their hearts to the humans. Kurama gaped at the almost imperceptible change in the crowd, realizing that the kits' playing allowed everyone to relax because it was something all races would enjoy.
Kurama smiled wryly as he watched and relaxed, and welcomed the familiar presence of his taller teammate amidst all this new energy and commotion. Kurama looked up to find his larger friend smiling, his eyes glinting and fists clenching with his held in emotion…pride.
Kurama raised an eyebrow and Kuwabara sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck as he smiled wider. "What has you so happy?" He inquired half heartedly, distracted once again by the playing teens as more children with abilities joined in and an impromptu game of tag began.
Yusuke was weaving his way through the crowd to them, and Kurama was sure that Hiei would be there in any moment. Kuwabara chuckled and then turned his smiling face down to look straight at him, and Kurama was startled by the intensity that man was displaying.
Kuwabara was in the habit of not meeting your face directly during every day conversation and activities; rather he would gaze at the ground or your shoulder or the sky, a way to minimize his naturally intimidating height…
But with his gaze focused on you and his naturally intense eyes against his tan skin… He smiled again and his eyes softened. "I was just thinking how privileged we were."
Kurama chuckled at the smooth confession, gazing at his comrade as the other two that made the four that were almost one family came to their sides. Kuwabara was a man of few and simple words, and when he was truly passionate and honest about something intricacies in his personality emerged that colored his speech and made others look at him askance. Sometimes he still surprised Kurama himself.
"What exactly is the privilege? Being here? Being allowed to be here even with our allegiance to reikai?"
Yusuke snorted something derogatory under his breath and Koenma looked up from his confused conversation a little ways away with an angry look as if he could actually tell that Yusuke was bad mouthing him.
Kurama shook his head, feeling his hair move across the back of his neck as he briefly focused around him with his senses before he completely tuned into his large teammate as he spoke. "I never really thought of it…but she was judging us."
Yusuke looked at him like he was crazy and spoke in an almost growl that came easy to him, "That's stupid, her and her family are the most accepting I've ever met."
Kuwabara shook his head, brows furrowing as he tried to explain it better. "I mean that, okay yeah she was accepting us, but she was trying to see if we could be here." Kuwabara shivered slightly and then a goofy smile spread across his face.
Kurama sent a sharp glance to Hiei who had an odd look on his face, as if he was stunned by the direction of his thoughts.
Kurama shook his head with the direction of his thoughts, and chuckled as it all fell together. He turned his head sharply t the laughter of the miko, watching her brother bicker with Shippou playfully in front of her and Shikato watch with a confused and amused expression.
Yukio, her mother's betrothed, stood at her side with a happy but small smile on his lips, and he nudged the miko to the tantei's direction when he noticed Kurama's attention.
She chuckled warmly before it faded as her steps drew her closer, and Kurama watched with some amusement and curiosity as their gathered circle of friends seemed to naturally part and let her stand with them…like she already was one of them.
He shook his head at the startling change that thought was, and turned wide eyes to the miko as she smiled happily at the grinning Kuwabara.
Hiei snorted and crossed his arms over his chest, but he refrained from commenting anything. Kurama smiled leisurely as he noticed this, and turned to the grumbling Yusuke as Kagome poked his side.
They started a teasing banter with the occasional comment coming from Kuwabara, and Kurama watched on amused as she seemed to enjoy it like these were her life lost brothers; the annoying younger brother Yusuke never taking a break from teasing and joking, the childish Kuwabara putting his two cents in against either sib depending on what mood he was in, Hiei the silent and mature older brother rolling his eyes at their antics but amused nonetheless…
'And don't forget the ever loveable older sibling that presides over them all with sound advice and cunning.' Youko put in helpfully with a gleam in his eye.
Kurama sighed in long suffering, used to his arrogance…
'Arrogance!' Youko backed up playfully, raising his fist theatrically and growling in jest. 'I'll show you arrogance little upstart! We are far older and more mature than they! Goes to show that I am more suited for the role…' he gave a particularly haughty sniff with a toss of his head, and Kurama couldn't help but smile at the barb as he returned to reality.
Hiei had joined in on the shenanigans of the trio, and Kurama wrinkled his nose in amusement before he too added in a dry comment of his own- to which all three more ningen of their group stuck their tongue out simultaneously.
Kurama let out his laugh, head thrown back and hands on his belly all out there laugh, because he realized and pondered and hoped…
He could hear Ms. Higurashi with her calm placating ways, hushing the gathering crowd at the entrance gates and reassuring them with her odd nature, saw the elderly Higurashi-jiichan gesturing wildly and telling of heroic and peaceful and awe-inspiring tales to balance out the fear and prejudice and hate.
They were starting a revolution…they had been gearing up for this mostly peaceful revolution since ages past Youko and any other demon he could recall. They had been securing alliances and battling youkai and sending messages and preparing with little regard from Reikai in the makai for years beyond human years. The ningenkai had been waiting and watching and doubting but hopeful for generations, watching for the signs and then rejoicing when finally prophecies and dreams and the future came to pass.
'One would think that we would have at least heard rumors…' Youko mused, thinking back hard on his stint as a bandit and trying to recall and hint of rumors that would indicate such a large scale upheaval.
'But the leaders of Reikai have been paranoid, Koenma hinted at so.' Kurama turned his attention to Youko and the friends he had around him, watching with his silver counterpart as Kagome looked at them and founds something in them, watching as her eyes lit up and she smiled and everything was okay.
And his teammates jeered and laughed and chortled…at ease and talking and enjoying life.
Kurama watched it all with calculating eyes, and wondered.
Youko's input was tentative, something that caught Kurama's attention more than anything else he could have done. 'I dare say that …I like this family.' Youko shifted with serious eyes to look across the mass of demons and ningen. 'Kuwabara was right when he said they were good people, and …' He grinned happily. 'I think it would be rather fun getting to know them more, now that the secret is fully out. Especially since they make reikai look like fools so easily!'
Kurama shook his head with a bemused smile, catching Kagome's own bemused smile as she watched him.
She bowed her head, deferring to his thoughts and turning to start another conversation with Hiei.
Kurama watched her with a sort of proprietary interest, noting that she had dreamed all this although the concept was too great in his mind and he pushed the fact aside until he could convince himself at a later date.
One woman had dreamed of the unification of the worlds and the reestablishment of the old ways…with new people in power.
There would be no more ningens using their exclusive knowledge of the makai for their own greedy gain, no more demons preying on unsuspecting humans when they escaped into the ningenkai, no more reikai spirits lost in the barrier between…
And his mother…his mother would be safer and she could know.
Kurama smiled, smoothly flowing into the conversation and laughing when Yusuke got a disgruntled face- the object of their teasing.
Smiling as Kuwabara and Yusuke got into yet another fisticuff.
Smirking with Hiei as the little pyro casually used his foot to trip the two brawling men over.
And his face gentling with understanding as Kagome stood at his side and caught his attention. "Do you think your mother will enjoy this new world?"
He held in his surprise at her knowledge, belatedly realizing that she was the leader of a revolution, she would need to know all she could about people that she wanted to stand by her side. "I think, and I hope, that she will enjoy it as much as her son will."
She smiled as she heard something she wanted to, like she usually found something she wanted to find. "There will be a slow process of mixing, I want to make sure that neither culture is lost in a stupid mesh, but we need the time to get used to everything first, so the barrier is still a wisp there. Everyone will be safe as it comes down gradually and connections are established."
Kurama smiled as the thought struck him. "Sounds like another adventure for you."
She grinned like any other kitsune could. "I can't wait," she turned her large odd colored eyes up to him with a dimmer but still vibrant smile- like she would give all the secrets in the world to him should he ask. "Are you up for it?"
Youko and Kurama both paused in unison to regard her, ignoring the taunts of Hiei as he jeered on the two brawling humans. There was a beat of his heartbeat in the silence of his mind… before Youko laughed in glee and threw his head back as he held his belly. 'I love this woman! Kurama get her back for questioning our courage!'
Kurama grinned, letting his more kitsune qualities emerge before he lunged for Kagome. She squealed in response and dodged quickly, and it started another game of tag, others joining in more enthusiastically when they realized it was two responsible adults who were participating.
Kurama had the kitsune Shippou at his side, the surprisingly fast Souta on his other, and a gaggle of mixed children laughing and running with him.
And as he caught Kagome, her quickly tagging what looked to be a shy little bat hanyou, and he held her in his arms as he watched the crowd and felt the peace.
'This adventure…will be worth it.'
Kurama nodded his head solemnly, feeling Kagome sigh and relax against him as she watched what she had made possible.
After all, there had been a giant step in history, a giant step in the now, and the future held promise.
Her spirit had made it so, her dreams birthed form her love and soul had captured the hearts of others and drawn them to a future that hoped for peace that didn't seem so far away anymore.
Kurama smiled and leaned his chin on the top of Kagome's head, watching with a smile out of the corner of his eye as Shikato held a fuming Souta back, and he decided that no matter how many surprises this woman provided, they were all rather worth it.
He knew they were worth it.
It was spread out in front of him.
And her spirit smiled at it.
And he smiled …because he could see her dreams.
And he didn't need to see anything else.
It was the irony of ironies, that the infamous bandit thief held a peaceful miko in his arms and dreamed of a future where he wouldn't have to steal or fight at all.
We won't mention what else he was dreaming about, but know that they were pleasant dreams; after all, he did have the Heiwa no Miko in his arms. (And she was quite the looker!)
Not the way I wanted it to end, but you get the idea. Hope you enjoyed it!
Now I am going to be taking a brief hiatus away from writing since I have to apply for college and get my money all set straight. So I bid you adieu and thank you for sticking with me through my story!
Thanks for all the thoughtful reviews and thanks doubly so for the opportunity to explore my creative and unorthodox side. And don't despair! holds up fist triumphantly for I foresee many more one shots and maybe gasp a two shot in the near future. (Even though I swore I would never attempt another such big project again grumbles about plot bunnies)
So toodles (for now) and I hope that this meets your expectations!
PS; yes there is romance in there….veeeery lightly hinted at. You all have imaginations so just imagine Kagome and Kurama getting together in the new world I have created. Muahahahah!
(OOoooh! KAg/Kur; They're like the perfect couple to promote the decision to remove the barrier! Wow! Imagine that…Maybe Mishka ain't so Crazy after all…)
And to all those who don't have imagination… (I pity you) they work out their feelings and live happily with the somewhat encouraging relationship of their respective family (a confused Shiori, Souta convinced Kurama ain't good enough, and Eschew always interrupting with questions for their honorable miko of peace… Youko; Wait, why are we in love with her again? AN; a pretty shiny puzzle with veteran eyes…Youko; oh, yeah)
Nonetheless…a happy ending. No?
Or you could imagine she fell in love with Hiei. There.