Disclaimer: I don't own Inu Yasha, even though I'd like to. I hug'em and love'em and lock'em away some place no one else could have'em. Hehehe. Just kidding, he's too great to hide from the world.
A/N – Many thanks to Silverwind89, Danwlove, and Kitsune-MiMIK for your reviews. :) Now Kitsune-MiMIK my friend lets take a trip down memory lane. Do you remember "Shippo gets an angry challenge", Inu Yasha reads the letter over his shoulder and in the manga (early ones, sorry don't remember exactly which one it was) he tries to read Kagome's math guide. Besides what self-respecting son of the Great Demon of the West would not know how to read or write. As for the "prowl" line-sorry just couldn't resist. I liked it so much I just had to find a place for it in one of my stories. Ok, done reminiscing! On with the show!
PS-Swords are always permitted when Hojo bashing. snicker
The funeral party moved outside, where the urns and ashes were laid to rest in three fresh plots of earth. A few more words by the priest and slowly the crowd dispersed, some coming close and touching Kagome's arm warmly, others simply bowing in respect, but everyone was kind. When nearly everyone was gone, Kagome's friends came to say goodbye.
"We should be going, but we'll be seeing you at school right?" Yuka asked.
"School? Yeah, I guess. Thank you for helping out. I couldn't have done it without you." She hugged each of them in turn, knowing it would be the last time she'd see them. "I love you guys, you take good care of each other, okay?" The three girls exchanged looks, then said their goodbyes and left.
Inu Yasha placed a hand on the square of her back. "You look exhausted. Let's get you inside so you can get some rest." She looked up at him and he was once again struck by her beauty. In the dying light of the late afternoon, her skin glowed with a amazing radiance. 'She's beautiful, even with swollen eyes and a tear stained face.' He kissed her brow and bent to meet her lips. Someone cleared their throat, causing the couple to turn.
Hojo approached them slowly. "Kagome, do you mind if I talk to you alone."
"Actually, Hojo I do. I'm not really in the mood for a talk right now."
"But it's important. It's about us."
"Hojo, if you hadn't realized it by now there is no us. There never was." She sighed, her migraine was returning.
"Look fella, she said no. She needs to rest, not be bothered by the likes of you." Inu Yasha slipped his arm around Kagome's waist. His territorial behavior over Kagome had become much stronger in the past few days.
"The likes of me! Who are you? Where did you come from anyways? I've been the one taking care of her for the past year. Every time she got sick, I brought her gifts to make her feel better. Where were you all that time?" Hojo balled his fist at his sides.
A low dangerous growl escaped Inu Yasha's throat. "You're a fool. You obviously don't even know who Kagome really is, because otherwise you would have realized by now that she hasn't actually been sick. But I have been taking care of her. I ought to pound you into the ground for even suggesting that I don't."
Kagome put a trembling hand on his chest. "Please, Inu Yasha not now, not today. It's not worth it."
"I think right now is a perfect time!" Hojo blurted. The look he received from his opponent sent a chill down his spine. 'What am I doing? This guy looks dangerous. He could probably flatten me.'
Inu Yasha stepped around in front of Kagome protectively. "If you really cared about Kagome you'd leave right now. This is not the time or place for this." He was snarling now. 'This guy needs to get a clue and I'm about to give to him.'
"Hey, you two!" Inu Yasha caught the man's scent before he saw him. It was the two officers from the other day. He could feel his blood boil. 'This snot nosed kid is nothing. But I hate that guy.' The younger officer frowned at the two men. "Is there a problem here, Ms Higurashi?"
"No, no problems." Kagome looked up at the sky as the lightening flashed across it. When had the rain clouds moved in? The wind was picking up too and swept her dress around her legs.
The young officer stepped between the two boys. "I think there is. It's a good thing we decided to check up on you, Ms. Higurashi." He turned his back on Hojo and glared at Inu Yasha. "I knew you were trouble the moment I laid eyes on you. Don't worry ma'am we'll take care of him."
Inu Yasha growled and cracked his knuckles at the man. 'I'd love to tear this guy apart.'
But Kagome stepped forward, before either man could take action. 'I can't let this happen, if Inu Yasha hurts either of them they'll try to take him away.' "Don't you dare! Don't you dare lay a hand on him! Get out! Both of you get out!" Kagome trembled with both fury and grief. "Get off my property!" The two men gawked at her for a moment before retreating towards the entrance stairs in great haste. The sky cracked with thunder and lighting as it began to pour. Kagome trembled fiercely as the cold rain once again mixed with hot tears.
Inu Yasha had been stunned by the action and for a moment he believed she would turn on him as well. But now as he watched her fall to her knees and weep, he knew that she had no intention of being angry with him. Scooping her in his arms, he carried her back to the house.
Sitting on the entry step inside, he cradled her against him, once again allowing her to cry. 'That must have been really hard on her. If I ever see those two again, I'll kill them.' It was a matter-of-fact thought that drew no sympathy from the hanyou. They had hurt his Kagome and at the most inopportune time.
Kagome shifted in his arms. "I can't believe those jerks! How could they act like that at my family's funeral? And I can't believe Hojo! What a day for him to grow a spine!"
He stroked her hair warmly. "Calm down. It's all over. You won't ever have to see them again. At least, for their sakes I'd better not see them again." He growled under his breath. She sighed and nodded against his chest. He removed her shoes and his muddy socks and, still carrying her in his arms, went upstairs. "Let's get you cleaned up."
"I can walk." She muttered. But she was still trembling and he feared she'd fall if he let her walk on her own.
He set her on the bed. "You need to change. You'll get a cold if you stay in those wet clothes." She nodded and tried to stand, but immediately fell back to the bed.
"I'm just too tired." She started to lie down.
He shook his wet mop of hair. "No you don't. I'm not going to be accused of letting you get sick. Now where are your clothes?" She lifted a wary hand and pointed at her dresser. He moved over to it, pulling each drawer out and shuffling through it until he found the nightgowns like Kagome had been wearing the last few nights. He pulled one out that looked warm enough. "Here." He handed the garment to her.
Kagome looked dubiously at the full length dress she wore. It was soaked through and through and was clinging to her. It was heavy just wearing it. She couldn't imagine trying to pull it over her head. The dress hand no zippers or buttons to make the process easier. She frowned.
"Now, what's wrong?"
"I…" She blushed. 'I hate looking weak in his eyes.'
"What is it? Oh, I'll leave, so you can get dressed."
She caught his hand. "No wait. I didn't mean for you to leave. I need you to…" Kagome blushed a deep shade of scarlet. "I need you to help me."
It was his turn to blush. 'Did she just ask me to help her undress?' "Um, Kagome…"
"You'll have to close your eyes, of course."
He nodded. 'She wouldn't have asked such a thing unless she really did need help. She's so tired, I can understand that.' Kagome used him for leverage as she pulled herself to her feet. She swayed slightly and he steadied her with warm hand on her shoulder. "It's too heavy."
He looked at her blankly. "What is?"
"My dress, it's too heavy. I'm too tired to lift it over my head."
Inu Yasha turned beat red and broke into a cold sweat. "You want me to undress you?" His voice was almost a panic. 'I'll admit, I've had dreams about that but not like this.'
Kagome flushed and turned away. "Never mind, I'll do it myself." He watched her for a moment as she struggled to lift the hem of her dress to her knees and began to topple sideways onto the bed.
He caught her gently. "I'll help and I promise I won't peak." Kagome looked up at him a touch of shame in her eyes. He touched her cheek. "Really, I don't mind." He set her hands on his shoulders and closed his eyes as he began the task of lifting her dress. It was heavy! The material was the heavy sturdy kind that soaked up water like a sponge. He slowly made progress pulling it by the hem so the whole thing would come off inside-out. As he came to her thighs, he had to re-bundle the material in his hands. When he paused to do this he was nearly overcome by her scent. It was intoxicating, making him dizzy with desire. Slowly he made further progress, finally pulling the dress over her head. She let go of him to pull her arms out and sat back on the bed.
Inu Yasha could hear her panting. In his mind's eyes he could see her sitting on the bedside nude and exhausted. "Kagome?" He was getting worried with the long silence.
"Just give me a minute, okay." He could hear her rustling on the bed. "Okay, you can open your eyes now." Kagome had put on the cotton nightgown. At her feet was puddle her panty-hose. "You'd better go change too."
He picked up the hose and slung them over his arm with her wet dress. "Not until you get under the covers and go to sleep."
"I'll lie down," she said covering herself with the warm blanket, "but you know, I'm not going to be able to sleep until you come back." Her words drifted off as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Inu Yasha smiled. "Sure." He tucked her in with his free hand and turned the lights off. Kagome was already fast asleep.
He dumped her wet clothes in the bathroom hamper and found his red kimono where he'd left it earlier that day. After dressing and attempting to dry his wet hair he made his way downstairs. Suling was sitting at the kitchen table. "How is she?"
"Very tired. She's already asleep." He moved the sink and began to pour himself a glass of water.
"She said some very strange things to me today. Something about that well being a passage. Do you have any idea what she's talking about?"
Inu Yasha grinned. He liked this Suling. He reminded him of Sota. "Yeah, do you believe her?"
"Well, I don't really know. I think maybe the stress of the whole situation has finally got to her."
Inu Yasha chuckled. "That may be true. But she was telling the truth. The well acts as a door between this time and mine. Kagome and I are the only ones that can go through it. But it's still important that this side be taken care of, just in case there's some reason for us to come back."
'Not him too. Is everyone around here nuts.' "Okay, I guess I understand." Suling watched as the young man chugged the last of his water and headed back upstairs. He listened as Kagome's door opened and then closed gently. 'Well, I guess there'll be lots to do tomorrow. I'd better get some rest too.'
Inu Yasha slipped quietly into the room and laid down next to Kagome. She turned towards him, eyes still closed. "What took you so long?" She snuggled closer to him.
"Sorry, I thought you were sleeping." He wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her brow. "Kagome, I don't think your cousin believes us about the well."
"Don't matter." Her voice drifted away again into sleep. Inu Yasha laid awake for a long time. A part of him felt guilty for taking Kagome away from her comfortable home and all her modern conveniences. Even he'd become accustomed to them. Not to mention Kagome's goodies. 'I'll miss the ramen.' Was his last thought, as he too drifted into dreams.
The next morning, Kagome dug through her mother's records. 'Luckily mom was very organized.' She pulled out a folder and set it on the table. "Here it is. Everything was left to me. And I'm going to leave everything to you. Just promise me you'll look after the place."
Suling nodded. "I promise."
Kagome signed over the shrine's deed and passed it to her cousin. "There's just a few things that I want to get and then we'll be on our way." She rose to leave, but paused and whispered something in his ear.
"I'd be glad to." Suling rose and collected his car keys from the counter. "I'll be back later. Take all the time you want Kagome. Everything will stay the same for a while, so if you forget anything you can always come back." He waved at them as he left. 'I'm still not sure where she's going, but she must be serious leaving everything to me like that.'
Inu Yasha watched as Kagome crossed back and forth across her room. She was making a pile of clothes on the bed beside him. "Kagome, slow down, we have plenty of time. It's barely midday."
Kagome frowned at the pile of clothes. 'There wont be enough room in my bag for all those. I'll have to minimize.' She began to go through the already spares pile. She pulled out the sweat pants and a few t-shirts and a couple of skirts. She was also about to pull out the little sun dress.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm not going to have enough room for all these clothes. I have to leave some of them."
"But not that one." He motioned to the little sun dress.
She flinched. "Why?"
"Because, I like it."
"Really?" She looked down at the dress. It was a simple little thing. Then she remembered, it had been the dress she'd worn on her date with Hojo and had ended up running back to make sure Inu Yasha hadn't died from his serious wounds.
"I like it too." She placed the dress back on top of the pile. It was already significantly smaller than it had been and she felt comfortable that they would fit in her bag. After gathering a few more of her personal affects, she moved out into the hall. She stared for a long moment at her mother's bedroom door.
Inu Yasha startled her slightly when he placed a hand on her shoulder. "You want me to come with you?" Kagome nodded and he opened the door slowly. They were greeted by the smell of vanilla.
'My mother's perfume.' "There are just a few things of hers I'd like to have." Kagome sifted through her mother's clothes in her closet until she came to the blue and pink kimono. She pulled it out to look at it. It was her mother's wedding dress. Kagome could feel Inu Yasha watching her from beside the bed. "She always promised I could have this. It was her wedding dress." Kagome smiled sadly. "When I was young, I used to dream of wearing it, while me and her danced under bright colorful lanterns. She even caught me trying it on when I was eight."
Inu Yasha moved forward and slipped his arms around her from behind. "You should bring it then." He nearly purred the words in her ears. Kagome felt her knees go weak. Had he really said that?
She turned to face him, her eyes pleading for confirmation. "Really?"
Without hesitation, he nodded. There was nothing he wouldn't give her now. Anything she asked was hers and more.
"Was that a proposal?"
The hanyou blushed. "Do you want it to be?"
She smiled sweetly. "Yes, I think I do."
Inu Yasha grinned the biggest grin he'd ever grinned in his life. "Then it is. I love you, Kagome. I'd give you the world, if I could." She pulled him to her and kissed him passionately. It had only been four days since her family's accident. It had been the worst and best time of her life. Life had felt like a rollercoaster for the last week. One moment would be one of complete sadness and the next would be one of complete happiness. Like now, wrapped in Inu Yasha's embrace, his lips pressed against hers, the cruel cold world seemed to drift away.
Kagome turned redder than Inu Yasha's kimono. "Suling?" Just as quickly the redness faded as she looked up at Inu Yasha and smiled. She was his after all why should she blush?
"I was just wondering, what I should do with all these other things that are left."
Kagome looked around sadly. "I don't have any use for these things any more. You can give it to charity."
"Of course. What about your things?"
"I'll take what I need, but the rest you can do with what you want."
Suling still seemed skeptical about this well thing, but his cousin seemed quite convinced that it would carry her away. The man she clung to seemed very protective of her and he knew she'd be well taken care of. He nodded and left them alone.
"He thinks we're nuts." Inu Yasha commented.
Kagome smiled. "It doesn't matter whether he believes us or not. When we go, he'll believe." She tucked herself under his chin and sighed heavily. "I'm almost done here. Just give me a little longer."
He kissed her hair warmly. "Take all the time you want. I'm not going anywhere without you." Kagome nodded and reluctantly released him to return to her task of gathering the few things she could carry with her into the past. She collected a few of her mother's earrings and her wedding band. She packed away a photo album as well. Making her way to Sota's room, she gathered a few of the boy's toys some for Shippo and one small bear for herself. It was the one he slept with all the time. From her grandfather's room she took the small hand written diary that he had written in nearly every day of her life. It may not have held much wisdom, but it was sure to hold a lot of memories. One more look around her own room and she returned to Inu Yasha. He was waiting patiently at the top of the stairs quietly watching her cross back and forth in the hall. He figured she could use a little space while she picked up the remainders of her life. Finally, she appeared in her own doorway, dragging that heavy yellow bag behind her. He took it from her and easily threw it over his shoulder.
"Kagome you know, if you ever want to come back…"
She put a finger to his lips and shook her head sadly. "I won't want to. I want to be with what is left of my family and that's you and the others."
He embraced her warmly. "A band of orphans, that feel more like family to me than my own did." He whispered it in her hair.
Kagome looked up at him and stroked his cheek with such love that it made his heart melt. "We're not orphans as long as we're together."
He smiled slightly and nodded. "Are you ready?"
She swallowed hard, but put on a brave face. "Yes." She took his hand as they made their way downstairs.
Suling was waiting for them. "Kagome I got that stuff you asked for. I left it in the mini-shrine like you said."
Buyo moved up next to her and began to rub against her leg. She picked up the cat and hugged it tightly. "You will take care of Buyo wont you? I'd be too afraid to take him with me. Some demon would probably try to eat him."
Suling blinked at the mention of demons, but nonetheless took the cat that she offered. "Of course, I'll take care of everything I promise."
"Thank you, Suling for everything. Goodbye Buyo, be a good cat." She gave the little cat a pat on the head.
"I'll walk you out. Besides I'd like to see this passage of yours. I sure didn't see anything yesterday." He put Buyo down and walked with them out into the yard.
"You still don't believe us do you?" Kagome slid the mini-shrine door aside, giving her home one last glance.
"Well, it's not as though I don't believe, I'm just doubtful."
Kagome sighed as she followed Inu Yasha inside. The hanyou nearly had heart-attack at the sight of what lay beside the well. Twenty big boxes of ramen were set there ready to go with them. "Kagome, when did you do this?" He turned and smiled at her.
She smiled back, muffling a small chuckle. 'He's so cute when he's surprised.' "I asked Suling to get them this morning. I know how much you like them."
He shook his head in disbelief. 'Even with everything that has been happening to her, she still finds time to take care of others. That's my Kagome, always so selfless.'
"Well, we better go. It's getting late." She hugged her cousin. "Take care of yourself, Suling. I'll miss you."
He gave her a warm squeeze. "Goodbye Kagome."
Inu Yasha shook the man's hand and pulled the cap off, handing it to him. "Bye, it was good to meet you."
Suling stared at the dog-ears that had so craft fully been hidden for the last few days. "You're a demon. So you're serious, this old well is going to take you into the past."
Inu Yasha snickered. 'This guy's hopeless.' "Yep, bye." Gathering up as many of the boxes as he could carry and allowing Kagome to carry the rest, they jumped into the well for the last time.
Suling rushed to the well's sill. "They're gone."
On the other side of the well, three familiar faces waited for them. Shippo jumped into Kagome's arms as soon as she was relieved of the boxes. "Kagome, you're back. I missed you so much."
Kagome hugged the little kitsune tightly. "I missed you too."
"You were gone a long time. I was so scared you weren't coming back."
"Don't worry. I'm not going to leave ever again."
Miroku moved closer. "Does that mean your staying permanently?" She nodded.
Sango put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you sure, Kagome?"
Kagome looked up at Inu Yasha, meeting his steady gaze. "I've never been more sure of anything in my life. My future and my family are here."
Thanks for all the great reviews. I hoped you liked this chapter. I have lots more stories locked away in my head. I just have to find time to type them up. (Hint: Hmm, do I hear wedding bells?) Please remember to R&R.