Tokyo 2007 a.C.
Hojo sighed. It was not that he didn't believe in her words, because he did. But it all sounded so unreal, too strange to be true.
But anyway there he was. Hey, he couldn't help it! He loved the woman and he would do anything to please her, even standing in front of a well and looking at her as she descends into it, hoping to get transported 500 years to the past.
"Ok, I'm ready," Kagome adjusted her yellow backpack. It was old and ragged and she hadn't worn it for more than eight years, but she somehow couldn't stand going back without it.
"Ok, then I guess you'll go now down there and you'll disappear into a bright blue light, right?" he teased her.
Kagome looked at him and made a face. "You still don't believe me, do you, Hojo-kun?"
"You don't!" She hit him playfully on the chest.
"Don't worry honey, I still want to marry you, even if you're declared clinically insane. You know, I could think of very creative ways to cure you…" He nibbled her ear and grabbed her by the waist, pressing her against him. Kagome giggled.
"Not now, sweetie, when I return, ok?"
He growled, but let go of her.
"Alright then, jump down."
Kagome sat on the edge of the well and looked at its dark bottom. There were goose bumps in her stomach and she had to admit she was nervous. Her last visit to the sengoku jidai came back to her, making her dangle her feet with anxiety. But this time it was different.
This time she wasn't dying to get a justification or some explanation that would allow her to understand what had happened so she could move on with her life. The gap in her heart wasn't there any more, neither that perpetual pain that had drove her mad for so long. Her job, her family and Hojo had made it all go away. No, this time she only wanted to finally close this chapter, besides, she really wanted to see them.
"Come on, or did you decide to stay after all?" Hojo smiled at her. Her sweet, caring Hojo. She would have never thought that he would give her all the love she needed, but he did; in him she had found a partner, a friend, a lover, a child to play the silliest games that would keep them laughing for hours, and her best confident as well. So much she trusted him that she had told him all about the well, Naraku, their quest and even, about Inuyasha.
Odd enough, Hojo found the story fascinating and Kagome felt somewhat hurt in her pride for he didn't show the slightest indicative of jealousy. But that's just the way he was.
"Okay… I'll try to return as soon as possible, but bear in mind I might be gone for longer, even a week, alright?" she said.
"As long as you make it to the wedding…" his tone trailed off teasingly.
"Don't worry, I will." Kagome gave him a kiss on the nose and looked down again. The well seemed darker than ever.
Well, the sooner the better. She held her breath and jumped down.
Hojo covered his eyes with his arm as an intense light emerged from the well.
"Kagome!" As soon as the light disappeared, he ran to the well and looked down into it, using the lantern he had brought with him, but there was nothing at the bottom. Kagome wasn't there.
"I… I can't believe it… she's really gone…"
She leaned against the wall.
She had forgotten the shaky sensation it caused to cross the well. After regaining her equilibrium, she looked up and frowned. There was no light coming from the well's mouth. Maybe it was night? Impossible, daytime here had always coincided with that of her own time. Cautious, she started to climb up.
When she reached the mouth, her puzzlement grew even more. It hadn't worked! She was inside the small shrine! Had the well stopped functioning? Had she lost her spiritual powers? Disappointment started to pour over her and she left her bag fall to the floor, defeated.
As she supposed, she had waited too long.
But then, where was Hojo? She called for him and her voice got lost between the wooden walls.
There was something missing. Kagome looked around; the shrine looked different and it lacked of that strong varnish smell it had acquiesced when grandpa had painted it last week.
Bewildered, Kagome picked up her bag and opened the doors. A fresh, clean breeze touched her face, moving her once again long hair
She wasn't at home. The woods she had envisioned so many times for the past years greeted her. She had crossed over.
But then, what did the shrine mean? She took a couple of steps back in order to have a better look at it and yes, it was the very same building that guarded the well in her time.
Why was it there? How? Who had built it? Suddenly she felt the need to know everything that had happened since she left.
Curious, she limited herself to think, in the meanwhile.
With a sigh, Kagome flung her bag over her shoulders and started walking the pathway that would take her to Kaede's village.
"Kaede-sama!" A girl approached the old miko, who was sitting outside her hut, warming her cold bones with a little sunlight.
"There's a woman coming this way, she dresses funny… Do you think it's one of those foreigners?" The girl finished her sentence with a fearing tone.
"A woman in funny clothes you say?" Kaede looked ahead. Only once before had someone appeared wearing strange clothes at her village. Could it be possible? No… surely not. It had been so long.
"Yes, look here she comes!" The girl pointed to an approaching figure and then ran away toward the opposite direction.
Kaede fixed her tired eye on the person. Her sight wasn't the same anymore and the most she could get from far objects were blurry images, but she would have recognized her no matter what.
The woman wearing jeans and a pink shirt stood up in front of Kaede and smiled.
"Kagome… is that really you?" she barely whispered.
"Yes, it's me. How are you Kaede-baachan? I've missed you so much!" Kagome knelt down and embraced her mentor. Her heart crushed when she felt the fragility of the old woman's body.
"I can't believe you're back child, but look at you! You're not a child any more! You're all grown up! Oh you're a joy for this old woman! Come here, let me hug you again."
Kagome allowed Kaede to do so, feeling as if she was an inexpert teenager again, and not the 26 years old doctor who would get married in a month.
Kaede observed her, a melancholic smile on her face. "Pardon me for telling you this, but even if you looked so much like her before, now you're her mirror image."
"I know," Kagome said. It no longer affected her as much as it did once, and she herself had admitted how much she looked like Kikyo, since that mirror image only increased as years went by.
"Now now, tell me, where have you been? Why didn't you come back as you promised? We all suffered for your absence," Kaede said and Kagome sighed.
"It's a long story, by the way, the others are still here, aren't they?" She looked around, as if expecting to see them popping out of nowhere at any moment.
"No, no, they aren't dear. Shippo left with his uncle several years ago and…"
"His uncle? He had an uncle? That's great! Where did he go? I wonder if I can see him, I've missed him so much."
"I doubt that, but I'll tell you about it later, and," Kaede dropped the next lines with extreme care. "Sango and Inuyasha live now in the taijiya village."
Kaede expected the woman in front of her to start asking questions, or get furious at the news, but to her surprise, Kagome only nodded acquiescently. As if she was expecting such news.
"I see, well, I guess I'll have to travel there then. I came mostly to see them."
"Yes. Kaede-baachan, in how many days do you think I can reach the village?"
"Um… it's a week travel on foot, but you might get there much sooner if I lend you a horse, besides, there are new roads that will shorten your journey considerably."
"I'd appreciate that, thanks a lot, Kaede-baachan."
Kaede eyed her with worry and moved her head. "However it will be better if you change your attire, things have changed a little since the last time you were here."
"Why? What's wrong with my clothes?" She looked down at her outfit. Sure it was much better than that little fuku she used to wear around. What had she been thinking?
"It's the new shogun, Hideata. It's true he's done a lot of good things like maintaining the peace and making new roads, but also he has started a campaign against foreigners and Christians, intending to expulse them all, the poor souls. Any one who looks suspicious may face problems and those who help them might end up jailed or worse."
"Oh, that's right! I had forgotten about that!" She slapped her forehead. Indeed, her history lessons rested rusty and unused somewhere in the back of her brain, replaced by chemical formulas, medicament doses and the functions of the nervous system.
"Then it will be better if we give you clothes less… peculiar, so come on, and while we're at it, why don't you tell me about that long story?"
Leaning on a walking stick, Kaede stood up and entered her hut. Kagome followed.
"Ichi, ni, san… Ichi, ni, san…" The little girl pointed at the rocks that shaped the wall surrounding her home. She was intending to count how many there were, --her dad had told her they were thousands—but knowing only how to count until three was proving to be an obstacle in her mission.
"Um, ichi… huh?" She interrupted the task, raising her head. She could hear the sound of hooves approaching. The girl rose up and went to the gate, trying to see who it was through the small gap between the heavy doors.
And then she saw a beautiful woman riding on a horse. She was dressed in white and red and was carrying a bow at her back. The woman brought her horse to a halt and just stayed there, quiet and observing.
The girl looked at her with curiosity and decided to find out more about the pretty lady, so she ran to her secret place, there, where she had discovered a small hole in the wall, and going through it, went to meet her.
Kagome looked at the place. Was it the same? How much it had changed. The palisade was gone and in its place there stood a white wall.
She turned, startled, to face a little girl standing beside her horse. She hadn't been there a second ago, Kagome could swear. She was wearing a kerchief over her head that covered her hair and a small, pink kimono that was dirty with mud here and there.
"Hi," she answered back with a smile.
"Are you a miko?" The girl offered her a grin. "I know you are because of the way you dress. When my little sister grows up she'll be a miko too!"
Kagome descended from her horse and got closer to the girl. "Really?"
"Yeah! What's that yellow thing on your back? Can I see it, please?"
Kagome couldn't help but laugh at the sparkle this child had. She couldn't be older than four, she reckoned.
"This is my travel bag, I have many things in here. Would you like to try some chocolate?"
Kagome lowered her bag and searched inside, producing a Hershey's tablet. The girl looked mesmerized at the peculiar wrapping and followed carefully Kagome's movements as she opened the candy and handed it to her.
"Here you go."
The girl looked at the suspicious food and then reached tentatively for it, but when she took the first bite her face exploded in the most delighted smile Kagome had ever seen.
"This is good! I like it a lot! Thank you so much, Miko-Sama!" she bowed and then gave the chocolate bar another chunky bite.
"No problem," she laughed, enjoying the child's happy face. "Now tell me, do you live around here? You know who lives in this house?"
"Yes, oh look! I got my hands all dirty! Mommy's going to be mad at me!" And Kagome froze in her place, for the child took off her kerchief and started cleaning her chocolate stained hands.
A cascade of white hair fell over her shoulders.
"Izayoi!" A male voice was heard and Kagome's heart jumped.
The girl took her hands to her mouth. "Daddy doesn't like it when I sneak out the house! Hide me, Miko-Sama!" She hid behind the red hakama. Kagome wished she could do the same but she was rotted to the spot.
The wooden doors opened and a black haired man appeared behind them.
"Izayoi! I told you not to go out the hou—" but he didn't end his sentence. His jaw dropped.
The girl ran to him and hugged his leg.
"I'm sorry daddy, don't be angry with me, I just wanted to meet the Miko-Sama. She's very pretty and she gave me chokorateru!"
They stood still, neither daring to move. Kagome examined him; his older version hadn't changed that much from the potty mouthed teenager she had left so many years ago, except he looked older. But there was something else; his eyes didn't hold that resentful spark that she had seen the last time she looked directly at them.
What was he thinking? Was he studying her as well? Evaluating how much she had changed? Or just asking what the hell was she doing there and why had she come back? Or hadn't, in the first place?
"Hi, Inuyasha," she finally said, trying as hard as she could to keep her voice firm and neutral.
"I never thought I'd ever see you again," he answered after several moments, then took the girl's hand in his and opened the doors a little more, gesturing Kagome with a movement of his head to enter.
"Come in," he offered.
Kagome took a couple of seconds to react, but she nodded and followed them inside. Little Izayoi let go of her father's hand and ran to the small pond in the middle of the yard, where she started chasing fireflies.
"She's beautiful," Kagome said. She looked at what once was the taiiya village and that now had become a beautiful house with blossoming gardens and the smell of recently cooked meal in the air. It had become a home.
"Your house is beautiful too." She wondered if Sango was inside, but decided not to ask.
"Thanks." He sat on a bench, his eyes fixed on her daughter as she pirouetted around the garden. "Have a seat," he told his sudden guest.
Kagome did as told.
"Interesting outfit," he commented. Kagome looked down at the miko clothes Kaede had lend her, in order to avoid any kind of problems during the journey, she had said.
"Kaede-baachan gave them to me," she straightened the fabric, then held her gaze to him. "Surely there must be a thousand of questions in your head right now," she blunted. Her feet twitched nervously.
"Don't you have a thousand questions of your own?" he answered, observing her carefully, like a patient sensei waiting for his pupil to come out with the right answer.
The wind blew softy over their heads, moving the sakura tree under which shadow they were sitting, also, the sunrays made their way through the foliage and butterflies danced around them, displaying their colorful wings. Everything was so peaceful there.
It was driving Kagome crazy!
She stood up and started pacing, anxious.
"This is not how I expected our meeting would be!" She stomped her foot down and then amazed at her actions. How long had it been since she had stomped her foot?
"Then, how did you expect it to be?" He tilted his head, a confused gesture on his face.
"I... I don't know! I was expecting you to scream at me or apologize or anything! But I didn't expect you to be there just… just… staring at me as if I were some strange bug! Come on! Aren't you surprised to see me at all?"
"I am. As I told you, I didn't think I'd see you again."
"Then what is it? Why ain't you biting my head off? Or getting all defensive?"
"Would you like me to?"
"Aaahg!" Kagome grabbed her head between her hands. That was not the answer she was waiting! It was so un-Inuyasha!
"N—no! I mean, I'm just wondering so many things…" Kagome dropped her shoulders and after sighing deeply, she sat down again.
"I wonder a lot of things myself, but I guess I can let you ask first," he said and crossed his arms over his chest and sat on a lotus flower position, but his face maintained an open look.
"As a host, it is my obligation."
Kagome frowned, but she imitated his position and sat so she could face him directly, except her hands were on her knees.
"Wow… you… you've changed so much… I never thought I'd ever see you being… polite."
"Well, you didn't think you'd find the same immature boy you left eight years ago, did you?"
"No… of course not." Lie. All those years she had hung to that Inuyasha's sassy, petulant behavior and she had hoped to find him just like that; ready for any fight and a 'keh' at the verge of his lips.
"We all change, Kagome. You have changed a lot too… though now you look even more like…" He didn't finish the sentence, probably afraid to make her uncomfortable. So she finished for him.
"Kikyo? Yes, I know…"
"Um… you're finally at peace with that, huh? That's okay. I'm glad for you. Well, now, ask."
She twisted her hair between her fingers before voicing her first question. "What are you feeling right now?"
Inuyasha thought for some moments, his index under his chin, then he said, "I'm surprised, very, and perhaps I feel some confusion for I don't know why you came back after all these years, though I'm curious to know, to tell the truth. Yet I'm glad to see you."
"I see…" she bit her lower lip and took a deep breath, as if gathering courage to ask the next question. "Did you wonder why I didn't come back?"
"Too many times," he answered without hesitation.
"What did you guess?"
He went silent for a moment as he fixed his eyes in some point in the sky. "Lots of things, that something bad had happened in that crazy world you live, or that you had found someone…I might have thought I hated you at a time, but those feelings are gone, in fact I've remembered you for the last years with fondness."
"I… that's what I thought… that you hated me, because it was my fault that you became human…" She said as she played nervously with her black locks, her head low.
Inuyasha then reached for her and raised her chin with the slightest of the touches. Her eyes met his.
"No… Kagome, I never hated you for that. I never blamed you, what is more, I thought it was you the one who hated me because I had become weak and defenseless."
Kagome shook her head vehemently. "No! I would never hate you for th--!"
"Don't worry. I know that now. I know you are not like that."
"I… uh," she tried to say something at that but failed. Kagome looked down and noticed the rich blue color in his Hakama and it stuck her. How hadn't she noticed it before?
"You're not using your firerat suit, why? I thought it was a token from your mother."
He smiled. "I still have it, but now I have other ways to remember her." Inuyasha raised his eyes to his daughter again.
"Izayoi!" he called and the girl left her games aside and ran to her father.
"Yes, daddy?" Inuyasha picked her up and sat her on his knees.
"I want you to meet a good friend of mine. She is the powerful miko who helped your mom and me to defeat Naraku. Remember I told you about her?"
"Uh huh," Izayoi muttered, her bright eyes were wide open, looking at Kagome with admiration.
"Wow! Daddy's told me so much about you! Is it true you can purify hundreds of youkai with a single arrow? Can I borrow your bow?"
"No, Izayoi, now you better go inside and get ready, your mother will not be happy when she sees the state of your clothes."
"Yes! I'm glad to meet you, Miko-Sama!" she said and jumped down his leg, hopping all the way into the house.
Inuyasha didn't tear his eyes off her until she disappeared behind the shoji screens, then he turned his attention to his guest and said, "you only knew that evil impersonation Sesshoumaru created once, so you might not remember my mother, but Izayoi looks exactly like her, except for the hair color," he said.
"Yeah… when I saw it I knew immediately she had to be your daughter."
Inuyasha's mouth curved in a smile and his eyes got lost somewhere in time. "Just imagine what Sango and I thought when she was born. We didn't stop looking for fangs or dog ears until she was two years old." Then he returned to the present; there was a slightly alarmed expression on his face, probably because he hadn't planned on dropping that information just yet, but confusion filled him when such revelation didn't produce a set of fury or even a twitch in Kagome.
"I suppose Kaede informed you of everything," he assumed.
"No. I already knew about you and Sango before I came. That's why I didn't return, Inuyasha. Because I knew. Why would I come back? I felt I had no reason at all." She felt a strange pang in her chest. She didn't feel angry and betrayed any more, but apparently there was still, buried deep inside, a remaining, small resentment.
"What do you mean?" he asked, puzzled. Kagome almost could see his dog ears twitching.
"You know what I mean…" she muttered.
"I really don't."
"Come on… There's no need to lie, I can handle the truth. I'm a big girl now." She tried to give him a reassuring look but he would only look dumbfounded.
Kagome sighed and spoke like someone telling a child why two and two made four. "I know you married Sango right after I left. You didn't wait for me."
Kagome tried to read his confused eyes but they only confused her as well. Maybe Inuyasha changed a lot during the years, but of one thing she was sure; he didn't know how to lie and his actual face showed he had no idea what she was talking about.
No, that couldn't be. He was faking it.
"Perhaps if you explained to me I'd understand what you are trying to say. All I know is that you promised you'd be back in six months and you didn't." he told her, the confused look wouldn't leave his face.
Kagome rose to her feet and started pacing again, her hands at her back.
"I don't now what you can possibly gain from denying it but alright, I will, if I have to."
She stopped and looked down at him. "I know what I promised, but I didn't have the courage to do it, not after what I found out…"
Tokyo, 1999 a.C.
"Come on sister, you have to go!" Sota whined, but she was so tired that she hardly could get up from bed. Getting dressed and going all the way to the museum was out of question.
"Grandpa's gonna be really upset if you don't come with us," he insisted.
"He'll deal with it," she mumbled and put a pillow over her head, hopping to muffle her brother's voice, but this time, it wasn't Sota who spoke.
"Daughter, I know you must be exhausted, but this is really important for your grandfather. Could you please make a little effort and come with us?"
Kagome raised her head to find her mother looking at her with a pleading expression. Damn, she couldn't deny anything to her when she made that face.
"Okay… I'll get ready, but I won't stay long 'kay? I've got classes in the afternoon."
"Oh, I thought you finally had one free Sunday," her mother said as she sat on the bed.
"No." She went to her feet and yawned, then moved to her closet and started rummaging for something decent to wear. "We'll study humanities today…" Several pieces of clothes went flying over the bed, missing Mrs. Higurashi by inches.
"Kagome, I'm glad you're studying so hard and I have no doubts you'll pass that exam, but don't you think you should relax a little? All this study is taking its toll on you. You don't eat well, you are getting skinny and there are circles under your eyes," her mother said with a worried tone, but more flying clothes were her only answer.
"Besides, I know you're depressed since your friend Inuyasha hasn't visited in so long," Mr. Higurashi added tentatively.
Kagome stopped her quest, her mother's words ringing in her ears. It was true. It had been almost three months since the last time she had seen Inuyasha and the others and he hadn't come a single time. She missed him so much.
"It's alright mom, he'll come eventually."
"Well, I hope so, now come on, let's hurry or we'll be late. I want you to meet someone before the exposition starts."
When they arrived at the museum, hundreds of people were already outside, waiting for the building to open its doors for the inauguration of the important exhibition. Several ancient objects from the last period of the Sengoku Jidai were going to be shown to the public for the first time, and the major expositors were the Kurasawa and the Higurashi family.
Of course, they didn't have to wait with the rest of the public. Kagome and the others were leaded to the interior where other families, who had lent their precious heirlooms, were already waiting.
"Oh! Look! There they are!" Grandpa, dressed with his best clothes, pointed at the part of the museum where the belongings of the ancient Sunset shrine were exposed. Vases, old sacred rolls, amulets, weapons and other utensils looked wonderful and important behind those thick glasses and under those lights.
Kagome didn't know they possessed half those things and felt a little ashamed at how little interest she had shown for her family valuable belongings. But Sota had expressed his desires to be the next guardian of the shrine and Kagome was glad for that, even if she was the one who possessed the spiritual powers.
"I knew I was right when I decided to keep all those relics! Who would have thought they held such an important historical value? See? I told you!"
"Yes, grandpa, you did." Mrs Higurashi chuckled at the old man's excitement but Kagome could only look tired. She was happy, really, but she just didn't have the strength to show it. Anyway her grandfather didn't notice, he just smiled, self-pleased and then went after a couple of guests, explaining them with every detail how the Sunset shrine had been in his family for centuries and how he had fought innumerable evil spirits.
"Yukino?(1) Is that you?" A voice called behind them and Kagome turned to see a woman in her mid-forties smiling at them. Her face was amiable and Kagome thought her eyes twinkled with mischief.
"Kimiko! How nice to see you! It's been what? Twenty years." Mrs. Higurashi greeted her heartily.
"At least! And where's old grandpa Higurashi?"
"Oh, he's showing off somewhere," Mrs. Higurashi waved away. "Look, these are my children, Kagome and Sota. Kagome's about to start her college studies."
"Nice to meet you, I'm Kurasawa Kimiko." The woman bowed and Kagome and Sota corresponded the courtesy.
"You must know today we're the stars here, children," Kimiko said, winkling. "Our two families have been linked during more than ten generations and our objects are by far the most interesting ones here. Come on, let me lead you where the Kurasawa exposition is held.
They followed her until they reached another well illuminated, protected area and Kagome felt as if earth was removed from under her feet.
There, behind the glass, well illuminated and with a sign at its side, surely explaining all about its history, was Hiraikotsu.
"Ah, I see you've noticed the boomerang, dear Kagome," Kimiko said, pleased at Kagome's astounded gesture. "Its one of our two most antique objects and it belonged to an ancestor called Sango. The legend says she was a powerful youkai slayer and that she used this weapon to exterminate them, making it fly through the air, chopping members and heads. Isn't that fascinating?" she said lively.
"Wow, It's huge! It must weight a ton! Are you telling me a woman could raise that thing and throw it? That's impossible!" Sota looked at the object, amazed.
"No… it's not, and she was great," Kagome said out of breath, thrilled. She was in presence of a direct descendant of Sango, her good friend Sango! She felt like hugging the woman and telling her all about how her Great great great great great great grand mother was brave and valiant and beautiful. She smiled, delighted, clapping her hands together. Just wait until she goes back and tells Sango about it.
"Do you know her, Kagome?" her mother whispered to her daughter and she nodded happily.
"I'm glad someone believes me! In fact there are many strange stories about my family, for example, look at what we have over here."
Kimiko pointed to another object kept over a velvet cushion. There were family crests surrounding it and its saya shined beautifully with all those reflectors over it.
This time Kagome blinked a couple of times as her mouth hung open.
"And this is the legendary Tessaiga. Its blade is always sharp and unspotted and it's said it can cut through a man as if he was made of paper, not that we have tried," Kimiko laughed. "It belonged to another of my ancestors, who was married to Sango, the slayer. His name was Inuyasha."
It couldn't be. It couldn't be! There had to be a mistake!
"Inuyasha, you said?" Mrs. Higurasha asked. She and Sota looked at each other, bewildered, and then at Kagome, but the girl wouldn't make a single movement.
"Yes! I know it's a strange name, but according to the legend, he was a powerful Inu-youkai who forfeited his powers for his beloved Sango. Isn't that romantic? The taijiya and the youkai," Kimiko stated, oblivious to the surprised faces of her audience.
No. It wasn't romantic, it was a lie! Inuyasha hadn't sacrificed his powers for Sango, it had been for her! What was all this? She couldn't understand! She didn't want to understand! Suddenly all she wanted to do is jump down the well and demand for an explanation from those two!
But she stayed, unable to move. She knew she shouldn't have come.
"Kimiko… what else do you know about Sango and Inuyasha?" Mrs. Higurashi asked warily.
"Oh well, I believe they married in 1599, more or less."
"That's not true!" Inuyasha sprang to his feet, cutting Kagome's chronicle.
"What's not true?" she said, exasperated at being interrupted.
"Sango and I married only five years ago! That's why you didn't return? Because you thought we had married right away?"
"I… yes! What else did you want me to believe? You didn't visit me once in three months and suddenly I find reliable, historical information that the love of my life had married my best friend! What did you want me to do?"
"To come here and find out firsthand!" he shouted. He wasn't feeling serene anymore.
"I couldn't! I didn't dare to come here and… and see it! And besides, if it hadn't been true, you would have gone to visit me and you didn't! Why, Inuyasha?"
"Because the well sealed for me! Your reliable, historical information is bullshit, Stupid wench! It didn't let me go through it!" It had been years since the last time Inuyasha had used such words.
"Wha--? D—do you mean…. You…" Kagome sat down, her eyes huge and her mouth open.
"Exactly, I waited for you for days and months and even years, but you never came. Even Sango built the well shrine for me, so I wouldn't endanger my health in doing so."
Sango had helped him to wait? And they hadn't married right away, as Kimiko had told her! Was it possible that a simple date mistake had occasioned all of this? It sounded too cruel to be true.
Inuyasha rubbed his temples and spoke in a low voice, attempting to calm his temper. "The truth is that your absence gave us the opportunity to know each other and Sango was there for me when I needed you the most. I couldn't help falling in love with her and I'm thankful for that… but you know what, Kagome?"
She just looked at him, waiting for him to go on.
"Probably I wouldn't have married Sango if you had returned."
"And I would have returned if you hadn't married Sango," she answered with a sad smile, then, Kagome started to chuckle.
"Have you gone insane? I could, after finding out all of this," he admitted, frowning.
She took a deep breath and moved her head. "I just laugh at the time paradox we were victims of."
Inuyasha raised an eyebrow, lost at her words but didn't stop to contemplate them. He still wasn't happy with her justification.
"Still, you should have returned and confirmed it with your own eyes. I don't understand how someone like you, who always wanted to know it all, just accepted that!"
"Because you haven't let me finish the story!"
"Go on then!"
"Oh well, I believe they married in 1599, more or less. So that makes our families really ancient." Kimiko commented.
"Our families?" asked Sota.
"Why of course. Yukino, didn't you tell them?"
"Uh… sorry, with all the fuzz it slipped past me… Kagome, Sota, Kimiko is my cousin and your aunt." Mrs. Higurashi said, still shaken by the surprise and the implications it held.
My Aunt? That means I…
"That's right, we're the two branches that descend from Sango-Sama and Inuyasha-Sama's line. My family has always lived in what until some years, was known as the taijiya hill, but they changed it for some people believed the name was gruesome, and your family has been the guardian of the Sunset shrine."
Kagome's head was spinning and there was no air in her lungs. She felt cold and numb and it just felt as if the whole world had collapsed over her.
Kimiko continued, "So, didn't you know that, according to the tradition, you hold youkai blood in your veins? I bet not, Your side of the family didn't believe in the story that much and they don't usually pass the oral tradition, but I have proofs, like, did you know my hair is originally white? Every three generations or so there's a member of the family with that characteristic, but I dye it black, so I don't call that much attention." She bowed, showing them the clearly white roots breaking through her head.
Don't think I'll be around waiting for you to return!
The last word Inuyasha ever spoke to her returned to her head, hitting her like a hammer, buckling her knees.
For Kami. It was true.
"Kagome! Where are you going!" Her mother yelled after her, but she didn't know, she only knew she had to get out of there and run as she had never ran, until her lungs burned and her legs throbbed, until she hurt so much physically that she couldn't feel anything else.
Inuyasha contemplated her with a piercing gaze, as if it was the first time he had ever set his eyes upon her.
"Then… that means… I'm your… you're my…"
"Yes, that's right. I'm your descendant," Kagome confirmed, nodding.
This time, it was Inuyasha who had to take a sit but it wasn't enough, he was shocked.
There was a rustle behind them.
"Now I understand why you didn't come back. If you had, then many years in the future, you wouldn't have been born," someone said and they turned to see Sango standing there.
"S—Sango," Kagome mumbled, surprised.
Inuyasha looked between them both.
"Hi, Kagome-chan. I've missed you so much." Sango smiled warmly at her and stood beside Inuyasha, who absently extended his hand and entwined his fingers with hers.
"Did you hear what I told Inuyasha?" It was not that Kagome was bad-mannered, she only was startled.
"I heard enough to understand the sacrifice you made for all of us, and I can do nothing but thank you with all my heart." Sango bowed.
Kagome approached her and they stood there in silence for some moments, then, the miko threw her arms around her friend. Sango returned the hug.
Suddenly, it all became real for Kagome. There she was, with those she considered her second family, with the woman that was like her sister, with the man that made her feel love for the first time. Her eyes started to water.
Sango hid her face in her friend's shoulder where she, as well, let her tears fall.
"I've missed you too, Sango-chan," Kagome said at last.
Then, a faint cry crossed the garden and Sango separated from Kagome, her eyes fixed on the house. Izayoi, now with a new, clean kimoko, popped her head from the house and yelled, "Mom! The baby's crying!"
"Baby?" Kagome asked and then she remembered Izayoi mentioning something about a little sister.
Sango looked at Inuyasha, and he gave a nod, smiling.
"Wait here, Kagome," Sango said and then ran to the house.
"This is all so strange." Inuyasha commented after they were left alone. "I know for sure I wouldn't have met Sango had you not come to this era… but you wouldn't have been born if I hadn't met her…"
"I know… I'm responsible for my own existence… tell me about weird."
There was a silence. Inuyasha looked the reflection over the pond's surface for a while before making up his mind and ask: "you still feel something… I mean… for me?"
"Don't worry about that. I'm getting married in a month to Hojo. Do you remember him?" She smiled at the thought of her fiancé.
"The skinny goody boy? Yeah, I do. I'm really happy for you," Inuyasha answered honestly.
In that moment, Sango appeared again carrying a small bundle in her arms. She approached her friend and discovered the blanket to reveal a cute little baby girl with black hair. She couldn't be more than a few months old, but Kagome could already see she would look just like Sango when she grew up.
Inuyasha took the baby and placed it in Kagome's arms and immediately the miko could feel a purifying energy emanating from the infant. She looked at her in awe.
"You feel it too, don't you? This is our daughter," he said with a proud smile. "We thought you should meet her too."
"She's beautiful, and her energy is so powerful!" Kagome said.
Sango spoke, "Even before she was born, Kaede-baachan told us she'd have strong spiritual powers. When she is old enough we'll take her to the Sunset shrine, so she can be educated into the miko ways, if she wants to."
All the pieces were falling into place now. Izayoi would stay in the taijiya hill to mother the Kurasawa family and this tiny baby would go to the Sunset shrine and found the Higurashi family. It was an inenarrable experience to hold that child in her arms.
"What's her name?" she asked.
"You don't have any idea?" asked Sango.
She moved her head.
"Her name's Kagome."
She looked at them, taken aback, and then back to little Kagome. They really didn't hold any bitterness toward her or her absence! They had named their child after her!
"This is too much for me. Grandpa told me once he was the one who picked my name, and that this name belonged to one of my oldest ancestors… and now I find out this ancestor was named after me. Figures, I'm named after myself!" She laughed.
In that moment, Kagome felt someone tugging at her shirt and looked down to see Izayoi carrying a tiny neko youkai who stared at her with bright eyes, her two tails moving incessantly.
"Look Miko-Sama! This is my pet, Kirara, she wants to meet you!"
Kagome gave the baby back to her mother and Kirara jumped over her shoulder, where she snuggled her cheek happily.
"Kirara! I've missed you too!"
That afternoon they spent the time talking about all what had happened, about Shippo, Kagome's flash visit –Inuyasha was relieved to find out he hadn't imagined it-- and promising in general to forgive and forget.
It was incredible for them to be together again, like in the old times, even if the circumstances were so different and Miroku and Shippo were no longer there. All the sudden, Kagome felt like hanging her backpack on her shoulder and start walking with them by any road that appeared in from of them, camping under the starts and cooking instant ramen – she thought with a smile –, yet those times would never come back.
That night Kagome stayed with them, but when the next day arose, suddenly it became too hard to part ways.
"You could stay a little longer, Kagome, there's plenty of room. We've had so little time…" Sango pleaded. They were standing outside the gates while Kagome readied her horse.
"I really can't… I've got a wedding to plan and besides, Hojo must be really worried about me," she said.
"We understand… Will you come back?" Inuyasha asked.
Kagome looked at the couple and heaved a sigh. Sadness bathed her face as she looked down, then said in a gloomy voice, "I wish I could, but I've messed up with time enough and I don't think it'd be wise to keep coming here. I'm afraid I might change something I'm not supposed to change… I'm sorry."
"Well… for what we've been taught, I suppose if you come back at all, it will be because it's meant to be…" Sango tried to conceal her sadness with a small smile, but with no avail.
"Yeah… I guess so…" Kagome's voice trailed off. They stayed in silence for some moments, acceptance and denial in their eyes. That until Kagome spoke, offering a bright smile. "Well, I'm ready," she declared and moved toward them.
"I'm so sorry for ever doubting you as a friend, Sango," she said as she hugged the taijiya.
"Don't be, I didn't consider myself a very good one at times, but that's all over now. Remember you're like my sister Kagome-chan. Always."
"I know, you too."
Then she moved to Inuyasha. "What will you tell your children about me, Inuyasha?"
Inuyasha gave her a little smile before answering, "the truth, that you were a wonderful, brave person, who healed our hearts and brought us together, and that we loved you very much."
"Thank you." Kagome smiled and decided it was time to go before she got all weepy and sentimental. She mounted on the horse.
"Well, I think that's it. I'm really glad I could see you again. Don't forget me, Okay?"
"There's no way we could," Sango said.
Kagome was ready to leave when she remembered something.
"Oh! I almost forgot!"
She took off her weapons and handed them to Inuyasha, who received them with inquisitiveness.
"My mother told me later that aunt Kimiko had showed them a bow and a quiver that, according to the legend, had been given to my ancestors by the miko who joined their lives… Kaede-baachan didn't give you ones, did she?"
"No," answered Sango.
"Then I suppose these are the items."
Inuyasha looked at them appreciatively. "Thanks."
"Well… good bye then, Inuyasha-Sama, Sango-Sama," She said, callng them with the respect that older, respected people deserved. After all, they were her great grandparents. She finally smiled and then hit the reins. The horse started its race, its rider didn't turn her head back.
Sango and Inuyasha stayed there for a long time, watching her retreating form as it became dim against the early sun.
They never saw her again.
El fin. The end. C'est tout. Adios.
(1) Sorry, some one knows the name of Kagome's mother? I just had to come up with one.
And a final note: I know that Inuyasha's quest didn't last (won't last? I don't know if there is finally a series end) three years, but I just had to adjust the timeline in order for this story to work out, other way Kagome wouldn't have had the age to go to college.
I also know that during the period I set this story in, the weapons among common people was banned (and that would include Inuyasha and Sango) but I just wanted them to be in a period where they could have some stability and peace so they could raise their family. And Tokugawa Ieyatsu's period was the right one, at the end of the Sengoku Jidai, even if it doesn't match the period the exact manga is set on.
I want to thank Mujitsu for her great help, she is a dedicated beta-reader who helped me with my language mistakes, for English is not my first language. Everybody, give her kudos as well.
And of course, thank you so much to all the loyal readers who followed this story from the beginning. Guys, you rock and you inspired me to keep writing. Arigato!
Did you know that Kagome's name in Spanish was changed to "Aome"? Wonder why? LoL! Ask any latin friend!