Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.

The air was thick and heavy, like dirt piled upon a coffin. The wind stung her cheeks and nipped and tugged at ears, but the young woman merely shrugged it off, letting the chilling zephyr caress her head with errant strands of raven hair.

The unyielding stone beneath her feet clicked and clacked like a pallbearer's shuffle, and one of her empty hands tugged inside her pocket, cherry red.

"It's going to rain soon," Kagome Higurashi murmured softly, allowing her thick coat to wall the winds, cutting them away, allowing her passage to the Goshinboku, and what lay beneath its ancient boughs and its deep, overcast shadows.

Her feet reached a small, unmarked, wonderfully and inadequately simple stone marker, unadorned, save for the kanji of one word.

Friends.

There are no tears in her eyes, she's proud to say. He wouldn't have wanted tears. None of them would have.

Nor are there flowers in her hands, for there is no need, nor is there a want for them.

They were warriors, and they were strong.

That is what she carries to their graves, that and memory.

Her throat clenches, tight and hard, like a stranglehold, before releasing itself. "Hey." She says awkwardly, and the words set the air into foggy mist, obscuring the world.

The stone sits, unmoving but welcoming as the grave.

"I miss you." The words are sharp and honest, like the point of a sword. "I think about each of you, all the time." Her smile is a half broken thing, tragically happy.

The wind stings her eyes, and she blinks, feeling unshed tears blurring her vision. Defiantly, Kagome blinked them away with furious movements. "You're gone." She whispered softly. "And I'm still here."

Truth echoes, and the air becomes harder, unforgiving, like a noxious miasma, choking her.

Ahead, the heavens start to cry, and grayness becomes all.

She doesn't notice, between Heaven and Earth, between what once was, and what is, she stands as always, stuck in reverse, somewhere but here.

Her words go unnoticed, and cold water strikes her cheek, spattering across her jacket.

The cutting wind and falling rain is bitterly cold, and there is no warm embrace for Kagome to fall back on, no serene look on a houshi's face, no understanding smile from a taijiya, and no concerned, protective gaze from a hanyou.

"I wish... I wish I could have said something... before..." her voice clenches again, and the stranglehold returns, tighter and deadlier.

Her hand falls uselessly to her side, limp as a hung and dried corpse. Her lip is pressed hard against her teeth, slicing deep until blood welled up, like tears.

"I..."

"Stop it." His voice had changed over the years, losing it's familiar childish squeak and gaining a rougher, harder edge. A black umbrella hangs over his head, shielding him. Without any more words, he placed his hand on her shoulder, familiar, comfortable.

Her teeth relinquish their bite, and Kagome wiped the blood away slowly, the stranglehold keeping.

"Why do you do this to yourself?" he asked softly, his voice gentle, but far from the sweet, occasionally too forward, child he had been, and it made her sad. He made no motion to give her the protection of the umbrella.

She would have refused, after all. She protected him first.

The rain hit harder, striking the ground like an unforgiving fist.

"They'd want you to live. He'd want you to live." He said, and the air became unrestrictive, the walls lessening, bowing to his words.

"I know. I know." Kagome replied, and for a moment, the last strength of the stranglehold tightened and surged. The bitterness of the cold winds snapped at her eyes, and the raindrops scattered about .

"Then why are you crying?" he asked, his eyes concerned and beautiful, like glowing gemstones.

"I'm not... it's just the rain, Shippo." She denied quietly, letting the water run down her face in torrents, letting it spill across her coat like an open, bleeding wound.

The centuries old kitsune said nothing for a moment. And then, without a word, he tugged on her shoulder, pulling on her coat. "Come on. Let's go inside."

Without a word and without looking back, Kagome turned away from the stone, and nodded.

The kanji shed a single raindrop, tracing the letters for a moment, before spilling out across the ground.