Kagome pressed the jewel into Inuyasha's palm and closed his fingers around it, holding his fist with both of her hands. "I made you a promise, Inuyasha," she said softly, looking anywhere but at him. "Use it for whatever you want, even if it is becoming a full demon or…" she trailed off, but they all knew what she did not say.
Even if he used it for her.
She was standing nearby, waiting for Kagome to say her goodbyes before taking her place by Inuyasha's side. Her soul stealers swirled around her, delivering souls and she watched with emotionless black eyes as each of the group embraced Kagome and wished her well.
She saved Inuyasha for her last goodbye because it was the most painful. Standing on her tiptoes, she leaned up and kissed his cheek, her hand braced on his shoulder for balance. "Whatever you do, just make sure you're happy, okay? That's all I really want," she whispered and blushed.
He brought his arms around her, holding her closer to him despite the audience. It was his last moment with her and he wanted it to last for as long as possible. He wanted her to know all that he couldn't say and if the unusual display of affection could possibly express those feelings then he would deal with the embarrassment.
"You too, Kagome," he replied, his voice but a current of warm breath against her ear causing her to blush deeper and hide a melancholy smile against his shoulder.
With a final look around the Sengoku Jidai, she offered a sad smile to her friends and leapt into the blackness of the well, disappearing back to her era.
Kirara transformed and rubbed against Inuyasha's side, purring lightly. He rubbed her head, scratching her ear gently and shooed her away while Sango and Miroku came to say their farewells as well.
Sango lifted a sobbing Shippou from the edge of the well and hugged him to her, stroking his hair. Without a word, she approached the hanyou and gave him a one armed hug, her own tears glistening in her eyes at the departure of her best friend.
"You are welcome to visit us whenever you wish, my friend," Miroku offered and wrapped his arm around Sango's shoulders as she came to lean against him. "I hope you chose to do so soon." The two men looked at one another and then nodded, needing no more display than that.
Once the houshi and taijiya had mounted the fire cat and begun their journey back to the slayer village, Inuyasha sighed and turned to look at Kikyo. He opened his fist, which had remained closed since Kagome closed it, and revealed the glowing Shikon no Tama. He honesty didn't know what to do or say. Nothing that could be done or said seemed appropriate.
Damnit! I finally get the fucking thing and it isn't even what I want. Why does this have to be so damned hard? I know I owe Kikyou, but I owe Kagome, too, for everything she's done, ne? He closed his fist around the jewel and growled his agitation at the situation he was facing.
"Do not forget about your promises, Inuyasha," Kikyo reminded, seeing the hesitation in his golden depths.
He looked up from his closed fist to the undead miko who stood only feet away, awaiting the completion of their bargain. "Of course." He gripped the tama between his thumb and forefinger, taking a deep breath. Here goes nothing. I wish for Kikyou to have her life back so that my promises can finally be fulfilled.
There was an explosion of bright, pink hued light from the Shikon no Tama that filled the clearing and then centered around Kikyou's clay body. It grew so bright that it engulfed her completely, hiding her from sight and Inuyasha had to shield his eyes and look away.
Kagome wearily climbed the stairs of the well house and stepped out into the courtyard. It was a beautiful spring day, she just wished that it hadn't gone so badly. It wasn't like she didn't always know she'd have to say goodbye to him eventually, but she had allowed herself a small hope that some Fate would intervene and allow her to be with the man who she'd come to love.
As she closed the door behind her and started back towards the house the world around her began to spin and she blinked as a wave of dizziness swept over her. Nausea came upon her like a tsunami wave and she fell to her knees, breath catching in her throat as she clutched her abdomen.
Then her world went black.
Pink light assaulted her senses when she opened her eyes. It quickly faded away and she was left looking around her surroundings in confusion. Something was definitely wrong…
Somehow she had come to be standing in the same clearing she'd left only hours before. Whipping her head around in fright, her gaze came to rest on a silver haired hanyou and her breath caught in her throat. "Inuyasha?"
Oh, kami-sama… Her hands came to her throat and she frowned, her terror rising. That wasn't her voice!
Further inspection showed her what she had begun to pray wouldn't be true. Not only wasn't it her voice, it wasn't her body. Dark eyes widened and she stared at Inuyasha. But I was…How did…Why am I…Thoughts and questions whirled around in her mind at such a pace that she wasn't even able to form a complete thought before another came to her. She sucked in a breath, her heart racing when he stepped closer to her.
His golden eyes were filled with concern as he slowly approached her and she shook her head from side to side harshly, backing away with every step he took.
"That's not my name," she breathed, breaths coming in short pants. "That's not me…I'm not her!"
He reached out to her, frowning at her antics. "What the fuck are you talking about? What's with you, Kikyo?"
"Don't call me that!" Her voice raised to a high pitched screech and she clenched her fists at her side. "That isn't my name! I'm not her so don't ever call me that!"
Her high pitched scream rang in his ears and they lowered to protect his sensitive hearing. She was obviously upset and he was beginning to figure out why. The idea tore at his innards, knowing it was somehow his own fault. "Kagome."
A sob was ripped from her throat and she fell to her knees, no longer able to support herself. It was too much. Everything was too much. She'd had to say goodbye to her friends and him. Now, here she was, once more in the Sengoku Jidai and in the body of her rival, the woman who had tried to kill her, who owned his heart…
"What have you done, Inuyasha?" She cried, burying her face in her hands, using the white material of her chihaya to dry her eyes. It took every bit of self restraint to keep from ripping the material from her arms in agitation. "What did you do to me?"
He crouched in front of her and put a hand on her arm, flinching when she jerked away. "Kagome I'm sorry." His voice was barely a whisper. "I'm sorry…I don't know what happened. I promised Kikyo I'd bring her back to life and so I used the jewel." He shook his head, no explanation coming to mind. "I don't know…After I made the wish, you were here in her place…"
"How could you, Inuyasha?" She raised her head to look at him, black eyes shimmering with tears. "You turned me in to her."
"No, Kagome, it's not like that! I made her a promise! I didn't know what was going to happen - If I'd know you'd be put in this position, I'd have never used the damn jewel! Kagome, I wanted to be with you, but not like this…not like this."
Without warning she sprang to her feet and bolted for the well.
She didn't make two steps before two strong arms grabbed her from behind and held her in place. She scratched at him with her long nails and kicked her feat, fighting to break free. "Let me go! I wanna go home! Let me go!" In a last, desperate, attempt to free herself, she focused on her miko energy and forced it out, giving him a jolt.
He yelped and released her. As soon as her feet hit the ground, she was running again and almost made it to the well when he grabbed her once more.
"Don't Kagome," he growled in her ear. "Don't even fucking try it. The well's useless now and you know it. If you jump in there you're gonna break your damned neck. This is your home now so get used to it."
She sagged against him and stopped struggling. When he thought she wouldn't run, he let her go and stepped away, giving her space. Taking a deep breath, she nodded. "You're right. This era is my home now," she admitted and bent down to collect Kikyo's bow and quiver. "But that doesn't mean I have to stay in this village."
She knelt down once again and retrieved the Shikon no Tama, which he had dropped when he chased after her. The jewel glowed a healthy pinkish color when her hand closed around it. It hadn't been purified with his wish, she realized distractedly.
"What are you talking about?"
She didn't even look at him, but stood and continued to walk away. "I'm leaving. I'm going to find Sango and Miroku and then who knows where I'll go." She shrugged. "Doesn't matter. Anywhere is fine so long as it isn't here."
And, without looking back, she slipped into the shadows of the trees, walking away from him for the first time since the day they had met.
He followed her, of course. He had promises to keep after all.
approached the gates of the taijiya village, apprehensive of how
Sango and Miroku would react to her 'new' form. She didn't have to
wait long to find out. Obviously Shippou and Kirara had distinguished
the miko's scent and forewarned the humans. All four were standing in
front of the gate, waiting.
"Is everything alright, Kikyo-sama?" Miroku questioned, suspicious as to why the miko would have come there. They were all quite well aware of the mutual distrust between them. "Inuyasha is faring well, I hope."
Kagome-turned-Kikyo narrowed her eyes and glanced over her shoulder at the tree line. He'd been following her for several days, making sure to stay far enough back that she didn't see him.
"Oh, Inuyasha is just peachy," she ground out. "I'm the one that's got problems."
Shippou perched on Sango's shoulder. "She's right. He's hiding in the trees and he seems to be normal...or as normal as Inuyasha can get."
Sango had dropped out of her defensive stance and studied the young woman across from her. Something about her seemed off..."Then what's brought you here, Kikyo-sama?"
Tears filled the miko's eyes and she buried her face in her hands. "Please don't call me that," she sobbed, her voice muffled by her hands. "I'm not her! I'm not Kikyo, but I'm stuck in her body thanks to him."
"Kagome-chan?" Sango leaned Hiraikotsu against the village wall and embraced the sobbing young woman, rubbing her back soothingly. "Is it really you?" The girl nodded against her friend's shoulder and tried to control her hysterics.
Shippou sniffed the air and then stared at her, green eyes narrowing slightly. "How do we know you're really Kagome-kaa?"
She lifted her head, slightly hurt about his mistrust...but then she did look like Kikyo...
"I'll prove it." She looked back at the trees and took a deep breath. "Inuyasha...SIT!" The crash that followed could be heard for quite some distance and they could only guess he'd been in a tree at the time, judging by the force of his impact. "Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!"
A string of barely audible curses could be heard from the direction of the crash. They couldn't make out the words, but the volume of his voice spoke for itself.
Kagome took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I've been wanting to do that for days."
A red ball of fluff nearly knocked her backwards when Shippou tackled her, wrapping his arms as far around her neck as they would go. Sango took her arm and led her into the village while Miroku lagged behind just long enough to see what Inuyasha would do.
The hanyou appeared at the edge of the woods and watched the village without moving. Finally he met Miroku's eyes and shook his head then jumped straight up into the trees. Miroku sighed and followed his fiancé and young friend to their hut.
"What happened, Kagome? Why do you look like Kikyo?" Sango asked when they were seated with tea.
When they had first arrived in the hut, Sango had given Kagome one of her extra kimono to wear. The miko had, with obvious reason, wanted to make herself look as little like Kikyou as possible thought it was a difficult achievement seeing as she was stuck within the previous girl's body. Now the young girl sat in a blue and white striped kimono by the fire. Her hair was tied back in a high tail like Sango wore when fighting. Though slight, the difference was still noticeable.
"I don't know what happened. One minute I was climbing out of the well, thinking of all the school work I was going to have to do to catch up and the next I was back in the field by the well, wearing Kikyo's body." She set her teacup down and clasped her hands in her lap. "Inuyasha was standing there and he kept calling me her name. Then he said he'd made a wish on the jewel, but it didn't purify the it. If anything, it tainted it more."
Miroku closed his eyes, mouth set in a tight line. "Hmmm...That stone has never made anyone very happy. You know as well as I that it has a history of manipulating wishes so that they cause only pain. Inuyasha's wish for Kikyo to have her life returned to her is no different. Were he to wish to become a full demon, the likelihood of it working correctly was slim. He would have most likely become the mindless monster that he despised."
Kagome drew her knees up and rested her chin on them, hugging her legs to her chest. "I guess I'm stuck like this, then." She stared into the fire, watching the flames dance upwards. "It's my worst fear come true, you know. Every time he would look at me or risk his life to protect me or show any sort of affection towards me, I always wondered if it was really me he was seeing. I always worried that when he looked at me, he would see her." Her smile was bitter. "Guess I don't have to wonder anymore, ne?"
"Will you do me a favor?" She interrupted, lifting her head. "Will you cut my hair? I've been thinking about it and...well...short hair's easier to take care of anyway."
The taijiya smiled and nodded. "Of course! How short?" She pulled a box from one of the shelves and took out a short knife, inspecting the blade. Deciding that it was sharp enough, she came back and sat behind Kagome. "Ready?"
Kagome took her hair down and then used the band to tie it back in another tail, this one looser than the first and lower on her head, just below her shoulder line. "Cut just above the band. I'll deal with how it looks later."
Sango nodded and held her head steady while she slid the blade through the thick, dark locks. Minutes later she held a length of black hair in her free hand and handed it to Kagome. "We can toss it outside the gate in the morning. The birds can use it to build nests with."
Kagome nodded and ran her hair through what was left of her hair. Because of the pony tail, the top layers were shorter than the ones underneath, giving it a shag quality and the front ends were longer than the ones in the back so that the bottom edge of her hair followed the line of her jaw. The shortest parts barely scraped the nape of her neck, the longest her chin. Looking in a mirror she reminded herself of Yura. The hair demoness had been the first one they faced after she shattered the jewel.
Inuyasha barged into Kaede's hut, startling the old woman from her sleep. At this point, he didn't care who he bothered so long as they could help get things back to normal.
Or as normal as things usually got around there.
"Inuyasha! What is the meaning of this? I'm an old woman, Inuyasha, and I need my rest!" She exclaimed, holding a hand to her racing heart.
"You ain't got time to rest babaa. I got a problem and I need you to fix it." He stuffed his hands into the opposite sleeves of his haori and scowled. "And before you say anything, this concerns Kagome, too."
She stood, stretching her aged muscles as best she could. "What sort of problem can it be that involves Kagome when she has returned to her own era?"
"Well, for starters, she's back and it's my fault," he huffed, looking away when he admitted responsibility. Pride was not going to stand in the way of him helping Kagome. "The jewel did something when I wished on it and now Kagome's stuck in Kikyo's body and you need to get her out and back into her own body before we all go crazy." He growled low in his throat. "And this damn necklace still works!"
Kaede chuckled. "Did you think that just because Kagome was not in her rightful body that the rosary would be useless? 'Tis not the body that the rosary binds, Inuyasha, 'tis the soul. Through those beads your soul and Kagome's are linked and until she decides to break that link it will remain so."
"Whatever babaa. Just get ready 'cause I'm taking you to Kagome."
It was mid afternoon of the next day before Kaede and Inuyasha arrived at the slayer village. No one greeted them as they had Kagome, but when he came to the couple's hut, he knew it was because Shippou and Kirara had recognized their scents and didn't see them as a threat.
He let Kaede off his back and stood back, away from the group, while she was greeted and got her first look at Kagome as she was now. To say that both hanyou and elderly miko were surprised would be an understatement. It was odd, seeing Kikyou's body out of her miko fuku and into a normal yukata, but more shocking than her clothing was the short length of her hear.
Kagome grasped the old woman's hands. "Kaede-sama, please tell me you can reverse this. Tell me you can send me home!" She pleaded desperately.
The old woman sighed. "I am sorry, Kagome, but I do not think that it is possible to reverse the effects of Inuyasha's wish." She wrapped her hands over the younger girl's hands. "However, we'll all go inside and find out exactly what happened to both of you and see what can be done, if anything."
They all sat in the main room, each waiting for the other to start. Shippou curled up in Kagome's lap, content to have his 'mother' with him. Miroku and Sango sat next to her; the slayer sat as close to the monk as she could and he held her hand in his lap. Kirara yawned and stretched before sitting next to Sango. Across from them, Inuyasha sat next to Kaede, avoiding eye contact with anyone.
"Well now, Inuyasha, why don't you tell us what it was you wished for," Kaede suggested.
He stuffed his hands into the opposite sleeves of his haori looking at the far wall, away from the group. "I wished for Kikyo to live again, just like I told her I would."
"And that was it?" The elderly woman prompted, raising a suspicious brow.
"Keh, of course babaa."
Miroku closed his eyes, summoning all the patience he could muster. He was going to need it if things continued like this. "Inuyasha, exactly how did you word your wish?"
The hanyou blinked and then scowled, thinking back. "I wished that Kikyo would have her life back so that I could keep my promises."
Kaede heaved a deep sigh, shaking her head. "I think we've found the problem, then." She looked over at the young hanyou. "You really must learn to think before you act, Inuyasha."
"Nani! I didn't do nothing wrong! It was that fucking jewel that's the problem!" He exclaimed in irritation.
"Think, Inuyasha," Miroku ordered, trying to push back his own irritation. "Consider how you worded your request. By adding the last part about your promises, you created a loop hole."
"What are you talking about, bozu?"
Miroku rolled his eyes. "You meant to keep your promises to Kikyo-sama, did you not? You promised her that you would bring her back to life, that you and she would live together as you originally planned, ne?"
Inuyasha nodded, his ears laying back at the glare Kagome was sending him.
"But your promises to Kikyo were not the only ones you made, were they? You also gave your word to Kagome on several occasions, didn't you?"
His eyes widened in realization and he felt like crawling into a hole. He'd forgotten that he'd given Kagome his word - he'd promised that he would always protect her and on another occasion he had promised that she could always stay by his side. "But...But I -"
"The wording, Inuyasha," Miroku stated softly, "is everything. Kagome's soul once belonged to Kikyo-sama and, for all intents and purposes, is one and the same. In order for the Shikon no Tama to fulfill your wish, including the ability to keep your word, Kagome's soul was pulled into Kikyo's body."
Kagome bit her
lower lip, fighting to stay in control of her emotions. Mama,
Jii-chan, Souta...I'll never see them again. They'll probably think
that I died fighting Naraku or that I just chose not to come back.
They'll think I didn't even care enough to say goodbye.
"No one will know what happened to me...they'll think I just disappeared...they'll never know..." She sniffled and looked at the floor
"Not necessarily." Her head shot up and she stared at the old miko. "I noticed when I first saw you earlier that your aura had changed. At the time, I thought it was just because of the change, but now I am not so sure. It is possible that your entire soul was not transferred to her body, but that only a portion of it was and the rest remained in your era, in your normal body."
Kagome frowned, confused. Sango and Miroku also shared looks of confusion. "How is that possible? I'm alive - I mean, really alive. I nicked myself on an arrow the other day just to see and I bled. I'm skin and blood and bone - I'm not just clay and burial soil. When Kikyo first came back, she managed to take a piece of my soul and got her memory back, but she was still just an animated statue. Even with the bit that she took, she still had to have other souls to keep herself 'alive'."
Kaede shrugged lightly. "The memories I cannot explain. That is the work of the kamis. Because Inuyasha wished for Kikyo to live again, the clay mold that had become my sister's body became real, just as you said."
"And there's no way to undo what's been done?" Sango asked although she was sure she already knew the answer.
The old woman gave a large sigh. "I'm afraid that what's been done is done and cannot be undone."
Inuyasha jumped up, growling. His fists clenched angrily at his side and he scowled at them all. "My using that fucking jewel is what brought her here, so why can't we use the damn thing to put her back where she belongs? I'll wish to undo my wish."
"Haven't you done enough, Inuyasha?" Kagome spat, her own anger flaring. She glared at him with piercing black eyes - eyes that were once cold and distant now burned with passionate fire.
He couldn't suppress the whine that came from his throat. He expected Kikyo to be angry. She'd never really fully forgiven him for her death, but to hear that tone of betrayal coming from Kagome - even if she was in Kikyo's body - still hurt him deeply. "Kagome -"
Sango laid a hand on her friend's arm. "Kagome, he didn't do it on purpose. His intentions were good."
A sardonic smile twisted her lips. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
The taijiya's sympathetic look turned to a scolding one. "It was the jewel's doing, not Inuyasha's. The blame cannot be placed entirely on him and it's obvious that he feels guilty for what he's done. I know why you're angry, Kagome, and I understand, but the simple truth of the matter is that it isn't Inuyasha's fault. He never meant for this to happen and I know that if he'd known the consequences he'd never have made that wish!"
"I know that!" Kagome exclaimed, standing suddenly. Shippou barely had time to scramble out of her lap before he was dumped in the floor. "Geez! Don't you think I realized that by now? I'm not blind and I'm not stupid. I can see that it was an accident, but that doesn't make it hurt any less!"
Inuyasha stood as well. "Kagome...I'd never hurt you on purpose...I thought you knew that..." He blushed, the proclamation would have made the blood rise to his face in any situation, but his embarrassment was only amplified with an audience.
"I thought I knew a lot of things." Kagome stormed passed them all and paused at the door. "A week ago I knew who I was, but I'm not even sure about that anymore." Turning her back to them, she walked out into the evening.
Sunset was approaching and the darkening sky cast long shadows on the ground and she leaned against one of the few trees within the village wall, looking out at the evening sky. Lost in the deep purples and reds of the sunset, she closed her eyes and imagined it was just another day in the Sengoku Jidai and that she was herself, Kagome; that the only reason she wore the short yukata was because her school uniform was drying by the fire.
It didn't last long. A red flash of demonic aura in her hindsight alerted her to Inuyasha's approach and she looked for an escape. She found none. He was already upon her.
"Go away. I don't feel like talking to anyone, especially not you."
Ouch - that hurt. Guess I deserved it though. He crossed his arms and stuck his nose up in the air, assuming his usual attitude. "Keh. Like I care if you wanna talk to me or not. I ain't going no where so deal with it."
"What do you want?" It sounded more like Kikyo talking than Kagome. Her voice was low and cold, lacking her earlier passion.
He looked at her from the corner of his eye. "What d'you mean in there - about not knowing who you are?"
She gave a dry laugh. "I meant just what I said, Inuyasha. I don't know who I am anymore. I don't know where she ends and I begin. Thoughts and feelings - they feel like they're mine, but how can I know for sure? What if they belong to her?" She shook her head. "I worked so hard for the past three years to distinguish myself as separate from her. I wanted to make sure that people who knew Kikyo would see me as a different person. And now...how can they help but see her?"
She took a few steps away from the tree trunk and out into the open, turning to face him. Just as he had since coming to the village, he avoided looking at her and focused instead on the horizon. "Look at me, Inuyasha," she commanded softly. When he didn't comply, she stomped her foot. "Look at me! Look! At! Me!"
He afforded her a sideways glance and her fire fizzled out. "You can't, can you? You can't look at me because even though I look like her now, I'm still not her. Well, get used to it, Inuyasha, because I'm not Kikyo and I never will be and I don't want to be; not ever." She took a deep breath, her fear coming to the surface as she asked her next question. "Was I ever Kagome to you? Did you ever see us as two people?"
That caught his attention and his golden eyes flared with anger when they rested on her. "Of course I did you stupid bitch! I told you before that I knew you were Kagome - that you weren't another Kikyo. Fuck!" He crossed towards her and grabbed her shoulders, giving her a slight shake. "Even now, when I look at you, I don't see Kikyo because I know that you're Kagome and I can see the difference."
She sucked in her breath when he grabbed her and locked gazes with him, daring him to lie to her while still looking her in the eye. She knew it was difficult enough for him to lie when he wasn't facing her, but now it should be virtually impossible.
He took a deep breath. "Kikyo was beautiful, but she was like one of those dolls on your dresser. She was so stiff and calm and her eyes were always distant and cold. When she moved or fought, she was graceful, but her movements were so mechanical."
His hands traveled from her shoulders to her face, cupping her cheeks lightly in both hands. "You are beautiful, Kagome. Not because this is Kikyo's body, but because you are you. You possess a beauty that Kikyo never could. Everything about you is so alive, from the way your eyes light up when you're angry to the glow of your skin. Doesn't matter whose body you have, you make it beautiful."
Seconds felt like hours before she threw herself against him and fisted her hands into the material of his haori. She had cried herself dry, but the desperation was still evident in her muffled voice. "I was afraid," she admitted. "I was afraid that you'd use me as a replacement now. You won't will you?"
He lightly put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head, which came a lot closer to his chin now than before this whole fiasco...Kikyo had always been taller.
"No...never." His grip on her tightened. "I was gonna tell you before you left, but you were going to your era and I was going to be with Kikyo and it didn't seem fair. I...I chose you, Kagome, but I couldn't be with you because I gave Kikyo my word. But it was always you."
In the Modern Era...
Blinking slowly, she looked up to see the worried face of her little brother frowning over her. "Nee-chan? Are you okay?" He questioned, helping her sit up.
She felt her head, fingering the beginnings of a knot on her temple. "I'm fine, I guess. What happened?"
"You were going to get Buyo out of the well house, but then you just passed out."
She frowned, feeling an odd sense of deja'vou, but ignored it. "Gee, great way to start off my birthday. Is Buyo still down there?"
He shook his head. "Nu-huh, he came out just before you woke up."
She frowned again, but stood and closed the doors to the shrine before heading towards the school with her brother. It still felt as if she were forgetting something, but she shook it off as just after affects from her blackout.