~~ Shades of Gray ~~

~~ Chapter 42 ~~ Curaga

The days seemed to blur together with the passing of time; first was the tearful reunion of Kagome and her mother, and then Kagome and Sango and Miroku. When Rin, Sesshoumaru, and Kenren visited at her hospital room, InuYasha nearly had to pry Rin off of Kagome to keep from squashing her. Rin was the most emotional out of everyone; she had pleaded for Kagome to forgive her for telling everything to Sesshoumaru and for not being involved enough, or too much. She seemed not to really know why she was apologizing, but that did not deter her. It took Kenren having a temper tantrum to get the trio to leave at the end of the day. With each day that passed, Kagome got a little bit stronger. While her body was healed in full, she got tired very easily and needed to rest every two or three hours. And as the days marched forward, so did her determination to get out of the hospital and back to life. Miroku attempted numerous times to pull InuYasha aside but he would have none of it; he was glued to Kagome's bedside, lest something more awful happen if he dared to let her out of his sight.

InuYasha felt terrible for what happened to Kagome and though he would never admit it, he blamed himself for this whole mess. He had goaded her on, blind to her identity, when she was with Bankotsu. He knew what Bankotsu was capable of but found himself not caring what Bankotsu did to her as long as he got off. He had enjoyed making his old friend squirm and grow jealous of his sub wandering off with InuYasha, again, and hadn't given a thought to the ramifications that would come down on her shoulders for doing so. Looking back, there was so much that he would change, so much he would do different. That seemed to be the story of his life. He hated himself for the situation he put her in; hell, it was all his fault no matter how he looked at it. He was selfish, demanding, and a brat to boot. He had hoped she would be angry with him, to add some vindication to his angst, but she didn't hate him. she worried and fussed over him as if he was the one who was hurt. As if he was the one who had suffered; kidnapped, beaten, raped, tortured... his blood boiled just thinking about it. He was so damn selfish and yet she just kept smiling. maybe he was so angry to make up for the anger she had yet to show, yet to acknowledge. it had to be there; while she didn't remember a lot of what happened, she knew what he did to her. She knew what he put her through and yet it was always someone else crying about her being okay, and Kagome comforting them. InuYasha had sworn after watching Kagome take care of the others time and again, as they cried at her bedside, that he was going to take care of her. She wouldn't have to do this again. He would protect her, damn it, or die trying.

The first twenty four hours after the world tipped off its axis in his mind were a blur. He knew that he moved, spoke, and was generally aware but he really couldn't remember much of that time. Sesshoumaru had shown up to claim Jiro's body and had begun making arrangements while InuYasha sat in Kagome's room. InuYasha was aware that Miroku had taken up his place in helping take care of the house and in preparing the funeral for Kagejiro. Without Miroku's involvement, InuYasha was pretty sure that Jiro's funeral would have been throwing him into a ditch covered in petrol on fire. Jiro…dead; it was a concept that he had not yet been able to get through his skull. The funeral was in two hours and InuYasha still had yet to accept the truth that surrounded him. How could he? A thick fog had enveloped his life for the past two weeks, only parting once to blind him again immediately. The emotional rollercoaster had taken its toll on everyone involved.

"Are you sure you don't want me to go?"

InuYasha glanced at Kagome, waking from his daze. How long had he been sitting by staring off into nothing this time? "Uhh, yeah babe. You stay here. I don't want you pushing it. We've talked about this."

Kagome made a face. "I have a wheel chair, Yash, I can stay in that for the service. I don't want to be a bother but I would really like to go. I mean…" glancing down, Kagome picked at her nails, "He saved my life."

"We don't know that."

Kagome rolled her eyes. "Yes, we do."

InuYasha ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes. "I want you there with me but it's important for you to rest. This is going to be…" 'a fucking mess,' he thought silently. "It's going to be….emotional. I'd rather keep you here, where I know you're safe."

"You think it's gonna be bad?"

InuYasha didn't share his opinion. He thought that this was going to be a nightmare. If his father showed up, and Jiro's old friends who fought against his father showed up, there could be a blood bath. That was the worst case scenario. More to the point, he didn't want to have Kagome see him cry. Again. He had been an emotional wreck for nearly two weeks and was so tired of seeming weak. While it was slighly a selfish agenda, again, he did want to protect Kagome. What if his father blamed her for Jiro's death? What if his parents actually wanted to meet her? Worse, what if his father realized she was a miko and hired an assassin... InuYasha stopped thinking, it was for the best.

"It's gonna be something. I just would rather you here if that something turns out ugly and violent."

Kagome's eyes darkened. "I'd rather be there by your side to know you're safe as well."

InuYasha felt his lips twist up to a smirk. "Don't worry about me, babe, I'm pretty indestructible."

Kagome groaned and flopped back onto the bed. "So you say…"

InuYasha stood and kissed Kagome's head. "I'll be fine. I'll check in with you when it's over."

Kagome grabbed his hand and stared into his amethyst eyes. something was gnawing at her gut but she couldn't put a finger on it. She knew there were tensions between his brother and father, and InuYasha seemed to be stepping in it pretty bad with the elder demon lord as well. She had gathered that he wasn't the person to cross. She just prayed that the man wouldn't actually harm his son. "I really want to be there with you."

"I know you do, and that means the world to me. I promise that once you are out of here, we'll take a walk to the graveyard. You can say your thanks and your goodbyes then. It's no different," InuYasha glanced down to the floor and kicked at the bleached tile with his toe, "he won't be able to hear you. he's gone and..." InuYasha grunted, this was way too hard. clearing his throat, he thought it best not to finish that train of thought. He wasn't sure how he was going to make it through the service, let alone the burial.

"You said you had to meet with his lawyer about his estate? Did Jiro ever marry? I mean, he's been alive for a while, who gets his property?"

InuYasha rubbed his head. He had yet to tell Kagome about the paperwork that left everything to him. He opted to wait until he spoke with the estate lawyer. He wanted to know exactly what he was getting into. "After the burial. I am going straight over to discuss…stuff." He made a face and shook his head. "I'll tell you once I get back and understand exactly what's going on."

Kagome nodded slowly. she was already tired and the day had barely begun. "All right. I'll stay, but I will miss you and will be thinking about you."

InuYasha kissed her forehead and nodded. "I know. I love you, kiddo. Now behave while I am gone. Maybe I'll bring you back some good food."

Kagome's eyes smiled. "That would be wonderful." What would have been better, though, was him getting her the hell out of this hospital. but she didn't share that sentiment. he had enough to take care of.

Watching InuYasha walk out the door, she let out a deep sigh. She really wanted to be at his side, to be there to support him the way he had her. The last week had been exhausting. She got about two good hours of being upright before she got too weak to stand. hell, she got maybe four hours of sitting before she had to nap. The doctors said it was because her body was still mending but she thought that was an excuse. She felt fine, until she didn't. They said she would have a hard time walking and being awake because she was asleep for so long. But it was only a week! sure, she almost died. she had come to terms with her mortality, and the things Bankotsu had done to her. When Jiro transferred his life force to her, though, it cured her wounds. the infections, the broken bone and muscle, all of that was fixed. they said that because she was in a coma, that's why her body needed to reset itself. but she felt it was more. She didn't understand her miko blood, she didn't understand the history or ugliness between priestess and demon or how purification works, but she rooted her energy, or lack thereof, to that. Jiro had given her miko blood a demonic life force. The two sides waged war within her. Was this now her burden to bear? Would she forever be this weak?

hating herself and the frail condition of her body, she found herself falling asleep before InuYasha even reached the elevators.


Walking into the funeral home, InuYasha was astounded to find it packed. There were a lot of faces he didn't know and could only imagine that they were youkai that Jiro had become friends with over the centuries. One man, demon InuYasha noted after a second glance, with red hair turned on him the minute he walked in and made his way through the crowd with such authority that InuYasha found himself frozen. The man carried himself with equal dignity to that of his father; his head high, eyes set on a goal and InuYasha could tell no one would step in front of this man.

Stopping in front of InuYasha by inches, the man towered over him. "You must be InuYasha," the man's deep baritone voice shocked him. "I heard a lot about you over the years. I am very sorry for your loss."

InuYasha nodded dumbly. "Thank you."
"My name is Alucard, I have been friends with Jiro for many years." Holding out his hand, he captured InuYasha's in a shake that nearly broke his bones. "He was a great man. Honestly, I never thought this day would come." The man's deeply rich baritone voice shot through InuYasha like a shotgun blast.

InuYasha pried his hand back and discretely rubbed it to try to get the feeling back. "That makes two of us."

Alucard's red eyes searched InuYasha for a moment, as if trying to read something, searching for some hidden knowledge. "He called me," the giant said after a moment, "a week ago and told me to look after you. I guess this was some sort of suicide?" he said the word with great distaste. "I am sure he did whatever he did for honor, for family. I respect him for that. Whatever you need, kid, you let me know. He was my brother, which makes you pack as well."

InuYasha lips twitched up for a second. His brother associated with quite the brood. "Thanks. I appreciate it."
The man nodded and moved out of InuYasha's path, silently slipping back into the group.

InuYasha took a deep breath and took two more steps. Miroku was the next one to reach him. Dressed in jeans and a black Doors shirt, he had defiantly dressed as Jiro would have wanted. "Hey man," Miroku said while glancing around. "There was a great turn out, huh?" Miroku rubbed his hands nervously up and down the side of his jeans, obviously uncomfortable with the guest list.

Miroku had helped organize the logistics of the funeral. He had contacted Jiro's friends somehow, InuYasha still didn't quite know how he had managed that one. The entire funeral was thanks to his friend, and for that he owed him. "You did a wonderful job, Jiro would be impressed. Thank you."
Miroku flushed for a second under the praise. He shrugged it off while glancing about the tiny establishment. "Thanks man. I am just sad that I couldn't get him a harem of 72 virgins to weep at his coffin."

InuYasha wanted to laugh but a part of him couldn't muster the strength. "Is that because you don't know any virgins?"

Miroku smirked, "mayhaps. I don't leave many of those in my wake. Get it…wake?" Cringing, Miroku rubbed his neck. "Sorry. I don't do these things well."

InuYasha chuckled. "It's chill, I don't behave exactly proper at these either."
"Speaking of, there's beer."
"What?" InuYasha raised an eyebrow.

"How could there not be beer? There's a keg next to the casket. Feel free."

InuYasha actually laughed at that one. Of course there was beer; a funeral for his drunken brother would be complete without booze. Patting Miroku on the shoulder, he knew he would never have enough words to thank Miroku for this. He helped himself to a pint of Guinness before daring to walk to the casket. His breath caught in his throat as he took in the sight before him. Kagejiro was laid out in the casket in full Irish garb. All he was missing was the bagpipes. He had on a kilt and the sword that he favored laid across his chest. But more than that, he looked peaceful; more peaceful, in fact, than InuYasha had ever seen him. For InuYasha, that was a blessing. Maybe Jiro had been suffering for so many years for his 'crimes', that he hadn't been comfortable living anymore. Maybe giving his life force to Kagome was his redemption, his version of absolution. He found peace in it and in that peace, an everlasting sleep. For the first time since this entire debacle started, InuYasha was okay with the outcome. Putting his hand on Jiro's head, he closed his eyes and bowed his head. "Thanks Jiro, you have no idea…" choking on his words, he fought down tears. How could he ever thank his brother properly? How does one even begin that sentiment?

InuYasah took a deep breath but found he couldn't hold it. Rushing from his lungs, he was barely able to stifle the sob as it violently exploded from inside of him. After all of this, the only family that he had actually liked was gone. Jiro had always been some mystery, someone he was afraid of, someone he had been turned against unfairly. He had lost so many years because of how his father had painted Jiro. Jiro had always been a murderer, a traitor, a baby killer; but in the truth, while he might have been those things once, he was also a kind hearted individual who would do anything for family. And he had, hadn't he? InuYasha wished he had taken more time with his brother, listened to more of his stories. He wished he had spent more time learning the hidden truths of his family that his father would never share. The unabridged story of the Taisho family would never be told now, it would never be known. Was his father a worse murdered than Jiro? What lies did his father hide?

Taking a deep breath, a rationalization swept over him as he stared at his brother's body. It didn't matter; none of it mattered. What his father had been, who Jiro had or had not killed, it didn't matter. Two hundred years ago, life was different, life was more brutal, survival wasn't guaranteed. You had to make decisions, and sometimes they weren't informed or the right thing to do. Sometimes you made mistakes and people suffered. It was the time, it was the life. It was wrong, but back then, it was what it was. It didn't make his father an awful person today, just as it didn't make Jiro a murderer. Who his father was then was not who he was now, and likewise for Jiro. Letting out a deep breath, he released his resentment for his father and for Jiro. He did something he wasn't sure he could ever do; he forgave them. Because, in honesty, in a day that may or may not be too far away it could be his father, Sesshoumaru, or even him lying in the coffin. What good was holding a grudge? What good did it do in the end? Not a damn thing, he thought bitterly. It was time to place his resentment with Sesshoumaru and his hatred for his father to rest. None of it mattered. 'Thank you,' he thought with a small smile as he stood from his brother's side.

InuYasha took his seat next to Sesshoumaru and Rin, pausing once to hug Rin and then Sango. As a man wearing a kilt stood to begin the service, Rin reached out and grabbed InuYasah's hand. Glancing at her, she mouthed 'I am so sorry'. He squeezed her hand before releasing it. Nodding once at Sesshoumaru he settled into his seat. The opening of the ceremony was in Gaelic, he couldn't understand a damn word of it and decided that once everything was over, he was going to take lessons. It was the least he could do for Kagejiro's memory. Once the opening prayer was over, the language switched to English. He didn't know the man before them but from what he was gathering, he was a preacher from a village where Jiro owned property. Jiro had been an active member in their church for a hundred plus years, which shocked the hell out of InuYasha. His brother was not a godly man, not in the slightest. Jiro knew the man's great grandfather and had helped to build the church stone by stone. That amazed InuYasha, knowing how Jiro seemed to be atheist. Sadly, he realized these were things he would never understand about his brother. Apparently Jiro had helped build the entire town and singlehandedly over saw their safety from any attacks over the century. He was their patron saint; having staved off bandits, roving bands of mercenaries, and other similar characters. They painted him as a hero. Another man took the alter and spoke of his time serving with Jiro in the military and how Jiro had 'saved his ass' on more than one occasion. He decorated Jiro as a strong leader with the clearest head who was clever and efficient. He had a laundry list of times that Jiro had come through for him as a solider for a company he never named. He spoke of times they fought on the fronts of many wars that went unnamed and how they celebrated afterwards. It was as if all of these people had different versions of his brother that never quite merged into one; there was a solider Jiro, a religious Jiro, a loveable Jiro, a hated Jiro, and the list kept going as more and more people took the podium.

At one point, long after InuYasha had lost count how many speakers there had been, the sound of the door closing rang throughout the room. Every head turned slowly to glance to the back and the air became electric. InuYasha didn't need to look to know who had just entered the room. Yet no one stood, drew a weapon, or uttered a curse. In that moment InuYasha prayed. He prayed that this would go over without bloodshed, he prayed that for one day, no one had to start a battle. 'if you respect my brother, please respect his last day with us,' InuYasha prayed over and over as a mantra. Soft steps resonated up the isle as Launia silently walked up to the coffin. Sesshoumaru moved to stand, to walk his mother's side, but InuYasha stopped him.

"Let her be," he whispered, afraid to disrupt the silence that had enraptured the room. This was the final straw; there was nothing more his father could do to hurt Jiro. They had to let Launia say her goodbye to her eldest son.

The woman in white slowly made her way to his coffin, dropping to her knees as soon as she reached the kneeling platform. It seemed as if she didn't have the strength to walk by herself down the small stretch from the door to the coffin. Was she that distraught or that drunk? Had their father actually allowed her to drink herself to where she could no longer function? Though she whispered, with the silence as the conduit, InuYasha heard everything she said.

"My baby boy, you finally came back to me only to leave once more. I had so much I wanted to say, so much I have never been allowed to say. I never blamed you, though I resented you. I wish you would have left me to die. I wish you let me burn in that castle; you knew what your father was, how he was. You escaped and you left me with him. They said you were dead but I knew….a mother knows. I knew you had gone away without me. And I wanted to hate you for that you got away and I did not. I had to stay, I had to live without your smile, without my son. I was waiting for it, you know; I had welcomed death that night. Dared I to hope it was over. But you saved me, and condemned me to live once more with that demon of which I loathed. I had to watch, again, as you were taken from me. I couldn't bear the thought that not only had I lost you, but again another child was gone. So many babies, so many coffins. But never for you; I thought you invincible. When you came back this time, with my other sons, with the only two left in my life I love, I knew it was near the end. Did you know? Did you know it would be the last time I saw you? Would that I had hugged you tighter, never let you go. You always knew what was to come; did you come say goodbye because…you knew? Thrice now, you have left me, and I hate you for it. But this time, it is final. I know you were suffering, I know you had so much hate and pain welled up inside of you; it was poison, it has always been poison. Just as it flows through your father; I had always hoped he would go first and you would come home. But now…you are gone. I will miss you, my son, I love you so much. I never hated you, not for real. I just wish I had more time. Please, find the peace you have longed for. None of this was your fault; I always wanted to tell you that. I never blamed you."

Leaning forward, the lithe figure of his step mother reached in and kissed Jiro's head. InuYasha had to choke back tears; that was the most coherent thing he had heard from Launia in the past few years. How withered she looked; she had always been the mountain supporting his father in the past but that wasn't the truth, was it? How much had she hated him? That was something InuYasha wasn't ready to understand. Glancing at Sesshoumaru, he was shocked to find tears in his brother's eyes as well. Standing slowly, both boys made their way to their mother's side. Helping to her feet, they slowly turned and made their way back to the man who stood in the far back. It was obvious that he was trying to make himself inconspicuous but every eye in the building was on the monster of a man. They all knew him; the demons in the room flared with anger but knew better than to reach for their weapons. The humans knew the Taisho mogul from the cover of Times and the New Yorker; they knew the name but not the relation.

InuYasha found, as they reached the back of the room that for once in his life he approached his father while looking him in the eyes. Whether it was the words of his late brother, or the confessions he had overheard from his step mother, the man who had always intimidated him seemed less authoritative. Clearing his throat as he handed Launia off to his father, he tried to find the words to express his gratitude for his father's role in saving Kagome's life. In the end, when the cops had turned on Banktosu, it was only due to the Taisho influence. Who else had enough influence to overpower Banktosu's control? InuYasha knew that if he had turned to his father in the beginning of the mess all of this would never have happened. A part of him wilted under that knowledge, just as another part was equally disgusted that he had to turn to his father. All in all, however, Kagome was safe and he did have to properly thank the man.

"Pops," he started, "I…"

"Save it." The senior Taisho snapped at InuYasha as he made motion to take Launia's arm.

Launia ripped her arm from the older man's grasp and, in a very shocking move, turned and embraced InuYasha. "How is she, dear? Is she doing well?"

InuYasha nodded against his step mother's shoulder. She hadn't hugged him since the day he came to live with them. Tears pricked at the corner of his eye as he responded, "yeah, she's doing well. She uhh…she should be home soon."

"I would like to meet her." Launia pulled away but held both of InuYasha's shoulders while looking him in the eyes. "I want you to bring her by for dinner next week. You tell me when."

InuYasha nodded slowly. "sure…sure mom."

Sesshoumaru was staring at Launia as well, the same confused and wild look in his eyes. This was a side of her that neither son had seen in years. Once upon a time, the woman was lively and upbeat. For so many years though, that woman had been missing, drowned in a sea of Mimosas and Tequila.

Turning from InuYasha, Launia approached Sesshoumaru. "And you…" no one was ready for her to raise a hand and slap Sesshoumaru across the face. The echo of skin on skin reverberated throughout the room. "How dare you not tell me I had another grand child?"

Sesshoumaru resembled a fish as he gaped at his mother, his mouth moving but no words coming out. "But…" he stammered after the shock resided; "I didn't know!" If anything Sesshoumaru mirrored a scolded child.

"Since when was being ignorant an excuse? I am pretty sure you never would accept that excuse from one of your employees. You should have known!" His mother seemed livid!

Sesshoumaru's eyes darkened; "Maybe you're right, however; father knew and never breathed a word of it!"

Launia blinked twice. "Your father and I have some things we need to work out. Specifically, he needs to start acting like the man I married. I am sick," she spun on her heels to stare at the mountain of a man, "of him trying to control everything. I am not going to stand by while he ostracizes my remaining children. I will not have it." Holding her chin high, she walked to her husband. "Now take me home. We have a dinner to start prepping for. And Sesshoumaru, I expect you, Rin and both my grandchildren there."

"Yes….yes Mother." Sesshoumaru exchanged bewildered stares with InuYasha while their father quietly led their mother from the building.

"Who'd have thunk it," InuYasha muttered after a moment. "You think she'll be all right."

Sesshoumaru snorted. "For once, it's father I think I am worried for. It seems that mom's back and ready to kick some ass."

InuYasha blinked, this day was already getting stranger by the minute. Shaking his head, they turned back to the service.

The remainder of the service went smooth and was done before InuYasha could blink. They carried his brother's coffin to the hearse and made their way to the cemetery that they had chosen for him. While InuYasha had fought Sesshoumaru on his choice in burial plots, he had lost. InuYasha strongly believed that they should have sent Jiro's body back to Ireland to have him buried at his home, yet Sesshoumaru argued that it was a waste of money and that nobody would be able to visit him there. InuYasha believed that it was more of a decision for Launia, so that she could visit her son's grave, than for anyone else; however, InuYasha still detested the thought. He had decided to take a trip to Ireland once everything had calmed down to commission a gravestone for his brother there as well. Afterwards, he'd argue about moving his body.

'His body,' InuYasha thought with a grimace. It was a detached feeling; it was his brother but wasn't. What had been his brother was gone, leaving a shell behind. He hated the thought that Jiro was just…gone. What laid in the coffin was all that remained of him but…was that all life was? Had his brother gone on to some mystical place where he was being fitted for a pair of wings, or more in Jiro's case, horns? Was he just worm food now? 'To die, to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream.' InuYasha shook his head and smiled. His brother would have laughed at him for trying to get philosophical; 'for in that sleep of death, who know what dreams may come'.

For now, Jiro would have to deal with the tiny but quaint graveyard on a hill overlooking a valley. The band of brothers, whoever they were to Jiro, all toasted to their fallen comrade and put six packs at the foot of his coffin. They moved up one by one, they laid a beer on the coffin as one would a flower, then poured a little of the beer they were drinking on the ground in front of casket. InuYasha couldn't help but feel that it was a waste of beer and that Jiro wouldn't approve. A few muttered farewells, a few just shook their heads. All agreed; it was a life taken too soon. A few cast wary glowers in InuYasha's direction, as if they knew why Jiro had made the choices he had. Had Jiro given up long ago and just lived to find a good day to die or had he…had he given his life to save Kagome's? InuYasha wasn't sure he could handle either answer.

The man whom he had spoken with before, Alucard, breezed past InuYasha and paused to hand him a business card. "If things don't work out," he said cryptically, "you let me know. I can get the job done." He turned on his heels and joined a group on the far side of the lot. InuYasha watched as the band of demons slowly took to their motorcycles. They seemed much more cheery now that the formalities were over. Shrugging off jackets and loosening their ties, they laughed as if celebrating his brother's life in a small group gathered on the far side. What InuYasha wouldn't give to follow the men to wherever they decided to take to drinking that night and listen to the stories about his brother. They were a motley crew, and his brother must have fit right in.

InuYasha stared at the card, and only after the group had departed did understanding wash over him. If Bankotsu was acquitted… he let out another deep breath. This man was offering to take care of Bankotsu if they dared to let him go. Pocketing the card, he decided to let the authorities handle this one for the time being. He would let the legal system of this country take a whack at the crazy fuck. If justice didn't come to Bankotsu, then an assassin would. InuYasha clutched the card like a life line; he had an answer to one unanswered question. Either Bankotsu would rot in jail, or he would die the minute he walked out of the court house.

Miroku wrapped his arm over InuYasha's shoulders and shook him once. "You ready for the next part?"

InuYasha glanced back at the coffin and he felt his chest tighten. He didn't want to leave his brother here, to rot, in a small wooden box. That wasn't his brother's style; they should have had a pyre and virgins and drunken stories. This was stuffy, this was formal; this wasn't Jiro's scene. His brother had given so much up and InuYasha couldn't even muster the strength to put together a proper funeral. he had never felt so worthless, and he knew that feeling was only going to intensify.

"I know," Miroku said, as he stared at the coffin as well, "I wanted to do something more flashy, more his style but…" he shook his head, "it's a funeral. It's…"

"Depressing as hell."

Miroku nodded. "We'll hit the bar later; I hear the guys are going to be doing their thing. But Yash….we…." shaking his head, he sighed, "we got some things to take care of, and I still need to talk to you when…you know…you don't have a tail." Miroku looked pointedly at Sesshoumaru, who was waiting by the Veryon.

"I know. I'm heading to the estate lawyer with Sesshoumaru now. He wanted to look over paperwork with me to make sure everything is in order. When I'm done…"

"Give me a shout and I'll meet you back here."

InuYasha glanced around once, "back here?" He wasn't sure he wanted to return. it would only remind him of how much he had fucked up.

Miroku nodded towards the coffin, "there's a shit load of beer here to drink. The fuck they are putting this in the damned ground! Jiro wouldn't stand for it and neither will I."

InuYasha cracked a smile and nodded. "I'll call you." As he walked towards Sesshoumaru, he paused and glacned back. "Thanks Miro, I mean it."

The legal proceedings were as boring as they were long. InuYasha had never seen so much paperwork in his life. Judging by the sour look on Sesshoumaru's face half way through, InuYasha had just inherited triple the wealth than the bastard next to him. InuYasha was now the proud owner of a beach front house in South Africa, an 1800's estate in France, a Villa in Italy, the townhouse they were currently living in, and a loft that Jiro had purchased a few weeks previous in Manhattan. Just the real-estate alone was worth over a ten million. InuYasha was also now a silent partner in some of the largest corporations internationally. InuYasha and his great grand children would be able to live wealthy lives off just the interest alone from his assets.

InuYasha found out, thankfully while sitting, that his net worth had just skyrocketed from the twelve hundred that he had in his bank accounts, to 1.2 billion dollars. Apparently there were also Swiss Bank accounts, but they had no way to track how much had been there. In that case, the money was lost to them. InuYasha could only imagine how much his brother had stashed away. All of the information was staggering; what the hell was he going to do with so much money? Sesshoumaru, after recovering from his fit of jealously, recommended his personal accountant and lawyer firm for InuYasha to put on retainer. Sesshoumaru and the lawyer stressed the importance of financial advisors, accountants, and fiscal advice that InuYasha had never considered, nor thought he would ever need.

InuYasha nodded dumbly, blankly. How the hell had they gotten here? Two months ago, he was worried he would be cut off from the Taisho money flow and now…now it was quite possible that he had more money than his father. He could pay off his education, Kagome and Mirko's, buy them all houses, get Kagome's mother out of debt. He could do so much good. He could do so much in general. He could take Kagome away from the threat of Bankotsu forever.

Judging by the look on Sesshouamru's face, he wasn't far from the truth.

Once more, InuYasha found himself completely dazed; how had life come to this? As thrilled as he was to be the benefactor of his brother's wealth, he would sooner give it all back for just a few more days with Jiro. As the meeting concluded, InuYasha went through the motions of being thankful, shaking hands and taking his leave. He couldn't think straight any more. He had to get fresh air. He had to wrap his head around all of this. He had to get booze in his system.

Sesshoumaru grabbed InuYasha's arm as they approached the car in the parking lot. "Listen….don't be stupid. I know you think you can handle all of this right now, but don't lose sight of what's important. While I will never agree with Jiro or the things he did, his life went to save your mates. Don't lose sight of yourself in all of this, don't let the money blind you."

"Thanks Sesshoumaru," InuYasha muttered while pulling himself free, "but I'm not an asshole. I think I'm okay; I'm not going to run off with some supermodel just because I'm rich. Well…not yet," he joked. Eyeing his brother, he could see it was lost on him.

"Just….don't get scammed and don't try to spend all of your money. Get some damn help and do it fast! I don't want to see you piss it all away."

"What, Sesshiles wants a loan?"

InuYasha had to duck his brother' s swipe. He waved a hand at Sesshoumaru as the now eldest Taisho son climbed into the back of the limo that came to collect him. undoubtedly, he was going to go get ready for his dinner with dad. Wandering over to the limo, InuYasha banged on the glass until Sesshoumaru lowered it. "Let me know how weird dinner is tonight. I can't wait for the gory details."

Sesshoumaru stared at InuYasha, deadpanned, then rolled back up the window. And like that, he was gone.

InuYasha took a deep breath and let it out slowly. with a snort, he shook his head. how the hell had this happened? He could vividly remember four months prior when he dated Kikyo and hated Kagome, then he loved Kagome, then he risked his neck and the family secret for Kagome. Four months ago, he was sitting in classes worrying about how he was going to live with Kikyo for the rest of his life. Four months ago Jiro was a bad guy, Kagome was a bitch, Miroku was a wild card and life was...simple. or was it? He could barely remember. So much had changed. He had been InuYasha and at night he was Sha. Now, there was no longer a clearly defined boarder. Miroku and Kagome knew his secret, his brother was dead, Sesshoumaru and he were, arguably, closer than ever, and he was a billionaire.

There was a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach, something that didn't sit well with him. Something screaming that he missed something huge. How could he? He had just inherited a billion dollars. But it was there. He attributed it to the guilt, he decided as he watched Sesshoumaru drive off. He didn't deserve this money, he didn't earn the money, and he sure as fuck didn't want the money. But he would take it, because this money ensured that he could protect Kagome. He could build her a damn fort to keep her away from Banktosu or any of his minions.

As he lumbered back to the veryon, all he could think about was getting back to the hospital and telling Kagome everything that had happened. But he had one more stop to make with Miroku.

Sooner than he had thought, InuYasha found himself back in the graveyard, sitting next to Jiro's coffin with a beer in hand, shading his eyes from the spring sun. His best friend sat next to him, a beer in his hand as well, sunglasses covering his face. He had lost track of how long they had been sitting there.

"1.2 billion, huh?"

InuYasha chugged the rest of his beer and tossed the bottle. "Yeah, how fucking crazy is that?"


InuYasha nodded, "Shit indeed."

Miroku stared at the ground for a moment. "Can I have the car?"

InuYasha stared at Miroku before sighing. "We'll see."

"Well fuck you too. You could buy a fleet of those cars!"

"Dude," InuYasha started. "Not now."

Miroku raised an eyebrow and nodded. "Sorry. Like I said, I'm not good at these things."

Staring up into the crystalline blue sky, he changed the subject. "So…how are things with Sango?"

"Oh you know," Miroku shrugged. "They are."


"It's a relationship. We'll see what happens."

InuYasha chuckled after a moment, "a relationship. Listen to you, the next thing is going to be, 'yeah, we're engaged, so what?' She's gonna make a man out of you ."

Miroku rolled his eyes. "I think I already was a man for a long time before her."

"Excuse me, an honest man."

Miroku stared at him in abject horror. "Don't say things like that. I'm too young for that shit."

InuYasha smiled for a moment before leaning back against the coffin. Their pile of beer bottles was growing by the minute and they still had a lot to go. He had lost track of how long they sat by the coffin, but it wasn't really making him feel any better. "I just…damn, after living for so long, why would you just give up?"

"He didn't give up, Yash. He…gave his life away to someone who needed it more."

"I feel like shit for that, by the way. I mean, it's not like we're married, or engaged. Fuck, we're not even dating! Now…" he felt like an asshole thinking it, but forever they would be linked by this event. It wasn't saying he didn't love Kagome, nor that he didn't want her around for the rest of his life, but they would forever and irrevocably be tied together by his brother's sacrifice. If she ever wanted to leave, she would feel guilty because Jiro gave his life for her. And If InuYasha ever wanted her gone, it was only by his brother's gift that she was alive and he had to honor that. His brother had tied them together without a chance of escape. While the thought scared InuYasha, it didn't at the same time. Kagome was his, Jiro just saw to cementing that fact.

"I am going to buy her a ring."

Miroku winced. "Why don't you date her first?"

"We're destined."

Miroku made a show of rolling his eyes. "real star crossed lovers, you say? nay! Nay I say! just...lucky." Miroku chuckled for a moment before letting silence fill his hesitation. with a grimace, he turned to stare at his friend. this was an important fact that InuYasha needed to know. "You need to make sure she understands that she's free to leave if it doesn't work."

InuYasha stared at Miroku, worried his friend had grown the ability to read his thoughts. "I know."

"I need to know that you know." Miroku stared at InuYasha without a flicker of humor on his face. Seriousness was not becoming of his friend, and it scared him a little.

InuYasha rolled his eyes. "I get it, Miroku. Jesus; get off my dick! I will talk to her."
"This isn't something you can fuck up, InuYasha. She needs to know that Jiro gave her her life to live, not to become some indentured servant to you for the rest of her life."

InuYasha nodded. "I just…wish I knew what he was thinking when he made his choice." He remembered how Jiro had stared at them when he first visited, after they found Kagome. Then he was gone. was he setting this up? Was he preparing his will and setting his brother up for life? He was out getting ready to die and InuYasha was...preparing to lose Kagome. That was the truth, wasn't it? One of them was going to die. Kagome was the likely victim of the grim reaper. She was wounded beyond repair, she was battered and bruised and laid before all of them slowing fading away. Jiro had opted to take her place. He opted to give them another chance.

"He saw something, Yash. He saw happiness, and maybe its fucked up and covered in layers of leather and mesh, but he saw something for you he never found for himself." Miroku was quiet for a moment, "or he found but could never have."


Miroku nodded.

InuYasha covered his face for a moment. "This shit is so fucked up. I don't get what his deal was; he saved a girl, he gave her to a few priests to take care of and then she was really like, superman of spiritual mojo?"

"Superwoman, but yes."

"But why did she hate demons?"

"Well, she grew up at the convent that your father had his demons torch. I would say it was personal."

InuYasha made a face. "So she could fry the demon population, but didn't because she loved Jiro. But he used her and then left and she was kicked out. Somewhere in that, she had a family with some random dude, which is where Kagome stems from, but she wanted revenge so she went back to the temple and fried a whole lot of demons until Jiro came back and killed her."

"What I got from it wasn't that he killed her but he got her to kill herself; like some Romeo and Juliet shit. But then he walked away and she became some seriously pissed off ghost."

"But why was she willing to save Kagome, and how?"

"No clue. Maybe the power of Christ compelled her…"

InuYasha stared at Miroku until he grew uncomfortable. "Or not…"

"How did he find her? how does one find a ghost?" InuYasha thought for a moment about trying to locate Jiro's ghost. was that even a possibility? Had he and the Mrs. ghost gone off to ghost heaven. Had she banished his soul to hell? Had she sucked out his soul through his eyes like Shang Tsung? Was there any trace of his brother left on this earth? If they got rid of the demon, the human shell remained, right? Jiro had given Kagome a piece of him, his life force, somehow and that was what healed her. How much or little of Jiro that went to Kagome, did the rest go with Midoriko? Why couldn't she had saved them both? Why did Jiro have to die?

'To atone,' he knew that was the answer but never wanted to admit it. Jiro might have done some screwed up things, but wasn't that how life was back then? he did what he had to to survive. He did what he had to to help his people make it. He would never blame Jiro for getting rid of the threat of Midoriko. His brother made a choice, it just sucked that in the end, it hastened his death.

"How the fuck did we come to this?"

Miroku shrugged. "Spiritual mojo. I don't understand it and I try not to get involved. it makes me itchy."

InuYasha smirked. "I suppose. I just wish I understood it. I want to know where he went. I want to know what happened. did she purify him?"

"If she purified him, wouldn't he be human?"

"It depends on how much of the demon she fried. look at what happened when Kagome zapped Naraku. She sent him flying a few feet. if you try to take the demon out of a demon... it's different for me because I'm a half blood. if they take the demon out of me, a human remains. Demons don't have a human half... so..."

"So it kills them."

"That's why demons hated mikos. They are one of the few things that can paralyze and kill a demon." InuYasha remembered the first time that Jiro met Kagome. He was ready to destroy her because of what she was, as she was ready to fry him because she thought he was Sha.

Miroku shook his head and fist bumped the air above him. "Yay for being human." there was no humor in his voice.

"It's just all so confusing and I don't understand a damn thing of it. fuck it, i can't think about this now. We got to much going on."

"Yeah? To me, it sounds like someone won the lottery a few times over today. So tell me, where are we going?"

InuYasha ran his hands through his hair and leaned back against the casket. "well, we got some places to see this summer. I think we can take an extended vacation for once."

"Fuckin' A we do. Where are we gonna start?"

"I figure we can start in Italy, to France, and then head to South Africa." While he enjoyed the thought of traveling, with an unlimited cash supply, he couldn't really take any joy from it. Not while leaning against his brother's coffin. He wasn't sure why he was still there. He had to get back to Kagome. he hated leaving her alone. What if Bankotsu had found out that she was healed? What if he still had connections? it wouldn't be the first time a hit was ordered from inside a prison. He didn't have time to sit talking to Miroku. He couldn't let his guard down until he had Kagome safely at home.

"Then Ireland?"

InuYasha hesitated, then slowly turned to stare at Miroku. He blinked, then blinked again. He processed what Miroku said then thought, and thought hard. that nagging feeling was coming back, the one he had outside the lawyers office. This time it was a thousand times worse. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up as he began to rationalize what he had missed. He wanted to puke."What did you just say?"

"You know, Ireland? The one place he wouldn't stop talking about? I defiantly want to see his fuckin' castle there."

InuYasha stood quickly and left Miroku at the side of the casket. Returning a minute later, he brought his briefcase full of papers. Flipping through the summary, he read, and read again. after a third look through, he slowly met Miroku's gaze. "The paperwork doesn't mention a home in Ireland. It's nowhere in here."


"I got a house in South Africa, a villa in France, and a resort in Italy. There isn't anything…" InuYasha flipped through the paperwork. "I don't…." Pausing, he just stared ahead. "Why…"

"Maybe he sold it…"

"No, he would never sell that house." InuYasha stared at Miroku for a moment before chugging another beer then taking off his suit coat. "Get up and help me," he stammered as he walked around the coffin. He knew the answer but he had to see it for himself.

"Help you what?" Miroku asked while standing. Sitting in the sun and drinking nonstop for the last two hours had been a good idea when he thought of it. Seeing his friend staggering towards the coffin of his dead brother made Miroku rethink that.

InuYasha began pulling the flowers and beer from the top of the casket.

"What the hell are you doing," Miorku yelled as he rushed around to stop InuYasha. "Yash, stop!" Miroku glanced around wildly, waiting for the grave yard police, or zombies, to throw them out. "What are you doing? InuYasha, don't…"

InuYasha shrugged off Miroku's hands and shoved open the top of the casket and froze. Then he started to laugh; the laughter started as a chuckle but quickly became a veracious cackling that had him bent over in no time. He laughed until he cried.

Miroku walked very slowly over to the casket and glanced in with an expectation that was quickly met. Slowly he lowered the casket lid, and replaced the toppers as InuYasha laughed himself crazy. Miroku adjusted his shirt then approached his friend.


InuYasha was attempting to catch his breath as he wiped the tears from his eyes.

"That fucking…"

Miroku held up a hand. "Don't say it. Let's just…forget it. It's easier…"

"Son of a bitch."


"Maybe nothing. God damnit, how didn't I see this coming? Of fuck that. All of this god damned guilt! That doctor was a demon...damn it, i'm a fool!"

Miroku grimaced and grabbed a hold of his friend. "Calm down. Let's just...think about this rationally."

"There's no rationality to anything that has happened lately Miroku! Or haven't you noticed?"

Miroku shook his head, "if you think that's strange...Inu...we have to talk. This can wait. We'll handle this later."

"Oh?" InuYasha gestured to the casket. "something's more important? Do tell!"

Miroku held up a hand and went back to his briefcase, one of which InuYasha had completely missed him even carrying. InuYasha shook his head slowly and followed Miroku. "Are we even going to talk about this?"

"Not yet. Because you forgot you still have one problem to take care of."

"And that is?"


InuYasha's head snapped up and instantly he sobered. He had forgotten about that son of a bitch when Kagome had gone missing. While he had assumed that Onigumo and Naraku had been a plant by Bankotsu to keep him busy while Bankotsu abducted Kagome, at no point had Bankotsu acknowledged InuYasha as Sha. Even throughout the proceedings, when Bankotsu could have started a witch hunt against his family, the accusation never arose. Banktosu had no idea the Taisho's were demons. While he had been worrying about Kagome, then dealing with his brother, Onigumo had managed to slip past his thoughts. Maybe that was another part of that awful feeling in his gut.

"What about him?"

Miroku produced a manila folder. "He's dead."

InuYasha raised an eyebrow and grabbed the folder. "So what do I have to worry about? Did Jiro get him?" That was fantastic news. One problem he didn't need to handle.

"No. That's just it Yash. He's been dead. For nearly a decade."

InuYasha lifted his eyes slowly from folder to stare at Miroku. "What? But...how?"

"His father…after Naraku's father stiffed them…he killed all of them. He had some sort of mental breakdown. He shot Onigumo and his brother, his wife and then killed himself. Onigumo never went to Monmouth."

InuYasha shook his head. "But we saw pictures…"

"Pictures can be doctored."

"But that room…Naraku knew nothing…." His eyes widened as he stared at Miroku. "Wait, are you saying…"

"We got two options; some doppelganger has taken over Onigumo's identity well enough to trick even his cousin into believing he's the real deal who, for some reason, has a serious vendetta against you. Or….and this one is fun, Naraku's Onigumo. He's some sort of schizophrenic or sociopath…"

"Then Naraku… is it…is it possible that someone else is… I mean…" InuYasha rubbed his face. "Isn't Onigumo human? Narkau isn't; someone had to of noticed."

Miroku raised an eyebrow. "Dude, as far as I'm concerned, a demon ate my roommate a few months ago and has been sashaying around in his skin since then."

InuYasha growled at Miroku.

"Exactly. How would anyone know any better if he was human or demon? If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…"

"But…this is too crazy! People had to have seen the two of them together."

"Well, if someone can attest to that, then yes, we have a doppelganger. But think about it; did you ever meet Onigumo?"

InuYasha shook his head, "no, never."

"And he was our grade, so we should have had a class with him. At least one gen Ed!"

InuYasha shrugged, "sure, I guess.

"But we never had. The only time we learned of Onigumo was suddenly when you had Naraku pinned against the wall for trying to get in Kagome's pants. Suddenly it was his cousin's fault. We have two ways to look at this. One is that Naraku knows there is no Onigumo. He uses the identity to sneak around and try to get into mischief, like the bit with Kikyo, and keep his true identity squeaky clean and a victim in the mean time. The other path is that he's crazy pants; he doesn't realize that he is both Naraku and Onigumo. He could have a multiple personality disorder in which he is not aware of the other identity. He lives his life part of the time, and the other part of the time, he's Onigumo. We have to talk to the frat boys to see if they can help us piece this together."

"I don't buy it, that's….crazy. I….let's go with the other person idea."

"Okay. My name's Kyle. I know that you think I was that punk Miroku that you used to hang out with when you lived with your dad, but honestly, I'm not. I just studied his every move, got his sense of humor to a tee and decided to come here to fuck with you, after sitting and waiting for four years, to get back at you for your father making more money and better decisions than my father, or my uncle's pet dog. Does this make any more sense?"

"There is still the possibility that Onigumo is not who Naraku says he is. What if he's some theater nerd …or an assassin….that Naraku brought with him. It was easy for Naraku to set him up with the credentials. There is so much shit. We just need to get Naraku…" InuYasha shook his head. "How long did you know about this?" the thought made his head hurt. "Fuck Miroku! How long haven't you told me about this? Naraku's out there!" His voice suddenly raised an octave as he shot to his feet. "Naraku's fucking out there and you're telling me he could very well be another crazy psycho? He was fucking stalking Kagome, Miroku! Why the hell didn't you tell me this when you found out?"

Miroku held up hands hoping to calm down his friend. "Inu, I just found out. Jiro must have done some digging because i found the news articles and death certificate sitting in a folder in the mail. you know how bad we are with mail! Damn it, I wanted to tell you buy you were a tad bit preoccupied! I mean, you were with Kagome twenty-four seven, so what did it matter?"

"What did it matter?" InuYAsha wanted to pummel his friend. "It matters because Naraku could have walked the fuck into the room with a weapon, and I wouldn't have stopped him! He could ...Jesus Miroku! Kagome has no idea! He could be there right fucking now and she wouldn't be the wiser! We need to go! Jesus fucking Christ Miroku, what the fuck were you thinking?"

"I was trying to verify the information! I talked to Sesshoumaru and he was trying to locate the family to get confirmation about the deaths, and he was trying to see if Naraku's ever gotten mental help. He was doing some background sleuthing!"

"You fucking told my brother but not me?"

"Calm down!"

InuYasha lashed out and punched Miroku. it was one clean hit across the jaw that sent his friend sprawling. "Don't fucking tell m to calm down! Damnit Miroku, this is what got us in shit with Bankotsu! Telll me someone is watching Kagome while we're gone!"

Miroku got to his knees, rubbing his jaw. He turned his head and spit out blood before wiping it with the back of his hand. "The doctors and nurses, Inu! She's in a fucking hospital. No one can hurt her there. She'll be okay. We have to find Naraku, like you said."

InuYasha stared at Miroku for a moment before helping him to his feet. "I'm not sorry for hitting you. You fucking deserved it."

Miroku brushed off his jeans and frowned pointedly. "I didn't want to stress you out."

"Did you tell the police?"

Miroku nodded. "I did. I explained the situation and they said they were going to try to bring Narkau in for questioning. They have records of Onigumo in school but got really weird about it and wouldn't talk to me. I'm guessing when they pulled his record, they realized the shit's never registered for a class."

"Look, I don't have time to think about that. We have to get to the hospital, then find Naraku."

Miroku nodded enthusiastically; "Either way, we need to get Narkau. I mean, he knows you're a demon if he's Onigumo. He's knows about your family, he knows about you and Kagome. Naraku might be the one out to get you, if that is indeed the way this goes. And Kagome….who knows what he is dragging her…. If Naraku is Onigumo, he is probably bat shit crazy. And either way, one of these fucks is obsessed with you. Obsession, as I've seen, never ends well."

InuYasha took a deep breath. "Kagome….we need to go. I am not putting her in another giant clusterfuck."

"You seem to…uhh…be really good at that…don't hit me again."

InuYasha was already walking towards the car.

Miroku grabbed his brief case and a six pack and hurried after his friend. "Wait for me."

Within a minute, the two were speeding away from the grave yard, the beer bottles, and the empty coffin.


-while I have more of the next part written, I have been sitting on this for a few months, trying to perfect it. It's sad to wrap up a story, and it's hard to make myself make this end. However, it has to. To those who have waited, and urged me on through email, I am forever grateful. A shout out to InuFan77777 and Netta; this is long overdue. I am sorry, i don't feel like this is my best work, but it's been very hard to articulate the chapter. Also, I just couldn't leave Jiro well enough alone ::squee::