Author's Notes: Alright, this is just one of those little bursts of inspiration that came to me one morning while I was washing my hair (isn't that always the way?). The underlying concept occurred to me awhile ago, and I've always thought it would be fun to do something that played upon it, but I could never seem to find the right angle. Anyway, this isn't quite what I'd always planned to do, but it has its own merits. I jotted this down pretty quickly in one sitting (though I edited it later on for posting), so it's no masterpiece, but I thought it was cute.
Over the Rainbow
Once upon a time, there was a young girl who fell through a well and into an adventure. With a faithful, if overprotective dog demon at her elbow, she journeyed in search of the fragments of the Shikon Jewel, in hopes that one day her companion would be able to take revenge on the Wicked Wizard of the West, The Great and Terrible Naraku. Along the way they collected other companions: A monk, who often feigned ignorance, but who was plainly the cleverest of them all; a demon slayer, whose armor of tin hid a heart with an infinite capacity for love; and a kitsune, whose thirst to prove himself was matched only by his cowardice. Together they sought the shards and followed their quarry high and low.
There was other trouble to be had, of course. The Wicked Wizard Sesshoumaru of the East never missed an opportunity to waylay the group and taunt the girl's beloved dog into a growling match, and the help of the Good Witch Kaede of the North was rarely sufficient to balance out the ambiguous intensions of the so-called Good Witch of the South: her sister Kikyo. Still, they soldiered on through peril and promise, never relinquishing the bond that they shared among them.
At last one day the final piece of the jewel was collected, and the Evil Naraku was melted permanently into a puddle of poisonous miasma, only to drift away on the wind for good. Their task completed, they all knew what must happen next.
That evening they stood together by the side of the well as the girl hugged them each tightly in turn, saying her goodbyes. When she reached the dog demon, she paused, tears coming to her eyes. Then she wound her arms around his neck so tightly it seemed as though she would never untangle herself, and he embraced her with equal strength. There she whispered tearfully, "I think I'll miss you most of all…"
When finally she relinquished her hold on him and stepped reluctantly away, he caught her by the wrist and pulled her back, kissing her deeply, for one rare moment unselfconscious. "I'll never forget you," he whispered when they broke apart. She slid unwillingly from his grip, holding his hand until the very last moment she possibly could, and then, with a last look at all of them, she disappeared into the well once more, leaving the past behind her forever.
Her eyes fluttered open, blinking against the beams of sunlight that splashed across her face. A dull throbbing permeated her skull, as though a giant fist was clenching and unclenching around it in a constant rhythm, and her entire body felt stiff and achy. For a moment she was confused, not sure where she was, or why so many eyes seemed trained on her. Who were all these people, and what on earth could they possibly find so fascinating about her? Then, one by one, the faces swam and cleared, and she began to recognize them. There was her mother, sitting right beside the bed, holding her hand and stroking her knuckles; and there was Souta, her younger brother, sitting down by her feet. There too were her cousin Miroku, his wife Sango, their son Shippo, and—
When she recognized the face of the boy who had lived next door to her family for as long as she could remember, she couldn't help drawing in a breath. Although most of his body language denoted discomfort and agitation, those striking golden eyes were fixed on her in concern. His long silver hair hung in a braid down his back, and he seemed to be hiding one of his hands there as well.
It was a moment before Kagome realized that her mother was talking to her, and she jolted out of her daze slightly, trying to pay attention.
"…alright. You just hit your head when you slipped and fell into the well, dear. I've told you two time and time again not to go near that old thing – it's so dark, after all. Now, I know you wanted to get Buyo, but you really must be more careful. Anyway, thankfully you didn't get injured more seriously. You have a concussion, but now that you're awake you should be out of the woods."
"Mm…" Kagome mumbled unintelligibly, still feeling somewhat groggy and slow.
"Are you alright Kagome dear? Do you need anything?" her mother asked gently.
Kagome shook her head slightly, though she quickly discovered that that had been a bad idea when the throbbing intensified. "No, no, it's just—I had the strangest dream." She glanced over at Inuyasha, whose eyes seemed to have widened slightly. Then again, perhaps she had imagined it.
"I see," Kagome's mother interrupted, "Well perhaps we'd best all let you rest. Everyone's just so glad to see that you're alright."
"Yeah – thanks everyone," Kagome replied, watching as her family members filed out of the room one by one, giving her encouraging words and pats on the arm as they went. Finally the only one left was Inuyasha – but instead of going out the door himself, he closed it quietly behind the others and turned back to her.
She watched him, frowning in mild puzzlement.
"I just, uh…" he began awkwardly, his voice slightly gruff, "Just wanted to give you these." Pulling his hidden hand from behind his back, he presented her with a small bouquet of lilies.
She drew in a breath in surprise, and pushed herself to a sitting position as he came toward her. "They're beautiful," she said, taking them in her hands and drawing in their scent. "Thank you – please, sit down." She patted the edge of her bed, and he did as she bade, eyes averted.
A moment of silence passed in which Kagome found herself thinking back on the two versions of her life that she now remembered: She remembered falling through the well and meeting Inuyasha for what she had thought then to be the first time, remembered how he had saved her life countless times and broken her heart even more; but now she also remembered growing up on this street with Inuyasha in the house next door, always the grumpy one who got bossy and ruined their games, who had tugged on her pigtails and been her personal representative of the male species during her "boys are icky" phase. Who had inexplicably asked her to a school dance last year, out of the blue, and whom she had immediately turned down. Who had brought her a bouquet of lilies when he'd heard she was coming out of her delirium. Who was sitting by her bedside and watching her carefully for any signs of danger or discomfort – the same way he had always watched over her in the Sengoku Jidai.
"Is everything alright, Kagome?" Inuyasha said, breaking into her thoughts, and she realized she'd been staring at him for quite some time.
"Yes—yeah, I'm fine," she said quickly, snapping out of her daze once more. "I was just thinking about this dream I had. You were in it, you know."
"Yeah," he said quietly, "…I know."
Kagome's brow furrowed in confusion. "You…know?"
He nodded. "I know."
"Then…then you were there too? You…you remember it?" she questioned, amazed.
"I was there too," he confirmed.
An unforeseen wash of relief cascaded over her at this small – yet monumental – revelation. If he had been there too—if he remembered…
She shook her head, smiling in bemused disbelief. "But Inuyasha – do you think it was real? I mean, do you think it really happened, or did we somehow just manage to…I dunno—cross-paths in our dreams or something."
Inuyasha shrugged. "Does it make a difference? It was real to us – so what other kind of real is there? Besides, I don't really care if it was real or not…I'm just glad I'm with you."
Kagome smiled at the unexpected sentiment, reaching out to take Inuyasha's hand. "You're right. I mean, if the whole thing had been truly real, and we had stayed in that world, then we would have been apart forever."
"Yeah…" Inuyasha murmured.
Kagome could tell they were both feeling the same thing: That amazing relief of waking up and realizing that the worst hasn't happened after all – that you haven't actually arrived at school with no clothes on, or that your mother hasn't been eaten by a t-rex, or that you haven't just traveled five hundred years away from the love of your life, never to return. It's the sensational feeling of having a second chance, an opportunity to make things right.
"So," Inuyasha mumbled, awkward once again, "feel like…going to the semi-formal with me at the end of the month?"
Kagome shrugged, and said, "Nah." When he looked up, startled and hurt, it was only to see her grinning at him. "Of course," she answered sincerely, leaning forward and kissing him gently on the lips – a gesture which he readily returned.
"I've always been in love with you, you know," Inuyasha murmured.
Kagome smiled back at him. "Yeah – it took me awhile, but I kinda figured that out…"
A/N: As I was saying above, I've wanted to do something that played on the parallels between The Wizard of Oz and Inuyasha for awhile now, but I've just never been able to find a good way to go about it without it seeming forced and devoid of its own unique substance. Here, as you can see, I played intentionally into that by formatting the beginning as a fairytale-like exposition. Still, I can't let go of the nagging feeling that the idea of comparing Inuyasha to Toto has magnificent comedic potential. Ah well…someday perhaps… (–grin–)