Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. Get over it.
A/N: I've filed this under Alternate Universe because I'm not caught up on the manga enough to use any of the more recent events in the story and it has probably taken a much different turn ebcause of that. Plus it takes place three years after her first fall down the well, anyway.
This is a rewrite of my first ever fanfiction. Okay, I take that back. It's a rewrite of my first ever published fanfiction. My first one was a really bad one-shot done to the lyrics of Don't by Shania Twain. Anywho, I'm hoping that this version gets a better review than the first. It only had four reviews - and they were all by the same person.
Amazingly, I actually completed this story before posting it. That being said, however, I'm only posting one chapter at a time at intervals. Now, I'm not saying that I'm holding the chapters hostage in exchange for reviews - that'd just be wrong. But a little encouragement could go a long way for faster updates...
I warned you before and I'll warn you again. I am a review whore. This will not change. Ever.
Also, I still don't have a beta and, from the looks of it, never will. So, as always, this fic was edited by your truly reading and re-reading it four or five times. I may have missed something. If you see any glaring mistakes, please, let me know so I can correct them. Along with being a review whore I'm also a perfectionist so critiques are welcome.
Now, on with the show...
"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
Dark clouds slowly rolled across the sky from the east as the winds picked up. In the distance the deep roll of thunder could be heard while lightening illuminated the clouds, making an eerie backdrop to the battle.
They were situated in a small open area overlooking a deep ravine. Below them, edged by jagged cliffs was the fast flowing waters of a river. There was a space of nearly twenty-five feet between their side of the ravine and the other. A warn, khaki school bag leaned against a tree trunk and not far from it, a blue and white checked picnic blanket lay in a heap. The basket that had accompanied the blanket had been toppled over and it's now ruined contents were scattered across the ground.
Two of the group had left, going to rid a village of a troublesome youkai. An older man had approached their group and pleaded with the taijiya to save them from the lesser demon. It had been agreed that there was no point in all of them going when it was something that could be dealt with quickly with little effort. The houshi had accompanied them to lend a hand, if needed, and to most likely con the headman out of a heavy purse. They had taken the fire cat with them as transportation.
It hadn't been long before the three remaining members had realized it was a trap when their enemy had come sneaking out from the trees. It appeared the wind witch, Kagura, had not been the only one with the ability to control the dead and hide the scent of their decaying bodies. It seemed when he had destroyed her, Naraku had reabsorbed her powers.
The villager had been slain and there was no youkai terrorizing a village. It had all been a ploy to separate the group that had grown so strong together.
"Damnit!" Inuyasha swore and brought his sword down again, hacking off the tentacles that were headed straight for him and jumped out of the way, landing in a crouch a few yards from where he'd been standing. "Where the fuck are Sango and Miroku!" They should have realized by now that the oni attack was a trap and been on their way back.
He'd attempted to use his Kaze no Kizu attack, but couldn't stand in one place long enough to find the wind scar and bring his sword across it and Naraku wasn't throwing any attacks his way so he couldn't use the backlash wave. Hell, he was good, but even he couldn't do this forever and it seemed the more appendages that he severed, the more Naraku regenerated.
Pink light whooshed past him and he turned quickly to see that the miko's arrow had penetrated and disintegrated another attack that he hadn't realized was coming. But he didn't have much time to think about it before that same girl screamed in pain.
She had only just realized that she had unknowingly been maneuvered to the cliff's edge and was attempting to work her way back towards the center of the clearing, a safe distance away, when a tentacle shot out in her direction, hitting her hard in the side and sending her flying towards the ground. Her skin burned and bled where the miasmic appendage had touched the flesh, but the adrenaline pumping through her system dulled the pain for the moment.
She had screamed while in mid air and landed with an umph right at the ledge. The impact jarred her, knocking the wind from her. She instinctively tried to catch herself, opening her hands and flattening her palms to brace for impact. Unfortunately, she'd been holding her bow and, when she let go, it tumbled over the edge of the cliff. The kitsune that had been on her shoulder also went tumbling and she managed to grab him by the tail before he fell over the edge.
Depositing the child on solid ground she worked her way back and managed to stand as the breath finally returned to her. Her eyes darted around quickly until she found what she was looking for - the one arrow she had left which had been dropped when she was hit.
"Shippou, get my arrow...and I'm gonna need a bow. Now!"
He sprinted across the distance on all fours, dodging just as Naraku made a grab for him. When the quasi hanyou tried again, he paused just long enough to throw fox fire at the groping appendage and dart off again. His magic wasn't strong, but it was enough of a distraction to get him to his destination.
He didn't make it back to Kagome.
His youkai nature made him faster than her, which was why shy had told him to retreieve the arrow, but she had intended to follow behind him to get away from the ledge. She made it all of two steps before Naraku slapped her again, this time across the abdomen, and sent her soaring backwards, over the edge.
In that moment, time seemed to slow to a near stop. She felt the weightlessness of being aiborne and the wind pull at her hair as gravity began the inevitable pull on her body, bringing her down towards the ravine. But the fall moved at such a pace she seemed to be descending a mere centimeter at a time.
"Inuyasha!" the scream was ripped from her throat and ended in an ear piercing shriek. It was an instinct born from two years of calling to him whenever she was in danger, of trusting he'd be there to rescue her.
And he was.
No sooner than his name had left her lips, she felt something take hold of her, encasing her in a warm embrace. As soon as his arms were around her, time jumped back to normal and she was soaring again, this time towards the safety of the clearing.
"You two go find Sango and Miroku. I'll take care of this bastard," he instructed as he nimbly landed on the grass and set her on unsteady legs.
He had been attempting to go to her to make sure she was alright from her first fall, but Naraku had succeeded in keeping him occupied long enough to strike her again. When he'd seen the girl's figure flying over the ledge, to say he'd been scared would have been an understatement. Terror had filled every inch of his body and his blood had run cold, sending goosebumps along his spine. He'd seen his life flash before his eyes - a life that had been miserable before her.
An unknown power had given him the speed to reach her before it was too late and he had heaved a mental sigh of relief when he caught the miko in his arms. But he couldn't keep doing this. She was in danger and a distraction and he had to get her to safety. As soon as she was on her feet, he gently shoved her towards the trees, telling her to get a move on and then reached for the hilt of his sword, which he'd sheathed in order to catch her.
His rough fingers had just closed around the leather wrapped hilt when Naraku attacked from out of nowhere. The hanyou grunted as a tentacle pierced his fire-rate hair haori and clean through his abdomen. Kagome screamed again, reaching out to him as black smoke rose from the miasmic limb, filling the wound with poison before jerking, ridding itself of the injured hanyou who fell down to the river below.
Kagome blinked back tears and brought her head around, meeting her enemy's eyes, her own blue orbs flashing pink for a second before going back to normal. A wave of calm washed over her and drowned out all sounds. She could see Naraku laughing, but it didn't register.
Instead, she stood and grabbed the arrow Shippou had dropped next to her. "Shippou, I need a bow." Her voice sounded muffled, like it was coming from far away and it felt as if she were outside of her body, watching someone else control her movements.
"What will you do now that the half-breed isn't around to protect you?" Naraku asked, a satisfied smirk on his face. Even his voice sounded as if it were coming from the other side of a wall. A mass of tentacles shot out from beneath his kimono as he made to grab her.
His reddish eyes widened in shock when there was a spark of pink and the limbs sizzled and burned from where they'd come in contact with her barrier; a barrier she hadn't even realized she'd erected.
There was a pop beside her and she lifted the odd looking bow Shippou had transformed himself into. Her eyes glowed an eerie pink when she knocked the arrow and drew the string.
"Simple," she responded. "I'm going to kill you."
There was a shwing as she let loose the arrow and it erupted in pink flames, burying itself in Naraku's chest before he could move to protect himself. His being sizzled and then evaporated in a puff of black smoke, leaving only a wooden doll wrapped in a strand of hair. Three Shikon shards lay on the ground next to it.
As soon as the arrow had been released, Shippou took on his original form and jumped from Kagome's hands, whimpering while she knelt by what was left of the puppet and retrieved the shards. Several Shamiyoushou emerged from the trees, hovering nearby, probably ordered to take the shards when the puppet was destroyed.
"Tough luck!" She yelled angrily at the buzzing hell bugs. "Finders keepers, losers weepers - and you can tell him that from me!" She picked up a container from their ruined picnic and hurled in their direction. To her surprise, and the surprise of the Samiyoushou no doubt, it obtained a tail of pink light and hit one of the hell bugs, turning it to dust. The other three quickly turned tail and fled.
Her skin was tingling, she realized and she looked down at her hands, frowning. The blissful calm that had seeped into her being before was beginning to ebb and with it's departure the pain, physical and emotional, was beginning to return at fresh force. Blood from the miasmic burn on her right arm had trailed down to her wrist before clotting and was now drying, making the skin itch beneath it. The front of her tee-shirt and the waist of her jean shorts were also damp from the burn on her stomach, which had bled, and her black tee sported a long gash near the hem.
Shippou whimpered behind her and drew her from her thoughts. Turning, she reached out to take him into her arms, frowning when he flinched as if he were afraid she'd hurt him. Giving it a second try, she brushed her fingers through his bangs and then gathered him in her arms, clutching him to her chest while he sobbed. Her own tears had begun to cascade down her cheeks as she looked at the cliff from which the hanyou had fallen.
Her breath caught in her throat and she clenched her eyes shut, looking away.
Could he have survived the fall? Was it possible?
The gorge was deep with ragged cliffs and sharp rocks. The river's current was strong so it was undoubtedly deep as well. She had read once that if a person were to fall or jump from a certain height they would be dead before hitting the ground because of air pressure or something like that. But Inuyasha wasn't a regular person - he was a hanyou, stronger than most humans. Therefore it would take a much higher fall to kill him, ne?
She'd seen him jump from the top of Goshinboku and land on his feet. He was like a cat in that way. But now he was injured. She'd seen him survive such an injury before, but he'd passed out from the venom injected by Sesshomaru's poison claws, as well as blood loss. Naraku's miasma was just as strong as Sesshomaru's poison and if he'd been unconscious, there was no way he could have landed on his feet. He might have suffered a broken neck or a concussion or broken ribs which could puncture a lung or his heart...
And that was if he had landed on the ground. If he had landed in the river, he would have been swept away by the current and, unconscious, drowned.
All while these thoughts rolled through her mind, any number of gruesome and horrible scenarios in which she might find her beloved friend flashing through her head, she crept closer to the ledge to look over.
The miko had prepared herself for the worst. What she hadn't prepared for was what she found.
There, some fifteen feet below where she stood, was a ledge that jutted out from the face of the cliff. Sprawled across the surface of the ledge, lying on his back, was her hanyou. His golden eyes were open, but blank and unseeing. His hair was pillowed beneath him, some falling from the edge of the ledge. A small but growing puddle of blood was beginning to form on the rock surface, darker than it normally should have been from the poison. He wasn't bleeding as heavily as he probably should have, but even the sluggish pace would be dangerous if it weren't stopped soon.
But none of that would make any difference if he were dead and, from her vantage point, she couldn't tell.
"Shippou," she called softly, getting his attention. Her voice was steadier than she felt. "I need you to do something for me, okay? There's a ledge below us. I need you to go down there and check on Inuyasha. I'm going to get something for you to use as a bandage until we can get him back up here. I'll be right back."
He lifted his head from her shoulder and wiped his eyes clear, looking down for himself. When he saw the hanyou, he nodded and leapt from her arms scaling down the cliff's as quickly as possible. She turned away and ran to the discarded picnic blanket and drug it back, lowering it to the kitsune. The wind was beginning to pick up and thunder rolled overhead as lightening crashed in the distance.
"Shippou? Is he...is he..." she couldn't bring herself to say it, but the kit knew what she needed to know.
"He's breathing, but not good," he answered. He gripped the blanket in his hands, nearly losing it to a gust of wind. Naturally, he was too small to lift the hanyou without help and he wondered what he was going to do until an idea popped into his head. With a pop Miroku , complete with bushy red tail, knelt on the ledge. Using the monk's form, he grunted and lifted the hanyou enough to slip the blanket behind him and then tied it as securely and tightly as he could around his middle. When he was done, he went back to normal and looked up at Kagome who had knelt on her knees by the ledge and was looking over.
Don't you dare die on me, Inuyasha. You aren't allowed, got it?
She looked back to see Kirara coming down to land behind her and she breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank Kami! We were attacked by a Naraku puppet and Inuyasha was hurt. He's down there on a ledge with Shippou. Can Kirara carry him up?"
The fire-cat was already descending below the edge when she asked. After a short struggle, Miroku pulled Inuyasha from the stone cliff and onto the feline's back between himself and Sango. Shippou darted back up the side and morphed into a giant, white bird that looked like a cross between a duck and an ostrich, waiting while she climbed on her back.
"We didn't realize it was a trap until we got to the village," Sango explained as they took flight. "There really was a youkai, though. It was one of the lesser demons that Naraku absorbed back in the cave. I guess he figured he didn't need it's power and we would need to be kept busy. The entire village had been killed already. After we took out the youkai we came looking for you."
"We can stay in one of the village huts until the storm clears," Miroku suggested, his face grim. "I wish to perform the last rites for the villagers and give them a proper burial. It is the least that we can do."
They found one hut that was not occupied and put there things there, lying the hanyou on a futon. While Miroku took a bucket to the village well so they could clean their wounds and cook dinner, Sango and Kagome carefully removed the makeshift bandage and stripped the blood soaked haori and undershirt from the hanyou. It would have to be washed before he could wear it again.
"Naraku injected him with miasma," Kagome explained when the darkened skin of his wound was revealed. She reached out with her right hand, causing the taijiya to gasp.
She grasped the miko's wrist and looked up at her in concern. "Kagome-chan, you're hurt!"
Kagome pulled her arm away, rubbing at the dried blood and shrugged. "Naraku nicked me a couple times. It bled a little, but nothing major." She looked up as Miroku came in and set one bucket next to them. The other was placed next to the fire pit for cooking later. No sooner had he entered than the rain began to pour.
With nothing else to keep them occupied, Shippou and Kirara rummaged through Kagome's backpack and pulled out several containers of ramen as well as delivered the first aid kit to the adults. While they worked, the kitsune carefully filled a pot with water and used the sticks that were already on the fire pit and Kagome's matches to light a fire and boil the water.
Miroku knelt next to Sango and pulled out a piece of parchment with kanji scrawled on it in thick, black letters. Without a word he placed the paper over the gaping wound and watched as it turned black and disintegrated. When the girls looked at him in curiosity, he smiled gently. "To purify the poison so that it can heal." He stood then and left the girls to clean and dress the injury while he helped the kitsune.
When they had finished bandaging Inuyasha, Sango moved around to sit next to Kagome, ignoring the miko's protests when she started to clean the dried blood from her arm and wrap it as well. "What about the poison? Did it hit you as well?" She asked.
The younger girl shook her head. "I mean, yeah, I did get hit a little. That's what caused the burns, but I think...I think I might have purified it myself when I, eh, blew up the puppet." She blushed, remembering the explosion that had destroyed the thing. It had surprised her, but the possession of such pure, unadulterated power also intrigued her. If she could just tap into that and harness it at will...the true Naraku's demise would be a snap.
At the mention of those events, Shippou shivered, causing her to frown. Sango was probing at her mid section, having noticed the rip in her shirt and tsked when she found the second gash. While the taijiya proceeded to clean wand wrap bandages around it, Kagome watched the kitsune and tilted her head slightly to the side. "Shippou? Are you okay?"
He looked up at her and nodded. Truthfully, the idea that this woman could possess such an immense power was a bit disconcerting for a youkai who instinctively knew that such an ability could kill him. But he also knew that Kagome would never purposely harm him. Still, he hadn't been able to help the involuntary fear that had been invoked when her touch had burned him. That, however, was one piece of information he had decided not to share with her, since she had enough problems without feeling guilty for something she couldn't control.
She pulled him into her lap and cuddled him close, smiling slightly when he sighed in contentment as her fingers brushed through his hair as if she were petting him. Despite a human appearance and seeming character, deep down her men could not contain their canine natures. An ear rub for one and a gentle grooming for the other could send them both into blissful serenity.
"You were brave today. I'm really proud of you," she told him quietly as he started to fall asleep. Her own mother had never failed to express her pride in her children and as a result, she and her brother had grown up with confidence and security, knowing there was always someone who would be there for them, cheering them on. Even when they had made mistakes, she had let them know that she was proud they had tried, even if they failed, and had learned from them. It was something she wanted to give to Shippou as well. From the first time he'd joined their group he had latched on to her and she had become a mother figure in his life.
"I'm beginning to wonder if this is ever gong to end," Sango said quietly, handing her a cup of ramen. "It's been two years and we seem to be at a stalemate."
"Three," Kagome corrected. "Three years - or it will have been in two weeks. My birthday will mark three years since I fell down the well and two days later will be the day I broke the jewel and started this whole mess."
"It wasn't your fault. You couldn't have known the consequences," Miroku said in an attempt to comfort her. "This will be what? Your eighteenth year?"
She nodded and wrapped a string of noodles on her chopsticks. "Mmm-hmm. I'm an old maid by this era's standards."
"Who are you calling old?" Sango attempted to glare at her, pointed her chopsticks in her direction. "This fall will be my twentieth year."
"Mine as well." Miroku looked down at his covered palm, closing his fist around the beads that kept his Kazaana sealed. When he looked up he wore a grin, but a shadow had come into his eyes, concealing whatever thoughts had passed through his mind in that moment. "I think, perhaps, normal standards do not apply to us. Our circumstances are a bit...unusual."
"Everything about us is unusual," Kagome quipped. "We've probably knocked the whole of Japan on its behind and left it scratching its head wondering what kind of joke the kamis are playing on them. I mean, think about it. As a group we're odd enough. A taijiya, a monk and a miko willingly traveling with two youkai and a hanyou? Not anormal occuance, I'm sure.."
Sango leaned back against the wall and swallowed, chuckling. "She's right. If you'd asked me three years ago where I saw myself at twenty, my answer would have been completely different from reality."
"What would your answer have been?" Kagome set her empty bowl of ramen aside and shifted the sleeping kitsune to a more comfortable position in her lap before reaching into her bag for a package of herbs Kaede and she had gathered the last time they were in the village. If she mixed them with the boiled water to make a tea, it would cause the drinker to sleep. She planned on giving the tea to Inuyasha, knowing that with his youkai blood, he would arouse soon and insist on making his wounds worse. With the tea, he would sleep through the night, giving himself a better chance of healing sooner.
"Helping train the younger village children." She shrugged. "Perhaps married? With a child on the way?"
"I would be more than willing to assist make that last one a reality."
She shot the monk a warning look. "Hentai," she muttered, sounding a little more fondly than she'd intended and blushed because of it.
Kagome smiled knowingly at the both of them and poured a palm full of the already ground herbs into a cup, then filled it with water, setting down to cool a bit. She stood,awkwardly fixing her sleeping bag with one hand. With the kit tucked in, she went back to the hanyou and attempted to prop him up. Seeing her intentions, Miroku stood and knelt at their comrade's head, propping him up by the shoulders while she put the glass to his mouth and held his nose, forcing him to swallow the concoction.
That part done, she helped carefully lay him back onto the futon and checked his bandages for any signs that the bleeding had started again. His health had progressed since they had cleaned his wounds and Miroku had dispelled the miasma. Having assured herself that he was doing better and resting peacefully, she bid them goodnight and tucked herself in with Shippou. Her eye drifted closed and her last thought before sleep over took her was, Where will I be at twenty?