AN: Sad to say, this is the last chapter of this story. (cries) Alas, but there are more stories in my mind to be told, never fear! Now, on with the chapter!
The next morning was torture for Inuyasha.
Despite Kagome's promises to come and visit, despite the knowledge that she had to go, that she had made a life for herself with Sesshoumaru as she couldn't have one with him, it hurt to watch her leave. It hurt to watch her follow the taiyoukai as his steady steps took her farther and farther away from the hanyou.
He could smell her tears, and he knew it hurt her as well. But she did not let them fall, and she did not stop.
Later, when they stopped for the night, Kagome would cry. She would cry, and Sesshoumaru would hold her, not quite understanding the tears she shed, but willing to let them fall. She would cry for the home she had lost, for even if she had stayed, it would never have been her home. That was with Sesshoumaru now.
Inuyasha did not know this, however. He couldn't have known. But the knowledge that she would miss him, and she had promised to come back after all, kept him strong until they were out of sight.
He turned to Kikyou then, shaking his head in sorrow. "How could things have gotten this bad?" he murmured. "I never thought she'd leave."
Kikyou merely shrugged. "Naraku had a way of screwing up even the best-laid plans." she explained simply. "As for Kagome – I think she finally found the family she's been looking for. At least now she has a reason to stay in this world. We will see her again. I know it."
Inuyasha offered a wry smile. "Whoever would have thought you two would have become friends?" he joked. "I seem to recall a lot of death threats on both y'all's parts."
Kikyou laughed at that. "I also seem to recall that you tried to kill both of us as a first meeting." she pointed out. "Stranger things have happened."
Inuyasha chuckled. "Indeed. Come on, let's get to work. I can already smell the cold starting to go through the village." He laughed outright as Kikyou groaned. "Oh, come on. You know I'll help you get the herbs."
"It's not the herbs I mind, Inuyasha." she muttered under her breath. "It's the complaining."
They arrived at Jaken's small camp the next day. Rin, of course, was happy to see her lord and sister safely back home. Jaken had his usual list of complaints and glorifications, but the taiyoukai didn't even bother with him. He listened with half his attention as Rin chatted on about the flowers she had collected and the fact that Jaken had pushed her into the river while she was trying to catch fish. Kagome was the one to chastise the imp for his behavior.
Sesshoumaru's attention was on Kagome. She had hardly spoken the entire time they had left the village, except to apologize for her tears that night. He knew she was hurting, from leaving the hanyou, and he suspected that Naraku had a few unpleasant surprises for her when she battled him, but apparently neither was so much that she wanted to leave.
Still, it worried him.
Kagome got Rin ready for bed while Jaken quickly built a fire. Soon the imp and the child were asleep against Ah-Un. Sesshoumaru and Kagome were resting on the other side of the fire, the young miko leaning against the taiyoukai's shoulder.
They must have made for an interesting sight; Kagome could sense the curious eyes of the lesser youkai as they skirted the camp, lingering only a few moments longer than necessary before darting off into the woods. She smiled to herself.
This felt right. The traveling, even if it wasn't with the tachi like she had always expected, brought back a feeling of peace she had been missing for far too long. Not even the pain of leaving Inuyasha could dampen the growing contentment.
She smiled again, glancing up at him. "You know, I think I finally feel good enough now." she murmured.
He looked down at her. "What do you mean?"
Her smile only grew with her words. "I think I've finally healed, onisan."
He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her closer. Had the others been awake he never would have done it, but for this miko, he would allow some display of his affection. "I am glad, imoto."
Woo! I finished another story! Now on to finish my others before new ideas start to crowd my mind. Review please, and until next time,