I'm issuing a disclaimer now that holds for all future chapters:

I'm issuing a disclaimer now that holds for all future chapters:

Inuyasha was an anime
And quite a good one may we say
It is not mine
So charge no fine
Jus' loan it to me for a day!

Note: I let in a little Ranma slip in this chapter.  It means nothing really, so if you see it just ignore it.  I couldn't help myself; I just watched An Akane to Remember and I've got Ranma ½ on the brain.

P.S. please no one steal my IY disclaimer limerick!  I made it up on the spot and I'm actually kind of proud of it!

The Meaning of Forever
By Rashaka


       "May I help you?" a young woman asked in a solemn voice, almost inaudible as if talking was something she did rarely, and no longer saw purpose in.

       Huashan sucked in his breath, and smiled.  It was half real, because he had found her, and half not, because it was hard to smile at a woman who so plainly had no interest in smiling back. "Yes. Yes.  Are you Higurashi Kagome? Born on March 17th, 1985?" The young, teenage face hardened, and there was a slight tightening around her eyes. 

       "What do you want?" It came out a low growl, quite a dramatic change from the docile, timid tone of before.  "You have no business knowing my birth date."

       Huashan held up his hand deploringly, open as a sign that he was unarmed. "Please," he returned, avoiding her question in favor of a plea.

       "No."  Kagome's voice was cutting, suspicious.  "Tell me here, now."

       The man with the deceptive youth sighed lightly, and looked down.  He raised his eyes determinedly then, and answered the girl behind the fractionally opened door.  "My name is Huashan, but the name I go by to others now is Tendo Hikari."

       "What does that have to do with me?"

       Huashan stammered, a little taken aback by her tone.  He had to remind himself that this young woman had had her life ripped apart only nine months before.  "I—I came—I came to talk to you about Inuyasha."

       Kagome's misty eyes widened, then she snapped, "I know nothing about any demon, dog or no.  Please go away."  But the tone was different this time, guarded.

       He held out a hand to stop the door from closing on his face.  "Please, please!" Huashan said, fingers pressing against the wood.  "I—I know about your time traveling.  I know very well the kitsune you met, and the monk and the demon hunter.  Please let me speak to you.  I have so much to say to you, and something to give you as well.  I promise you, I mean you no harm."

       Kagome's eyes slid over his face, down his body to his shoes and up again.  Then she looked around behind him.  Huashan's demon nose could smell a couple across the street, playing with their dog.  He saw Kagome's eyes fix over his shoulder on them, then slowly she nodded and stepped back, opening the door wide for him.  Smiling a kind smile, Huashan stepped into her home. 

       He followed his young host through her home to the family room, passing by the kitchen, several bedrooms, and the entrance to the family's ancient shrine.  When they reached it Kagome directed him to sit in a soft chair, then placed herself directly across from him, a few feet away.  Her metallic eyes had gone from angry to melancholic, so mournful in fact that Huashan almost felt his own eyes well up with sympathy tears when he looked at her.  But sorrowful though it was, her grey gaze met his squarely.

        "You are wearing an illusion.  I can see it."  Her words hissed at him, but the sad eyes didn't change.  "If you don't drop it now, I will break it."

        Without a thought he dropped his mental shields and let the glammer fall away from his body like a drape.  This was why she had let him come in, no doubt.  Huashan had the feeling that if those people hadn't been walking their dog behind him, she would have used her power to try to break his illusion right then.  He didn't know if she would have been successful or not, but he was relieved she hadn't tried in plain sight.

       A gasp echoed from Kagome's lips as she watched the illusion leave the young man on her couch.  The person she'd let in had been tall, with thick black hair and a white streak despite his obvious youth, and attractive violet eyes that seemed to look right through her.  Now the man—no, demon—in front of Kagome looked back at her with piercing, intense gold-flecked green eyes.  His fingertips bore claws, as sharp as Inuyasha's had ever been, and his short hair was now uniformly red—a thick, intense bronze-red that seemed frighteningly familiar to Kagome, though she had no idea where from.  He remained on the couch, unmoving during the change, and she could see that he maintained a tall, lanky form.  Upwardly curved, sharply pointed but small ears gave his handsome face an elven look. 

      "Who—who are you?" Kagome asked breathlessly.  Those curved ears… the dark red hair… he reminded her so much of someone…

      Huashan bowed his head to her.  "This is my true form.  The other is my form as well, but only for once a moon cycle.  I'm only 5/8th youkai, not whole."  As he spoke delicate fangs peaked over his lips, shocking Kagome again.  Fangs… ears… red…. Why could she not think of it…?

      Kagome pulled herself out of her internal brainstorm and tried to remain calm.  There was a demon in her house.  A demon who "just wanted to talk".  A demon who knew about Inuyasha, and Shippou and Sango and Miroku too.  "How do you know about them?  How do you know about the well?"

       Leaning forward, the crimson and bronze-haired youkai smiled kindly again.  It was a charming smile and Kagome had to command herself not to relax around him.  His words were gently spoken, "Miss Kagome, what I'm going to tell you is going to come as somewhat of a shock to you.  Please bear with me though, and know that I am not lying, about any of it."

       The priestess nodded, lips pressed into a thin line.

       "I know about how you came and went from the past to the present, about your quest with the hanyou Inuyasha, and the others.  I also know about the demon priestess Kikyo, and the terrible act she did to strand you in the present, leaving everything you loved in the past.  I know all of this through both speaking to Miroku and Sango and Shippou and your Kaede, and through this."

       If Kagome had any room left in her to be shocked again, she would have.  Huashan held out to her an old book that was falling apart at the seems and covered in dirt and grime.  The book was enclosed in a clear plastic bag.

////  "What are you doing with that silly book, you dumb wench?"
     "Be quiet baka.  I'm putting my diary into a zip-lock so it won't get damaged while we trek across all of Japan."
      "'Zip-lock'?  What is that?  I don't see any locks.  It looks pretty flimsy to me, I don't see how—"
      "Don't touch that!  You're going to poke a hole through the plastic!  It's just supposed to keep it from getting wet, that's all." ////

       Tears glistened at the corners of her eyes, and she irritatedly brushed a hand at them, swallowing.  She did not mean to cry right then.  It wasn't even the same bag, after all.  The book was inside, but the plastic bag must have been changed, the one covering it now was clean, not covered with four centuries of grime and dust.

       "I see you recognize this," Huashan said gently.  "The original bag was lost, but without it this diary would never have survived.  Plastic preserved it well for most of three hundred years."

       "How do you have it?" She whispered, holding back a sob.  "How do you know so much?"

       Huashan didn't answer her, instead kept his green and gold eyes focused on her face, and continued his story.  "The daughter you were forced to leave behind grew up happily despite losing both of her parents early on.  Kaede was raised by Sango and Miroku.  She had thick black hair with a thick, snowy white streak from the right side of her forehead.  She had pretty violet eyes, and she laughed all the time. Kaede found the whole world amusing."

       Kagome couldn't help it and the tears began to drift down her cheeks, becoming two glistening rivers of salty pain and loss.  She tried, tried to imagine in her mind the woman he spoke of.  She wanted more than anything to know her as he seemed to.  My child… her mind wept inside her… My child!

       "She had a wicked temper, much like her father I've been told—" the tears just kept coming and coming and Kagome couldn't stop them, "but when she was happy she lit up a room, and her disposition was as sweet as spring water.  She was beautiful, tall for a woman, and handsome, with a glowing smile.  And she could fight.  She fought as if she danced, jumping around madly so that it was all that tuusa— all that a person could do to just to watch and not get left behind.  She was quicker than she was strong, and could cut demons and people apart faster than they could build the strength to beat her.  And your blood gave her the power to blend the strength of raw demon chi with the skills of a priestess." 

       "When Kaede turned 16 she married, to a young demon with an unusually a kind heart, who bore no ill will to humans.  Apparently, she had been telling this same young demon since she was only eight years old that she would marry him.  When she finally grew old enough, she deliberately tracked him down, cornered him, and told him that he would be better off marrying her than wallowing in misery like he was, and that she would make a far better wife than any other.  I am told he resisted for a while, but eventually gave in to the inevitable.  He could have escaped her I bet though—kitsune magic is stronger than any other demon magic or power, if used well and at the right time."

        Kagome's hand traveled up to her mouth, and she tried to let her thoughts go into some kind of order… something to make it all make sense to her.  Kaede… demon… green eyes… red… pointed ears… fangs…oh my god fangs… kitsune magic… kitsune… kitsune… and it all fell into place.

       "Shippou…" Kagome whispered, bringing her arms around her to hug herself.  Shippou!  Shippou married my daughter!

       Huashan's affirmatative nod came with a fond smile.  "Yes.  They were happy together, happy everyday of their marriage until at 177, when her demon blood finally gave out and she died."

       "What—what happened then?  What happened to Shippou?"  Kagome wanted to shut her ears out, she didn't want to hear the answer.  She already knew, in a way.

       "He…" Huashan's voice hitched.  "He went out and began to search for one of the last great demons.  There weren't many left by that time—it was 1772 by your calendar—and he found it.  He challenged it, and died vainly."  Kagome could hear the regret in the demons' voice, and his eyes no longer met hers.  "He was only 190, in the early prime of his life."

       "…And you?"

       "…And me?"  His voice sighed, but when he looked up again he wasn't sad, just full of love for a memory.  "I'm their son.  I was born when Kaede was only 19.  I've got dog demon blood, kitsune blood, and …and your human priestess blood in me."

~To Be Contnued~