AN: Okay. Finally Chapter Twelve is upon us! It's been a journey, hasn't it? I didn't think my first fanfic would carry on this long, I thought it'd be about 5-6 chapters, but here we are at twelve! And in case you haven't figured it out yet, there will be a sequel to this story, chronicling Inuyasha's quest in the East. Wonderful, right? Maybe. I haven't picked a title yet, but I already have the storyline planned out. Anyway, enjoy the last chapter and review if you can!
When the Truth Rings
Chapter Twelve: Closure'Ow... what the hell is hitting me?'
Inuyasha raised an eyelid to see a rock hurtling toward his face. With a quick motion, he snatched the projectile from the air and crushed it in his hand. Sitting up on the branch he was laying on, he growled, "Who was throwing rocks at me?"
"Me," Shippo taunted from the ground. "Get up, you lazy idiot!"
"Oh, so you like calling names, huh?" Inuyasha grinned mischievously. "How about I call you a -"
"Hey now!" Sango cut in. She and Kagome were carrying baskets of fruit into Kaede's hut when she heard them arguing. "It's way too early for all of that."
Deciding that the kitsune's ears were just saved, the hanyou leapt from the tree branch to the ground. Then, becoming aware that he was hungry, he followed the women inside of the hut.
Inside, there was food already being cooked in a few pots scattered around the room. He saw Kaede stooping over one of the pots and stirring its contents. When she turned and saw him, she broke out into a toothy grin. "Good morning. I hope ye had a good sleep last night."
"I'm sure he did," Kouga said from behind her, chuckling to himself. "Y'know, some strenuous activities can wear a person out."
"Shut up." Inuyasha warned.
"I'm not saying anything," the wolf shrugged, raising his hands in defense.
"Better not be." He sat down on the floor next to the biggest pot, waiting for breakfast to be served. One by one, all the over-nighters and mainstays crowded around the food being prepared. He scooted over so Sango could sit next to him, and gave her a peck on the cheek when she sat down.
She handed him a bowl and smiled back at him before beginning to eat. Taking a second to swallow, he saw her eyes cut to her left, where his brother sat. Turning to him, she said, "Sesshomaru, you're not going to eat?"
He cracked an eye open and looked at her from the wall his back was against. "I don't eat human food."
"You haven't even tried it," she said, standing up and walking over to one of the pots. She set her own bowl down and filled another with rice. Everyone was silent as they watched her take it over to the demon lord. She knelt next to him and extended her hand. "Give it a taste. I made it myself, and I'm sure that you'll like it."
His eyes lowered to gaze at what she was offering him, then looked up at her. "I'd rather not."
Glancing over her shoulder at Inuyasha, then back at Sesshomaru, she continued her bid. "Your brother likes it. It's really good."
"Telling me my simple brother likes human food is not an effective means in persuading me to eat it."
Sighing in frustration, Inuyasha cut in, "Just eat it. It's not poison."
To reinforce her mate's point, Sango said, "I promise you'll like it. And if you don't, I won't ask you to eat any human food ever again."
"If I eat this, will you leave me alone?"
A long blink and a deep breath later, he took the bowl from her. He opened his mouth and hastily shoved half the bowl's contents in. Every pair of eyes were locked on Sesshomaru as he chewed and swallowed. Once his mouth was clear, he didn't say anything; he shoved the other half of food into his mouth and ate it too.
Sango was the first to talk. "So... how do you like it?"
He handed her back the bowl. "Good."
She beamed as she clapped her hands. "This is great! I finally got him to eat something!"
Sesshomaru's glare made her stop clapping, but her smile remained. His expression softened a little bit, and he told her, "I'll eat your rice, but only if you make it. Don't hand me anything that you have not made. Understand?"
Standing with his empty bowl in her hand, she nodded. "Got it."
Kagome set down her breakfast and settled her eyes on Sesshomaru. "What about me? I'm a better cook than Sango. I know my rice will be better than hers."
"She's right," Sango agreed. "She is a better cook than me. But Kagome, I don't think he wants -"
"Maybe your ears do not work," he growled softly, turning his cold eyes to her. "I do believe I said I will eat nothing unless my brother's mate makes it. Now, I don't see what's so hard to understand about that."
Kagome's reply was interrupted by a terrified kitsune sprinting into the hut, completely out of breath. "O-out... s-s-side..."
"What's outside?" Inuyasha asked, abandoning his breakfast and standing up. "Spit it out."
"Shit," Inuyasha growled, unsheathing his Tetsusaiga. "I can't believe I didn't sense him earlier. I should have been paying attention."
"Is it really him?" Kagome wondered. "I mean, could it be one of his puppets?"
Taking to his feet as well, Sesshomaru shook his head. "No. It's him. I know that vermin's smell anywhere."
"Why would the real Naraku come and attack us?" Miroku asked, fumbling for his sutras hurriedly.
"It's probably because Sesshomaru's here," Sango suggested, picking up her Hiraikotsu. Slipping her yukata off her shoulders, she revealed she was already dressed her slayer suit. "Maybe Naraku wants to get rid of both threats to him at one time: us and Sesshomaru."
"Makes sense," Inuyasha concluded. "Well, this is it. This fight is what we've been waiting all our lives for. Let's go out there and kill this bastard once and for all."
The fighters gave each other a nod of good luck, and ran outside, weapons in hand and death in their eyes.
TWO DAYS LATER
Inuyasha watched Sango wince as Kagome applied some kind of cream to her exposed, injured leg. "Sango, I know this hurts, but you've got to stay still."
"Alright," she said, bracing herself for more cream to be smothered over her deep cuts. "OW!"
"Calm down," the miko told her. "It will hurt more if you are expecting pain."
"So says the one who didn't suffer a scratch," Sango grumbled.
"I still don't understand how that happened," the cool voice of Sesshomaru interjected from the other side of the half-destroyed hut the fighters took refuge in. "Where were you while we were fighting Naraku?"
Moving her healing ministrations to Inuyasha's bare left shoulder, she answered, "I was shooting my purity arrows from a tree." His disapproving look made her shrink away and glue her eyes to her patient. "I'm not strong like Sango," she mumbled.
"Obviously I'm not strong enough, or I would have been able to fend off those damn tentacles," Sango said, wincing again as she struggled to sit up.
"At least you're not dead," the increasingly quiet monk said, plopping down across from Inuyasha. "Besides, we managed to kill Naraku and survive with no major injuries."
"I hear that," Inuyasha nodded. "I still can barely believe that Naraku's dead."
"Me too," Sango agreed, lowering her head. He could see that she was slowly turning introspective, so he decided to give her a moment to regain her thoughts. Besides, he needed a moment too.
He couldn't sleep. Maybe because his shoulder still hurt, or maybe it was because he was lying on the ground and not in a tree. Either way, he was awake. Sitting up, he looked down at Sango. She was sleep, but looked uncomfortable. 'She's probably having a bad dream,' he thought. Pulling the heavy blanket off of his body, he wrapped it around her and stood up. Around the camp, everyone was asleep, or at least he thought they were. As he turned to walk off into the trees for a quick run, something caught his eye. Looking off to his left, he saw it was Miroku; he was gazing at his right hand.
"Miroku," Inuyasha said in a low voice. "Your hand..."
Miroku's violet eyes looked up at the hanyou. "It's gone."
Inuyasha drew closer and sat down next to him. "I guess your nightmare is finally over."
"... yeah. But, everything still won't turn out the way I wanted it to."
"What do you mean?"
Miroku paused. His eyes lowered to his palm of his formerly cursed hand. "Sango..."
Not quite understanding what he meant, Inuyasha asked, "What about her?"
"I promised myself that we would defeat Naraku and erase this curse from my family. Then after that, I was going to... marry Sango."
"Oh. Okay, let's just say that she was still available. Do you think that she would have married you?"
"Why wouldn't she?"
"Well, you really don't know how to keep your hands to yourself. And I'm pretty sure that she was getting tired of slapping the skin off your cheek."
Miroku chuckled. "It's amazing how hard she hits. But I was doing that for a reason."
"Because you're a hentai?"
"No," Miroku shook his head. "I was convinced that on some level she loved me. So I kept making her mad at me because I didn't want us to get too close... in case we couldn't defeat Naraku before my Wind Tunnel swallowed me. I couldn't bear the thought of her grieving over me. But I guess my plan backfired. Instead of keeping her from falling for me like I did for her, I actually drove her away."
"Look, you don't know that for sure -"
"No, it's okay. I'm just glad that she's happy. It would be worse if she were unhappy with me over being happy with you. I don't blame you, Inuyasha. It's just that me and her weren't meant to be together, that's all."
Inuyasha nodded at Miroku and said, "It's good that you are so accepting about this. Besides, we both know that you'll find the woman for you. You know so many, it shouldn't be hard."
Miroku had to cover his mouth to muffle his laughter. "I guess you're right. My goodness... I haven't had a good laugh in a while. I'm finally beginning to come to terms with everything. And now that Naraku is dead, I can finally live my life without worrying about when the curse will claim me. This surely has been an adventure."
"Damn right. We did have some good times, but still, I'm glad it's over."
"Aren't we all?."
"Get some sleep."
"Inuyasha, are you leaving somewhere?" Kagome asked at breakfast the next morning.
"Yeah, I'm going into the Eastern Lands," he answered, shoveling rice into his mouth.
"Why are you going there?"
"To gain control over them."
"So we can move there," Sango answered for him. She could tell he was getting tired of her questions, and decided to step in. "He wants us to rule those lands like Sesshomaru does in the West."
Kagome looked at Inuyasha again, this time with hurt eyes. "You want to rule in the East with Sango?"
"Mmmhmm," he nodded, taking big bites out of his bread. "And when I get control in the East, I'm gonna make them build a big castle for us too. I'm gonna make sure it looks good 'cause I want Sango to like it. And if she doesn't, I'll make them build another one."
"Oh," Kagome said, looking down into her bowl.
Not noticing her friend was nearing tears, Sango set one of the two bowls she was holding next to her, and took the other to Sesshomaru. "Here you go."
He took the food from her and devoured it in two gulps. "More."
She looked at him in disbelief. "You eat even faster than Inuyasha." She took the bowl from him, refilled it, and handed it back. "Now, let me get a chance to have something to eat before you ask for anymore."
Once it was quiet, Miroku decided it was his turn to speak. "So Inuyasha, when are you planning to set out for the Eastern Lands?"
"When I'm done."
"What?" Sango exclaimed, giving him a wide-eyed stare. "This soon?"
Swallowing his last mouthful, he returned her confused expression. "Why should I wait?"
"... well, I'm not saying you should, but I didn't think you'd be leaving this soon."
Handing her his empty plate, he wiped his mouth. "I don't want to wait. Besides, I want you to have that castle. And you won't get one unless I go to the East. It won't take me long to gain control. I'll be back in a few weeks, if it even takes me that long."
She lowered her eyes to the ground as she stood to stack up the dirty plates for washing. "Okay."
He rushed over to help her pick up the stacks of dishes, and followed her through the trees toward the stream. "You're not mad at me because I'm leaving today, are you?"
She shook her head and slowed her walk so he could catch up. "I'm not mad about anything. It's just that I don't know what to do while you're gone."
"I'm sure you'll find something," he said, placing the dishes on top of her stack at the bank of the stream. He wrapped his arms around her from the back and kissed the side of her neck. "I don't want to be away from you for very long either. But I have to. It will be worth it."
Her small smile told him she was thinking the same. "Then you should be going, right?"
She turned in his embrace to face him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and raised herself onto her tip-toes to kiss him. Leaning onto his lips, she pulled him closer.
His arms tightened around her, and they shared the most heart-felt kiss they could. Pulling away, he looked into her eyes, and smiled. "I love you."
"I love you too."
It was hard to leave her, but I knew that I'd be back for her, to take her to the most beautiful place she's ever seen. I promised myself the night I mated her that I would do my best to make her happy, and that I'd never stop just because it might be hard. And as I travel deeper and deeper into the Eastern Lands, I am starting to think all this will be a little more difficult than I expected. But I made a promise; and I plan to keep it.
AN: That's the end! By the way, I would really like to thank all the folks who reviewed, especially animeroxz and ginsensu, because you two reviewed every chapter. I hope you all enjoyed my fic. I'll be posting Chapter One of the sequel in a day or two. Thanks! OrangeFuu