She's beautiful, of course.

That's why he keeps going back.

That's surely the only reason: She IS, after all, evil in every other way, boring and dead, and made of clay and dust.

If they went to bathe together she would melt. That thought brought a small, bitter smile to her face.

Maybe she could kiss really well and they…

Urrg. Way too gross (not to mention heartbreaking) to think about.

Kagome readjusted herself in the tree, gripping the branches firmly, careful not to fall, and once she had settled, resumed her melancholic thoughts:

She supposed, if this were modern times, if this was a normal situation, that Inuyasha would be considered her boyfriend, and Kikyo the "homewrecker". But this wasn't modern times, and the situation was anything but normal.

She glanced at the setting sun, hoping for a flash of red or white in the sky, leaping through the forest back to her.

Correction, she grimaced, not back to me. Back to jewel hunting.

Ugh. How depressing was it that she couldn't even believe that Inuyasha wanted to come home to her? She must really have low self-esteem…

But then again, the whole reason he left in the FIRST place was because his ex-girlfriend was back in town.

Kikyo.

Stupid Kikyo.

Stupid annoying Kikyo.

Stupid annoying dead beautiful evil KIKYO.

At least KAGOME was alive. At least KAGOME was warm. And at least KAGOME wouldn't dissolve in the rain.

Haha. Another clay-pot joke.

Kagome laughed out loud as she jumped to the ground and, with one last hopeful glance toward the horizon, walked back to the hut. She was greeted by Sango the Demon Slayer and Miroku the Perverted Monk.

"KAGOME!" Shippo screeched, and launched himself at her, landing on her shoulder.

"Hello, Shippo." Kagome winced: Her voice was unusually soft and sad. She hated it.

"Has Inuyasha-teme come back yet?"

"Shippo, don't call him that." Kagome scolded, but inside her mind she was nodding vigorously in agreement.

"Well, he made you sad!" Shippo protested, pouting.

"Yeah."

"Kikyo is not even that nice." Shippo sighed. "I wish he would stop going to her."

Kagome smiled slightly, mumbling, "So do I", and sat down next to Sango.

The demon exterminator eyed her friend before saying, "You know, I think we need a trip to the hot springs." It was a feeble attempt to ease the girl's worry and hurt, Sango knew, but she at least could try.

Kagome turned to look at Sango. "But no one will be there to guard us from Miroku." She cast a glare toward the lecherous monk.

The pervert's protests filled the room.

"And anyway," she continued, "I don't really feel like taking a bath tonight. I'm clean enough."

Now Sango's eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. Had Kagome, the modern-time girl who always insisted that cleanliness was key, the girl who couldn't sleep when her hair was dirty…Did she really just say she was "clean enough"?

Stupid Inuyasha. He had really hurt her this time. How much more could the poor girl take?

Kagome answered Sango's question by noticeably choking back a sob, excusing herself, and then huffing back out the door, Shippo trailing behind.

"But Kagomeeeeee!" Shippo whined, nervously looking over his shoulder as they ventured deeper and deeper into the pitch black forest.

Kagome barely noticed he was there, however, and continued walking. Where? She didn't know. Maybe she could go kill a little rabbit. That might help ease her anger.

Holy crap. Kagome realized with a start. I'm ANGRY. And…slightly murderous…

All this time she thought she was sad.

She confused herself sometimes.

Maybe that's why Inuyasha likes Kikyo more. Because she's so simple.

It was both an insulting bash at the dead priestess and a stabbing knife to Kagome's pride.

Did she really make things so difficult? Or maybe it was...

GAH. Stupid internal conflict, making everything so hard.

Kagome shook her head and sat down, hard, on a log.

It took her a while to notice that Shippo was no longer attempting to comfort her, or whining, or squeaking, or whatever it was that he had followed her out there to do.

"Shippo?" She called.

"Over here!" His tiny voice echoed through the forest.

"Shippo?" She rose from her seat and followed his voice. "Where are you?"

"Here!!!" He yelled again, this time louder.

"What is it?" She demanded as he came into view.

And then, Kagome gasped, clutching her heart...

And the world stopped spinning.