Going Home

"Thanks, Kaede. I promise I'll give them back tomorrow."

"Do not fret, child," The old priestess replied with a warm smile for her young apprentice. "Ye may return the garments whenever it is convenient for ye."

Returning Kaede's smile, Kagome bid the old woman farewell and stepped out of the hut. The sun was setting, casting the small village in a blanketing red glow, and Kagome's smile brightened. Soon, night would be upon them, soon the fun would begin. Her bright smile of anticipation never leaving her lips, the young miko turned away from the small village and began the short journey towards the Bone Eater's Well.

Once clear of the village, she broke into a light jog to bring her to her destination more quickly. She could see her breath catching in the crisp autumn air, coming out in soft plumes of white fog as she ran. But with the heavy layers of the hakama and kimono that she had borrowed from Kaede billowing around her, she was quite warm. Of course, normally, Kagome refrained from wearing the traditional garbs of the Miko, but for this night she was more than happy to don the old styles. Completing her ensemble, slug comfortably across her shoulder, were her bow and arrow set, handy things when one is constantly facing down any number of demons and other such threats.

The thought of demons made the young miko smile anew, only this time there was a darkness to it, a wickedness that carried into the depths of her sapphire eyes. How many would she see tonight? She couldn't help but wonder. Would they be frightening, gruesome, terrible visages of the dead and the not quite living? A tremor of anticipation raced through her and her smile spread. Witches, ghouls, goblins, ghosts, monsters and demons of all kinds; she knew she was sure to encounter them on this night, and she couldn't wait.

She was close now. Ahead, beyond the next rise, she could see the towering branches of the God Tree stretching into the sky. Even with the coming winter, still the sacred tree held onto its leaves, creating a magnificent array of color, of red and orange, yellow and brown, all mixed together in an array so intricate even the finest paint brushes couldn't create strokes of such vibrancy.

Then, suddenly, felt only by her heightened senses, she began to feel the presence of a youkai. It was like a howl upon the winds, a low rumble shaking through the earth, a strong pulse of heat from the demon fires. Kagome cursed softly under her breath and pushed herself to go faster. Only a little further, she told herself. Only a few more steps.

The dense covering of trees around her broke apart to reveal a clearing filled with lush grasses, and Kagome pushed herself harder still, determined to make the last few strides to reach the well before the demon would be upon her. The howling of its aura grew louder as it crashed against her mystical senses, but she forced herself to ignore it, forced herself to keep going. She was so close!

A sudden burst of cold wind cutting across her path drew the young miko to an abrupt halt. She sighed dejectedly, knowing that she had been caught, and reluctantly she lifted her eyes to look upon her would be captor. He stood before her, his long mane of silver tresses whipping around him on the winds stirred by his passing and his golden eyes trained upon her intently, sharp and focused, but holding in them a darker tone, a clash of amber within the flawless gold that made Kagome wonder.

His stiff posture sagged, almost as though his sturdy shoulders were being forced to bear a weight they simply could not sustain. And then his lips parted, a name slipping past them on a breath of longing.

"Kikyo…"

Furious outrage swept through the young miko on a hot pulse of blinding fury. Her chest constricted almost painfully, and her breath slipped out of her in a strained hiss. "How dare you." Her accusation was carried on a voice so dark it hardly seemed her own, but her fury could not be contained. "SIT!!"

Even as the hanyou was subjected to the painful pull of the livid miko's subjugation, he had resigned himself to the punishment. Too late he had realized that the woman he was seeing who bore such a resemblance to his once love was really the young miko from the future, the one that had given him friendship and companionship when no other would or could, the one he had betrayed so very often for the woman from whom she had been reincarnated from. Filled with regret for his error and the pain he knew he caused her by such a simple mistake, Inuyasha knew even as his body slammed into the ground by the force of her command that any hope he might have had in stopping her from returning to her time had been lost to him.

Still, that wasn't going to stop the hanyou from growling out his objection from his prone position on the ground. "You fucking bitch! What the hell…??!!"

"Don't you even!" Kagome fumed down at the struggling hanyou trying to remove himself from his crated of self-inflicted pain. "After all this time you would still, STILL mistake me for her! SIT!!" She screamed the word of his subjugation again, not willing to allow him room for movement or even a slight reprieve.

Inuyasha growled again, the sound muffled against the dirt. "Wench!" he barked, starting his struggles against the subjugation spell anew. "It ain't my fault! Since when do you dress like you're actually a miko?"

"Like I'm actually…??!!" Kagome voice tailed off with a low growl of her own. "You ungrateful mutt! How dare you! SIT!!" Again Inuyasha was slammed hard into the ground at her feet. He groaned miserably, but Kagome paid him no heed. She leaned closer to him, her voice dropping into a dark whisper. "If I'm such a sorry excuse for a miko, then maybe you should start looking for someone else to help you gather the Shikon shards."

"Kagome…"

"No!" she cut him off sharply. "I don't want to hear it!" Pulling back to her full height, the young miko turned away from the hanyou and began walking towards the well. "I'm going home," she told him over her shoulder. "And if you have any brain cells left in that thick skull of yours, you will not follow me!"

With that said, she grabbed ahold of the lip of the well and used the enchanted wood to pull herself over and take the plunge into its depths.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Home at last, Kagome paused just within the doors of the well house to take a few long draughts of air to dispel her anger. But, as she stood within the shadows of the small enclosure, she began to hear the joyous calls of children echoing through the courtyard beyond. There was laughter in those voices, happy and careless; but there was a tightness as well, one born of a fear that could only come on this night, one created by the fear of things lurking in the shadows and the exhilaration of straining to see what it was.

Her spirits lifting almost immediately, Kagome shook away the last of her hard feelings and pushed open the door. Outside, night had already begun to cloak the world in its shadows, casting long pillars of mystery from every structure, creating new places of fear and excitement for the children at play. She could see them now, see the young ones scampering across the large courtyard of the shrine, their shrill voices lifting up in startled fright for an instant before being taken over by outrageous giggles of mirth and play.

She wanted to laugh with them, their joy contagious in the dying light, a lifeline of hope that fought against the dark shadows. But it was the shadows that she was chasing on this night, it was the darkness that called to be heard, it was fear itself that she sought.

And on this night, above all others, she knew she would find it. For tonight was All Hallows Eve.

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Wow…I've been away for so long that it actually feels weird to be writing again. Though, for anyone who's hoping that this story signals my return, I'm afraid I can't really say that I'm ready for it. For those of you who don't know, I had an accident that basically crippled my right hand for almost two months, and which is still in the process of healing. Being away from my writing for so long seems to have stolen my muses along with my desire to write whatever it is they whisper to me. But no matter the difficulties I have had recently that have prevented me from writing; I still couldn't resist the temptation to write a good Halloween spookfest. So, I sincerely hope everyone enjoys.

Shadow

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, just my own twisted imagination that like to torment the wonderful characters