Yay! Hikoboshi again! I'm back with a new fanfiction! It's about time, yes I know. I'm really not even sure if I'm gonna keep going on with this one. It was just an idea I thought of. If it doesn't work out, I'll probably trash it... Maybe start another one... I don't know, really depends on how motivated I'm feeling. Anyway, please enjoy!


Next Time

By: Hikoboshi18


The clouds gathered, making the previously promising day ominous and gray. Despite the morning air, the birds didn't sing their songs. The trees swayed violently to and fro, the storm wind beginning to pick up. Lightning flashed and thunder cracked, mercilessly shaking the very earth.

Tiny beads of sweat budded on her forehead. Her arm struggled to pull the glowing arrow back further. Her eyes focused on her target whose movements were so erratic, she had trouble differentiating between friend and foe. Her strength gave out and she finally let go, sending the arrow at the wrong person. But they had nothing to worry about. The wind forced the projectile off course as relentlessly as their enemy struck at her friends.

Suddenly she felt herself flying away from the cliff she had been standing on. Her target's sword appeared in her previous position nanoseconds later. The arms that held her were familiar and strong, yet unwanted.

"I said don't draw attention to yourself!" came the inevitable complaint. Before she had time to respond, she was on the cold dirt ground, her silver-haired savior already gone. He leapt easily towards his Tetsaiga which he had left protruding from the ground in order to save her.

She wiped the frustration away from her eyes as she dusted the dirt from her green school uniform. This was the third time he had to do that in this one fight. She wanted to help. Her eyes scanned the battle field in search for an opportunity to prove her worth. Her best friend and skilled demon slayer battled interlopers along side the courageous monk. Blue fox fire burned nearby as the fox kit bravely participated in the ferocious battle as did the transformed cat demon.

A clash of metal caught her eye. The hanyou leader of their small band glared angrily at his enemy, a black haired half-demon with narrowed eyes and purple miasma surrounding his person. His long katana unexpectedly stood up easily against the extended and expanded Tetsaiga.

"It's entertaining to see you let your guard down, Inuyasha," the demented hanyou spoke. "You should no better than to risk anything for a mere mortal girl."

"Shut up Naraku!" Inuyasha growled. "Keep her out of this."

Naraku chucked mockingly. "Does it matter? You shall die here as will she, and all of your pathetic 'friends.'"

"I will not!" Inuyasha shouted, pushing the katana away, forcing Naraku to slide back. Immediately, Inuyasha leapt after him, swinging his large sword easily. Despite his speed, Naraku easily dodged the attack and sent one of his own.

Kagome watched them parry and dodge as if in a trance. Naraku had finally reached a form he was satisfied with. After all his massive fusions with demons of all kinds, he was more powerful than ever. Although he kept his original humanoid form, it seemed as if he could easily overpower Inuyasha at any moment. His miasma had the potential to kill them all, but it seemed as if he was taunting them by not letting it spread as he usually did.

Rain drops finally began to fall, starting slow, but quickly becoming heavy. The grass and dirt was quickly soaked within seconds, as were the fighting heroes.

This was supposed to be the last battle. The one where they killed the tormenting half-demon, collected his shards, and finished their two-year-long journey at last. All Kagome's friends, Sango, Miroku, Inuyasha, Shippo, and Kirara were giving their best. They were keeping up well with the flood of demons that continued to pour in from the surrounding forest.

And here she was, standing like the hopeless girl she was. What could she do? Her archery wasn't up to par because they hadn't had a major fight in months now. She was tired. Her lack of sleep was due to tormenting dreams about tests and Inuyasha's impatience with her.

A sheering pain shot through her arm and spread to the rest of her body. She cried out as the serpent demon that bit her right shoulder tore its teeth away, taking a large portion of her uniform shirt and tender flesh with it. Its tail lashed her across the back, further tearing her shirt and causing her to stumble forward into the center of the battlefield. Demons swarmed around the muddy clearing. They bit and nipped at her, creating irritating scratches and cuts that quickly filled with dirt as she writhed around in the muddy pit.

As quickly as it started, the demons where cleared away with one swipe of the Tetsaiga. "Get out of the way, Kagome!" Inuyasha yelled harshly as he fended of another of Naraku's unexpected attacks. She scrambled toward the defensive circle the others had formed. Her bow and arrows had broken in the tumble down the slight incline. All she could do was watch helplessly as her friends carried on the battle.

This was how it always was. She always ended up only being a hindrance to her stronger friends.

A demon loomed over her. She called on her purifying powers and outstretched her arm towards it. A surge of pink light dissolved the monster instantly. With that, Kagome sunk to the ground. Her strength was diminished. She could even feel that her priestess powers were wearing thin as well. She could barely summon them just now.

"Kagome!" Sango shouted. "Are you—" The woman caught her boomerang as it came back to its owner. "Are you okay?" Her concerned eyes tried to focus on her friend and the invading demons as well.

She struggled to keep consciousness. She could see the images beginning to blur. The sounds became foggy. Her friends' worried calls became mute. The darkness closed in until everything was black.


It was the pain that woke her from her dream. Kagome lay in Kaede's hut, breathing heavily and feeling weak all over.

As she calmed down, Kagome grew grim. Every time her mind reenacted the terrible memory, it seemed worse. Dream or not, it had really happened three days ago, no matter how much she wished it hadn't.

When Kagome awoke the day after the fight, Sango told her everything. After her blackout, Naraku had deviously snatched the Shikon Jewel shards from around her neck. He disappeared along with his demon helpers in a matter of seconds, his villainous laughter echoing through the air. Once he had what he wanted, he had no time to waste and left immediately, although he could have easily killed them all.

They supposed that Naraku was unsure if the shards the group had collected would fully complete the Jewel. It was likely he kept them alive so they could find any missing shards for him. It was insulting.

But Kagome and she alone already knew that Naraku would be missing at least one shard. Although the half-demon had already collected the shards from Kohaku and Kikyou, killing them both, there was a shard Kagome kept hidden from everyone else. Only she could sense the shards' presence now that Kikyou was gone. It was the smallest shard they had collected in the whole two years. Its existence was even harder to detect because of that. She kept it where no one would find it and told no one, not even Sango.

"Kagome?" a tender voice called from the entrance of the hut.

"Come in," Kagome said recognizing Sango's voice instantly.

Dressed in her kimono, Sango pushed aside the bamboo curtain door that attempted to keep the early-spring morning air out. She smiled weakly and sat down beside the mattress her friend laid on.

"How are you feeling?" Sango asked.

"It hurts still," Kagome answered truthfully. Her shoulder was taking too long to heal. Some of the other scratches and lacerations had healed already, but many had predictably gotten infected. Her friends kept Kagome's herb medicine coming. There was little the medicine did for her other than help her sleep and slightly ease the pain. Other than keep her bandaged and give her medicine, there was little else her friends could do for her.

Kagome was quiet for a moment. "How is he?"

Sango bit her lip. Before she could answer, the bamboo curtain was abruptly pushed aside. The subject in question poked his silver head through as his eyes scanned the area. "Has anyone seen…?" He trailed off as he spotted Kagome lying there. His eyes grew cold and narrowed. "Kagome. Still trying to recover I see."

Of all her friends, Inuyasha was the only one who refused to help her fight the illness and pain. He was still infuriated after three days. Not only did Naraku steal the Jewels shards and get away yet again, he had insulted his pride by going easy on everyone.

But Kagome knew he was mostly mad at her. He wanted someone to blame for this dismay. And she didn't blame him. She had been too weak to stop Naraku. She had been too weak to help…

"Don't start, Inuyasha," Sango said sharply. The last thing she wanted was an argument between the two of them when Kagome was still unwell. The couple hadn't spoken to one another since the battle, so things hadn't been too rough… yet.

"I wasn't," the hanyou snapped back. "I was only pointing out the obvious."

"Then keep it to yourself if we already know it," Sango replied. She turned her attention back to Kagome in an attempt to end the conversation before it got worse.

"Yes, we all already know the obvious, don't we?" Inuyasha instigated. His tone was icy and his eyes pierced Kagome so harshly that she felt it hurt more than her wounds.

Kagome's eyes were downcast. "You don't have to say it Inuyasha. I understand. I'll try harder next time."

Inuyasha let out a mocking bark of a laugh. "Next time? There won't be a next time. Naraku has won already. He has all the jewel shards. I'm surprised the world hasn't ended yet."

Kagome bit back what she wanted to say about her hidden shard. She had decided recently to hide it. She knew this situation could be a possibility. The point of hiding it was ensure there would be a next time.

"If nothing's changed yet, then it probably means he really doesn't have all the shards," Kagome reasoned, hoping neither Sango nor Inuyasha could see the confidence in her statement.

Inuyasha completely overlooked it. "What shards are left? We have all of them other than Naraku's portion." Inuyasha snorted. "Oh, I'm sorry, we used to have them. Somebody couldn't keep them—"

"Inuyasha!" Sango exclaimed. "I understand you're upset, but don't try to blame all of this on Kagome."

"Why the hell not?" Inuyasha shouted back at Sango, but he was glaring at the quiet girl. "This is all her fault! If she wasn't so weak then maybe we would have won! I had to keep saving her ass the whole time. Kikyou would have been able to handle it. Kagome just doesn't compare."

Sango's eyes widened. She knew how sensitive Kagome was to this subject, especially when he compared her to her. "Shut up, Inuyasha! Why do you bring Kikyou back into this? We all know she's dead for good this time."

"It's a shame," Inuyasha sneered. "She could have given Kagome a couple pointers. Scratch that, she could have given her a lotof pointers."

Kagome suddenly stood up, despite her injuries. Ignoring the pain, she pushed past both Sango and Inuyasha into the light of the sunrise.

Sango stared after her in shock. When she recovered, she ran to the hut entrance, shouting, "Kagome, come back! You're not well enough yet!"

"Let her go," Inuyasha growled loud enough for his voice to carry. "She's too weak to even recover." He walked out the hut as well and shouted at her, "Don't think I'm gonna save your ass again! Better hope you don't meet any demons on your way home. You can't even take out the small ones."

It wasn't until Kagome had reached the ancient well that her tears salted the air as she gave into her weakness. Such harsh words from the one she loved hurt more than any wound she'd ever receive. It was a foolish girl's dream to think he would begin to feel differently towards her once Kikyou was gone.

She knew his words would sting, but she didn't think he'd be that harsh. He'd made her feel worse than she ever had before.

It made sense, though. After two years, he finally had his chance to kill his worst enemy and complete the shattered Shikon Jewel… only to have his dream crushed, all because of her.

As the girl sat by the well's edge, she considered her options. She could run home, not come back for a while. She would recover faster with her time's medical technology. Yeah, that's what she would do…

But that would not fix her problem. She had to be stronger for her friends… For him…

Kagome knew what she had to do. She'd leave. Leave her friends, leave her family, and leave him. She would go off on her own. The only way she'd get strong was if she was by herself, start over with no help from them, and especially not from Inuyasha. She wasn't going to run to familiarity anymore. It was time for change.

There would be a next time when they would all face Naraku again. And when it came, she'd be ready.


It's only the prologue, but it's a start. Tell me whatcha think about it and I might post the next chapter. Muwahaha!