Disclaimer: I own noooooooooooooothing!

Author's Note: Just a random idea that struck me while I was at work… 'cause I like writing evil characters. XD

Everyone together now! "Oh, the irony…"

XXX

Sunrise

XXX

It was an increasingly familiar sight, but that didn't make it any less disturbing.

"InuYasha…"

He paused at the edge of the village, one foot in the brush and the other on the gravel path. But though his shoulders had tensed, his legs poised for the race ahead, he waited for the inevitable question.

"You're… going to her again, aren't you?'

InuYasha didn't reply. Instead, he locked his gaze on the drifting Soul Skimmers, memorizing their ethereal dance in the twilight. She knew the answer; she'd known before she asked.

Disappointed eyes glistened with tears; she moved as if to touch him, but pulled away at the last second. Her hand clenched over her heart, resting lightly on her breast.

"…this is goodbye, isn't it?"

This time he knew she would wait for an answer, even if he were to leave her standing there in the oncoming darkness. And he just couldn't do that…

"If she wills it so," he murmured after a moment, fingers fisting at his sides. "If not, I should be back by first light."

His voice was level, almost casual in its obedience… it made her insides thrash with fury.

"Why do you do this?!" the young woman demanded, her voice breaking as her patience suddenly snapped. "This isn't the same woman anymore! She's dead, InuYasha! She died! This— this creature you slave for is merely a recreation—animated bones and dirt! You know this would kill her to see, if she was still…!"

But her words faded into silence, worthless and ignored—unheard. InuYasha had already bounded into the shadowed woods, following his beloved's scent and the misted tails of her Skimmers.

"InuYasha…" she sighed, heart heavy and aching in the indigo moonlight. Dismayed, she turned slowly around and began the hike back home, back to her husband and child.

X

He found her waiting in the usual place—hands splayed fondly over the worn bark of the Goshinboku tree, smoothing her long fingers over the timeless scar. Her head cocked a bit as he approached, acknowledging his presence and making her waist-long hair shimmer like glossed ebony.

He knew better than to speak the first word.

"…There was a full moon like tonight's on that night, wasn't there?"

It wasn't a real question; she remembered every detail of that night. He knew she did. And so he merely inclined his head—submissive, pleading, and riddled with guilt.

Her drifting hands slowed; with a rustle of clothing, she cast him a sideways glance. The dulled depths of her gaze held no pity of softness anymore.

"That night… the night that you killed me."

Gradually she swiveled to face him, a dark smile overtaking her pale features. She could see that he'd taken notice of her scarlet-splattered apparel; evidently, this amused her. "Do you like it?" she asked with a smirk, lifting her arms as if to show off her figure. "This new outfit of mine… so comfortable, so appropriate." She narrowed her eyes dangerously, as if daring him to object. "It looks better on me, does it not? And I deserve it… as I won it from her."

Despite himself, InuYasha felt his stomach drop and his eyes widen at these words. "Don't tell me you—!"

The young miko giggled deliciously, covering her mouth with the back of a delicate hand. "It's true what they say about 'new models,'" she crooned. "They are never bested by the originals."

And with deliberate slowness, she licked her bloody talons clean.

InuYasha could feel his heart shudder and crack, just like his voice. Horrorstruck, he stared at the soiled girl before him, a torrent of grief, lamentation, and love raging inside his soul as her name fell from his lips:

"Kagome…"

Kagome's pallid face curdled into a sneering scowl, the air around her sparking with spiritual energy. "Do not say my name that way," she hissed, her voice nearing a guttural growl. "You who killed me—you have no right to speak to me that way! Like you— like you care!"

The ring of trees surrounding the Goshinkboku imploded with sickly cracks, raining slivers and hunks of rotting wood down upon their heads.

Neither flinched away.

"Kagome," InuYasha tried again, reaching out to her, placating. "I swear—I didn't mean to kill you! God, I—I died that day, Kagome!"

"I was an innocent fool!" Kagome threw back, blank blue eyes filling with tears. "And for a moment, I truly believed I could live my life with you! But no… for the Shikon Jewel… for such a thing…" A single pearl of moisture rolled down her blood stained cheek. "…you betrayed me."

"Kagome, I didn't betray you!" InuYasha near-screamed, pleading as if for his life. "I would never—I was the one who brought you back into this world! I found the ogre, commissioned your return… all because I wanted to be with you! I couldn't live without you—I still can't!"

All of the emotions he'd tried to contain surged forth in a rush of agony and devotion, and he'd caught her in his arms before she'd had a chance to gasp, let alone protest. Her shoulders stiffened like stone... then relaxed just slightly, her cold face still wet.

"InuYasha…"

"Kagome," he breathed, his nose tingling with her floral scent and the bitter sweetness of earth, "I wished for the goodness of Kikyo—the part of Kikyo that I once loved—to find peace in death… I wished for her to find peace so that I could give my life and heart to you—!"

His arms tightened as he buried his face in her hair; she could feel him quivering through the embrace.

"…I just didn't realize that all of Kikyo's goodness was in you. Was you. And so you died, leaving me with only Kikyo's rage and regret. I gained nothing and lost everything—because I lost you"

His eyes had begun to burn, blurring with wetness and despair. And all the while, Kagome stood motionless in his trembling hold. She took a silent breath…

"…I know."

As always, her voice made his heart flutter with both terror and adoration.

"I have died for you," she continued in a murmur, porcelain arms slithering around his back and clinging desperately to him. Her cool breath tickled his throat as her lips skimmed the flesh of his collar bone. "Twice I have met my death—suffered for you and you alone. It is time for you to die for me."

At this, InuYasha's stomach flip-flopped… but not in fear. "Anything," he whispered ardently, feathering kisses across her temple and crown. "Anything for you…"

He could feel her smile—that sweet and gentle smile that had once told him that he was not alone in the world.

"And neither will you be alone in the next," Kagome purred, answering the unspoken thought. InuYasha felt himself relax in her grasp, prepare for the inevitable…

But it never came.

Instead, Kagome pulled abruptly away, untangling their arms with a look of distant disappointment on her face.

"Kagome—?!"

"But not now," she said quietly, eyes emotionless and voice iced. Her gaze pierced him with a power and pain unparalleled by any he'd ever seen; distantly, he wondered if she had come to this decision by searching his soul and finding something she didn't agree with there. With her vast magic, this was certainly a possibility… "No, you have not yet fully atoned… you have not yet completely repented. Now is not the right time."

Raw, unbidden panic consumed him.

"Kagome, please—!" InuYasha lurched forward, hands outstretched as the Soul Skimmers appeared to twine around Kagome and lift her into their gentle embrace, taking her into the star-strewn sky. "I live only for this! For you—!"

"As you should. And as you will," she returned, voice echoing around him in the stillness of the summer forest, even as she vanished into the waning gray gloom. "Until the time I choose to kill you… you are mine, InuYasha. Now and forever more."

With this, she was gone. And he… he again was alone.

On the distant horizon, the sun began to rise.

XXX

Before anyone asks, the woman in the first portion of this fic was Sango. And yes, Kagome killed Kikyo and stole her clothes. XD That would have been an interesting battle to see, eh? Perhaps I'll have to write that up too, at some point.

Though, in retrospect, would Kikyo have bled? I mean, since she was just dirt and bones…

Oh well, whatever.

Thanks for reading!