I do not own Inuyasha and Company, no matter how happy it would make me. Rumiko Takahashi does.
This was written for IyIssekiwa's (community./iyissekiwa/) empty theme
She watched as once again her daughter was wheeled away to have x-rays. Over the last two years she'd broken more bones, sprained and pulled more muscles, torn more ligaments, and had more concussions than a whole hockey team. No matter how many times she tried to talk to her, Kagome refused to explain, refused to tell her what happened to cause this string of injuries and trips to the emergency. She refused to explain why she kept doing it, why she kept jumping into the well if she knew it wouldn't work. The doctors for a while looked at Mrs. Higurashi with suspicion, thinking that she was the one to cause her daughter such injuries, but as time passed they began to look at her with pity. It was obvious that something was wrong with the girl. Anyone could see that.
She'd even gone so far as to take her to a therapist, though Kagome's complaints had in the end been right. How could she talk about her problems, confess all her feelings and fears to a psychiatrist? They would only want to have her committed. Really, who was going to believe that she used the old well on the shrine to travel to the past to a time where demons lived and thrived? The visit had been nothing but a waste of money as Kagome simply sat there and stared at the wall for the hour while the doctor tried and failed to get her to speak at all.
Mrs. Higurashi spoke to the doctor after that and received a prescription for antidepressants, hoping that they would bring her daughter out of her mind, her pain, and her memories so she would be Kagome again. In the end she gave up on the pills as well, realizing that it wasn't going to happen. It wasn't that her daughter had retreated into her own mind. All you really needed to do was look into her eyes. They were so empty, lifeless… soulless. Somehow Kagome had left an important part of herself in the past, and while her mother didn't know what happened or why she couldn't go back, she did know that her daughter was never coming back.
Now all that was left was this empty shell that cried or stared off into the distance for hours at a time; an empty shell that couldn't grasp the fact that it wasn't going to happen. The well wasn't going to let her through. She couldn't go back and find what she was missing, but Kagome kept trying and every time it killed her mother a little more inside to watch as she was carefully carried out of the well and to the car for yet another trip to the hospital. Her father-in-law, Kagome's grandfather, had tried locking the well house doors. She found a way in. He'd tried boarding the well shut. She ripped them off with almost inhuman strength. He'd even threatened to fill the long empty passage with concrete to she couldn't jump back in, but when she screamed and cried and plead with him he couldn't bring himself to do it. So instead they continued on, watching her closely, hoping to catch her before she tried it again but always failing.
Kagome knew she was hurting them, making them watch her hurt herself over and over again, but she didn't, she couldn't care. She had to keep trying. She had to make it through. Someday, she was sure the well would accept her once more and carry her to where she'd left her heart and soul. For the first several months after discovering that the portal to the past was closed to her, Kagome tried to move on, tried to forget all about her time there, her friends there, her family there who would all be dead by now. It didn't matter what she did, however, because the dreams reminded her. She could never stop thinking of them because every single night she was there again.
Every night the well opened for her and she went home, to the home of her heart, and they were all there waiting for her, alive, safe, and happy. Every night she hugged her sister Sango. Every night she laughed before slapping Miroku, much more gently than she used to, when his hands followed their usual course. Every night she held her son Shippo tightly in her arms, noting how much he'd grown while she was away, like she'd been on vacation, not locked away and lost to them forever. And every night he led her away from the others to the tree where they'd first met, where he confessed everything to her, how he loved her, how he'd always pushed her away because he was trying to protect her, how he knew that she and Kikyo weren't the same, that she was unique, perfect, and most of all… his.
Every night she would look into his eyes and see the absolute honesty that she'd seen that night, the last night she was truly alive at all. Every night he handed her back the jewel, telling her he didn't need it. He didn't need to change, didn't want to change, because she loved him the way he was and that was all that mattered. Every night her hands would wrap in his silvery white hair and every night they would kiss like the world was crashing down around them, like they would never see each other again. Every night she would promise him that she would come back, that she would say good-bye to her mother, her brother, and her grandfather so they would know she was safe and happy, and then she would return to him to stay for the rest of her life.
Every night she screamed while she watched herself kiss him good-bye, begging and pleading to stop, to not go, trying to warn her, but every night she went home, back to her time. Every night she would feel the rush of magic as her feet settled gently at the bottom of the well, only to then feel it fade away to nothing. It was gone, the magic that had connected their worlds. Every night she opened her hand, the hand that had held the jewel so tightly, and every night she found it empty. And every single night she wept at the bottom of the well, knowing she could never go back again.
Every morning she woke in tears. Every day was spent sitting under the tree, their tree, the only thing she had left really. Every day her mother would coax her to eat and every day she resisted. Every day she thought, remembered what she was missing. Every day she begged the gods to end her pain, to let her go home or to just let her die. Every night she prayed that they were alright without her, that he found some way to be happy, even though it killed her to imagine him with someone else. It was better that than for him to suffer what she was. He deserved happiness. He deserved to have the woman he loved, but fate seemed to disagree. Every night she cursed the gods for making her go there to begin with. If it had never happened, if she'd never met him or any of the rest of them, then she would be living a normal happy life instead of this pathetic and meaningless existence that simply refused to end. Every night she cried herself to sleep, only to suffer the same endless cycle again.
There were some mornings though when Kagome woke with a smile on her face. Every now and then the dreams would end differently. Every now and then she could hear his voice echoing in the well as she sat at the bottom crying. His words would end her tears and give her hope when he called for her to come back to him, to come home. He would promise her to wait, that he would wait forever if he had to, and then she would feel the magic flare around her as the well came to life again.
Those were the mornings it happened. Those were the mornings she didn't even bother getting dressed before running down the stairs, throwing open the door, and racing to the well house. Those were the mornings that she opened the doors that separated her from her destination, jumped down the few stairs, and looked down into the darkness. Those were the mornings she threw herself into the well with two possible goals in mind.
She wanted to go back. She wanted to go home. She wanted her family and friends, she needed her son and he needed her, and him… she especially wanted to see him, needed to feel his arms around her, needed to hear him whisper his love. Hell, she'd be happy with a 'What took you so fucking long, Wench?' But if she couldn't have that, if she couldn't go back, then she wanted to die. She wanted to hit the bottom with enough force to break her back or her neck, maybe some ribs would be so kind as to puncture her lungs or her heart. She didn't care how much it hurt or how slow it was.
She was used to the pain by now because every time she came to that jarring stop at the bottom she was denied both of her wishes. Every time she slammed into the packed dirt that stopped her descent she broke something. Every time she was taken to the hospital and every time she knew… she knew she would do it again. She would do it as many times as it took until one thing or the other happened. Either way she would be leaving this world forever… finally.
Mrs. Higurashi had taken to waking before dawn and sitting near the bottom of the stairs in hopes of stopping the inevitable. She knew that one day when Kagome jumped into the well and she called down into the darkness, hoping and praying she was alright, she wouldn't get an answer. One day Kagome would disappear into that darkness and never come back. Some day her daughter would get her wish and on that day she would lose her forever.
It was happening again. She knew the second she heard the sound of Kagome's door slamming into the wall when it was flung open. Mrs. Higurashi stood up and waited, but she didn't wait long. She'd tried everything; tried getting in her way, tried hugging her tightly, tried physically restraining her, and none of it worked. Kagome always got away. Kagome always made it to the well house. Kagome always jumped in. And Kagome always hit the bottom. She had finally decided she needed a new tactic if she was going to save her daughter's life.
"Kagome, please!" she called out, tears already streaming down her face. "Please don't do this again! You're only going to get hurt! Please, I can't let you keep doing this to yourself! You could die! Don't you understand? This could be the time you jump in and never come back out! Please stop this and tell me what I can do! What can I do to help you? I don't know what to do!"
Kagome stopped in her tracks and turned around to face her near-hysterical mother. She looked right into her eyes for the first time since before they'd found her sobbing at the bottom of the well two years earlier. "You don't understand," she said softly, her voice almost a whisper. "You can't understand. I have to. I have to try. I have to get back there. I can't stay here." She spoke so calmly her mother wasn't even sure it was Kagome speaking to her at all. "I love you, all of you, and I'm sorry for hurting you but I have to go."
"But it doesn't work anymore! It's not going to suddenly open up again! You have to stop trying! You have to move on! Kagome, you don't have to forget but you have to let go."
"I will never stop trying. All I want is to go back. Everything I need is on the other side of that well. I don't know why I'm stuck here, but I have to go back."
"You're going to die," Mrs. Higurashi sobbed.
"I wish I would. I wish I could just die. I wish I could go home, go back where I belong, where I was happy, but if I can't then I wish I would die. Not just for me, but for all of you. Then it would end, this cycle of sadness and pain. I wish the well would just swallow me up forever." She turned her back to her mother then and walked slowly out of the house and across the shrine grounds, her face set and determined to succeed this time. Mrs. Higurashi fell to her knees as her daughter left her sight for what she knew now would be the last time.
Kagome paused under the god tree, running her fingers along the scar in the bark that still remained as a testament to his existence. There were times during the last two years when that mark, that flaw in the beauty of the massive tree, was the only thing that allowed her to hold on to her sanity. That mark meant that he had really been there, pinned to that very spot for fifty years. That mark meant that she'd released him, given him a second chance to live. That mark meant that it had all been real and somehow she knew that the mark on the tree meant he was waiting for her, that he hadn't forgotten her just like she could never forget him. "I'll find you, Inuyasha. One way or another I'll be with you soon."
Like a man walking to his execution she held her head high as she headed to where she knew it would all end. She slowly slid open the old wooden doors and walked down the creaky stairs to stand next to the ancient well that had been built from branches of the god tree, the structure that had withstood the test of time while at the same time ignoring all the rules of time itself when it let her through the first time and all the times after that. She ran her fingers over the scarred wood before she stepped up onto the side. Usually when it was time for this she had to hurry because they were always coming after her, trying to stop her. This time she could take her time.
"Please," she whispered. "Please take me to him, wherever he is." She sighed as she looked into the darkness. "I wish I had one last chance, Inuyasha, one last chance to tell you I love you." Kagome took one last deep breath before stepping off the edge, plummeting into the darkness.
Finally Mrs. Higurashi managed to compose herself as much as possible. She already knew; she was sure of it. Her daughter was gone, but she had to check anyway. Souta would have to climb down into the well one last time to bring her up. He was already there, kneeling beside her, holding her while she cried, and he too knew it was time. She walked with his help, her grief making her feel so much weaker than she used to be. She could have been okay. If Kagome had just never come home she would have known that everything was alright, that her daughter was safe, and happy, and most of all, alive.
This though, this she couldn't handle. How could they? How could the gods take her daughter, make her fight, cause her all the pain she'd suffered in the past and then, when she wanted to be there, send her back? Why would they do that? Why would they take away the family she'd formed there? Why would they force her to live like nothing but a shadow of her old self? Why would they let her hurt herself over and over again? Why? Why would they let her Kagome die at the bottom of the well that had given her everything, just to take it all away again?
When they made their way into the well house, Souta helped his mother sit on the stairs before steeling his nerves for his task. "Kagome?" he called out, his voice cracking as he tried not to cry. Of course there was no answer. He wasn't expecting one. He knew she was gone and he didn't want to climb to the bottom of the well, the well he hated more than anything, the well that took his sister and then gave her back by taking her happiness. He didn't want to carry her still and broken body up out of the darkness. He wished, just like his mother, that she'd never come home, that she'd stayed there where she was happy forever. Now, instead of that, instead of knowing she was safe where she truly wanted to be, he had to go down there one last time.
Slowly Souta climbed down the makeshift ladder that had originally been installed for Kagome, so she could climb out of the well when she came home from time to time. When he reached the bottom rung he carefully felt around with his feet for a clear place to stand. He didn't want to step on her. This was bad enough already. Finally he was standing on the packed dirt in the darkness and he slowly flicked on his flashlight, hoping that what he saw wouldn't haunt him for the rest of his life.
Up at the top of the well Mrs. Higurashi waited. She wished that it didn't have to be Souta. He shouldn't have to be the one to carry his only sister's broken body from where she'd finally gotten her wish.
"Mama?" he called up to her, the odd tone in his voice causing her to jump up and run to the edge.
"Souta? What is it? Is she… is she…"
"Are you sure she jumped again?"
Her eyes widened. It wasn't possible. It just wasn't. "She said she was. I should have stopped her but I just…"
"Mama!" he yelled, cutting off her guilty rambling. "Mama, she's not down here! The well is empty!"
Five hundred years in the past, Kagome sat at the bottom of the well and cried. She could see it. She could see the cloudless blue sky that could only be so perfect and beautiful in the past, before the pollution in the air tainted the color. She could see the bright green of the leaves rustling in the soft breeze. In her hand was the completed jewel, and she stared at it in surprise and shock for a few moments as it began to glow before it dissolved into nothing but dust before her eyes.
It was harder than she remembered, climbing out of the well using the vines that clung to the steep walls, but then two years had passed, and her many injuries didn't help things much either. When she reached the top, she threw herself over the side and lay panting on the softest and greenest grass she'd ever seen. Everything was beautiful, just like she remembered. The air was clean and smelled fresh with a hint of the soft scent of flowers.
Finally she sat up and looked around at the clearing she'd been trying to reach for two years. She gasped when she saw him and tears filled her eyes. He looked horrible. He was overly thin. His fire rat haori and hakama that he'd always been so proud of, that had kept him and her as well safe and protected, was tattered and stained. His beautiful silvery white hair was matted and his ears were flattened to the top of his head. For a minute she just stared and cried; certain that he was dead, before she crawled towards him, unable to bring herself to her feet in her grief. He waited, just like he said in her dreams, but this wasn't what she wanted. She wanted him to move on, to be happy, not to sit here and stare at the well while he wasted away.
When she reached him she knelt beside him and gently ran the tip of a finger along the edge of the one of the puppy ears she loved so much. She almost cried out when it twitched. "You're a little late, wench," a raspy but still familiar voice spoke, the sound like music to her ears. He slowly lifted his head and looked at her before giving her a fanged smirk. In an instant she was in his lap and his lips were pressed to hers as he showed her all the passion, frustrations, and most importantly, love that he had been saving just for her. "I knew you would find a way to come back to me." He wiped away the tears that were sliding down her cheeks. "I dreamt of you every night, Kagome. I missed you so much."
"I missed you too, Inuyasha. I tried. I tried to come back but it wouldn't let me. I'm sorry. You… you look horrible!"
"Gee thanks, wench. I love you too."
Kagome laughed and pulled his face close for another kiss. "I love you too, Inuyasha."
"And you're never going through the well again?" he asked softly, a touch of desperate fear in his voice.
"Never. Never again."
"Good," he grumbled before wrapping his arms tightly around her, holding the girl he loved more than life itself like she could disappear at any second.
"Hm?" he asked absently while nuzzling his nose into the curve of her neck, trying to drown himself in her unique scent, the scent he'd been needing and missing for two very long years.
"I'm really happy to see you again, but…" she paused and he tensed.
She smirked at him before replying. "You really need a bath."