To those I couldn't reply to:
Jamie: That is a bit surprising that you were actually excited about it. Oh well, perhaps it was because it gave something for you to look forward to. And no, sorry, I don't think I'll be able to bring Gramps back. I have to agree that I rather enjoy his character, but I had to kill off someone in Kagome's family. Taking away her mother or brother would be absolutely heart-wrenching and the old man doesn't seem to be one that would be able to survive something this horrid. But I'm happy to learn you understand my reasoning for making Souta have such a condition. It wouldn't exactly be realistic if everyone walked away with only the memories. Some injuries need to be involved too. Anyways, I really appreciate your comments and support of this story. Thank you very much!
Through Blood and Tears
Chapter 21: Beautiful Day
The weather man had predicted that the day was going to be overcast with brewing rainstorms. Clouds were supposed to cover the sky and the wind would chill one to the bone. But not everything in life goes according to plan.
Instead of the scent of oncoming rain, the graduating students of Shikon High received clear blue skies and the sun shined brightly down upon the ceremony. However, they were still thankful that the school had set the time before noon, giving them a chance to celebrate for the remainder of the day.
Inuyasha pulled into the almost full parking lot, quickly cutting the engine and stepping out of the car. He stuffed the keys into the pocket of his dress pants and tucked his hat into the crook of his arm, closing the door behind him. He turned around and scanned the students who began making their way to the soccer field, red and white gowns adorning them. He glanced down at his attire, thankful the boys weren't subjected to wearing white. After all, the graduation gowns were rather see through, and trying to find light colored slacks was a bother.
He smirked and began trudging towards the field. "Hey, Yash," someone called to him. He turned around to be met with Miroku's lecherous smile and Sango's annoyed expression. The half-demon chuckled softly and waited for his friends to catch up. "Can you believe we're finally graduating?" his best friend said, his eyes wandering over the brick building. He sighed. "The ladies sure are going to miss me."
That earned him a slap over the head, courtesy of Sango. He smiled sheepishly and let a moment pass for the girl's anger to simmer down. "I for one," she spoke, as if he hadn't said anything perverted at all. "Am sad that we're leaving. Once we throw our caps up in the air, it'll be time to face the big, bad world. I don't think I'm ready for it." Her eyes glazed over with tears and she quickly swiped at them to prevent ruining her make-up. "Oh gosh, now I'm going to cry!"
Miroku put an arm around her waist and pulled her towards him. "My dear Sango, there is nothing to be sad about. Think of it this way. Life outside of high school is a whole new adventure. Who knows what we'll face?"
"That's what I'm worried about," she replied, crossing her arms and looking away. "We've been here for the last four years and now suddenly were just thrust out into the middle of nowhere with no one to guide us. Its kind of scary."
"As long as I'm here," her boyfriend whispered into her ear. "You'll have nothing to be afraid of." She blushed at his comment, but did not object when he placed a kiss upon her temple.
Inuyasha watched the exchange with amusement, although a hollow ache had burrowed itself in his chest. Sure, they had some fun inside these walls, along with their fellow classmates, but nothing could erase the horrible incident during the Spring semester of their junior year. The images were still fresh in his mind.
Suddenly, he felt something hit his back and he whipped around with an irritated glimmer in his eyes, only to see Kouga standing there. "Kouga," he growled, ready to pounce on him.
The wolf demon only laughed. "Cool it man," he said, strolling up to the group and picking up the abandoned soccer ball. "Just playin'."
He visibly relaxed. Although the boys had come to terms with each other, an underlying layer of rivalry still existed between them. "Yeah, sure," he mumbled, trying to stuff his hands into his pockets. He finally gave up when he realized the gown wouldn't allow him to do it.
The foursome walked up to the area, their eyes glancing at the setup the school had assembled. A small stage had been constructed at one end of the field, accompanied by a podium and a few folding chairs. The stadiums bordering each side were reserved for family members and friends, already beginning to fill with excited, yet tearful faces. Rows and rows of white folding chairs were lined across the field, waiting patiently for students to occupy their designated seats. They still had ten minutes before the ceremony would begin.
A shrill scream rang through the grassy area, causing heads to turn in the direction it came from. Ayame ran towards their small group, her red hair trailing behind her, free of its usual pigtails. As soon as she came within arms reach, she enveloped Sango into a hug, who seemed rather surprised by the girl's sudden display of affection. "Woah, whats gotten into you?" she asked as her friend released her.
Ayame smiled brightly and stuck her hand out. Everyone except for Kouga huddled around to see what was so interesting. An engagement ring was bound around her finger, a large diamond glittering in the center of it. "Uh, whats with the rock?" Inuyasha asked.
The brunette smiled and laughed out of pure glee, embracing Ayame once more. "Yash, you idiot! Its an engagement ring!"
He looked dumbly at them. "From who?"
Something hit him over the head and he yelped, instantly turning around to see who had struck him while rubbing the painful lump. Kouga stood with his fist clenched, his blue eyes glaring menacingly at the half-demon. "Its from me, you dumb-ass!"
"Congratulations," Miroku offered, taking Ayame's hand and placing a gentle kiss upon it, paying no heed to the wolf demon and Sango's glares. He smiled before turning his gaze on the husband-to-be. "I thought you were going to wait until after graduation?"
He shrugged. "When the right moment comes, you've gotta take it."
"Whats everyone staring at?" Rin asked, pushing her way through the crowd.
Sango stepped aside to let the girl through. "Ayame and Kouga are engaged."
"Really?" she announced, a wide grin spreading across her lips. Everyone took a step back at the glimmer in her eyes. "Oh, I'm so happy for you!" She threw her arms around the couple. For a small girl, she packed quite a lot of strength, which even Kouga had to struggle under.
She released them after a few breathless complaints and clasped her hands in front of her chest. "So whens the wedding? Am I invited? Do I get to be a bridesmaid? Where's it going to be held? What about the honey moon? Oh and the flowers! You have to have plenty of flowers!"
Inuyasha stole this chance to walk away, leaving the girls and his best friends idling over pre-wedding ideas. He was happy for them, there was no doubt about it. But he couldn't help but feel jealous. Wedding plans seemed so far away in his future. That is, if he ever had the opportunity to propose. Now just wasn't the time.
"If everyone would please take their seats, we would like to begin the ceremony," a voice rang out through the podium speaker. Inuyasha glanced up to see Principal Katsu standing proud and tall on stage, watching as the stands and seats filled.
A few minutes passed as things were situated before the principal spoke up once more. "I want to thank you all for coming. It is a great honor to be here, watching as another class from Shikon High make their way up to the stage and are presented with their diplomas. I have been a principal at this school for many years and never have I had a class such as this one. They've been unique to say the least." Polite chuckles rang throughout the stadium.
"But joking aside, I feel sadden by the departure of this particular group. I was present during their school hours as they slowly changed from freshman to seniors in the four short years they thrived here." Inuyasha smirked at the comment. Thrived? Where did these teachers get their speeches from? Come on! Sure there were a few braniacs in the large population that counted as his graduating class, but most of the kids were complete idiots. "I am proud to admit that they received their education from this school and our amazing staff of teachers and counselors." A frown replaced his smile. "However, there was a time of darkness among our halls."
"Here is comes," Sango mumbled beneath her breath, sweeping her gaze over her fellow students and making eye contact with Miroku and Rin. When she glanced over at Inuyasha, his eyes were glazed and stared straight ahead, refusing to look at her. She sighed and turned forward once more.
Principal Katsu cleared his throat. "Last year, a horrible incident occurred here at Shikon High. A group of students endured a terror-filled night, which resulted in the loss of lives and memories that the victims are surely never to forget. I'd like to initiate a moment of silence to remember those lost."
The entire stadium was quiet. Not even a bird chirped overhead and the wind seemed to have stilled. The silence dragged on, much longer than Inuyasha anticipated, and he was growing quite angry. Who were they to give a moment so the memories of that night could come flooding back? As if he had forgotten. He was just about to jump out of his chair and storm to his car, when the principal broke the stillness.
"Sango Tajiya has offered to speak for those who are unable to and help us remember our fellow students." He stepped aside and the brunette stood up. Inuyasha eyed her. She hadn't told him about a speech she was supposed to make, but taking note of the solemn expression Miroku threw at him, he knew why.
She stepped up onto the stage and cleared her throat, taking her place behind the podium. "Welcome," she began, nervously shuffling the papers before her. "Today we come to celebrate the graduating students of Shikon High. Throughout the four years we have called this place our second home, we have struggled through the academic trials and drama alike. And sometimes I found myself doubting if I would be here, if I had the knowledge and the will to walk away from here, diploma in hand."
Sango scanned the crowd, catching the eyes of her classmates. "I am fortunate to be standing here today. However, there are a few of our classmates, that we all knew and loved, who will not be able to walk across this stage." She took a deep breath and gripped the side of the podium for support. "Fifteen months ago a group of us were sentenced to a Saturday detention, one that ended up being held at night due to certain circumstances.
"It had been an ordinary day and had proceeded into the evening with no unnatural occurrence. That is, until we realized that the school walls were no longer safe for us. That night, four lives had been claimed from this graduating class. Each of these bright students were unique in their own way. Kikyo Narita, Kagura Yoshida, Ginta Wantanabe, and Hojo Akitoki. Ms. Kimiko lost her life as well. She was an amazing teacher and friend to those who knew her. Although they aren't able to stand up here today or sit amongst our class, they are up in the skies, watching the ceremony and smiling down upon us. Forever they will be missed and never forgotten." Tears dotted her eyes now as her voice cracked between words. The brunette smiled and stepped down from the podium, hardly listening to the soft applause that followed.
Miroku glanced around with a solemn look, noting that there wasn't a dry eye within his viewing range. Everyone had tears sliding down their cheeks, girls and boys alike. Principal Katsu took his place by the mic once more as Sango proceeded to her seat."Thank you," he mumbled. He cleared his throat to lighten the mood. "Now I would like to begin addressing the students as they walk up and receive their diploma, stating that they have completed their education from Shikon High." Another teacher stood beside him, a roll of certificates in her hands, each tied neatly with a red or white ribbon.
"Aburami, Ai." A fellow student made her way to the stage, a smile on her face. "Adachi, Haru. Aikawa, Gin. Akabori, Chizu ... " As he continued to list off student's names and they each came up to receive their diplomas, those involved with the Saturday detention incident sat stone still, each mulling over the memories of that fateful night. Here they were at their high school graduation, a happy celebration that was to mark the rest of their life, and they couldn't think of anything but those lost.
"Higurashi, Kagome." Inuyasha perked up his ears at the sound of her name. His amber eyes watched as a hush fell over the crowd and a young boy made his way onto the stage, a strained smile stretched upon his lips. Souta thanked the man for his sister's diploma before retreating to the other side of the stage to be enveloped by his mother's hug. The half-demon smiled sadly. At least over the fifteen months since the incident, the kid had been pulled out of a coma by his sister's words of encouragement. Although, he couldn't say the same for Kagome. It was a bittersweet moment.
"Houshi, Miroku," the principal continued, handing him his diploma. The lecher turned to the class and gave a huge smile, waving at the girls in the front row. Sango felt anger bubble within her, but it immediately dispersed as he blew her a kiss. She blushed under the attention. "Hyuga, Botan."
The crowd watched as each student made their way to the stage and received their diplomas. "Iris, Ayame ... Ookami, Kouga ... Saitou, Rin ... Tajiya, Sango ..." Inuyasha stood as his row made their way up the side aisle to the steps leading to the stage. On the way, he caught the gazes of his friends and smirked half-heartily. "Takahashi, Inuyasha." He stepped onto the stage and shook the Principal's hand before taking that neatly tied bundle. He switched his tassel to the correct side as he stepped down and made his way back to his seat, listening as the rest of his classmates became high school graduates.
"Yamaguchi, Hakkaku." Thankfully a ramp had been installed, allowing a young man in a wheelchair to roll himself up and accept his diploma. The wolf demon turned to his fellow students and smiled, although it never quite reached his eyes anymore. After he had woken up from a coma only six months prior, he found that his legs were no longer of any use. He would never be able to walk again, even with therapy, but he was alive. And for that reason alone he was forever grateful to Kikyo and his classmates.
After the final student took their seat, Principal Katsu beamed brightly at the new graduates. "There is nothing else that we, the staff of Shikon High, can teach you. We wish you good luck in whatever your future holds. Congratulations class of 2009. You've made it."
As his final words echoed through the microphone, the students stood up and threw their caps into the air, smiles adorning their faces as they wrapped each other in hugs and cried happy tears. Inuyasha watched as his cap flew through the sky before being lost among the million others. He turned around, his gaze landing upon his friends as they found one another. Ayame and Kouga clung to each other as Miroku enveloped Sango in a kiss. Rin managed to find Sesshomaru (he graduated the previous year) amongst the crowd and ran to meet him, who had come more for Rin's sake than his brother's.
But the half-demon did not partake in the celebrations. Instead, he quietly slipped away from the group and shuffled over to the parking lot, got into his car, and drove away without so much as a backwards glance.
The hallways were so familiar. Their white walls seemed to mock him and the stench of medicine was no more than a faded scent. Now that he had been here so often in the last fifteen months, he felt as if he knew the hospital more than his own home.
Inuyasha walked passed the waiting room, trying hard to ignore the weeping and distressed visitors who were waiting to hear news of their loved ones. That had been him at one point. He hadn't wanted anything to do with anyone unless it concerned Kagome's condition. So leaving the families and friends to their own devices appeared to be the best thing.
He waited by the elevator and pushed the down button, watching as it slowly crept to his level. He had taken off his graduation attire in the car and was now dressed in a white button down shirt and a pair of black slacks, complimented by black shoes. His hands were stuffed into his pockets and he kept his amber eyes staring at the closed elevator doors, determined not to look around.
There was so much sickness and death here, he could barely stand it. After all, his mother had died in a hospital years ago. His heart clenched at the thought. It was a strange realization. Two women that he both loved and deeply cared for ended up in the same place anyways. The only difference was their reasons for being here.
Finally, after waiting what seemed like an hour, a bell sounded and the doors slid open to reveal an empty car inside. He quickly stepped in and hit his desired floor, waiting for the lurch in his stomach as the car was propelled upwards. A breath of relief escaped his lips. He needed his solitude before venturing onto the next floor. It made him uneasy.
The half-demon waited impatiently as the rise of the elevator caused him to swallow down the nausea forming. He shook his head. Why the hell was he so nervous? Then again, he was nervous every time he visited. Long slow breaths filled his lungs, trying to calm the butterflies in his stomach. "Damn hospital," he mumbled under his breath.
A bell sounded once more as the doors slid open to reveal his destination. A large sign that hung overhead indicated what was offered on the fifth floor. Social and Behavioral Services. He cringed and looked away. There was no need to remind him of what he already knew.
With an inaudible growl, he trudged down the hall towards the patients' rooms, searching for the one that housed his beloved. He stopped before room 507 and peered through the glass window. "Inuyasha," an old woman called.
Startled, he whipped his head away from the door and turned to face who called him. Dr. Kaede stared at him, a smile absent from her lips. "You still alive, old hag?" he asked with a scowl, crossing his arms.
She sighed at his childish antics. "Aye. These old bones still have some life in them."
"Keh," he scoffed, not at all interested in her health. Someone else was on his mind at the moment. "How is she?" His voice was soft, almost pleading. His eyes had turned dull and his scowl wasn't as prominent.
The doctor shook her head. "There hasn't been much improvement over the past twenty-four hours. She rarely eats or sleeps. Much of the day she spends looking out the window and mumbling to herself."
Inuyasha's frown deepened. "Damn it!" he cursed, uncrossing his arms and clenching his hands into fists. "Why the hell isn't she gettin' any better?"
"I'm not sure," Dr. Kaede responded truthfully. "But I must warn ye, Inuyasha. There may come a time when she shall never get better. Perhaps there is nothing left that can be done."
Before the old woman could finish her sentence, a pair of amber eyes were glaring at her. "Don't say that! She's going to be fine."
"Its been fifteen months since the incident, Inuyasha," she persuaded. "Little progress has been made. If things don't improve within a month's time then I'm afraid we'll have to send her to an institute in which to live."
It wasn't in his nature to hit a woman, especially Dr. Kaede, but the half-demon wasn't in his right mind. If she had said one more negative thought about Kagome's condition, he would have had to do something to release his pent up fury. "If you think she'll never get better," he said, facing the door once more. "Than you don't know nothin'." Without another word, he entered the room and closed the door behind him.
A woman sat in a chair facing a large window. Sun streamed through the glass and glistened across her abnormally pale skin. She was extremely gaunt, evidence of the little food she ate. An IV had been jammed into her arm to give her enough substance to live off of, but without solid foods, it was doing little to help.
"Kagome," Inuyasha whispered, smiling slightly. He ventured over to where she sat and knelt down beside her, placing a hand on her arm. The dark-haired woman didn't shy away from his touch nor did she invite it. "Its me, Inuyasha."
She was silent. It was the same routine every day. He would announce his presence and talk to her, but never had he heard her speak to him since the day she had sat at her comatose brother's bedside, weeping her heart out. His heart clenched at the thought. "I went to the ceremony today. Souta went up and got your diploma for ya. He's real proud of you and everyone missed you." He rubbed soothing circles with the pad of his thumb across her skin, but it did little to bring her attention to him.
With a defeated sigh, he continued rambling. "Kouga and Ayame are engaged now. They don't have a wedding date set, but they would be thrilled if you could be there." He glanced up at her. "Don't you think you should get better in time, Kagome?"
He eyed the clock wearily. It had already been an hour since he left the school and he was feeling restless. It angered him to no ends that the woman he loved was subjected to such a fate. Her father and Naraku were lucky they had life sentences, otherwise he would have tracked them down and beat them to death.
Shaking his head, he stood. Perhaps he would come back later. Deep in his heart he knew that was unlikely. Each day he spent at her bedside caused his hope to diminish ever so slightly. He hated this. There was no doubt in his mind that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but he also wanted to be happy. In the end, if she were never to become the energetic and bubbly girl he had befriended all those years ago, would he be able to move on and leave her behind?
No. How could he even think such things? He clenched his hands into fists and glared at the floor. His eyes swept over Kagome's frail form and all fury immediately dispersed. "Please, come back to me," he pleaded quietly, just enough so her ears could hear him. His placed a hand on her shoulder and bent down, pressing a tender kiss to the top of her head. "I need you with me, Kagome. I love you."
The girl didn't even stir at his confession. Never had he spoken those words aloud, although they had burrowed themselves deep within his heart years ago. When minutes passed and she still didn't move, he sighed again. So much for happy endings. He released his grip on her and turned around, preparing to walk out of the room, but a voice stopped him.
"Inuyasha," Kagome whispered.
His ears flickered atop his head, straining to hear. He turned to face her. Did she just call his name? He hadn't heard her utter a word to him in a long time and a familiar shiver crept up his back. "What is it, Kagome?" he asked fervently, striding up and placing a hand on her shoulder once more.
She didn't turn away from the window or move towards him, but a faint smile could be detected on her lips. "Isn't it a beautiful day out?"
The half-demon paused for a moment, not sure if he heard her right. His muscles relaxed and his heart rate slowed to normal. He swallowed against the lump in his throat. "Yeah," he mumbled. "Yeah, it is."
They stared out the window as the sun continued to shine brightly in the sky, watching as birds chirped by and the wind blew across the grass. Perhaps because of all they had been through, they would get their fairytale ending after all.
A/N: Fortunately or unfortunately, this draws a close to this story. There will be no more chapters after this and a sequel will not be an option either. I have left the ending open, allowing the readers' imaginations to wander to the varies possibilities that Inuyasha and Kagome now face. I hope you enjoyed the story while it lasted. In the future, I'll try to stumble upon writing a story with terror and tragedy again. For now, I shall say my final words and look forward to bigger and better things.
Many thanks to:
My amazing beta, Dani: She didn't help directly with this story, but without her knowledge and amazing patience, I would never have come as far as I have. Not only has she taught me important aspects of writing, but she had shown me the path to becoming the best I can possibly be. Words will never be able to describe how indebted I am to her. Thank you.
All of my reviewers. This story has soared far beyond anything I could ever imagine. Every time I read a review concerning what was to happen in the near future, I felt a sense of pride swell within my heart. I could not be grateful enough to everyone who has stuck by me since chapter one, or those who had latched onto this story only a few chapters ago. There are too many names to list, but always know that it is because of you that I continue writing and strengthening my skills. I especially want to thank those anonymous reviewers who took a few minutes to leave a small comment: Sorrow474, fan ... , KiaraKitty08, kuro neko, ashley, tara, anonymous, penutbuttercookie, kagome8657, WHO KNOWS, geekinthepink88, and Jamie. Without you, all would be lost. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
All of my readers: Even though most didn't leave a review, I am glad I had those who liked the story enough to follow it from beginning to end. You should know that I appreciate everyone's interest in the story. I hope you find some of my other work worth while as well.
When a story comes to an end, I tend to be an emotional person, especially when it is one of my favorites. It just means that things have to change and we have to move on, which means that only more time has passed. Oh well, life goes on. Now I am able to work on brand new material and pool all of my creative muse and concentration into new stories. I hope you enjoyed the story from chapter one. Perhaps we shall meet again some day. Love you all!