Prologue: Back to Square One
Kagome stared at her hand in awe. She was sure if she tried hard enough, she could speak past the lump in her throat. Her brain just wasn't working too well right now, focusing primarily on the glinting piece of jewelry slipped onto her finger.
"For… me?" She croaked out the question. She doubted he understood the significance of giving a young woman a ring… that tradition wouldn't pick up for several centuries, at least. 'Souta might have said something… but… I doubt it…' Still, InuYasha didn't give gifts very often. He didn't have to. He showed he cared with his actions, not words or items.
"Of course it's for you, dummy." Light from the dying fire twinkled in the hanyou's eyes, bounced off the diamonds on the ring in a rainbow of reds, oranges and yellows. She'd never really heard that tone from him before. Gruff as usual, it had a certain quality to it… almost soft? Caring? Loving?
'Could he really?'
"Totosai forged it. It's…" InuYasha's eyes darted up to the hut where the rest of his pack slept. One ear turned in that direction as he heard a kitsune kit cry out in his sleep. He didn't bring it up since he heard the kit roll over and dig down deeper into a sleeping bag. He stared at the ring again, "I gave him one of my fangs. And some diamonds from the Kongousouha. He says if you wear it, it'll bond to you… it should help direct your powers. Kaede thinks you should be able to do a lot more now they're unsealed."
It was an unusually long speech from the hanyou. He hoped the light was dim enough that Kagome couldn't see the slight flush on his cheeks.
"Why," Kagome spoke up, "are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?" InuYasha's ears flattened on his head as he did some quick thinking. He really HAD been an ass lately, hadn't he?
Well, really, what did the wench expect? He had thought that at this point, he'd finally have his miko in his arms. Naraku was dead; Kikyo was avenged. Miroku's hand was in one piece. Kohaku lived; Sango had achieved retribution for the horrible way her village and family had been slaughtered. But now, they were off on another quest, all to make sure the fragile peace they had worked so hard for wouldn't be destroyed by another power-hungry human, hanyou or youkai.
'Because I'm sorry I bitched at you? Because no matter how many times I save your life, I'll never be able to honor you for freeing me from that kami-forsaken seal? Because you really did save our lives? To give you a way to purify my ass out of existence if I ever dig my claws into you again?'
None of those reasons would EVER pass his lips. Kagome would scoff at half the reasons, she'd never purposefully hurt him, and apologizing had never really been his strong suit.
"No reason." From the look she shot him, she wasn't buying it. But some kami somewhere had to be smiling on him, because the girl's next question was drowned out in a yawn and he shot to his feet. "Bed, now. We've got a lot to do in the morning."
InuYasha situated himself in a tree outside the hut and gazed skyward. His ears aimed the opposite direction, honing in on Kagome's heartbeat. The steady pounding was more reassuring to him than anybody would ever know. It was as though with every beat, her heart forced his to pound as well. Whenever she left, he was positive the blood would stop flowing in his veins. Of course, enough had been spilled when she wasn't nearby that he knew it was a stupid though, but that's how it felt, damn it!
At least he had the girl smiling again. Defeating Naraku should have been the highlight of the last year with his pack, but the ending had been so ambiguous that none of them were sure what to do next.
"Die, Naraku!" InuYasha remembered the girl shouting as she knocked her last arrow to her bow. The glow around the tip of the arrow was so bright, he had to look away. Since Magatsuhi had been killed, her power had been practically pouring out of her.
"Go!" With that, a superbly-powered arrow flew true. The darkness around the Shikon no Tama was burned up in a purifying pink light. Naraku let out an unworldly shriek as his body began to disintegrate. The poisonous miasma pouring from his body was blown away by the purification trail left by the arrow.
"You will never truly defeat me… you can never destroy the Shikon no Tama!" With that last shout, Naraku disappeared.
InuYasha thought his heart had stopped. The sharp noise tugged at a memory – a year-old memory of standing on a riverbank and staring at a growing light in the sky.
Everybody shouted and ducked as an explosion brightened the area. The lights trailed off in all different directions.
InuYasha turned to Kagome. The girl bled, cuts he inflicted on her when he was corrupted by the blackened jewel's power. She clutched the remains of the bow from Mt. Azusa in her hands; the bow had cracked under the immense rush of her powers in the last arrow. An unnatural wind whipped her hair in circles as she stood and stared at the sky, eyes wide. She was beautiful. She was powerful. Right now, he saw through all of that, and only saw an average girl from the future, lost in the past.
His voice cut through an unnatural silence. Everybody's faces turned toward him as he turned on the miko.
"Bitch… do NOT tell me that you just… Was that…" InuYasha was so enraged he was finding it hard to speak around the growls, "DID YOU JUST FUCKING BREAK THE JEWEL AGAIN!?"
Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or any other characters from the anime/manga. They all belong to Rumiko Takahashi.