Takes Place: A few weeks after where the anime leaves off, there is some mention of the second movie (cuz I love it, damn it!)
Rated For: A certain hanyou's mouth
InuYasha couldn't remember being so out of his mind in his unnaturally long life.
The woman in his arms felt even smaller than normal, and that frightened him. She had precious little weight on her on her best days, and this was pretty much the worst day she'd ever had as far as he was concerned.
Crouching in a cave, InuYasha cursed the weather, swore at the snow, and died a little inside as he thought about the distance to the well that prevented him from bringing her to her future healers. That he wouldn't have an explanation for the jagged wound through her stomach didn't cross his mind. He knew she needed more than he could give her, and simply wanted her to get better.
She wasn't going to.
They'd been in the cave for two days. Two days of biting cold, blowing snow, all courtesy of a storm that even InuYasha, with all his hanyou senses, couldn't pinpoint directions out of. He knew it would be suicide to wander aimlessly, simply hoping they were traveling in the right direction. If it wouldn't kill him, it would most certainly kill Kagome. It wouldn't take much, now.
Kagome was already dying.
When he wasn't boiling rags (he'd torn her spare clothes, boiling them in a pot of snow put over the fire he'd managed to build… kami, what he wouldn't give to hear her "osuwari" him for that transgression) or quickly darting out of the cave for wood to set to dry, he had the miko in his arms, desperately rubbing her skin for friction. He'd managed to stave off infection; he'd helped to keep her from slipping into hypothermia. But he couldn't stop the sluggish bleeding from her stomach and he couldn't wash the growing stench of death from her. At times her body glowed bright pink; he suspected her miko's aura was draining what little strength she had to purify the massive amounts of miasma that had seeped into the wound.
InuYasha's head hung low, eyes puffy and red. He'd given up hiding his tears; the few moments Kagome had been awake, he was sure she'd been delusional. InuYasha hadn't stopped babbling at her, promises of things they'd do if she'd just get better, swearing he'd never say another negative thing to her, never call her names again if she'd just open her eyes, telling her she could subdue him through all the levels of hell if she'd just start talking. None of it had worked.
'This is all my fault!' His inner youkai howled as the acrid smell of death intensified. It'd been faint, but was growing strong enough that burying his nose in her hair wasn't enough to hide it. 'If I had let her go home for her "skool," she'd be fine right now! If only she had "osuwari"-ed me rather than given in…I'd be dead instead of her. It's my right, damn it. She didn't deserve this!'
He had to be the worse protector on the face of the planet. She'd begged him to go home for a few days to take a test, but he had put his foot down. They'd heard rumors of unnatural deaths to the east, and by all accounts, it looked as though Kanna, and through her, Naraku, was behind it. No blood, no wounds, no abnormal coloring on the bodies. It just seemed as though their souls were gone. Sure it was a trap, but determined to kill their enemy at almost all costs, even Sango and Miroku had convinced Kagome to come with them this time. Against all of them, how could she say no?
'She should have fucking said no!' InuYasha had been battling against Kagura when he heard Kagome cry out behind him. The wind witch had guaranteed her opponent couldn't smell Naraku coming, and then suddenly, the evil hanyou was there, shooting a tendril of his body at InuYasha. Kagome had knocked an arrow to her bow, but Kagura's wind made sure the shot wouldn't connect. With speed borne of desperation, the miko had hurled herself in front of the hanyou… just in time to be speared in the belly. InuYasha had chopped off the tendril himself, shouting her name as Kagome slumped to the ground bonelessly, just as she had done when her arrow was turned against her by Kaguya.
This time, though, Kagome hadn't had any words of consolation before she fell. She hadn't looked him in the eyes, reassuring him that all was okay. The enemy hadn't made off with her, either, but now InuYasha was wondering if Naraku somehow gained an unholy alliance with the kami to spring this storm on them. They'd been rushing back at the time. Kirara, Sango, Shippou and Miroku had all been flying high above them; one moment they were together, the next, they were separated.
InuYasha growled, pounding the ground with the hand that wasn't clutching Kagome. A second later, his golden eyes were drawn to a dark shape moving steadily toward the cave entrance.
"Sango? Miroku? That you?" InuYasha wished the wind would shift a little. Not enough to freeze the girl in his arms, but enough to direct the scent of whatever was out there to him so he had a clue what was going on. A moment later, an ethereal, worm-like youkai floated through the air, glowing white brighter than the snow in the dusk.
The undead miko regarded her former love with brown eyes devoid of emotion. There was no expression on her face, nothing giving away her reason for being nearby at a time like this. Kikyou's eyes traveled from his golden ones to her reincarnation, lying in his lap, struggling with each breath.
Now, InuYasha may have had the "idiot" act down pact, but when push came to shove, he was pretty quick on the draw. Seeing the appraising look in Kikyou's eyes, InuYasha's breath momentarily caught in his throat as it suddenly hit him why Kikyou had come. He grasped Kagome, pulling her closer to him, still mindful of her wounds but gripping her as though he could hold her soul in her body with pure will. He snarled a challenge at the undead miko, "You're not taking her! You can't have her soul!"
With InuYasha's eyes focused on her reincarnation, he never saw the waver of emotion on Kikyou's face. He didn't see the pain in her gaze when he carefully, slowly ran a clawed thumb across Kagome's cold cheek, begging her to "hang on, wench…" He didn't see the way she paled as tears began to stream down InuYasha's face, as he pressed his face into the hair on top of Kagome's head, trying to breathe in her natural scent and struggling with an overwhelming wave of pure emotion.
Kikyou took a step forward, reaching a hand out to Kagome's body. She withdrew quickly as InuYasha bared his fangs at her, a low growl shaking both his and Kagome's body. "Fuck you! Get away! I –" InuYasha choked again, looking down at the girl in his arms who seemed even smaller, still, as though her very presence was ceasing to exist before his very eyes. "I… I promised to protect her, damn it!" His eyes, connecting with Kikyou's again, were filled with more emotion than she ever recalled seeing in him. His face contorted into a mixture of heartbreaking sorrow and rage and he nearly sobbed, "That means I can't give her up… I won't let you take her soul. What kind of horrible protector would I be? I already let her get hurt…"
A silence fell over the cave, as Kikyou was unsure what to say to the emotional hanyou in front of her. A weak coughing brought InuYasha's eyebrows up, hope alight in his eyes.
"I thought… you said you'd… stop… calling me… names…" Kagome's voice was painfully weak, painfully hoarse as she coughed again. InuYasha nearly stumbled over himself and her in his haste to grab her water bottle.
"Keh!" He tried to cover his flustered concern with a sharp retort. It didn't work. "Can you drink something?"
Kagome clenched her eyes shut, shuddering for a moment. When she opened them, her usually bright blue eyes were a dismal gray. She shook her head, but gasped as InuYasha's ears drooped mournfully.
"Please… please drink something…"
Kagome just couldn't say no to the pitiful look on his face. She knew she was dying; she almost relished death for she knew the pain would be gone. But on the other hand… she just couldn't leave him alone. Sure, he'd have Sango, Miroku and the others. But would they really love him like she did? On that thought, did he know how much she cared? She was seized with a sudden, almost heart-wrenching need to tell him…
Swallowing a small mouthful of water, she gazed up at her hanyou. She managed to raise her arm a little bit, wincing in pain, rubbing the pad of her thumb over the clear tear-tracks on his cheeks. "Have you… been… crying… for me?"
InuYasha actually sniffled a bit for a moment, suddenly looking to her like a lost little boy. Tears actually sprang to her eyes at the thought and the image.
"Kami, Kagome…" InuYasha had so much he wanted to say to her; he had almost completely forgotten Kikyou standing off to the side, silent as death. Had InuYasha been from the future, he might have equated her presence to that of the Grim Reaper, giving him (rather, in this case, her) victim a chance to say good-bye. But spilling his heart to Kagome seemed too final; he couldn't bring himself to say all the things he'd wanted to. To do so would be to admit, even a little, that she was dying.
"Don't… be sad… InuYasha…" His heart clenched at the way she breathed his name, as though he were a deity she were praying to. 'Why? After I let her get like this, how can she have so much faith in her voice?'
"Don't leave me, Kagome." He had completely foregone his usually gruff demeanor, resorted to begging in hopes that she'd listen. "You wanted to help me kill Naraku! We still have to get the rest of the shards." The pained look in Kagome's eyes had little to nothing to do with the gaping stomach wound and seeing it sent a jolt straight to InuYasha's chest. He swallowed, "You have to fight… you promised you'd stay with me." 'Damn, is it possible to guilt somebody into not dying?'
Kagome actually chuckled a bit, a chuckle that turned into a painful series of body-wracking coughs. InuYasha's ears flattened, he let out a distressed whine, nuzzled her neck softly in an effort to help her breathe without ever relinquishing his hold on her. With his head lowered, she took advantage of the moment to grasp one of his fuzzy ears in her hand, leaning her upper arm on his head and giving the ear a small tweak, and then a slow rub.
"I swear it… I'll let you play with my ears for the rest of your life if you just stay with me…" From begging to bargaining, InuYasha didn't care. All of his pride was out of the proverbial window, so anxious was he to make her stay with him.
"I'll always… be with… you…" Kagome's voice softened a bit as she patted the top of his head. It was a caress, not as though she were petting a puppy as she was known to do every once in a while, but as though she were trying to reach his very brain. "Right here…"
"That's not enough!" InuYasha held her a little tighter, "I want you to stay right here."
"InuYasha…" Kikyou's voice echoed a bit in the cave. A growl erupted from InuYasha again as she stepped toward the couple. "Remember, InuYasha, that she is my reincarnation. In the end, we will all be together in hell…"
If looks could kill, Kikyou would have been dead on the spot. The venom in the hanyou's eyes could have put Sesshomaru's acid to shame. "She's not going to fucking hell. She's too pure…"
A movement from the younger miko drew his full attention again. She was trying to reach her other hand up, to his neck. With both hands she grasped his rosary and started to lift. She was forced to stop when waves of pain racked her body as it complained at the movement. "Inu… Yasha… I'm sorry." She gulped, "I wanted… you to know… how much… I… trust you…" Kagome sucked in a deep breath, staring into his eyes, though hers were hazy with suppressed pain, "I… love you…" She closed her eyes, sighing lightly.
The hanyou's eyes softened, widened, hardened in the space of a heartbeat. His ears flipped forward, focusing on her heartbeat. It was slowing.
"Damn it! No!" His eyes were miraculously dry right now, he vaguely wondered in the back of his mind if he'd cried all his tears. He'd shed more tears for this girl from the future than on anybody else, save his mother, and he'd been just a pup when she died. The scent of Kagome's blood and the scent of death filled the cave, filled his senses until he wanted to rip off his nose and wished in vain, for the first time in his life, that the moon would disappear and take his hanyou senses with it.
Finally looking up again at Kikyou, his youkai voice was screaming to take down the threat to the woman he had wanted as a mate for so long… his human heart ached and for a moment, he wondered how he could have ever compared the two. Even knowing they shared the same soul, the differences were so much more pronounced than their similarities. Kikyou cleared her throat, and then looked at Kagome's midriff, where dark blood was soaking through the bandages. "What happened to her?"
The way Kikyou asked the question, as though they had all the time in the world, as though Kagome wasn't lying in his arms dying, as though she had a right to know… his monotone answer was void of all emotion. He suppressed the anger, just as he suppressed the urge to leap over and take Kikyou down for talking so calmly. "I failed her."
"How?" They could have been talking about the weather for all the concern in Kikyou's voice.
"Naraku. She jumped in front of an attack." His voice hitched as he recalled the moment, "That blow was meant for me. Stupid bitch!"
A small laugh laced with pain let InuYasha know Kagome was still hanging on, though he could almost substantially feel her slipping away. More tears made their way down his cheeks.
"It's not… nice… to call names… baka…" Even while squeezing out her last bit of strength, Kagome was able to tease him, as though nothing was happening.
"Kagome…" He said her name softly, painfully, more of a plea than anything else. "How can you…" He couldn't continue as he felt the girl go slack in his arms. She was still breathing, but it was shallow, and her heart was more fluttering than beating now.
At that same moment, the smell of grave-soil nearly overpowered Kagome's natural, blood-soaked scent. Looking up, Kikyou was near enough to kiss… or bite, as InuYasha was more inclined to do at the moment. His youkai was boiling, roiling just under the surface of his skin with the intensity of his emotions, and every instinct was screaming at him to protect the girl he held.
'But I can't protect her,' he thought mournfully, 'I failed her, and now another woman I love is going to die… Mother, Kikyou, Kagome… I failed them all, didn't I?'
InuYasha was so lost in his pained thoughts that it took him a moment to notice a burning tingle near his stomach, where Kagome's body was pressed up against his. Blinking away the moisture in his eyes, he realized Kikyou's hands were pressed up against where Kagome's worst wound was… and they were glowing.
"What… what are you doing?" InuYasha couldn't help but be suspicious, though it looked as though the older miko was actually trying to help. The smile Kikyou shot him verified it.
"When I was all but lost to Naraku's miasma, Kagome healed me. There was no hesitation in this girl's touch. Even when she saw my memories, even though it hurt her to see us together, she gave her all to heal me, because of what she knew it would mean to you." InuYasha had the grace to flush a bit and lower his head at the gentle chiding tone her voice took. "It is only right I return the favor."
When InuYasha's head snapped back up, she wore a sad smile. "We are not meant to wander the world with only half a soul. Kagome's soul is so large; she's dealt with the loss admirably. But our soul needs to be whole, wants to be whole. I am dying. She is dying. With these actions, perhaps I can redeem myself… and perhaps Kagome will never have to see you make such a face and cry like that."
InuYasha sighed, "Kikyou…" He thought to stop her. He thought to ask her again, why? He thought… Kagome groaned, shifted a bit in his arms, his ears perked up at the encouraging sound. InuYasha suddenly thought how really, Kikyou was a part of Kagome. The two were different, but shared the same soul. Kikyou was never meant to be brought back to this world, and maybe it was finally time for them to part again. He finally knew what to say.
"Kikyou… I will avenge your death. I will kill Naraku."
She put one cold finger on his lips, making sure no purification energy could seep out and turn him human as she smiled. "InuYasha. There was a time I would have taken you with me to hell. I would have insisted you die for me. Instead, live. Live for Kagome, and live for me."
Wordlessly, InuYasha nodded, noticing as he glanced down that Kagome's blood was a bright red, rather than the toxic brown-red signifying the miasma the wound had contained. "Kikyou…"
"I love you. She loves you. Our soul was drawn to you. In this final act, I have found peace…" In a bright flash light, Kikyou vanished. Nearly a dozen glowing balls, souls, floated into the sky. The largest one lowered itself almost gently into Kagome. At its touch, she moaned, eyes flickering.
Taking a deep breath, InuYasha again felt tears prickle the back of his eyes. These were tears of happiness, tears of joy as he realized the threat of death that had dared to sully Kagome's beautiful, lively scent was gone.
Kagome was going to live.
As Kagome's eyes opened a bit more, signaling her cognizance, he lowered his lips to hers. "I love you too, Ka-Go-Me. You'll always be with me, you said so yourself. And I will never, ever leave you."
At his words, Kagome managed a weak smile. "You also… promised… unlimited… ear minutes…"
Thrilled to hear her response, weak as it was, he tilted his head obligingly. She was weak. She was in pain. But she was healing, and she was his. And nothing could change that.
I know it's filled with clichés, but I really love this one-shot. I just felt really ripped off by Kikyou's death in the manga… I just felt like everything was over so suddenly. So, here we go: My alternative Kikyou-death scene.
Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or any other characters from the anime/manga. They all belong to Rumiko Takahashi.