Kagome Higurashi is a middle school student with a secret. She can travel through time using the Bone Eater's well in her family's shrine. As much as she would prefer to remain a junior high student, keeping her grades in check, there was a blockage holding her back. Her friends. The perverted monk Miroku, the little fox demon Shippo, the loyal two-tailed cat Kirara, the talented demon slayer Sango, and of course, the handsome young half demon, Inuyasha. They are the dead weight holding her down, because she could never find it in her heart to leave them. They were her friends, yes, but they were also her family. She lives to protect them just as fiercely as their desire to protect her.
That is why the thick tension as she walks among her silent group tears her apart. The vacancy occupying Sango's normally emotional eyes brings her to her knees in weeping despair. The slumping body of Inuyasha is a tremendous difference in comparison to his over confident air. There wasn't much distance between her and Sango and Inuyasha, but they seemed miles away. She wanted to reach out her arm, see if she could touch them, but fear of them turning around and witnessing their sorrowful faces, held her back. She turned to Miroku for assistance, but his eyes were intent on Sango, like he wanted to ask her a thousand of questions, but was afraid for the same reason as Kagome. She looked down at Shippo who was nestled in her arms, but he was fast asleep.
Kagome stared up at the indigo vastness encasing them in an almost choking hold. Her heart squeezed, her feet froze, and she was motionless. At her sudden pause, the party turned to stare at her questioningly. Kagome shied away from Inuyasha and Sango, instead turning to Miroku. Even though he seemed tortured, since his beloved was in distress, his eyes were more emotional than just lingering sadness.
"I was… just tired. Can't we rest for the night?" Kagome asked meekly.
She expected an outburst from Inuyasha. His usual stubborn demeanor shining through his melancholy state. It never came. He only glowered at her for delaying the trip just because of her fatigue. She should know that all of them wanted rest. Just sleep and hope that tomorrow brings pleasantries. She's not the only one tired, yet, she's the only one complaining. Kagome lowered her eyes, feeling very much like a small child with behavior issues.
"Never-" Kagome began.
"I must concur. The battle with Naraku left us all fatigued, and we would do well with rest." Miroku said.
The unresponsive Sango and Inuyasha led their party into the forest. Since the area was deprived of villages, they settled for the outdoors. Miroku and Inuyasha retrieved firewood, leaving Sango and Kagome alone with two sleeping demons, Shippo and Kirara.
Kagome tried to withstand the silence plaguing the normally cheerful mood between the two girls. Finally, Kagome stood, receiving Sango's empty gaze.
"I'm heading to the hot springs." Kagome said.
"Oh, I'll join you." Sango replied, but Kagome didn't sense any enthusiasm from her.
It rather sounded like she was obliged to join her. Her heart was telling her to sit and grieve, while her mind urged her to spend time with her friend. Kagome always believed in heart overpowering the mind, but in this case, she didn't. She was pleased to have her friend be with her, even if she was on the brink of becoming mute.
The warm air emanating from the springs enveloped Kagome like a warm blanket shielding her from the world's coldness. The two girls stripped until their naked bodies glistened in the moonlight. Kagome was the first to enter, allowing the hot water to encase her. She glanced over to Sango with an expectant gaze. Sango planted her foot in the water, then led herself fully inside the comforting spring. Without a look to Kagome's direction, she wandered to the opposing side of her friend then settled down into the warm water.
Another moment of silence passed between the two girls. Kagome attempted to make small talk, but her friend didn't cooperate. The only response she received from her were brief, meaningless.
"Sango, please look me in the eye." The words slid from Kagome's mouth and she found herself regretting those words as Sango complied.
The pure agony in her eyes made Kagome's heart squeeze. Kagome lowered her eyes to the water, stirring agitation on Sango's part. "What Kagome?"
Kagome wanted to look at her friend, but her head refused to move. "I love you Sango." And it hurts me to see you in such pain. Please! Tell me how I can help! I'll do anything!
Sango remained silent. Kagome felt her heart pounding, compelling her to speak something else. Something more cheerful, and would stray far away from sadness. However, she didn't get to follow through with her thought when the stillness of the water was disturbed. Miniscule waves lapped at her chest, and she looked up to see a small rainstorm cascading from Sango's body.
"I'm getting out." She replied, and walked over to where the towels draped over a boulder encasing the spring. "If you want to come, you can."
"Don't you want to stay in a little longer?" Kagome said.
"No." Then, Sango vanished along with her clothes.
Kagome sighed, pondering if she should follow or stay. She chose the latter. I can't be there with them. It's so depressing to be around a depressed group. Besides, maybe Sango and Miroku can use this time to talk. If I can't get through to her, maybe he can. With that thought, she leaned against the rock. The bumpiness scraped against her delicate flesh, but she didn't seem to notice.
The night's chill won over the warmth from the water. Her intense desire to feel water soothing her sore muscles diminished. She stood and walked over to her towel. She wrapped the cloth around her nude body and glided over to where her clothes lay, abandoned on the forest ground. She dried herself, darting her eyes around all the while to make sure she wasn't eye-candy for horny men, or hungry demons.
After a minute of dressing, Kagome inhaled a deep breath, like some brave warrior fearing a battle, and disappeared in the foliage. She found her friends gathered around a campfire. Sango and Miroku sat next to each other, but there was a vast space between their bodies. The now awakened Shippo was nibbling at the Ramen noodles wrapped around his chopsticks. Kirara was in Sango's lap, desperately seeking for a loving rub from her mistress, which was a failure. There was one person missing from the group, Inuyasha.
"Where's Inuyasha?" Kagome asked.
Miroku shrugged. "When we start the fire, he just walked off. I informed him of Ramen tonight, but even that failed to keep him at sight."
Kagome kneeled in front of the scalding pot where the noodles Inuyasha adored so much, lain. She piled majority into a bowl and pierced the simple meal with chopsticks. She left the group to hunt for Inuyasha. It didn't take long to find him. He was perched in a tree not too far away from the party. His back was to her and his face was hidden by his mane of silver hair.
Kagome parted her mouth to speak his name, but held her tongue when she heard a fleeting sigh of loneliness emit from his mouth. "Kikyo…"
Kagome came close to tossing the bowl on the ground and leave him to his thoughts. However, her tender heart kept her in place. No matter how much it tortured her to even hear Kikyo's name from his lips, she knew he was in a depressed state and that alone made her stay.
"Fifty years ago, I died resenting you Kikyo." He began, his voice solemn. He was quiet, as though he wanted this conversation to be heard by him, and possibly the woman he was dedicating them to, but Kagome heard them, and they etched into her heart, further pushing it to the brink of shattering. "I was born into this world with a closely guarded heart. I wouldn't let anyone dare mess with it. I was cold, untrusting, unwilling and unable to find happiness, until I met you.
"You sparked something inside me Kikyo, you made me feel alive. I began to trust you, began to love you, and when I thought it was safe for me to give you my everything, you deceived me. You pinned me to a tree in eternal sleep. Since then, I hated you, yet I also loved you.
"Then I found it was Naraku who set us up against each other, and my feelings resurfaced when you were resurrected. I don't get how our trust was so brittle that it was easy for Naraku to destroy the bond, but our love for each other still remained. You could have killed me, but instead you put me into a deep sleep, one that I could possibly revive from. You could have wished on the jewel to save your life, but you chose death to be with me. So, even though you felt I betrayed you, you still loved me, right Kikyo?
"I still love you Kikyo. And Kagome… she… means a lot to me too. She's someone I couldn't live without. But… it's so hard moving forward in this life, knowing you aren't with me anymore. You still have a piece of me Kikyo, one that not even Kagome could hope to attain. That's why, I feel it's only right to avenge your death, get rid of the jewel, and join you in death. I made you that promise I would be with you forever, and it was a promise I fully intended to keep. Because I love you Kikyo, and I know, no matter how much time passes, I always will."
Inuyasha let his back graze against the bark, unaware of a broken hearted girl listening to the soliloquy.
Kagome turned to leave, her determination to get Inuyasha to eat plummeted. Her mind thought back to that day when her hopes of being with Inuyasha renewed, the day at the well when they first held hands. She always wanted to be with Inuyasha in the end, even though his greed to become a demon overpowered attaining a relationship with her. She dreamed of him staying with her, asking her to become his wife, but those dreams were shot down from his words. It was painfully clear now that Inuyasha had no desire to be with her whatsoever in the end. As soon as Naraku is killed and the shards of the jewel were found, he will leave her. He will live on in the afterlife to be with Kikyo.
Water filled her eyes. Little drops escaping from her lids to cascade her cheeks. She began to run, knowing Inuyasha could catch the scent of her salty tears. However, it was too late. Before she could bolt, she felt a strong hand on her shoulder. Meekly, Kagome turned until she was face to face with the man she loved with her whole heart, who would never reciprocate those feelings.
"Kagome? How much did you hear?" Inuyasha asked, fear grasping his heart. He was aware of the words he said when he thought he was in a private place, and those words always seem to strike a chord in Kagome. And that usually led to a lot of sits and those, he was not in the mood for.
"Not long." Kagome replied, shielding her teary eyes from him.
Inuyasha knew she was lying, but he didn't pressure her. "Then, what are you here for?"
She offered him the bowl of Ramen she prepared for him. "This. For you."
"Oh." Inuyasha looked down at the bowl. "I'm not hungry."
"Please, just eat."
"Wha? I said I'm not hungry."
"Just eat! Please! It's not like you to refuse Ramen! Now eat!"
"I told you, crazy wench. I'm not hungry!"
Kagome cradled the bowl to her chest and dropped to her knees. Inuyasha watched in stupefaction as her body racked with sobs. "I hate this! You and Sango. Both of you are killing me!"
"Sango won't open up to me anymore, and you want to die. I feel like… like…" A failure.
Inuyasha kneeled, unsure of how to sooth her. She fell forward, burying herself into his crimson robe. Inuyasha debated on pulling back, but the sight of her in tears compelled him to stay and wait out her little episode. After moments of her unbearable sobs, she finally peeled away from his chest.
"I'm going back."
"No, to the campsite. I'm sleepy."
Following her words, Kagome plopped down on her sleeping bag. Her eyes vacant of tears, she stared up at the sky. Why are there stars in the sky? She thought almost bitterly. But there is such a loss in my friends' eyes, when all they deserve is the greatest life can offer.