Prologue: Forsaken Heart
I should never have come here...
Kagome backed away from the tree she had hidden behind while watching the scene in the clearing ahead of her. The sight of Inuyasha and Kikyou sitting seiza, facing each other while he marked her as his for all time was one that would haunt her to her dying day, she was sure, and as she moved quietly away, she was glad for the secret lessons in stealth and combat that she'd been getting from Sango.
Those lessons would stand her in good stead now, and it was only a further blessing that Sango, Miroku, Shippo and Kirara had gone off to her village yesterday to make repairs to her weapon and spend some time together. It gave her the chance to get away... because as sure as her name was Kagome, she knew she could not face Inuyasha again.
At this moment, she didn't know if she'd ever be able to.
The only reason she was even able to think right now was because she was totally numb. She could feel, in a distant part of herself, an overwhelming tide of pain and anguish; for now it was being held back and she knew she needed to get completely away while she could still function. There was no way she could stay here, and with Kikyou now joining Inuyasha they wouldn't need her anyway.
In fact, she'd be willing to bet that Inuyasha had every intention of hauling her to the well and tossing her in before having Kikyou seal it permanently. However, much as she might at one time already have been halfway back to the well on her own, now, she couldn't face that option, either. Her life there had already been too compromised; she would never fit in on that side of the well again. She'd seen and done too much to be able to live a lie, always pretending that she was someone she no longer was.
The only thing she could do was run. She'd have to go out on her own, and at least now she'd be able to survive without the others. Racing back into the clearing that held their little camp, she quickly grabbed her backpack, bow, and quiver, and using a new trick that she hadn't told anyone about, set about erasing every trace of her existence from the area. By the time she was done, there was no way for Inuyasha, even with his superior senses, to track her.
Taking one last look around, she disappeared under the trees, moving at a brisk lope.
She could feel the numbness inside still blanketing her and was sincerely grateful for it, because she still had work to do. Kagome had to die. It was the only way - if the group thought her dead, they wouldn't be looking for her - she would change her name and manner of dress, do everything she could to camouflage herself and then continue her search for the shards.
Spreading her senses out, looking for a large youkai presence and locating one about two miles south of her position, she changed her direction and took off after it. She would die in battle... knowing Inuyasha, he'd feel the release of her spiritual powers and come running to see what was up, and she had every intention of him finding a scorched wasteland.
By the time she was done, they'd all think she had been burned to death while fighting a youkai.
Inuyasha had just finished and collapsed onto the warm body of his new mate.
Nuzzling softly into her shoulder, he sighed, knowing he needed to get moving soon - otherwise, he was sure Kagome would come looking for him, and he didn't want her to find out about he and Kikyou like this. He needed to tell her to her face, he owed her that.
He already had it all planned out. He'd been ecstatic when the others had gone off to Sango's old village, leaving he and Kagome alone. It gave him the time to finally take Kikyou and also the time to sit down with Kagome and tell her what he'd chosen, without interference from their friends.
He sighed again as he felt his new mate begin to stir, and quietly inhaling her returned scent of peach blossoms, he pulled away. He smiled at her as her eyes met his, and then rolled away, standing up and beginning to pull on his clothes.
As the pleasure from their joining faded, guilt moved into his gaze, and Kikyou reached over a hand and clasped his.
"She will heal, Inuyasha, and one day she will find her own happiness. Don't feel guilty."
He paused for a minute, then nodded. "I don't feel guilty for loving you, Kikyou... but I hate the fact that I'm going to hurt her. I do love her, you know... but I couldn't take being away from you anymore. We've waited over fifty years - it was time."
Before Kikyou could answer, a huge shockwave of spiritual powers washed over the clearing they were in, instantly bringing his hackles up. He could feel the detonation even from here, and he could tell that the epicenter of the blast was several miles away to the south.
Shit! That much power could only have come from Kagome!
Eyes wide and panicked he grabbed a stunned Kikyou; throwing her on his back he took off to the south at a dead run, wondering what the hell had happened... when he'd come looking for Kikyou, Kagome had been readying their camp in the opposite direction from where she now was. Guilt and fear ran through him, sending ice through his veins.
If something's happened to her, I'll never forgive myself!
Kikyou held on for dear life, her newly warmed flesh and blood body on high alert. She'd never, in all her days as a living, then dead, priestess, felt such a release of spiritual powers - she hadn't even known you could have that much strength. Surely, something like that would only come at the moment of death... letting go of that much energy could only drain every bit of will and strength, leaving not even enough to keep your heart beating, let alone breathe.
As soon as Inuyasha broke into the tree-line, he skidded to a stunned halt as Kikyou slid off his back, mouth open in total shock. They were standing at the edge of a huge field... or what had once been a huge field. Now it was a dead zone. There was not a blade of grass, tree, or flower left living within it's perimeter - all that was left was ash.
Shocked, Inuyasha moved closer to the center of the field, towards what looked to be a small hill of ashy remains... and as he reached it, he let out an anguished cry... for there, almost covered over, scorched and burned almost beyond recognition, was what looked to be all that remained of the younger miko.
He reached down and grasped the remains of her dark green skirt, and pulled the cloth to his chest as he fell to his knees and cried.
"No..." he breathed out. "No... I promised to protect her and I left her alone to go to you - again. Only this time, I truly turned my back on her, and now, she's - she's... dead." The hanyou looked up at Kikyou, eyes wet with tears and filled with despair.
"I hope she died hating me... because I deserve it, every bit," he whispered, berating himself. "I should never have left her alone. I should have talked to her first and then taken her home before I claimed you, and because I was greedy she's gone." He pushed Kikyou's hand away as she tried to reach out and comfort him. "Don't - don't touch me right now. Just... go find a place to camp. I... need to be alone for a while."
She watched, stunned, as he stood and moved slowly away from her, still clutching the remains of Kagome's skirt tightly in his hands. She could tell that he wasn't even in the clearing with her anymore... he was somewhere in the past, with Kagome.
How ironic. I finally take him from her in life, only to have her take his heart from me in death.
Her brow furrowed as something occurred to her.
And if she really was my reincarnation, why didn't our soul return to me when she died?
A/N: As of Sept. 2013 I have majorly edited and reworked and even rewritten this story for better flow.