Chapter 14 - Kikiyo's Momentary Reflection

Walking peacefully down the forest trail Kikiyo stumbled suddenly as her sandal straps unexpectedly bit her. At the same time her balance shifted. Frowning, she managed to pull her feet out of the stubbornly clinging sandals. The effort caused her to lose her balance and sit down hard. She grimaced, and then paused, sensing a change. One hand explored the injured area, and then searched with increasingly frantic motions for something she could not find.

She smiled, and then calmly set about adjusting the straps to accommodate her newly wider feet.

Standing, she said. "Well, well, Kagome. You actually managed to do something right for a change. I thank you."

Then the priestess continued on her way, giving the matter no further thought.

In the ruins of Sekai no Haji Miroku and Kagome were wending their way from the library back to where the others were camped. Kagome refused to tell her story until she could tell everyone at one time. She had no intention of repeating this story until it was burned into her brain.

They reached camp as the sun was beginning to set.

"I'm home!" Kagome called, spotting the familiar red kimono. Before she could take another step Inuyasha leaped toward her and in two bounds had gathered her up in a fierce embrace. She found it hard to breathe but didn't say anything, just hugging Inuyasha back and drinking in his familiar scent.

From the snuffling noises he was doing the same. Of course, with anyone else it might have been muffled sobbing, but Inuyasha never cried.

"Don't you ever do that to me again, Kagome." He growled softly. "Getting yourself captured like that! You had us worried sick."

"Sorry, Inuyasha." She murmured, glad his embrace had relaxed enough to be comforting instead of crushing. "But I'm back, safe and sound."

"Yeah, well you take too many risks, Kagome." Inuyasha said, releasing her. "How many times have you almost died this month? I can't be saving you all the time! Be more careful!"

"I will." She promised, smiling.

"Hey, what's the matter with your eyes?" Inuyasha asked suspiciously.

"I guess I'm crying from relief." Kagome said, wiping her eyes.

"Not that." He said impatiently. "Your eyes changed color again."

"What?" Kagome blinked. "What color are they now?"

"Blue." He said. "Really, really bright blue. What happened?"

"Kagome!" Shippo came scampering up to her and leaped against her. She took a step backward as small arms wrapped around her neck. Reflexively she caught the fox demon and held him so he wouldn't fall.

"Hey Shippo, did you miss me?" She asked.

"Not as much as Inuyasha did!" Shippo said. "I knew you'd come back, but Inuyasha was really worried."

She looked from the young demon to the scowling Inuyasha. "Is that true, Inuyasha?"

"Course not!" Inuyasha denied hotly. "I knew we'd find you. How else are we supposed to find the jewel shards? Humph." He turned his head away with his nose in the air.

"Is that all I am to you, Inuyasha? A jewel shard detector with legs?" She asked angrily.

The half-demon glanced at her uneasily. "Now wait a second, Kagome. I didn't mean it like that."

"Then how did you mean it, dog-boy?"

"I ain't no dog, Kagome, so don't you call me that!"

"I'm still waiting for an answer, Inuyasha!" She set down Shippo, who prudently put some distance between himself and the arguing couple. Miroku backed away half a dozen steps as well, knowing what was coming.

"Look, all I meant was without you we can't find the jewel shards, ok?" Inuyasha growled. "It's not like I was worried about you or anything. I figured you'd get outta trouble sooner or later. You always do. You keep turning up like a bad penny."

"It's good to see some things never change." Sango said dryly to Miroku, having come from camp. "Will those two ever learn?"

"Who can say?" Miroku shrugged.

"A bad penny?" Kagome was fuming now. "A bad penny?"

"I'm betting four." Miroku said casually to Sango, watching Kagome.

"A bag of candied ginger?" Sango offered. When Miroku nodded she said. "I'm betting six. Ah, here we go."

"I'll show you a bad penny you rude, obnoxious half-demon!" Kagome shouted. She took a deep breath. Inuyasha started backing away.

"Now, Kagome, hold on, don't--ah crap."

"Sit boy! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!"

Inuyasha's necklace glowed brightly and he slammed into the ground, unable to rise. With each repeat of the word sit he was slammed against the ground even harder. By the last command he had dug a hole in the dirt deep enough to leave the back of his head flush with the surrounding ground. Kagome stormed off toward camp.

"Oh my." Sango said. "She must be really angry."

"I counted seven." Miroku said casually.

"I did too. Guess neither one of us won." Sango said as she joined Miroku walking toward camp.

"What an idiot." Shippo muttered as he followed the other two.

After a minute Inuyasha managed to force his head up and spit out a mouthful of dirt.

"Why does she keep doing that?" He asked the gathering gloom. Only crickets answered him as he slowly fought his way free of the hole and headed despondently toward camp.

Sometimes Kagome could be so unreasonable.