After
rating: K+
pairings: some inuyasha/kagome, inuyasha/kikyou, and inuyasha/oc
summary: Fairy tale can't last forever, and he's running out of princesses. A tale of two hopelessly entangled souls, and the pain of losing your soul-mate over and over again.
author's notes: this idea took root in my head, and wouldn't leave. I have another author's note at the end, where I thought was a more fitting place to put it.
disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.

---

Kagome jumps down the well, and into the arms of her true love, and they all live happily ever after.

Well, for a while at least.

---

They settle in the same village as Kaede, and Kagome trains to take over as village miko. And Inuyasha is happy, because he has his happy ending at last, the one once denied to him over 50 years ago by Naraku.

They're happy together, and even though for some reason Kagome is unable to have children, it is a good life. Sango and Miroku live in the slayer's village, and they visit with each other often. Shippou often stops by, and even Kouga makes the occasional appearance.

But Kagome is human, and Inuyasha is not. Compared to youkai, even to a hanyou like Inuyasha, a human's lifetime is so short, so fragile. And though Kagome is growing older so quickly, he doesn't stop loving her any less. She is still his beautiful Kagome.

Then comes the day she collapses outside their home, and he really realizes just how fragile she is. She's sick, she's dying, and her final request is for him to take her back to her time.

She wants to see her family, or what remains of it, one last time. And how can Inuyasha deny the woman he loves her dying wish?

So he takes her in his arms (she's too weak to cling to his back as she once did), and leaps down the well for the first time in many, many years.

And Kagome dies in her childhood bed, with Souta and Inuyasha by her side.

---

Once he's back on the other side of time, he feels so alone. But he's not alone, not really. Miroku is still living, an old man now, and Inuyasha visits him every day. Sango died years ago, and Miroku still hasn't fully recovered from the loss. So they talk about the past, and about the women who've left them.

Shippou is still around for a while, but then he disappears, and Inuyasha will not see him again for many years.

When Miroku finally dies, Inuyasha drifts through time meaninglessly. He sees Sesshoumaru once in a while, but the bonds of hatred are still too strong between them. Their encounters don't last long. His brother is still cold, still cruel, even more so without Rin by his side. Inuyasha wonders if Sesshoumaru grieves for Rin as he grieves for Kagome, if he feels a hole where his heart used to be (if Sesshoumaru ever had a heart, that is).

---

At some point, he finds her again. When he first comes across her, he has the same momentary confusion as when Kagome pulled the arrow from his chest. Her scent is so familiar, yet so strange, and it makes his heart ache.

Her name is Oyu, and she is neither a distant priestess or naive schoolgirl; she is a village girl, strong and uncomplicated.

Her skin is tanned from years spent working in the sun, and her hair is brown, streaked lightly in some places from the sun. Her hands are calloused, and her frame is built for hard work and childbearing.

But her smile is Kikyou's, and he can't breathe for a moment the first time she looks at him with Kagome's blue eyes.

---

The first time Oyu sees him, she screams.

She is not like the wise and wary Kikyou at all, not like the sweetly trusting Kagome.

Gradually, she overcomes her fear, and he gains her trust. She is drawn to him, too, by feelings deep inside she can't quite explain.

"Who are you?" He asks her one night, as they're in bed, and he's stroking her hair with clawed fingers.

"I'm just Oyu," she replies softly, and after a beat, "That's all I know how to be. I can't be anybody else."

It's almost ironic how much she reminds him of Kagome in that moment, and he wonders what Kagome would think of this. Kagome, who had always been so worried that he compared her to Kikyou, and now he is comparing other girls to her.

He never tells her about them, or much about his past. She can sense there is something he holds back, that there is a hidden sadness in him, but she never pushes. She is happy to accept what he gives, and she loves him, fractured soul and all.

---

Oyu dies in childbirth.

If Kikyou were with him, she'd give him that gentle smile and take his hand, and tell him that what happens is meant to happen, and he can't hate himself for it.

Kagome would tell him that women often died from childbirth in this period, that medicine just wasn't advanced enough, then she'd hug him tightly and tell him not to blame himself.

Oyu would kiss him fiercely, tell him it wasn't his fault, it's nobody's fault, remember how much we wanted this?

But he's alone, now more then ever, and so he does blame himself.

---

It's the 1930's in Japan, and his world is slowly disappearing. He's not sure how he managed to survive this long, when so many stronger youkai have vanished.

His clothing is torn and dirty, and his hair is long and gnarled. He doesn't bother with his appearance anymore, because who is there to impress?

And then she's back, that sweetly familiar scent that tugs at his heart.

He doesn't dare approach, but he can't resist the temptation to look. She's a schoolgirl, like Kagome, and she's full of energy and life and enthusiasm. She'd be disgusted if she saw him, and terrified, he knows, but he still yearns for her.

She dies before her life really even begins, ended by sickness. He doesn't even learn her name until her funeral, which he watches from afar.

Her name is Sachiko, and he mourns her, loving her without even having met her.

---

Sitting in the bottom of the well at the Higurashi shrine, Inuyasha closes his eyes.

He's near the end of his life. There is no place for him in this world, and he knows this.

He doesn't know why he decided to seek out the well; perhaps because it is one familiar place in a lonely world, or because it is a link to the past, and some desperate part of him hopes to go back to happier times. Perhaps it is a combination of both reasons.

Then there's the now familiar tugging in his soul, and she's here. Kagome has finally arrived in the world, and it is time for him to leave.

(he dies at the bottom of the well, surrounded by the bones of youkai long dead)

---

It's the first day of school, and Daiki is scared. He doesn't know what to expect, and he wishes he was at home with his mother, and didn't have to walk into this big building all alone.

Something collides into his back, almost knocking him over, and when he turns around, there's a girl on the ground. When his amber brown eyes meet her gray ones, she looks like she's about to cry. "I'm sorry!"

"It's okay." He reaches out a hand to help her up, and when she takes it, something moves deep inside of him, and he feels a tiny spark. He doesn't understand what it means, but suddenly he's not so scared anymore, and he gives her a big smile.

"I'm Daiki, by the way," he says, and she smiles back. "I'm Nanami," she says shyly, and as they walk into the school, she tells him, "I like your eyes."

---

author's note, continued: okay, so I had to give it a somewhat happy ending. Sue me! Or better yet, don't, and tell me what you think of the story, and the ending. Do you like it the way it is, or think it would have worked better with a sad ending?