A/N: So... check it out... I posted another chapter... can you believe it? LOL Anywho this one was fun for me though I couldn't exactly say why. For the most part, things are wrapping up and there should only be about 5 or 6 chapters to go, with the Epilogue being as ridiculously long as I can make it. But there are some things I just have to put in here before I get to that point, because it wouldn't be fair to certain characters if I just left them by the wayside. Even with that though, the story will continue to progress towards its conclusion. Thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter (I know that one was a kicker lol) and please feel free to drop another one once you're finished with this one :)
Disclaimer: Yeah even after all this time, I still don't own Inuyasha and Co.
... A short excerpt from Kagome…
I was the first, and now I am the last. It's strange to think of it like that, but that doesn't make it any less true. Inuyasha's death signaled the end of an era in which the largest part of the story of my life was played out. Now all that is left is to wait for time to circle around once more, to return me to my place of origin.
The outside world has no idea what meaning his death held because they weren't there to experience it all first hand, they'll never know how truly extraordinary our journey really was. It's because of this that I started to write about my tale with the hope that others might discover the people who helped to shape their world into what is, and will one day become. I don't really expect anyone to ever believe it, but if they at least stop to consider the possibility of it all then I will know it's served a purpose.
I feel bad for my son, he tries so hard to take care of me that he's essentially put his own life on hold, and that's something I never wanted him to do. I try my best to hide my pain from him and constantly assure him that I'll be alright and that he should start living his own life. But it doesn't matter what I say because he won't listen. Let me tell you that while he looks like a carbon copy of his father, he inherited several of my traits. I won't lie and say they were all the good ones either, people used to say I was so stubborn that I'd beat the mule. Well it pales in comparison to his stubbornness, and I can't help but think he acquired his father's to go along with mine.
Otherwise, things are peaceful for the most part, and the two races now live in harmony. It's fascinating to see how differently things really are this time around, and I'm glad I got to witness it all firsthand instead of learning it from the pages of a book. You know, after having said that, I can't help but wonder how many people will wish they could have been there when they read my narrative? Talk about irony at its finest.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Over the course of the last few decades, my part in the forming of the treaty has begun to fade into history and legend. I don't really mind in the least because I know there are still several people out there who remember. For that, I am grateful to them and for sharing their knowledge with anyone who is willing to listen and believe.
Sesshomaru and I can still feel each other through the bond, but it has dimmed over time, even though Amaterasu-sama promised me it could never be broken. I think it's because he hasn't been brought to this plane since he concluded his lessons with Kazuki, and because I don't have any more souls to ferry. I can tell he's not happy about it, for he knows as well as I that it's the only thing that really keeps me going, and it was the only way for us to be together after he'd gone to the afterlife.
I'm coming to terms with it however, just as I am with everything else. I know that someday I will be able to shed the mantle of Death's Mistress to join him and the others. All it's going to take is a little bit more time.
Well I think I'll stop for now, my time of origin is quickly approaching and it won't be much longer before I'm called to take another soul.
She couldn't help but bask in the foreign rush of excitement when it stirred as they came to the year 1982, simply because it was the year she'd been born. And as the time drew near, Amaterasu-sama requested her presence so they might cast the part of her soul given to little Kagome so long ago, into its newest host.
"I can feel it calling to me." She murmured while studying the brightly glowing orb in her Goddesses hand.
"Of course it would call to you, it is a part of you." She smiled. "Now the time approaches to cast it into the new version of you."
"Well I certainly hope she manages to keep herself out of trouble better than I did." She said wryly.
"She will have a normal life compared to the one you led."
"Good, she deserves it."
Amaterasu smiled at that. "You just be sure to tell the cat to stay away from the well house, even if this new version of you will be bereft of the Shikon no Tama, it is always wisest to err on the side of caution."
"Buyo will not make an appearance until after Souta is born, but I will remember to tell him."
"Your cat may surprise you this time around."
"Oh?" She arched an eyebrow.
"His soul belongs to one of your friends, in fact this friend was also of the four footed variety and an offshoot of the same species."
"Four footed- you mean Kirara?" Both eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"Yes, it seemed only fitting and she was very willing to aid you in watching over your family."
"Unbelievable, first Miroku is reborn to guarantee this Kagome is born with spiritual powers and now Kirara is not only willing to have herself turned into a common housecat, but she will also be a boy!"
"You know that it is not uncommon for the soul of a male to be born within a female's body and vice versa, you should also be aware of the fact that they could possibly end up being an entirely different species." She chided.
"You are right, I did know that. I simply forgot for a moment." She smiled. "What about my friends and family, will they choose to be reincarnated again before my time is up?"
"No, aside from Kirara the rest have declined to be reincarnated until you join them. However, I seriously doubt any will be so willing to leave once you are there."
"Well that is sweet of them but tell them I do not mind if they should choose to be reincarnated, as it will give me a chance to speak with them again."
"I will pass it on but I believe they will still decline as they do not want to run the risk of missing your arrival."
Death knew she was probably correct in that assessment but let the matter drop and instead turned her attention to the matter at hand. She watched as Amaterasu let the part of her soul sink into the depths of the viewing pool to make its way to the child her mother carried.
"In two days time she will be born." She turned to look at her charge. "If you wish, you may don this guise to be present for it."
"I think I would like that." She smiled.
"Then by all means."
Witnessing the birth of the new Kagome had been the first highlight of her life since Inuyasha had passed, and she reveled in taking in the experience of it all. Not only that but it was nice to see her mother and father again, though they had no idea she stood only a short distance from them. And after it was done, she returned to her own life.
In the years that followed, Kagome and Kazuki made several trips to the shrine as a way of keeping an eye on her family. It amused them because the new Kagome would always detect her presence while never understanding just why it was she could feel her. Of course they were never inclined to tell her that they were aware of the fact because that was the way it was meant to be.
"It's been so long but now that I'm finally here, I'm starting to remember what it was like." Kagome murmured as they walked arm in arm around the shrine. "I had so much fun with my friends, I went to school, I played with my brother, I would sit and listen to my jii-san tell stories, and I would help my mother in the kitchen."
"It seems to me that you lived a full life here long before you fell down the well." Kazuki mused.
"I guess I did without ever even realizing it." She said after a moment of thought. "But when I fell down the well, I learned that there was so much more to life and couldn't stop myself from going back. Plus I had to help the others stop Naraku."
"Father was right."
"You really do have an irritating sense of duty that compels you to put yourself into harrowing situations that most normal people would avoid."
"When did he say that?"
"He told me that shortly before the war with the humans." He sighed. "I think it was just after you proposed the idea of going to visit with the other lords with the hope that things could be settled peacefully."
"Ah, I remember that." She mused. "When we got word that war was on the horizon I suggested that. And when he asked me why, I told him that since I was who I was, it was my duty to do something about it. He was furious and refused to let me go running off into a dangerous situation."
"Well can you blame him? It was his duty to protect you and he couldn't do that if you were running off to face unseen dangers."
"And just like him, you also seem to forget that I'm not always what I seem to be." She said pointedly. "I don't need protection Kazuki and have always been able to take care of myself."
"What about all those times you were kidnapped and had to be rescued during the hunt for Naraku?" He arched an eyebrow.
"Alright I'll admit I couldn't do squat for myself back then, but after I died I became quite capable of taking care of myself." She rolled her eyes. "And we should probably get going before they start to catch onto us."
"I highly doubt they're paying any attention to us just now." He tilted his head to the left.
She looked to find her mother was currently resting under the boughs of the Goshinboku with a hand on her distended belly while her Father played a game of tag with a five year old Kagome.
"I remember this day." She said reverently. "Mama was tired so Daddy told her to rest under the shade of the tree while he kept me occupied by playing tag. Shortly after we started, I fell and skinned-"
She stopped short just as the new Kagome fell and skinned her knee.
"We really should be going." She said urgently. "I can't be here right now."
Kazuki nodded in understanding and began leading her towards the stairs, but when her mother started singing to calm the crying girl, his mother stopped short. He turned to find her eyes were as big as saucers and were rapidly filling up with tears. So city rules or no, he scooped her into his arms and leapt into the air, clearing the stairs in no time at all.
By the time he got her into the car that was waiting for them, she was sobbing uncontrollably and the only think he could think to do was hold her until it subsided.
"She used to sing that to me every time I got hurt or scared." She mumbled out as the tears began to slow. "I can't believe I forgot, oh how could I forget?"
"Well it has been a long time since you were little." He murmured.
"I know, but still… I used to think I would never forget that one thing over anything else. And I did." She closed her eyes. "Can we go home please?"
After that, she refrained from visiting the shrine until Souta was born, and then she went in her alternate form so she might witness it the same way she had the birth of the new Kagome. But shortly after, she was forced to perform her duty once more, and this time it was for her father.
She hadn't been permitted to see the crash when it happened the first time, but as she was now Death's Mistress it was her duty to collect his soul. He'd been on his way home from work in the middle of a thunderstorm and the oncoming car lost control, swerved into his lane, and hit him head on. He died upon impact.
She stood there to take in the gruesome sight as a single tear worked its way down her cheek. After a moment, she shook her head and held out her hand. "Come to me."
With her father's soul in hand, Death left the scene to find a more serene place where she could have her last conversation with him. Once he'd gained shape and form, he blinked at her then frowned curiously.
"You look like my daughter." He finally said.
"Because once, long ago in another place and time, I was." She smiled faintly.
"Oh?" He titled his head to the side. "Would it be too much for me to ask you to explain that?"
"As we have a bit of time, I would be more than happy to tell you of my biography."
This time, instead of starting where she died, Death began at the very beginning of her existence. Her father listened intently as she poured her heart and soul out to him, revealing everything that had brought her to this point. And because she knew he would believe her, she held nothing back and was unafraid that he would judge her or call her a liar.
"…And here we are now." She trailed off.
"That is extraordinary." He mused. "I always knew you held greatness in you."
"There were many times I wished you were still a part of my life so I could talk to you about all of this." She admitted. "We were all so heartbroken when we lost you and mom and I never really recovered from your loss."
"And you've all lost me again." He sighed. "I knew it was foolhardy to head home before waiting for the storm to end, but I was anxious to go home and see you all."
"It is alright, events happened the way they were supposed to." She said then laughed morosely. "True I did not fathom it at the time, but since coming into my post, I have come to realize a great many things."
"If only we had the time for you to help me in understanding it all now." He smiled and reached out to take hold of her hand. "I'm so glad we got to have this talk Kagome, even though it pains you to be barred from the afterlife."
"I will be there soon enough." She squeezed his hand in return. "Until then you may take the time to get to know the others, for they are all there, save for our family."
"And what will happen to my little Kagome when her time comes?" He asked.
"Her soul will return to me as it was mine to begin with." She said. "Besides, if there was more than one of me running around in the afterlife, I doubt anybody would know what to do with it."
He laughed, it was full and hearty and she relished in the sound of it once more. He'd always had the best laugh and sometimes, after he'd died, she could've sworn she'd heard it in the wind. "You always did have a penchant for trouble."
"Thus the reason I am currently at this post." She said dryly then sobered. "The time approaches."
"I don't suppose I'll have anybody waiting to greet me?" He asked as they climbed to their feet.
"I cannot be certain, but let us see." She called the portal then gazed beyond it to find a lone figure waiting, and when she realized who it was, her heart swelled. "It looks as though my mate will be the one to greet you. Try to go easy on him will you? He did his best."
"Well since I raised you to trust in your own judgment and know you would never settle for anything less than the best… I'm sure I can manage that."
"Thank you." She sighed in relief then pulled him into a hug. "This has been a wonderful conversation and I look forward to the rest when it is time for me to join you."
"We'll be waiting anxiously." He murmured. "I love you Kagome, and I'm so proud of you."
"I love you to daddy." She said shakily then blinked her eyes and released him. "Go on now."
He knuckled her chin and winked then stepped through the portal to be greeted by Sesshomaru. She watched as they nodded to one another then turned to look at her once more, she held up her hand in a wave and remained rooted to her spot until long after the portal had closed.
After the death of her father, her mother struggled for a time with raising two children while working to provide for them. When Kagome saw that, she had Kazuki donate a very large chunk of money to the shrine anonymously to help them out.
It eased a great deal of her mothers stress and allowed her to spend more time with the new Kagome and Souta. And when they got Buyo, she and Kazuki made another trip to visit the shrine so she might talk to him.
"I can't imagine you like being a boy that much." She smiled while cuddling the kitten that had yet to become the roly-poly cat she remembered.
Buyo meowed then butted the bottom of her chin.
"Yes I know this was your decision and I'm incredibly grateful to you for coming here to look after them for me." She murmured. "With that said, stay away from the well house. I'm sure you already know that but Amaterasu-sama wanted me to remind you just to make sure nothing weird happens, even though Kagome doesn't have the Shikon no Tama this time around."
Buyo nodded in agreement then turned his head when he heard the new Kagome call out for him. He turned back to peer up at her and meowed again.
"Alright, run along and behave yourself." She pressed a kiss to his furry head then set him down so he could answer his owners call.
"It's hard to believe that's really Kirara." Kazuki mused.
"Wait until he gets bigger and fatter." She laughed. "Then you'll really have a hard time believing it."
"Well you know what they say, seeing really is believing."
"That it is, now come along." She wrapped her arm around his and led him towards the stairs so they might be on their way.
Since it was going to be quite some time until she was called upon to take another soul, Kagome turned her attention to other matters. Feeling much better about her position after the talk with her father, it was a lot easier to put all the sorrow from her mind.
Those years were happy and Kazuki couldn't help but sigh in relief because of it. He knew his mother was a strong and capable person, but she really did have a big heart that made it easy for her to love too much, care too much, and miss too much. He knew he should be getting on with his own life, but at the same time, he wanted to partake in the last years of her life since once she was done, she would be going to his father. And only the kami knew how long it would be before he joined them.