Disclaimer: I don't own any right or materials to Inuyasha or Naruto.

Chapter Four

Kagome woke to the soft sound of rain falling gently against the roof of her little house. She slowly opened her eyes, her eyelids felt so heavy. She pushed open her eyes, though they were dry,and it took several times to get them to focus. Finally she was in working order enough to find out what was going on. Sitting up and looking around quickly, a little too quickly, dizziness set in. Wounds that were forgotten, pulled in protest reminding her of the events that transpired to land her in this condition. She wondered how long she had been out. Her mouth had that sticky, dryness that felt like she had eaten mounds of cotton balls.

Hearing Kagome stir, Sakura went to her side. Placing a hand on her shoulder gently, she said, "Take it easy, or your wounds will reopen." It was all that she could get out before, Naruto and the former Sound ninja launched on.

Naruto's voice was somewhat sharp and a little loud, as he showered her with questions. Knowing that she was now awake, and going to be okay, he couldn't hold back. In the back of his mind was the knowledge that there were some things that were not to be brought up. He was really worried, and he had to know everything that happened. He just had to know so he could keep them safe, all of them.

Shingo, was terrified that she was going to die on him. When these ninja came, he wasn't able to protect her. He was just glad that they were friends, sort of. He knew that most ninja from the Hidden Leaf were honorable, but still there is all the chance to meet the less desirable of the lot. He was so relieved. He had to so much to tell her that it all came gushing out.

Kagome was very tired and weak. Her mind was whirling with all that had happened. She was amazed at how things turned out. While, Naruto, and Shingo were trying to talk over each other, her wonder and amazement being to lessen as she thought back to the events that had unfolded.

She really did it. She couldn't believe it. She had actually stood alone, fought against ninja, and won. It was mostly luck,but still she was amazed. Though it was only their chakra attacks that she could sense, and could effectively block. The physical attacks were the ones that had cost her dearly.

Even her injuries could not diminish her pleasure and satisfaction with the outcome. She didn't mortally wound any of them, but she hadn't wanted to.

She still had a long way to go, but she accomplished more that she had ever thought she could. She would never have to watch as those she loved fight as she stood by helplessly, watching every injury and hearing their cries as they battled for their lives. Her only help then was her arrows, and most of the time those were not even close to being enough.

Still, it was encouraging. The triumph was that she, one that was always protected and had to stay behind, had fought a fight that she'd had no idea that she could win. She'd come along way. She'd become someone that she was proud to be. She could call herself a priestess, and finally accept it. The responsibility had always weighed too heavily on her before. Now she was ready to shoulder it.

The rain died down to a lite drizzle and would soon stop entirely. Since their arrival, Kakashi kept a close eye on the woman that they were there to see. He was perched in the tree outside her home. It was the best way for him to keep an eye on her, and their surroundings. He had is favorite copy of the Icha-Icha book, and was content to pass the day in protection of the tree branches.

It wasn't too far into the day that he became aware that the young woman was coming to. He was interested in how things wouldplay out. Looking down to his favorite book, he sighed, he really just wanted to pass the time quietly reading Icha-Icha, but things could get interested. Maybe he could get a few answers as well.

As she slowly opened her eyes, he could tell that she was a little disoriented. Waiting for her to realize that they were there, he continued to watch her.

When she moved quickly to look around, for Tsukino, he assumed, he knew that she'd regret it. He waited for her response at seeing them again.

As she turned to look for Shingo, Kagome's eyes locked with Kakashi's. Even with his headband pulled low covering one eye, the other lookedsteadily at her. He was waiting for her to do something, she knew. She was wary of his attention fixed on her like that. She was never one to covet attention, and really didn't like being watched. It made her uncomfortable.

The real question was why were they back? Deciding not to worry about that at the moment Kagome ignored him, and suppressed her surprise. Fighting the urge to fidget, Kagome dropped his gaze to finish looking around. She had to find Shingo.

Slowly, she tested her body to see how it would react to her movement. She discovered that though she was tired, sluggish, and little sore, but her wounds were nearly healed. She knew that she had to thank Sakura. It was a relief that she wasn't going to be helpless, or worse, useless.

Kakashi continued his surveillance of Kagome. It didn't seem to bother him that she was aware of this, nor did it matter. He had orders to take her to the village though, Tsunade had ordered to persuade her into coming of her own free will. He'd have to leave that to Naruto and Sakura. His type of persuasion would definitely have the opposite effect.

Sakura was the one to interrupt the boys' tirade. With a well trained eye, Sakura looked Kagome over to verify her recovery process. She was amazed at the quick rate that Kagome was healing. She hadn't expected her to rise today at all. At the very least a few days considering the amount of poison that was in her system.

Hiding her surprise, she took the tone that she used on patients, "Kagome, considering the toll on your body, you shouldn't be pushing yourself. You need to lie back down." Sakura didn't mention that they were to take her back with them. That was a bridge that she wasn't ready to cross yet.

Kakashi observed the interaction between Kagome and the members of his team. Her easy acceptance was a surprise, as well as her genuine concern for them. He'd have to keep a close eye on things. It appeared that she trusted Naruto and that was one thing in their favor. He'd admit that Naruto did have a way with people.

Sakura was still amazed at Kagome's healing abilities. Even though they were recent injuries, they'd healed as if they were days old. She was really an anomaly. To a medical mind, it was an intriguing puzzle.

Sakura couldn't help but feel excitement that Kagome was going back to the village with them. There was also much to learn about the herbs and plants that Kagome was using. Some of which she hadn't known held medicinal properties.

Also, she wanted to find out about Kagome Higurashi. From the robes that were seen inside, she'd assume that Kagome was a priestess of sorts. Though there hadn't been a true priestess in over a century.

There were so many questions. Was Kagome's quick healing due to her being from a line of priestesses? Could it be that she was in league with the ninja that were creating the toxins? She didn't think that was the case, but it was something that had to be considered.

Kagome sat alone on the small hill that overlookedwhat she thought was once going to be her home. There was nothing left of the once thriving village. No wooden or stone structures, and not even a layout was visible to make one thing that people had once occupied this area. All that was left was the old well and the small home she'd found. It was obvious that it was built later but still, it was there and a reminder. She didn't want to leave. She was afraid that if she did that she'd severe these ties forever.

Sakura told her of the seriousness of the toxins that were circulating throughout the ninja world. The most recent had been the worst so far. Raising troubled eyes away from the village that time had forgotten. Her gaze shifted to the clouds that floatedby on the soft breeze. Her body was still sore, and her wounds pulled, but she paid them no mind. Her mind and thought was on what path she should take.

Her thoughts were in turmoil over leaving but at the same time, she wouldn't forgive herself if she didn't try to help Naruto's village. She knew in her heart that she couldn't ignore the plea in Sakura's eyes, and it was killing her. She was slowly giving way and resolving herself to forgo her hope of being discovered by her friends.

The torrent of emotions was crashing down on her. Dropping her head on her crossed arms, she gripped the material of her pants as if it was a life line. She almost drowned, the despair, the loneliness, the emptiness, it all came back. This time she didn't know if she could break free.

All that kept her sane was knowing that she was actually here. Though there had been times that she'd begun to have doubts, she knew that she was here and she was close to those that she loved. Could she leave? Could she let what may be the only chance of finding them slip away? Could she survive knowing that she was this close and walked away?

She was a grown woman now and felt as helpless as a small child. There was no true choice in the matter. Accepting that she was a priestess, she had to go, but she'd have to leave a part of her heart behind.

Memories of the small time that she'dgotten to spend with those that she'd started to call family began to rise. Though most of their times had been during a dark period, their bond was filled with warmth and love.

Sango, she sawher clearly, smiling one moment, and glaring at Miroku the next as he groped her butt without remorse.

The perverted monk, rubbing the lump that Sango gavehim. Laughing and smiling with pride that she was his woman.

Shippou, her little kit, he was always there to cheer her on, and console her when she was down. His pranks and laughter always brightened their day.

Inuyasha... He was her best friend, her champion, her strength, her devotion, and her first love.

Tears burned hotly and she held them tightly. She was afraid to let them go. She felt that if she let them fall that she'd be leaving them behind, losing them forever. Burying her head deeply within her knees, she grasp at her legs to give her strength. She was digging her fingers in the skin of her injured leg and she felt none of it. Consumed with the loss that she thought she'd overcome, she was numb to all else. She didn't want to...she didn't want to...

He saw her huddled form as he headed up the hill. He knew what kind of decision that this was for her, the sacrifice that she'd make. The choice was not an easy one, but he wouldn't let her sacrifice her future by helping them.

He knelt down close to her, reaching out he placed a hand on her arm. He could feel the tremors that wrackedher body. Her story, the choice or lack of one, he understood the chaos going on within her. It saddened him to see her like this.

In a soft voice, he called out to her, "Kagome." She didn't seem to realize that he was there. Giving her arm a slight shake, he tried once more, "Kagome." It wasn't much at first, but she finally took a few deep breaths before raising her head. He wanted to make it up to her, "If you decide to come with us, I know what it will cost you."

Intent blue eyes shined with fire, as his face lit with determination. He stated boldly, "I will help you find them, Kagome. Until then, you can stay with me." With his usual enthusiasm and wide smile, he nodded as if to confirm his sincerity in the quest that he'd undertake for her.

Kagome was still in stunned surprise. She knew that he meant what he said, but she didn't know if he understood what such a vow would take. Looking into his eyes, she knew that if anyone could do it, he could. Naruto would accomplish great things. She could feel it. His earnest sincerity broke through the waves of loss, pain, and confusion. Feeling them fall away, Kagome finally grasped the hope that he offered.

Naruto could see that she was coming out of it, and he'd be there for her. She'd been through so much. She deserved some happiness and a happy ending. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he could see the tears that wanted to fall, and wonder how long she'd held on to them. Such sadness didn't belong with such a noble person.

She'd see them again. That was a promise that she'd keep to herself. She wouldn't lose them after all. A lone tear worked its way free and tried to fall. Kagome refused to let them fall. It was not the time for such thoughts. She'd help Naruto's village. She'd waited this long already, and if she could save so many lives, it was worth it.

Looking up at the young, blonde ninja, wiping the evidence from her cheek, she aid "Thanks, Naruto." Sniffing she gave a shaky laugh, "You must think that I'm being silly." Looking away, she wanted to hide her weakness from him. She didn't want to be seen as weak ever again.

Blinking her eyes quickly, she cleared her throat, before turning to Naruto with a true smile. "Come on, the others are waiting for us." Seeing him smile in return with his usual nod, she rose to stand next him. As they turned to walk back together, her heart felt lighter. Kagome didn't know where this path would lead, but she wouldn't be alone.

**Sorry that it took so long to update. I can hope that you will understand. My life has been so hectic. New job hours and my children have so many demands. Anyway... I hope that you will enjoy. To those that left reviews, you have my heart felt thanks. I always look forward to hearing from you to know what you like or don't like. :)