Disclaimer: Inuyasha and its characters are all owned by Rumiko Takahashi.

Author's notes: Thank you so much for your feedback! I'm glad to hear that there are people reading, heh. Hope you enjoy this chapter. No betas, all mistakes are mine.

Chapter Three

Color her surprised, Kikyo was a lot harder to convince than Sesshomaru. Kagome considered for a while if she could drug Kikyo but figured drugging might not work for someone without a bloodstream.

It had been the third night of Kagome's nightly vigil to Kikyo. While she was not in any way happy that the woman was attacked once again by Naraku, Kagome thought it was a stroke of good luck on her part that Kikyo had been rendered immobile for a couple of days. The injuries she had sustained, while healing steadily, were still rather severe. Which gave Kagome time to convince her to go along with her plan, otherwise the woman would just up and walk away without a word, which she was wont to do.

Kagome nursed the mug of hot tea in her hand as she watched Kikyo smooth down the blanket on her lap. Her movements were prim and controlled and Kagome wondered if Kikyo ever just did something for the sake of fun, like jump in the lake in her skivvies or chase Kaede around with a two by four.

"You're here to ask me again, aren't you?" she said suddenly. Kagome could never guess when she would start to speak. A small smile played on her lips and Kagome noticed how truly young she looked. "You're just as stubborn as he is."

Kagome took a sip of her bitter tea. "That's why we always end up butting heads."

Kikyo frowned slightly, shallow lines showing on her forehead. "I see."

An awkward silence befell them. The cricket sounds echoed from outside as if pressuring them to begin talking once more.

Kagome folded her legs up and hugged her knees. "He worries a lot about you, you know? He doesn't need to tell me, he's always thinking about you and wondering if you're safe."

"You know him so well that you're able to read his mind?" Kikyo asked, almost teasingly.

The younger miko blushed. "He's just very easy to read, if you pay him enough attention."

"I never thought that," Kikyo answered with a hint of regret.

Kagome played with the frayed edges of her white knee socks. "Please, Kikyo, I know he would feel so much better if you were around him all the time, knowing you're fine."

"Would that make you feel better too, Kagome?"

That was something she had not expected the undead miko to ask. She shrugged and looked to the side. "I don't think that matters at all."

Kikyo joined her hands together at her lap and tilted her head to the side. "There is more to your request that you're not telling me."

And then Kagome just regressed back to thirteen right at that moment when her male schoolmates had caught her at the training bra section of the department store. "What are you talking about? You're being paranoid. Stop looking at me!"

It was a strange thing, the sound of Kikyo's demure giggles. "It is not in your nature to lie, Kagome." The younger girl did not fail to notice the sweetness of her name on Kikyo's tongue. "The one thing you haven't tried is to tell me the truth."

Kagome sighed and released her hold on her knees. She told Kikyo everything, the words flowing out of her in steep gushes; her doubts about her strength, her insecurities about her capabilities, her dependence on Inuyasha, the deal she struck with Sesshomaru and the vow she made to their beloved hanyou.

Kikyo nodded once Kagome had finished, her lips thinning into a firm line. "He will not be happy with this."

Kagome looked down at her thighs and focused on the thin scar left by an aimless flying knife. "I know."

When Kagome had told everyone of the news of Kikyo joining them, everyone looked at her like she had been taking crazy pills behind their backs. Inuyasha fled like a cat on a hot tin roof while the rest of them continued to gawk at her like she was some sort of exotic animal at zoo exhibit.

"Well then, I'll leave you guys to get used to that idea," Kagome announced awkwardly before slowly backing away. She was sure they would eventually launch into a slew of questions, which she wasn't ready to entertain.

Kagome made her way to the end of the village and walked up to the Goshinboku where she was sure she would find Inuyasha. Just as she had expected, he was resting on a thick branch, his back stiff and his expression stony.

"I thought you would be happy," she said in a small voice.

He snorted. "You've got to be kidding me. My happiness was the last thing on your mind," he said bitterly.

Kagome tucked her hair behind her ears. "Don't say that. That's not true at all."

Inuyasha looked down at her then, looking angrier than he had been that first time he laid eyes on her and thought she was the woman who pinned him to a tree. "You think I don't know what you're up to wench?" he growled out.

Her heart skipped a beat and her lungs filled with air.

He jumped down from the tree and towered over her, letting her feel every inch he had over her. "I know what you're planning. I wanted to give you time, I figured you'd come to your senses soon enough but it looks like you plan on staying crazy."

She pursed her lips. "How much do you know?"

He frowned, his thick black eyebrows meeting each other at the top of his nose. "Enough to know that you're being stupid."

Kagome matched the frown on his face with a glare. "I'm not being stupid."

"You really think my bastard of a brother would care enough to save your ass if you get yourself in trouble?" he yelled.

"I know he wouldn't and that's the point! Now look who's being stupid!" she returned.

His claws bit the inside of his palm. "I don't know what you're trying to do, Kagome but if you think for a second that I'm just going to let you do this then you're screwed in the head!"

"Can you please stop insulting me?"

Elsewhere in the village…

"There appear to be wild animals at the border of the village," Kikyo said, looking rather perturbed.

Kaede chuckled. "That's just Kagome and Inuyasha."

"Wench, I just don't understand why you're doing this!"

Kagome stomped her foot on the dry ground. "Well maybe if you stop yelling at me long enough so I could explain, you will!"

Inuyasha harrumphed and crossed his arms over his chest. "Fine! Be my guest!"

Kagome pulled in a deep breath. They will never get anywhere if they just continue screaming at each other like petty children and she realized she would have to be the adult in this instance. She let her blood cool down and tuned out the impatient tapping of Inuyasha's foot.

"Ever since I came here, I don't think I've trusted anyone as much as I've trusted you," she began calmly, "but I think that trust can be a double edged sword. I've become too complacent, trusting you to always be there to save me if I get myself in a bind. But the truth of the matter is you can't always be there and don't shake your head at me like that, we both know it's true. Don't you think for a second that I blame you for anything, that's not it, at all. I blame myself, all this time I should've been working harder to learn more how to survive in this world, how to take care of myself and I know it sounds so drastic but this is the only way I can think of because I've gotten so used to depending on you. And if I want to get stronger, that needs to stop."

"So what you're saying is that you don't need me anymore," he bit out.

She shook her head, her tears threatening to come out. "No, what I'm saying is that I need you too much."

"For someone who says they need me, you sure can't wait to get away from me!"

"I'm not trying to get away from you! Don't you see, Inuyasha? I'm doing this for you, I want to be stronger for you!" she yelled out in frustration.

"That's bullshit, Kagome and you know it."

And before she could get a word out, he was gone.

When Kagome had told everyone that she was going to be joining Sesshomaru in a week, it was a disaster. Shippo threw a fit and acted like she killed his favorite pet. Sango turned her back and refused to talk to Kagome.

Miroku walked up to her after everyone had left and patted her head gently. "They will understand, eventually," he assured her.

Kagome looked at him from beneath her eyelashes. "You're not mad at me too?"

He chuckled good-naturedly. "You know, Lady Kagome, I bet I'm the only one out of this bunch to have an opportunity to have normal relationships with other people."

"So?" Kagome asked, feeling particularly impertinent.

"With everything I've gone through, I've come to learn not to take things personally. If this is what you feel is best for you, I will respect that and wish you the best of luck," he said kindly.

"At least that's one person," she said tiredly.

Miroku sighed and put an arm around her shoulders. Kagome looked at his arm warily but was satisfied when it stayed on neutral ground. "They are too hurt by your decision to see anything past their own pain. Once they get past that, they will regret how selfishly they treated you and will come to see the support that you need."

She looked to the trees wondering which one Inuyasha had retreated too. "You really think so?" she asked, a hint of desperation in her tone.

"It might take him longer than the others," he said, noting the forlorn eyes unconsciously searching out for a shade of red, "because he cares for you the most out of all of us."

She turned her head and smiled at Miroku. "I hope you're right."

"Of course, I'm right. I'm a very smart man."

"It's just terrible that you can't seem to get over your perverted ways," Kagome said through gritted teeth as she slapped Miroku's hand away from her derriere.

"It's a curse!" he cried defensively.

Kagome just rolled her eyes.

After she had told everyone, she went home to see her family and explained her situation. She told them that she would be travelling with Inuyasha's brother but left out the part where he was a murderous bigot and was possibly a hebephiliac. She advised her mother that since Sesshomaru lived farther away from the village that housed the Bone Eater's well, she wouldn't be able to travel back home as often as before. She highly doubted she could bully Sesshomaru into letting her go back for school.

Kagome went to school and collected all her study materials for the next two months at least. She stocked up on ramen and packed several changes of clothes. Lastly she finally purchased a pair of sneakers. She doubted Sesshomaru would ever let her ride his back and the loafers just weren't made for walking. Three days later she went back to Sengoku Jidai only to be greeted by silence.

The week went by, a whole week that Inuyasha refused to talk to her or look at her even. He seemed quite content with fussing over Kikyo and constantly letting her and everyone within hearing distance know that he was oh so very grateful for her decision to help them look for the shards. Kagome would've been jealous if not for the fact that Kikyo would just stare at him oddly before asking him politely to turn it down a notch as she was not deaf and would very much like to stay that way.

The awaited and dreadful (depending on who you ask) day finally arrived. As soon as the sun gently peeked over the horizon, Sesshomaru's magnanimous youki invaded the small village.

Kagome had slept merely three hours the previous night and woke up long before dawn. She was dressed and waiting by the low bench outside Kaede's hut, her yellow backpack sitting beside her foot. Only Miroku, Kaede and a pretty much healed Kikyo waited with her.

"I guess this is goodbye," Kagome muttered faintly as she looked back at the hut. She stood up and picked up her backpack before turning to give Miroku a gentle squeeze on his arm. She hugged Kaede and thanked Kikyo

"I will see you soon, Lady Kagome," he corrected. "Let me walk with you until the end of the village."

"I wish you good luck on your journey," Kikyo said kindly.

Kaede stayed seated, mornings were when her rheumatism attacked the worst. "Aye, child, I wish you luck as well. Whatever it is that you are searching for, may you find it soon. Inuyasha needs you more than you realize."

A somber expression fell upon Kikyo's face at her sister's words.

Kagome smiled gratefully. Kindness was something she had missed in the past week.

Kagome and Miroku walked up to the border of the village where Sesshomaru waited with Rin, who seemed very awake considering how very early it was, and Jaken who was scowling at her like she was some sort of newt. She'd like to remind Jaken that as weak as she was, she could still kick his ass.

Before Kagome could reach the trio, she heard her name squeakily called out.

"Wait, Kagome!"

Shippo came barreling through the air and landed squarely on Kagome's stomach. His tiny arms hugged her waist tightly. She scooped up the little boy in her arms.

"If you really want to go, take me with you!" he pleaded, his wet face soaking her shirt.

Kagome squeezed the kitsune tightly and stroked his red hair. "Oh Shippo, there's nothing I would love more than to have you with me. But it'll be better for you to stay here. Inuyasha and the others can take care you in a way that I can't. And if you're not here, who's going to keep Inuyasha in line?" she explained.

Shippo frowned and nodded. "I can't believe Inuyasha's making you leave."

"Don't say that," Kagome answered sternly. "If you must blame anyone for my leaving, blame me. But I'd rather you blame no one at all and just understand that this is the best right now."

His bottom lip shook. "But I don't understand."

"Then trust me Shippo. I would never do anything to hurt any of you," she said.

The young kit looked at her with bright blue eyes full of confusion but she could also see that he was also trying very hard to accept the situation. "Will I still see you?"

"Of course!" she cried resolutely. "I'll come see you as often as I can and we'll all be fighting Naraku, I'm sure we'd be crossing paths sooner than you think."

He gave her a strained smile. "I'll hold you to that promise."

Kagome nodded and hugged the kitsune once more.

"Oh, Kagome, I'm so sorry."

Kagome opened her eyes to see Sango walking up to her, eyes brimming with tears. She hugged Kagome, not minding that they were squeezing Shippo between them.

"You must understand, I've been so afraid of people leaving me and I've been so selfish for not thinking about how bad I must've made you feel," she said through her tears.

"That's all in the past now, Sango-chan. I'm glad that you're not mad at me anymore," Kagome said, her own tears flowing freely now.

"Why do humans leak so much?" Sesshomaru drawled behind them.

"If you want, my Lord, I can find a way to remove her tear ducts to prevent this from happening in the future," Jaken suggested with that oily voice of his.

Sesshomaru bapped his head with the hilt of Tensaiga.

Kagome let go of Sango and Shippo. Her eyes searched for the shadow of Inuyasha, praying within her heart that he would at least show up to bade her goodbye. Or at the very least tell her how she's being an idiot once more. She just wanted to feel that he still cared.

"Are you quite done now?" Sesshomaru asked irritably.

Kagome dropped her backpack on the ground. "Just two more minutes!"

"Oh for heaven's sake, what is it now?" he barked.

Kagome chose not to answer and instead went sprinting back towards the village. Her legs carried her past the sleepy huts until she came upon the clearing that she knew so well. The smell of dewy grass did nothing to calm her nerves as she went searching for the hanyou. She didn't have to search long; he stood there in plain sight, head bowed down and seemingly looking intently down the depths of the Bone Eater's well.

"I'm leaving now," she said, standing a few feet away from him.

His shoulders tensed at the sound of her voice. "Then leave."

Kagome felt her heart drop at the callousness of his words. "I know you don't care a lot for me right now, but I still care for you. I'm still your friend. Even if I'm far away I'll still be thinking of you." She placed her hand over her chest, right above her heart. "And you'll always be here."

He made a gruff noise but no words left his mouth.

"This isn't forever, Inuyasha. Once I'm strong enough and you're not mad at me anymore, I want to fight beside you again," she said sincerely.

Kagome stood still and watched his hands fold up into tight fists. She waited with abated breath for any response but nothing came. She sighed and bit her lip, willing herself not to cry.

"I'll see you soon, Inuyasha," she said faintly. I'll miss you everyday.

She turned on her heel and ran back towards the village as fast as she could, hoping the pain in her muscles would make her forget the tightness in her chest.

Inuyasha stayed in his spot, his hands clamped tightly on the Kotodama wrapped around his neck. "I do care for you Kagome," he whispered, hoping the wind would carry his words to her.

To be continued…

Next Chapter: Sesshomaru introduces us to the Royal Dog Demon's Code of Behavior, Kikyo is said to be boring but begs to disagree, Kagome finds things difficult, Inuyasha misses Kagome, Kouga kicks some zombie ass.

Thank you for your time and please let me know what you think!