Lessons Learned

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Inuyasha.


Kagome sat alone on a small hill in a pretty little meadow somewhere in the middle of a forest, her legs drawn up to her chest and her arms wrapped almost defensively around herself as she did something she'd kind of gotten used to – waiting.

She could hear the quiet murmurs of her other companions downslope as they ate their midday meal – but she wasn't all that hungry, and instead, had climbed this little hill to stare off into the distance at the other end of the meadow contemplatively.

Her eyes were sad, though her face was pretty much expressionless, and it was clear to the young hanyou who stepped out of the trees to her side that she was not really in the clearing with them – her gaze was distant, and her aura subdued.

His shoulders drooped guiltily as he trudged his way towards her, wanting to just get it all over with. He hated knowing that he had hurt her again, but...


It was always about her. All their worst fights, and most of the times that she left to go home in anger were all about the miko that stood between them, and Inuyasha knew it. He just didn't know what to do about it. And so, after going to see her again when her shinidamachu had been spotted near their group beckoning him for a conferral, he was expecting the usual reaction – anger, sits, tears maybe, and then her refusal to come near him or to speak to him for a while.

He understood it, too. He was honest enough with himself to know that he'd be just as upset and pissed if she was wandering off to Kouga in the same way he did with Kikyou. Or that Houjo twit in her time. Didn't mean he liked knowing what was coming – he hated it when she wouldn't let him carry her and wouldn't talk to him.

With a sigh, he stepped up to stand next to her, his arms in his sleeves, and his ears flat to his head as he stared at her with resignation.

"Keh," he asked softly, "you gonna yell?"

For a moment, Kagome didn't respond, but then, with a tiny shake of her head, she patted the ground right next to her and said, "Why don't you take a seat, Inuyasha?" He flinched a little – she sounded so tired. He hated knowing that it was an emotional weariness rather than just a physical.

That kind of weariness wasn't something he could fix.

It made him worried that she was fast reaching the day she'd finally tell him to take a hike. That thought terrified him.

He plopped down in the indicated spot. "You're mad."

Kagome exhaled deeply after a moment, then shook her head again. "No... not really," she said finally. "I've been sitting here thinking about Kikyou, and me, and reincarnation. It's complicated. What's her, and what's me? Sometimes... I almost begin to forget who Kagome is. But... I've come to realize that I have to be thankful for what's happened... with Kikyou being brought back. I think..." she glanced at him from the corner of her eyes, "... no, I know that her being brought back by Urasue was fate. It was meant to happen."

Inuyasha looked confused. "Why? Because of Naraku? For revenge or something?"

Clasping her hands together over her knees, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes, enjoying the cool breeze as it washed over her. It smelled of freshness, newness, and earth, just like after a cleansing rain.

After a moment, she smiled a little, her eyes still closed. "No. For the differences between her and I. Kikyou... she believed that youkai and hanyou were inherently evil. That's why she didn't fully trust you. But I... I don't see it that way. To me, you are just Inuyasha, and evil is a choice, not a foregone conclusion based on species."

Inuyasha nodded. "I know... you have no idea how much that means to me – that you accepted me for myself, and only judged me on my actions, and not what I am."

"But have you ever wondered," she said musingly, "why Kikyou and I are so different in what we believe? I'm supposed to be her reincarnation, ne? But we are so very different. She was Kikyou, and I am Kagome. We aren't alike in any way, even in the way we think."

"Yeah. You two are nothing alike, and I'm glad for that," he replied, nervously plucking at the silver hairs on his arms, "but what are you trying to get at?"

Opening her eyes again, she smiled a tiny bit. "What happened between Kikyou's first death, and my birth, to change such a fundamental part of beliefs that she held all her life? Kikyou's different since Urasue brought her back, ne? She doesn't believe the same things now... because she's learned in this new life she has, that things aren't as cut and dried as she once thought." Shaking her head again, she sighed. "She's one of the walking dead now, and you know what she's considered by everyone – an abomination, just like she always considered hanyou and youkai. I think that she was fated to come back this way to learn this important lesson – not to judge based on what a person is. So that when our soul finally came to me, it would know the right way of seeing things."

Inuyasha blinked, stunned for a second as he took in her words, and then he frowned, really thinking about it. Well... they say that reincarnation is so that we can learn the things we need to know for our souls to advance through life. "I..." his ears twitched at the lack of noise from their friends, knowing they were listening in, "I... never thought of it like that," he said in a tone of discovery, then flicked an uncertain glance at her from beneath his bangs. "But... how does that make you feel? Knowing that she was supposed to come back, I mean?"

She reached down a hand to pluck a blade of grass, twirling it idly between her fingers. "Sometimes I've thought, why is she here again? I get angry, and have even wished she'd just disappear," she said, her face dropping as she admitted something that still made her feel guilty. "But... I can't really feel that way, and I always change my mind, feeling badly that I was thinking such horrible thoughts to begin with. And today... while you were gone, I couldn't help but think that I was glad that she's here – because I wouldn't be who I am if she hadn't been brought back."

The young hanyou she loved just stared at her, surprised. She always managed to do that to him, catching him off-guard with just how big her heart really was. Most people in her position would have wished Kikyou dead repeatedly, and would have probably tried to act on those wishes, not felt badly for wishing her away.

She might have a part of Kikyou within her, but Kagome is Kagome, and no one else. Because I don't think that even now, with all these supposed lessons Kikyou's learned this time around, she's anything like Kagome at all. No one has a bigger heart, or a more pure soul than her.

Reaching over to clasp one of her hands in his, Inuyasha locked gazes with her as she looked over at him. "Kikyou's experiences might have influenced some things about you, Kagome... but she isn't you, and I'm glad of that. I guess I can see your point, though. All this time, I've always wished that she hadn't come back – because she's suffering, and I hate that. But... looking at it that way, I'd have to be thankful, too – if her coming back meant that I'd get to meet you."

Kagome squeezed his hand for a moment, and then let go, standing up and dusting off her skirt. Reaching a hand down to help him up, her small smile widened just a little as he took it. He hesitantly smiled back at her as he stood, and then the two turned and made their way back to their friends to continue on with their travels.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, for the first time after a Kikyou interlude, there was peace between the hanyou and the future-born miko...

Kagome was still sad, but a part of her was happy, too.

If Kikyou hadn't learned her lesson about hanyou and youkai, I wouldn't have been able to love and trust Inuyasha completely the way I do.

I think... it's worth it.

She looked over at the silver-haired hanyou she loved with a blush, and smiled wider.

Yes... it's worth it.


A/N: In the shinto beliefs, being dead is in and of itself a state of impurity, and so Kikyou, as a dead woman, would be considered impure, an abomination. This little idea came to me while I was sitting at the hospital with my daughter, and I had to type it up the moment I got home. And so here it is.

For all my readers and reviewers, I am so sorry I haven't responded to reviews lately – I got hit with a huge amount of them, and there's just too many to keep responding to them. I read and cherish them all, though, and am extremely grateful that so many read and enjoy the things I write. Love to all of you!