A Dog's Loyalty

By: Light-Eco-Sage

Rated: Teen for romance (Inuyasha/Kagome)

Summary: My 100th story written for the winner of my 100th story contest. While walking Kagome home from school one day, Inuyasha spots a statue of a dog.

Disclaimer: "Inuyasha" is owned by …

LES: Inspiration strikes! Thank God! I ran a contest recently, and the winner of that contest would have the honor of having my 100th story be anything they wanted me to write. The winner was SiD, and they simply asked for an Inuyasha/Kagome romance story. This was not my greatest fear in running the contest (my greatest fear was being asked for Yaoi smut), but SiD's request was challenging in another way. I normally don't sit down to write for a specific fandom. I usually get an idea, and then decide which of my fandoms it would work the best in. So, while SiD allowed me a great deal of creative freedom, there was also a waiting game while I waited for some inspiration to strike. And strike, it did! Just recently, I watched a movie that moved me to tears. It was called "Hachi: A Dog's Tale". It is a movie that is based on a story from Japan in the 1920's. As soon as I learned that the story took place in Tokyo, I knew that this was the Inuyasha inspiration that I was waiting for.

Hachiko's vigil is a true story.

There were many times when Inuyasha honestly did not know how to feel about Kagome's strange era.

On the one hand, it was quite a pleasant change of pace. Back in his own time, there was just no hiding what he was. People took one look at him, and knew that he was a hanyou, even if his tell-tale ears were hidden at the time. His silver hair and golden eyes alone tipped people off that he was not entirely human.

In Kagome's era, it was a different manner. He still had to hide what he was, but that just required covering up his ears. Once his ears were covered, these humans could not tell him from another human. Better they assumed that he was a gang member with a great liking for feudal-era clothing and dislike for shoes than a half-demon.

And being perceived as a delinquent had other uses as well… it insured that no one approached him for chit-chat. As Kagome warned him over and over, a short conversation was all that was really needed to reveal that he was not of that time, and he would draw unwanted attention to himself.

As normal for when he came to Kagome's time to get her from 'school', he was not obeying her order to stay within the boundaries of her family shrine. Honestly, he didn't really want to disobey Kagome because it more often than not led to him being sat rather painfully. It was just that, given the choice between exploring Kagome's village and staying at the shrine while being forced to listen to Kagome's grandfather prattle on about the shrine… well… that choice was obvious.

He stuck mostly to the path that he was most familiar with… the area between Kagome's house and her school, which was still quite a distance. Kagome's village was massive, and it never failed to amaze him just how much humans had prospered in her era. They were just so weak that he found it hard to believe that they had ever achieved such numbers.

All the while, he kept his eyes and ears open for any sign of Kagome. Kagome's mother had a long time ago taught him how to read the clock just well enough that he knew when she got out of school. He had left her shrine around that time, so he would more likely bump into her.

Suddenly, success! He caught a faint whiff of her scent on the air. He took several discreet sniffs. Even the humans of Kagome's era were put off by the sight of an apparently young teenager sniffing the air like a dog.

That was all that it took for Inuyasha to locate the schoolgirl. He glanced around and spotted her standing outside a building called a 'train station'. She wasn't too far away from him, so Inuyasha couldn't see how she hadn't seen him all ready, even with her weak human eyes. But she didn't seem to be interested in anything around her, preferring to stare at some statue outside the station.

Inuyasha rolled his golden eyes. How many times have I told that stupid wench that she can't let her guard down like that? He took it upon himself to teach her a lesson for what seemed the millionth time.

He moved quickly, positioning himself just behind her. Even standing so close to him, she still hadn't noticed him. He reached out and grabbed her arm… not hard, just hard enough for her to realize that he was there.

As he expected, Kagome jumped, a small noise of surprise passing her lips and she spun around with her fist raised, probably to pummel him on the chest. But when she saw who it was, she stopped. "Inuyasha? What in the world…?"

"When are you going to learn, wench?" Inuyasha asked quietly. "If I were a Yokai after the shards of the jewel, you would have been in a lot of trouble right now."

Kagome sighed, and lowered her hand. "You're right. I'm sorry, Inuyasha. But do you really think that I'm in danger here?"

Inuyasha gazed around them suspiciously. "I refuse to believe that all the Yokai are gone." He was about to drag Kagome away when he happened to take a closer look at the statue that seemed to hold her attention so.

It was a statue of a dog, an Akita judging by the triangular shaped ears that were much like his own. There was a plaque next to the statue, which probably gave the story behind the statue, but Inuyasha didn't really bother reading it, beyond seeing the dog's name. Hachiko. Not exactly a regal name for any famous dog. "So… what did a dog have to do for you humans to build him a statue?"

"What?" Kagome asked, and then looked around at the statue of the dog Hachiko. "Oh… well, it's an old story." Kagome paused thoughtfully, apparently gathering her thoughts. "Hachiko was an Akita who belonged to a man who was a professor at Tokyo University in the 1920's. Every day, the professor would get off the train at this station to find Hachiko waiting for him. Then, one day, the professor didn't come. He had died while at work and never came home. But Hachiko loved his master so much that he came back to this spot every day for the next ten years, waiting on this spot, at the time when his master's train used to arrive. He kept his vigil here until the day he died."

For a while, Inuyasha did not speak. And when he did, it was with his usual callousness. "Stupid mutt."

"Inuyasha!" Kagome gasped.

"What?" Inuyasha asked, honestly unsure what he had done to upset her this time. "You'd think that even the stupidest mutt would figure out after a few months that his master was not coming back."

Kagome reached over and tugged on his hair in punishment. It wasn't like she could sit him there in the middle of Tokyo. "That's not the point of the story. It's about love and loyalty."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes again. "Whatever, wench. I still say that it's the stupidest story that I've ever heard."

Years passed since the day that Inuyasha and Kagome met by the statue of Hachiko at one of the many train stations in Tokyo and a lot had happened since then. The evil hanyou, Naraku, had been defeated for good, but at a terrible price for the shard-hunters-turned-friends.

The Bone Eater's Well had closed, seemingly for good with Kagome trapped in her own time, and the rest separated from her in the Feudal era. Everyone felt the pain of Kagome's absence, but perhaps none of them felt the absence as keenly as a certain hanyou.

Sango and Miroku were quite busy at that moment, with their two toddler daughters having the run of the valley and a new infant son to look after. Thankfully, the villagers were more than willing to assist the two heroes who saved them from Naraku by giving them a hand. Lady Kaede was watching their infant while they teamed up to get their two daughters home in time for dinner.

The chase finally ended near the Bone Eater's Well. In another time, Sango and Miroku would have been horrified at the thought of their young daughters going anywhere near the forest for fear of Yokai. But, thanks to Inuyasha, most of the demons had been scared out of the area by the powerful hanyou. And those that were not intimidated by the hanyou were most certainly intimidated by the hanyou's older half-brother who would tolerate no other demons so near his human ward, currently living in the valley.

Once they had their two daughters in hand, they both paused and stared in the direction of the Bone Eater's Well. As they expected, they saw Inuyasha there. It was a common sight to those who lived in the valley. If Inuyasha was not away dealing with a demon or running an errand to a neighboring town, then he kept a lonely vigil by the Well every day. He would stand there, silently, during the hour of twilight, doing nothing except stare longingly at the well.

"He's still there?" Sango asked quietly, knowing that Inuyasha's hearing was quite acute and having no wish to disturb his vigil.

"Yes, he is still there." Miroku sighed. "He's been there for just about every single day for the past three years."

"Do you think that it's healthy for him to still be waiting for Kagome?" Sango asked. "For all we know, she's never coming back. I know how hard it is to accept that, but…"

"Waiting for her there brings some comfort to him, I think." Miroku said thoughtfully. "That's just his way of coping. Leave him be. He'll recover… eventually. It may take years… but he'll eventually move on… maybe away from here."

"I hope you are right, Miroku." Sango sighed. "How much longer can he survive with a broken heart?"

Miroku was right, in many ways. Waiting his vigil at the Bone Eater's Well was a small comfort to Inuyasha, but only a small comfort. There were days when the pain from standing there was greater than the comfort of being as close to Kagome as he possibly could. Standing there sometimes reminded him that he couldn't be any closer to her.

Inuyasha growled, annoyed at himself for his apparent inability to move from this spot. He knew that Kagome was safe in her world, and he knew that short of a miracle, she was never going to come back to him. And there were other days when he would gladly stand here for the five hundred years required to make it to her time. Even to a long-lived hanyou, five hundred years was no small amount of time.

He knew he should move on… run far away from this cursed valley and go back to his life of solitude. It wasn't like he wasn't used to living alone. He could certainly survive on his own… but it wouldn't really be living, would it? How could he go back to simply surviving when he'd experienced what truly living was like?

Every day he knew the answer: it was impossible.

As he neared the end of another night's vigil, he moved closer to the Bone Eater's well, and rested a clawed hand on the wood. He didn't say anything, content with the silent presence of the well. After a few moments, he pulled his hand back to himself, turned, and walked away.

The next day started just like any other. Miroku and Sango had given the care of their two daughters over into the care of the hanyou. Inuyasha was not much for children and did not actively interact with them. But he made a good babysitter for three reasons. The first was that he allowed the twin girls to crawl all over him, even tugging hard on his ears. The second was that no matter how roughly they played with him, he never even growled at them. They had Inuyasha's dog heritage to thank for that, for Inuyasha perceived the twins as being pups, and pups were pretty much allowed to get away with anything. The third and final reason was that there was no getting away from Inuyasha. Even if they managed to get out of his line of sight, tracking them down again by scent and hearing was remarkably easy for the hanyou.

As usual, one of the girls was clinging to his front and the other to his back, both grabbing for his ears. The girl in front was currently winning in this goal, having yanked his ears hard with a loud call for "Doggie Uncle" to play with her.

Inuyasha ignored them, and just let them crawl all over him like a pair of highly energetic monkeys. However, his will to let them play with him came to an abrupt end. His body stiffened up, and he stood suddenly, taking the girls with him. Instinctively, he held the one on his front to himself, while the other contented herself with a piggy-back ride. They squealed in delight, pleased to finally see some movement from their Doggie Uncle. Inuyasha, however, ignored them. He was sniffing the air intently, almost blind to everything else.

That scent… no… it can't be! Inuyasha thought to himself. But one more sniff was all that was needed for him to confirm what his nose already knew. Quick as a flash, he took off for the village, the girls cheering at the ride.

He wordlessly skidded into Miroku and Sango's home, thankfully not interrupting anything except for lunch, deposited the two girls down, and took off again. Miroku, fearing a demon attack, quickly grabbed some of his prayer slips and followed Inuyasha outside. He seemed to be heading straight towards the Bone Eater's well, so Miroku hurried after him.

Inuyasha paid no mind to the monk trying to catch up to him. The only thing that mattered was getting to the Bond Eater's well as quickly as he could. The well came into view and he skidded to a halt by the well's side.

For the first time in his life, he couldn't believe what his nose was telling him. A part of him hoped desperately that what he smelled was true, and another part of him knew that it was impossible. Thus, with unusual amounts of trepidation, Inuyasha gazed over the lip of the well down into the dark depths. All at once, every ounce of pain that had haunted him for the past years seemed to drain out of him all at once and he reached down into the well, his hand clasping on another from the dark recesses.

With the easy strength of his mixed heritage, Inuyasha pulled Kagome up out of the well. She looked different, older now, but there was no denying her scent. For a long moment, they did not speak, but Inuyasha could see what had happened in her eyes: she had missed him, and now she was back for good. There was no denying it, the well was closed now so there was no going back for her. Inuyasha could see that she hurt from having to leave her family and her time forever, but he could also see that being away from his time (Inuyasha made a conscience effort to not think 'him') had caused her even more pain.

All at once, their silent staring contest ended and Kagome flung herself into the hanyou's arms, pulling him into the most passionate kiss that he'd ever received in his whole life. After a few moments of utter shock, Inuyasha kissed her back, pouring out everything that he had felt for her during the last few years.

The meaning of their kiss could not be clearer: they were in love, and now they were together for good.

Kagome pulled away first, beaming up into his face. "Stupid mutt." She whispered. If she hadn't said that in an utterly loving tone, Inuyasha would have been insulted. However, he was confused.

"What?" He asked.

"That's what you said after I told you the story of Hachiko. You called him a stupid mutt for waiting for the master that was unlikely to return." Kagome reminded him. "But now it seems to me that you've been near the Bone Eater's well for three years waiting for me when there was very little chance of me ever coming back."

Inuyasha gaped like a fish out of water, searching frantically for words. "It's… it's not the same! You weren't dead!"

Kagome silenced him with another kiss. When she pulled away, she smiled up at him. "Thank you for waiting for me, Inuyasha."

"Keh." Inuyasha laughed quietly. "Anytime, Kagome… anytime."

With that, Kagome slipped her hand into Inuyasha's hand and, together, walked away from the Bone Eater's well to where Miroku and Sango were just emerging from the woods.

LES: Whew, boy… this story came like pulling teeth! But that darn tooth did come at last. And I kept my promise. This is my 100th story! (No matter how much other one-shots have been eating me alive while this story was getting written.) Hope that you enjoy it, SiD!