"You know if I didn't know any better, I'd think you're purposely trying to get yourself killed. The way you run into battle so recklessly..." Kagome let her sentence trail off, shaking her head at her brash companion. She was currently patching up a serious wound on his stomach, their hunt for the jewel shards leading them into a nest of spiderhead demons. The job was relatively easy if not tedious. The spiderheads were great in number, but lacking in power. That is until the leader, already in possession of one shard, came after them.
Inuyasha being impatient as he was, leapt at the creature and immediately became ensnared in it's thread like web. Enhanced by the power of the shard, Inuyasha had struggled to free himself, unable to simply break through the web. He came close to being devoured until Miroku stepped in. The void hanyou had taken a pretty good bite to the shoulder, the spiderhead quickly pumping him full of poison. The distraction gave Kagome enough time to purify the web, freeing Inuyasha to release his Kaze no kizu. The demon sent a pointed claw at Inuyasha, piercing his stomach in a desperate attempt to scathe off his enemy's attack. Though it was futile.
"Keh, I'm no coward! I'll never run or hide from an enemy. If someone wants to challenge me I'll face them head on!" Kagome simply chuckled at his seriousness. One thing she had learned in traveling with Inuyasha was that he was fearless and always prepared for battle. She was sure that his upbringing had forced him to be that way. She didn't know much about his past, but she knew that most hanyou never had it easy.
"Of course Inuyasha. I wouldn't expect anything less from you." Her tone was soft as she finished the last of his bandages. A small groan over to her right drew her attention to Miroku. He stirred slowly. Blinking open his eyes as he tried to sit up, but a sudden wave of dizziness had him ready to vomit and quickly laying back down.
"Miroku, I'm glad you're awake. How are you feeling?" Kagome said. She rested her hand on his forehead, making sure that he hadn't gotten a fever from the poison. She wasn't sure if the antidote she prepared would be effective on someone with demon blood, but it seemed to be doing the trick.
"I'm fine, just tired and a little thirsty." Kagome hurried over to the pot of water she'd collected in order to clean Inuyasha's wounds. She dumped the used water and quickly went to fetch some more. She soon returned to Miroku's side trying to help him sit up so that he could take a drink without choking, but he protested the action.
"I'm far too weak to sit up, I think you'll have to pass it through your mouth Kagome-sama." He puckered his lips and she blushed, but a swift smack to the back of the head from Inuyasha was all the motivation he needed to quench his thirst himself.
"Half dead and you still act like a fuckin' lech."
"Inuyasha! He's sick you shouldn't hit him like that."
"Whatever." Inuyasha muttered, simply because there was nothing he could really say to defend his actions.
"I'm gonna get some firewood and try to catch some fish. Miroku's in no condition to travel tonight." Inuyasha offered to help her, but Kagome insisted he needed to rest as well. She returned twenty minutes later, some thick logs under one arm, and a collection of smaller twigs and branches in the other. She quickly set to work starting the fire and once that was done, began to weave the smaller twigs she'd collected together.
"What are you doing?" Inuyasha asked curiously, taking a seat next to her.
"I'm weaving a small basket to help me catch some fish. I don't super hanyou reflexes like you." She said with a smile. Inuyasha continued to watch her and thirty minutes later, she was finished and heading to the river.
"Do you need me to go with you?" Inuyasha asked suddenly. He looked a little anxious as if he hadn't meant to ask her at all.
"It's okay Inuyasha, just stay here and watch Miroku. I'll be back in no time!" Inuyasha watched Kagome trot off toward the river and released the breath he didn't know he'd been holding. The sound of Miroku's burst of laughter drew his attention.
"Man, you've got it bad." Miroku said through his chuckles, wiping the tears his boisterous laugh had produced.
"I ain't got nothin'!" Inuyasha yelled to cover up his embarrassment.
"Whatever you say Inuyasha. But Kagome-sama is a beautiful young lady, there's nothing wrong with wanting to be close to her."
Inuyasha folded his arms across his chest, mumbling about nothing in particular. Miroku thought about teasing his friend on the fact that he hadn't denied wanting to be closer to the young priestess, but he'd let bygones be bygones this time. He was beginning to see a subtle change in both of his companions, and the thought made him genuinely happy.
They all knew of the tragic end to Kagome's first and only love interest. And though no one but him and Inuyasha knew, the dog demon had been dealt a pretty shit hand at love himself.
'I can already smell the wedding sake!'
Kagome returned sometime before sundown. She'd only been able to catch two fish and they weren't very big. She offered the meat to her two injured friends, saying that some berries and edible plants would be enough for her tonight, but Inuyasha all but shoved half of his portion down her throat. Refusing to be satisfied until she agreed to eat it.
"Dammit wench! I don't want to stop in the middle of our journey tomorrow to feed you, because you decided to eat like a bird tonight. Just eat the dang fish." Kagome finally relented, not wishing to argue further. She was beyond tired and already the warmth of the fire was pulling her under.
Miroku was snoring softly across from her, and Inuyasha dozed off at the base of the tree behind her. Content that her friends had been fully taken care off she quickly fell into slumber.
Kagome couldn't remember the last time she dreamed. She had nightmares for months after Hojo's death, but those days were long behind her. Now black nothingness was the only thing that awaited her once she closed her eyes. So where was she now?
She sat at top a grassy hill, the sun shining down on her and heating her skin. She was sans her normal miko wear, donning a simple yukata, her hair blowing in the gentle breeze. She laid back in the grass, letting the softness of it slip through her fingers and toes. She had no clue what or where this place was, but she couldn't remember the last time she ever felt this peaceful or content.
"Do you enjoy it here?" Sitting up quickly, Kagome was startled by his sudden presence.
"Did you bring me here?" Hojo took a seat next to her in the grass, smiling softly at her. Kagome took in the shagginess of his brown hair, the light freckles that danced across his nose and dusted his cheeks, but the most startling of his appearance was the return of his light brown eyes. She'd gotten used to the Crimson color he now sported.
"Yeah, I just wanted to see you." He said honestly. He'd made a point to keep track of Kagome via Kanna's mirror, but at the end of the day the mere image of her wasn't enough.
"It's quiet, peaceful. I can't remember the last time I had any time to relax."
"This is how I want it to be for you all the time Kagome. I simply wish for you to live in a world where you no longer have to fight."
"You know as well as I do, that as long as Naraku exists that can never happen." He opened his mouth to say something but thought better of it. He didn't bring her here for them to fight. He brushed a piece of her hair behind her ear. She blushed as he placed a hand gently on her cheek.
"I don't want to talk about Naraku, or the jewel, or anything else. I just want this to be about us. About finally being able to be together." He leaned in and placed his lips softly on hers, there was a nagging feeling in her heart imploring her to pull away, but in the end she decided to ignore it.
And soon she fell completely into the spell that was Hojo's kiss.
Inuyasha had always been a light sleeper. His childhood teaching him, that things most certainly went bump in the night and to always be ready. So when he heard Kagome stir he quickly opened his eyes and scanned the area. Nothing smelled out of the ordinary and Miroku still snored soundly across the fire. Assuming she was awakened by the need to answer nature's call, he closed his eyes and resumed to doze.
It was when she didn't return soon after, that he began to worry. He quickly roused Miroku, telling him that he had a bad feeling and was going to check it out. The dark haired demon mumbled out an incomprehensible reply and rolled away from the disturbance, though not falling into a sleep as deep as before.
Satisfied that his friend could keep himself from getting eaten, Inuyasha took off into the woods. He followed Kagome's scent to a dense part of the forest, but after that the trail abruptly ended. It was like she had vanished into thin air. Inuyasha was stumped. He thought about rounding back to the camp to re-track her scent, but he knew it would be useless. He depended on his sense of smell as much as he depended on the power of his Tetsusaiga, and knew his nose would never let him down. So what else could explain her scent's sudden disappearance? Unless...
Inuyasha unsheathed Tetsusaiga, commanding it to transform. He touched the tip of the sword towards the path in front of him, and just as he'd expected it crackled with dark youki.
'A barrier, but whose?' He took an experimental swing at the barrier and he bounced off effortlessly. He tried again with a little more effort and still nothing. He released the Kaze no kizu and the barrier didn't even dent.
"How the hell am I supposed to get inside?" His patience was wearing thin. Sudden inspiration hit him when he remembered the time he'd spent training with a bat hanyou, named Shiori. The girl possessed the power to create powerful barriers, with the red orb that was passed down through many generations of her clan. She was the last of her bloodline after her grandfather and father passed, and allowed him to take the power of her orb after falling in love with a boy from her village.
Pushing back the old memories, Inuyasha focused on the current task at hand. Summoning his power, the blade of his sword began to glow red. Taking a few steps back Inuyasha charged the barrier, swinging with all his might. The barrier cracked, but otherwise held and he thought for a moment the red Tetsusaiga would fail him. But the thought of giving up, of Kagome possibly being in danger, renewed his resolve. He gripped Tetsusaiga harder, yelling in exertion, and then he felt the barrier give. He took the time to thank Tetsusaiga and then he was off, dashing deeper into the forest, Kagome's scent renewed in his nostrils. But another scent lingered along with hers. Smelling of graveyard soil and Naraku.
'Akumu! Hold on Kagome I'm coming for you!'
Hojo gently laid Kagome back in the grass. He continued his assault on her lips, while his fingers danced in her hair. He finally pulled away from her lips, leaving a burning path of open mouthed kisses down her neck and along her collarbone. She gasped at the sensations she'd never felt before, rolling her head to the side to give her lover better access to her.
"Hojo..." He pulled away at the sound of his name and their eyes met for a moment. She caressed his cheek and he leaned into her touch. "I wish we could stay like this." She said honestly.
"Do you mean it? Would you stay here with me?" He looked at her with such love, such hope, it brought tears to her eyes.
"Yes. I'd...go anywhere with you." She gasped at the sudden weight crushing her chest, but Hojo soothed her. Promising her that the pain would only be temporary. He kissed her again and for a moment the crushing pressure became slightly bearable, then she heard it.
The sound of her name was so faint on the wind, she almost ignored it. Who was calling for her? Hojo's mouth was otherwise preoccupied, therefore, he couldn't have said it. And then she heard it again, stronger than before.
"Kagome, Kagome come back to me!"
"Inu...yasha?" The named flowed from her lips and suddenly the pressure that had threatened to smother her was gone, she blinked open her eyes and the blinding white light sent her back to reality.
"Kagome!" The scene Inuyasha stumbled upon, made his heart leap into his throat. In the middle of the dense woods stood Kagome, her chin skyward and slightly turned to the side in order to met the pair of lips above her. If not for the giant crater rapidly pulling the pair into the earth, Inuyasha might have simply walked away from the scene. "Akumu you bastard let her go!"
Disconnecting from Kagome, Crimson eyes glared at him. A shadowy hand flew at him rapidly, grabbing him by the throat and pinning against a nearby tree.
"This doesn't concern you Hanyou. Kagome belongs with me, and me alone. If we cannot be together in this life, then we'll be together in the next."
"You fuckin' idiot!" Inuyasha wheezed. "She's...still got shit she has to do here! You can't just take her away!" He didn't think he'd seen a man more demented than Akumu, or maybe he simply loved Kagome that much. Enough to be brought back from the dead and damn himself to an eternity in hell just to be with her. But even so, it didn't matter to Inuyasha. He refused to let anyone take Kagome away from him.
"Kagome! You have to wake up! Come back to me, Kagome!" He yelled, the hand around his throat crushing his windpipe all the more.
Akumu had just been ready to tell the bastard that his efforts were futile, that Kagome was too beyond his reach, when she stirred. She opened her eyes, blinking her way slowly back into consciousness. He immediately stopped the vortex and released the hanyou, shocked that his voice had been enough to bring her back.
"Inuyasha!" She stumbled away from Hojo, and hastily made her way over to Inuyasha. He was clutching his throat but otherwise looked unharmed and for that she was glad. "Are you okay?" He shrugged her hand off his shoulder and grunted out a small reply. She tried not to be hurt by his actions, but she couldn't help it.
"You know," The two looked up quickly having momentarily forgotten about Akumu, "I asked you once before if you cared for him more than me. You never answered me, but now I know." The hurt and sadness in his tone had Kagome looking away, unable to meet his gaze. There was a sudden gust of wind and when she looked up, Hojo was gone.
Inuyasha watched as Kagome looked longingly into the sky. Her eyes filling with tears that she never let fall.
"If you wanted to go with him, why didn't you?" His tone was clipped and bitter, making her flinch. He wanted to feel guilty for obviously making her feel bad, but a small part of him rejoiced in the fact that he had the power to hurt her like she did him.
"I didn't! I mean...I did, but I couldn't." She looked down at her hands, remembering the feel of the grass and Hojo's skin under her palms. It had all been so real, so easy to fall into what her heart wanted, but if Hojo was what she truly wanted then how did Inuyasha's voice save her?
"Don't let me be a burden to you. Just give me the shards and Miroku and I will hunt Naraku on our own." She looked up at him with tears brimming her eyes, and his features involuntarily softened.
"No! That's not what I want and you know that!" She said finally standing to her feet.
"Do I?!" He yelled stepping closer to her. "He said 'I asked you once before', does that mean you've seen him before this? Been meeting up with him in secret behind my back? You keep asking me to trust you, but how am I supposed to do that when you keep lying!"
Kagome looked at her feet feeling slightly ashamed, that Hojo had outed her about seeing him before. "Yes. I saw him once before and that was it," but when she looked at him Inuyasha could see the rage simmering behind her eyes, "but how dare you call me a liar? I'm not the only one here with secrets Inuyasha and you know it!"
Inuyasha didn't say anything for a long while, not wanting to reveal anything he didn't want her to know. He wouldn't say anything until she called him out and he didn't have to wait long for that.
"Tell me who Lady Kikyou was to you. Did you have a relationship with her?" Her tone was soft, sad, and a little angry, which only stoked Inuyasha's ire. What right did she have to question him when he'd caught her about to jump into the netherworld with her first love?
"She's none of your damn business!" He growled out.
"She's not? Because you made it perfectly clear that you had every right to know about Hojo, even though I was adamant about keeping it myself." She folded her hands across her chest, daring him to challenge her. He thought about saying that his old love interest hadn't tried to kill them, but thought better of it. Trust was a two way street and even though Kagome had kept things from him, in the end she'd barred her soul to him. Maybe he owed her the same.
"Sit." He said quietly. He sat crossed legged with his back against the tree. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves. He'd never thought to openly talk about his relationship like this. The only other person who knew was Miroku and that was because he'd been there to live it, just as he had.
"I met Kikyou 20 years ago. Back then I'd heard rumors of a jewel that could grant the owner one wish. Even back then I wanted nothing more than to be full youkai, to have power. I had just met Miroku back then too. He was looking for the jewel hoping to get rid of the void in his hand and when we learned of the priestess who guarded it, we tried to go after her. But she was strong, way stronger than us and she quickly over powered us. Kinda how you did." He chuckled at that and Kagome blushed at the memory.
"I don't think I've ever apologized for that." Kagome said sheepishly. Inuyasha chuckled again waving it off. He'd been with Kagome long enough to know that if she had wanted him dead that day, he would be. He shook his head to find his train of thought, and continued on with his tale.
"Anyway, I told Miroku that next time I'd go alone. He thought the idea was stupid, which it was, but I was adamant, so the next day I went out searching for her. I thought I could catch her off guard but with how fast she pinned me to the tree I jumped out off, it was obvious she had sensed me long before I'd even thought to attack."
"You again? I thought I told you to stay away from me half demon?" She had an arrow notched and aimed at his chest, ready to finish him. He secretly wished he'd listened to Miroku, but he wouldn't let the regret show on his face. Instead he glared at her, baring in his fangs in a futile attempt to look vicious. They both knew he was useless stuck against the tree.
"And I told you I wanted the jewel! Why don't you just finish me off now, huh? Cause I'll come back for you! You reek of demon blood, you'll be easy enough to find."
"If you value you're life at all, you'll stay away from me."
"She just let you go?" Kagome asked almost not believing it. Kikyou was known for her immense powers and her zero tolerance for anything demonic. Kikyou was a product of her upbringing and like most mikos, were taught to kill demons first and never ask questions. Kagome thought she might have been the same if not for the silver haired demon, who saved her all those years ago.
Inuyasha nodded in the affirmative. "Many times in fact. I tried to attack her several more times and the result was always the same. Me pinned to a tree and her warning me to stay away." His eyes grew soft and Kagome wondered, not for the first time, if hearing Inuyasha speak about Lady Kikyou in such an intimate manner would be too much for her.
"One day I saw her sitting on the hill that overlooked her village. It had been Miroku's idea that we just watch her for awhile, try to find a weakness and exploit it in order to get the jewel. She looked so sad that day, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She turned in my direction and I almost bolted, but instead of trying to fight she asked me to sit by her, to talk with her."
"You and your friend have been watching me for some time now. I'm not sure what's more shocking to me; your blatant disregard for your life or your determination to have the jewel. Tell me half demon, does this orb really mean so much to you?"
"First of all Miko, I have a name and it's not half demon! And secondly, what is a life without power? Who wants to live their whole life as a weakling? Certainly not me! And that 'orb' as you put it is important to me, because it will make me powerful." She looked at him for a while, clearly weighing his words.
"Tell me your name. Tell me and I shall never call you 'half demon' again." Her tone was sincere, which was probably why Inuyasha was flushed with embarrassment. No one ever bothered to use his name before, let alone learn it.
"Inuyasha." She tested the name on her tongue and smiled, liking the way it sounded. "Very well then, you may call me Kikyou."
"We spent a lot time together after that. I convinced Miroku that the only reason why I was getting close to her was because it would make it easier to kill her. But the truth was...I liked her. We were very similar, both having lived mostly solitary existences, both hating what we were because we had no choice but to be that way."
Though Kagome didn't comment out loud, she could very much understand where Inuyasha and Lady Kikyou were coming from. How many times did she curse her duty and even her very existence growing up? Even going so far to try and run away from it. She wanted to place a hand on his knee or even his shoulder, just to show him that she empathized, but she didn't think it was the right time.
"After awhile, it became obvious to Miroku that hunting the jewel was no longer my main priority. I thought he'd be angry, but he said he knew of another way to rid himself of the curse without the jewel. He was my best and only friend, so I appreciated that he didn't make me choose between Kikyou's love and his friendship. We were promised to marry, but Kikyou no longer wanted to fight. So she proposed we turn me human in order to purify the jewel and rid it from the world once and for all."
Kagome's eyes watered at that. He'd been willing give up his dream of being full youkai to be with Kikyou. Even to give up part of his being to be with her. A tear slid down her cheek without her permission and she quickly wiped it away so Inuyasha wouldn't see, but it was no use.
"What're you crying for wench?" Though his words were harsh his tone was soft and she smiled.
"It's just...you were willing to sacrifice so much to be with her. It's beautiful really." Inuyasha blushed hotly. There was nothing he could really say to that, he would've done anything for Kikyou. He didn't miss the look of longing in her eyes, as if she craved to be loved like that. 'Keh, can't she tell her psycho ex-lover would do anything for her?'
"Yeah well things quickly turned from beautiful to ugly. Horribly ugly. The day we were supposed to meet to turn me human, Kikyou never showed up. I waited and waited for her and she never came. I figured she wised up and realized she deserved better than a filthy hanyou with nothing to offer. So I went to the village, I told myself I would yell at her, maybe threaten her or curse her, but truthfully I just wanted to know why? Why she had lead me to believe that she cared for me for so long only to throw it back in my face, but when I got the village it was had been decimated."
"Kikyou! Kikyou, where are you?!" Inuyasha ran through the burning village looking for the priestess, praying that she was alright. Carnage surrounded the half demon. The smell of death and burning flesh almost had him running for the hills, but he had to find her. Make sure she was alright. He'd almost made it full circle around the village, coming back again towards the Goshinboku.
Inuyasha never saw the arrow coming. It hit him in the leg, sending him crashing to the ground with a loud thud. Quickly pulling out the projectile, he barely had time to dodge another and another. Sick of dodging Inuyasha charged the next arrow, letting it break on his fire rat haori. He bared his claws ready to strike his opponent, and barely managed to skid to a halt when he realized who it was he was fighting.
"Kikyou! What are you doing? What's going on? Y-you're wounded." He noticed the huge gash on her right shoulder. It bleed profusely washing out her already pale skin. He took a step toward her until he noticed that Kikyou hadn't bothered to lower her weapon.
"Don't come any closer to me half demon!" The words half demon fell from her lips as if it burned her to speak them and each syllable sent another knife through his heart.
'She swore she'd never to call me that.' He thought sadly. "Kikyou what's wrong with you?" He said angrily. All thoughts of being sad flew out the proverbial window until only feelings of bitterness and betrayal were left in their wake.
"What's wrong with me? You're what's wrong me!" She screamed at him, her arms began to shake clearly from fatigue. Her brow was sweaty and her breathing labored, but she never relented. "You made me weak, because I trusted you. Because I loved you! And you betrayed me, just as I knew you always would." Crystalline tears rolled down her face, her heart breaking with every word.
"I didn't betray you Kikyou! I waited for you, at the God tree, just like we promised." He pleaded. He saw her waver and when he stepped toward her she fired her arrow in warning, scorching his cheek.
"No, you attacked me! Attacked my village! All because of that stupid jewel." She shuck her head at the fact that the one thing she resented most, would be the thing that finally ended her life. But it was her duty after all. "I sent the jewel far away, to someone who is even more capable of protecting it than I. Though I'll never give you the chance to try and get it back."
Inuyasha tried to lunge for her, but it was useless. Her arrow struck true, piercing his heart and pinning him to the very tree where they were to be married. As his vision began to fade and death clung at his heels, he watched Kikyou collapse in a pile of her blood; crying for the love that she had lost and the life she never truly got to live. He tried to call out to her, tell her he loved her, but the golems of the netherworld took his last breath before he could.
"I thought I was dead, but a few years later I was staring at Miroku's face wondering what the hell happened. Miroku was able to find Kikyou's sister, Kaede, who was able to pull out the arrow. I hadn't talked to the squirt much while I was with Kikyou, but she told me she'd always had a feeling it wasn't me who'd injured her sister. She was the one who told me of Naraku, how he schemed to kill Kikyou and get the jewel for himself. But Kikyou had entrusted Kaede, to take it to Midoriko. We crossed paths with Midoriko several times, but we never sensed the jewel on her. And after awhile I convinced myself that she'd probably found a way to destroy it. Though now we know that's not true."
Inuyasha finished his story and for awhile Kagome just sat there staring at him. Her expression was blank, and he was about to wave a hand in front of her face to call her back to reality, when her face scrunched up in the way Inuyasha had come to associate with her crying face.
She flung herself at him clinging onto the front of his haori and soaking it. Unable to do anything else he rubbed her back until her sobs quieted to mere hiccups. She pulled away from him wiping her nose on her sleeve, and looking at him with such appreciation it made his heart lurch.
"I am so sorry that happened to you. I'm sorry that Naraku tricked you and stole a chance for true happiness from you. I will kill Naraku, not only for my fallen mentor and Lady Kikyou, but for you too." She grabbed his hands in hers and she smiled at him.
"You are not filthy Inuyasha, you are not undeserving of love simply because of what you are, and you are not weak. You're strong, courageous, and fearless. We have been traveling together for almost six lunar cycles now, and I feel as though it is no longer inappropriate to tell you this. I just want you to know that you don't need to become full youkai to be powerful. Because you're so much stronger than you even realize. I also want you to be happy Inuyasha above all else."
She was in tears again by the time she was done with her speech, but Inuyasha was too blinking away the moisture that dared to gather in his eyes. No one had ever said anything that heartfelt and sincere to him besides his late mother, who died when he just a pup.
"Thank you, Kagome." Inuyasha smiled sincerely for the first time in a long while. He stood first holding out his hand to help her to her feet. They watched each other for a second more, debating on whether or not to release each other.
In the end they decided against it and walked back to camp hand in hand.
Wow that was a long chapter. At this point I'm not sure if there is anyone out there still reading, but either way I want to continue to write this story until it's finished.
A review would be appreciated!