Summary: Several weeks later, find out what's going on with the rest of the gang.
~ooO An End to the Quest Ooo~
Sango sighed as she tried to relax. Long extended hot soaks were a thing of the past. It wasn't the same without a female friend to share the experience with. She was the only female in the pack and Kikyo didn't count. Sango didn't count the undead clay-and-ash being as a female. The past six months had been horrible, since Kagome left and Kikyo had joined their group.
InuYasha had insisted on Kikyo's inclusion saying they didn't have Kagome to 'detect shards', that Kikyo would be better at tracking them down. To be honest Kikyo was worse at detecting shards than Kagome ever was. They had only found two shards in six months and both times were by fluke, not through any direction Kikyo had provided.
The atmosphere had become so depressed. No one wanted to chat or relax in the evenings. Everyone ate quickly and went to sleep. No one tried to make time pass faster during the days either. Everyone was too tense to relax and even try to enjoy the sights. They rarely made any side-trips through any villages unless it was for Miroku to con money using his 'ominous aura' trick. Kagome was the one who had insisted on making frequent stops, helping and gossiping with the locals. Often they responded positive to her antics, like every other non-evil being in the past, by trying to help, by sharing the tidbits they had knowledge of with the young miko. Without Kagome drawing out the villagers trust, Miroku had to fill in the gap. And he wasn't as good at building trust as Kagome, due his lecherous activities.
The tajija was glad Shippo had refused to travel with them, had chosen to stay with Kaede until Kagome came back. It wasn't good for any child to travel in such a poisonous atmosphere. Sango often wished she could escape herself. But she had to save Kohaku! She had to stay for Miroku! She owed it to her dead to see Naraku pay the ultimate price!
She jump up and out of the pool, dragging her kimono on, and hauling hiraikotsu at a run when she heard Miroku yell. Where was InuYasha?
The tajija burst into the campsite clearing still dripping wet, her clothes clinging to her body. Her face purpled when she saw there were no attackers. Not even corpses!
"Houshi-sama…" she growled threateningly.
And was stunned by the broad grin on the monk's face. "It's gone Sango!"
She put hiraikotsu down and approached him. "What are you talking about?"
Understanding dawned when she saw the hand held up. A hand without the protective glove and the string of blue sutra beads usually wound around it; beads that were the only thing containing the kazaana in the monk's palm. He held up the hand, bare palm face out to display the pale unmarked skin. There was no trace of the kazaana.
Hope surged in Sango's heart. "Naraku?" she asked.
"He must be dead," Miroku murmured.
"No way," InuYasha scoffed. "This is just a trick. Like before."
Miroku shook his head. "No, I feel it. He is gone."
"But who killed him?" Sango wanted to know. She needed to know. Did Naraku's killer also kill Kohaku? Or was Kohaku still alive?
The hanyou scowled. "It has to be that fucker Sesshoumaru," he grumbled. "The bastard's the only one strong enough to do it."
Sango looked at Kikyo warily. The clay-golem was staring into the fire. Sango did not want to know if she was okay!
"What are we going to do?" she asked. "I need to find out if Kohaku is alive, or at least bury his remains," she added sadly.
InuYasha huffed. "Sesshoumaru would know. We just have to find the bastard."
A thought struck Miroku's mind. "Do you think Kagome-sama killed Naraku?"
Kikyo made a disagreeing sound that InuYasha loudly echoed.
"Don't be stupid bozou! The wench is too weak to do anything of the sort. She might have distracted him when Sesshoumaru killed him," he conceded as an afterthought.
And with that the taichi settled into a restless sleep. Everyone was anticipating the dawn, the day they went looking for Sesshoumaru, the reunion with Kagome, some more negatively than the rest.
Kagome lounged back in the hot spring with her eyes closed, enjoying the sharp mineral tang and steamy vapours. This wasn't her favourite but it was acceptable. She made a soft agreeable sound when a familiar aura approached and stepped into the waters. Unerringly she moved and snuggled up against a hard muscled body. Sesshoumaru. He growled softly in inu-tongue. She responded in the same language. He was so over protective! And in the nicest way, not like InuYasha who always put her down if she confessed she was sore or hurt. Sesshoumaru merely soothed her and upped her training, teaching her tricks that would reduce or eliminate her hurts.
Kagome still couldn't believe Naraku was dead. It had been so easy to track him down and kill him. With her new abilities she had set up a resonance shell that blocked Kanna's spying. She used her training to combined reiki wards with Sesshoumaru's jyaki to keep the saimyosho away. And with no InuYasha to spill all their plans to Kikyo, Naraku had no idea what she and Sesshoumaru were capable of, or what they were planning. He had been taken completely offguard by their attack. Her youkai endurance boosted her ability to neutralize his miasma. In the end her reiki combined with Tenseiga to destroy Naraku's connection to the living world and purify him out of existence.
A familiar aura came into range. Kagome stiffened and felt the same reaction in her mate.
"Get dressed," he ordered stepping out of the pool nude and dripping wet.
Kagome took a moment to appreciate the view before obeying. They had just finished dressing when InuYasha bounded into the clearing wielding a transformed Tetsaiga.
"Where is the bastard!" he yelled.
Kagome saw red. "Sit!" she told him sharply. And was surprised when nothing happened.
The hanyou smirk upon seeing her dismay. "Kikyo removed the stupid beads," he told her smugly.
Kagome stared at him for a moment before her expression hardened.
"Sit," she said in a deeper vibrant voice.
The hanyou gasped when he felt the tug of power drawing him down, forcing him face first into the ground. By the time his face hit the grass Sango, Miroku, Kilala, and Kikyo had entered the clearing. Kikyo looked dismayed by the sight though the others were impressed. Kagome didn't care.
"I don't need the beads to make you obey," she told him simply. "If you were still wearing them they would have turned to dust, unable to handle my present power levels." She turned to Sango and Miroku and smiled slightly.
"Kagome?" Sango asked hesitantly, unable to see her friend in this inu-youkai. She was wearing a knee-length green kimono decorated with autumn leaves over wide-legged flowing cream pants that were bound around her shins by leather lacing and calf-high boots. Her hair was twisted into a casual knot, anchored by kanzashi decorated with dangling crescent moons. Small loose bangs framed her face emphasizing the four-point red star in the centre of her forehead and the jagged purple streaks across each cheek. What got the tajija's attention was the blue crescent moon around the four-point star.
Kagome moved to stand beside the daiyoukai, resting her head against his left arm? Didn't InuYasha cut it off? "I'm mated to Sesshoumaru," she said simply. "It was my choice." Take it or leave it, was strongly implied in her tone.
Sango and Miroku were quick to respond positively and offer their congratulations.
"Shippo will be pleased to hear this," Miroku offered.
Kagome frowned. "Where is he? I can't scent him."
"He's with Kaede," Sango explained, "He didn't want to travel with Kikyo."
Kagome smiled. "Then we will be picking him up before we go back to the Stronghold."
Miroku coughed delicately. "About that Kagome-sama," he held up his kazaana-free hand. "Do you and Sesshoumaru-sama have anything to do with this."
Kagome made a soft positive noise. "Yes. It wasn't too hard to deal with Naraku once we neutralized his spies." She directed a pointed look at Kikyo. "He was really dependent on information to stay one step ahead of us. He had no sources on us so he couldn't make counter plans and take precautions."
The tajija and the houshi absorbed the explanation and nodded.
"Kagome, did you see Kohaku?" Sango asked hesitantly.
The miko-turned-inuyoukai shook her head. "We didn't. But it doesn't mean he isn't alive. Kohaku had healed from his injuries a long time ago. The shard was only controlling him," she explained firmly before holding up the almost complete Shikon jewel that was just missing a few fragments. "I believe Naraku also collected the shards from Kouga."
Sango counted the cracks. They matched what they had collected! "I think you're right. We found a few shards and I think they'll complete the Shikon."
Everyone turned in the direction of the soft scoffing sound. Kikyo and the now conscious InuYasha.
"Then finish the job bitch and give me my wish!"
Kagome eyed him distastefully. "I am the guardian of the Shikon no Tama and I'm not going to risk all of existence for your selfishness!"
InuYasha glared. "Then you won't get My shards."
Kagome smirked. "That's what you think hanyou." She made a gesture and Kikyo cried out when the purple tinged shards floated out of her sleeve and towards Kagome who grabbed them. Sango nailed InuYasha with hiraikotsu on the back, pinning him down. Then she turned to watch the shards turn clear pink at Kagome's touch and the Shikon no Tama glow brilliantly once the last shards were fused into place.
"What are you going to do Kagome-sama?" Miroku asked hesitantly.
"I'm going to make an unselfish wish," she told him as she held the glowing pearl in her cupped palm. "I wish that whatever the kamis deem as necessary happens."
The Shikon vanished with a clear bell-like tone. Everyone stared dismayed at the unexpected simplicity to phrase the correct wish.
"We were making it too complicated," Kagome explained. "And we are limited, we cannot see what the kamis see. They are the only ones who could make the correct wish."
"You are right," Miroku mused. "How odd that those with more experience and spiritual training failed to see that truth."
"I was also blinkered by that view until Sesshoumaru started training me. One of his primary lessons was picking apart observations into facts and speculations." She turned to Sango. "If Kohaku is alive he'll probably be near your old village. He'll need a lot of love and care to get over the guilt and all that's happened."
"I know. And he'll get it," Sango vowed. "But what about you? What are you going to do? After you pick up Shippo?" she asked sneaking a peek at the bored looking daiyoukai.
"My place is with my mate. I'm sure Kaa-san would give her blessing if I could tell her," Kagome said simply. She turned to the stunned shell-shocked hanyou and the golem. She refused to acknowledge this… thing as Kikyo. This was just Kikyo's hate and despair and envy. "Goodbye. I hope our paths never cross again, because if you dare attack me I will rend you to shreds before purifying you to dust," she said with a bright smile.
Kikyo made a disagreeing sound. "You are a youkai."
Kagome formed a grapefruit-sized pink orb and stepped forward to thrust it towards InuYasha who squealed and back-pedalled away, even as his white hair turned black, gold eyes purple, fangs and claws retreated to leave normal human ones. The energy radiating from the orb had purified his youkai blood away temporarily. If Kagome had touched InuYasha with it he would have died.
"Impossible!" Kikyo was torn between envy and hatred. Why did her reincarnation always benefit from events that should have killed her! "Reiki and jyaki cannot co-exist."
Kagome let the reiki orb dissipate before speaking. "I think you have forgotten the hanyous of Horai Island," she said blandly. "I think the kamis meant for reiki and jyaki to come together. There is no other explanation for the power in those children, in me." She turned to Sango and Miroku. "When you decide to settle down leave a message with Kaede. I will be visiting her fairly regularly." Then she turned to join her mate. "Let's go," she murmured.
He made a soft agreeable sound gathering his jyaki beneath his feet, lifting the both of them up and away. Once they were some distance away he spoke.
"This one did not expected you to cut ties so decisively with the hanyou," he said.
"Kikyo is too blind, bitter, and narrow-minded to see the truth as it is. She's passed that attitude to InuYasha. I'm not interested in badgering him into doing the right thing anymore." She looked up at her mate with a serious expression. "My mate and pack is my primary concern. He is not either."
The daiyoukai's expression softened as he nuzzled her temple. "Do you wish to pick up your kit?" he asked.
Kagome grinned and gave him a knowing heated look. "In a few days. I think we deserve a little self-indulgent break," she murmured. "Just the two of us, under the night sky with no children, no responsibilities…" she purred nipping at his jaw. "In fact I'll let you tie me up," she offered brightly.
The daiyoukai growled eyes flashing red. His arms tightened around her as his powers shaped around him in an orb that encapsulated them. Then they vanished in a flash.
Sesshoumaru had no issues regarding his newly developed addiction for Kagome. She was his mate and he was never going to give her up. So why bother restraining himself in regards to anything concerning her and pleasure?
After three days they did make the side-trip to pick up Shippo and return to the Western Stronghold, to raise the kitsune alongside Rin.
Sango and Miroku went to her old village and found Kohaku there as Kagome had predicted. She had knocked him out and dragged him to Edo village, away from the memories and pain of their old home. Eventually she married Miroku and raised a family.
Kohaku was apprenticed to a blacksmith. He married the man's daughter and inherited the business. A peaceful ordinary life suited Kohaku just fine.
After several months Kikyo's body broke down and she died releasing all the trapped souls of the young dead women. InuYasha mourned and never recovered from the loss. There were no friends, no Kagome, to drag him out of his despair.
Several months later a travelling merchant stopped by the Western Stronghold and asked to see the Lord and Lady.
The balding middle-aged human prostrated himself before the two inu-youkai. The Lord was terrifying but the Lady was smiling and that gave him the courage to continue.
"Forgive me, I would never do something like this but I felt obligated…" he said.
"Tell us your story Ojii-san," the Lady said gently.
He nodded and carefully removed a long bundle from his backpack. He placed it on the floor before him and unknotted the strings binding the cloth to reveal the bundle was a rusty looking katana and a dull looking wooden sheath.
The Lord tensed. "Where did you get this?" he growled. The merchant cringed and only relaxed when the Lady patted her mate's arm, drawing his attention.
"I was in Ginzu selling my wares when I met a black-haired purple-eyed man in the village inn. He was rather drunk and very sad. I had made a tidy profit so I offered to buy a dish of sake for him."
"Tell me, Ojii-san, do you remember what type of night it was? The phase of the moon?" The Lady asked gently.
The merchant frowned. "I believe there was no moon that night." At her nod he continued. "Yash was very drunk and he rambled a lot, about traitorous wenches," he blushed, "and ice-pricks. It was late when he turned morose and asked me to do him a favour. He gave me this rusty old sword and told me to give it to the Western Lord. He said that I would be richly rewarded for it.
"I told him to do it himself, because he looked like he could use the coin. He mumbled something about not needing it anymore and stumbled off. The innkeeper said Yash often rambled when drunk and gave his possessions away before showing up the next morning to take them back. So I didn't see any harm in holding onto the sword while he slept off his stupor." He paused looking uncomfortable.
"Continue," the Lady urged gently but firmly.
The merchant nodded and obeyed. "The next morning the innkeeper told me Yash had committed seppuku. Most of his belongings were sold to pay his bills and the burial costs. No one wanted a rusty old sword so it was mine, but I don't want to keep it. Then I remembered what Yash had said, about giving it to the Western Lord." He held up his hands palms up. "So I decided to bring it here, to you. I do not expect any payment," he added hastily. "I only wished to fulfill the request of a dead man."
The Lord and Lady were silent. She looked sad and ready to cry. He made a gesture to the imp standing at one side of the room.
"Jaken, pay the merchant and show him out."
"At once Sesshoumaru-sama," the imp said before stepping to the merchant. "Come," Jaken said sharply. "You have done your part and will be paid for your efforts."
The merchant got to his feet and picked up his bag and followed the imp. Just as he went through the doors he saw the Lady kneeling on the floor and picking up the bundle.
The moment the doors closed activating the sealing spells Kagome burst into tears.
"He's dead!" she sobbed.
Sesshoumaru snarled and moved to kneel beside his mate, wrapping his arm around her. "He was a fool!"
She blinked and brushed away her tears. "I know," she confessed. "It just hurts."
Sesshoumaru stomped down on the small surge of jealousy. "Do you love him?"
She was taken aback. "What? No! Not like that!" She wrapped her arms around her mate's neck hugging him close. Then she drew back to meet his eyes. "It hurts, that he didn't get the chance to grow up, to see things from my side, to be happy for me, to see his niece or nephew," she added before bursting into fresh tears.
The daiyoukai growled and caressed his mate's thickened waist, the curves hidden by layers of spelled robes. By tradition she would have to go into seclusion once the pregnancy was announced and he was reluctant to be parted from his mate. The spelled robes allowed them to put off the date when the courts would be informed of her condition.
"I can't help feeling I'm to blame, that I could have supported him some way," she whimpered sadly.
"It was his choice," Sesshoumaru pointed out. "No one could have made him change his mind about anything."
"I could," Kagome said sadly. "Kikyo could."
"In the end he listened to her more than you. There was nothing you could do. Not unless you were ready to chain in him in a sealed room."
Kagome shook her head. "No. That would not be right." She heaved a deep sigh. "I just hope in his next life he is happy. Wherever he is."
Sesshoumaru did not say anything. He did not wish anything good upon the brat, not after all the damage he had done to his mate.
"I want to visit Edo, to tell Kaede, Sango and Miroku," Kagome said softly. "We'll want to have a memorial of some kind."
Sesshoumaru stifled the instinctive protest. It was his duty to be a supportive mate. He did not want her to be distraught and careless when she was carrying. "This one will accompany you to Edo."
She smiled at him. "Thank you. This is just for closure, so I don't feel guilty later."
"That is… understandable," he said grudgingly. "When do you wish to leave?"
"As soon as possible. I want to get back quickly." She patted her belly. "I still have a lot to do in preparation for this little one."
Sesshoumaru nodded. "If you need anything…"
"I will ask," she concluded with a bright smile. Her expression turned pensive. "To be honest the InuYasha I knew died a long time ago. We'll just be putting his memory to rest."
The daiyoukai nodded.
Several days later, in Edo village, Sesshoumaru saw what Kagome had meant. She and her old friends shared stories about an InuYasha he had never seen, the one who was loyal to his friends. And at the end of it they parted with sad smiles. Old memories did not excuse the hurts the hanyou had dealt out in the later months.
InuYasha was eventually relegated to a dusty part of the Western Lands history, the black sheep of the inu-youkai clan, only brought out to be an example of what you could fall down to if you weren't true, to yourself, your kin, and your allies.
As to the Lord and Lady of the Western Lands… they raised a large family before vanishing into the annals of history like all legends do.
Time passed and eventually all references to youkai and magic were relegated to the shelves of stories and fairy tales, disbelieved by the modern twentieth century man or woman. Of course none of them knew the truth… that youkai were real and living, that they were walking in the same streets, working in the same companies, and socializing at the same events. Very few did and they weren't telling.
If you did know and you asked any youkai who he/she would consider as the most important living youkai the most common answer you would get would be "Either Sesshoumaru or Kagome. The Lord and Lady of the Western Lands."
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