"Familiar Stranger"

I cry out weakly against my will, feeling my heart turn to ash and crumble at the sight before my eyes. I'm too stunned to speak. But it's him.

He is Inu-Yasha.

And I was simply too blind to see it before . . .

"Ah . . . Hojou-kun?"

"Yes?"

"Do you- do you believe . . . in reincarnation?"

"Yes, I do. Why do you ask?"

I am in love with someone else. Except it isn't someone else.

He won't understand.

I know that I never did.

"I love you."

Inu-Yasha does not understand why I am giving him my Shikon shards. He looks confused, then angry, then almost . . . afraid? He knows what is coming next, and my heart is breaking for him.

But I am human, and he is not. I am from this world's future- he is its past. He is dead in my time. And I cannot allow either of our souls to live in the past any longer.

" . . . Excuse me?"

"I love you, Hojou-kun."

This isn't exactly an end . . . but it isn't really a beginning, either. We've done this before, who knows how many times. Maybe our two souls have been doing this since this world began. Maybe even longer.

"Kagome . . . You don't even know my first name."

Inu-Yasha . . . I'm sorry. I can't come back to your time- to you- anymore. Our adventures are over now, but I swear to treasure every memory I have of both them and you.

"I don't care. I love you anyway."

His eyes are so sad/angry. I love him too, you know. But I can't leave my friends and family any more than he could. We belong where we belong.

"Hojou-kun . . . Hojou-chan . . . Tell me your name."

"If you love me, you know me."

I have to leave.

"I do. You know me, too."

I will miss him . . . but he isn't really gone.

". . . Yes, I do. You were Kikyou."

"And you . . . were once Inu-Yasha."

*ende*