Complete the Circle

Disclaimer: The characters of Inuyasha belong to their respective owners and are used without permission. The story was written purely for enjoyment, and no money was made off from this story.

Author's Note: The translation of attacks, names, etc. was taken from Chris Rijk's Inuyasha: Sengoku o-Togi Zoushi at and from the translation of the Inuyasha anime.

This is my first fan fiction so please be nice!

Chapter One: The Sign of Death

This was going to be the end. He could feel it. The air was so thick with evil that he could almost touch it. He glanced over at Miroku, whose brow was slightly furrowed in worry, his usually calm face marred by a note of finality that was written on his face. So, Miroku had felt the inevitable, too.

            He looked up, through the bare branches of the dead trees to see several crows circling the sky above. Someone was going to die this day. He hoped it was going to be Naraku, but his instinct told him that it was going to be someone else.

            He glanced over to Kirara. Sango, Kagome, and Shippou were riding on Kirara, all with equal expressions of trepidation.

            Miroku…fighting to free himself of the curse that had plagued his family for three generations. After this battle, the curse would disappear. As to how it would happen…they would soon discover.

            Kill Naraku, or die trying. Where had he heard that before? Miroku, will you rid yourself of your curse through the death of Naraku, or your own?

            He turned his head forward again, using his nose to lead his group through the dead forest, to their final battle. No, I mustn't think of this battle as the last. We'll all survive through this to fight again. We have to.

            His sensitive ears heard Sango shift Hiraikotsu slightly. The youkai exterminator was determined to get revenge for the death of her entire family, as well as the death and destruction of her village. Would she be the one who would deliver the last blow to Naraku, or would this battle be her last?

Stop thinking like that! Who said that Naraku was going to win anyway? He stomped grumpily through the lifeless wood. They were moving at a relatively slow pace, slower than one would expect for a group whose mission was about to come to an end. He stole another glance at Sango, noting that her eyes were unfocused, seemingly thinking of something. He thought to shout at her for letting her caution slip at a time like this, but thought better of it. What was she thinking of? Did it have something to do with her brother, Kohaku?

He started to become irritated with himself. He had said that he would kill Kohaku to save Sango the pain of killing a loved one, or at least one that used to be a loved one. He mentally shook himself. To Sango, Kohaku was still Kohaku. It didn't matter that he had nearly killed her many times, or that it was because of him that the rest of the group had encountered numerous dangers. Of course Sango would still have feelings for her brother that was so changed. After all, didn't he himself still have feelings for Kikyo, a woman long dead, who was bent on dragging him to hell? He could never harm Kikyo, so he knew that no matter how many chances were presented to Sango to kill Kohaku, she would never do it. That was why he had said he would do the dirty work. But he hadn't. Why? Why?

What are you going to do if Naraku should use Kohaku against you, Sango?

Which reminded him of the Shikon shard still in Kohaku. Shikon shards, Shikon no Tama: all led to the reincarnation of Kikyo, who was so much stronger that Kikyo ever was, is. Kikyo could slay many youkai at a time with her excellent archery, while this girl could heal so many broken hearts. Miroku, determined to go through life alone so that no one would be hurt as he was when his father was swallowed by his air void; Sango, whose entire life was destroyed in one night, living a nightmare in which her dead brother tried to kill her; Shippou, a small child who had wished to avenge his father with what little power he had, always feeling weak, and cowardly, but was really more brave than he gave himself credit for. How could a girl from a land so strange to him have to power to bring sad hearts together? How did she make them feel a family, caring for more people than they wished to admit? How could he have been so foolish as to fall into her trap?

I was not thinking clearly the first time I saw her. Her face, her scent, they were so similar to Kikyo's that I felt scared when I first saw her running from the centipede. I had thought that Kikyo's anger, the last conscious thought I had before I was sealed, had decided to come and finish me off. But I put on that hard cover that I had created for all these years. I was determined not to be hurt by anyone again.

So when Kagome released me from the spell and retrieved the Shikon no Tama, I was determined to cut off the part of me that was hurting. Kill this person that looked like Kikyo, and I might have been able to trick myself into believing that I had never cared for Kikyo. But then that old hag put the stupid rosary on me, forcing me to obey a girl's orders.

Thank you, Kaede-sama.

Without a chance to discover what friendship was, I might still be running around, trying to become a great youkai like my father. Without the rosary, I might have lost out on the sweetest part in life. Perhaps without the rosary, I would still be envious of Seshoumaru. But now…nothing. I don't want to be like Seshoumaru anymore. I want to be Inuyasha. Youkai, hanyou, ningen, it doesn't matter as long as I am myself. I'll have to thank Kagome for teaching me how to accept myself someday…nah. I'll seem too much of a softy if I thank her.

But really, I wish Kagome wasn't so dense sometimes. It's obvious to everyone that I love her, yet she keeps on insisting that I love Kikyo. That was only partly true. I love Kikyo for the woman she was, and I want to see that woman again, no matter how brief. I guess sort of a parting between her and I. I don't want to part with her angry with me. I know that they keep telling me that it was Naraku's fault that Kikyo died, but I still can't help feeling responsible. But sometimes I wonder, would I really let Kikyo drag me to hell? Would I allow her to kill me? Would I allow her to hurt Kagome?

I will do anything for Kikyo because I want others to see the one that had first opened my heart. I want them to see how good, sweet, beautiful she is, not this doll that looks like her, yet acts so different. And so, I would allow her to take me to hell, because I deserve it. I would let her kill me if it would make her return to her old self. But I will not, cannot allow her to hurt Kagome. If I did that, then the Kikyo I knew would truly be lost. Everyone would just know her by this mud statue that was filled with anger and anguish. Kikyo would never be able to live again, not even in my heart.

"Inuyasha, what are you thinking about?" an annoying voice piped. Shippou. That child really knew when to interrupt his thoughts.

Poor Shippou, losing his family at such a young age. Not exactly innocent, he could testify for that. He was truly a brave kid. He was afraid of many things, yet in the most unexpected moments, he would come up with some sort of tactic that would give them an edge. He was glad that the kid had been stubborn enough to stick around. What would have happened if he had succeeded in scaring the kid off?

"No-nothing," he replied quickly, feeling embarrassed. Why was he thinking of such things right now, anyway? The answer immediately came to his mind. Someone was going to die, and it wasn't going to be Naraku.

"Ne, Inuyasha, what are you really thinking about?" a sweet voice said. He knew Kagome was asking him, but what was he supposed to say? I've just been thinking deep thoughts about everyone. Sure, that would go well with the group. Inuyasha, thinking for once? As if!

But what was a good answer to give? It was clear that they weren't going to let him off the hook, for the entire group had stopped and was looking at him right now, expecting an answer. Were they that reluctant to face off with Naraku that they had to pester him? Or perhaps they felt the sense of imminent death too.

"What was that, Inuyasha?" Miroku's calm voice rang out. Damn! He must have said something out loud.

"I said that I was thinking of Naraku's death!" he shouted into the monk's face, who seemed completely unfazed by his loud voice.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sango and Kagome smile to themselves. So, they still believed him to be incapable of soul wrenching thoughts. It was fine with him. As long as he could raise their spirits, he was content. He didn't have to be like Miroku, always telling people what he had contemplated, and basically showing off. People like Miroku would not be able to lift the spirits of this group. Everyone already knew he was capable of deep thoughts, so any idiotic comment from Miroku would automatically be recognized as an attempt to cheer the group up. But he was different. He acted stupid most of the time, and because of that, he would be able to bring cheer. It made him tired sometimes, to act this way, but it was better that he did. As long as he stuck to his shell, people would believe he was a stubborn fool.

But at least being a stubborn fool was better than a brooding monk who had nearly lost his life because he had given up when he was alone in a far off temple surrounded by youkai.

"Yeah, when we reach Naraku's castle, I'm going to kick his ass!" he said enthusiastically. At least he hoped it sounded enthusiastic. He didn't want them to get suspicious.

"Ah, Inuyasha, can't you ever use more of that poor excuse of a brain of yours?" Shippou asked, shaking his head.

"Nani?!" Shippou was promptly knocked on the head a few times, leaving him to regret his words and feeling extremely dizzy.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome chided, upset that he was acting so childish.

"Feh! He deserved it," he said, huffing, stomping off towards the direction of Naraku's castle again. He saw Miroku and Sango smile to each other, feeling slightly better with his act of normality.

Good. At least they don't all look so forlorn now.

The crushing of death leaves and branches under his feet reminded him of his thoughts earlier. What was he going to do after they defeated Naraku? Would they complete the Shikon no Tama at the cost of Kohaku's life? Would they even live long enough to contemplate such a thing?

Why do I keep thinking that we're going to die? He felt angry. I'm not so pessimistic as Miroku! Then why? Why do I keep getting this feeling?

Because he knew he was going to die.

This feeling…I had this exact same feeling the day that Kikyo died and I was "killed." My instincts have yet to fail me. Does that mean I'm going to die today?

The lifeless forest was starting to thin out. That meant that either they were near Naraku's castle, or the miasma had been so strong as to wipe out this section of the forest. It was most likely both.

Is there anything I should do before I die? Should I tell them all how much they mean to me? He shook his head mentally. If I started acting out of character now, they would most likely start asking questions. Besides, how do I even know that I'm going to die? Just because my instinct tells me, and my instinct is hardly wrong, doesn't mean anything. For all I know, I could be feeling someone else's death. He immediately regretted that thought. He didn't think he would be able to stop blaming himself if anyone in his group died, especially Kagome.

It's probably better if I die. It's not like I have anywhere to go after this, except maybe to hell with Kikyo, but I'm not really looking forward to that. Besides, Kagome would probably get mad and—why am I thinking about Kagome again!?

He let out a quiet sigh that went unheard. If I die, at least I'm dying honorably, fighting for the people I care about. Feh! I'll kill Naraku before I die. Hmm, maybe he'll kill me before I can kill him, but the least I could do is injure him. That's right, I'm not dying without a fight, and if it's a fight Naraku wants, I can give him one he'll never forget!

He saw the group of crows from earlier start to land on the barren branches, refusing to fly any further. He scowled. Crows, an omen of death. What else was going to warn them of death? Would ravens and hawks start flying around them too?

They stopped in front of a large wooden door. The sky was dark with evil. Inuyasha sensed Kagome suppress a shudder. He hoped she was up to the challenge of defeating Naraku.