Here we are, folks. Sorry for the delay. I was never happy with this chapter so I did quite a bit of rewriting, and then in the middle of it got inspired to write a brand new Inuyasha story for the first time in like five years, so I took a break to write Bound, instead (which is finished and posted, just in case anyone is interested. Although if you don't like lemons, don't read. It's quite ... lemony).
Anyway, finally sat down and finished this today. Warning: chapter gets a bit heavy on the lime here. And on the silliness. Rated maaaaybe a light R, if you squint. Please do enjoy, and I do so love my reviews. :)
All's Well that Ends Well
The moment Inuyasha touched down, he knew something had changed.
Instead of the cool, clean scent of the forest, his nose was assaulted by the harsh, acrid odors of the huge, foreign city in which Kagome made her home. His ears twitched at the distant roar of passing cars and all the noises he'd come to associate with the future. When he looked up, rather than the patch of sky surrounded by the leafy boughs of ancient trees, the weathered roof of the well house greeted his disbelieving eyes. The scent of holy incense hung heavy in the air, even above the odors of pollution.
He was dreaming, wasn't he? Inuyasha stood frozen, every sense taking in the strange-yet-familiar surroundings, while his mind tried its hardest to convince him that it was impossible. Hadn't he tried to go down before, in his desperation to save Kagome? Hadn't it locked him out for good? He shifted a bit, and his foot hit a heavy weight, causing him to look down. Kagome's huge rucksack lay at his feet, flap open and contents scattered, and he dazedly stooped to carefully pick up the precious books and other items and place them inside again. Then, shouldering the pack, he braced himself and easily leapt twenty feet to alight on the wooden walls protecting the shadowed pit.
He was back. As impossible as it seemed, his senses never lied, and he couldn't very well disbelieve what was before his very eyes. His uncertainty slowly gave way to relief, and then joy swept in as he realized that Kagome wasn't lost to him, after all. He allowed a huge grin to split his face, fangs gleaming softly in the dim light of the well house, and clenched a fist victoriously. Now all he had to do was go find Kagome and—
The grin promptly faded as he belatedly recalled the promise he'd made those weeks ago, to trust her to come back on her own. His brow furrowed and he shifted from foot to foot, trying to decide what he should do.
At the time he'd made that promise, he'd thought the well had sealed him out for good. There was no chance of him being able to go and fetch her back. And he'd really believed that she would come back. But she never had, and he wasn't sure she was ever planning to. And now that he was once more free to come and go as he pleased, the temptation to just drag her forcefully away was nearly overwhelming. He could do it, right? It wasn't like she could stop him or—
He shook his head hard enough to send his hair flying, trying to shake the traitorous thoughts out of it. No, that would just be stupid of him. He'd piss her off if he tried something like that, and she'd definitely never trust him again.
Still, if he went without her … what if the well locked him out again? What if this was his only chance to get her back? If he blew it, he'd never be able to forgive himself. Did he really want to risk it?
Inuyasha's ear flattened as he began to pace restlessly around the well house, his entire body quivering with his inner turmoil. To drag her back against her will… After everything he'd already put her through, he shouldn't even be considering something like that! He'd kill what little faith she'd managed to regain in him. He'd be all kinds of a fool if he destroyed it again, after she'd already forgiven him for everything he'd done to her.
He paused, scowling at the floor. Well … he thought she had, anyway. Honestly, her continuing absence was beginning to give him serious doubts. After finally breaking down and admitting just how much she meant to him, he'd been sure she'd come rushing back to him immediately, throw herself into his arms, and proclaim her own undying love. That she hadn't done so was a serious blow to his fragile ego. What if his confession was the reason she hadn't come back? What if he'd really scared her off for good this time?
Still debating, he stepped to the door of the well house and peered cautiously outside; the light was fading, and the sky was lit with vibrant shades of red, pink, and violet in a spectacular sunset. His eyes were drawn to the second floor of the main house, toward Kagome's bedroom window. It was lit from within; he could see a shadow silhouetted against the half-drawn curtains, and his heart kicked. More than anything, he wanted to see Kagome again, promise or no promise. But if he showed up now, wouldn't she think it was because he decided not to trust her again? And how was he supposed to explain his presence after clearly telling her he wasn't able to cross over anymore? What if she thought he'd lied? He knew that's what he'd believe were the positions reversed.
Then again, this was Kagome he was thinking of.
Everything stilled. His mind. His heart. Inuyasha closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath as realization struck home. Yes. This was Kagome. Her unwavering faith in him, even when he was at his very worst, was just one of the reasons why he'd fallen in love with her. After all, hadn't he given her the chance—Hadn't he practically beggedher?—to slip another spelled rosary around his neck? An end to all fear and doubt right there in her hand, and she'd responded by throwing the beads away. She'd been the one to tell him that she wanted to trust him on her own.
She wanted to trust him.
And, he decided, even more than his own desires, he wanted to be worthy of that trust. He would go back and wait, alone.
No matter the reason for her delay, he was sure she wouldn't keep him waiting forever. She wasn't heartless like that. Even if she was paying him back the heartache he'd caused her, he'd endure it. He deserved a little heartache of his own, he supposed. And even if her feelings … weren't like his, if she wanted nothing but friendship from him, he swore to any deity who might be listening that he'd be satisfied with that, just as long as she returned to his side.
Before he went back, though, he had to see her. Just one more glimpse, to fortify his patience and give him the strength to continue waiting. He bounded silently to the house and leapt to the second story, perching on the lower roof beneath Kagome's window so he could peer inside, between the parted curtains.
He was surprised to find the room empty and the door firmly shut. He was sure he'd seen someone moving around in it. But this was an unexpected and welcome opportunity, so he carefully pried open the window and stepped into the room. He breathed deeply as the heady scent of Kagome engulfed him, and his eyes closed as a long-missed peace slowly relaxed his body and spirit, displacing the worry and hurt that had harbored there for nearly a month. He picked up a large, yellow-patterned pillow on her bed and held it close, burying his face in the fabric and inhaling deeply. He felt a little foolish, hugging a pillow—He'd rather be embracing its owner, who was so much warmer and softer and smelled just as good—but he'd missed this scent even more than he realized, and this was probably the closest he'd get to it for a long while yet.
A sudden thump and faint rise of voices made him jump, hastily tossing the pillow away as he remembered that Kagome was probably somewhere inside the house. His ears swiveled in all directions as he listened hard for any hint of someone's approach, nose lifting to delicately test his surroundings. He could detect the scent of freshly-cooked food, and his mouth watered as he recalled the delicious meals Kagome's mother would cook for him. They were probably eating dinner now. He wished he could go down and join them. He smirked, trying to imagine the expression on Kagome's face were he to go down and seat himself at their table as he had on other occasions, just like nothing had ever happened. He could practically feel her shock, and he released a throaty chuckle.
A gleam from the desk caught his eye, and he picked up the small, glass vial holding the shards of the jewel. He sighed, gazing down at the fragments. He took odd comfort in their presence. They were yet another reason for Kagome to return, why she eventually would return. She had a duty to complete, and her honor would never let her forget it, even if she for some reason wished to forget him.
When she'd shattered the jewel, accident or not, he'd been so pissed that he could have killed her for such carelessness. Now, he found he was grateful for the accident, since it had given him the opportunity to spend so much time with her. Where he'd first seen her as nothing but the reincarnation of the miko he used to love, now he saw her as simply Kagome.
And maybe Kikyou had once held his heart in her hands, but it was only Kagome now whom he would entrust with its keeping.
Inuyasha was so wrapped up in his musings that he failed to notice the approaching footsteps in the hall. Only when Souta's voice reached his ears did he startle out of his thoughts, and when Kagome's voice replied, he abruptly began to panic. He let out a yip as he fumbled with the glass vial, nearly dropping it. Then he stood frozen like a trapped animal as the footsteps grew closer, before turning to make a mad dash for the window. He leapt to the sill, preparing to launch himself into the darkness, but then the door opened, and it was already too late.
There was a sharp gasp, a moment of stunned silence behind him, and he cringed slightly and stepped back down to the floor as he waited for the outburst that was sure to come.
The hanyou found himself nearly bowled over when Souta launched himself forward and wrapped his skinny arms tightly around a red-clad leg. "You came! You came! Kagome said you wouldn't come anymore!" the child cried, dark eyes sparkling with adoration up at his rather uncomfortable hero.
"Uh…" Golden eyes flicked worriedly back and forth between brother and sister. Kagome's face was expressionless, her gaze steady. Inuyasha sweated a little, wanting to squirm beneath her stare. "I … uh…" His eyes fell on the pack he'd dropped near the bed, and he pounced. "Y-you forgot that," he stammered, pointing to the beat-up bag. "I was just … bringing it back to you, is all. Those dumb books are in it. Thought you'd want 'em back." He shifted uncomfortably, shaking his leg a little in a subtle effort to dislodge the shaggy-haired barnacle that persisted in cutting off his circulation.
Kagome's eyes softened as a small grin touched her face. "Souta, do you think you could leave us alone for a bit?" she questioned softly. "Inuyasha and I need to talk, okay?"
"Awwww." Souta pouted. "But I wanted to show him my new video game!"
"Souta, please? It's … kind of important."
"I-I'll come see you later, kid," Inuyasha promised, although he really didn't want to be alone with Kagome at the moment. She was acting too calm about seeing him there, which usually meant an explosion was just around the corner.
Satisfied, Souta finally released Inuyasha's leg and skipped out of the room. "Remember! You promised!" he called as Kagome shut the door. She sighed, then turned back to face an increasingly nervous hanyou.
He braced himself, prepared to receive a thorough tongue-lashing … and nearly fell over when she smiled at him, instead. "I can't say I'm not surprised to see you," she began softly, "but, I'm really glad you're here. I missed you."
He blinked at her. Several times. "Y-you're not mad?"
She pursed her lips. "Should I be?"
"Well … I told you I couldn't come here anymore," he reminded her.
"Yes. You did."
"But, here I am," he elaborated.
"So you are." She settled herself on the edge of her bed, nodding at her bag. "Thanks for returning those books, although it's a bit late. I already had to buy replacements. But, I guess that means I can just leave those in your time, and that way I won't have to drag them back and forth everywhere and can still get my studying in."
She looked pleased with the idea, but he was growing agitated. She wasn't reacting at all like he'd expected, and it was making him nervous. "Aren't you even wonderin' why I'm here?" he snapped, before wincing and gentling his voice. "Don't you think I … lied to you, or somethin'?"
She tilted her head a bit. "Did you lie to me?"
"No!" He straightened defensively, then sighed and sank to his haunches. "Well … uh … I didn't mean to, anyway. Honest, Kagome, when I tried the well … that time … it didn't let me through. I just thought since the rosary broke, the connection to you broke along with it."
"So, how did you know to try the well again?" she asked.
He blushed and clammed up, not about to admit he'd been throwing a little tantrum at the time. "Just a fluke," he muttered. "Keh. I wasn't tryin' to spy or thinkin' of dragging you back again."
Kagome's expression gentled as she looked at his bowed head. His tone was as defensive as she'd ever heard it, but his ears were drooping a little; a sure sign he was more nervous than he wanted to admit. Hesitantly, she reached out to lay her hand against his hair, gliding her fingers through the long, silky strands. Her thumb absently stroked along the base of one ear, which flicked at her touch. But instead of grumbling at her like he normally did when she touched his ears, he leaned unconsciously into her hand, encouraging more contact. She smiled. "M-maybe it's just that you were wrong about the reason," she suggested.
He frowned a little, trying to puzzle it out. "The shards? The jewel brought you to m—to us—in the first place."
"I don't think that's it, either. If a shard is needed to cross through, then how could you be here now? I've got them all with me."
"Keh. You got a better idea?"
To his surprise, Kagome blushed. "M-maybe," she hedged.
His ears perked. "So? Ya gonna spill it?"
"I-it's kinda stupid. It's just a theory," she mumbled, tracing a finger over the patterned quilt she sat on. She looked oddly uncomfortable. Now he was really curious.
He nudged her leg with a shoulder. "Aaaand?"
"Well…" She bit her lip. "What if it was … me?"
A heavy eyebrow rose. "You."
"Y-yeah. I mean, what if it was my … feelings?" Now his other brow shot up; she squirmed a bit under his probing gaze. "It's just, when I was sick, you never seemed to be around, and that really hurt me." Her blush deepened at his obvious surprise. "I know I had a lot of nightmares, and I thought you hated me, and I was scared of you, but I … really missed you, too," she continued softly. "I just, more than anything, wanted you to be beside me. The way it used to be. M-maybe that wish was so strong that it actually affected the magic, so the well wouldn't let you leave?"
There was a moment of silence. Then, "So how come I can go through now?"
She continued to look at everything but him. "Because … I still feel the same?" She shrugged, trying to look casual and failing miserably. "I did say I missed you, didn't I?"
His knuckles rapped gently against her temple, skimmed down her face. "You dummy." His voice was so soft that she shivered, inadvertently meeting his gaze. Her heart skipped. His eyes were lidded, the bright amber-gold darkened to a rich, melted honey that made her want to melt all over. He'd never looked at her like that before, not even when he'd kissed her and dropped her into the well. "If you missed me so much, how come you didn't come back?" he asked.
She could hardly catch her breath to answer. "I … I guess I got a little scared," she admitted. "At first I was busy trying to catch up with everything, and before I knew it almost two weeks had passed. Then I thought, if I went back now you'd be mad at me for staying away for so long and change your mind. Or maybe I'd just dreamed the whole thing up or—"
Her words were stopped by a warm thumb pressing to her lips, his palm cupping her cheek. He drew closer to nuzzle gently at her ear. "Idiot," he whispered. "That wasn't any dream."
She released a long, shuddering breath as she draped her arms around his shoulders. His arms slipped around her waist without hesitation, pulling her even closer so he could bury his face against her neck. His mouth pressed softly to her throat, and her arms tightened as she allowed herself the luxury of petting his hair, tangling her fingers in the silky strands.
"Will you come back with me?" he asked, his breath hot and moist against her sternum. "I … I mean, unless you ain't done with your test things yet…"
She held back a smile. "Those don't really matter so much anymore," she murmured, and he nearly fell over in shock, pulling away to gape at her. She had to laugh at his dumbfounded expression. "Well, someone made me realize that what I thought was important really isn't as important as I thought it was." She stopped, mulled it over, then shook her head. "That made so much more sense when Mama said it."
His eyes widened. "Y-your mom—?"
Her cheeks reddened again. "Sh-she knows all about what happened and … um…"
"She ain't mad at me?"
Kagome shook her head.
"And she don't care that I—That we're—Uh…"
She shook it again, blush darkening. "Sh-she seems to like you."
"Even though I'm a hanyou?"
"Mama's not one to judge."
"Like mother, like daughter, huh?" He smiled and leaned closer again. "An' what if I took her daughter away? Forever? Would she like me then?"
"I think she'd … understand," Kagome murmured. She was having trouble breathing properly again. Was it always this hot in here? He was suddenly soclose, almost looming over her, and she self-consciously leaned further away to regain some personal space, until her elbows were propped on the bed to hold her up. He just followed her, bracing his arms on either side of her body, one knee pressed to the mattress. His hair slipped over his shoulders and fell in a silvery-white curtain all around them. Strands of cool, heavy silk brushed her face and pooled across the heated skin revealed by the V of her neckline. The scent of forest and wind and everything nature permeated the air.
His mouth brushed hers; a delicate, fleeting caress. They both froze, staring wide-eyed at each other. And when Kagome didn't react by shoving him away or punching him across the room, he leaned in to kiss her again, and then a third time.
Three became four, and then she lost count as he pushed her fully to the bed, pressing flush against her as his hands slid up her back until they cradled her head, angling his to deepen their contact. His tentative kisses became bolder, heavier, and when he probed gently she parted her lips to allow him to taste her more deeply. His nose quivered at the first scent of growing arousal—both hers and his—and it elicited a low, needy growl that reverberated from his chest straight into hers.
She gasped into his mouth, startled at the sudden aggressiveness. And really turned on.
The small sound brought him back to his senses, and he abruptly tore his mouth from hers, leaving the both of them gasping as they stared at each other in wonder. His eyes were nothing but a thin ring of molten gold surrounding pupils so dilated they nearly encompassed the color. The way he was looking at her reminded her of her cat whenever he locked on to a flock of birds or a squirrel in the yard. If Inuyasha possessed a tail, it might have been lashing from side to side, just like Bouyo's.
Kagome shifted … then squeaked and hastily lowered her legs, which had somehow wrapped themselves around Inuyasha's waist. Wh-whendidI…?
There was warm, rigid something probing insistently at the juncture of her thighs and the burning in her face spread into the rest of her body. She knew exactly what it was, and she unconsciously squirmed with embarrassment. In response, Inuyasha choked on another short growl, hips shifting to press harder against her. His name slipped from her lips on a long, shuddering breath, and that seemed to bring him back to his senses. The melting heat in his gaze lessened; a small, rather sheepish smile touched his kiss-swollen lips. "Kagome," he murmured, stroking a thumb over her cheek and across her tender mouth. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't scare you, did I?"
She shook her head, a smile tugging at her lips. "Not scared, exactly…" she admitted shyly. He looked smugly satisfied with her reply. He also looked more than willing to pick right back up where he'd left off … and she wasn't sure she'd be able to stop him if he did. She was pretty sure she didn't want to. Which meant, of course, that she probably should distract him. "Th-there's something I've been meaning to tell you," she said, her face a picture of solemnity. "It's just been difficult to find the right time lately."
He frowned, stiffening a bit at the sudden change of tone. "What is it?" he asked, voice laced with suspicion. Clearly, he was expecting something horrible.
She raised her hand to stroke her fingers over his cheek in a soothing caress, her expression softening into a gentle smile as he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. "Nothing important," she murmured. "Just that … I really kind of love you."
His eyes flew open and he stared down at her with an expression that warred between disbelief, hope, and elation. Then his arms tightened around her, holding her so close she could hardly breathe, but that was okay because his mouth was on hers and breathing somehow didn't matter anymore as Kagome began to sink further into the blinding passion flowing between them—
"Hey, Inuyasha! Are you done talking to—Eeeewwwwww! That's gross! Mooooom! Kagome and Inuyasha are being baaaaaad!"
"Souta! I'm gonna kill you!" Kagome roared, suddenly free of Inuyasha's arms and launching herself after the hysterically laughing boy, leaving a bemused hanyou to blink after them in surprise. The mood was definitely broken now.
He took a moment to gather his thoughts, ears twitching as they picked up the sound of Kagome's loud yells and Souta's squeals of fright, and then he suddenly grinned and flopped back onto the bed, chuckling quietly. Now maybe she'd understand why he was always knocking Shippou around. The little brat had an uncanny knack for interrupting at exactly the wrong moments. Ah, well. He stretched lazily and rose to his feet, shaking himself off and sauntering from the room with a smug grin on his face. A loud crash and a squawk greeted his ears, making the grin stretch from ear to ear. He supposed he'd better go and save Souta from Kagome's wrath. What kind of a hero would he be, otherwise? Besides, he kinda liked Souta; the kid showed good sense. Anyone who idolized him couldn't be all that bad, right?
Kagome's mother brushed by, holding a basket piled with clothes in one arm, carrying a bag of trash in the other. She looked flustered by the sudden racket, but still paused to give him a motherly smile. "Why, hello, Inuyasha! It's so good to see you!" she exclaimed. "I believe Kagome is around here—"
"Kagome and Inuyasha, sittin' in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-"
"Die, you little weasel!"
"—somewhere. Please excuse me. Oh, there are leftovers in the refrigerator; they should still be warm. I hope you like oden. Help yourself, dear!" And with that she was breezing down the hallway, laundry and trash balanced expertly in her hands.
Inuyasha stared after her, more than a little impressed. Mrs. Higurashi was really an amazing mother. Calm and collected—even in the face of impending disaster—kind and thoughtful, and clearly someone who cared about her children. Kagome would probably turn out the same way, given how she always doted on Shippou. His expression turned a bit wistful as he tried to imagine Kagome cradling her first—their first—baby in her arms. A daughter. Yeah, it would definitely be a girl. Or … or maybe a boy? He wouldn't mind a son. Someone he could teach how to hunt and fish and—Or why not have both? Yeah … a son and a daughter, who would be raised among people who didn't care that they looked a bit different, or that they might have claws and ears and eyes that marked them as not quite human. They would be cared for and loved. They'd never know what it was like to have to fend for themselves. Between him and Kagome, he'd make sure they'd never want for anything.
Of course, it'd be better to wait awhile, he thought with a frown. There was still the matter of the shards. It'd be impossible to collect them if Kagome was laid up or stuck taking care of kids. No way would she be willing to drag her babies into danger, hanyou or not. He wouldn't blame her, either, but no way would he leave them with a bunch of strangers while they were off searching for days and weeks at a time. And once the jewel was finally completed, he didn't know what would happen. He found he'd lost the urge to wish on the jewel to become fully youkai … but he wasn't sure he wished to become fully human, either. Kagome loved him just as he was, so who was he to complain? At the moment, he didn't really care what happened with the jewel, just as long as he could be with Kagome at the end of it all.
A faint trace of food reached his nostrils as he neared the kitchen, and he stopped in his tracks and hungrily licked his lips. Oden, huh? Well, first things first, then. He'd leave Souta in his mother's capable hands while he partook of the most delicious-smelling food. Then, he'd track Kagome down and settle her with a kiss. Or two. Or a few dozen.
And speaking of which…
A screeching Souta suddenly appeared, nearly bowling Inuyasha over as he zipped by with a fuming Kagome hot on his heels. Inuyasha grinned and, without even thinking about it, reached out to snag the girl around the waist, hauling her back against his chest. She squeaked, squirmed around to face him—Possibly to give him a piece of her mind—but never got the chance to open her mouth when she found it firmly engulfed in a heated kiss.
It took a few long, heady moments before she relaxed into his arms, her insides pooling like melted butter as he plied her lips with soft nips and teasing flicks of his tongue. When he finally released her she could hardly find her balance, gazing stupidly into deep, gold-limned eyes that promised more, and she swayed toward him again—
And then, of course, Souta had to open his big mouth. "Kagome and Inuyasha, sittin' in a tree! K-I-S—"
Kagome squealed and whirled, claws extended for the kill. Souta screeched in terror, and off they went, leaving poor Inuyasha standing in a trail of dust, a bemused grin tugging at his lips as he shook his head. On second thought … maybe just one son or daughter would be best, after all. No need to rush into things and end up driving himself crazy with the inevitable squabbling. Chuckling to himself, he straightened his clothes primly and stepped into the kitchen.
And now, to see about that oden…
The End (for real, this time)
Final Notes: So, I never did figure out exactly WHY Inuyasha was actually able to travel through the well. I don't believe any official explanation was ever given or I completely missed it in the anime (never read the manga), but it seems the general consensus (by fans) is that Kagome's feelings and will are what allow both her and Inuyasha to cross through. When Kagome was sick and stuck in the past, Inuyasha was blocked because she was there with him, and subconsciously wanted him by her side (despite the nightmares; remember when she was awake she was upset because he was avoiding her). It wasn't the rosary, or the jewel, it was just her developing love and her strong desire to have him by her side. I hope that makes sense.
Anyway! The story is now complete. Thanks very much for your support. I appreciate it greatly.