InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Midnight Meets Moonlight ❯ The Cruelty of Fate ( Chapter 11 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha
(A/N: I was overwhelmed with the responses that I received on the last chapter, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am sorry though, that some of you think that I am making Sesshoumaru too out of character, that I am making Kagome too weak and a crybaby, that Sango, Miroku, and Shippo don't appear in the story enough, or that I am using Kikyo as a reason to make Sess/Kag together. It was not my intention to do any of these, and I apologize again if you think it ruins the story. I will try better from now on. I would like to point out, though, the reason why I do not talk about Sango, Miroku and Shippo a lot. The reason is simple: this is not their story. That's not to say that they are not involved, or are not important enough…it's just that my focus is not on them. That is the real reason.
However, in a bit of good news, this story has been nominated for a few awards, of which I am very honored. A Single Spark website has my stories nominated within two categories, and I would appreciate it very much if those that love these stories would vote for them. Here they are.
Best Kagome Portrayal:
“Midnight Meets Moonlight”
Best Romance:
“Midnight Meets Moonlight”
“For Richer or Poorer”
You can only vote for one fanfic in each category, and I would appreciate everyone's support in this. The website to vote is: Voting ends on April 21, 2006. Thanks so much. Now on to chapter eleven.)
Chapter Eleven
The Cruelty of Fate
He had wanted her.
Weak as she may be, human that she was, different time period regardless, he had wanted her. Wanted her close to him, wanted her touching him, wanted her to stay with him…it was a powerful thing. And an almost impossible one. Years ago, she never would have thought that he could want her…need her. Or that she would want him. She had made a fatal mistake in making assumptions about him again.
She really needed to stop doing that. It wasn't good for her health, mentally and emotionally.
But still…he wanted her.
And it scared her, more than she could say. He may have been attracted to her, he may have needed her comfort, but did he love her? There was a part deep within her soul that wanted to think that he did. But she was not so foolish as to get her hopes up. She was not a little girl any more; she was a grown woman who needed to think realistically.
The jewel was completed.
Their quest had finally come to an end and her time in the Feudal Era was now in the air. Once the jewel was purified and gone, what would happen to her? To the rest of the group. Sango and Miroku would get married and start a family, rebuilding Sango's old village. Shippo would grow up into a strong demon and find a mate to settle down with. Inuyasha…Inuyasha would probably stay with Kikyo.
Her heart did not hurt over that anymore. As long as they were happy, she was happy. But what would happen to her? The possibilities were not good. Fate could either be kind or cruel, and she was afraid to find out which. Her greatest fear was that she would disappear. Not just from this world, but from the minds of her friends. To just become a legend, a creature of myth, faded into the background and made into a story.
Is that how Sesshoumaru felt in his time? A demon that was forced to pretend his kind didn't exist…would she have to pretend? Would she be able to?
Instinctively she moved closer to Sesshoumaru without opening her eyes, seeking some form of security.
“You are thinking too much,” she heard his voice say, feeling the vibrations in his chest.
The dawn was just breaking over the land in their little clearing, illuminating the darkness that had made up their night, chasing away the shadows. He knew she had been awake for a while, content to let silence reign over them, but knowing that her mind was not silent. He could smell the myriad of emotions that passed over her starting with content and then morphing into confusion, apprehension, sorrow, and fear. He felt her move to him, as if seeking reassurance that he was still there.
“I can't help it,” she said softly, and he saw her eyes open and gaze up at him, serious and dark. “What is going to happen now, Sesshoumaru?”
He looked away from her into the forest beyond the clearing. There were many ways her question could be interpreted. She could have been asking what was going to happen now that her team had the complete jewel, or she could have been asking what was going to happen between them.
The first question he could not answer for her…the second one was still uncertain even to himself. He had admitted to himself that he wanted her for his own, but he could not just sweep her off her feet and make her his, as much as he wanted to. For one, his enemies would not allow it. Secondly…he was not going to accept anything less than her unconditional love, and he was not certain that she loved him. Wanted him, yes, just as he wanted her. But, for the first time in his entire existence, he felt more than just fleeting lust. He was known for his intensity in battle, in defending what was his, and in what he wanted for his own. He would expect nothing less than the same intensity from her.
But, there were many obstacles in their way, and too many unknowns in their future. But if she did love him…
“I don't know,” he finally said.
She looked at him a moment, then nodded, appreciating his honesty. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the trunk of the tree. He enjoyed the silence, enjoyed the fact that she was near him of her own free will, and her scent around him, filling his head as he ignored the stench of stale blood.
His eyes snapped open when he felt a cloth gently touch his cheek, meeting her soft gaze. She wiped her handkerchief against the blood spattered on his face without saying a word, and he let her, reveling in this new closeness.
He had not let anyone near him in a long time. Rin was the only exception, but now she was gone. It still stabbed his heart every time the thought of never seeing her smile again entered his mind, but Kagome's soft touch against his face tempered the sting.
He knew he could not let this woman go. He had made a mistake in never accepting what he felt for Rin. He would not make that same mistake with Kagome. She would be his…his heart, his body, and his beast demanded it.
He would figure out a way.
His nose registered a new scent and held back a sigh. “Inuyasha is coming,” he said to her, and she nodded, putting away the cloth and standing along with him. Inuyasha crashed through the trees and skidded to a stop in front of them.
“Kagome,” he said, his relief at finding her evident on his face before it turned into a scowl. “How many times do I have to tell you not to leave camp in the middle of the night?”
“Sorry, Inuyasha,” she apologized. “I didn't mean to worry you. I was with Sesshoumaru.”
“I can see that, dummy,” he snorted, crossing his arms and glancing up and down at Sesshoumaru, seeing the dried bloodstains on the TaiYoukai's clothes. “You look like you've been busy.”
“Quite,” Sesshoumaru replied noncommittally.
“Inuyasha,” Kagome said, returning the hanyou's attention to her. “We have the last shard.”
Inuyasha tensed, his eyes widening. His heart began to pound in his chest. The day that they had been waiting for had finally arrived, and so did all of the uncertainties that came with it. Mainly, what would happen to Kagome once the jewel was purified. “I see,” he said gruffly. “Well, then…ah, I guess we should tell the others.”
She nodded tensely, her eyes unreadable, and began to walk ahead of them back to the camp. Inuyasha stared at Sesshoumaru for a moment longer. Sesshoumaru gazed back, unspeaking.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” Inuyasha asked, his voice not revealing his thoughts.
Sesshoumaru stared at his younger brother, for the first time acknowledging that he was not the same as he had been years ago. He was still hot-headed, still brash and crude…but he seemed to understand more than he let on. Sesshoumaru nodded once, firmly, knowing that he had found what he was looking for and more.
Now he had Kagome.
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The camp was silent as Kagome shared the news. Miroku grabbed Sango's hand comfortingly as Shippo stared at his feet. Kikyo gazed resolutely on into the fire, barely acknowledging that the words were spoken.
“So…what do we do now?” Sango asked, finding her voice. It had seemed like this day would never come, and now that it had, the group seemed a little lost. Sango knew that the possibility that Kagome might not come back once the jewel was purified was real, and she was glad Miroku was there beside her so she wouldn't tear up. She felt him squeeze her hand, and knew he was feeling the same.
“We head back to Kaede's village, and purify the jewel once and for all,” the young miko said in a strong voice. “This whole thing will be over by sundown.”
Kagome glanced around at the group after she had spoken those words. Inuyasha's ears had drooped, while Sango and Miroku seemed so sad. Shippo sniffed quietly, and Kirara was silent. Kikyo was the only one not showing any reaction, and she didn't know if she was glad for that or not. She didn't even look at Sesshoumaru, not knowing if she could.
“You guys act like something bad is going to happen,” she said in a falsely bright voice. “We should be happy! The jewel won't be able to hurt anyone after today. There will be no more suffering due to its influence.”
“But, Kagome,” Shippo said, voice trembling slightly. “We don't know what will happen to you.”
Kagome looked at him, her gaze sad, before she walked over to him and leaned down to his level, staring at him in the eyes. “Well then,” she said quietly. “We'll deal with that problem when it comes, won't we?” She gave him a quick hug, adding a big squeeze, before she stood up. “I think it's time we got on the road.”
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`Now is the time. You must kill them soon.'
“I thought I told you to go away.”
A dark laugh.
`I live within you. I can not go away. You are mine to command, mine to control. You always have been.'
“I despise you.”
The voice was amused. `I know. I have taken away your control…something that you hate. How does it feel?'
`Tsk, tsk, ignoring someone isn't polite. I asked you how it feels. To know that you will kill them all, slaughter them, take everything away from them, and know that you couldn't prevent it?'
“Stop it.”
`Because you weren't strong enough.'
“I said to stop it!”
`Because you were…weak.'
The voice was shaking. “I swear on everything that I am that I will kill you.”
A chuckle. `Maybe. But I would come back. You can not kill me. Not completely. And before my work is over here, Inuyasha and the others will be dead. You must accept that.'
“I won't.”
`I admire your fire. Let's see if you live up to your words…'
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It was still a somber group that stopped for lunch. They would reach the village by mid-afternoon, but they really weren't in any hurry. Something was going to happen that day…something big.
All of them could feel it but none of them wanted to acknowledge it. To acknowledge it would accept that it was going to happen. Accepting that it was going to happen meant that it WOULD happen.
Kagome sighed as she got out the water bottles to fill up, handing a box of matches to Miroku to start a fire while Inuyasha went hunting. She patted Shippo's head on her way out of the camp, receiving a half-hearted smile in return. She hated how depressing this day was becoming.
She could feel Sesshoumaru's eyes on her all day, never saying a word, but not needing to. She took comfort of his presence, in the way he watched out for her, just in the way he watched her. She felt important to him, felt powerful being the object of his attention. For as long as it lasted…she would take it.
She shook her head, telling herself to stop having those depressing thoughts. She found a stream nearby and started filling the bottles with water, getting lost in her own thoughts as she focused on the mundane task. The water was cold and crisp, and she couldn't resist dipping her hands in it and giving her face a quick scrub to refresh herself. She began wiping her face on her shirt sleeve to dry it when she heard the sound of a stick snap behind her. Whirling around with a gasp, she was met with the vision of Kikyo, her bow drawn, staring at her with a blank look in her eyes. There were no emotions on her face, no rage, no sadness. It was empty…chilling.
“Kikyo?” Kagome whispered, her heart pounding wildly. “What are you doing?”
The bow was drawn tighter, the string groaning in protest, and Kagome felt her adrenaline spike. She could not believe this was happening. She was ready to bolt when she saw Kikyo's face harden, but before she could move, Kikyo shifted slightly and let the arrow fly with a dull THWANG.
Kagome closed her eyes as saw the arrow coming towards her, and froze when she felt the air rush by her face. Her eyes snapped open as she heard a thud from behind her and whirled around again. Across the stream, a wild goose was sprawled on the forest floor, blood draining from the arrow protruding on its chest.
Kagome didn't move as Kikyo calmly crossed the stream and picked up the goose, breaking the arrow off and throwing it on the ground before heading back across the stream, leaving Kagome alone.
Kikyo hadn't been trying to kill her. She was just helping Inuyasha hunt lunch. Kagome had just been in the way of her shot, so it only looked like she was pointing her arrow at her. That was all…right?
She placed a hand over her still pounding heart, and noticed that her hands were shaking. She leaned down towards the stream again, cupping her hands and placed them on her now flushed cheeks, trying to calm down. She hadn't just almost been killed. It had all been a misunderstanding. Kikyo wouldn't kill her.
So why couldn't she get the blank look in Kikyo's eyes out of her mind?
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It was dreary and overcast when they reached the outskirts of the village, the weather matching the group's mood perfectly. It was bleak and depressing, but Kagome felt it was fitting. She hadn't told Inuyasha or Sesshoumaru, or any of the others for that matter about her encounter with Kikyo. The more reasonable part of her mind told her that it was just her mind playing tricks on her, that Kikyo hadn't been pointing her arrow at her. Her brain had just conjured up the image from the memory of the past Kikyo and brought it to life, as simple as that.
However, there was the darker part of her that knew something was wrong. That Kikyo hadn't really been seeing her when she pointed her arrow. That blankness was…unnatural.
But of course, Inuyasha would just tell her she was being stupid and dramatic. She couldn't tell him…not something like that. So she kept silent, her thoughts remaining to herself, even when her heart was nagging her.
As they walked the familiar path to the village, the skies opened up and it began to drizzle, a light rain that was falling harder and thicker by the minute.
`Just perfect,' Kagome thought glumly, wrapping her arms around her middle to keep herself from getting a chill.
Kagome turned, startled by the sound of Kikyo's voice.
“May I speak with you privately?” the priestess asked softly, and Kagome tried to hide her shock. The rest of the group stopped and looked at them curiously.
“Um…s-sure, Kikyo,” Kagome said, trying to keep her voice level. Kikyo nodded once and began walking away. Kagome turned back to the group and gave them what she hoped was a reassuring smile.
She could see the confusion on Miroku's, Sango's, and Shippo's face, along with Inuyasha's. Sesshoumaru looked almost wary, but she brushed it off as her imagination.
“You guys go on ahead,” she said, trying to be cheerful. “I'm sure we'll only be a minute. We'll meet you at Kaede's.”
Inuyasha nodded and began walking again with Miroku, and Shippo. Sango, with Kirara in her arms, smiled tentatively at her before following them. Sesshoumaru followed a moment later after giving her a long look.
After they left, Kagome saw Kikyo disappear into the edge of the woods and hurried to catch up, willing her nerves to be calm and her curiosity getting the better of her. She caught up with the older priestess, and they walked in silence for a while, Kikyo leading the way. After a few moments, Kagome began to recognize the surrounding area and sure enough, the meadow of the Bone-Eaters well appeared a minute later. The wind began to blow stronger, forcing the rain into Kagome's face as it whipped through the long grass at her feet as she followed Kikyo to stand by the well.
She stopped when Kikyo stopped, and waited for her to speak. Kikyo was silent for several moments, staring into the black hole of the well, thinking deeply. Turning sharply, she walked away a few steps, leaving Kagome at the edge in confusion before turning around again.
There was an odd look on the woman's face, a pained look. “Kagome…” she whispered, her voice small. “He is not gone.”
Kagome's confusion grew as her heart sped up. “Wha-What do you mean?” she said softly. “Who is not gone? Kikyo, I don't understand.”
“He is not gone, Kagome,” she said urgently. “He is planning on-” she cut herself off as she clutched her head. A look of agony replaced the look of desperation. Kagome took a jerky step forward.
“Kikyo! What's wrong? Are you all right?”
“Stay back!” Kikyo hissed. “He…he's…he wants…”
“Who?” Kagome whispered softly, fear clenching her heart. Kikyo lifted her head, and Kagome took a step back as she saw the odd blankness in her eyes again. The back of her hip hit the wood of the well as she felt an immense pressure fill her soul.
It was so forceful, this feeling of evil, that she felt like she was suffocating, her lungs heaving to draw a breath as the wind picked up ominously around her. She closed her eyes as the jyaki seemed to explode from Kikyo, surrounding her in darkness and almost bringing her to her knees. She knew this feeling…it was so familiar that she felt like crying even as she tried to tell herself it wasn't possible. It couldn't be possible.
She cracked one eye open and repressed another gasp. A dark fog seemed to float around Kikyo, making her body seem to fade as another presence flickered into materialization in front of her like a ghost.
A demon from hell…one that they had thought they killed…the one who started everything.
“Naraku,” she whispered, wanting to cry.
“Now, miko, don't look so shocked,” his smooth voice said, as if from far away. “You had to have known this was coming.”
“No,” she said, shaking her head in denial. “No! We killed you! I watched you die!”
“Yes, you killed me,” he said, his voice and red eyes becoming hard. “You killed my body, my transport, and purified it to hell. You even took some of my soul with you…but not all of it.”
“I don't understand,” Kagome said, wanting to run, hide, to do anything to get away from this immense sense of dread filling her.
He chuckled darkly. “My dear, Kagome, what is there not to understand? My soul needed a body…but not one with a full soul. I would not be able to live in a body that housed a full soul so…I picked one that only had a part of one.”
“Kikyo…” Kagome realized. “You possessed her.”
Another laugh. “Of course. What a fitting end, right? To take control of the one who hated me so much…to make her kill those she loves and cares for…to take away her last chance at redemption. It was perfect.”
“You bastard,” Kagome said, standing straight, her anger making her bravery return. “She is not evil. She has changed from who she used to be. She is no longer controlled by her past. And you are not as strong as you think, are you?”
She saw his eyes flicker in annoyance, and felt her heart soar in triumph.
“She defied you today, didn't she?” she guessed, her confidence growing. “You were trying to get her to kill me at the river, but she didn't let you. She missed on purpose.”
He waved his hand. “A temporary setback. She is growing weaker by the minute, and soon I will have full control.” A small smile appeared, and then disappeared just as quickly. “And then I will finally have my revenge.”
“Kikyo is stronger than that,” Kagome said, wanting to flinch under the hatred burning in his eyes. The wind picked up as if sensing his anger, making the rain slap into her body, stinging her skin.
“She was always an arrogant, cold bitch,” he said easily. Kagome hated his tone.
“You loved her once.”
“No…Onigumo did. His heart did, not mine. I am born of him, but he is not me. I am not as weak as he was. The only reason I am grateful to her is the bitterness in her heart. It makes it easier for my influence to spread within her.”
“That does not change the fact that she is fighting you,” Kagome said, pressing her advantage as the vision of the demon in front of her seemed to flicker. She had to buy herself some time. Inuyasha and the others had to have felt the presence of Naraku. Sesshoumaru would not leave her here to defend herself alone. She took comfort in that thought.
Naraku frowned at her in annoyance. “You are more like her than you realize,” he said. “You don't know when to make your mouth stop moving.”
He took a step closer to her, Kikyo moving behind, as if being dragged in his wake.
“But I believe it is time to say good-bye, my dear miko. It was…amusing to be in your company for so long, but I have things to do. You may take comfort in the fact that Inuyasha and the others will not be long in following you to hell.”
Her heart constricted in fear. Sango, Miroku, Shippo, Kirara, Inuyasha…Sesshoumaru. Although she doubted that Naraku would be able to defeat Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru so easily, he could cause some damage. Shippo was still just a child, and while Kirara would try to protect him, she could only do so much. Sango and Miroku were just humans, and while Sango could fight, it was no match against the power of Naraku and Kikyo combined, and Miroku no longer had his Wind Tunnel. They would surely fall.
“Kikyo,” she pleaded as the evil vision took another step towards her. “Fight him…I know you can. You need to defeat him.” She took in a shuddering breath. “Please. For…for Inuyasha. For everyone.”
Naraku stopped abruptly, his frown intensifying as a line appeared on his forehead in vexation. “Stop your incessant chattering, woman,” he said threateningly.
“You are stronger than him, Kikyo,” she pressed on, knowing that she was getting through as the vision of Naraku dimmed a little bit. “Remember all that he's done. Everyone he's destroyed. He does not deserve to live.” She grasped the Shikon no Tama through her shirt on its chain. “Remember your duty. You have to protect the jewel. Now is the time to fight!”
Naraku glared at her before he flickered out of sight, and lucidness returned to Kikyo's eyes. “Ka…Kagome?” she asked softly, staggering forward.
Kagome's arms reached for her as she almost collapsed, sitting against the well's edge while supporting the priestess. “Kikyo, are you okay?”
Kikyo lifted her head, water dripping down her face. “Yes, but he's still there. I can hear him in the back of my mind. Kagome…I'm…I don't think I'm strong enough to defeat him.”
“Don't go all weak on me now,” Kagome said desperately. “You're the strong one here. Where is your attitude? You know, the one that says `come near me and die'?”
She saw a ghost of a smile on the miko's face before it disappeared to be replaced by a look of determination. She straightened slightly, gaining back her strength as she winced. Naraku's voice was getting louder. She didn't have much time. She had to make her decision. Save the world…or save herself.
Her eyes hardening, she realized which was more important.
“I'm sorry, Kagome,” she said, slipping her hands around the girl's neck quickly, tearing off the Shikon no Tama and giving a strong shove. She saw the look on Kagome's face as she fell over the edge of the well and the time slip opened for her, releasing a blue light. Kikyo calmly took an arrow out of her quiver and, saying a spell and summoning her powers, shot it straight down, hitting the bottom with a dull thud.
The well was sealed.
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Sesshoumaru was just barely resisting the urge to pace. Kagome had been gone a while, and while he did not distrust Kikyo, he did not trust her either. Kagome had been gone too long, and even Inuyasha was getting restless, waiting in the old miko's hut.
The storm had begun to rage outside, making the wind whistle eerily, and matched what was in Sesshoumaru's heart. He repressed the urge to growl, to tear into something. Something was wrong. His instinct was screaming at him to find her, to keep her safe. From what, he didn't know yet.
That's when he felt it. Inuyasha bolted upright along with Miroku, the monk wearing a look of shock and anger while Inuyasha fairly exploded.
“Oh, HELL no. Don't tell me that's what I think it is!” He looked around the room, his eyes wild. “That can't be what I think it is.”
“How…?” Sango whispered, capturing the feeling of evil and shivering. “It can't be.”
“Naraku,” Miroku whispered, and clenched his right hand into a fist.
“Kagome!” Shippo cried, and everyone burst into action. Sesshoumaru was the first outside, using his demon speed to fly through the woods, following the feeling of foreboding, his heart pounding. It was just like last night all over again, the feeling of being helpless, of not knowing what he might find when he arrived at his destination, but having a pretty good idea. But, Kagome was not dead. He could smell her, her scent steadily gaining strength the closer he got.
He would not fail this time. Not like he did with Rin. He couldn't afford to. Setting his mouth into a grim line, he pressed onward, not surprised to see a flash of red behind him and to the side. Inuyasha was keeping up with him fairly well, his worry for Kagome and Kikyo must have been spurring him on. He could tell the Monk, Taijiya, and kit were flying on the fire cat behind him, and he was thankful for a moment that they were willing to fight for Kagome. They would need all the manpower they could get.
`That is, if I don't rip Naraku to shreds first,' he thought darkly. Then, the feeling of evil disappeared, leaving behind nothing to show that it was ever there in the first place. His eyebrows furrowed down in confusion. What in the hell was going on?
Rain splashed in his eyes and ran down his face, drenching his clothes and hair, but he only had one thing on his mind: getting to Kagome. He gave himself one final jump and landed in the clearing, his heart pounding so loudly it was echoing in his ears. Inuyasha landed beside him, panting slightly from exertion as Kirara's roar signaled her descent.
They saw the moment Kikyo grabbed the jewel and shoved. They saw the look of utter shock on Kagome's face as she fell backwards into the well. They saw the time slip open up to accept the young miko.
“Kikyo,” Inuyasha whispered as Sesshoumaru took a step forward. Kikyo withdrew an arrow, and Sesshoumaru could see her mouth moving as she chanted. He took another step forward. She let the arrow fly, and he could feel the magic of the well shudder and die.
The well was sealed.
Kagome was gone.
His heart stopped.
“Kagome!” Inuyasha screamed. “Kikyo, what the hell did you do?”
“What was necessary,” she replied, her voice calm and steady, even though she had tears filling her eyes. She held up the finished Shikon no Tama, and Sesshoumaru could feel her holy powers growing. His eyes widened as he realized what she was about to do, and he started forward again.
The light filled the clearing, leaving him temporarily blinded as the hairs on his neck stood up and he felt the holy power resonate around him. It only lasted a few precious moments, and he blinked rapidly as the light faded away, leaving the clearing eerily silent. Even the rain seemed to stop and the wind died down, and he focused on Kikyo still standing by the well.
She had the Tama held in both hands, and he saw the clearness of the jewel. It had been purified. It was just a chunk of rock now. As if in slow motion, he saw it begin to crack. It crumbled slowly and he saw four balls of light escape from it, dancing throughout the clearing before rising to the sky and disappearing.
The jewel of the four souls was no more.
His only hope for getting back Kagome was gone.
Inuyasha's eyes snapped to his brother as he heard his growl. Sesshoumaru NEVER growled.
However, the low rumble built in his chest, fueled by his rage, and spilled forth, low and feral. His eyes were flashing along with his heartbeat from red to gold, and Inuyasha could tell he was as close to losing control as he had ever been. If that was the case…they were in deep shit.
But he couldn't really find a reason to care. Kagome was gone. In a heartbeat, they'd had their life taken away. Kagome was their joy, their happiness, and now she would never be coming back. He could hear the sobs of Sango as Miroku held her, holding back tears of his own, while Shippo sat on the ground, a look of total shock on his face. It hadn't set in to the young kit that his adoptive mother was gone. Inuyasha wouldn't be able to stand the look that would be on the fox's face when it sank in. His own heart was breaking.
“Kikyo,” he said, trying hard to speak around the lump in his throat. “Why?” He could say no more, and he saw the look of sorrow cross Kikyo's face.
“Inuyasha…it was the only way to save her. She never belonged here in the first place. She would have died if she stayed. Naraku…he-”
She broke off as she grabbed her head again. “No!” she cried out. “Don't come back!”
Sesshoumaru cut off his growl and his eyes cleared of murderous intent as he felt the return of Naraku's youki waver in front of the priestess.
“You are a stubborn one,” the vision murmured, seeming to speak to Kikyo.
“Naraku!” Inuyasha yelled. “You bastard, what have you done?”
“Apparently tore your little world apart, half-breed,” he sneered back. “You're little miko is gone. Kikyo took her away without me telling her too…all I asked her to do was kill her, but she gave me a better solution. This way is much more painful, knowing that she is alive and well, but you can not see her. Does it hurt, Inuyasha?”
Inuyasha bared his fangs, but his response was cut off by another one of Sesshoumaru's growls, sounding more deadly. “Hanyou,” he said, his voice deeper than usual with a feral tint. “You have assured your death today.”
“My my, Sesshoumaru-sama, such feeling you put into those words,” Naraku chuckled. “Perhaps you were enamored with the miko yourself? Pity you will never be able to feel her love in return now that she is gone.”
“What have you done to Kikyo?” Inuyasha asked, hoping that he would not lose the second most important woman in his life.
“He has possessed her,” Miroku answered, his grip on the sobbing Sango tightening. Usually, the taijiya would be fighting mad, but grief had struck them both hard, and Sango could not get around the fact that she had lost another person that she loved. Miroku's heart cracked that much more, knowing that the woman he loved was in such pain.
“Possessed her?” Inuyasha said.
“Yes,” Naraku said. “Having half a soul does have its advantages. Kikyo is now within my control. And revenge is finally mine. If I can not have the Shikon no Tama, I can at least have the pleasure of having the woman you loved kill you for good this time.”
Kikyo, with the look of total blankness on her face, reached behind her in her quiver for an arrow and slowly loaded it into her bow, taking aim at Inuyasha. Sesshoumaru knew that he would have to do something, or the situation would become worse. He tensed himself to launch at the miko, but Naraku's frown stopped him.
“Stop resisting,” he seemed to say to himself. “Kill them!”
The vision of him wavered strongly, disappearing for an instant before reappearing.
“I said to kill them,” Naraku said, his voice hard.
Kikyo began breathing hard, sweat beading on her brow while her eyes flickered. She was gaining control.
Naraku flickered once more before vanishing all together, leaving Kikyo panting. “No, damn it,” she gasped, her voice determined. “I said to leave me alone.”
The first half of her decision had been completed. Kagome was now safe in her own time…it was for the best. And now, to get rid of Naraku, another sacrifice had to be made. She took the arrow out of her bow, and held it in one hand, while she dropped the bow to the ground.
Time seemed to stop as she stared in Inuyasha's eyes. His own widened when he realized what she was going to do.
“Kikyo, no!” He took a step forward as she raised the arrow to her chest.
“It's the only way to get rid of him,” she said, her eyes filling as she tried hard to blink the tears back. She gave a tremulous smile at the hanyou she had loved, lost, loved again, and now gave up. “Inuyasha…I'm sorry,” she said, her whisper carrying to his ears.
She closed her eyes as a tear slipped down her pale cheek, and moved her hands.
The only sound in the clearing was blood splattering to the ground, gushing from the wound in Kikyo's chest. Seemingly in slow motion, Inuyasha watched as she fell backwards, a look of peace on her face.
Without thinking, he ran forward, catching her before she fell. His eyes filled as his heart seemed to die. He had lost them both. Both women he had sworn to protect had been torn away from him. Kikyo opened her eyes to look up at her hanyou, and lifted a gentle hand to his face, wiping away the stray tear that had leaked out. She gave him a small smile, content to know that she had done her duty. The Shikon no Tama was gone from this world…Naraku was gone…she was free now. With that smile still on her face, she gave up the rest of her stolen soul and passed on into the next world, her body crumbling slowly into the clay and dust it had been created from.
Inuyasha stayed there for several minutes, clenching his hands into fists, the dirt that had once been Kikyo streaming through his fingers. She was gone. Kagome was gone.
Another tear escaped.
Sesshoumaru watched the scene with a clenched jaw. He could hear the kit's breath behind him hitch every so often, the shock finally wearing away slowly. Soon, there would be tears.
He felt a few drops of water fall, and looked up at the gray sky. The rain was beginning to come down again, washing away all that had happened in the last half hour. He slowly walked to the Bone-Eaters well and looked inside. Darkness met his sharp gaze, and any magic the well might have held before was gone, leaving a cold hole. His claws clenched the edge of the wooden structure, splintering and cracking under the force of his grip as he bowed his head.
Kagome was gone, yes. She was in the future…and so was he. He would see her again one day. That mere thought alone stopped him from going on a rampage to take out the anger he was feeling. Five hundred years alone without her. Though he lived forever, the thought of that time alone seemed like an eternity.
As the rain began to pour harder, he made a promise to himself beside the well.
Once he had her again, he would never let her go.
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Kagome opened her eyes to meet complete darkness. Confused and bewildered, she looked up, finding herself at the bottom of the well in her own time. Flashes of memory began to come back, and her eyes widened.
Kikyo…Naraku…the Shikon no Tama ripping from her throat…Kikyo's face as she pushed Kagome into the well…Inuyasha and the others alone now, facing Naraku. She whimpered softly, and her breath came out hard and rasping to her own ears.
Panicked, she climbed out of the well and stood at its edge. The rain was pounding on the roof, matching the pounding of her heart as she took a deep breath and jumped.
The impact jarred her bones and she twisted her ankle as she fell, but it didn't match the twisted agony of her heart. She felt physically sick as a stab went through her stomach. She heaved, kneeling against the ground, but nothing came out. Gasping for breath, she wondered why she wasn't crying.
Inuyasha…Shippo…Sango…Miroku…Kirara… ;Kikyo…they were all gone. She would never see them again. She heaved again, sweat starting to form on her forehead, mixing with the water.
And Sesshoumaru…her stomach gave another lurch as she lifted her head up. Sesshoumaru! She had to find him! She had to know…
Climbing up the ladder, her head becoming dizzy because she was breathing so fast, her vision starting to waver, she stumbled to the well-house doors and shoved them open, leaning against the doorframe, catching her breath.
Sesshoumaru stood fifteen feet in front of her. Standing out in the pouring rain, and to her wavering vision, he looked like a mirage. Water dripped down his face, running over his nose and lips and streaming in his hair and suit, but he didn't seem to notice. His eyes were focused only on her.
She sagged against the doorway limply, her eyes blurring. A force of energy hit her already battered and weak body, causing her to hold onto the door for dear life. The force had been the rest of her soul…Kikyo was gone. She glanced up at Sesshoumaru again. Gathering her strength, her breath hitching, she walked towards him slowly. He didn't move as she got closer to him, waiting until she was standing an arms length away from him.
“You…” she began, her voice cracking. “You waited for me.”
She let the statement hang in the air, noting how his eyes sharpened and his mouth tightened. He had waited. He had nearly gone insane waiting for her. The first few months after her departure…the sorrow of Inuyasha and the others…returning to his lands only to find out that Jaken had left the western lands to go after Rin months before, now dead and gone, his body being so destroyed that Sesshoumaru had never even noticed his presence in the village…the years of isolation with the knowledge that he would see her again the only thread to his sanity. And now she asked him if he had waited.
He gave a jerky nod.
And then suddenly she was in his arms, holding on tightly to him, relying on his strength as he held her.
…and she wept.
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(Whew, that's it for now. Don't forget to vote for my fic in the contest! If you didn't read the authors note before the chapter, read it now! Love you all!