InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Shades of Gray ❯ Like the Sun ( Chapter 43 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

~<>~ Shades of Gray ~<>~

~<>~ Chapter 43 ~<>~ Like the Sun

After taking about an hour nap, Kagome found herself restless. The doctor had spoken briefly with her about being sent home that day; however, she could sense his unease. Scores of doctors had ventured through her room, all to see the side show freak that was miraculously redirected from death's door to fully healed in a matter of days. It was all quite tedious; a melodrama of which Kagome wanted no part. She wanted to go home, to get back to her life--or better yet, to reconstruct, rebuild, and reacquaint herself with normality. She had a long road ahead that was going to be filled with cracks, pot holes, and other such nuisances. It was time to seek help, to find herself a good psychologist, possibly psychiatrist, and really begin the healing process. She had to come clean and purge her soul of the poison she had been breathing for the last six years. She would start clean and make a name for herself, or something close to that. She would stop letting the past dictate her future. It was time to grow up and take responsibility for her life. She had skirted by for so long surviving on Bankotsu's `charitable' donations and her father's hush money. It was time to be done with both.

After speaking with the doctors, she had laid back down to rest. They were weary of allowing her to leave. There were still so many tests they wanted to run to see how she had healed so spontaneously. They wanted everyone to witness the miracle that occurred under their supervision. And while that was fine and good, it grew old fast. She couldn't---wouldn't---explain how she was cured. So everyone chalked it up to a miracle. She feared for a moment that they were going to start a shrine dedicated to her in the hospital lobby, with the way they were parading her around the different floors. It was as if the nurses believed her radioactive with curative powers.

Radioactive. Yeah, that was pretty close to the truth; she had successfully broken down the basic building blocks of all the important relationships in her life. Her actions had directly led to Kagejiro's death; she was completely sure of that fact regardless of what InuYasha had said. The meltdown with Bankotsu also led to her being exposed as a kinky whore to the public, which directly tied back to her father's success in the market. Being honest though, she cared much less about the ramifications of that one. Her mother was once again in the spot light; Kagome had again risked the secret of Souta getting out to the public before she could confront her son with the truth. She had nearly exposed InuYasha and his family as demons, which would have been devastating, and she had destroyed her relationship with Kikyo. Without a doubt, she was the most toxic individual in that hospital, and yet they paraded her around as a `miracle' and a `blessing'. If only they knew the truth….

Kagome threw an arm over her eyes. There she went again, looking at all the darkness in her life and allowing it to consume her. She had to stop trying to list the reasons why she wasn't worthy of a second chance and just run with it. After all, it cost Jiro his life. Tears flooded her eyes as she thought of the circumstance of his death. No one had directly correlated his death and her recovery. Scientifically, it the correlation lacked any causation, therefore they disregarded it as a very unfortunate coincidence. They used those exact words. It made her sick. She knew—InuYasha knew—that he had somehow given his life force to her. Whether he used his demonic powers or…. Kagome wiped the tears away angrily. It had something to do with the not-a-copy she had seen in her dream. Something in her gut told her, screamed at her, that it had to do with that woman. Kagome only recalled pieces of the dream but she very vividly remembered the message: `a life for a life'.

So deep was she in thought that she neither noticed nor heard the stranger until he knocked a second time, much louder, whilst he cleared his throat. Kagome shifted her eyes to the door, tired of the procession.

“I'm sorry; the carnival exhibit of the rapidly healing woman is closed for repairs. Try again tomorrow," she ground out sardonically.

The corner of his mouth pulled up slightly. This stranger wore a three piece suit that probably was the cost of most people's monthly mortgage payment. He shrugged, as if in apology, and entered regardless of her sass, a reminder that she had little say over the tiny room's occupants.

“Kagome Higurashi?”

Kagome raised an eyebrow, biting back the sarcasm that sat on her tongue. “Well, yes,” she said after a moment, “how can I help you?” Her voice was drained, weighed down by fatigue that she couldn't shake. She was weary at this point of everything. She just wanted to sleep for days.

“My name is Michael Austin. I'm from the state's prosecuting office. I was hoping to get a moment of your time to discuss Bankotsu Koizumi.”

Kagome's mouth went dry. She swallowed once, twice. She couldn't find her words for a moment. “What about him?” People had avoided his name like the plague. They tiptoed around the fear that she might remember, or that his name might cause her to go insane. While he was never far from her thoughts after this ordeal, hearing his name did something that she couldn't explain. It was like it ignited an irrational fear in her that when they spoke his name, he would appear. Now she had a lot more respect for the phrase `he who shall not be named'. Maybe she would adapt that for future use: `That dick that should be sodomized' had a nice ring.

“I was sent here to get a statement from you about your involvement with Koizumi. We're prosecuting in regards to your case. He is being held in jail for attempted murder along with a whole slew of charges. Bail has been revoked. You have nothing to worry about for the time being; However, with your miraculous recovery, we now have a few…hoops…to jump through.” He didn't look too pleased. The way he said `miraculous' made it sound like he wished her to still be dying. He probably did. It would make his job a hell of a lot easier.

Blinking a few times, Kagome attempted to process what he said slowly. “What do you mean? What kind of hoops?” A big ole' block of fear took root in her stomach. Immediately the thought of Bankotsu being let loose rampaged through her brain. He said she had nothing to fear for the time being. How long was that time? A week…a month? Ten years? In ten years, she would be thirty. Where would she be? Would she have a family? Would she need to watch her kids' every move? Would they just not come home one day? He would do that. He would seek her out the minute he was out of jail. Sure are the sun rose, the minute this crazy bastard was free, he would be seeking revenge.

“Well, I'll be frank, Miss Higurashi. When you were comatose, facing being paralyzed for life if you pulled through, we had a very strong case against him for domestic abuse, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, rape, and attempted murder. With your inexplicable recovery, which while we are all happy for your health, it has thrown quite a wrench into our case. You see, a jury has been requested by the defendant. To have a completely scratch free, healthy witness who claims she was beaten within an inch of her life…”

Frustration and outrage colored Kagome's voice as she kicked her legs over the side of the bed and attempted to stand. “Now wait a damn second! He did all those things…he….”

The man put a hand on Kagome's shoulder to steady her as she swayed. A flash of concern followed by pity crossed the stranger's eyes and Kagome hated him for it. When had he gotten that close? Kagome needed to start really paying attention to her surroundings; that was another thing at which she wasn't so good. “I understand, Miss. Higurashi. I have read the medical reports and we are completely ready to prosecute him for his actions. However, and this is where we have run into some problems, you have completely recovered from injuries that were declared life threatening. You are entirely healed. You have to understand how that will look to a jury. It will look like someone falsified medical records. It doesn't help that as soon as the `claims' were issued, his stock plummeted and the brother of the man you're dating was able to swoop in and take the man for everything he owned. I guarantee you that his lawyers are hatching out exactly how to play that up to the courts. We have to be prepared. “

Kagome stared at the man aghast. “You cannot be serious! I am….” Tears of frustration filled her eyes. No one could ever know, she realized while starting at the man before her. No one would understand why a demon gave his life for her, how he gave his life for her, and no one could know that it was InuYasha's brother. While Jiro had saved her, he had backed them into a corner, and it seemed that Sesshoumaru issued the death blow by taking Banktosu's empire away. Bankotsu had become the victim through the eyes of the media. If anything, the public loved a good scandal. This was, if nothing else, hugely scandalous. “He…he put me here. While I might physically be healed, I know what he did!” That wasn't true, she thought with dread, she couldn't really remember the true terror of the night. She remembered him being outside of her car at the diner. She remembered that he smashed her window and dragged her through it. She very vividly remembered the fear and the fight that persisted through that night. She just didn't remember much more after she was shoved into the car.

“We will need more than that. Luckily there is the body of Eric Rivers, the bartender of Mr. Koizumi's club, who was shot at point blank range from a gun found in Mr. Koizumi's possession. He was located right outside the room where they found all the blood that matched your DNA. I am hoping ballistics will be enough to prove him guilty on those counts. With your help, we can pin him for kidnapping. However…”

“Just say it.” Kagome pinched the bridge of her nose. Just as she felt that finally she was free, Bankotsu's presence was yet again a looming threat. This was going to be the rest of her life, she realized with certain dread. He was her cross to bear, her demon, and he would never leave her alone. Bankotsu was her monster to behold, much the same as Frankenstein had created; she had created their life and then tried to snuff it out when it was out of control. She grimaced, making the connections in her mind. Damn Mary Shelly.

“You might want to prepare yourself for the charges to be dropped.”

A small part of Kagome died at that moment. The man who had kidnapped her, raped her, and attempted to murder her could walk away from any and all charges. She was sure all color faded from her face as she struggled with words. Her heart hammered painfully against her chest as she gaped at the man before her. “I…I don't understand…”

The lawyer gave her that smile, the one filled with the `sorry to be the one to tell you but…' expression. “We will use the records and the testimony from the doctors and the paramedics who took you from his establishment. I'm not trying to say he's going to walk away; however, we need for you to understand what this miraculous recovery could do to the case. It will damage it significantly.”

Kagome stared at the man for a moment. “So what, do you want me to revert? You want me to pretend that I wasn't healed? Are you looking for me to get beat up again? What do you want from me? What can I do that will ensure that this asshole gets locked up for life? He's crazy! He's sick and he's insane and he needs help! Releasing him to the general public is not okay! You'll have more victims! You'll have more bodies…my body! He's going to kill me! You can't…” Kagome didn't realize she was shouting until two nurses appeared in the doorway, concern drawn across their faces. Taking a deep breath, she found herself struggling to stay calm. She couldn't breathe; it felt as if her chest was caving in from this invisible weight.

The man frowned, feigned concern, and patted her on the arm. “Of course we do not want that. Your health is the most important outcome, followed only by your safety.”

Kagome stared at him as if he had grown five heads. She swatted the nurses away as she pleaded for the man to comprehend the position in which they were placing her. “I won't have either if Bankotsu walks away. He did this to me! This isn't the first time…”

That caught the lawyer's attention. “Come again?” Oh, his eyes lit up there. It was like waving a bone in front of a dog. He was very interested in protecting the dead and getting them justice. The living could go to hell. But if they became a body, then he'd be pleased as punch to help out. Shakespeare was right….

Kagome let out a deep breath. “This has been going on for years.” She shook her head and sighed heavily. She wished InuYasha was there. Fumbling with her hands, she eyed the floor wearily. “You're familiar with his…lifestyle?”

“That he participated in less common sexual practices? Yes, we are aware. After the club was raided, a few people came forward to discuss this Oberon character he had created.” The man blinked twice as if that summed up the terror that was Bankotsu and the culture he had created at Illusions. He wasn't just a master, he was the master. He ruled all; sadism was just the tip of the iceberg that was Bankotsu's delusions.

“Then you know that….”

“You were one of his submissive clients.” He shrugged his shoulders, as if saying `I read Shades of Gray, I understand it all.' This man didn't understand shit. There were no questions about that. If he had, he would never have said those words so haphazardly. He didn't know what it meant to be submissive for that lunatic. If only she could smack the condensing look from his face.

She wished she could kick the man out of her room. She didn't need to look at him to see how he sat in judgment. He thought them foolish, that their `game' suddenly turned dangerous and someone got burnt. She had the same misconception. She understood now; it was never a game. It was life and she had nearly lost hers. “Since January, I have been trying to put some distance between us. I was uncomfortable with how hard he was pushing me and the things he was starting to force me to do. So I started visiting less frequently and he got angry. He started threatening me; he claimed that he would come down to the campus and drag me back to New York or that he would out my secrets to the public….”

The lawyer raised an eyebrow. “It sounds like you have a story to tell.” He wasn't impressed. There weren't bodies yet and that made this less interesting, never mind the sex, drugs, and illicit proposals.

Kagome swallowed thickly. “I have a lot of secrets that have shaped my life. I told Bankotsu and he used them against me to hold me prisoner. I was afraid, at the end, to leave him because he might tell someone and then the last five years would have been for nothing. Everything would have been for nothing.” She looked down at her fingers, realizing that at this point, that's exactly what it was. Tears threatened to spill over.

The man pulled up one of the chairs that lined her hospital bed and opened his brief case. “You have to realize by now, Miss Higurashi, that it's all going to come out in the court room.” He removed a memo pad and a pen. The click from the pen echoed across the room, louder to Kagome than a firecracker. This is to what it all came down; her rape and subsequent `life lesson', her mother's anguish and divorce, her brother's innocence and the reality of what he was, were all just letters on a page. It was a court document, a retelling of horrors that had plagued her life that were little more than fleeting memories that might shape her defense. `Poor girl was already traumatized, and then this fellow took advantage of that and exploited her.' They would play off that, for sure. But she wasn't the innocent party; he was just crazier than she was.

Kagome nodded despondently. There was a story to tell and she needed time to discuss it. She had so much to tell. “I know. I….” She was at a loss of words. She didn't want to justify her actions, she wasn't looking for vindication. She just wanted Banktosu to rot in the darkest dungeon known to man. For once, she didn't care about the ramifications. They were going to happen anyway. She might as well control how the story got out. “I'll tell you everything. I'll tell you about the others who didn't make it. I'll tell you whatever you want.”

“I want the truth,” he said steely. As if she'd lie about this mess.

Kagome eyed him, thought again about kicking him out of the room, and then sighed once more. Running her hands down her face, she sat down on the bed. “This is going to take a while.”


Kagome stood in front of the tiny mirror in the bathroom attempting to run her brush through her hair. She was going to need to get a haircut; her hair was matted from the week of unconsciousness. They had conditioned the hell out of it but the damage was irreversible. Setting down the brush, she placed her hands on the sink and hung her head. She felt foolish, selfish even. Here she was worrying about her hair and InuYasha was out there at his brother's funeral, who had given his life to her. With a rush of emotion and anger, she wanted to break the mirror, punch holes in the wall, scream until she couldn't…she wanted to do something, anything. She needed to rage.

Somewhere, deep inside of her, she listened to the story as she recounted the last five years. She knew it, because she lived it, but she really listened to it this time. There was so much drama, so much ridiculousness that it was hard to believe she actually survived it all. Apparently the prosecutor thought the same by the look he was giving her halfway through. Rape, deception, strife, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse peppered the last half decade that she had lived; a forth of her life so far on Earth was nothing but terror, pain, and betrayal. He had glibly suggested writing a novel, when it was over, and it was only then that she kicked him out of the room. Or screamed him out; it was one or the other. She told him to fuck off, and when he was done with that, to go see Jakotsu to learn more about the girl before her. She remembered Jakotsu's comment about not wanting Kagome to end up dead in a warehouse like the last one. Maybe he would be able to tell the dick hole more about that. He would be interested in pinning that on Bankotsu; hell, that would be two bodies and battery and rape charges. Maybe that would be enough for a needle to the arm. She could only hope.

She closed her eyes and attempted to remember more of that night. The night that everything had changed…had ended. The boys had come for her, of that she was sure. InuYasha and Kagejiro, they saved her. She vaguely remembered Jiro walking into the black room, she remembered seeing his face. That was her only memory; she had thought him an angel, to be honest. The room had been so dark, and then the door opened, and the light from the hallway cast a glow around his features, made his white hair glow. She didn't remember much before that either; Ginkotsu and crew at the diner, running to her car, Bankotsu at her window, dragging her out. She slowly put her hand to her back where there should have been scars, where the glass had dug through her skin like scissors through paper. She could just about remember fighting him, but when they entered the car, all went black. She knew it was for the best but…. A part of her wondered if Jiro took the memories from her when he gave her his life.

`His life…' what the hell had happened? She wished she could remember more of what the not-a-copy had said to her. The bitch took Jiro's life; sure, it was in exchange for Kagome to live but Jiro was good! Jiro had finally become the brother that InuYasha wanted, that InuYasha needed. He had been so starved for attention from someone who mattered in his life. His father and brother were too busy with their empires to pay attention to InuYasha. Jiro, though, had shown up, all-be-it at the most inconvenient time, but he got InuYasha to a better place. He helped to complete the half demon's existence. He offered the approval that Inu had been craving. But this woman, the ghost, she swore that the Taisho's would destroy Kagome as they had her. She had judged, convicted, and executed Jiro based off what happened centuries prior. Kagome had an inkling that Jiro had some say in all of the exchange but never the less, she was standing and he was inside a wooden box.

Kagome wiped away the tears that streamed down her cheeks. What was done, was done. The best she could do from here was to be there for InuYasha and thank Jiro for every day she lived. It was a wakeup call; she had to start taking control of her life. It was going to start with Souta. She had to talk to her mother and take responsibility for him. He was already so big but she had to do right by him. She had to take back her life. She also had to do it before everything came out at court. They knew it all now; it had taken nearly two hours to discuss the whole story with the lawyer, but it would help form a stronger case. Because she had sent herself the restraining order, because she had kept journals and time stamped them, there was a glimmer of hope that she would be seen as the victim and not the other way around. She had vomited after the lawyer left; the thought of Bankotsu twisting this around his manipulative fingers….the thought made her want to retch again. He had ensnared her in enough of his traps; she was more than ready for his reign to end.

Sniffling, she walked out of the bathroom to begin getting her stuff together. The doctor had finally approved her release, hesitantly and almost begrudgingly. It would be a nice surprise for InuYasha when he returned. Kagome frowned as she pushed her fingertips together. He was at his brother's funeral. What if there was some sort of memorial session at the house? What if the family got together and he forgot she was at the hospital? She should have found another way home. Cursing herself, she left the bathroom to call her mother. She stopped in the doorway, startled by yet another unwelcomed and unwanted visitor. It took her a minute to realize who the dark haired man standing in her room was.

“Naraku! What are you doing here?” She was genuinely confused by the man's presence. When last she spoke with him, he was looking for his cousin. Had they ever cleared up the Onigumo catastrophe? Kagome's eyes narrowed as she quickly checked his aura. The last thing she needed was for yet another drama to unfold around her. She could see it now; beaten to near death by Koizumi, recovered by Tashio, and then murdered by Itogawa. What a clusterfuck that would be. She wondered briefly how the royalty did it overseas. The rich were this countries royalty and she was standing in the middle of their battlefield; the Helen of modern day, she thought sardonically. But he was demon…and his cousin was not. So he was safe.

The demon, startled by her sudden appearance, smiled at her and handed her a beautiful bouquet of lilies. “I heard about your miraculous recovery and had to come see you. Kagome…” he shook his head and took a step closer to her. His hand came up to her face only to hesitate by her cheek. “I was so worried. They wouldn't let anyone in to see you. They said…” he cleared his throat. “They said you weren't going to make it, but look at you! How…how is this possible?” He seemed really happy with her recovery and she had to smile. For a man that InuYasha had warned her so adamantly about, she was pleased that he was wrong on this one. Not for the sake of InuYasha being wrong, but more for the fact that it proved her bullshit detector wasn't completely broken.

Kagome smiled and took a step away from the demon to put the flowers in one of the many vases that had magically come to adorn her windowsill. She had no idea where she was going to put them all. Taking a moment to spin them in a direction to receive sun, she smiled at the simple gesture. She was in love with InuYasha, but what girl didn't like being doted on occasionally by a handsome male friend? “I don't know,” she spoke while faced away from him, “I just…woke up. I was healed. They say it's a miracle.”

“It is,” he spoke, closer to her once again. Kagome's back stiffened as his hands came to rest on her shoulders. He was touching her. Why was he touching her knowing what she had just been through? Was he stupid? Was she? Her mood was crushed almost immediately and replaced with a caution she was only growing to understand. “What happened? I mean, one minute we were looking for Onigumo the next you're…”

Kagome gave a slight shrug of her shoulders, doubling as a way to shake his hands loose without seeming rude. Thankfully he let go. Gone was that happy high from receiving flower. She remembered her determination to become more aware of her surroundings. Naraku had entered her room unescorted and uninvited. She wouldn't let pretty presents blind her to those facts.

Spinning around and slowly maneuvering away from him, she kept her smile. She was shaky from the other night, which seemed like a lifetime ago. He had seemed out of character, different than the other times that they had crossed paths. He had seemed completely thrown by Onigumo's obsession with InuYasha and herself. Then there was the chase for the mystery cousin-doppelganger that led InuYasha away from her, which served to be the distraction Bankotsu needed. Realizing that Naraku was still waiting for some sort of explanation—as if he was owed one—Kagome tried to simplify what had happened. “I had some trouble with an old boyfriend. He was the one I was talking about, the other one who was stalking me. I really don't want to talk about it, no offense, but I'm sure you can read about it in any paper.”

“Bankotsu Koizumi… yeah, I read the news.”

Kagome sighed, “Then you know what happened.” She didn't mean to sound short but she was tired of the pleasantries. If he knew, then why would he ask?

“They said he raped you. They said he….just about killed you. That because of what he did, you wouldn't be able to have….”

“I know what he did,” she snapped, harsher than she planned. She really didn't feel up to talking about this right now, especially to a man who had been a little too happy to drag her into his house, or to at least make the attempt. “Naraku, I love the flowers, they're lovely, but I really have to pack up. I get to go home today.” That was an acceptable `out', yes? He couldn't argue, or drag out conversation, knowing that, could he?

What he did respond with floored her. “To see your son?”

Kagome opened her mouth then shut it firmly. “Excuse me?” what did he just say? Did he say son? How the hell did he know that? Feeling like a fish out of water, she just gaped at the man.

Naraku smiled, but there was no warmth behind it. There was…nothing. It was one of the creepiest looks she had ever seen. His eyes were empty, hallow. In one minute, the man she had spoken to and ate lunch with was gone, wiped clean. The person who remained was evil. She knew the look that encompassed his face; she had seen something akin to it on Bankotsu once or twice. It was a look of pure hatred, of malice. She put some distance between the two of them, slowly backing up towards the bed. He was blocking the door, and she wasn't sure she could sprint yet. But there was the call button by the bed and the hell she was going to wait until an opportune time.

“Your son, I'm talking about Souta. Oh, I'm sorry, everyone still thinks he's your brother, right?” The man wearing Naraku's face picked up a picture frame off of the dresser of her, her mother, and Souta. “Kikyo knows about him now, did you know that? She took it fairly well, even bitched out her family for discarding you. She's always such a strong willed girl.”

“What the hell are you talking about? Naraku, what's going on?”

Naraku rolled his eyes. “Tell me Kagome, knowing that half breed was also sticking his dick in your cousin…didn't that deter you from swallowing it balls deep? I mean, what kind of fucked up girl are you? She was your friend, family even, and you just jumped into bed with her boyfriend. How long were they together?”

Kagome slowly crossed her arms, her eyes scanning the room for a weapon. Her hair was on end and she knew nothing good was going to come from this. Naraku was angry, whether at her or InuYasha, she didn't know. How did he know what he knew? The only people who knew were InuYasha, and her parents. How did he know; how did Kikyo know? Did it all come out when she was unconscious and no one felt the need to tell her? What she did know was that she needed to get out of this situation and fast! “I don't know.”

Bullshit. How long Kagome?”

Kagome stared at him.

“Six years, Kagome. They were together since you were fifteen. You know, when you had your bastard child. Kikyo told me about how you claimed the boy in Japan raped you. She said he wasn't like that. But truthfully, I think he did the same thing to her. Did you realize that you and Kikyo have shared three lovers? Well, he wouldn't really be a lover, would he?” He set the picture back down on the dresser and continued to speak. “Tell me, Kagome, how would Kikyo react if she knew that InuYasha was a demon? Well, a half-breed, that is. You can't really compare that to a full demon.”

Kagome inhaled sharply. “I don't know what you're talking about. InuYasha is human.”

Naraku smiled. “Right, and I'm the queen of England. Or, more specifically,” he turned to face her and his eyes narrowed, “ Onigumo.”

Kagome's breath caught in her throat The look on his face was all telling; the man was crazy. Hadn't she had enough crazy in her life? Here's a second helping. `Thanks life,' she thought dryly as she groped for the remote to buzz the nurses. “What are you talking about?” she backed up a few steps more until the back of her legs hit the metal of the bed.

Naraku stared at her as if he were regarding a child. With a sigh, annoyed that he had to explain himself, he withdrew a necklace from his pocket. It was a simple silver chain with some sort of emblem on the front. He held it up and fingered the pendant. “My family crest. You see, my father lived long ago, in the 1500's. He was always at odds with the Dynamo of his territory. The man was a beast; he would allow his soldiers to pillage the land and rape the woman of the town. He took what he needed to sustain his people for the winters and left the less wealthy to rot. It's funny how that youkai bastard's business tactics haven't changed at all over the years. He is still taking from the weak and the poor to feed his wealthy corporation. He didn't need our fathers' business, but he took it. Without worrying about what it would do, he took it and they destroyed each other.”

“Who did?” Oh he was going nuclear! Kagome knew she had to get out before it got bad. She considered running to the bathroom but if he got in there with her, it was all over. Kagome couldn't read what he was planning to do, but whatever it was, it was going to be malicious.

“His father and my father.” Placing the chain over his neck, Naraku changed into the other man from the picture Kagome had seen in Naraku's room. He changed into Onigumo. She felt stupid, really stupid, for not having put it together. InuYasha was a dark haired version of himself. Naraku looked exactly the same. It was a simple truth that none of them had seen coming. Naraku was Onigumo. They were one in the same, just wearing a limiter. `But the picture? Both had been in the picture together! How was that possible?' Photoshop was the justifiable answer. Damnit. She was sick of being the last to know what was going on. “Naraku's father threw mine under the bus. He ruined us. You see, InuYasha's father caused my family to suffer for centuries. It never stopped, he never stopped. Now it's my job to make his family suffer. I am going to start with InuYasha. He deserves it, you know, almost as much as his bastard brother. Both of them are just like Toga; they take what they want, they don't care who they hurt. I mean, honestly Kagome, Kikyo was your best friend and you never once hesitated when he wagged his dick at you. You're almost as bad! I felt bad for you at first, when I started watching you. It was obvious that you were hurting and you needed the attention, but…really? You just jumped into bed with him.”

Kagome raised an eyebrow. “She was sleeping with you.” She was confused, but wasn't going to stop his diatribe. He was speaking of both fathers; Naraku's and Onigumos. Did he actually think himself both people? Did he really think that he's two different people? Could he be suffering from multiple personality disorder? Kagome blinked as she tried to follow along. Recalling her Psych 101 class, she tried to diagnosis the raving lunatic to figure out how to handle him. If it was multiple personalities then there was a chance Naraku was in there, and that he wasn't evil from the beginning. Kagome wasn't sure she could handle having been set up by Naraku this whole time. Her heart already hurt with everything that had happened so far this year. She couldn't take more heart ache. She considered Naraku a friend, and now she seemed direly wrong.

The man in front of her smirked. “That she was. Oh she was. And it was good. It was so bitterly good. Not the sex, well, that was all right but bland; but just knowing that she was going back to him with me dripping out of her, that was the apex. I thought that would have been bitter sweet when he figured it out. But then he started fucking you. And you had no interest in Naraku. I thought if I could have gotten both of you that would be the pinnacle of success. But alas, you had enough people fucking you at that point and weren't interested in adding another…what, fifth? Fifteenth? Fiftieth? How many cocks have you stuffed in you, Kagome? Are you even still tight?” He smirked at her outrage.

“Who are you?” She sneered at the bastard. How dare he? Where was the kind and sweet man she had come to know over the past semester? Where was the guy with whom she agreed to go out?

Naraku shook his head. “I'm Onigumo. I thought that was obvious. You aren't too smart, are you? You're lucky you're pretty.”

“But you're Naraku….” Maybe he could explain it, because she was already lost.

“Well, he doesn't know that. You see, Naraku like to sleep, a lot. He just….lets me take over. He doesn't know, though, that's the better part. I talk to him, but he has come to believe he's actually sitting with me, having a conversation. He refuses to acknowledge we are the same person. He couldn't take his father, you see. He couldn't take what he did to the family, especially after…” Onigumo made a face. “My father, he couldn't take it anymore. He killed my entire family. Naraku, unbalanced from birth, mocked by kids for being a demon and dealing with all the fall out of the murder-suicide, he lost it. It started very slow. It actually took until the middle of last year to really get him to start letting me out, letting me take over. He just stopped fighting. He doesn't acknowledge my existence; he thinks I live next door to him. In fact, both rooms are his. He is the one who followed you, he is the one who fucked Kikyo, and he is the one who blackmailed her. It was never about her though, I wanted to see InuYasha suffer…”
Kagome shook her head. “That doesn't make sense. Why would he blackmail her?”

“It's all relative. Naraku seduced Kikyo a few years ago, but InuYasha and he fought it out. He always wanted her. I took the reins and was able to say all the right things. Girls like her,” he added with a chuckle, “are so easy. Just say they look lovely, and some more romantic bullshit and they'll eat right out of your hand.”

“So, in reality,” Kagome replied, “you blackmailed him. You did all those awful things.”

“Guilty, I suppose. But nevertheless, he and I worked together.”

Kagome shook her head. “They said that you were trying to get InuYasah to attack Naraku. Why would you do that? You would be hurt as well.” None of this made sense. Naraku was crazy, like seriously crazy, and thought that his split personality was a person. He was actually delusional. God, that had to be an interesting one sided conversation…

“Actually, I was hoping he'd kill you or Kikyo in a jealous rage. But I underestimated your worth. So beating Naraku would have gotten him some time. Naraku's a demon, he could take it.”

“This doesn't make sense.”

“It doesn't matter. None of it does. Because you were almost dead, and then magically you're alive again. Seeing him hurt over the last week was delicious; seeing him so worried and pained was just a taste of the vindication that my family has been searching for centuries to obtain.” Seeing her frown, he waved his hand dismissively, “I know it wasn't InuYasha who ruined my family, but whatever hurts his father--you see, I will never get at his father, so his family will have to take the punishment. Just like mine did. I will see my family avenged.”

“And what do you plan to do?” Kagome knew he was performing this monologue for a reason. Bankotsu loved to hear himself speak, and apparently, so did Onigumo. Hubris was his flaw.

“Well, I'm not telling you all of this so you can run back to him. Obviously I'm going to kill you.”
Kagome reached behind her and grabbed the paging device. Hitting the button once, she prayed that someone would get there fast. “I'll tell you, Onigumo, I think Naraku wouldn't agree with you. I don't think he wants me dead.” Great, another one added to the list. Why did everyone on the planet want her dead? Was she that awful of a person? Kagome had to reconsider her life choices when she got out of this one. 'If,' her conscious whispered.

“Oh he doesn't. He wants you so bad, it's actually pretty disgusting, especially considering you've been tainted by that mutt. I'd sooner chop off our dick than let him near you.”

“When do you stop? What makes you go away and forces Naraku to wake up?”

He had the gull to smile patiently at her, as if this were all some big joke. “Why would I tell you that?”

“Why wouldn't you? You said it yourself, I am going to be dead so what does it matter?”

Tilting his head in agreement, Naraku flexed his knuckles and crossed his arms. With a slight shrug, he explained; “Naraku wakes up when I let him. I am the one who has planned all of this. It was his hatred that created me and it will be what helps me to achieve my desired revenge. I will start with you, and then move on to Sesshoumaru's family. Do you know I have a date set up with his ex wife, Kagura? I'm taking her out to dinner next week. I can't wait for her to take me home. I'm thinking about burning down the house with her and the child inside. All I have to do is cut the gas line to the house. I've already been mapping it out. Apparently I now also have to take out Rin; yet another causality in the Taisho path. You and Rin are so much alike, and there was a point where I felt bad for dragging you both into this; However, you're both whores, both of you sleeping with dogs who were in relationships.” With a smile, he nodded to her hand, “I hope you don't expect that to work. I cut that wire while you were in the bathroom.” His smile was chilling.

Kagome's eyes widened as she pulled at the paging button, only to find the entire piece cut loose. With only a brief hesitation, she chucked the device at Naraku's head. He swiped his hand at it and batted the device from mid air. He was immediately hit in the face by a pillow. With a growl, Naraku ripped the pillows from Kagome's hands and threw it to the side.

“Accept your fate, Kagome. I will make it quick!” He took a step towards her while pulling a box cutter from his pocket. “Naraku will be appreciative of that.”

Kagome grabbed the vase that rested next to her bed and threw it at Onigumo. That was when she started screaming. She had prayed that a nurse would be nearby but as he lunged for her, she realized she was in this on her own. The vase shattered against his forearm that he threw up in defense as he moved at her. Ducking Kagome slid out of his way just as he attempted to grab her waist. She slid around the side of him, and brought up her hands to push against his back, attempting to put him to the floor and getting some room away from him. She heard the box cutter clatter to the floor, and prayed it was out of his reach.

Spinning, Kagome moved as fast as her body would allow her for the door. If she was fully rested, this wouldn't be a problem, but her legs still weren't healed completely. Her knees wobbled, not used to the quick motions or holding her weight after the near two weeks in a bed. Cursing her weak body, she knew there was no way to outrun him. She clambered forward on shaky legs trying to reach the door. Still shouting at the top of her lungs, she prayed for yet another miracle. If she died….if he won this…then Kagejiro would have died for nothing. She had just been given her life back; how could it be taken away so quickly?

Onigumo was on her in a second. He wrapped his arms around her torso and picked her up off the ground. “No you don't!” he whispered harshly in her ear. “You will not deny me my revenge!”
“Naraku,” she hollered, “stop it! This isn't you! Naraku, wake up!” she struggled to the best of her ability to fight his hold. She wiggled and squirmed, thrashed and kicked; anything to get him to drop her.

The being wearing Naraku's face clamped a hand over her mouth and continued to pull her back towards the bed. Kagome didn't know this man, she didn't know what he was capable of, but she knew his intent; he was going to kill her. With a quick decision, Kagome stopped struggling. She allowed herself to become dead weight, hoping to throw him off balance. It worked for a split second; Naraku, who had been pulling her back with all of his weight, shifted forward just slightly as he attempted to adjust his hold on her. Kagome then slammed her head backwards, catching his nose with the back of her cranium. Hearing him curse, she took the moment of shock to push her right shoulder back with as much force as she could muster into his chest. It was enough to get him to drop his arms from her as he clutched his bleeding nose. Whipping around, instinct took over. She lashed out with a flurry of fists, attempting to hurt him enough to give them space. Her punches were sloppy and mismanaged; she caught him twice in the jaw and once wildly missing his face and brushing across his neck. On that third missed punch, her hand caught his necklace, and ripped it from his neck. The concealment ring clattered to the floor and the aura in the room changed back to showcase him as the demon he was. Sadly, his personality didn't alter as well.

“Naraku, wake up,” she screeched at the top of her lungs. `Where the hell are the nurses,' she wondered as Naraku lifted his eyes, the color of his eyes matching the liquid that rained from his nose.

“Bitch!” Onigumo screamed. Lunging forward, he made motion to grab her again.

Time slowed to a crawl as Kagome watched with impending doom. It was like a scene from the Matrix; Onigumo moved at the speed of a turtle, and the viciousness and hatred radiating off him in waves that were palpable.

At that time, a woman appeared next to Kagome. She was there but…she wasn't. Kagome could see her, but more than that, she could feel her. The power that rolled off this woman was unfathomable. Kagome felt her body respond to the figure; her blood lit with a fire she had only felt a handful of times in her life. As Kagome raised her hand, so did the figure next to her. Allowing her body to take over, Kagome acted purely on instinct. A warm, dry breeze blew through the room as Kagome took a step towards the figure that was crawling towards her. Tilting her head to the right, she knew what she had to do. Glancing to her left, the figure nodded gravely. The woman, the one from Kagome's dream, Midiriko she knew now, seemed to say something, but Kagome didn't understand the words that had no sound. But in her soul, she was able to interpret one of them; `ready?' She nodded again.

Time sped up, Onigumo crashed towards her and Kagome prayed. She thought of everything that had happened, all of the tragedies from this year alone. She thought of poor Jakotsu who had been thrust into her confrontation with Bankotsu, she thought of Envy, the fantastic beautiful bartended who tried to rescue her and lost his life. She thought of her mother and the suffering she had endured with Kagome's injuries and the truth. She thought of Kikyo and her betrayal. She thought of Kagejiro's sacrifice, and InuYasha heartache. He would be devastated…

A spike of power lit up the room in a blinding pink light. Kagome shut her eyes at some point to try to keep from going blind. Even through her eyelids, Kagome could see the flash. Power that was dormant and that was not entirely hers flowed through Kagome's blood and formed a purifying bolt of energy which left her body and entered Naraku. She could feel the impact of the purifying light, her hair billowed out around her, blowing in the breeze that came from nowhere, and Onigumo flew back into the wall, denting the plaster at the force of impact and then slid to the floor. Steam rose off his body as his red eyes shut, flickered open brown, and then shut once more. The demon was temporarily purified and his body had shut down. He was not going anywhere any time soon. Kagome swallowed thickly, and then glanced to her left once more. The woman remained.

Kagome eyed Naraku wearily then licked her dry lips.

“He will not harm you now,” the entity standing next to her whispered. Kagome was sure her lips did not move; she was speaking telepathically. Raising one eyebrow, Kagome guessed that shouldn't surprise her. Nothing really should surprise her after everything that had happened.

Kagome stared gravely at the crumpled form in front of her. “He needs help. Mental help, lots of it. It seems that I surround myself with people who fit that description.” Kagome blinked. “I guess I fit that description,” she muttered more to herself than the ghost next to her. Taking a deep breath, she looked back at the woman who was slowly fading away. “You…you are the reason I'm alive, yes?”

The dead priestess turned to look at her. She blinked but did not respond.

“I am grateful for the second chance, and I want to thank you for granting me it.” She felt tears begin to pool in her eyes. “But…did Jiro have to die? How…why….did he do it? Why did he….”

“He came to my daughters---he offered himself upon the alter. He said he had lived long enough. He begged for you to be able to live for him. My daughters, the priestesses of light, wanted to purify him then and there. He was the demon our temple sought; he led me to my death centuries ago. They thought it a trick; though that he was once again trying to bring ruin to our temple.” The woman became more corporeal, if that was a thing. She was no longer translucent and Kagome was nearly dumbfounded at their resemblance. Long, lush, black tresses framed the face so like Kagome's. Her eyes, though, truly were a gateway to her soul; they were gray and held a wisdom that Kagome couldn't fathom.

“I knew him,” she whispered as she glided towards Kagome. Her feet didn't quite touch the ground, “centuries ago. He was my fatal flaw; I trusted him as I knew I shouldn't. He had rescued me from a temple set upon by his father's army. He spirited me away to safety. We traveled across the country together for seven long months. He took me from the decimated temple outside of Ito to the ports in Nagasaki. We stayed in different villages, we took side trips, and he showed me the country I knew not at that age. He was young, very young for a demon, and idealistic. He wanted to overthrow his father and bring peace back to his father's province.

“Times were rough and dangerous; his father was searching for us both. The devil lord knew that I would become powerful in time; I was the miko who would destroy him, as told through legend. His son, his only living heir, had deserted his army to take me away from harm. The lord wanted vengeance. His men were everywhere; we had to flee many of times. Within those few months, though young as I was, I came to rely on Kagejiro. I looked up to him, idolized him, and ultimately, I fell in love with him. I was young and foolish; I fantasized about our future together. I was heartbroken when he left me with the priests in Nagasaki.

“I understood why he made the choice he did. He knew I would be safe in the temple with warrior monks who fought demons and he fled the country, or so I thought. He was to leave with the merchant ships from the west. That was our plan. I begged to go with him, to accompany him out of the country. I couldn't fathom being separated from him after traveling together. But he left in the middle of the night with no goodbye.”

Feelings of hopelessness and sadness overwhelmed Kagome. It was like a wall of emotions teetered just over her head, suffocating her in the tragic memories. She felt her chest constrict at the thought; could she have just left InuYasha after a long journey like that? She didn't think it possible.

Something darker flashed behind the priestess' eyes and Kagome was suddenly hit with a wave of rage. Bitterness and hatred built up in her chest until she couldn't breathe. “I studied, and studied the arts of fighting the demons. I wanted to help Kagejiro accomplish his goal. I wanted to fight the tyrant that was his father beside Kagejiro. I trained in the field with the monks and soon gathered a name for myself. I must have killed the right number because the demon community actively began trying to kill me. My power grew in leaps and bounds. I became the most powerful Priestess in all Japan. Then…then he returned.”

Kagome could feel the bitterness but beyond that, she could sense the sadness, and the heartache that accompanied these memories. “We met in secrecy. We spoke of love and other frivolous novelties. We…consummated our love. To my surprise, a monk happened upon us in the meadow. I was cast from the temple, forced to reside in the local village. I was shamed; a failed priestess and worse, an unwed whore of a demon. I waited for Kagejiro to return and take me away, but he never did. I became bitter. I married, had a family even, but he never returned for me. I realized, only after nearly a decade that he had played me. He knew I would be cast from the temple if I lost my virginity, and I suppose he thought I would lose my powers of purification, but that did not happen. Filled with rage and indignation, I began to practice on my own. I slaughtered hoards of demons; I wiped out lineages. I destroyed their lands, murdered their people, and reveled in it. I had a one goal; to end demon kind.”

She was silent for a moment and Kagome took a breath from all of the conflicting emotions. She knew exactly how Midiriko felt; she had felt it repeatedly with InuYasha. She had loved him, hated him, pleaded for more and less at the same time. She had been in a whirlwind that was the Taisho name. Apparently the family had a track record for inflicting these feelings. But genocide, well that was pushing the envelope.

“He returned to me once again. We met on the battle field. I nearly killed him. He nearly let me. But I found I couldn't; he was the man who had saved me as a child, he was my first and truly only love. I hated him, but I loved him all the same. He apologized for the way life had gone. He told me his life was forfeit. He told me that the only peace was death. He spoke of how powerful his father was and how he was invincible. We met away from the temple, in the woods, the caves, whenever I could get away from my duties and my family. After some time, and after he convinced me we could not be together in this world, we decided to go to the afterlife together. We met in the temple from which I had been banned after dark when the monks were asleep. I brought the knife. He was…sad. I could see the sorrow in his eyes but was too blind to understand why.

“I welcomed death. I slit my wrists without a second thought. I wanted it to be over; life was filled with pain and agony. In death my love and I would be together. He sat by me, running his fingertips through my hair. I kept asking him to do it, to join me, but he said he wanted to be sure that I could not be resurrected before he took his own life. I knew when the point of turning back had passed. I was tired; I could barely keep my eyes open. My life blood was pooled around me on the floor and he just held me. It was then that I realized he had no intention of dying. I was too tired to yell, too broken to scream. I cried until I couldn't feel and he held me until I died. My last mortal memory was watching his boots as he walked away from the temple. He left me in a pool of my own blood.”

Kagome wiped her cheeks, astounded to find tears dripping down her face. Maybe she shouldn't have been so surprised. It was a love story after her own heart; Bankotsu had been her first real love and he tricked her again and again. Would she have killed herself for him? Not in the modern era but a few hundred years ago? It was possible. But InuYasha…she would die a thousand times for him. She understood Midiriko more than anyone else in her life. She nodded slowly, “I am so sorry for what you went though.”

Midiriko glanced down at Kagome. It was as if she could see all that Kagome had been or would be. “My young one, you are on a dangerous path in life. You have given so much of yourself to others with no expectation of return. You have acted selfishly, and selflessly. You have put your friends in danger and waged war to save friends. You and I are very much alike. I have seen this Taisho on which you have attached yourself. He will cause you heartache over the years, and you him. It is a fate with a family I know all too well.”

Kagome nodded, “That's life, though. Heartache is going to happen. I will learn and we will adapt. I love him.”

“And I loved Kagejiro. As vastly and as deeply as you care for InuYasha, I cared for Kagejiro.”

“Then you understand why I will continue to love him.”

The woman merely nodded.

“I am sorry for the shame the Taisho family has brought to you. Life is different now, though. Demons do not slaughter people, we live in harmony.”

“Do not mistake complacency with harmony. When the demons have need, they will rise up. You are not friends; they will not hesitate when time calls for the demons to become the dominant race.”

Kagome nodded slowly, “Maybe, but that's why we need good demons.”

“That, my dear Kagome, is an oxymoron. There is no such thing.”

“Well,” Kagome started, “Under that interpretation, then there are no good people. Maybe there is no `good' demon, but demons can do good deeds. I have seen demons help humans.”

Midiriko turned her attention towards the unconscious form of Naraku. “And he has helped you how? He threatened to kill you; he came to the hospital, a place of healing, to destroy you. Demons are not good.”

“But they can do good. Kagejiro was here when his family needed him. He helped Sesshoumaru and Rin with their relationship, he helped InuYasha when he needed it. He rescued me from Bankotsu! He took a stand against his father! He might have done stupid things, but he has also done good in the time I have known him, and that hasn't been so long.”

Midiriko studied Kagome for a long moment. “I cared greatly for Kagejiro.”

Kagome closed her eyes, his death too fresh in her mind. “Then how could you kill him?”

Midiriko bowed her head for a moment, searching for the right words. “He pledged to give me his life. He offered me the only item he had that was worth anything. He offered to end himself to give you another chance. It was the first selfless deed he has done since rescuing me from the temple. I intended to take it.”

Kagome's head snapped up. “Intended?” confusion muddled her mind; InuYasha was at Jiro's funeral; what did she mean intended?

“I healed you as I promised I would. After all, I do look after fellow Miko's, even those who do not study. Once that was done, his life was mine. I wrapped my hands around his neck and squeezed. I squeezed until his life had drained from his body. And that monster…do you know what he said? He looked me in the eye and told me that he still loved me. He apologized for what he had done and told me he was willing to accept his fate. I waited for the trick; I waited to see how he would escape this time. But he didn't try. He truly accepted death. And I found that I couldn't collect the debt.”

Kagome blinked once then again. “Wait…what? InuYasha just went to his funeral. Jiro's dead! The doctors told us so. He's…..”

Midiriko stared at the girl. “Do not give up, Kagome. You have come far and have lost much. You are a priestess of the light, whether you know it or not. You are one of my children. I wish to see you prosper; I wish to see you happy. Be wary of the Taisho clan; know yourself and your wishes in life. Do not compromise. Keep your eyes upon the demons and learn of your powers. Demons can sense a priestess; you are a target my dear not only for your affiliation with the Taisho name but for your blood. You must be prepared.”

Kagome furrowed her eyebrows. “Prepared for what? What about Kagejiro? Please, you must tell me. Is he still alive?”

Midiriko smiled faintly and she became translucent once again.

Kagome held out a hand. “Wait!” she shouted, “hold on! You have to tell me! Please! I have to know! You've done so much for me. How can I repay you?”

But the woman was gone.

Opening her mouth then shutting it, Kagome glanced around wildly. She was alone in the room, save for the unconscious Naraku. Where were the nurses? How had no one heard her quarrel with Naraku? Someone had tried to kill her in their hospital but no one was here! Where was security? Kagome felt her mouth go dry as she tried to assess the situation. She just blasted a demon, suffering from a serious multiple personality disorder, with some super priestess power, only after enlisting her dead ancestor who may or may not have killed her lover's brother. What the hell was going on where this was a day in the life of Kagome Higurashi? Taking a deep breath, she tried to get her head straight. She needed security, and then she needed InuYasha.

Very cautiously, Kagome approached Naraku's crumpled body. Kneeling next to him, she checked for a pulse. She found one, a very weak one she noted silently, and stood slowly. What the hell would she do now? She was happy she hadn't killed Naraku, but she sure as hell didn't need him waking up before she found security. She felt bad for Naraku; he was sick. He lived his life oblivious to the sickness that had eaten away at his brain so thoroughly that he thought himself his long dead cousin seeking revenge for the man who bought out his father's company and systematically bankrupt the family. Naraku had no idea, or at least proclaimed to have no idea, that he was stalking her and InuYasha, and living a huge lie.

Fighting exhaustion, Kagome walked out into the hallway, in search of assistance. Part of her was terrified at what she would find. If no one had come to assist, that means that they were either tied up or… and Naraku didn't seem to be taking chances. Feet stuck out at an odd angle behind the nursing station and Kagome grimaced. Had he killed all those who could have stopped him? Using the counter as a crutch, Kagome made her away around the station to find the woman unconscious. Not sure if she would rise again, Kagome neglected feeling for a pulse and stepped over the nurse's body and grabbed the phone. There were patients shouting from their rooms, and the switchboard was lighting up like a Christmas tree. At least she wasn't crazy; the other patients must have heard the commotion. Where were the other nurses? Looking down the hallway, she saw a few crumpled forms. She glanced wildly around for cameras; why wasn't security here? Was it possible that he had eliminated all threats? No, there were too many for him to have….

At that moment, the stairwell door swung open and security flocked in by the dozen. Police were mixed into the crowd as they quickly swarmed the floor. They seemed to have poured in from all sides. Within ten seconds, more than forty guards were on her floor. Kagome stared at them blankly as they stared down the barrel of the guns aimed in her direction. She blinked twice then pointed towards her room. “He's in there,” she murmured before collapsing backwards into the chair at the station.

She lost track of the events but they played out somewhat like this: the guards entered her hospital room and sedated the unconscious intruded. Five cops grilled her about his identity while he was handcuffed and removed from the premise. Kagome attempted to explain that he was mentally ill and suffering from a multiple personality disorder but the doctors seemed to ignore her. They were much more interested in why he was there, who he was, and how the hell she had knocked him out cold. Kagome quickly tired of the questions, and it showed across her face. Doctors soon ushered off the police, promising that they would be able to send one person to speak with Kagome the next day, as they were surly not releasing her now. Kagome wasn't blind to the looks she was receiving from the staff and cops alike; accusatory glowers of mistrust and some downright glares of malice were being thrown her way. She couldn't say she blamed them; she, the daughter of a billionaire, was in the hospital because of one billionaires sick fetish, another billionaire's son was by her side and yet seen as a possible suspect in the case, and here was a former billionaire's son trying to kill her. For the hundredth time that day, she wished she had a normal life.

Her doctor gently took hold of the chair she collapsed in and wheeled her back towards her room. “You've had quite the busy day,” he whispered while maneuvering around the lingering police. “Why don't we get you out of the spotlight and into bed for some rest?”

Kagome frowned, choosing to stare at the floor rather than meet the eyes that stared scathingly at her from all ends of the room. “I would like that,” she replied.

“Don't worry, Higurashi, this will go away with time too. Don't pay them any mind; they just don't understand how you have been at the center of so many problems as of late.”

“Story of my life,” she whispered as they entered her room.

“I'll stand guard until they leave. No one will come in here today, I promise.”

Kagome nodded and allowed the doctor to help her into the bed. She had spoken with this doctor a number of times since she had awoken from her coma. He was the doctor who had informed her and InuYasha of Jiro's passing. She felt, for a moment, like asking him if there were any chance that he was mistaken with Jiro when she remembered that InuYasha was at his funeral. Midiriko must have been wrong; Jiro was dead.

“You gave that man quite the shock, didn't you,” the doctor said after getting Kagome into her bed.

Kagome stared at the man for a moment, analyzing what he had just said. “Well, he had it coming.”

“I bet he did,” the doctor replied. “Good for you,” he added.

“I bet you see all kinds of things,” Kagome goaded further, hoping to try to figure out one mystery. What if this man…she glanced at his hand and immediately recognized the ring on his finger. InuYasha wore one very similar to it. The man was a demon. She swallowed thickly, remembering Midiriko's warning.

“Oh, I have. Working in a hospital makes you privy to all the oddities in the world. You see birth and death, hatred and love. You see miracles, which are my favorite, and you see people change.”

Kagome nodded slowly. “I know a guy who changed a whole lot. I hear he used to be quite the…jerk. He made some poor choices. He found his family though, and with them his heart.”

“Maybe,” the doctor said while connecting a monitor to Kagome's wrist, “He never lost his heart, it just wasn't in the right place.”

“Maybe,” Kagome replied. “Maybe he'll be able to enjoy life,” she quipped.

The man eyed her for a moment. “If only that were possible,” he said solemnly, but Kagome didn't miss the corner of his mouth twitch. And that made all the difference.

“Get some sleep, Ms. Higurashi,” he said gently before leaving the room.

Kagome reached to the far side of the bed and grabbed her cellphone. She knew having it on was against the hospital rules but she had to get in touch with InuYasha. Turning it on, she passed out before it could load.


When she awoke next, a hand was wrapped tightly around hers. Without opening her eyes, she knew the owner. She tilted her head towards the side of her bed and cracked open one eye.

“What time is it?”

“Almost midnight.”

She had been out for nearly eight hours. Stretching, she was sad to find all of her muscles tight. “Guess I'm not going home today.” While she was joking, it was a sobering reality. She wanted out of that damned hospital.

“Not after you expend all your strength frying demons,” he sounded angry.

Her lips twisted into a smile. “Sorry I didn't leave him for you, but he didn't give me much of a choice.”

“No, I'm glad you were able to handle it. You shouldn't have had to though. Where the fuck was security?” Oh, he was angry, just not with her. That was relieving. Kagome slowly brought their joint hands to her face and rubbed his knuckles against her cheek. She didn't have an answer so she remained silently and let him fume.

“How the fuck did this even happen? I mean, they should have been taking care of you…they should have had security…. Damm it, Kagome, I leave for a few hours…”

“I know.” She understood him being angry but she was the one who was almost killed. Twice. Because of his family and their connection. Not that she blamed him at all, but he could allow her to be angry instead. His anger was so frustrating.

Letting out a long sigh, he settled back in his chair. After a moment, he cleared his throat. “You want to tell me about what happened?”

“It's been Grand Central Station in here for the last few hours. I'd rather just relax.” It wasn't that she didn't want to tell him, she would just rather sleep.

InuYasha stared down at Kagome and brushed some hair from her eyes and pushed it behind her ear. His eyes darkened as he mentally prepared himself for a big question. Kagome could see him bracing and winced inwardly. “Okay, I can respect that, I can. But, I need to know that he didn't touch you.”

Kagome closed her eyes and let out a breath. “No, he didn't touch me. I…he…” she closed her eyes and sighed again. “He knew everything. He had been watching. Naraku is crazy; multiple personality disorder is the best I can get. He had a concealment charm and when he put it on, he became Onigumo. But it wasn't a disguise, it was like demon Naraku went to sleep and human Onigumo woke up. It's like he couldn't deal with his life, or with his cousin's death, and formed a personality to compensate for the loss. He just…lost it. But he didn't know he lost it. Onigumo was the anger and the rage. You…” she looked up into InuYasha's amethyst eyes. “Your family was his target.”

InuYasha `s eyes darkened as he looked away from Kagome. “All I want is to keep you safe and I keep putting you in these situations.”

“Inu…” she pulled her thumb from where he clutched her hand and brushed his knuckles. “It's not your fault.”

InuYasha ripped his hand out of his and stood up. He paced the room, fisting his hair in frustration. “Don't say it isn't. You and I both know it is. Bankotsu was angry about Sha and his attention on you, while Naraku wanted to take out the Taisho family. And what is the common point? What is the common denominator? It's fucking Occam's Razor, Kagome; if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... " With a dejected sigh, he slouched over, "You've become the giant fucking target to get at me. You're my weakness, Kagome,” he paused and leveled her with a painful stare; “you're my weakness and they know it. I love you and god damn it, they exploit that. It isn't fair; it isn't fair to you. You're only going to keep getting hurt…”

“You can stop right there,” Kagome snapped. InuYasha's head jerked up and he stared at her in shock. “Seriously, just quit it. If you're going to come in here and be a Debbie Downer, get out. Because here's the thing; I've had enough negativity. I've had enough bullshit. You know what isn't fair? Hearing `I love you' in the middle of your tirade about how I'm a weakness. How about strength? You're my strength, InuYasha; because of you, I'm willing to fight. I want to fight so that I can see you, I want to fight so that I can be with you. I love you so much, that it fuels me with the will to keep going. While I was lying in that coma, I don't know much, but I know I heard your voice. I know you kept me going. You're my strength, my heart; and because of you, I'm here today. So I might be your weakness, but I'm willing to put a positive spin on us.” She pinched the bridge of her nose, unsure if she was lecturing him, yelling at him, or just venting.

InuYasha dropped into the side and gathered her hands in his. “Kagome, you being my weakness isn't a bad thing. It means that I love you so much that you are the one and only thing that they can take from me that would hurt me. I rely on you as my strength as well; you're the reason I get up, you're what I look forward to all day. I love you, you are my life! And….I….” InuYasha looked down and rubbed his head. “I know right now it seems harrowing; we have so much drama around us, but we'll get through it. Bankotsu is in jail, Onigumo has been caught, my father is out of my life…sort of…”

“What do you mean sort of?”

InuYasha scratched behind his ear and smiled sheepishly at Kagome. “Mom wants us up for dinner one night this week. She…woke up. At the funeral, she….”

“I don't think Jiro's dead!” Kagome nearly screamed. She had almost forgotten. “I think he's alive.” She felt stupid for half a second as silence consumed them; he had just spent the day at his brother's funeral and here she was with some random proclamation. Would he believe her?

InuYasha studied her face for a moment before nodding. “Well, that makes two of us.”

“Really? So it's possible?” That was definitely the best news she heard all month!

“Yeah, we were burying an empty casket.”

“So where is he? Where would he go? Didn't anyone notice? Was it a closed coffin funeral?”

InuYasha shook his head. “No, he was definitely in the coffin at the funeral. But his body just…vanished…between the funeral home and the graveyard. I don't understand it. He's just...gone. Maybe he disappeared with his men, maybe he is alive, maybe..." he sighed heavily, "I don't know."

Kagome wasn't sure if his indecision was good or not, but she was going to err on that side. “I want to hug him and hit him all at the same time.”

“Join the club,” InuYasha replied mirthlessly. “He saved you somehow, and for that I owe him everything. But…he also disappeared again. But….” He opened his mouth a few times then decided to wait to tell Kagome about his inheritance. She needed her rest.

Kagome cleared her throat, seeing that their conversation about his mysterious brother having come to a close. “Onigumo knows you and the family are demons. If he thinks he can use that as leverage, he will scream it from the rooftops. He had a whole plan that started with me. He knows Sesshoumaru's ex, apparently. He was going after her next.”

InuYasha's eyes narrowed. “I'll call Sessh. I will have him warn Kagura. I don't like the wind bitch but she's got my niece.”

Kagome shook her head. “He could ruin the family, InuYasha.”

InuYasha rubbed his forehead. “He won't. Father will see to it. It won't be the first time that we've been accused of being demons. It will go over as well as the other attempts to out us.”

Kagome snapped her eyes open and glowered at InuYasha. “You can't be serious! He's sick, InuYasha. You can't kill him for that! Naraku's not a bad person. He's just ill!”

InuYasha looked hurt for a moment before brushing it off. “I wouldn't kill him, but my father…”

Kagome struggled to sit up. “No! You have to stop him!”

InuYasha put his hands to Kagome's shoulders and gently urged her back down. “Calm down, Kagome. That asshole tried to kill you! Why are you always standing up for them?" He growled and pinned her back to the bed, "you do realize that you just keep giving them more opportunities to hurt you, right? You keep trying to do what's best, and what's just. They don't give a shit, Kagome. Wake up! They will not take the moral high ground; they will do whatever it takes to kill you. You can't try to think rationally for criminals; They are going to do what it takes, and if you avoid dealing with the issue, if you decide he doesn't deserve to die, he will not show compassion next time." He swallowed thickly, noticing the look of anger beginning to swirl in her eyes; "I know you want to do what's right because you are a good person. They are not. And if you keep giving them outs, if you keep dealing with them in the half measures of jail or rehab, they will escape, and they will kill you. Bankotsu's not going to feel remorse or give you a free pass because you didn't speak against him. Naraku isn't going to go easy on you next time because you didn't kill him. They will find you, and..." InuYasha closed his eyes and put his head against Kagome's; "I can't lose you. Not after all of this. We've fought so hard. Just....walk away and let fate handle those guys. You can't protect Naraku and Bankotsu. You shouldn't want to after what they've done to you."

Kagome sighed dejectedly. “I will not sit by and let them be murdered. If the law says..."

InuYasha grunted and pushed away from her. "How can you be so naive Kagome? The law is a god damn three ring circus. Complete with fucking clowns. The law will not protect you. It won't. It inherently protects the criminals. It will offer you no safety, I gauren-fucking-te you that. "

"We do not have the right to condemn them, InuYasha!"

Running his hands down his face, InuYasha wanted to scream. "But they have the right to storm a hospital, come into your room, and try to murder you?"

"He's sick, Inu. He needs medical help," she replied evenly.

"And Bankotsu? You don't have the right to be angry? If Jiro hadn''d'd be...." the pain of watching her barely cling to life was to fresh a wound for him to prod, as was his brother's sacrifice. "I don't want to fight with you."

"And you think I do? One of my friends tried to kill me today. I'm not really in the mood for it either."

InuYasha fought with himself for but a moment. He wanted to argue that Naraku was not her friend, would never be her friend, and never had her best intentions in mind. His entire interaction with Kagome was geared around this maniacal plan he had designed. He was never interested in being friends with Kagome, but did that really matter? Putting his arms around Kagome, InuYasha forced her into a hug. She resisted for a moment, before burying her head in his shoulder. While she didn't cry, he could feel the silent, tearless sobs rack her body. He rubbed her head soothingly while trying to handle the situation; "Naraku is sick, I will agree. And I will take no action against him, if that's what you want. But, Kagome, he's threatening the family, he tried to kill you..."

Lifting her head up, she retorted, "Onigumo tried to kill me, not Naraku!” InuYasha wasn't understanding the situation; Naraku wasn't bad, not really. He just was sick.

“So he said! How do you know that he wasn't bluffing? How do you know that he wasn't lying, that it wasn't all a ploy? He could only be bullshitting about being two people when in reality, he's just using it as an excuse.”

“Why would he do that? InuYasha, think about this, He was planning on killing me…”

InuYasha grimaced, as if wounded by the words. How many times had he heard those words in the past two weeks? No matter what angle he worked them from, there was one common denominator to all of her attacks, to all of the reasons why she was continuously placed in danger. All the anger drained from his body as he stared at her. Taking her hands once more, he brought his mouth to her knuckles and whispered, “Kagome, you keep getting placed in the path of danger because of me.”

Kagome tightened her hold on his hand. “Maybe. But half of this is my shit also. I have a stake in the responsibility of this mess. It's not just you. I started the trouble with Bankotsu; I allowed him to use me, and treat me like property. He put on his crazy pants because of my interactions with him. It's not just you. Trust me. We have done this together.”

InuYasha kissed her forehead and pressed his forehead to her forehead. “Kagome….”

“It's not going to be an easy road, InuYasha. A lot of lies and truths are about to come out. I wish…” Kagome sighed again. The reality of the situation had hit her this morning and she was just really beginning to understand the ramifications of what was about to transpire. “I wish I had been smarter. I wish I hadn't tried to cover up my mistake and my father's betrayal. These lies….these half truths do nothing but create animosity and hostile intentions. I don't want to lie anymore InuYasha. “

InuYasha lifted his face and ran his fingers over her lips. “I wish it were that simple. As long as the world doesn't know about the Taisho clan….”

“So tell them.”

InuYasha snorted. “It's not that easy.”

“Then let's leave.”

InuYasha blinked, then blinked again. That was an option, wasn't it? They could just leave. They could start over in one of the properties that he had inherited. It would be wonderful; no Bankotsu, no Onigumo, no Dad. They could be together, away from trouble and anyone who wanted to harm them. Then he shook his head. “No, we have cases we have to see through. We can't run away from your testimony against Bankotsu. Now you'll also have to testify against Onigumo. We can't just run from these problems. It's easier but it would do us no good. Not really. Half measures, Kagome, remember? You can't run from this. I would rather they be permanently dealt with but if you think the measure if jail, then we have to see it through."

In that instant, she flashed back to her conversation with the lawyer. “I spoke with the prosecutor today.”

“The district?” InuYasha asked, unimpressed. He had tried to get his family's lawyers assigned to the case. His lawyers would make sure Bankotsu rotted in jail. But the state had taken the case; the state was going to fully prosecute Bankotsu for his crimes, or so they said. He had little faith in the state, or the legal system for that matter. He knew how it worked; Banktosu would be back on the street in a few years, if he was actually convicted.

“Yes, he said that with my recovery, it was going to be hard to pin Bankotsu down on violent charges, and that with Sesshoumaru taking control of his company, Bankotsu might start looking like the victim.”

InuYasha stared for a moment, trying to make his imminent explosion of explicative statements recede. Breathing deeply for a moment, he cracked his neck slowly and asked, “How so?”

“Because I'm healed and your family came out much richer. He said it will look like someone falsified medical documents.”
“But they…” taking a deep breath, InuYasha shoved his hands into his pockets and hit the business card left for him by one of Jiro's….associates. Fingering the tip of it, he steadied his resolve. “You know what, Kagome. Screw it. If they decide that son of a bitch is the victim here, it will be taken care of. I swear to you, Kagome, on my love for you, that Bankotsu Koizumi will never set a free foot down on Earth again. He will be dealt with if the legal system fails.”

“Inu…." she warned. She didn't want to talk about her boyfriend hiring a hit man. That was way too much for her to deal with. Yes, the thought of Banktosu showing up in five, ten, even twenty years, was enough to make her skin crawl. But the thought of him being murdered was equally terrifying. She had cared deeply for him once, she had even thought it possible for them to be together forever. How could she look on him with enough malice to be an accomplice to his murder?

“Hey,” InuYasha tilted her face up and gently pressed his lips against hers, “we'll take care of it. No worries. I will keep you safe.”

Kagome realized, with a mix of dread and excitement, that this was her life from here out. She was his and he hers. They were in this together and together they would handle any problems. If he said that he would keep her safe, she believed him.



“Okay.” Kagome leaned forward and kissed him as well. “I trust you, InuYasha. I trust that you'll keep me and my family…our family….safe. I trust that you'll do what's necessary. I love you, InuYasha.”

InuYasha nudged her slightly with his hand. She slid over in the tiny hospital bed to make room for him. Hanging off the edge, he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her tightly. “Get some sleep.” He knew that was a tall order; after their discussion, he was ready to fight, not to close his eyes. He wanted justice for Kagome; he didn't care in what form it came in. Kagome, on the other hand, would not play dirty. She wouldn't; he had to understand that reality right now, and deal with it. That meant he had to rely on his father to handle the family business. He had already claimed that Bankotsu was not to be harmed; did he mean permanently? No, that couldn't be right. That son of a bitch would have to answer for what he had done. Court would be a start. A shanking in prison would be the finish, and even that was too good an end. Brooding over the topic, it took nearly ten minutes for him to realize that Kagome had fallen into quite the deep sleep against his chest.


When Kagome woke up, she was in her bed. It took a few minutes for her to really figure it out; the ceiling was foreign, the pale pastel of the walls was so different. She had forgotten what her room looked like. Had it been so long? No, only a few weeks, she figured as she slowly sat up. God, was it all a dream, she wondered--prayed---at first. Glancing down to her left arm, she saw the angry scars of where she had her IV, and discarded that wishful thinking.

But how had she gotten here?

Sitting up, she turned and placed her feet to the carpet and smiled. The carpeting was so much nicer than the cold tile of the hospital ward. she craned her neck backwards to stare at the walls of her childhood home. For the first time in weeks, she felt safe. Flopping backwards on the bed, she grabbed a teddy bear that sat neglected next to her pillow and squeezed. She was home. No more parades of doctors, no more prodding questions,

Sitting up swiftly, she stood up and swept out of the room on a mission. She walked down the hall and into the kitchen where InuYasha and her mother were seated at the kitchen table. Sitting down, she stared at the two. "How did I get here?" She wasn't as surprised as she should have been to find InuYasha in her house. In fact, it was...comforting.

InuYasha sipped his coffee and peered at her from over the rim of the beverage. "I signed you out first thing this morning." He keep an even expression, trying to gauge her reaction.

Glancing at the clock on the microwave, Kagome was flabbergasted to find it was nearly noon. "Why would they let you do that? I thought it needed to be doctor approved."

InuYasha's mouth twitched into his trademark smirk. "Oh, it was. I made sure the doctor approved it first thing this morning."

Kagome knew there was more to that statement but decided to let it go. "What about the trial? What about dealing with Banktosu and Naraku? Don't they need me for that?"

Kagome's mother fielded that question. "In time, sweetie. They will hold arraignments for the two, which you do not need to attend. They are going to deny bail for Naraku, and will probably commit him to a mental health facility until they find him competent to stand trial. That's what the district attorney told us this morning when he called. Bankotsu has already had his bail revoked. Now you just need to wait for the court date."

Kagome swallowed the news slowly. "Will it be soon? I want to get this over with."

Her mother's smile faltered a little. "Maybe. It's possible because it's such a high profile case that they might expedite it. But normally, it takes months for a trial to come to fruition. You have to be patient, Kagome. Use this time to heal."

"I don't want to wait that long," she said slowly, putting a hand to her stomach. "The thought of this being dragged out gives me agita."

"It's the way the legal system works, Kagome." Her mother placed her cup of coffee down and took one fleeting glance at InuYasha. She grimaced as she changed subjects. "Your father stopped by a few days ago..." she began slowly.

Kagome held up a hand. "I think I need coffee for this," she muttered. Before she could stand, one fresh cup was placed before her, courtesy of her boyfriend. Raising an eyebrow, she readied herself for this one. Taking a long inhale of the aroma of the black goodness, then sipping the beverage, she exhaled loudly and nodded twice. "Okay, go."

Her mother smiled softly. "He...apologized."

Kagome would have spit the liquid out of her mouth had she not of swallowed a moment before. Choking on air, she sputtered, "he what?"

Her mother snorted and waved a hand at her. "He apologized, half sincerely, I suppose. Maybe that's giving him too much credit. What he really wanted was information on what happened with Bankotsu. I suppose he wanted to know how much this would affect him and his business."

"I hope it tanks him," Kagome replied cynically.

Her mother nodded, "I agree, and it probably will. He wanted to know if Souta would be brought into this, and if he would be forced to relive that tragedy."
"Did he actually say that?" Kagome asked after a moment of soaking in the news.

"Of course he did; your father, if anything, is predictable. I knew the moment he set foot on the property, it was all about covering his ass. He didn't want his name smeared across headlines. I guess it's too late for that."

"It wasn't his God damned tragedy. He had no part in it. He ran, like a coward. How dare he act like it affected him at all."

Kauai winced. "Kagome, while you are completely right in the fact that he was not here with us to deal with the new baby, or to assist you when you were attacked, he did have to suffer through a divorce."
Kagome stared slack jawed at her mother. "Are you defending him? What...the hell! He caused the divorce! Did you forget that? He wanted it, because I was raped. He saw it as dishonor. He wouldn't..." swallowing hard, she stared at the table, taking a moment to control her words. "He wouldn't even admit, in private, that he was sorry he put me in that situation. He was sorry he took us to Japan, because I brought shame to the family. He was sorry we stayed with those assholes, because I shamed them. When do I get the apology? When does he get to tell me he's sorry he brought me somewhere, and left me alone, with an older boy who was sick?"

"He didn't know that Kagawaki would do those awful things to you."

Kagome stared at her mother for a moment, wondering why on earth she would defend that bastard. "And if he had? Do you think it would have changed his plan? Do you think he wouldn't have had us stay there? Because, as I remember, they were valuable future clients. He had to make the sale. And he my expense."

"Kagome, he couldn't have known..."
"Kikyo knew. "

Kagome's mother blinked. "What do you mean?"

"She's never said it out loud, but she knew what he was like. She knew his wonton lust for..." she frowned. "Kikyo had to tell her parents. I refuse to believe that dad was oblivious to all of it. He had to ..." shaking her head, she didn't want to keep fighting. She was so sick of fighting.

Taking a deep breath, Kauai shook her head. "I can't answer that. I do not know, Kagome, of what your father was, and was not, aware. But...I do know that he loved you. He just....has forgotten what love is over the years. He's selfish, he's cynical, and he's angry. He doesn't have a right to be, but he doesn't see the need for justification. He just is. And he believes himself to be injured from our past transgressions. Maybe he is, who knows. But just because he's angry, it doesn't take away from your right to be furious with him. But you cannot just say he's wrong."

Kagome scoffed and took another sip of coffee to try and contain her ire. It never did any good to argue with her mother about her father. While they both hated him, at least her mother still loved something about him. "Did he see Souta?"

"No, he had no want to come in. He stood in the doorway and asked if we could try to keep our family out of this predicament."

"Is he blaming all of this on me?"

Kagome's mother meet her daughter's stare and reached across the table to swipe hair from her eyes. "Honey, he..."

Kagome slapped her hand away. "Tell me the truth. What did he say? You said he was apologetic, for what?"

Her mother recoiled, not the least bit deterred. "He apologized for leaving me, mostly. He said he was sorry that he left me to clean up the mess. It was a really crummy apology. He should have apologized to you."

"That would mean admitting he was wrong." Kagome stared crossly at the cup. "What did he really want?"

" He asked me to talk to you. He said that he knew that there was a dark side to our family history, as he called it, and he would prefer for that not to come up. He said that he didn't know how or why you had become involved with Banktosu Koizumi, but he wanted his name kept out of the proceedings. He said that he had already suffered in sales, because half the world thinks you..." she glanced at InuYasha, who rolled his eyes and nodded his head, as if giving permission for her to continue; "they think that the entire event has been fabricated to bankrupt Koizumi."

"And the other half?"

InuYasha answered this time. "They don't give a shit. Sure, everyone loves a great scandal, and they'll follow the news when the trial happens, but you're better and it's not 24/7 coverage anymore, so they have moved on."

"What else?"

"He is returning to Japan."

"Good, fuck him," Kagome snapped. "He didn't come to visit me once in the hospital. I should hold a press conference, I should tell the world how shitty of a person he is. God, I hope they view him as dishonorable over there. He deserves it." After a moment, she conceded, "Why Japan? Why now? Is he running away again?"

InuYasha reached across the table and rubbed her hand. "Right now, Kagome, you don' t want to seem like you are trying to play the victim. Wait for court to bring up anything. Besides," he nodded towards the living room, "I think you have other pressing matters."

Kagome paled. "What...what do you mean?"

"It's time, Kagome," her mother whispered. "He needs to hear it from you before...before it's spread all over the news."

She eyed the den from where the cartoons blared. "Because my six year old son watches the news?" Kagome raised an eyebrow; "come on, mom. don't be overdramatic."


She nodded slowly. "I know. This has been a long time coming. I need to do right by him. I want to, but it's a little difficult." She rubbed her neck and glanced to her mother. "Will you....sit with us?"

"Of course," Kauai replied softly.

Glancing to InuYasha, Kagome inhaled deeply. "I appreciate you getting me out of the hospital. I hope you didn't have to step on too many toes to do it."

"I told them you were better, that they obviously couldn't protect you adequately in that facility, and they would have to call in the national guard to stop me from taking you home. So, no, no crushed toes. Maybe." His smile was more telling than his words.

Standing up, Kagome circled the table and kissed his head. "We have to have a talk with Souta, mom and I. I...don't want to kick you out, but..."

"It's family business, I get it. I got some calls to make anyway. I'll go sit in the car. When you're done, come get me."

"You don't need to..." She was only being polite, she knew as she stared at the ground.

InuYasha was already on his feet. "It's okay, Kagome, I completely understand. You're not kicking me out; I'm just going to wait outside. I don't want to confuse the kids more with me being here; he might get the wrong idea."

Kagome was slow to understand his meaning. When she did, her eyes widened. "Oh, no! Inu, I would never tell him that you're his father. I'm just not going to talk about him."

InuYasha struggled for a moment to think of the right answer. "I know everything seems awful right now, with Bankotsu and Naraku. But that little boy in there needs you, and he's going to need answers. He'll want to know who is father is, but he's too young to really understand what happened. He knows the concept of a father, but not really want they are, especially since he's never had one. I..." rubbing his head, he fought for the right words. "I'd be happy---no, honored---to play the role of his father. I don't want you lying to him, to tell him that I'm his father and he finds out the truth elsewhere, but maybe, offering him me as an option to act as a father, would help soften the blow."

Kagome's mouth went dry as she tried to sift through his words. "What are you saying?"

InuYasha clasp his hands and rocked back on his heels. "I'm just saying that, maybe, in the future, I could....we would...." he cleared his throat, "be a family, or something." He snuck a quick look at the expression on her face. Seeing her confusion, he sighed and reached forward. Ruffling her hand, he all but yelled, "I'm not asking you to marry me, wench, but...." after a second, he pulled her forward into a tight embrace, "I'm saying that one day, I will. And until that day, I'll play the role of a dad for Souta, until I actually am his father. I'm saying you don't need to do this alone. You've fought enough solo battles, Kagome; maybe it's time to team up."

Kagome teared up, and buried her face in Inu's shoulder. "I would like that," she whispered, sealing their fate and turning the pair from star-crossed lovers to a duo that would be unstoppable in their love for one another.

Tilting her chin up towards him, InuYasha leaned down and sealed his lips over hers.

The kiss was gentle yet passionate, full of meaning and depth that the two had just barely begun to understand. It, in and of itself, was a promise of a future for the two of them. A future that they would embrace together; it was a promise to always be there for one another, to always have one another's back. Above all else, it was the start of their relationship after the chaos and destruction had subsided. They had weathered the storm of life together, through one of the hardest battles they had yet to face in their short lives. The kiss was the reminder that they made it, and would continue to make it, regardless of what life threw at them. It was a reminder that they may not have started on the best of terms, or in the greatest of circumstances, but that they were here, together, now, and that was all that mattered.

The kiss was like the sun. They had been shrouded in darkness for so long, both living lives filled with grief and despair. They had all but given into that darkness, allowing it to consume them. They had fed on it, cloaked themselves in it; it had devoured their lives for so long. They had both believed in the lies it had whispered, that they didn't deserve this happiness, that they had sinned and had ruined their futures. But, as their souls found one another amidst this awful time, the purifying power of fire had burnt away that suffocating darkness, illuminating a bright and shining future for the lovers. The kiss was like the sun.


>uhh...hi. I swore I would see this fiction to its end. This is not that end. There will be one more chapter to tie all the loose ends, I promise. But I've been sitting on this chapter for so long (you don't want know how long), that I just have to cap it here and publish it. You will get one more, I promise. I just need time. Teaching is so time consuming that it's very hard to find the time, even over summer, to try to finish this. But I am working on it, I promise!

-I feel necessary to say that poor Souta, as he was five when I started this, would now be in high school. X_X