The Shape of Destiny by marishaten
Summary: On an impulse during a bout of depression, Kagome decides to put herself in danger to see how far Inuyasha would go to save her. Will the ensuing events be enough for the warring couple to realize their love for each other? Or will they succumb to the mightier decree of fate?
Categories: Fairy Tales Characters: InuYasha, Kagome
Genres: Angst
Warnings: Character Death
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 6 Completed: Yes Word count: 6985 Read: 3234 Published: July 22, 2012 Updated: July 22, 2012
Story Notes:
I don't own Inuyasha. I am not writing for profit.

1. The Shape of Destiny by marishaten

2. Back to Square One by marishaten

3. Tears Fall Short by marishaten

4. Kagome's Heart by marishaten

5. His Guiding Star by marishaten

6. Full Circle by marishaten

The Shape of Destiny by marishaten
They all knew that Inuyasha had a rough exterior, but his heart was brighter that the diamonds he could shoot at will from his sword. Diamond is also the hardest substance known to mankind, and when it cuts, it can cut real fine – resulting in scars that refuse to heal.

Kagome Higurashi was an unhappy woman. For nine long years of marriage she had tried and tried to make a caring lover out of her gruff hanyou and now she wearied of trying – trying to polish his coarse surface and rub off his grime so his unsullied heart could shine through; tired of going for days without so much as a nod at her direction only to be rewarded by the occasional declaration of love or a bout of passion. She stayed by this man having forsaken everything that was once her world – a loving family, the security of a modern life, the prospect of a career – and what had it come to?

She looked critically into the mirror. The woman who scowled back at her was bronzed, coarse, rustic – appearing much older than her actual age. Nobody could argue that Kagome hadn’t tried hard enough to blend in with her surrounding. She had learnt how to pick out herbs and make medicines, how to milk a cow, light a fire, wash clothes in the river, wait for her husband to return from his trips with Miroku – in an era pre-dating mobile phones or e-mail. The first year of their marriage had gone by in the blink of an eye. It was all so new to her – the thrill of living with the man she loved, the thrill of being back in the feudal era after three years of agonizing separation, taking household decisions, assisting Kaede in her exorcisms. She had so much to learn, so much to cope with, she found hardly any downtime to analyze her husband’s behaviour.

And then she found out she was pregnant. She was happy – deliriously so, but she was also very sick. Morning sickness had curtailed her activities to a large extent and she was relegated to babysitting for Sango, who did most of her work. But she always had Rin or Miroku’s twins for company. In the evenings, Kaede and Sango would come over for a chat, though the rest of the village women generally kept a reverential distance from her. Inuyasha had been overjoyed, but he ended up spending more time away from home, in order to bring in more kind. Kagome needed the best meat and vegetables to eat and the finest wool to keep her warm. As her husband, he said he would take care of her every comfort.

The arrival of her son marked a new epoch in her life. The screaming, demanding April baby took up all her time and attention; the constant feeding, changing, washing of soiled diapers, worrying over every single burp, gulp and gurgle left her with very little energy to notice anything else. By the time baby fell asleep she was so tired that she would simply curl up beside him and doze off – often going without supper. Inuyasha had to stay longer and longer away from home to ensure that both the mother and the infant were provided with the very best that feudal Japan had to offer.

The intervening years rolled by uneventfully. Rin’s wedding to Kohaku had been an occasion for great joy. Kaede came down with old age and sickness, and was largely confined to her hut, leaving Kagome to do most of the priestess duties. Her son grew up and started attending the village school. Kagome was secretly relieved when she saw that he was not discriminated against by the other children. But as she settled into a life of stability and comfort (thanks to Inuyasha’s constant effort in that direction) she began to feel something was missing in her heart.

It was Inuyasha’s attitude towards her that gave her cause for sorrow. The hanyou had wound down comfortably into a life of happy domesticity. He was thankful to her for his warm meals and clean clothes, her soothing touch and medicines, for a clean home and a well-stocked kitchen and most importantly, for a washed, well-fed and intelligent boy. She was the perfect home-maker and he was the perfect breadwinner – the envy of the entire village.

But behind the perfect façade Kagome was just Kagome, nobody’s substitute. Inuyasha himself had said it once and it was clear to her that he had meant it from the bottom of his heart. Not for Kagome, the tender-eyed adulation that he had reserved for Kikyou, where she could see his whole heart quivering at the brink of his eyelashes at the mere mention of her name…the way he would dash off to meet her in secret, leaving all of them – her included – exposed to danger…the passionate kisses he imprinted on her, not caring whether they were alone or in the company of others. He would beg her to stay with him; yearn to embrace and to protect her, spend long hours sitting in front of the fire and thinking about her…thinking about them and the life that was…

After Kikyou was gone, Inuyasha had come to Kagome’s time, to promise that he would protect her with his own life. He entered into the meidou for her and declared that he was born to be with her. And unbeknownst to herself, Kagome had come to expect from him the same intensity, the same passion towards her as her jealous eyes had seen him shower on Kikyou. The girl had forgotten that she was not Kikyou – and she never will be. Why would he focus his displaced affection on her? His feelings toward her might have changed over time, but his behaviour would not. They were friends, partners, even mates…but not lovers. As far as Inuyasha and Kagome were concerned, this was as good as it would ever get. Will he even miss me if I’m gone? She wondered.

At that moment she felt completely alone, utterly removed from everybody. Cut off from her family and childhood friends by the insurmountable wall of time, she had found her only solace in Sango – her best friend and confidante. But last summer even she shifted to the north with Miroku and the children – to look after Mushin in his last days.

A tear glistened in Kagome’s eyes as she surveyed the outside from the doorstep. A storm was looming, the sky looked dark and sinister. Resting her head against the shoji, she wondered if there was a single person in this wide, endless world who really cared about her. She remembered how Inuyasha would protect her, come to her help whenever danger threatened her. With Naraku gone, the danger had passed but maybe the protective ardour was still slumbering somewhere in the heart of her sleeping husband. She looked at him, dreaming comfortably on the futon, and wondered if she should tempt destiny…summon one final enemy to see how far he goes to make her safe…
Back to Square One by marishaten
Inuyasha was sitting at his doorstep, his face within his hands. The past three days were a nightmare straight from Gatenmaru. How could it come to this? He turned the events of the last nine years over and over in his head till his temples throbbed but he couldn’t come up with a single answer. All around the hut the wind wailed in desolation and blew away into mile after mile of echoing lament – his regret that dyed every maple leaf crimson in the bleeding sun. Almost like déjà vu he found himself thinking – as he let out a heart-rending sigh – it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

That night – that horrible night he had woken up to a strange uneasiness. As his senses cleared, he realized with a jolt that Kagome’s scent was missing from the hut. He went out to search for her, amid the ceaseless spears of rain and hail that pelted him without mercy. He couldn’t sense her anywhere – the rain must have washed her scent away. He called her name but the thunder drowned out his anguished cries. Sick with worry, he instinctively turned towards goshinboku – the tree that was so integral to their relationship. And there, amid the fallen leaves and branches, he discerned her prone silhouette. She appeared to be sleeping, but for the driving rain that was soaking her to her very bones. He approached her warily, not knowing what fate had befallen her, and then he smelled her blood – so much blood!

Blind with panic, he barely registered the massive wound on her head before he scooped her up and headed for Kaede’s. The distance that he covered in two bounds now seemed light years away. Somehow he tumbled on to the residence of the older priestess and handed over his precious cargo to her. Another trip from home deposited his son on Kaede’s doorstep, before he headed north to fetch Miroku and Sango.

The houshi was thunderstruck to hear the news, but Sango had a strange – almost knowing look on her face as she absorbed the information. Neither of them wasted any time in travelling back to Kaede’s with their three children, using Kirara and Hachi. Since then they had immersed themselves into helping Kaede take care of the injured woman. Night and day they would sit beside Kagome, dressing her wound, coaxing food past her lips, trying a thousand medicines to bring her back to consciousness. It was after the third day when Sango came out for a breather, away from the others, that Inuyasha had accosted her.

“Tell me why”, he asked her, “you didn’t look surprised when I told you about Kagome being injured.” He knew that coming straight to the point was the best approach with the no-nonsense slayer.

“Of course I was surprised, Inuyasha. As much as Miroku was”, she replied.

“But you had expected something of the sort, hadn’t you?”

Sango sighed and sat down on the grass, motioning for Inuyasha to sit as well.

“Inuyasha, what I say might be disturbing for you to hear. And I might be wrong as well, ‘cos I haven’t been around since summer and things change.”

“Please get to the point.”

Sango was surprised at the pain and anxiety hiding in Inuyasha’s voice. She felt an immense sadness for the young couple who could never sort things out between themselves. This time, one of them might have gone a step too far.

“I’m talking about the time when I was living here. There were days when Kagome-chan would feel lonely. She had neither her family nor friends in this era. At times even you were gone. I was the only one she could pour her heart out to.”

“I know that.”

“She was not happy, Inuyasha. She said she didn’t get the same level of attention from you that Kikyou used to get. She said that she wasn’t even sure if her being here actually made any difference to you.”

Inuyasha felt as if a blow had sucked the wind out of him. “She…she said that? That her being here doesn’t make a difference to me?”

Sango continued gravely. “She used to say that the only times she could feel your love was back when danger used threaten her and you needed to protect her. She would talk about putting herself in that situation again. To test if you would still care enough to come to her rescue.”

“She’d never think that way! Not my Kagome.”

“She certainly thought that way, but she never acted that way. She’d think of you and her son…your son…and then she’d put the idea out of her head. Since I went away to live with Mushin-sama I lost touch with her, until one day you barged in with the news that she was gravely injured and it all just added.”

“You think she…but that’s impossible Sango. A branch fell on her head. It was an accident. It couldn’t have been…” he couldn’t even bring himself to say the word. Even the idea was too terrible.

“I’m not saying anything of that sort. I’m simply asking you a question. What was a married woman doing out of her home at the dead of the night, wandering in the forest amidst a hailstorm? That’s all I want to know.”

Sango had walked away after that but the question stuck to Inuyasha like one of Shippou’s irritating mushrooms. It tortured and tormented him as he trudged laboriously up the forest, all the way to his hut where he had gone to get some fresh supplies.

Why Kagome? What compelled you to leave your home at the dead of the night? You said you are not happy with me? But we are so good together. I thought we covered so much ground…from enemies we became friends, then comrades, partners, mates, lovers…we are the golden couple, envied by all. We are raising a beautiful child together. But now it’s like we are back to square one. All lies? Just empty lies? I never paid any attention to you? I thought I was doing such a good job of providing for you and our son, wrapping the both of you in every luxury…if I knew I was making you unhappy in the process I’d have never set a foot out of the hut…ever.

A thousand lost moments, a thousand regrets…one by one the maple leaves kept falling. Under the ashen skies a horrible realization was spreading its icy roots across his heart, nearly choking his breath. She doesn’t know how I feel for her. What if I never get a chance to say it? No…I lost her once to Time, I can’t lose her to Fate as well…my Kagome…
Tears Fall Short by marishaten
Black, oppressive darkness was pressing down on her from all sides – a strange buzz ringing in her ears. Was that the crickets singing? Was she all alone in the wilderness? She thought she could hear people talking, moving around, but every sound was muffled, hushed as if coming through several layers of blankets. Her limbs would not move, her eyes would not open; time and space were spiralling around her, twisting in a thousand different shapes till she could no longer tell apart between reality and delusion.

She was feeling suffocated, overwhelmed. Heart-wrenching sobs were shivering through her, struggling for escape. She had just seen Inuyasha kissing Kikyou under a tree. He swore to protect her, to avenge her death. He was begging for her to stay. The look in his eyes told her quite plainly what he felt for the departed miko. She had run away from the scene. She had dropped on her bed and cried like she never cried before. But strangely, not a drop spilled from her eyes. The ringing in her ears came louder and louder till she thought her head would burst. And then, it stopped ringing.

Gradually Kagome opened her eyes. At first she was startled by the deep red haze all around her, almost smothering her. Then she realized it was Inuyasha’s fire rat robe. He was cradling her, rocking her slowly.

“Inuyasha…I can’t breathe…”

The rocking stopped abruptly. A moment later she was peering up into his amber eyes, now wide and distraught, anguished. A lone teardrop rolled down his face and on to her forehead.

“Kagome…thank God you are awake! I…I was so worried!” a second teardrop joined the first.

“What happened to me?” she asked weakly.

“You don’t remember, Kagome?” came Shippou’s voice from somewhere. “Mukotsu of the shichinintai had poisoned you. Even Miroku and Sango fell asleep. But I protected everyone with my foxfire.”

Inuyasha spoke softly, urgently, “I’m sorry. Never again will I put you in such danger.”

“You are lying”, Kagome slurred sleepily, “when you will get news of Kikyou again, off you’ll go.”

“No! I’ll never leave your side again.”

Inuyasha bent down for a kiss but the scene wavered, his face started to dissolve into nothingness. Right on cue, the ringing gained momentum, almost overpowering her. And the darkness – the terrible, unending darkness. She was back inside the meidou. She was in limbo, inside a void with no directions, no ceiling and no floor. Nobody else was in there, nobody would come for her. It was like the time the demon Urasue had stolen her soul. Every passing moment sapped her of her remaining energy; her will to live was steadily evaporating. She could not fight it any longer. Even death was better than this ordeal.

“Ever since she crossed through time and carried the Shikon no Tama to the Sengoku era, Kagome's fate has been decreed. She will become one with the jewel. Continuing the battle within the jewel is the reason Kagome was born.”

Whose voice was that?

A pinpoint of yellow light opened up in one corner.

“Kagome, hold on! Don’t give in to the darkness!”

Inuyasha…you came for me!

Kagome threw off the eerie, pink-haired baby who was clinging to her like a flesh-eating parasite, as she fell backwards. Was it Kagura or Menoumaru who was trying to control her with the shard? Again the scene wavered. The pinpoint of light twinkled, and then vanished. Dread darkness descended on her eyelids. What happened after that? It was like a cliff-hanger, leaving her in suspense. Did I go back to live with him? Did we get married? Have children? Am I still living in my era?

The voices were back, urging her to do something.

“Kagome, drink up this broth. You have hardly eaten since the last three days.”

Mama? Kaede? Who is that?

“Kagome-chan, wake up!”

Yuka? Eri? Sango-chan? Get off my stomach buyo…you are heavy! Is that Souta’s school bell or the cows grazing in the field?

And then that voice – the one, unmistakable voice. His voice. It was broken now, shaking with emotion. Anxiety? But there was no mistaking it.

“Kagome…”

With that single word all was silent. Just for a second. Then a tumult of jumbled memories rushed into her head.

“Kagome, I want you to stay by my side.”

“Kagome is Kagome. You are nobody’s replacement.”

“You smell nice.”

“I’ll protect Kagome. Till my dying breath.”

“How dare you hurt Kagome? HOW DARE YOU HURT HER?”

“You will marry me? Really?”

“You are the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“He looks just like you…but he got my hair!”

“I don’t want to be anywhere else, but with you.”

“You bitch!”

“Kagome…”

“Darling…”

A smile twitched at the corner of her lips. Slowly, tremulously, she opened her eyes. It was met by his large, amber eyes – wide and distraught, anguished. A lone teardrop rolled down his face and fell onto his lap.

“Kagome…thank God you are awake! I…I was so worried!” a second teardrop joined the first.

Then out of nowhere the darkness came crashing in, crushing all barriers like a tidal wave. It smote at all her senses, all at once, wiping out every feeling, every memory till nothing remained.

She passed into the void.
Kagome's Heart by marishaten
They were bustling around him, but he wasn’t really a part of them. As if they were all inside that glowing box at Kagome’s place, and he was watching them from a distance – apathetic, almost detached.

She had opened her eyes after three days; had looked at him – he imagined he saw the ghost of a smile appear on her lips. He tried to smile back, but only his tears would answer. She made a small, choking noise. Her heartbeats echoed in his ears like the gasping of a funeral bell. They were wayward, cacophonous like the sounds from an off-beat taiko, gradually rising to a chaotic crescendo. Then he could hear them no more.

“No…!”

His dazed eyes watched Miroku take her wrist, then jab his hand at the side of her neck. The monk shook his head in disbelief and leaned against the wall. Sango started to cry. At the corner of the room Kaede dropped the bowl of miso she had prepared for her patient. Nobody noticed its contents running into the futon. What a performance!

“NO!”

The idiots appeared glued to their positions.

“What the hell are you guys acting like that for?”

He was starting to get angry now. Kagome was suffering so much. Now at last she was at peace. But they…they were acting like she was…He felt the red twinge at the edge of his vision. No, he would not lose control now. Kagome needed him. He gripped the hilt of Tessaiga till his knuckles were white.

The mat lifted in the doorway, Shinta entered the hut.

“Did something happen to Kaasama?”

He watched Sango pull Shinta into a hug. A growl escaped his throat.

“Kaasama has gone to the land of the Kami. From now she’ll bless you from the invisible realm.”

How dare she? How dare she spread those malicious lies about Kagome?

The boy’s eyes were big and blue and compassionate like his mother’s, now filled with fear and bewilderment. “Invisible? I won’t see Kaasama again?”

“Would you stop your blabbering, woman?” Inuyasha thundered, startled by the menace in his own voice. “Kagome, wake up!” he was clutching her shoulders now, in an impossibly tender grip, “you haven’t seen Shinta in three days. Don’t you miss him? Don’t you miss me? Look you have to come home now, you hear me? The autumn wind is blowing all the leaves inside, your herb patch is dying…we haven’t had dinner in three days, Kagome…”

“Houshi-sama, Inuyasha…” the old priestess sounded forlorn, broken.

Miroku rushed to put his arms around Inuyasha.

“Inuyasha, get a grip. Please!”

“No…no…”

Sango grasped his hand.

“At least for Shinta’s sake. You’ve got to be strong. You can’t break down like this.”

“NO…”

Nine years…nine long years gone by listening to her gentle heartbeats. I can’t stand the silence. “I just need her heart to start beating again.”

“Kaasama…” now the boy had huge tears in his eyes. Look Kagome, look what you have done!

“She will be fine,” he hissed, “now be a good boy and sit beside her till I come back.”

He had to get away from the monk and the priestess and the taijiya. The lying, conspiring bunch – lamenting, pretending that Kagome would never wake up again. Feeding their lies to his boy. His Kagome was a survivor…they didn’t know that! Together, the two of them had faced worse and survived. There was no way she would leave him behind. His place was right beside her.

Tongues of lightning blazed across the sky. Was there no end to the storm? He was running like he never ran before, through the forest, up the mountains, over the vast, arid wastelands. His mind barely registered the scenery he was passing through. All his attention was focussed on finding the one person who held the key to Kagome’s life. He would sift the ends of the earth in order to find him.

It is said in times of distress, blood calls to blood. After a night’s search, he found his half-brother in a mountain cave, guarded by the latter’s two-headed dragon.

“What business do you have with me, half-breed?” Sesshoumaru drawled, sardonic as was his wont.

“I need to borrow the Tenseiga.”

Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow, “Indeed?”

“It’s for Kagome.”

It took the taiyoukai a full moment to realize the implication of the sentence. In that time his eyes took in his brother’s devastation – the tousled hair, the anguished eyes, the creases on his forehead. He, of course, knew the day would come – the lives of mortals were shorter than a mayfly’s, but so soon? With a nod imperceptible to anyone other than his brother, he sped through the sky.

Lord Sesshoumaru did not care for humans in general. But reluctant as he was to admit it, Kagome was family, the mother of his only nephew…the girl who overcame time. In spite of himself, he held a grudging respect for his sister-in-law. This time he knew what he needed to do. Inuyasha relied upon him to perform a miracle and he, the lord of the western realms, the most powerful youkai of his time, would do nothing short of that. Don’t let me down, Tenseiga…

He smelled death even before he entered the hut. But as he lifted the hanging mat that modestly covered the doorway to Kaede’s hut, he encountered a strange sight. Kagome’s body exuded purity, her reiki undiminished even in death. She looked regal, other-worldly – almost like a goddess. Carefully, Sesshoumaru drew the Tenseiga. All he needed to do was to cut down the minions of afterlife, and the miko would survive.

The sword did not pulsate.

Surprised, Sesshoumaru concentrated harder, pouring his will to revive the miko into the blade. He prayed to his father and tried again.

Still, the sword did not pulsate.

This happened with Rin, but that was because I had already revived her once. Tenseiga, please respond!

Inuyasha appeared anxious. “What’s the matter, Sesshoumaru? What is taking so long?”

My brother has asked me for something. If I cannot perform, his trust in me will be broken. Come on Tenseiga, lend me your powers, I beg of you.

Again Sesshoumaru manoeuvred the sword, and again it sat quietly in his hand. This cannot be happening! He averted his eyes from his brother’s face, knowing his next few words could sever the delicate bond of trust that was budding between the estranged siblings…so this is what failure tastes like? Are you happy, chichi-ue? Finally this Sesshoumaru bows down to the will of destiny.

“I cannot see the minions of the afterlife.”

His words fell like a death knell on his brother’s heart.
His Guiding Star by marishaten
Twilight and breaking dawn have always held their own poignant beauties in the eyes of men. Dusk is the gentle maiden; she spreads out her crimson robe to welcome weary souls into their homes; her cool hands wipe the sweat from their brows and her gentle sighs put soothing balm over their tired bodies. Dawn is the noble warrior; he puts on his golden cape, rides his fiery chariot and marches, fearless and unstoppable, into the sky, urging all to action and wakefulness.

But that day as the last star faded from the sky, even Dawn stopped to look at him. That day he was nobler than Dawn, purified by the fire of his own torment. He prowled the forest that bore his name and still not destroyed a single tree, hurt not even a fly, contained his blazing agony only to the withering glance of his eyes. Mother Earth tried to caress his feet, the autumn chill tried to calm the heat of his breath, the eastern sky was stealing away the fire from his eyes to light up the morning mist – but none dared touch his heart that was raw and blistered with pain.

On that hushed daybreak not even a gentle breeze blew through the hazy paddy fields. Beyond them shivered the cobalt line of the river, then cowered the other bank, white, merging into the mourning dark forest, now on fire from the light of the eastern horizon. None dared make a sound.

That did not stop the thousand questions that echoed inside the Babel of his head.

“I want to be together with you, Inuyasha…there is no way I can forget about you.”

How come you just did?

“The main thing is, I love Inuyasha!”

Lies?

“I was glad to be by your side.”

Never!

“I’ll always be with you.”

Well I’m here. Where are you, Kagome?

Like a bolt out of the blue he remembered his reply to her, given almost a decade ago.

“In that case, I will protect you with my life.”

He stopped dead in his tracks. The first, cruel rays of the rising sun framed him in gold as the world prepared for another day. He blinked away the tears that rose, unbidden, to his golden eyes. He found himself by the lotus pond – a teardrop on the face of the forest. There was a square stone on its bank upon which he and Kagome had spent so many beautiful nights together, their hearts beating as one while the stars shone like diamonds in the sky and the moon circled them.

That day, in the rising mist, he saw a young girl feeding the ducks. The girl looked up, and grinned at him.

“It seems like the red thread has pulled you to this place.”

“Red thread, huh?”

“You haven’t heard about it?”

“I have”, he replied, the salty taste of renewed sorrow rising in his mouth, “some nonsense I heard from my mother.”

“You don’t believe in it?” the girl cocked her head on one side.

“No. I don’t believe in love or destiny. And it’s been some time since I stopped believing in miracles as well.”

The Tenseiga had failed. He had tried the well, too, but could not coax any magic out of it. As a last resort he had tried prayers, but she remained as cold as before. And then they talked about starting funeral preparations. It had made him nauseous.

“What do you believe in, hanyou?”

“She’s gone now, and yet I remain”, he snarled, biting each word, “so I can tell you. I believe in nothing and no one anymore.”

The girl merely laughed. Why was he talking to her anyway? But at least this was better than hearing them talk about the funeral.

“You cannot control life or death. We come and go at Kami-sama’s will. That is the destiny we all share. Everyday we are meeting people, in course we part from them, and then we meet new people. Life goes on. The wheels of Time grind all our joys and sorrows on their path, marking ages and millennia. When has the world stopped for our suffering?”

Fire gave way to tears, as he uttered the dreadful realization that was burning his soul for three days. Inuyasha knelt on the ground, suddenly overcome with weariness. “She thought her being here didn’t make a difference…I could not tell her…she never knew…”

“Ah…regrets! Regrets are but natural with the passing away of a loved one. No matter what we do, can we ever say we have done enough, loved enough, said enough? What heart has remained unhurt after loving, after looking for love? If you do not feel regret, I will say that you have never loved at all!”

Inuyasha looked up at the girl. Who was she? How old was she? “She has a son. He is crying for his mother. The villagers need her – she’s their priestess and their doctor. The world needs her – who else will pick a hanyou from the dirt and give him a home and a family? The world needs her more than it needs me. Why couldn’t it have been me instead of her?”

“You will also go when your turn will come. Till then, you must wait. Now go home and cherish whatever she has done for you. Raise your son. Protect the village. Respect her memories.”

“Kagome was my home, my guiding star. Without her, it’s just a house.”

The girl looked at him thoughtfully. “You know, it will be a shame to let such love go waste. I am a kuromiko, I can summon people’s souls at my will. If you so desire, I will summon your wife’s spirit so you can see her alive one last time.”

“Won’t that hurt her?”

“The soul passes beyond the realm of hurt and pain. I promise it won’t hurt her. But in exchange you must give me your lovely fire rat robe.”

Inuyasha laughed, in spite of his pain. “I can give much more to have a glimpse her.” Alive, vibrant – like she used to be, not cold and silent like right now.

“Hmm. Let me see if I can tempt you for a second time. I can sustain her spirit long enough to let her hear your words. But after that she will pass on to the spirit realm for all eternity.”

“Can you do that? Really?” He would be able to tell her how he felt! If he had just one chance, just a chance to let her know…

“Yes, really. But in exchange you need to give me the sword at your waist.”

“Take it. It was meant for her protection and she is no more. It is of no use to me now”

The girl laughed and clapped her hands. “Very good. Now for the final temptation. What if I conjure her up in flesh and blood so you can bestow one last kiss upon her? What if you can savour the feel of her lips against yours, the warmth of her face, the safety of her arms around you?”

Surely the girl was joking. In flesh? He wanted to doubt her but what of the painful thumping of his heart that belied his true desire?

“If you can do that, I will pay any price for it. But I am afraid I have already pledged everything to you.”

“Oh you have much more to give. Like I said, I am a dark priestess. I eat people’s youth and beauty to appear young and beautiful myself. If you wish me to summon your wife in flesh, one last time, you have to give me your youth and beauty in exchange. You shall live the many centuries that you are destined to live, but you shall be old and decrepit, unable to defend anyone including yourself. You shall be afflicted by many illnesses and look so hideous that your own son will turn away from you in horror and disgust. No villager will give you shelter or food. For centuries you shall lurk in the outskirts of forests, surviving on vermin, shunned by all. All this in exchange for a kiss, and then you lose her for all eternity. Are you willing?”

Inuyasha rose from his place, his mind finally clear, the voices gone. “You drive an easy bargain, dark priestess.” He replied calmly. “I would have given you more, had you asked for it. Can we do this now?”
Full Circle by marishaten
Kagome woke up with a start. Her heart was thrashing loudly against the cage of her chest; she was covered with sweat and totally disoriented. Panicking, she cast a look around her.

It was the dead of the night and she was sitting in the doorway of her hut. Her head was hurting slightly where it must have banged on the shoji frame. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she saw Shinta sleeping in his room. Inuyasha was also sleeping, unhurt and in full health, although from his occasional twitching it seemed like he was having a nightmare.

A nightmare…a dream…that was all it was. Somehow, it had felt so real. She saw herself dying, saw Inuyasha in pain, heard his thoughts. She wanted to test the depth of his feelings so her subconscious wove a little story for her. A smile tugged at her lips. Apparently, she wanted Sesshoumaru to acknowledge her as ‘family’ as well. What stupidity!

She turned her gaze towards the scenery outside. The misty moon was shining on the pine tops. The storm had passed while she was sleeping. Blinking sleepily, she was going to pull the shoji when she saw something move among the trees. At this hour? She was curious.

The kuromiko from her dream emerged from the shadow of the pines. Kagome was not sure if the girl smiled or even moved her lips, but she heard the words ringing loudly in her ears:

“You had asked if your being here had made a difference to him. We showed you a picture of what will come to pass, should you attempt what you were contemplating.”

Kagome shivered. Her eyes darted towards her companion. He would risk a fate much worse than death for just one kiss from me. He was going to give up his family heirlooms and incur a deadly curse – with such resolve. Who was she to put him through so much pain just to see the depth of his commitment? When did she become so selfish?

When she looked back, the girl was gone.

This is too much. Was she another figment of my imagination? Am I on drugs or something? Is it those herbs that I am taking?

A rustling of bedclothes announced Inuyasha’s awakening.

“I am sorry, did I wake you up?”

He was looking at her with strange eyes. Slowly, he shook his head and mumbled, “No, you didn’t. I just had the weirdest dream.”

What the…Kagome tensed. Inuyasha left the futon and walked over to the doorway. A few moments passed in silent. Then he let out a sigh and sat down beside her.

“The way I yearn for you I have never yearned for anyone else. Not even for Kikyou.”

“It’s ok~” Kagome tried to interrupt, but Inuyasha stopped her.

“Let me talk. I have delayed it more than necessary.”

But with that he stopped talking, as if he was lost in the silent contemplation of the moon. Kagome waited patiently for him to gather his thoughts. After a long while he sighed again and looked at her.

“You must understand this. What I had with Kikyou was a bunch of possibilities, which never saw the light of the day. They were clamorous like the ocean – fascinating to look at from the coast. But the ocean neither harbours nor does it sustain. No matter how far the tide pulls you in, there is always another wave that sends you crashing back.

“Your love is calm and deep, like the river – life-giving and nurturing. It invites and soothes all hearts with its cool breezes and slow currents. The river soil causes all things to grow. I can live right beside it and drink to my fill everyday, and still I’ll need more of it. It won’t make any difference to me if I never visit the ocean again, but imagine our river drying up – the whole village will perish. That is how much you mean to me.”

Again he fell silent, while Kagome tried to absorb the significance of what was being said to her.

“You and Shinta are my world now. This is your home. Please don’t ever go away.”

She was going to remind him of her mortality but checked herself. That topic was for some other time. She grasped his hand instead.

“The night you saw me with Kikyou – I had gotten carried away. She was vulnerable and I could not let her face the danger all by herself. But when I saw your face, I realized the ordeal that I was putting you through. Knowing that I was not free to give you what you wanted, I could not bring myself to force you to stay with me only to sense some jewel shards. But I never, ever wished to break up with you. I could never willingly let you go. When you asked to stay by me I was so relieved.”

Kagome smiled. Years of bitter negativity melted away in a moment. At last she could lay to rest that painful memory from the past. Inuyasha was smiling too.

“I know you get lonely when I stay away from home for days.”

“It’s ok. You do it for our sake.” I understand that…now.

“I was wondering, if you and Shinta would care to join me once in a while?”

“Us? But Shinta is just seven!”

Inuyasha shrugged. “Boy has got youkai blood. And we will protect him. Besides, Shippou was the same age when we found him, remember?”

“Oh right! I never realized that!”

Kagome was thinking – it would be just like that time. Life had come a full circle and she and Inuyasha were back to where they started. Danger, adventure, the call of the unknown – her inner adventurer was already getting excited. As the moon emerged from its veil of mist, Kagome also broke out into the happiest smile she had sported in a long time. “Yes! We would love to come!”

Inuyasha leaned towards her. “And, many years later, when you decide to go on the greatest adventure of all, please take me with you.”

The autumn moon shone indulgently upon the couple who were chatting away gleefully, and as it circled their secluded pavilion, it strained its ear so as not to miss a word. It knew that there would be more snags on the road ahead for them, but their mutual love was a force by itself. Whenever they strayed, their love would reveal the shape of their conjoined destiny, and drive them back into each other’s arms.

Somewhere in a temple Inari smiled at the red-haired little fox, who was praying all night for two of his friends to be happy once again.
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