"Got it!" Covered in dirt and grime Kagome kneeled on the ground to remove another shard of the sacred jewel from the over grown bird her and her companions had managed to kill.
"How many is that now?" Miroku inquired coming up behind her. Opening her small hands Kagome revealed the jewel that was at least half-way complete.
"We're so close, I can't believe how many shards we've found in such a short time. As long as we keep going at this rate there's no way Naraku can finish the jewel before us!" Smiling brightly Kagome dusted herself off and placed the jewel back around her neck. Though it was dangerous to get her hopes up Kagome had a good feeling, and there wasn't much to be happy about these days.
"Not too bad." Inuyasha said nonchalantly, as he walked up to them sheathing his Tetsusaiga. As the small group continued on the their journey to complete the jewel, they failed to notice the ominous presence that lingered just behind them.
"Miroku can I ask you a question?" Looking up from his fish Miroku spared Kagome a small nod, giving her permission to ask him what she wished.
"Sure Kagome-sama, anything you like."
"I was just curious about the hole in your hand? It was a part of my training to learn extensive knowledge about demons, but I don't think I've ever heard of one having the power that you do."
"Ah I see." Clutching his wrapped hand Miroku stared melancholily at the appendage and Kagome feared she had offended him by asking. "My power is both a blessing and a curse. Void demons in and of themselves are not very powerful. We don't have a demonic presence, therefore, our stealthily abilities are what give us an advantage in battle. My grandfather was tricked by Naraku long ago and in turn was given the curse of the wind tunnel."
"Is that why you search for Naraku? To get rid of your curse?" Kagome asked her long forgotten fish lying in her lap.
"Yes, overtime my wind tunnel will grow bigger and bigger until it eventually consumes me. Every time I open my hand I speed up the process a little more. It was the curse of the wind tunnel that claimed both my father and grandfather's lives."
Kagome's cocoa eyes turned sympathetic as she rested her hand atop his. "Don't worry Miroku, we'll kill Naraku before that happens."
"Thank you Kagome-sama, though, if that should never come to past there's something I must ask you."
"Will you bear my child?" Blushing fiercely Kagome yanked her hands from his grip, as Inuyasha's fist came to land on top of Miroku's head.
"She ain't gonna bear your child idiot!"
"That is entirely up to Kagome-sama's discretion is it not? Besides, if I die I need a strong male heir to carry on the hunt for Naraku. I believe Kagome and I will produce fine babes." He said with a smirk.
"Keh! Never gonna happen lech, find someone else!"
"Oh I'm sorry Inuyasha, I wasn't aware you had some type of claim on Kagome-sama. My apologies." The twinkle in Miroku's eye alerted Kagome to the fact that he was simply teasing, but even that knowledge didn't stop the raging blush from flooding her cheeks.
"You talk too damn much!" Inuyasha yelled landing another blow to Miroku's head, this time knocking him out cold.
A small child clad in white sat upon a high tree branch, overlooking the campsite of an odd group of travelers. The human woman among them was fast asleep huddled next their fire. The dark haired demon dosed off against the trunk of the tree, while the silver haired demon twitched his dog ears in every direction. Though his eyes were closed he seemed to be on high alert for any danger.
"You know what you must do." The child whispered to her companion.
"Do I get to kill them? The two hanyous?" The young man inquired.
"If master does not wish it, it shall not be done. Our target is the girl and her share of the shards."
"I don't care what your master says, I won't hurt her." He said, his tone giving way to irritation.
Dropping from the tree, a fine powder was carried from the child's hand and over the campsite by the wind. As the dust rained down she watched as the silver haired hanyou tried to fight off the effects of the sleeping dust but eventually he dropped to the ground, eyes closed, and completely under the control of her companion's spell.
"It is time."
Inuyasha found himself standing on a large hill overlooking a very familiar scene. He kept himself hidden and out of site while below him, people screamed and ran for their lives as a raging fire engulfed their small town.
'What's happening? Where am I?' Inuyasha wondered. He looked down as he noticed he was clutching something in the palm of his hand.
The shikon jewel! He stared at the small object bewildered as to how it came into his position whole and tainted once more.
"Inuyasha!" Turning just in time he was caught in the shoulder and pinned to a tree by an arrow. Stunned by the pain the jewel fell from his grasp and landed just in front of him.
"Kikyou?" He whispered. The woman before him looked exactly as he remembered her. Pale porcelain skin, long dark hair always kept out of her face by a ribbon, and her traditional white and red miko garb.
"How could you Inuyasha? How could you betray me like this!" She yelled her dark eyes filling with tears, she tried to blink them away as she aimed another arrow at his chest, but they caught on her lashes and trickled down her cheeks.
"No Kikyou you've got it wrong! I would never betray you, you have to believe me." She fixed her lips to say something but suddenly her voice caught in her throat. She gurgled as blood spilled over her lips and stained the front of her kimono.
"W-why? We were...I thought-" Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she dropped to the ground.
"KIKYOU!" Another figure slowly emerged from the shadows behind her. A low, dark chuckle sounded from the figure. Billowy, red kimono sleeves were the first to poke out of the shadows with bloody claws appearing next, and soon his face was illuminated by the flames of the burning village below.
'It's me! But that's not...he's not real! I didn't do this. Kikyou you have to believe me!'
"What's happening to me?!"
Kagome awoke to the sounds of the people of her village. Slowly she rose out of her bed only to realize that she was back in the castle. Jumping out of bed she dressed in a simple yukata and headed into town. People greeted her with pleasant smiles as she walked past them. The town smelled of fresh bread, and sound of children laughing filled her ears.
'I didn't realize how much I missed home, until I didn't have one anymore.' She thought sadly. Walking up to a flower stand Kagome took her time savoring the scent of each of the lovely flowers. What would she give to stay like this forever.
"Would you like one Kagome-san?" The voice that reached her ears stopped her in her tracks. It'd been so long since she'd heard that voice, been called by that name. Only one person in her life referred to her in that manner and slowly she was met with the smiling eyes of a charming young man, who'd stolen her heart before she'd even known how to give it away. His sandy brown hair fell slightly into his eyes as it always had, and his smile was shy and gentle, just as it'd always been.
"H-Hojo-kun? Is it really you?" He nodded slowly as she launched herself into his arms. Her tears came fast and unchecked as she buried her face into his chest. "I can't believe you're really here...I thought I'd never see you again. I'm so sorry Hojo-kun, for everything."
He rubbed soothing circles on her back and his other hand came up to run his fingers through her hair. "There's no need to apologize Kagome-san. I loved you then and I love you now. Even in death nothing has changed for me."
Gripping each other tighter Kagome felt a slight pressure on her chest, as if something was trying to push itself inside her.
"Hojo...I-I can't breathe." With her face still buried in his chest she didn't see the evil way he smirked or the flash in his light eyes. His hands continued to bury themselves in her chest, determined to reach her heart.
"Don't worry Kagome-san, nothing will happen to you as long as I'm here. As long as we're together."
Miroku awoke with a start from his nightmare. Sweat dripped down face and he could barely breathe. He placed a hand on his chest where it came away sticky with his blood. He looked up and the sight before him disturbed him. Kagome stood across from the fire, her bow upright and an arrow pulled taught ready to be fired.
"Kagome-sama!" As he ran toward his two companions, Miroku noticed the lean figure standing behind Kagome. His left hand was wrapped possessively around her waist and his right was buried deep in her chest over her heart. A shadowy hand extended from the man and stretched across the fire, planting itself in Inuyasha's chest.
"Don't come any closer or they're both dead." The demon said haltingly. His piercing crimson eyes met Miroku's head on and he felt a chill run up his spine. The demon's shaggy brown hair hung low almost covering his eyes. His skin looked pale in the moonlight, and his dark haori and hakama only served to further wash the color from his skin.
"What do you want from us? Are you after the jewel?" Miroku asked through clenched teeth.
"I'm not after the jewel, but the man I'm working for is. I could care less about the jewel, especially when it causes my Kagome-san so much pain." He said lowly, his voice taking on a sad tone. He gently brushed Kagome's hair from her face. The act was so tender it reminded Miroku of...'a lover's caress?'
While the demon was distracted with Kagome, Miroku knew this was his time to act. Launching himself forward Miroku quickly slashed his claws towards his enemy. Close enough to scare him, yet far enough to leave Kagome-sama unharmed.
Jumping back to avoid being slashed in the face, the demon released his hold on Kagome as well as his hold on Inuyasha.
Inuyasha took a deep breath as the weight on his chest gradually lifted and he was thrust back into reality. 'What the hell was that?' He thought frantically. As his senses slowly came back to him Inuyasha realized there was an arrow embedded in his left shoulder as well as another arrow embedded in the trunk of the tree a little too close to his face for comfort.
Calmly Kagome picked herself up off of the ground, her mind trying to put together the pieces of her fractured memory. Why was she lying in a heap in the dirt? Why did Miroku look as if he was ready to kill something? And who the hell had pinned Inuyasha to the tree trunk?
"Kagome-san?" Her eyes widened in surprise at the sound of that voice. One she hadn't heard in years, one she thought she'd never hear again. After pulling herself into a kneeling position on the ground Kagome languidly turned to face the source of her recurring dreams and nightmares.
"It's been a long time, has it not Kagome-san?" Tears filled her eyes and against her will fell down her cheeks. Hojo quickly made his way to her and lightly brushed the moisture from her face.
"How? How is this possible?" She said her voice full of surprise and shock.
"I was brought back from the dead. Are you not happy to see me Kagome-san?" Reaching up to caress his cheek Kagome almost couldn't believe that he was here. Tangible and within her reach. "I've missed your touch." He said leaning fully into her hand.
"Who did this to you Hojo-kun? Who made you this way?"
"It matters not. As long as I do as they say I can stay here, among the living. I can be with you Kagome-san in the way we never got the chance. Isn't that all that matters?" His eyes were cold and red like the color of blood. This was not her Hojo, this was not the boy she had fallen in love with all those years ago, but as he leaned into kiss her she couldn't bring herself to pull away.
"Stay away from her!" Inuyasha yelled flying forward with his claws brandished and ready to do damage. Quickly leaping away from his attacker Hojo landed a few feet away in a low crotch ready to spring if he needed to. "Who the hell are you? You reek of Naraku." Inuyasha said flexing his claws as he spoke.
"You may call me Akumu, and you must be Inuyasha? The half-breed I was warned about. No matter I have what I came for, well, at least one thing I came for." Holding up the large piece of the shikon he'd managed to steal, his gaze landed on a still dazed Kagome. "Until next time Kagome-san. When the time comes you and I will leave this world together and live the rest our lives in eternity as we were meant to." A cloud of miasma began to cover his form and soon he was lifted into the sky.
"No! Hojo-kun please don't go! Hojo!" She pleaded into the sky, but it was too late. Hojo was already gone and the little piece of her heart she'd manage to salvage after his death flew away with him.
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InuYasha © Rumiko Takahashi.
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