Chapter 1: Rediscovery
I met you walking
down yesterday’s tomorrow,
winter giving way --
spring bloomed as you walked that road,
an unexpected surprise
It had been an amazing afternoon, InuYasha decided.
But now the day was growing late, and the sun had that honey color that signaled the approach of sunset. The hanyou stood outside of Miroku’s comfortable house at the outskirts of the village, and watched Kagome as she handed one of Sango’s twin daughters back to her friend.
“It’s so good you’re back with us, Kagome-chan,” Sango said, taking her daughter. “So you like your aunt Kagome, don’t you?” she cooed to the little girl. The girl looked bashfully at Kagome, and nodded her head.
“It’s good to be here,” said Kagome, hugging her friend. “There’s so much I have to catch up on. So much has been going on!”
“Thank you for returning, Kagome-sama,” Miroku said, turning and looking at his hanyou friend while balancing his other daughter in his arms. She was busy looking at Kagome, and then turning away. “She’s my little flirt,” he explained as he bounced her. “I’m afraid she’s going to take much watching in far too few years.”
Kagome smiled brightly at the child and wiggled her fingers, earning a chorus of giggles. “Your daughters are beautiful.”
“Ah, but that’s because they take after their mother,” Miroku said, winning a smile from Sango.
InuYasha stood there, watching them, his amber eyes relaxed and at peace, his ears twitching a little at the babble of the twins. Speaking very softly, Miroku turned back towards Kagome and added very softly, “InuYasha has missed you deeply. I don’t remember the last time I saw him this happy.”
Kagome colored a little, looking at InuYasha, and smiling a bit, then nodded. “Thank you two for being his friends while I was gone. I’d hate the thought that he was truly alone.”
Wrapping an arm around Sango, Miroku looked at his little family. “We owe you two a lot.”
Shippou hopped into her arms. “I’m glad you’re back, Kagome. I missed you. I have a whole lot of new tricks to show you, too!”
She hugged him. “We will see, my young Kitsune friend,” said Miroku. “I seem to remember an elder priestess who was ready to purify you after your last demonstration.”
Letting Shippou down, she said, “You can show me later, even if we have to sneak it.” She ruffled his hair.
She waved one last time, then turned around and walked up to InuYasha, the late sunlight glinting in her hair, a half smile on her face. He smiled back as he watched her walking, thinking again how quickly everything in life could change.
This morning, life was gray and sad, like he was caught in a winter that never seemed to end in spite of the warm spring day. Three years had passed since the last time he had seen Kagome, exhausted and frightened, crying in her mother’s arms. As the well dragged him back into his own time, he cherished the thought that at least she was safe, safe from the jewel, safe in the world where youkai didn’t jump out at you without warning, safe where she could have the life that their year together had stolen from her. She was loved and protected, and that satisfied him somehow.
There were many long days and empty nights, though, when it wasn’t enough. He would watch his friends grow in love and feel the hollowness inside of his own heart, and wondered once again if he was cursed. Then this afternoon, he saw her standing in the well, looking up at him. Her scent, the soft but strong feel of her hand in his as he helped her up was the thaw he always longed for, hoped for, believed in, but didn’t dare dream about. She had returned to him.
With one final wave goodbye, the couple turned and left. They walked for a time in silence, stealing small glances at each other. Kagome reached out and took InuYasha by the hand, the way she used to do sometimes. The afternoon had been filled with happy reunions, vague discussion of plans, the busy chatter of friends long separated. InuYasha had yet to leave her side for more than a moment and she suspected she was never out of scent or hearing range. But this was the first chance since she returned that they had gotten a chance to be alone. It felt good, she decided, to be away from the noise and the well-wishes and curiosity, to be able to stand next to this man she bridged time to be with.
“InuYasha,” she said after she realized they were not heading toward Kaede’s. “Where are we going?”
He gave her a sheepish grin. “There’s a place I come to when I need to be alone,” he said. “It’s new since you were here last. We’re almost there.”
They rounded a bend and moved into a clearing. There, sitting in the middle of it was a small hut, much like many of the huts in the village, plank roofed, with solid wooden walls and small windows.
“Is this yours?” she said, looking around.
InuYasha nodded. “I started building it after the twins were born,” he said. “There were times when I sort of needed to get away from Miroku and Sango.”
Kagome laughed. “I can believe that.”
“I thought maybe you would like to come out here for a while to get away from everybody,” he said, almost too softly.
She flashed him a smile, then walked around, looked around the porch, and ran her hand along the wall. “You did a nice job.” Something at the location nagged at her. She could see the Goshinboko from where she stood, and she knew the well was nearby. Suddenly her eyes grew wide. “InuYasha - this is where Mama’s house will be!”
He nodded. “I would sit here, sometimes and look up, and think how close I was to you, even if I couldn’t see you.” InuYasha’s cheeks pinked a little, and he looked down at his feet as he admitted such an intimate fact about himself, but he looked back up when she reached out and touched his cheek.
“Sometimes, it seemed like you were so close to me, that if I reached out, I could touch you,” Kagome said, a touch of wonder in her voice. “I knew you were still keeping me safe. You don’t know how important that was, some days, for me to believe that. Now, maybe, I know why I could feel you.”
He smiled back at her shyly as he opened the mat door for her and let her walk in first.
The room the door revealed was not much larger than her old bedroom, nearly empty except for a futon against the far wall and a couple of storage boxes. The dim light of late afternoon let Kagome find her way to the raised floor, and sit down and pull off her shoes. InuYasha walked over to the fire pit and began to start a fire. Shortly, with the skill that comes from long practice, the little house lit up from the fire. Glancing at Kagome who was shrugging off her sweater, he could feel the color rise in his cheeks as he fed sticks to the flickering flames. Kagome came up and sat next to him, and rested her cheek on his shoulder the way she used to do.
“I’m sorry I took so long to come back,” she said. “You must have been terribly lonely.”
He tossed in a larger stick then reached his arm around her waist, and pulled her closer. Suddenly, his throat felt dry, and he swallowed. “You’re here now,” he managed to say.
“I thought about you every day,” she said.
He rested his cheek on her hair. “I thought about you, too.”
The fire had begun to burn low. With a sigh, he broke his embrace, moved closer to the fire and added some larger pieces of wood. A piece popped and a tendril of sparks flew up as the wood settled. “That ought to hold us for a while.”
He turned around and looked at her sitting there. She had drawn her knees up and was resting her chin on them, staring into the fire.
Her voice grew soft and far away. “I was so frightened, InuYasha. The fight with Naraku, then being caught in the Jewel’s darkness for three days. I missed you so much, but for a long time I was too frightened to try the well. And when I did, it didn’t let me through.” She sighed. “I had nightmares a long time.”
He moved next to her and wrapped an arm around her. “Kagome,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
She leaned back into his chest. “Don’t be sorry, InuYasha. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have made it out of there, or made the wish that destroyed it.
“Before you showed up, the Jewel showed me a vision, the world it was offering me. Friends and school and family. In the vision I had, which felt so real, I always knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what. It wasn’t until I was walking by the sacred tree that I knew what was missing - it was you. The jewel was trying to trick me into choosing that life, for wishing for it. Funny thing was, that after I returned, that was the life I lived - school and friends and family. But there was always the emptiness, but this time I knew what was missing. I had changed and done too much to really belong. And I was living in a world without InuYasha. ”
She moved slightly, looking up into his eyes. “This morning, I went to the well house. I realized, I think, that the reason the well wasn’t working was because I had been too afraid - afraid of the monsters, afraid maybe, of growing up, of leaving my family. But I knew the one thing that I was not afraid of was being with you.
“I still had I don’t know why, but the well must have known I was ready. I finished my schooling this week. I had honored my family. I had grown up. That world considers me an adult. All my must do’s were done. Maybe the magic read my heart and knew now was the time. I looked into the well, and I could see the sky here, and feel the magic touch me. I was overwhelmed with the need to be with you. I talked with Mama, and she gave me her blessing, and then I jumped.” She smiled softly at him. “When I landed, I looked up, and the first thing I saw was you. I knew I was home.”
“Kagome,” he breathed, then swallowed. InuYasha’s throat felt constricted again as he looked at her in the firelight, how it touched her skin, cast highlights in her hair. At that moment he thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He snuggled her closer to him, took her hand in his. “When I was fighting to get to you, I found myself trapped in the Jewel, fighting the youkai in it. They tried to tell me that you were born to be absorbed by it, to fight through all time with Naraku, just like Midoriko. I told them like hell that was true. We had been born to meet each other. Everything good I have in life came because of you.”
He sighed. “When I saw you there, floating in that blackness, I knew. Power didn’t matter. Strength didn’t matter. Just you. Only you. When I saw you fall into your mother’s arms, surrounded by the people who loved you, I know you needed them, and they needed you, and I didn’t even fight it when the well took me back. I just wanted you to be safe and happy.”
“I’m happy now,” Kagome said.
InuYasha brought her hand up to his face, rubbed it against his cheek. “Tell me you’re really here,” he said softly. “Tell me you’re not going away.”
“I’m really here, InuYasha. I’m not going anywhere unless you tell me to,” she replied.
“Never,” he said. His arms wrapped around her, pulling her to him tightly. “I’ll never ask you to leave. I want you with me forever.”
Kagome looked up into his eyes, eyes that were looking back at her with a desperate intensity. She reached up and cupped his cheek. He leaned into her hand, let his own hand cup the back of her head. Slowly, and for the first time, their lips touched, gently at first, but with a growing passion.
“Kami, woman, I’ve missed you so much,” he breathed into her ear when they broke the kiss. “Life was nothing without you.”
“InuYasha,” she whispered. Their lips met again, tender, lingering.
“Be with me,” he said, “Be with me, tonight, tomorrow, always.”
“Always,” she replied.