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Riders on the Storm by Jamie

Into the Well

Kagome awoke with a start inside her sleeping bag.  Sitting up, she surveyed the campsite.  Shippo still slept soundly beside her.  Sango was just across the clearing curled around Kilala, with Miroku leaning against a tree not far away.  The only one missing was her hanyou friend…

She carefully manouvered out of the sleeping bag so as not to wake her slumbering kit.  Stepping softly, Kagome stoked the campfire and made sure everything was ready to fix breakfast later.

“It’s almost sunrise,” she thought to herself.  “Surely he couldn’t be far.” 

Quietly Kagame left camp, following a feeling in her gut.  Before long, she came to the edge of another, smaller clearing.  Soft voices could be heard from the other side.  She couldn’t tell who it was, so she decided to go around the clearing, in an attempt to avoid the amorous couple.  As she neared the other side of the clearing, one voice stood out. One statement.

“I love you….  Kikyo.”

Hearing this, and realizing she found her missing friend, Kagome turned and ran back toward camp, crashing through the underbrush heedless of the noise made.

Reaching camp breathless, eyes misted with unshed tears, she saw Sango and Miroku already awake, tending the morning meal.

Immediately Sango reached for her friend, her sister in arms.  Kagome collapsed into her embrace as Miroku looked on, sympathy clearly written in his eyes.

Moments later, Inuyasha crashed through the brush into camp, the undead miko in tow.  Seeing his disheveled appearance, Miroku lunged across the clearing, intent on beating some sense into the hanyou.  Sango simply glared daggers while clutching her friend’s shoulders.

Miroku started to swing at the half-breed’s face, but pulled up short when he heard Kagome’s calm, cold voice.

“Stop.  Just stop.”  She huffed.  “He won’t learn from this, won’t ever change.”  She sat up from Sango’s shoulder.  “I need to go home.”

Quiet until this point, Shippo clung to Kagome’s shoulder.  With a shuddering voice and tears running down his cheeks, the kit begged.  “Please don’t leave us, mama!”

Pulling the young kitsune around her side, Kagome held him to her chest and kissed the top of his head.  She sighed into his hair and mumbled, “I’ll never leave you, baby.”

Looking into his face, she softly explained.

“I just need some time away from certain individuals.  I won’t ever leave you.  While I’m away, you’ll have Sango and Miroku to care for you, and Kaede.  And it’s close to time for Lord Sesshomaru to leave Rin with Kaede for the harvest and then winter, so you’ll have her to play with before long, too!”

“Keh.  That bast——“

“Sit.”

THUD

Sanyo and Miroku started laughing.  Kagome looked over to see why, then started laughing, too.  Shippo just shook his head.  “Idiot…”

Inuyasha hadn’t let go of Kikyo’s hand.  She was unwillingly drawn into his subjugation, landing on top of him in the small crater.

The group finished breakfast in near silence, the only noise being Inuyasha’s angry muttering from a nearby tree.  After breakfast, they packed up camp and headed back to Edo- they were only about a half day’s walk away.

~~~~~ back in Edo~~~~

“Rin really appreciates the time you spend teaching Rin, Lady Kaede.  But Rin was wondering if you knew when the others would be back?”  the pre-teen bounced slightly while asking.

Kaede chuckled softly.  “Calm yeself, child.  They will return in the next few days.  I have another scroll ye can study while ye wait.”

Rin groaned in protest.

“Now stop that,” Kaede scolded.  “Lord Sesshomaru requested we teach ye while ye are in our care.  This is what I know, so this is what ye shall learn from me.”

When midday neared, Rin shifted against the wall of the old miko’s hut to soak in as much of the day’s warmth as she could.  As she tried to get comfortable again, a brief flash of color near the edge of the village caught her eye.  Sitting up, she recognized the red of Inuyasha’s fire rat robes.  She watched him run past the village entrance toward the Goshinboku.

Turning back to look where he ran from the trees, Rin saw the woman she respected most in the village.

“Miss Kagome!  Miss Kagome! Rin is here!” she shouted, as she started towards the incoming group.

Shippo raced ahead to meet Rin halfway, greeting her with a solemn look.

“Mama needs lots of hugs.  We have to give her a reason to stay with us!”  he told her quietly before taking her hand and running back to Kagome.

When the kids barreled into her, Kagome gave a half-hearted laugh and just managed to stay on her feet.  She gathered them close and pressed a kiss to each of their foreheads, relishing their love and affection.  As she released their embrace, Kagome gave the children a smile, but they saw it never reached her eyes.

Sango and Miroku shared a concerned look but said nothing.

Kaede made her way to the quiet group and ushered them towards her hut.  They settled into their usual places around the fire pit.  After several long moments of tense silence, Kagome abruptly stood, mumbling about the well and going home.  She rushed out of the hut followed closely by Sango and Miroku.

Once past the door, Sango grabbed Kagame’s shoulder.

“I’ll walk with you, Kagome.”

Kagome shook her head and kept walking.  She almost ran into Miroku when he stepped in front of her.

“Lady Kagome, it will be much safer if we walk with you.  Please allow us…” he implored.

Reluctantly, she nodded assent.

The trio headed off to the Bone Eater’s Well, Sango on one side of Kagome with an arm around her waist, Miroku on the other side, an arm across her shoulders.  Both wished they could relieve some of the burden from their distressed friend.

When they reached the well, Kagome gave each of them a hug.

Miroku held tight to her shoulders and whispered “please come back to us.”

Sango gave a similar hug, whispering “we love you.”

Kagome stepped back with a small smile and a single tear sliding down her cheek.  She wiped the tear away and whispered to them “I’ll be back. Just give me some time.  I love you both.  Take care of the kids for me.”

With that, she turned and jumped into the well.

A flash of blue brought Kagome to rest at the bottom of the well, 500 or so years in the future.  Climbing up the ladder, she was met by the sight of Aya waiting on the steps inside the well house.

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a/n:  I know...  Aya's pov was awesome!  It was intended to be from a third-person perspective, but I see how it comes across as her view. She will be a constant in this story, though.  She IS our heroine's spiritual advisor, after all!  If there are idjit errors, please let me know...  I'm far from perfect, and my laptop makes it even more so.  

So we're all on the same page, this takes place about 4 years after the original story ends.  Kagome is now about 20, Rin is about 13.  Shippo has grown with his training and is physically about the size of a small 9-10 year old. (He's still kinda short.) The jewel didn't exactly disappear, but merged with Kagome's soul.  That will come into play later.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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