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All Too Soon

 Disclaimer: I don't own Inu-Yasha.

 

All Too Soon: Irrevocable

 

            Hiten's blade locked with his scabbard and hairline cracks appeared on the shining black surface, like a crumpled spider-web. Dust rose all around them, as Inu-Yasha gritted his fanged teeth against the sheer power his opponent was emitting. Damn... if he had known this would be the outcome of Manten's death, he might have found another way to save Kagome, but then again... it was good to have that hairless blob out of the way and he could still take on the enraged Hiten, as long as she didn't get involved. That he might not have been able to rescue the girl from the future never occurred to him. There was a part of his mind, still, that believed she was Kikyo, and therefore she could never die.

          Inu-Yasha's bare feet slid backwards fractionally, grinding the hard-packed dirt beneath them into a fine dust, as the groaning of the Tetsusaiga's scabbard reached his fine-tuned ears, strangely audible above the din of battle. How much longer would the blasted thing hold? If the scabbard break...she thought, narrowing his eyes and pushing his weight into keeping Hiten's blade from striking him... Ill be cleaved in two. It was that simple then, all he had to do was keep away from the blade, and the lightning, and Hiten himself, until he could reach the Tetsusaiga or at least gain some sort of leverage. The question was, could he pull it off? With his wounds and his limited resources?  Without a doubt.

          There was no battle in which Inu-Yasha could not ultimately be the victor. He had to win. If he didn't... what would happen? He didn't know. Perhaps knowing was impossible, but something made him strive for victory. What was it? He didn't know. Perhaps knowing was impossible.

          Hiten turned his attention from the battle for a moment, frowning. Inu-Yasha's eyes widened in surprise as Hiten began to chuckle around the light and crackling power forming in his mouth. His brother's lightning power he followed Hiten's gaze to see Kagome and Shippo running across the rocky turf for the Tetsusaiga, Kagome clutching the pelt of that brat's father.

          And for an instant he was helpless, stuck beneath the weight of Hiten's blade. His mind was awash in trial courses of action, his body a rush of adrenaline, and there was nothing he could do. The lightning poured from his full-blooded opponent's mouth. He could no longer feel the dull, throbbing pain of his wounds. He could feel nothing, but the harsh reality he was facing. Pain was something he had learned long ago, and just when he thought he had hardened himself against it, it found another way to strike him. Because for only an instant he was helpless. But it was the instant that counted.

          Realization came crashing down on him viciously, like a wave against the shore. The pain of his wounds lanced back through his body and they were nothing compared to his desperation.

          "Look out - !!" his warning came too late. Hiten's blast flowed towards them like an electric wind, and Inu-Yasha could see the shock registering on their faces before they were consumed as if in fire, they're bodies thrown to the ground by the force of the blast.

          "Ha!" Inu-Yasha dimly heard Hiten speak. "A toast to you!"

          He could almost make out Kagome's face among the flames, as peaceful as if she slept in contrast to the horror of her final moments. He watched her fade into the lightning fire and realized something: he had lost, just now. He had lost.

          "Your friends are generous. They prove my lesson..." Hiten smirked. "That courage against me means only death!"

          A low growl rose in the half-demons throat. "You're right..." his voice was a near hiss. All that was left was Hiten, and soon he would be no more. With resolution, power, and rage flowing through his veins as heavily as his own mixed blood he shoved Hitens blade from him. "It means Death!!"

          As Inu-Yasha gained leverage, his scabbard was forced into the offending blade, but still he pushed. That blade that he had locked his scabbard with belonged to the demon that had taken Kagome's life. Hiten had to die. It was all Inu-Yasha could do for her.

          "Sad fool... Soon to be without even your scabbard."

          Hiten was almost right, but Inu-Yasha didn't want to hear it. He couldn't stop until that mocking, open-mouthed smirk was wiped off the face of the planet. The words were only fuel to his rage.

          "And what of it!?" he growled, pushing the blade back further and bringing his forehead crashing onto Hiten's where the shards of the Shikon jewel were embedded with a spray of blood. He didn't know whose, but at least the smirk was gone, replaced by a fierce frown.

          "You affront me...!"

          Their weapons had unlocked and both of them stood, fangs bared, amidst an inferno of their own power.

          "You may kill me, Thunder God..." like you killed Kagome... "but I'll bring you down with me!" There was only unbridled fury in Inu-Yasha's cat-like eyes, his red hakama soaked with blood, his untamed white hair blown out behind him like a ghostly shroud. Hiten would pay dearly, no matter the cost.

          "Heh. To go mad because your woman was killed..."

How he hated that smirk.

"You're better off dead!" As he spoke Hiten charged forward, bringing his blade into Inu-Yasha's ready scabbard with a deafening crack. The scabbard still held, but barely.

          "As it was fated!" Hiten cried in triumph as the scabbard neared its end. Now what... Inu-Yasha wondered. His eyes widened as he glimpsed something flying towards them over his opponent's shoulder. My blade...The Tetsusaiga flew into his hand and he wasted no time dropping its scabbard and slicing off one half of Hiten's face with a single swing. The wound was clean for an instant before blood spurted out in a sinuous line and Hiten fell to the ground, his shocked face and the rest of his body disappearing. Only the Shikon shards were left, and Inu-Yasha slumped to the ground as he watched Myoga hurriedly gather them.

          "M-m-my Lord...?" the old flea asked hesitantly.

          "Save the respect." I don't deserve it.

          Kagome was gone. She wasn't Kikyo, she never had been and she never would be. The same fires that had engulfed Kagome's body had purged his mind of any belief of that. They were both powerful, but unlike Kikyo, Kagome couldn't protect herself. Unlike Kikyo, Kagome needed him - not that she would admit to it, the stubborn girl. And, unlike Kikyo, Kagome created a need in him, for her.

          An understanding he never wanted had befallen him in battle: it was Kagome. Kagome that he fought for, that he bled for, that he won for. In her need for protection, Kagome had given him a purpose beyond the Shikon shards. If only I'd been quicker...Kagome would still be...

          Where once the shards of the sacred jewel had promised him happiness, they now embodied only empty power.

          "Inu-Yasha..."

          He turned at the soft, familiar voice. There was Kagome, the fox child in her arms. A ghost of the fire that had incinerated their bodies blazed around them. It was as if they were a part of the flames.

          "Ka... Kagome...?" he asked, almost unable to believe his senses. Myoga hopped onto his shoulder.

          "Th-those must be their ghosts! Coming to say... sniff...their final farewells..."

          Inu-Yasha spared him a glance. "Then...?" This is the end...? What else could it be without Kagome? He could find the rest of the shards alone... but...

          "Inu-Yasha" Kagome spoke. She watched him serenely, the look in her cobalt eyes indefinable. Thank you for everything.

          "Same here," said Shippo from her side. "My Dad's soul can rest in peace now"

          Around them the fires began to dissipate in a great rush of air, tossing up Kagome's hair and bringing small pieces of the terrain with it. The two of them raised their eyes to the sky and Inu-Yasha watched in alarm. It was all he could think of to dart forward with the hope of stopping their ascension.

          "No! Wait! Don't go!!" he reached out desperately with his clawed hand for Kagome's. I have to tell herhis mind cried. And then for the first time in his immortal life he spoke those words... "Kagome, I love you!"

          Those irrevocable words...

          And stared into a pair of azure eyes as wide with surprise as his own must have been. She's... alive!?

 

 

 

A/N: I magnified Inu's feelings a bit, but for the sake of the story, let's just overlook that, shall we? He'll be more in character next chapter