1. Whispers in the Dead of Night by Hairann
“I knew I would find you here,” Kagome joked to herself as she had done many times over the last few years, when ever she came out to visit his grave. “I know, I know, it is not funny, but I still find myself saying it. Oh well, it is not as though you can attack me for my horrible sense of humor, now is it?” she inquired of the grave as she slowly lowered herself to her usual seat at the base of a tree. “Even after all this time, I still find it strange that you are here, of all places.
“I've become accustomed to the fact that you are long dead, but that your grave is here, on the outskirts of my family's shrine, just seems so odd to me. Heck the fact that your final resting place is on any holy ground is weird enough, but my own shrine? Why? Why did you chose to be buried here, if it was even your choice to make. And if not, why did who ever chose to bury you here, pick this place? Should your grave not be out in the West, on your own land?
“And what's more is I still can not find any reference to how you died. Or when you died for the matter. History is supposed to repeat itself and yet I feel it is more like history forgets. My loved ones of the past are all but forgotten, their legacies erased by the sands of time. Only I and my family speak their names, know of their battles, remember their sacrifices. To the rest of the world, at best they are thought to be nothing more then fairy tale characters, at worst they are forgotten completely.
“I don't understand why. They should be remembered as the heroes of Japan, revered as some of the greatest people in our history, but they are not. Their deeds are long forgotten leaving me with no closure. I had always hoped that some how by me going to the past I had changed things so that demons would survive to the modern day world as I believe they should have, but everything that I did seems to have been in vain. For if even the great Lord Sesshoumaru did not live to see this day, was there ever really any hope for any of the others?” Kagome wondered out loud, not really seeking an answer to her questions as she knew there was no one left alive that could give them to her.
“I sometimes have this dream where I come out here late one night and find the grave to be fake. You would be sitting next to it, as if you were waiting for me, and tell that is was all a lie. That at least my demon friends still lived, only removed from this world so they would not be hunted to extinction by humans. You tell me of the adventures I missed out on and how their stories end. Stories filled with love and happiness, endings that make everything worth it.
“You tell me of a place unaccessible by humans, where demons live and rule as they should, a place you promise to take me to so I can see Inuyasha, Shippo and any other demon I called a friend in my travels. You reach out your hand for me to take and the moment the tips of my fingers brush across the palm of your hand, I awaken. Tears in my eyes, regret in my heart. And once again I am forced to face reality. A concept that has never been my friend,” Kagome whispered to the cold, hard stone as she brushed her fingers across the engraved name.
“I some times wonder if there was ever any real purpose for me going back in time. If I was unable to change things, make even the slightest dent in what was to come, why was I ever sent back in the first place? I do not regret meeting them, but had I never gone back they would have not suffered as they did. Though Inuyasha may have never have been released from the tree and learn that they had been tricked, time had no effect on him while he was pinned.
“He could have spent all of eternity there, never having to watch her die, never knowing a single moment had ever passed. Shippo would have never have lost his father. Sango would never have had to lose her entire village or have her brother be responsible for killing their father and trying to kill her. Kohaku would have never been controlled by Naraku had he not shown up to the slayer's village in search of a shard.
“And while Miroku would still have had to deal with his wind tunnel, I have no doubt that he would have been able to defeat Naraku had the jewel not come into play. Kouga would not have lost his tribe members and Rin never would have died that first time,” Kagome paused as she glanced over at the grave stone, almost as if she had heard it ask her a question. “You did not know that I was aware of that did you?
“I assure you I did. I know of every single life that was ruined or harmed because of my mistake. I know that Kouga's wolves killed Rin when he was searching her village for shard that was stolen from him. I know that her death was on my head. And while the way things turned out, with you saving her and Rin deciding to follow you, was not so bad, the pain she felt was my fault. Kikyou, the band of seven and countless other who were unable to rest in peace, brought back into a life of nonliving due to the use of shards, these were my fault as well.
“Some may say that it was all Naraku's doing and so I am not to blame, but even an unintentional mistake is still a mistake. If I had never gone into the past and shattered that damn jewel, he would not have become the overpowered menace that he was. Every injury he caused, every life he took, from the moment I stepped through that well, they were all on my head. While I may not have chosen to be pulled through the well that first time, I chose to stay.
“But wishful thinking will get me no where. If nothing else, I have learned that you can not change the past, undo what has already happened. And I do not wish to spend what little time I have left thinking of nothing but my regrets,” Kagome told him as she stared off at nothing, lost within her own memories. After a few silent moments, she closed her tired eyes and took a deep breath. As she released it, she forced back the tears that threaten to escape.
“And yet, it seems the only thoughts to come to mind are my regrets, both in the past and here. I've never told you about my husband have I? I never really knew him. I had known him my entire life and yet, I can not even tell you the color of his eyes. I often wish to blame it on my aging memory, but the truth is, I never really noticed. I had been so afraid that if I told others of my time in the past, that it would really mark the end of it all.
“Once someone else was brought into the circle, things could never be the same as they had been before. And so I never told him, even when he accused me of hiding things from him. I lived my life within my own shell, never letting anyone else in. I married him because it seemed to be what everyone expected me to do and while I loved him, I was never in love with him. I never even once told him that he mattered to me. We were never close enough to become informal and drop the honorifics.
“To the day he died, he remained Hojo-kun. I like to believe that if we had more time together, I would have made things right with him, that I would have let him know that he was important to me. As it was, it wasn't until his death that I came out of the shell I had built around myself. I was left to raise a daughter on my own and I had not seen Inuyasha for a year. I guess it finally dawned on me that it was really over, no matter how hard I tried to fight it.
“And I did not want my daughter to grow up never knowing my love as she would never know her father's. I spent every day telling her the stories of my youth, recounting every last detail of every last day I was there. When most little girls were growing up on fairy tales about princesses and them living happily ever after with their princes, my daughter grew up on stories of demons and half-demons fighting along side of humans for the sake of saving the world.
“And when she had children of her own, we passed the stories onto them, hoping that even after I am long gone, someone will still remember. Pass on the legacy that was earned through bloodshed and tears. All I can do now is pray that my efforts will not have been in vain. You see, Sesshoumaru, I am once again keeping secrets from those closest to me. My child and my grand children do not know that tonight will be my last night on this earth.
“I can already feel my time coming to an end and I did not wish to burden them with watching me pass. We have said our goodbyes, have been saying them for many years, and when I die, I die knowing there is nothing left for me to do in this life. That is why I have chosen here with you to be my last stop in life. I feel so close to the past here as though I could reach my hand out and touch the faces of those I can only see in my dreams. I suppose you will not be happy to learn that I plan on breathing my last breath on top of your grave, but you can get your revenge if you meet up with me in the next life,” Kagome whispered to him with a smile as she laid down on the grave and stared up at the star filled sky.
“If you don't mind, I'm just going to rest for a few moments. Talking so much has me completely worn out,” she explained as she closed her eyes, feeling the cold, wet snow seeping in through her clothing to chill her. The wind howled through the trees around her, but Kagome could barely hear it as she felt sleep taking her body over. She knew, even as she succumbed to slumber, that it was one dream she would never awaken from, but she left this world smiling, knowing she would finally meet up with her friends once again.
As her heartbeat slowed and her breathing became shallow, Kagome could see the smiling faces of her friends waiting for her. Each unchanged by the harsh mistress that was time. As she glanced at each one in turn, she couldn't stop the flow of tears that worked their way down her cheeks. Looking down at herself, trying to fight off more tears lease she be unable to see at all, she noticed that she too had been unchanged by time. Her unwithered , 15-year-old hands no longer bent from arthritis caused her to smile as she flexed them without any sign of pain. “Welcome home,” Inuyasha called out getting her attention.
“I'm home,” Kagome replied as she forgot about everything else and rushed toward their waiting arms.