Evanescence by thetroll

Chapter 1

The news came a fortnight after InuYasha left to help Koga clear out a troublesome yokai that had been stealing away wolf cubs to eat them.

The two had been lost in the battle and worse, their bodies could not even be recovered from the rubble of the mountain that had collapsed on top of them during the battle. There had been nothing left for Kagome and their friends to bury.

Nothing at all but a scrap of red firerat cloth that she'd clung to as though it were her only lifeline.

Her wails had drowned out the quiet of the night that night.

The fur soaked with her tears and still she could not stop herself from crying as she curled up on her own futon for everything she'd lost. Her best friend, her first love—the one she'd always thought she'd marry upon her return.

Though she loved all of her friends, it was no secret that she'd returned for him.

And now InuYasha was gone.

Her friends sat outside the hut, but Kagome hardly paid them any attention. There was nothing they could do to heal her hurts, to help her through the pain, and so all they could do was sit helplessly outside and make sure no harm came to her.

"Is she going to be okay?" Shippo asked quietly, his green gaze focused firmly on the open doorway into the hut Kagome had shared with InuYasha.

Sango gave the kit a helpless look. She knew the pain Kagome felt all too well, but even for Sango, she still bore the scars of her own loss.

"She will," Miroku answered, his expression solemn, "but it will take time, Shippo, and a lot of understanding. She has suffered a heavy loss."

"I understand." Shippo nodded as he sighed. "My papa was like this when Momma was taken from us."

Miroku and Sango exchanged a pained look. "I'm sure that was hard on you, too," Miroku said, patting Shippo on the head. "Just as InuYasha's loss is on us all now. He was a good friend to us all."

"He was more than that," Shippo said quietly, "to Kagome."

"So he was." Miroku sighed heavily. "So he was."

They all looked over at their friend who showed no signs of acknowledging them, lost in her grief.

"Come," Miroku said then, rising to his feet. "Let's get you to bed, Shippo. I imagine the next few days will be rather busy with the funerals."

But Shippo shook his head. "I'll stay here," he said stubbornly. "K'gome needs someone with her and 'sides, I'm yokai. I don't need as much sleep. I'll watch over her tonight."

Sango opened her mouth to protest but Miroku shook his head. This was important to Shippo; with InuYasha gone, the kitsune no doubt saw himself as the new protector of his human friends and family.

To take that from him now would undermine all that Shippo had become.

"Then we'll see you in the morning, Shippo." Miroku took his wife gently by the hand. "If anything happens, you know where to find us."

Shippo nodded, but he was certain he wouldn't need the help. He'd be strong like InuYasha had been—his human pack was depending on that.

Most important of all, Kagome needed him to be strong for her and Shippo would never let down the woman who had become a big sister to him. He'd protect her from everything as best he could and watch over her when he couldn't.

"I'm right here, Kagome," he whispered after his human friends left. "You aren't going to be alone again, I promise."


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