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Acknowledging His Choice Disclaimer: Do not own.

(pouts, stupid lawyers) A/N: This oneshot is a companion to my other story, Setting the Record Straight, and was written for psycochick32, one of my fav authors, at her suggestion. So, I'll dedicate this to her. Thanks for Pack Law, I love that story, and I keep re-reading it, it is definitely a worthy fan addition to Takahashi-sensei's works! Just a quick note, onna means woman. Inuyasha sighed. For some time now, Kagome had been acting, well, wrong. He knew, of course, what the problem was. The same thing that was always the problem. Kikyou. For some reason, she had been interrupting things between he and Kagome a lot lately, almost like it was on purpose. She had shown up almost every night for the past two weeks....and frankly, it was beginning to get a bit old. He never thought he would get to a point that he would get annoyed with her.....but he sure as hell was. He glanced down, looking over the campsite, making sure that his onna was where she was supposed to be. Right underneath his branch. Kagome was not even angry anymore, she just seemed to have given up. And he couldn't have that. She wasn't allowed to give up on him, on them. He knew her secret fear was two-fold. First and foremost, she had a deathly fear that he would go to hell with Kikyou after everything was over. He needed to tell her that wasn't going to happen. He also needed to tell Kikyou that. Her second fear, was that he would choose the undead priestess over her. Truth was, he wasn't as dumb as everyone thought. Kikyou was dead. The only way he could be with her, was if he went to hell with her, 'cause then he'd be dead, too. And he had already decided long ago that that wasn't going to happen. Bottom line was, Kikyou meant death, and Kagome meant life, and he'd have had to be totally freakin baka to choose death. Like most living things, he wanted to keep living. And he wanted Kagome. Problem was, he hated talking about feelings. Battle? Heck yeah, he could do that all day and still feel great. But feelings? Nuh uh, no way, no how. So because of his weakness in this area, things were getting out of hand. Options had just run out, he had no choice, so, the next time Kikyou showed up, he would have to take Kagome with him and let the both of them know just where he stood. After all, Kagome had already done the same thing to Koga, back a few weeks ago, and he was gonna be damned if a woman was going to show him up in courage. But boy, was this going to suck! Kagome resisted the urge to look up. She could feel him looking at her, and she was afraid to know what she would see in his face if she did look at him. He would probably end up going to Kikyou again tonight.....it seemed he spent every night with her lately. Their friends were doing their level best to keep her spirits up, but it was a losing battle, and they all knew it. She felt so helpless, at the mercy of her weak heart. It would have been better all around if she could have kept her heart out of this. She laughed sadly to herself. But really, that had never been an option, had it? She was destined to love him, in any life. After all, wasn't she just another incarnation of the same soul that Kikyou had? She shook her head, closing her eyes. It probably would have

worked out just fine if Urasue hadn't brought back her former incarnation, confusing Inuyasha's heart all over again. She was brought out of her reverie by his voice. "Kagome." He watched her impatiently for a moment. "Wench, pay attention! Kikyou's here." She opened her eyes in confusion. Why would Inuyasha bring that up to her? "Come on. I need to go talk to her, and you are coming with me. So let's go already!" He grumbled under his breath. "Talk about slow!" "Uh, Inuyasha? May I ask why you want Kagome to go with you to see Lady Kikyou?" Miroku tried to keep his tone even, not wanting an angry hanyou thumping him, but for Kagome's sake, the question needed to be asked. He could tell from the heated look on Sango's face, that if he didn't ask, she would, and if she did, it would be much more blunt. "It can hardly be considered, shall we say, appropriate." Inuyasha turned to glare at the two sitting across the fire. They were his friends, and he'd do just about anything for them, but they needed to learn to back the hell off when it came to Kagome. "That's none of your damned business, Miroku, so just butt out. What I'm doing is necessary." He turned back to Kagome and grabbing her hand, pulled her up. "Let's move it, onna. I don't have all night. We have things to do." Turning his back to her, he motioned for her to get on, then adjusting her body, he grabbed her thighs and leapt off into the trees. He'd never actually admit it out loud, but he absolutely loved carrying her like this, after all, what male wouldn't like getting his hands on the woman in his life like this? "Inuyasha? Umm...why are you making me go with you to see Kikyou? You know she probably won't like it...." "Keh. Too damn bad. This is something that has needed done for quite a while, and I've been avoiding it. But that stops now. You made your position clear to Koga a few weeks ago, now it's my turn to do the same." He felt her sudden tension in the way her thighs tightened around him, and Kami, that felt good, but she needed to stop that or he wouldn't be responsible for his actions. "Stop, Kagome. There's no reason for you to be nervous." Kagome only got more nervous. "What the heck do you mean, there's no reason? How can you even say that? Kikyou isn't exactly the easiest person for me to be around, you know. After all, she's tried to k.....uh, umm, well, oh never mind," she sighed, looking about sadly. She had never openly spoken of the fact that Kikyou had tried to kill her....it wasn't something that he would be able to do anything about anyway. She didn't want to hurt him that way. Inuyasha snorted. Did she really think he didn't know that Kikyou had tried to kill her? Yeah, even though Kikyou had admitted it, plainly stating that she had, in fact tried, at that time, he'd still been hurting and unsure of what he felt about her return, so he had never spoken of it again. And Kagome hadn't either. But he'd always known, deep down, and it was one of the only things he'd ever held against Kikyou. It was the one thing he couldn't forgive her for. Not that either of the women knew it, but maybe it was time they did. "We're here. Don't do anything stupid, and let me do the talking, Kagome. We're here because I have some things to say to her, and you

need to hear me say them, so you can get past this unreasoning fear of her, and finally get a clue as to where you belong in my life. So just keep quiet, and listen, got that?" "Sure....if that's what you want, I can do that." Kagome dreaded this, she'd never wanted to force him into making a choice, she probably wouldn't be the winner in any such confrontation, but he'd asked her to listen, so no matter how much it hurt, that's what she would do. Inuyasha landed in the clearing, gently letting Kagome slide down his back, shivering a little at the feel of it. Walking forward, he faced the woman he'd come to see, and waited for her to turn towards him. She knew he was there, she always did, and when she was done contemplating whatever it was, she would face him. He noticed that Kagome had stayed well back, not moving from the spot he had left her in, and annoyance once more showing on his face, he walked back and grabbed her, pulling her behind him. "Stay with me, wench, how many times do I have to tell you? You belong with me, not fifty feet away, not twenty, not even two. .. Got it?" Kagome looked at him, wide-eyed. What was he saying? And in front of Kikyou, no less! She knew the priestess could hear them just fine, despite her lack of response, so she stayed behind Inuyasha, peeking over his shoulder, waiting for whatever was coming. "Well, Inuyasha, I'm glad that you obeyed my summons, however, why did you bring Kagome with you? Is there something you need to tell me?" She finally turned, facing the man she'd once loved, her face maintaining its usual stoic, calm expression. He sighed. She was so beautiful. She always had been....but it was a cool beauty, nothing of fire or passion in it. Even during her life, it had been cool. Once, it had made him think of the calm she could bring to his life, and after his childhood, calm and company were things he desperately desired. But he could now admit that he would never have been happy for very long with the life that she had offered. He needed fire and passion in his life. And that had finally come.....in the form of the woman standing behind him. "Yeah. There are some things I need to tell you. So, please, just listen. I don't want to have to repeat myself to you or," looking over his shoulder at Kagome, "you." He turned back. "First things first. I know that I promised to go to hell with you when this was all over. I'm telling you now, I will not follow you there. In a way, I feel that you tricked me into that one, since I was under your spell when you got that promise from me." Kikyou nodded. "You were. And I have no intention of holding you to it. It's most probable, after all, that I will return to death while fighting Naraku. You have nothing to fear from me on that score, you have my word. Is that all?" Inuyasha could feel the tension ease at these words in the small form standing behind him. Good. One less thing standing between them. "No. That's not all. I also want you to stop trying to come between Kagome and I. I know that's what you've been up to these last few weeks. Even if fifty years hadn't stood between us, your death does, and we could never have a future together. You will move on to the afterlife, and I am moving on with my life." He shook his head sadly at her. "You'll always have a place in my heart, Kikyou, but it's time to let go of the past....for both of

us. I don't hold anything you've done since being brought back against you, except when you tried to kill Kagome. No one does that. I will protect her always, with my very life. That one thing, I can't forget, and I don't know if I can forgive it, either. You tried to take her away from me." "I did. I won't deny it, I told you at the time that I had. I regret that I did. I am.....glad that I did not succeed." She looked away from them, her face still calm, showing nothing. "Am I to understand, then, that you are planning to make a life with her?" "I am planning on keeping her by my side, where she promised she'd always stay. What happens in our lives, none of us can say, we don't know what's going to happen with Naraku, and it's not exactly easy to make plans for anything beyond fighting and defeating him." He looked back at Kagome again. "Know this. If she dies, then I will follow her. I have no intention of ever freeing her of her words, so if she can't stay, then I will go with her, whether it's in death, or just back to her home." He held Kagome's eyes, letting what he was saying sink in, before turning back to Kikyou. "If you need to speak with me, know that I'll come, but I will bring Kagome with me." Kikyou regarded them silently for a while. She had always known this day would come....from the moment she had tried to drag him to hell, and he had broken her spell at the sound of the young woman's voice. The only way he could have done that is if he loved her. She had tried to hang on for as long as possible, but now it was finished. "Very well, Inuyasha. Again, you have my word that I will not interfere with you and Kagome. I wish you well." Nodding politely to them, she gathered her soul collectors around her and turned, preparing to leave her past behind, in more ways than one. "Take care of him, Kagome. It was fated, you know, since I still live.....in you." And she walked away, gliding into the shadows and disappearing. Kagome was barely breathing. She simply could not believe that, after so long, he was finally making a choice. And it was definitely not what she had been expecting. She wasn't stupid, she knew Inuyasha very well, and she knew what he was telling her with the things he had said. It was just going to take a little while to sink in. "Keh. Was that blunt enough for you, wench? I'm getting a bit tired of you moping around, and it had better stop now. Ya ain't got no reason to feel down anymore, or doubt your place in my life." He turned and faced her, running his hands up her arms and grasping her shoulders. "Now that's out of the way, you'd better get to smiling again, okay? I ain't got time to be worryin' about where my onna is, or if she even knows that she's my onna. We got Naraku and the jewel to worry about, and the sooner we get them taken care of, the sooner we can plan that future Kikyou mentioned. Got it?" Kagome nodded up at him, a shy smile lighting up her face, blinking when Inuyasha's hands clenched around her for a moment, and wondering why his breath was hissing between his teeth.

Damn, she was killing him. They needed to find Naraku and the jewel quick, before he died of frustration. She just didn't have a clue what she was doing to him. She was so beautiful, inside and out. He wanted her, and someday soon, he would have her. Plain and simple. Getting her to climb on his back, he headed back to camp, preparing himself for another long night of fantasizing about his onna. 'Man, this waiting sucks,' he thought. But it'd be worth it, someday, when he could make those plans with Kagome. Plans for forever.