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Legacy of the Cursed Mask: Michiru's Return


Three months have passed since Michiru Kururugi had gone on amazing adventure with InuYasha and his friends. Now reunited with the half-demon in modern times, they begin a new adventure together...

Romance / Adventure
Age Rating:

A New Beginning

“Shikigami attack!” Michiru Kururugi cried out, feeling the strange power once again rising up inside of him. A power he channeled into a glowing bolt of fire he sent flying through the night air.

It was late night at the Kururugi Shrine, the place that had been his family’s home for as long as anybody could remember, but lately Michiru had been feeling out of place. As he watched the fireball he had conjured up strike one of the soda cans he had been using for target practice, he sighed, feeling bored, out-of-sorts, and too full of energy to simply go to sleep, even though his bedtime had been hours ago.

The thing was, not too long ago, he had been a normal teenager. He had a mother and father, and a twin sister, Kaname. He went to junior high, falling asleep to boring lectures and listening to his friends talk about their girls. Basic, boringly average stuff, but that was the life a fifteen-year-old boy could expect. He certainly looked average enough, with his blue-gray eyes and light brown hair. However, some time ago, his life had been turned completely upside down.

During the Doll Festival at his family’s shrine, Michiru had gone to fetch some amulets from the storage house when he had stepped on a pentagram and had wound up being transported back in time to Feudal Era, where he had met the half-demon InuYasha, along with Kagome Higurashi, a girl about his age from the modern era who was the reincarnation of a powerful priestess, Shippo, a mischievous fox-demon who could transform into different things and loved playing tricks on is friends, Miroku, a Buddhist monk with formidable powers and questionable morals, as well as…

Gulping as his heart once again skipped a beat, Michiru thought about the fifth good friend he had made during his journey in the past, the one he couldn’t get out of his mind for any length of time. The lovely Sango, a strong woman warrior and a professional Demon Slayer, who fought with the help of Kirara, a two-tailed demon cat. Michiru had gotten close to all of these people, but had grown especially close to Sango, and eventually lost his heart to her.

Just thinking about her made him want to sigh as he looked up at the moon, a sigh of painful longing. Michiru knew that Sango loved another, namely Miroku, for despite his less endearing qualities, such as his tendency to go after any attractive female, the monk had proven himself a good friend. Still, Michiru’s heart wasn’t moved by such logic.

Of course, even with his friends, Michiru was certain he would have died a quick death back in the Feudal Era without the help of the power that had been sleeping inside of him; the power of the Shikigami, spirit familiars that linked him to the forces of nature. He had learned how to use this power from Grandma Kakuju, a kindly old women who was his ancestor, and had used it to come to terms with Utsugi, the living doll that had desired to become human, and had sought to use Michiru’s soul to do so. Even now, with Utsugi’s magic gone and back in his own world, Michiru still practiced using the Shikigami, seeking to become stronger and stronger at it. A habit born from having to fight so many demons during his travels, including the most evil demon of them all…

Sighing as his fireballs brought down another of his targets, Michiru was still frustrated, not to mention bored. Beyond bored; he was practically going out of his mind from the tedium. His day-to-day life had never been especially exciting, but after experiencing everything he had, this life was downright stifling! He didn’t want to stay in the Feudal Era forever, but to just be able to visit now and again, to see his friends, to see Sango…

Grimacing, Michiru growled as he savagely brought down another can. Unfortunately, the only portal he knew of that could enable him to do so was the Bone-Eater’s Well. The magical well existed near Kagome’s home, the Higurashi Shrine, and only worked for two people; Kagome and InuYasha. When Michiru had tried using it back in Feudal Japan, he had fallen straight to the bottom, banging up more than his pride. Even worse was that when he had tried getting in touch with Kagome, the only person he had managed to get in touch with was with her grandfather. When he asked about Kagome, the old man had been quick to tell the Shikigami User that she was suffering from some horrible ailment which left her convulsing as if possessed by evil spirits. Which was a fairly typical excuse from him, judging by all the things Kagome had said about her family during Michiru’s journey through the past.

Blasting the last of his targets, Michiru frowned unhappily. On the one hand, he supposed he could have told Kagome’s grandfather or perhaps her mother about himself, explained his connection to Kagome. Perhaps even tell them that Naraku was dead. But the fact was, he didn’t see what good his going there would do right now. Even if he went, he still couldn’t get through the Well. Couldn’t do anything to make Kagome come back any faster. Couldn’t help his friends in any way. And that, more than anything, made Michiru growl in frustration at the fact that he was now out of targets for his ire.

There’s probably a good reason why Kagome and the others aren’t back yet, Michiru found himself thinking for the umpteenth time. Recalling how Utsugi had requested to be buried in the Kururugi cemetery, and a proper burial would take time. Then there was gathering the Jewel Shards that Naraku had had. Not to mention possibly a number of other demons and problems that could explain the delay.

In a moment, Michiru lost himself in thinking of all the perfectly innocent, reasonable explanations as to why Kagome and the others hadn’t come back. It kept him from thinking of far more ominous possibilities. Possibilities like Naraku returning again, as he did when he appeared to claim Utsugi’s power…

No. That couldn’t have happened. Not again! Michiru frowned, doing his best to ram this thought into his mind. There’s got to be another reason. And…and besides, it takes a while to get anywhere in the Feudal Era, since we had to walk pretty much everywhere. So…yeah… Frowning intently, the Kururugi boy sighed wearily before starting towards his house, Taking a moment to look over his home, see the dark windows and reassure himself that he hadn’t woken anyone up, he did his best to take his frustration and worries and stuff them someplace where they wouldn’t loom in his face and deny him sleep, as they had other nights.

Kagome has my cell phone number. I gave it to her back in the Fuedal Era, Michiru reminded himself. Recalling their discussions, their plans to reunite once he returned to the modern world. I know she’ll call me as soon as she gets back. So…I just have to be patient.

Frowning and knowing that patience was something he was slowly but surely running out of, Michiru groaned in frustration and exhaustion as he crept back into his home. Careful not to disturb either his parents or his sister, he snuck into his room and was soon asleep, dreaming dreams of longing.

Weeks passed, and this steady routine of school and practicing continued, with Michiru doing his best to keep busy. To keep his worries and concerns at bay through sheer effort, along with his mounting impatience. In addition to his physical and magical training, he also studied from the various books on Shikigami and ancient Japan at the library, as well as sneaking into the Kururugi shrine itself. As a result, he found a few books on magic and legends, and even found several scrolls pertaining to the use of Shikigami. All of which Michiru found helpful in cultivating his growing abilities, even allowing him to summon forth a new Shikigami to serve him, as well as mastering new spells for his familiar spirits.

However, no matter how hard he researched or how hard he practiced, the power Michiru desired more than any other remained beyond his grasp; the power to transcend time and return to the Feudal Era.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, Michiru found himself thinking at one point as he sat at the desk in his room, books and notes scattered before him. The sad truth was that even Utsugi, who had been a far more powerful a Shikigami master than Michiru, with knowledge of the powers of nature that was far beyond his own, had lacked the power to bring Michiru back to the Feudal Era unassisted. That was why he had needed to strike a deal with Naraku in the first place. And if he couldn’t do it, then I…

Shaking his head as this dour thought ran its course, Michiru broke off from his studies and sat back in his chair. How long has it been, anyway? he found himself wondering as he let his thoughts drift. How long has it been since I saw everyone? Since I…?

As Michiru’s train of thought faded, images of his adventure in the Feudal Era began to surface in his mind. His first encounter with InuYasha, the battles he had fought, the moments he had spent with his friends, all of which culminated with those final precious moments before Utsugi’s spell unraveled and Sango and everyone else had disappeared before him. A time that seemed further and further away with each passing day.

Frowning at his uncertainty, Michiru looked up to where his calendar hung from the wall, and his mouth popped open in astonishment. For a moment, he was unable to believe what his eyes were telling him, but as he looked at the month and the dates, he was forced to accept the facts. That over three entire months had passed since the Doll Festival of Wishes, the day he had been taken into the past.

“What…?” Michiru gasped, shaking his head before once again looking at the calendar and the incontrovertible evidence it presented. “But…how could that be?! I…I thought that…!”

Stunned by the idea that so much time could have passed without his realizing it, Michiru slumped back into his seat, his mind numbed with astonishment. As he slowly recovered, he started reviewing his own activities, trying to reconcile the impossible passage of time with his own experiences.

At first, it was impossible for him to believe. But then, slowly but with growing speed, Michiru recalled just how much he had buried himself in his own efforts. Sometimes working himself to exhaustion as he trained and studied and tried to forget his own fears. Until he realized that, not only could three months have passed so quickly, but exactly how it had happened.

And to make matters even worse, he realized that those months had passed without receiving a single call from Kagome. Not one call.

So either she completely forgot to call me when she came back, Michiru thought with a frown, not believing this for a second. Which left him with only the second possibility. Or she hasn’t come back at all.

For a time, Michiru could sit there at his desk, this thought looming heavily in his mind. Staring emptily at his own research, faced by fears that were returning in full force, the Shikigami sat in thought for a time. Dreadful fates and hideous deaths that were all too likely in the world of the Feudal Era appearing in his mind to befall his friends. Leaving him to stare into their dead, empty eyes in his imagination. Until at last the horrid visions became too much, and he brought his fists down upon his desk in frustration.

That does it, Michiru thought feverishly. Knowing that he would be unable to banish his concerns any longer. Tomorrow, I’m heading to the Higurashi Shrine. And then… He pressed his lips together, uncertainty and helplessness knotting his brows. And then…I guess I’ll see what happens next.

The next day couldn’t have come soon enough for Michiru’s sake. And the bus he rode to the Higurashi Shrine seemed impossibly slow and ponderous as he watched the scenery pass by. Considering what exactly he would do when he finally arrived.

I guess the first thing I should do is talk to Kagome’s family. Explain who I am and how I met her…all of that, Michiru decided slowly. And after that…

Once again, uncertainty struck. For while he was sure Kagome’s family would be as concerned as him, he knew that they really wouldn’t be able to help. None of them could traverse the Well. So even if Sango…if his friends were in danger, there was nothing any of them could do to help. But even as this occurred to him, Michiru knew that sitting around and waiting at home wouldn’t help, either. And at the very least, he would be able to update the Higurashis as to what had been happening as of late.

Still, it was none too soon that the bus reached his destination, freeing him to fly up the stairs to the Higurashi Shrine. When he reached the top and surveyed his surroundings, he found a place not unlike the Kururugi Shrine. A nice, modern dwelling surrounded by trees and other plant life, as well as a couple sheds. While he couldn’t see the shrine itself, he could see Kagome’s home. And even see people moving about inside.

Hmmm…how should I do this…? Michiru wondered. While he knew that Kagome’s family was aware of her travels and the kind of things she had to deal with, he wasn’t too sure how to break the news that he had special powers of his own. Let alone that there was a very real chance that Kagome was in terrible danger somewhere in the past.

Quickly losing himself in this quandary, Michiru slowly looked about the span of the shrine grounds, as if asking them for advice on what to next. Then he caught sight of something that froze him in his musings, and momentarily banished his fears from his mind.

“Huh?” Michiru began, frowning as he looked more closely at what had attracted his attention. A tree that was marked as being sacred to this shrine. His brows furrowed, he started towards the tree, and as he got closer, he soon realized what it was about this tree that had grabbed his attention. Because he had seen before, on the day his adventures in the Feudal Era began

Drawing up to the tree, Michiru reached out and touched a section of bark that was much thinner and smoother than the rest. The section where, according to Kagome, InuYasha had been sealed and bound to the tree by the power of the priestess Kikyo for fifty years. “InuYasha’s tree…” the Shikigami User muttered, suddenly far closer to the Feudal Era than he had been in a long time.

As he stood there, studying the ancient tree, Michiru’s mind suddenly went into overdrive, his eyes widening in realization. Superimposing the forest that had once stood there over the modern shrine, he looked off in the distance, and was soon following the path that had once been there. Within seconds, he found himself standing before the Higurashi Shrine itself.

“The Bone-Eater’s Well,” Michiru intoned, reading the sign that stood just in front of the shrine. And with that, all other thoughts flew from his mind as he pushed open the doors and entered the shrine proper. As his eyes adjusted to the relative gloom of the shrine’s interior, he looked about, and down below, a mere flight of stairs away, was the Bone-Eater’s Well. Looking exactly as it had when he had encountered it in the past.

Cautiously moving down the stairs, Michiru came to stand beside the Well, and looked down into its dark depths. Once upon a time, soon after he had arrived in the Feudal Era, the simple thought of leaping into this dumping ground of demonic corpses was enough to frighten him. However, time and experience had strengthened him, and he was far bolder than he had been in the past. And the fears and concerns that had been unleashed in his mind had brought him to the end of his rope.

On the one hand, Michiru had no idea why he was even going to attempt this. He already knew that the Well wouldn’t work for him, and he might well injure himself in the process. Time like this would be better spent talking to the Higurashis. But on the other hand, he knew that talking to them would do nothing to help either them, himself, or his friends in the past.

Besides…now that I’m not caught up in Utsugi’s spell anymore…maybe… Michiru thought, desperation quickly spin doctoring his situation. Eliminating the last bit of resistance, and causing him to jump into the dark depths of the Well.

Unfortunately, there was no way to spin doctor the eventual results. As had happened in the Feudal Era, Michiru fell to the bottom of the Well. Once again its magic refused to carry him through time. Leaving the Shikigami User to stand in the darkness, his frustration taken to new heights. Tears of anger and sorrow forming in his eyes, Michiru howled as he exploded with fury. Shouting unintelligibly, he brought both fists against the walls of the Well, pounding against stone. He kept doing so until his anger was expended and his hands red and sore, leaving him empty and in pain.

Heaving in breath after tired breath, Michiru stood hunched against the stone wall for a time. Eventually, he recovered enough to be able to consider getting himself out of the stupid, lousy, no-good piece of junk of a Well that refused to do a single thing to help him. But before he could put this thought into action, his bitterness was suddenly blasted apart when a strange light appeared around him.

“What?!” Michiru gasped, looking about in astonishment at the beautiful light that surrounded him. For a moment, he exalted, thinking for a moment that the magic had worked after all. Only to sigh when he saw another form materialize into existence before him. The true reason for the Well’s sudden activity.

“K…Kagome?” Michiru got out as she resolved into being in front of him. Caught between disappointment and delight, he stepped up to the girl even as she completed her transition to the modern world. “Kagome! You’re back!”

“Wha -?!” Kagome yelped in surprise, jumping back in surprise. Her long, dark hair flaring up, the reborn priestess stared in astonishment at the Kururugi boy for a time before her mouth popped open. “Michiru?!” she got out before taking a step forward. “Wh-wh…what are you doing here?!

Of all the things he might have expected Kagome to say, this hadn’t even come close to being one of them. “Wh-what am I doing here?!” Michiru repeated incredulously. “Kagome, what are you talking about?! You took so long getting back, I was sure something had gone wrong! I was worried sick about all of you!” Lowering his gaze as this explosion sapped more of his emotional strength. “Kagome, I…I’m sorry, but…”

“No, it’s okay. I understand that you were worried, but…” Trailing off, Kagome heaved a weary breath before smiling. “I’m just glad that you made it back here okay. When you just disappeared like that…”

“Oh,” Michiru returned. The only thing he could think of saying to this. “Well, I…I’m sorry, but…”

“No, don’t worry about it. Really,” Kagome smiled easily. “Still, I’m glad to see you got home.” Cocking her head to the side, the raven-haired girl considered Michiru for a time. “Tell you what. Why don’t I go back and let the others know you’re okay?” Frowning as he looked up at her, the Shikigami User watched as Kagome’s smile became a bit mischievous. “After all, I’m sure Sango would feel a lot better.

“Huh?” Michiru gaped, trying to ignore the way his heart had tried to jump up his throat at that name.

“Yeah. And so would InuYasha. He was pretty worried himself,” Kagome informed him before her expression soured somewhat. “Not that he’d ever admit it, that is!”

For a moment, Michiru stood there, considering this idea. “Well…okay, Kagome,” he finally murmured. “I…just be sure to…come back soon.” Forcing a slight smile on his face, he added, “I’d…like to hear about everything that’s been happening since I…last saw everyone.”

“Sure thing!” Kagome grinned. “I’ll be back in a minute or two, so just wait outside the Well, okay?” Michiru gave a slight nod to this, at which the Well lit up once more, and Kagome disappeared into its magical light.

As for Michiru, he looked at the rope ladder that led up and out of the Bone-Eater’s Well, and sighed tiredly. For as much as he was grateful that his friends were apparently alright, despite the immense delay in their arrival, the way Kagome could traverse between times so effortlessly merely reinforced the fact that Michiru, for all of his Shikigami magic, lacked that power. Cursing the Well once again, Michiru began to climb out of it, feeling about as low and weary as a person could as he finally got out of the magical passage through time.

A couple of minutes after Michiru had climbed out of the Well, another burst of light appeared from down below. Looking down into the Well, the Kururugi boy was almost bowled over when something shot out of the darkness, the air rushing by as the figure landed right next to him.

“Hey, there, Michiru! So you managed to get back in one piece!” InuYasha grinned as Kagome climbed off of his back. Barefoot as always and dressed in a bright red kimono that was said to be woven from fur of the fire-rat, the half-demon could pass for a regular guy from school if not for his fangs, claws, yellow, slitted eyes, and doggy ears that peeked out from his long, silvery hair.

“It’s good to see you, too, InuYasha,” Michiru smiled, his concerns momentarily forgotten as he extended one of his hands. He and InuYasha had gotten to be very good friends during their travels. The half-demon remained pretty gruff, but Michiru had learned to read between the lines and saw that he had earned InuYasha’s respect and friendship.

“So what’ve you been doing these past few days, huh?” InuYasha asked carelessly, taking Michiru’s hand in his own. “I’ll bet you lost no time slacking off since you left!”

Furrowing his brows, Michiru stared blankly at his friend. “The…past few days?” he repeated, immediately confused. “What are you talking about?”

“What do you mean, what am I talking about?!” InuYasha growled as Kagome looked on. “You know, when you got back here a couple days ago! When Utsugi’s spell wore off!”

Sounds of confusion escaping his lips, Michiru shook his head before once again focusing on his friends. “InuYasha, what are you talking about?!” he demanded, suddenly irritated. “I got back home over three months ago!

Now it was InuYasha’s and Kagome’s faces that fell in shock. “What?!” the half-demon barked as the reborn priestess looked at Michiru in astonishment. “What do you mean, three months?! We saw you just a couple days ago!”

“That’s right!” Kagome concurred, her expression matching InuYasha’s in terms of sheer confusion. “It’s only been a few days since Utsugi died. We only just got back from burying him in the Kururugi cemetery.”

Finding himself floundering amongst these contradictions, Michiru gave a fierce shake of his head. “Look, I’m telling you, I got home over three months ago!” he insisted, looking from one of them to the other. “I was sent back to the exact time I’d been sucked into the Feudal Era!” Watching as their faces grew even more perplexed by the moment, he held up his hands helplessly. “I mean…maybe a minute or so had passed since I’d left home, and that was it! And it’s been months since then!”

“Are you serious?!” InuYasha growled irritably. As Michiru nodded, the half-demon bared his fangs as he wanted to take his bewilderment and physically beat it into submission. “But how is that even possible! I’m telling you that -!”

“Wait, wait! I think I get it now!” Kagome broke in. As the two boys broke off and looked directly at her. “Michiru, you said that you came home over three months ago, right?” Michiru nodded to this. “And InuYasha? How long was Michiru with us?” The half-demon cocked his head to the side as he looked at her querulously. “Think, InuYasha! We spent precisely how long together?”

“Well…I don’t know,” InuYasha eventually growled. “Maybe…” Then all befuddlement fled his eyes as he caught on to what Kagome was saying. “Over three months.”

“Right,” Kagome nodded, looking rather pleased with herself.

This was a feeling that Michiru didn’t share. Looking between his two friends, he finally looked hard at Kagome and asked, “So…would you mind telling me what you’re talking about, Kagome?”

“Oh, right,” Kagome returned patiently. “I think the problem here is that Utsugi’s magic must’ve worked differently than the Bone-Eater’s Well’s does.”

“Uh…” Michiru started, looking perplexedly at the girl. He knew he was missing something of importance, but for the life of him, he couldn’t imagine what that might be. “So…how exactly does the Bone-Eater’s Well work?”

“It’s simple. When you go through the Well, whatever time you spend in the Feudal Era, the same amount passes here, in the present,” Kagome told him. “Now, Utsugi pulled you back into the past with his magic, right? And when the spell broke, you went right back to the moment you left.” As Michiru nodded, the raven-haired girl went on. “Well, if you go through the Well and spend three days in the Feudal Era, those same three days will have past in the present.”

As Michiru considered these words, he soon found himself nodding. “Then…that’s why it’s been so much longer for me…then it has been for you?”

“Yeah. I guess so,” InuYasha muttered gingerly. Then he looked at his friend, and something like sympathy appeared in his eyes. “So…it’s really been months since you’ve seen us?”

“Uh…yeah,” Michiru returned somberly. “I…I was so worried about all of you. I…” Balling his hands up into fists, he looked at his friends helplessly. “I…I tried calling you several times. And when you never came back, I…I thought for sure that Naraku had come back or something! I…I didn’t know what to do!”

“I’m sorry. I…I didn’t know,” Kagome murmured. “I guess I can’t blame you for being worried after something like that.”

“Yeah, well, you can stop worrying! We’re all alright, so there’s nothing to worry about!” InuYasha declared, folding his hands before his chest. “And don’t you worry about Naraku! There’s nothing left of that damned bastard but a bunch of bad memories!”

Heartened by this, that all of his fears were completely unfounded, Michiru smiled at his friends. “Then…Sango and the others…they’re all okay?”

“That’s right,” Kagome informed him. “Come on. Since you’re here, why don’t you stop in and meet my family?”

“Huh?” Michiru fumbled, left spinning by the sudden change in topic.

“Well, why not? You can tell us about everything that’s been happening since you got back home. And I’m sure everybody would like to meet you,” Kagome informed him. Then she cocked her head at the half-demon, and added, “Besides, Sota’s been bugging me to get InuYasha to stop by. So what do you say?”

“Umm…well…” Michiru hesitated before shrugging. “Uh, sure. Why not?”

“Great! Sounds good!” InuYasha grinned before clapping Michiru on the shoulder. “Besides, now that we’ve killed Naraku, it’s not like we really have to hurry back.”

“Right!” Kagome grinned now that the discussion was settled. “So come on! Let’s get going! I can’t wait to have a nice meal and real hot bath!”

Almost laughing at Kagome’s enthusiasm for the simple luxuries of the modern world, Michiru smiled, memories of his adventure with his friends close to the surface. These, plus the thoughts of spending time with two of his friends, caused him to forget his woes and follow them out of the Shrine and into Kagome’s home.

After watching a gleeful reunion between Kagome and her family, Michiru was soon introduced to the Higurashis as Kagome’s mother hustled them into the dining room. There he spent a fair amount of the afternoon enjoying a late lunch as he and his friends told them of journey he gone with them in the past, which was an unusual event worthy of Michiru’s time in the Feudal Era. Despite the legendary hatred between cats and dogs, InuYasha spent a fair amount of time playing with Buyo, Kagome’s cat, while Michiru wound up telling the Higurashis about the adventure he had been on with InuYasha and the others and showing off a few of his Shikigami tricks to Sota, Kagome’s little brother. Kagome’s mom, a gentle women who looked like an older version of her daughter, whipped up a delightful lunch and Kagome’s grandfather told Michiru about several of the legends passed down through the Higurashi shrine, especially in regards to the Bone Eater’s Well.

“…So in a nutshell, the sacred tree of our family shrine is one of the legendary Trees of Ages, a majestic tree whose power traverses time itsel!” the old priest stated as he wound done a long-winded dissertation on the subject. “And it’s the power of that tree that governs the Bone-Eater’s Well!”

“So that’s why the Well has the power to send Kagome and InuYasha back and forth through time?” Michiru asked, trying to get a feel for what the old man was saying. “But why just them and nobody else?”

“That’s a good question, my boy!” the old priest commented, looking like he belonged in the Feudal Era, what with his gray topknot and old-fashioned personality. “Perhaps it is their destiny, a destiny that was set when InuYasha was bound to that tree by Kikyo, five hundred years ago.”

“But what about me?” Michiru persisted, still feeling a hint of the frustration he had felt at his failure to travel through the well. “Isn’t it my destiny to be able to help my friends, to be with them?”

“Don’t you mean to be with Sango?” InuYasha teased as he played with Buyo’s tail. As for Michiru, a strange sound escaped his throat as his heart jumped and his face turned red.

“Sango?” Sota asked, the little boy sitting near InuYasha. “You mean that Demon Slayer you told us about?”

“Oh, yeah,” InuYasha grinned in confirmation. “It seems that Michiru here has totally fallen for her!”

With that, Michiru felt as if his head would overheat and explode from all of the blood that was currently rushing to it. His cheeks burning a brilliant vermillion, he gulped loudly in protest. “InuYasha!!”

“What? It’s not like it’s any big secret!” InuYasha countered, looking a bit surprised at Michiru’s attitude.

Frowning, Michiru settled down, silently admitting that his friend had a point. Remembering how he had declared his love for the Demon Slayer mere moments before Utsugi’s magic faded completely and he had been returned home. A moment that was so clear in his mind, with nothing more vivid than the look in Sango’s eyes when she realized they were about to separated by five hundred years of time.

But that didn’t make it any easier for Michiru to handle when Grandpa laughed, “Ha ha ha! Love can be such a bittersweet thing!”

“Oh, come on, Grandpa! It’s not funny!” Kagome protested.

While Michiru’s cheeks burned, Grandpa eventually calmed down. “Anyway, my boy, destiny is a very funny thing. Still, while five hundred years may be quite a long time by human standards, this does not stop Kagome and InuYasha from being together. Therefore it is possible that a thread of fate binds you to your love. However, in matters of the heart, only time can tell.”

Recovering from his embarrassment, Michiru protested, “But what good does that do if I can’t even get back to her?”

“Now, now, you can’t rely on fate to do everything for you,” Kagome’s mom admonished as she entered the room, bringing lunch with her. “You’re strong young man; certainly you can do things on your own power to make your dreams reality.”

“But I don’t know what I can do,” Michiru said, a sentence that depressed him even further.

“If you truly are destined to return there, I’m certain you’ll find a way. Just do whatever you feel you have to.” With that the others present, including InuYasha, gave Michiru smiles of encouragement, and he started to feel a little better.

“But, Kagome!” Sota piped up. “Didn’t you say that Sango was already in love with that weird monk?”

Hissing in dismay, Michiru looked balefully at the little boy. While he hadn’t known Sota for very long, the fact that Kagome’s brother had brought up such a tender subject at this very moment was leading towards the Shikigami User being sorely tempted to use him for target practice.

Before he could do anything more than imagine blasting Sota with a few fireballs, Michiru heard Mrs. Higurashi say, “Now, now, enough of that.” Turning to see Kagome’s mother giving Sota a gently scolding look, Michiru then found himself meeting her gaze as well. “That’s none of our business, Sota. Now settle down and eat before your food gets cold.”

Grateful for the change in subject, Michiru returned his attention to his meal. For a time, they all ate in relative peace, with the only disruption being Kagome admonishing InuYasha for his messy eating habits.

Once they were more-or-less done with their respective meals, the old priest wiped his mouth and looked very seriously at Kagome and InuYasha. “Well, now that you two have had a chance to relax and what-not, there’s something very important I’d like to tell you, Kagome.”

“Really?” Kagome asked, giving her grandfather a look. “What is it?”

“It seems that Kyle Wyvern is going to be here in Tokyo tomorrow,” Grandpa told her. “He’s going to be autographing books tomorrow at the civic center, as a promotion for his latest book.”

“Really? That’s great, Grandpa!” Kagome smiled. “I guess I don’t need to ask where you’ll be tomorrow!”

“Um, who’s Kyle Wyvern?” Michiru asked, once again feeling like he was out of the loop.

Grandpa’s eyes shot wide open in disbelief. “Why, he’s only one of the foremost writers of books concerning ancient magic and legends! I buy all of his books!” Grandpa explained. “He’s traveled around the world, researching and writing about various cultures, ancient legends and magic.”

“Traveled the world?” InuYasha asked around a mouthful of rice. “What is he, some kind of priest?”

“Not exactly. He’s from America, and he’s something of a collector of ancient artifacts. That sort of thing,” Kagome explained. As Michiru and InuYasha looked at her, she just smiled. “I read his biography on the dust jacket of one of his books.” The blank expression on InuYasha’s face told them all that he hadn’t the faintest idea as to what they were talking about, so she cleared her throat and tried again. “I guess you could say he’s kind of like a really wealthy lord, and he spends a lot of time traveling and studying ancient cultures.”

InuYasha just looked even more confused. “Well, okay, fine, but what does that have to do with us?”

Smiling in what Michiru supposed was a cunning manner, Grandpa told them, “Because, I’d like for the two of you to come with me.”

Grimacing around another mouthful, InuYasha swallowed loudly, apparently getting something lodged in his windpipe in the process. “Wh-what?!” InuYasha coughed. Pounding on his chest with his free hand, he glared dangerously at the old priest. “Look, stopping for lunch here if fine, but we don’t have time to just stick around, seeing some weird lord! We have to get back and find the rest of the Sacred Jewel Shards!”

Frowning at InuYasha, Kagome then smiled apologetically at her grandfather. “Sorry, but I think InuYasha is right,” she explained. “I wasn’t able to sense any of Naraku’s Shards of the Shikon Jewel after we killed him.” While Michiru was wincing at the mention of the Shards, thinking of the dangerous powers they could give to demons and other monsters, Kagome was holding up her hands helplessly. “In fact, the only one he had with him was the one he used to possess Utsugi’s body, and we know he had a lot more than just that one.”

“That’s precisely why I think you two should come with me,” Grandpa explained, drawing even bigger stares. The old priest then drew a sheet of paper out of his kimono and handed it to Kagome. “Here. Read this and see what you think.”

“Hmm? What’s this?” Kagome muttered. Narrowing her eyes, she looked closely at the paper. Craning his neck, Michiru saw that it was a flyer regarding Wyvern’s visit to Japan. “Discover the secrets of Japan’s past in Kyle Wyvern’s latest book, ‘Demons, Priests, and Magic Transcending Time’. Read about the origins of many legends, including…” Kagome then stopped, her eyes widening in astonishment as she cupped her mouth.

“What?” Michiru asked, looking from his friend to the flyer. “What is it, Kagome?”

Shaken, Kagome gave a stunned look to Michiru and InuYasha before continuing. “…Including the fabled Sacred Jewel of Four Souls!”

What?!?!” InuYasha howled, shoving his way closer to read over Kagome’s shoulder. “This guy knows about the Sacred Jewel?!”

“Seriously?” Michiru gaped.

Kagome just nodded in disbelief. “Yes, and it says here that Wyvern is going to have many artifacts on display there relating to the things in his book! Including a Sacred Jewel Shard!

InuYasha couldn’t even speak after that. He could only stare wide-eyed at the paper, looking very much like a cement block had been dropped on his head. As for Michiru, he became even more confused. “Wait a minute! You mean its possible one of the Sacred Jewel Shards survived into this time?!”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Kagome informed him, something that made Michiru bug out even more.

“Now you see why I want you two to come with me. We’re really very lucky that you both came back when you did,” Grandpa told them. “We have to find out if this really is a Sacred Jewel Shard, or just a fake.” Wearing a smug grin, the old priest went on. “Also, it seems to me that there’s an excellent chance that we might learn something about the Sacred Jewel, either at the signing or from Wyvern’s book.”

“Hey! Do you think that Wyvern really has a Sacred Jewel Shard there?” Sota wondered.

“I dunno, kid, but I’m definitely gonna find out!” InuYasha grinned enthusiastically. Then he cast a wry look at Michiru. “So what about you, Michiru? Feel like tagging along? Or you would you rather just sit around, feeling sorry for yourself?”

While Kagome was staring daggers at the half-demon, Michiru was smiling at his friend. “Hey, you just try and keep me away! I’ll meet you all here tomorrow morning!” he grinned, thrilling to the idea of some kind of adventure. “Say, if you want, InuYasha, I could bring you some of my clothes.”

“Huh? What for?” InuYasha wondered.

“What for?” Kagome asked incredulously. “In case you haven’t noticed, you stick out like a sore thumb in that gaudy red outfit of yours!” With a sigh of resignation, Michiru sat there helplessly and watched as she and InuYasha suddenly lit into an argument, one that continued until Kagome used the power of the Beads of Subjugation about InuYasha’s neck to smash him into the ground.

Still, even as Mrs. Higurashi attempted to restore order, Michiru couldn’t help but feel better. His friends were all well, and he had had a nice day with two of them. They were going somewhere together tomorrow, which was a lot better than spending all day worrying and feeling sorry for himself.
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