He Said, She Said
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Inuyasha.
"-don't need her, Inuyasha. Why do you not leave that silly girl behind and those others who follow simply to use your prowess to gain their vengeance upon Naraku, and come with me?" Kagome overheard, and her heart sank knowing she'd once again, this time unwittingly, stumbled upon another ubiquitous Inuyasha and Kikyou moment. She really hadn't meant to, she'd only been out for a walk to think over her personal dilemma.
But what Kikyou was saying knocked a great big hole in her heart as it played right into what she'd been thinking about. Because Hojo had been saying some of the same kinds of things to her lately. Of course, he didn't know about the past or the truth of her relationship with Inuyasha, but he'd been urging her to leave the hanyou and be with him instead a great deal. She'd been passively resisting him for a long while, but if Kikyou were suddenly inviting Inuyasha to travel with her, chances were he'd be taking it and she'd no longer be traveling here in Sengoku Jidai. No longer have any relationship at all with the hanyou, even though such a thought broke her heart. And if that were the case, then perhaps...
She shook her head, and backing out of the area quietly so as not to disturb the two she left, headed for the well. Perhaps it was time to truly make a decision. Because if Kikyou were giving out ultimatums, then chances were that the decision had already been made. All that was left for her was to make the best of a broken heart and take a different path. Maybe... maybe Hojo would be the one to console her and help heal the hurt Inuyasha had left her with.
She hadn't been home long, sitting in her room on her bed and thinking, when her mother called up the stairs that Hojo was on the phone for her. Shaking off the momentary irritation she felt at the fact that he just wouldn't leave her alone, she went downstairs to the small phone alcove and picked up the receiver.
"Hello, Hojo," she greeted politely, trying to make her voice sound more cheerful. "How are things with you?"
She heard him shift around over the phone and call something back to someone on his side, and then he answered her. "Ah, Higurashi! I am glad to catch you. I am fine, though I would be even better if you would accept my invitation to a concert this evening. My cousin is friends with Hamasaki Ayumi and gave me two tickets to her concert tonight." He waited breathlessly for her answer, though he was almost positive she'd go – not many people would turn down a Hamasaki concert, and especially not Kagome – she loved Ayu, as her fans called her.
The moment Hojo had said he had concert tickets to Ayu Kagome had started freaking out inside. She'd been wanting to go to a concert of hers for years – but Inuyasha was an interference to that desire with his constant pushing to go shard and Naraku hunting. She barely had time to work on school let alone do anything for something as simple as pleasure. Barely able to keep herself from jumping up and down and squealing like a fan girl she chirped, "Sure! What time should I be ready?" in a much more happy tone than she'd answered the call with.
Hojo, pleased, couldn't keep the grin from his voice and it was easily made out over the phone line. "Six-thirty – I will pick you up in a taxi. I have specialty seating, and we won't have to wait in the regular lines. The concert will start at seven and will be over by ten, and if you like we can go dancing afterward."
Excited as she hadn't been in as long as she could remember she agreed, and the details were set. The moment she was off the phone she was up the stairs in a rush to get ready. She only had an hour and a half, and she wanted to get a nice soak in and still have time to get fixed up.
She just knew this was going to be an awesome night!
On the other side of time Inuyasha leapt into the Goshinboku and up to the top of the great tree, easily landing right in his favorite spot, a small niche that let him curl up comfortably and see over the entire forest and most of the valley below it. From there he watched as Kikyou's shinidamachu slowly moved off, and frowned. He couldn't get rid of the irritation he'd suddenly felt towards her as she'd continued to badmouth Kagome, calling her all sorts of derogatory names.
Stupid, copy, powerless, witless, clumsy, pathetic, shallow – and that one really made him mad, because if there was one thing Kagome wasn't, it was shallow – on and on, and suddenly, in the midst of all of it while she'd tried to get him to leave Kagome and follow along behind her, he'd just had enough. He didn't know why it had taken him this long to get it, but it was clear that she was very spiteful towards her little reincarnation – and she had no reason to be. Kagome had never even said a bad thing about her, despite the fact that, looking back at it, she'd had every right. The woman had, after all, tried to kill her.
He'd been as polite as always when speaking to Kikyou, but he'd let her know that he didn't appreciate the insults towards Kagome and that he had no intention of abandoning his companions. If she wished to travel with them then he wouldn't stop her, though he winced inside at Kagome's reaction, but if she did she would treat them all with respect – especially Kagome – or she'd be traveling alone again.
Kikyou hadn't taken that too well and had informed him that she had no use for any of his companions, and that he didn't either since as soon as Naraku was dead he was going with her to hell, ne?
That was where they'd parted ways, because he'd told her that no, he wasn't going to hell with her after Naraku was gone and that he'd never promised to do so in the first place. When she'd argued the point he'd reminded her that anything he'd said at the time wasn't binding, since she'd basically forced him to say it by putting him under a spell. He hadn't said it of his own will and didn't consider it valid. Yes, he'd told her sister that if it was his fate he'd follow her, but it wasn't his fate – he had people to protect here, and he couldn't do that if he was sitting in hell doing whatever it was Kikyou thought they'd be doing down there.
He snorted as he recalled asking that very question, and her dumbfounded reaction to it. He'd asked her why she wanted him in hell. What was it she thought they'd be doing in hell, together or not? She'd frowned at him and opened her mouth to speak, then shut it again, not quite knowing what to say. They'd only end up going from there to be reborn and probably not ever meet again, he'd finally told her, so what was the point? At least this way he was already with the one she'd be reincarnated into, which more than likely would not happen if he followed her to hell. She'd simply looked at him after that for a few minutes, minutes during which he'd endured her scrutiny quietly, then nodded at him and turned and walked away without another word.
Not quite sure what to make of that, nonetheless he'd been pleased that at least they hadn't parted arguing. He hated arguing with her, or even being annoyed with her. He was much happier when there was peace between them.
It had been dark for some time when Inuyasha realized that Kagome hadn't come after him for dinner, and his heart sank. Had she seen the shinidamachu or felt Kikyou's proximity to the village? If she had she'd probably gone home, and she wouldn't come back for several days at least. He frowned unhappily; when she went to the future and refused to come home for days at a time he hated it. It sucked big time, making him suck big time. Hell, he couldn't even fight decently without her there. And for some reason, this time he really didn't want to wait for several days to see her only to have her come back and fight with him once she arrived.
He sighed. I guess I should go through the well and talk to her. Maybe if I... apologize, he scowled faintly at the idea, she'll come home sooner? Like tonight?
Not thrilled with apologizing but even less thrilled with waiting for her to come back on her own, he sucked it up and jumped down from the tree and then headed for the well with determination. Yeah, I'm getting her back tonight. I ain't waiting for three days for her to sulk and pout. If she really wants to do those things, she can do 'em here.
He was confounded, though, when he got to the other side of the well and Kagome's mother told him that she was gone and wouldn't be back for some hours – not until midnight or so.
"Why's she out that late?" he asked suspiciously, his eyes narrowed. "That 'skool' of hers doesn't go so long, so where else did she go?"
Mrs. Higurashi looked at the boy knowingly, grinning inwardly. Outwardly, though, she kept a straight face. "Oh, no, dear, she didn't go to school. She went to a concert and then went dancing afterward. She's on a date with Hojo."
At that Inuyasha's hackles rose and a sick feeling settled into the pit of his stomach. He knew that word and what it meant from the time he'd helped Souta get enough guts to tell the girl he liked that he had feelings for her.
What is she doing letting some loser court her? he raged inwardly as he turned and went out to jump into the Goshinboku, knowing that trying to track her through the city would be impossible. I... I thought... his ears drooped and he leaned against the trunk. For a moment he thought of just going back through the well and leaving Kagome to live her life and court other guys, since she seemed to want to, but then his youkai blood woke up and snarled at him.
No way! He tensed up then, agreeing with it, and growled – if she thought he was going to just let her leave after she'd promised to stay with him then she had another think coming. He'd haul her ass through the well and then seal it. Let her be pissed – she'd get over it eventually and at least she'd be there, not here.
His thoughts waffled back and forth over the matter for some time as he waited for her to come back, and he was close to going crazy by the time he heard the sound of her footsteps coming up the stairs. He was so attuned to her he could hear her from just about anywhere – but in his hurry to confront her he didn't notice the other footsteps accompanying her until he was almost on top of them and ready to jump down and startle them as they walked below the tree he was in.
The masculine voice that spoke up caught him off-guard and he froze, throttling the dangerous growl that wanted to bubble up out of his chest. He waited, wanting to hear what the chump was saying to her.
"-enjoyed yourself?" the boy was asking, and Inuyasha listened breathlessly in a near parrot of Kagome's own eavesdropping experience earlier between he and Kikyou, had he but known it.
"Sure I did!" she laughed, feeling happier than she had in a long time. That concert had been great! And the dancing afterward had been fun, too. Uncomplicated fun with an uncomplicated date.
Too bad it was about to get complicated. Very complicated.
"Do you even know how happy you sound right now, Higurashi?" came Hojo's sad voice just then. "This is the first time I've heard you sound this way since you started seeing that jealous guy. That Inuyasha. Kagome," he cried, in his attempt to get through to her calling her familiarly as he'd never done before, "he can't possibly love you! Don't you see? Any guy who could deliberately hurt you can't possibly love you! Please, Kagome... stop seeing him? I can make you happy, just like tonight!"
His impassioned plea shook two people, though neither Kagome nor Hojo knew of the other person hiding in the tree and choking on the bile of hearing such words. Would she listen to him? Would she go with this era's version of Akitoki? Inuyasha knew he'd hurt her before, but had he really hurt her so much that she'd end up staying in her time with this little weakling? He was jerked from his frightened thoughts when Kagome started speaking.
"Hojo... I... I know Inuyasha doesn't love me," she finally said, her voice sad and dejected. "And... I've been thinking of the same things lately. Earlier, before you called I... accidentally heard him talking to his old girlfriend Kikyou, and she wants him back. She wanted him to go with her and leave me behind. And I know he will, because he loves her. So I will be alone now. Bu-" she choked off a scream and almost fell backwards, shocking Hojo speechless as Inuyasha dropped right from above her head and landed directly in front of her, anger, desperation, and more anger written on every inch of his face and body.
"Shows how much you know, stupid!" he shouted, so angry he wasn't paying attention to the bit of hypocrisy he was about to spout. "Thinking stupid things because you were eavesdropping! That's what you get for doing that, making wrong assumptions. I'm not going anywhere with Kikyou, you baka, so how do you feel now, huh?" He crossed his arms and glared for a moment at the girl who was rapidly getting angry herself before turning up his nose haughtily.
"Oh? And just how do you know what I'm assuming or not?" she shouted back. "You were up in the tree eavesdropping! And you dare to say anything to me about it? At least I wasn't deliberately doing it! I just accidentally ran into you guys. You were deliberately up in that tree and listening to me talk to Hojo!"
Hojo, finally blinking away his startlement started to say something, only to find himself talked right over. Or rather, yelled right over.
"Baka bitch! I was not! I was just up in the tree waiting for your ass to get back, that's all – it's not my fault you two were talking so damn loud Sesshoumaru probably heard you all the way on the other sid-" he found himself cut off by an irate girl's hand over his mouth.
"Eh, heh, heh," she laughed nervously as she looked over her shoulder apologetically at a once more stunned Hojo, then back at Inuyasha, glaring at him. "You need to learn to keep your mouth shut, Inuyasha," she gritted warningly in a low tone that only he would hear. "You don't need to be announcing everything to the entire world, you know."
Hojo, too confused to really catch on to what Inuyasha had almost let slip, had his mind stuck on something else. "Is that how he always calls you, Higurashi? That foul word? And you let him?! That was what I meant! You deserve so much better than this kind of behavior – this kind of treatment!" He turned on Inuyasha, beginning to get angry, too, and advanced on him. "You! How dare you say those things to her? You need to leave and never come back. You don't deserve a woman like Higurashi!"
The instant silence that Hojo's words occasioned left Kagome feeling on edge, wondering why the hanyou wasn't responding with his typical violence. Was he just so enraged he'd frozen? She glanced up at his face almost fearfully and paused, uncertain at the blank expression that lay over his features and the opaque look in his eyes.
"You're right. I don't deserve Kagome," he said softly after looking Hojo over in a rather critical manner for a moment. "It isn't about who deserves her and who doesn't, though. It's about her choice of who she wants to stay with. But the next time you start thinking you're better for her than me, remember this – you may talk nicely and take her fancy places but I keep her alive, and I've spilled my own blood more times than I can count to do it. I've had to make the choice between her life and my own many times before - and I've never hesitated to choose hers. Can you say the same?"
He continued to meet Hojo's stunned gaze for several seconds unflinchingly and then turned and walked away, headed for the house - leaving behind two very shocked people and a deep silence.
Kagome could never remember seeing Inuyasha act that way – or saying something so eloquent and powerful - with so few words. I've always known he was deep, but that... she kept staring at him until he'd disappeared inside, waiting for her to make her choice, had she but known it.
Having actually forgotten Hojo for a moment in light of Inuyasha's shocking words, she started to follow after him when a hand touched her arm, pulling her back to reality.
"Higurashi," came Hojo's voice, "what... what was he talking about? Surely he was exaggerating. Our world isn't that dangerous! He... he was acting as though you've come close to dying many times and he's saved you. Is there maybe something wrong in his head and he imagines things?"
A surge of protective anger went through Kagome at the slightly derisive tone in Hojo's voice as he spoke of Inuyasha. How dare he speak of her hanyou that way? But it mostly sputtered out soon enough – after all, how could he know the truth? Still, even if that were the case he was speaking disrespectfully about someone he'd never really met and didn't even know.
She tugged her arm gently away from his grasp and turned to look at him. "Not everything is as cut and dried as you think it is, Hojo," she said quietly. "Inuyasha... wasn't exaggerating. He's saved my life more times than I can count, and what he said about shedding his blood for me... it was true. He's nearly died several times in order to keep me from any harm." She looked down at her fingers as they twisted together nervously and then back up at the human boy knowing what her choice was, what it had always been and would always be, no matter what. "He might speak roughly, but that's just his way. He doesn't mean it disrespectfully, and I... I could never turn my back on Inuyasha even if he did mean those things. For the blood and tears he has shed for me I could never leave him, never turn him away. Thank you for the concert, I did enjoy myself, but... next time I think you should find another girl to ask out, because I'm not available. I'm sorry, Hojo."
Feeling tremendously guilty in that moment as she realized that she really had been merely leading the poor boy on, she forced herself to watch Hojo nod unhappily as he accepted her words and turn to walk away, making herself face what her inability to say no had caused. She'd really hurt the young man's feelings, and she felt terrible for it. With a deep sigh she turned to go into her house once he was out of sight, suddenly feeling terribly weary and impossibly jaded. How had things become so difficult?
No, she realized, this was only difficult because I made it that way. I knew... a long time ago where my heart and my loyalty was, I just didn't have the courage to tell Hojo that from the beginning when he showed an interest in me. I didn't want to hurt his feelings but in the end all I did was lead him on, keeping him on a string - thinking he actually had a chance with me. Because in the end I had already made my choice long ago to stay with Inuyasha even if his choice was Kikyou. And I should have told Hojo that instead of keeping him hanging on for my own petty wish to have someone to make me feel better about not being chosen by the one I really wanted.
A strong feeling of shame swelled over her as she admitted to herself her own pettiness, and she knew that she not only owed Hojo the apology she'd given him, but Inuyasha one as well. His feelings of being confused and trapped between she and Kikyou were no excuse for her to place him in such a situation with Hojo, because there was no past between she and Hojo like he and Kikyou shared.
She turned away from watching Hojo leave to look up at her house with unhappy eyes, her attention drawn to her own bedroom window and the golden eyes glowing eerily as he looked back at her from within its confines. She sighed and shook her head and once more started into her house.
I'm so sorry, Inuyasha. I've been wrong. For so many things. For not giving you all of myself despite my own choice to stay with you no matter your choice, for playing Hojo against you and using him and Kouga to make you feel jealous, and for listening to Kikyou's words and ignoring your actions. I didn't even give you a chance earlier, I just heard what she said and acted as though her words were your choice.
Slipping into the genkan quietly she took her shoes off and then walked wearily up the stairs, hesitating for a second at her own door before finally opening it. She stayed there in the doorway looking in at him with sad blue eyes.
But before she could actually verbalize all the emotions whirling around inside, Inuyasha beat her to it.
"I'm sorry," he said, looking at her out of eyes just as sad as her own, surprising her. "I shouldn't have just... jumped to conclusions about that guy. About your choice. You already said you wanted to stay with me, and I was basically calling you a liar because I was... jealous," he mumbled that last word out, blushing and looking away as he fidgeted uncomfortably. "I shouldn't have yelled at you."
Kagome blinked, surprised in a way to realize that some of the same things she was blaming herself for he was also blaming himself for doing, as well. "Ano... it's okay, Inuyasha. It's funny, but in a way we've both been doing the same things." She thought she was going to have to explain what she meant to him, but surprisingly - or maybe not - he just nodded.
"Keh. We've both been listening to other people when we should have been listening to each other," he agreed. "So just in case you needed to hear it, here it is; I'm not going off with Kikyou, not to be by her side or to go to hell with her. You chose a long time ago to stay with me, and even though I've stayed by your side as well I've never before actually said the words like you deserved. I'm sorry for that."
Tears flooded Kagome's tired eyes and her shoulders slumped as the weight she'd been carrying for so many months just lifted from her. She'd been worrying for so long about the future, and now she didn't have to.
The relief was tremendous.
Inuyasha, seeing her turmoil and inability to even move did the moving instead, taking a cold hand and tugging her onto the bed. Once she was settled to his satisfaction he sat down next to the overwhelmed girl and put his arm around her, shrouding her in his voluminous sleeve.
"Geeze, Kagome, you're cold as ice," he growled softly. "You need to stop worrying so much, you know. It's not good for you," he chastised gently as she looked up at him with wounded eyes.
"Like I could help it, Inuyasha. If I didn't worry, it would mean I didn't care. And I do-" she flushed then, her cheeks at least heating up, "-care... a lot. You should know that by now."
Inuyasha, also blushing a little looked down at her and nodded, his bangs in his eyes and shadowing his face as he let go of her hand. His mouth was a serious line across his face and his voice was soft and almost hesitant as he began to speak.
"I know," he admitted. "I figured it out before – you know, after you took that arrow for me." He bared his teeth at the memory, growling. "Which was stupid, by the way. Anyway-" he hurried on before Kagome could take offense to that, "-you know I'm not good with... feelings. But you should have realized by now that if I were going to leave, I would have already done it. When you came back through the well that time and asked to stay with me, by my acceptance I made my choice right then of where I wanted to be, and that hasn't changed."
Kagome sighed. "I suppose I lost sight of that, listening to other people," she flicked a quick glance his way as she finished with, "I should have paid attention."
"I said I needed you with me, Kagome, and I meant that I needed you... forever." He blushed at the connotations of what he'd just said, but did not retract his words.
Does... does he mean... what I think he means? the overwhelmed girl couldn't help but wonder as he stared into her eyes with an intense look sparking behind glowing gold like she'd never seen before from him.
"I-Inuyasha," she whispered, stunned and unable to look away from him for an instant, fear and hope surging up inside her throat. It was one thing for him to say he wanted to stay by her side, but entirely another to basically state how he wanted to stay by her side. After all, if he stayed with her forever then there really wouldn't be room for any other girls to be with him. She shook her head dazedly, barely aware of anything except his eyes until he gripped her hand again in his own.
"I..." he began before falling silent again, visibly shaking himself back to attention after a moment spent gathering his courage, "I need you to understand, Kagome, what I'm saying to you, because I can't go through these misunderstandings anymore between us. I want..." his voice dropped to a whisper, as well, "... I want to protect you forever. So... so if you really want me to do that, to be with you for the rest of our lives-" he blushed deeper but still didn't look away from the electrified miko, "-then let me know now. I have to hear it from you."
He was swamped by warm, crying Kagome, and he grabbed her arms to steady her as she almost fell over. She didn't allow him to hold onto her for long, though, practically forcing her way into his chest and wrapping her arms around his waist, careful not to pull at his hair.
"I've always wanted that, Inuyasha," her voice, muffled by his chest, was nonetheless audible for the intensity of the emotions within it, "always wanted to be by your side forever. From the moment I realized my feelings for you, and that's why I came back through the well and asked to stay by your side even though you'd chosen to protect Kikyou."
Her words and the obvious pain and fear that he heard clearly made him slump against her, as well, his head falling to land on her shoulder as he allowed his arms to wrap as tightly around her as she was clinging to him. "I never meant to hurt you," he murmured mournfully, hating the fact that she'd suffered so much to stay with him, and that he'd been unable to do anything about it.
"I know you didn't, Inuyasha," she replied after a moment. "And I know that you still have a debt to her," she began to pull away, but he yanked her back into his arms, smiling a little at her startled expression, "and that you can't really..." she paused, trying to come up with the right words, but then gave up and just said what she needed to say, "stay by my side until your past with her is settled, but I just want you to know that I'll continue to wait, and that my choice is the same now that it was back then – I'll stay by your side, even when you can't stay by mine."
"Kagome," he whispered, having to force his voice out through a throat tight with emotion. He shook his head, silver strands glinting in the light of her room and catching her eyes with their beauty. "Kagome, you don't understand. That time has passed. I can stay by your side. Yes, I do have a debt to Kikyou – to kill Naraku. But I need to do that for more than just her – I need to kill him for your sake, too – he's hurt you and tried to kill you, and I'm going to make him pay for that. And it's for Sango and Miroku's sake, too," he confessed, blushing a little but not looking away from the gaze she'd locked on to his when he'd said he could stay with her. "Naraku just needs to die, for all of us. But that debt to Kikyou has no bearing on the choice I've made to stay with you."
"Oh," she exhaled in wonder, her eyes searching his. "You would destroy Naraku for what he did to me, too?" It had never occurred to her that he would feel that way, since in her eyes what the spider hanyou had done to her was nothing in comparison to what he'd done to Kikyou.
"Keh!" he scowled, displeased that she would even need to ask that. "He's tried to take you away from me, Kagome – he's hurt you and even tried to kill you. I'd destroy anyone that did those things to you."
A shy smile washed across her face and she looked down, suddenly understanding so many things that she had missed before. "Oh," she repeated quietly. "Okay."
Inuyasha tilted her head back up so she had to look at him again, and he smiled just a little himself – because he knew then that she did understand now. She understood everything that he was saying and accepted it, too – and with that small "okay," she'd said everything that he needed to hear from her.
This wasn't Kikyou's story, and this wasn't Hojo's story – it was Kagome and Inuyasha's story. It had begun with 'Once upon a time' and it would end with, 'And they lived happily ever after'.
And it did.
A/N: I started this one shot a long time ago – about two years ago. But I got stuck on how to end it, and so it languished in the 'Various' folder for all the time since then. But a while ago I just got a little bit of a brain-wave, and suddenly I was able to finish it. So... yes, it's something that's old hat in a way – something that's still stuck on the Inuyasha-Kikyou-Kagome triangle. But... I hate leaving things unfinished, and I've been going over a lot of my unfinished stories in the last few weeks since I have managed to push past the worst of my year-long bout of writer's block, trying to complete them. Some I'm still not having a lot of luck with, such as Ever the Lotus, but others are working with me, and I plan to finish what I can and in doing so relieve some of my stress by being able to mark them 'completed' and move on from there.
Hope you all can forgive me for this throwback...
Dozo yoroshiku onegai shimasu,
(Please look kindly upon me)