Disclaimer - Yeah, I wish I owned InuYasha. Doesn't everyone?



AN - Something that popped into my head while I was working on Starlight and Shadows, and I just had to get it out. Of course, I didn't expect it to be nearly as long as it turned out . . . seems to be a standard. My muse gets to pounding on my head, and just doesn't stop sometimes. But I love him anyway. So, here it is, a very dark / romantic fic . . . and as always, please review when you are done.



Oh, btw . . . there are hints of suicide, so, try to control yourselves. I, personally, do not condone suicide . . . but I won't go into that. Now, I swap back and forth between being a GOD narrator and Kagome talking to InuYasha in her mind in her POV. I think the changes are pretty obvious, but if they aren't, let me know.



Chapter 1 - All Tied Up





InuYasha . . . why?

I find myself asking that question more and more these days. I stare at you, across the embers of the dying fire, and I can't help it. My thoughts return over and over again to the scenes that haunt my dreams - Kikyo trying to take you to hell, Kikyo and you kissing, Kikyo holding a knife to your throat after you told her you would protect her . . .

I just can't get them out of my head. I swore that I would stand by you till the end . . . but why do I feel like you never see me? Like I'm just outside your line of sight, in the shadows that Kikyo casts over you, and only when that light is gone do you remember I'm even there. I'm your friend, I'm Kagome . . . I'm the woman keeping you from Kikyo. That's how you see me, right? If it weren't for me, you would be free to go to hell with Kikyo. Well, okay, if it weren't for me and Naraku. Funny, isn't it . . . me and Naraku lumped together in the same category. Never thought me and that filth would have something in common . . . but I guess, in a very vague way, we do.

So, again, I ask - why, InuYasha? Why are you willing to go to hell with Kikyo? I know you feel like you owe her . . . but is that all? Or is it that you still love her, even though she is dead and trying to kill you now? Why can't you see that I love you too . . . and I want you to live?

Gods, why do I keep doing this to myself? I'm nothing to you . . . just a shard detector. If anything beyond that . . . I'm that annoying girl from the future that keeps getting herself into situations you have to save her from. So, why am I still standing in the shadows? Why am I still letting you trample all over my heart? Why don't I move out of the shadows, and into my own light?

Because I want to be in your shadows . . . I want anything I can have with you. Maybe it's because I know that, when it's all said and done . . . my memories will be the only thing I have left.



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InuYasha tried to ignore Kagome's gaze from across the fire, but it was hard . . . much harder then he'd ever thought it would be. What was the girl thinking about? And why the hell did she have to stare at him, of all things?! He shifted irritably, debating on jumping into a nearby tree, but stopped short of doing it. He didn't want her to think she'd forced him into fleeing.

Things had been like this for the past couple hours now, ever since he'd come back to camp after the earlier run in with Kikyo. He didn't know if Kagome had been there to witness it or not . . . he hadn't found any sign of her, but hell . . . she'd been there every other damn time, so why not this one time when it had mattered most? He had said goodbye to Kikyo . . . told her that, while he would still protect her, he intended only to see her return peacefully to death's eternal slumber . . . so that he could be free to be with Kagome.

He wished that Miroku, Sango, and Shippo were there with them. Kagome would be distracted by the little kitsune, and by the antics of the lecherous monk and the exterminator, and he could think on his own. As it was, her gaze, while glued on him, was not on him at all . . . it was like she was looking through him. He glanced at her again, noting how the firelight played over her beautiful features . . . but even in the firelight her eyes remained shadowed and dark, lacking that sparkle of life and laughter that he found so entrancing. What could he do to draw her out of the shadow of her thoughts, and into the light?

He shifted as she moved suddenly, leaving her place by the fire to settle into her sleeping bag. He caught a faintly whispered "Good Night, InuYasha." before she turned her back to him and settled in to sleep. He resisted the urge to sigh in relief when her gaze was off him, and instead shifted to lay down nearby, instead of flying off into a tree. He felt the need to stay near to her tonight . . . as if something in his soul told him that if he went too far away, she would be gone before he realized it. Lying on his stomach, staring into the fire, he reviewed the last few days in his head.



*--------*--------*--------*--------*



(2 days previous)

"Kagome! Would you stay out of the way, you baka!" he shouted as he slashed down at the youkai, rushing back into the battle after having rescued her from a claw swipe that could very well have severed her head from her shoulders. Miroku and Sango were already down for the count, having been caught unawares as they walked up ahead, and Shippo lay nearby in a heap where the youkai had flung him against a tree. That left it up to Kagome and InuYasha to settle this, and the damn thing had three shards, which was making it more than difficult. InuYasha charged in, the Tetsusiaga cleaving through flesh and bone easily, but the damn monster regenerated nearly as fast as he could wound it.

"Damn it . . . would you just fricking DIE already!" he growled, as the youkai caught him in a glancing blow on the shoulder.

"InuYasha! The shards . . . they're in it's THROAT!"

"Oh for the love of . . . of all the places for them to be . . ." he grumbled, staggering to his feet with the Tetsusiaga's help. The youkai had it's back to him, menacing Kagome, and InuYasha felt his rage build. "Don't you DARE touch KAGOME!" he snarled, leaping onto the thing's back and burying his sword up to it's hilt in the tough skin. He was less then amused when it crashed over onto it's back, crushing him under it before it rolled off and continued it's stalk of Kagome.

Rather than run, Kagome stood there, her bow held at ready, an arrow set to fly. It began to give off the powerful glow of her miko powers, just before she let it fly. It hit the youkai head on. The youkai howled as it's flesh began to burn under the purifying energy, and made one last attempt to reach it's tormentor. Much to InuYasha's horror, as he was struggling back to his feet, the blow landed, sending Kagome flying into the woods.

"KAGOME!" InuYasha howled, staggering as he tried to make it in time to intercept her. It was only then, as his body refused to cooperate with him, that he realized something that had been growing on his mind for a while now . . . he loved Kagome. He didn't stop to think about this new found revelation, however . . . he quickly made sure the youkai was done for, removing it's shards before rushing over to Kagome.

"Kagome . . . WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING!?" he snarled, his fear for her coming out in anger now that the battle was over.

"Saving your hide, you pompous, arrogant, stubborn . . . oh, just SIT!" Kagome yelled back, standing as the rosary pulled him into the ground with crushing intensity.

"WENCH! If you hadn't gotten in the way, I would have been fine!" he growled, attempting to pick himself up against the spell's effects. Due to this, he didn't see the look of hurt that crossed Kagome's face at his words.

"I'm sorry . . . I was in the way. I was only trying to help," she whispered, staring down at his sprawled form, tears forming in her eyes.

"YOU'RE ALWAYS IN THE WAY!" InuYasha flinched as that came out. That wasn't what he had meant to say . . . damn it, his mouth was running away with him again. Kagome was silent, and he listened in horror as she said nothing, but turned and walked away to check on the others.



*--------*--------*--------*--------*



That was the reason the others weren't with them . . . they were still healing up, even Shippo. Kagome and his relationship had been strained since then . . . they barely spoke to each other, and when they did, it was only when necessary. Then, tonight he had caught Kikyo's scent. He didn't remember what excuse he had made to Kagome before taking off . . . but he was sure it hadn't fooled her . . . she wasn't blind, and she had to have noticed how agitated he was. He only wondered why, just this once, she hadn't done the normal thing and followed him. Did she not care anymore?

Suddenly, he caught the scent of salt and water, and his mind froze. She was crying . . . he hated it when she cried. He never knew what to do about it . . . how was he supposed to deal with her like that? Sighing, he settled down and tried to ignore the scent, burying his nose in his crossed arms, his ears flattened to his head to block out her sobs. He didn't know how to deal with this . . . he never did, and usually he only made it worse. The best thing he could do was leave it alone for now.



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Why? Why, oh why, can't I get you out of my heart? Momma never told me love could hurt so much . . . how could one emotion bring such pleasure, and yet such total pain! Gods, why did I have to fall in love with you, InuYasha?

I'm laying over here, sobbing in the shadows, as you lay in the light . . . that's always the way it's going to be, isn't it? I will always remain in the shadows . . . while Kikyo is your light. How can I keep torturing myself like this? How can I keep loving you . . . knowing that eventually you'll go to hell with her?

Someone once said that love is a serious mental disease . . . oh how right they were! It defies all logic, all known reason!

You said I'm always in the way . . . that's true, isn't it? But you weren't just talking about battles, were you? You were talking about how I'm in the way of you being with Kikyo, too . . . I'm sure of it. That's why I didn't follow you when you went to her tonight . . . I'm not going to be in the way anymore . . . at least not where that's concerned. Once the jewel is whole, I'll go back to my time, and then I'll be out of your way forever. Maybe . . . maybe I can find someone to love back there, who will see me as THEIR light as you do Kikyo. Hojo . . . maybe him. He's dull . . . more than dull compared to you . . . actually, he's the total opposite of you . . . but maybe that's what I need to get over you. He's only a friend . . . but maybe I can learn to love him. He certainly seems to like me enough . . . and he's always so sweet and kind. He's nothing compared to you . . . but then, no one is.

I'll miss Miroku . . . even if he is a lech. At least he's always honest . . . and sweet. I'll miss Sango . . . she's the older sister I never had. And of course I'll miss Shippo . . . so much like Souta, even if he is a youkai. He's almost like a son to me. But, I have to go back. I don't belong here . . . I never could . . . not without you.

Oh, how I wish I could just tell you all of this. It might feel so good . . . just to get all these pent up emotions and frustrations out and off my chest, so to speak.

To hell with all of this. I wish I could say I hate you InuYasha . . . but I can't, and I never will. I'll probably always love you . . .



*--------*--------*--------*--------*



She'd fallen asleep. InuYasha sighed with relief, relaxing from his stiff posture and rolling over to stare up at the canopy of stars far above. So much misunderstanding lay between him and Kagome . . . he didn't know where he should begin to untangle the fitful knot of emotions that was there.

'Well, you could start by being nicer to her, and stop calling her bitch and wench . . . she has a name, you know,' the irritating voice of his conscience spoke up.

"Feh," he muttered, having to admit for once that the voice was right. He really was usually such an ass to her . . . but it had been the only way he could think of to deal with these new emotions springing up inside him. Denial, after all, could be a wonderful thing sometimes. How could he explain to her that this last time, when he'd gone to Kikyo, it had been to say goodbye? Would she even believe him if he told her that?

'No, probably not,' he thought, snorting at his own stupidity. After all, she'd caught him in an awkward, loving position with his past love how many times now? Why would she believe that this time had been any different? Rising swiftly to his feet, he added more wood to the fire and then began to pace around the edge of the clearing, his thoughts running madly through his head.

Gods, this was even more frustrating than finally admitting he loved her. He'd admitted it to himself . . . now he had the obstacle of admitting it to her . . . and making her believe it. How the hell did he get himself into this mess? Oh, wait, scratch that question . . . he knew damn well how he'd gotten himself here. By insisting that he still loved Kikyo, and treating Kagome like she was just a shard detector. Yeah, okay, so he wasn't the brightest person in the world when it came to relationships . . . he would be the first to admit that . . . especially in light of his current circumstances. But now what the hell was he supposed to do? Settling down in a nearby tree to keep his eye on things, he sighed. It was gonna be a long night . . . and his mind was gonna be doing all the work.