Disclaimer - Feh. If you haven't figured it out already . . . *gets knocked on the head* Ow . . . dang it, alright already Inu . . . *sighs* I don't own any of them.



Author's Note - This had to be the most depressing piece I've ever written. A friend was speculating with me the other day on why I wrote this, and why I like InuYasha so much . . . and we came to a rather surprising conclusion . . . I can sympathize with Kagome. Certain instances in my life are reflected in her . . . and especially in the love triangle between her, Kikyo, and Inu. Scary, isn't it.





Chapter 3 - Unraveling the Knots





InuYasha awoke suddenly, a sense of foreboding filling him. 'What the hell . . .' he wondered, stretching his senses. He could sense no demons in the area . . . only Kagome's scent hovered near . . . wait. Kagome's scent. It wasn't as close nearby as it should be. He glanced around, panicked. Where was she? Pale paper lying on top of her sleeping bag caught his attention, and he walked over to scoop them up.

One word shouted out to him. 'Goodbye.'

"Oh, gods . . . Kagome, NO!" he whispered, the letters falling from his hand. He had to find her, quickly, before she did something irreparable. How could she think of doing this? Oh gods, he had to find her!

He raced along the forest, following the feint trail of her scent. He stopped short as he broke through the trees and came to the cliff overlooking the lake. There she stood, her back to him, her arms stretched out to her sides, as if she was preparing to fly.

"Kagome, don't do this," he whispered. She whirled towards him, her eyes wide in shock.

"InuYasha . . ." she whispered brokenly, tears falling silently from her eyes. "Oh, Gods, why did you have to wake up? Please . . . this is for the best . . ."

"THE BEST?! The best for WHO, Kagome? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK THIS IS GONNA SOLVE?!" he roared, suddenly angered. She shook her head in agony, her arms hugging herself as she faced him.

"It's the best . . . for all of us. You, me . . . Kikyo . . . you don't need me . . . you never have . . . oh, InuYasha, I'm so tired of standing in your shadow . . ." she murmured, shivering.

"And what about the shard's Kagome? What about our quest? Are you willing to just abandon it for your own selfishness?" The minute he said it, he regretted it . . . but he wanted something, anything from her but this overwhelming despair . . . if he could keep her talking, maybe he could stop this . . . He got what he wanted. At the mention of the shards, Kagome's face got whiter, her eyes darkening with anger.

"The SHARDS! THAT"S ALL IT'S EVER BEEN ABOUT WITH YOU, ISN'T IT? YOU AND YOUR GODS BE DAMNED SHARDS!" She fell to her knees, sobbing in agony and rage. "Damn you, InuYasha . . . gods, I wish I didn't love you . . ."

InuYasha's jaw fell open in shock. She . . . she loved him? Oh, gods, she loved him! He approached her slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements that might send her back over the edge into despair.

"Kagome . . ." he whispered, filling his voice with a careful neutrality, "Kagome . . . it's never been just about the shards . . . I do need you . . . and so do the others . . . please, don't do this . . . don't do this to us . . ."

"What 'us' InuYasha?" her broken voice answered him. "There never was an 'us'. It's always been, and always will be, you and . . . and Kikyo. There's no room for me in your heart . . . I know that now. And oh, how it hurts to finally admit it . . . but I'm so tired, InuYasha. I'm so tired of fooling myself, of hoping for something that can never be . . . of standing in the shadows and watching you go to her again and again. It HURTS, InuYasha. It hurts . . . knowing that you'll never love me as you love her . . . knowing that when this is all over, she'll take you to hell with her and I'll never see you again. Oh, gods, how it hurts," she moaned, rocking back and forth on her knees in an attempt to relieve the overwhelming agony ripping through her.

'To hell with this,' InuYasha thought, and leaning down, grabbed her up against his chest, pressing her close to his heart, ignoring her brief struggles to get loose. At last, she sagged against him, her breath hitching as great sobs shook her frame in his arms. He held her tightly, one arm wrapped around her waist, the other hand running gently over her hair in what he hoped was a soothing motion. How had they come to this? Gods . . . just thinking about what she had been about to do scared him. What in the world was going through her head? Had . . . Had HE driven her to this?

That thought froze him. He HAD driven her to this. This . . . this was his fault, he just knew it. 'Oh, Kagome . . . what have I done to you?' he wondered in despair. 'How can I have not seen this . . . how do I help her when I'm the cause . . . gods, I don't know.'

"Kagome . . ." he whispered, "I . . . I said goodbye to Kikyo the other night. She . . . she isn't the woman I knew. And . . . I came to a realization, too. I . . . oh gods, Kagome, I love you." He stared down at her, meeting her disbelieving gaze with his own. Following an impulse, he leaned down, and claimed her lips with his own. He poured everything he had into it . . . his sorrow, his regret, his fear . . . his love, trying to make her see what he needed her to see.



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



You . . . you're holding me so tight, as if afraid to let go. I'm so confused . . . what do you mean, you need me? You've never needed me . . . well, except to find shards. Oh gods, this hurts so much . . . why did you have to find me? Why couldn't you stay asleep until I was gone?

Wait . . . you . . . you said goodbye to Kikyo? What do you mean? Oh . . . oh, someone pinch me, cause this must be a dream . . . you love me? No . . . no, you don't love me, you've never loved me, you love Kikyo . . . don't you? Oh, gods, why does this always happen to me? I . . .

Your lips . . . on mine . . . I can taste tears. Are they mine, or are you crying too? Oh, if I could freeze one moment in time, it would be this one . . . I can sense you are trying to tell me something through this kiss. That you're sorry for not loving me? That you're afraid for me? Don't do this, don't lie to me InuYasha . . . I can't take it if you lie to me . . . not now.

Can you feel it? Can you feel my heart, beating as if it was going to burst? Can you feel how much I love you . . . how much I care about you, and want to be with you always? Oh, if only you could. Maybe . . . maybe we could get past this, if only . . . if only you loved me as much as I love you. Do you love me, InuYasha? Do you love ME? ME . . . Kagome, not Kikyo? Not the reincarnation, but who I am and always have been? Tell me, please, tell me that you love me.



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



It was a kiss filled with desperation, anxiety, longing . . . pain. The salt of tears . . . the warmth and softness of her lips . . . InuYasha pulled back, gasping for air as he stared down into her glazed eyes. He ran a gentle hand across her cheek, reveling in the softness of her skin before pulling her back into a softer, gentler kiss.

"I love you Kagome," he whispered against her lips. "I'm so sorry . . . that I caused you this pain. I . . . I never meant to do this to you . . . I've been so blind. Please . . . please don't leave me in the shadows again. You . . .you are my light, my haven . . . I can't be without you, Kagome." She sobbed brokenly against his lips, her arms wrapping tightly around his neck as she pressed into him, needing his warmth, his comfort.

"Oh, gods, InuYasha . . . tell me I'm not dreaming this . . . I love you so much . . . I can't take this anymore . . . please, please don't lie to me . . . not now."

"Never again . . . never, ever again, Kagome. I'm done with deceiving myself . . . I love you, and only you. Please . . . you must believe me, Kagome. I . . . I can't do this without you . . . I need you . . . I love you." He clasped her tighter, burying his face in her hair as he prayed desperately to whatever gods would listen to a hanyou that she would hear him, and believe. He felt her collapse against him, a heart-rending cry bursting out of her throat as he caught her up tightly against his chest, her tears a cleansing rain of the pain she'd been hiding for so long now. He held her to him, scooping her up in his arms and carrying her back to the camp, where he promptly leapt into the nearest tree, bearing his precious cargo with him. He settled on a wide branch in the lower boughs of the tree, Kagome nestled firmly on his lap, her head resting just below his chin.

"I'll never let you go, Kagome . . . never," he whispered fiercely, his arms tight around her, his eyes like molten gold as he stared out over the lake.

"InuYasha . . ." she whispered, her voice hoarse with tears.

"Hush now," he commanded her gently. "Rest. All of this . . . we can discuss all of this in the morning, under the light of day. For now . . . gods, for now just let me hold you, and pretend that we have the rest of our lives ahead of us, with no Naraku, no jewel shards, and no Kikyo. I love you, Kagome."

"I love you InuYasha," she sighed, resting her weary head against his chest, listening to the sound of his heart pounding in his chest comfortingly. "Don't let me go . . ."

"I never will, Kagome. I never will . . . not without one hell of a fight." Glancing down, he noticed her even breathing, her closed eyes and parted lips, still red from his kiss. "Come out of the darkness, Kagome . . . come out of the shadows and be my light again."



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



Dawn arose, painting the sky with reds, oranges, and yellows in a dazzling array of color. InuYasha watched it carefully as it played over his sleeping charge, revealing in the light of day the stains of tears on her skin, and the dark shadows below her eyes. Sighing, he leaned back against the tree trunk, Kagome held gently but firmly in his arms. The first step had been taken . . . goaded by crisis, but taken, none the less. They still had a long road ahead of them . . . so much pain and despair that needed to be swept aside and overcome, but he knew they could do it . . . as long as they were together. He hugged her slightly, memorizing the feel of her body in his arms. He would not leave her . . . not ever, no matter what happened, he would stay by her side. They would begin healing the past that had left them scarred . . . and they would do it together. In the end, that was all that mattered.



*finis*



AN - I couldn't just leave it sad . . . but I couldn't make it an overwhelmingly happy ending either. They have a lot of misunderstanding to work out. Hope you enjoyed, and please review : )