Rating: PG-13 (This is an automatic rating; I use it as a default.)
Current status: 2 chapters (as of now, complete)
Author's Notes: You're going to ask about a sequel - I know you will. It's just inevitable. The answer is simple; I haven't decided yet. ^_^
Summary: Tragedy strikes along a stretch of road - two lives altered. Time can heal wounds and mend hearts - but it also ferments vivid memories, entrenching them so deeply one can never get away.
It's been almost ten years now. Ten long years, amazing how my memory won't let go of me. My life has been a torrent of things, activities, friendships, and people. Listen to me ramble on as though I'm dying or something...
I'm just being a silly woman now, aren't I?
I'm thinking about him again. I think about him every time I go there, to that great, looming hospital. It almost breaks my heart over and over again, but I've long since stopped crying. At least, on the outside.
Ah, wait there's a knock at the door, I better go for today.
"Kagome!" There came an impertinent shout from outside. The woman smiled weakly.
Every day he came. Every day. She walked slowly to the door and slid it open. Sure enough, there he stood.
"What took so long!? Even an old bat like you should answer the door faster than that," he chided.
She smiled. "Hi, Inuyasha. Where's Kikyo?"
"Keh! Home, she thinks she might be pregnant."
"Oh! Congratulations!" She immediately leapt on him, pinning him in a hug.
"Okay, okay, don't get all mushy. Anyway, this is for you from her. She says it's good for your health or something, I forget."
He handed over a covered dish and she took it gratefully.
"Come in, come in. Let's not loiter in the doorway."
She led him in, although he knew the way by now.
Masaharu Inuyasha was her neighbor. He and his wife Kikyo lived at the beachfront house next to hers. She'd met them, oh, maybe eight years ago. Inuyasha had, at first, been single. He'd, to her astonishment, tried to get her to go out with him many times, but she'd always refused. She couldn't date anymore. No matter what Inuyasha said about her being beautiful, it wasn't true. It just wasn't.
He'd met Kikyo a couple years later and she and the woman had become friends. They weren't great friends, not confidants, but they were casual around each other. Despite liking her, Kagome was never comfortable around the older woman and would never call her if she needed help. Even though Kikyo assured her it was okay to do so.
Besides, it didn't matter, she was okay by herself. Alone in her beach house with only her cat Buyo to keep her company and nursing a ten year old heartbreak. Sure, she was wonderful.
He plopped down onto a sofa and stared wistfully out her window.
"Everything okay, Inuyasha?"
"No." He replied, his tone grim. "You remember when we first met, right? All those years ago - that day when Miroku told you my name and you freaked out on me?"
She smiled fondly at the memory. "Yeah, I remember."
"Because you know my brother, right? Sesshoumaru."
Her smile vanished. "I used to. I haven't seen him in a very long time."
"Yeah... well... he's coming."
She sat up straighter. "What?"
"My brother is coming. To visit. Me."
She sat silently, mouth agape.
"Yeah, I was stunned too. Some lame idea of my father's. Anyway, he's coming in two days. I don't even know how my father got him to stay at the house with Kikyo and me. Probably threatened him with something. I just thought you'd like to know."
"I see." She stood. "Would you like a drink, Inuyasha?"
"I want to make sure you're okay. Go home for the week, visit your family. I'll even take you there, but don't stay."
She cast him a weak smile. "I can't do that. My family is away for the month, remember, and besides I don't want to go. This is my house; I won't let Sesshoumaru chase me away because of something that happened a long time ago."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it'll be all right." She managed to smile even though she knew it was going to be an awful week. Maybe she could just keep her doors locked; windows covered and pretend no one was home. Yet that wouldn't be possible either, Inuyasha and Kikyo came to see her just about everyday. Well, Inuyasha came everyday, Kikyo was more infrequent with her visits.
They settled into more comfortable conversation, mostly about what he was doing. After the typical half hour he stood to go and she smiled, waving him off. She remained at the door way long after he'd gone just staring out over the ocean. A storm was coming and for once she was glad. Usually they scared her, the wild, powerful gales off the ocean. They were cold and intimidating, but today she looked forward to it. She needed something else on her mind besides the fact the man she'd been hurting over the last ten years was going to be right next door for an entire week.
Sesshoumaru frowned irritably. His father was meddling in his life again, something he absolutely hated. This time he was being bothered about not spending enough time with his brother. As if he wanted to spend time with his lousy brother and that Kagome rip-off he'd married. He'd kept an eye on them. Kagome that is, he'd kept an eye on her since all those years ago.
Perhaps his actions were unforgivable, he wasn't certain. He intended to find out just how forgiving she could be when he visited next week. He'd been astonished to learn she was living beside his brother. He'd been stunned again when his brother met and married Yamada Kikyo, almost a duplicate in appearance to Higurashi Kagome.
He hadn't seen her, face to face, in so long. Not since the evening of the accident. Before then he'd always had fond memories of the snow, now it only brought him painful remembrances and guilt. The snow was always a favorite of Kagome's; he wondered if it still was.
A multitude of women had come and gone from his life since her, but no one had entered hers. She had been alone, without anyone, since it had happened. As though his guilt wasn't great enough.
The door behind him clicked open and he turned to see his father step in, a folder in his hands.
"I believe this is yours. You shouldn't leave such things lying around."
Sesshoumaru glanced at the folder his father dropped on the desk, momentarily flipping open the cover to see the contents. Had he been a man of lesser stature, he might have paled.
Instead, he glanced up just in time to see his father at the doorway, frowning at him.
"I wondered why it was you gave into seeing Inuyasha so easily."
Sesshoumaru unaccommodatingly said nothing in reply.
"Get over it," his father chastised. "Or if she means that much drag yourself back and ask her to forgive you. Kagome was always a nice girl."
"It's been ten years. She could be a bitter and resentful woman by now."
"Obviously you don't think so otherwise you wouldn't be so willing to go back."
Not willing to discuss it, Sesshoumaru did not make a reply and his father took the hint and left.
The folder was an ongoing collection of data he'd kept on her. What she was doing, who she knew, where she went, things like that. He'd had an investigator following her for years. It cost him a fortune, but he wouldn't let her go and he wouldn't go back.
That pup of a brother of his visited her daily. He would without a doubt tell her he was coming. Whether or not she skipped town might be a good indicator of how she would receive him. He stepped forward, closing the folder and depositing it in his briefcase. He had to get home; he was leaving tomorrow for his brother's by air. He was going to stay at a hotel in town until he was set to 'stay' with his brother. He rued the day.
He clasped it closed and walked out, waving off his secretary for the night as the office closed down. He paused briefly as he stepped outside glancing up. It looked like it might snow.
Kagome frowned, staring out the window. The storm wasn't quite what she expected. She had thought of rain and billowing winds but... this was snow. She wound her way to the kitchen, peering out over the sink window stopping cold when her eyes landed on a figure there. In the driveway near the side of the house a figure stood. She could never mistake that tall, male figure for anyone else.
He was standing, bags at his feet near Kikyo's car. His eyes were directed toward her house steadily and she crept back from the window, off to one side, hiding in the darkness. She hoped he couldn't see her.
Why was he staring over here like that? Did he know? No, that was the last thing she needed. He leaned down picking up the one suitcase and the other, which she now realized, was a briefcase and started walking toward the side door. She watched him walk up the stairs and knock. Moments later the door opened and Kikyo seemed to say something. He made some kind of reply and stepped past her closing the door and blocking Kagome's view. So that was it.
Masaharu Sesshoumaru was right next-door. The only man she'd loved her entire life was right over there. She tried to forget. To busy herself in her living room putting together a 3-D puzzle of a train station she'd gotten from her brother, but her mind wandered. Sesshoumaru was so close. She wanted to run. She wanted to cry all over again. How could she be feeling this way again? She promised herself she wouldn't.
She ran her sensitive fingertips over the uneven, damaged skin, almost cringing at the feel. Some days she just couldn't get used to it and some days it was like she'd always been this way. She remembered it all too well. The skid, the impact, the fire, the coma, the hospital, and the abandonment. Maybe the latter more than the others.
She'd told herself she couldn't blame him, over and again, for leaving her. She was permanently disfigured and Sesshoumaru was a beautiful man, he couldn't be seen with her. No one would want to. She'd swallowed that bitter pill many times.
She turned making her way to the bathroom and stared up into her reflection and her hand pressed against the right side of her face covering the pink, scarred tissue and the long vertical scar. They weren't the worst of her injuries, but the burn marks and scars hadn't faded.
She stepped away from the bathroom mirror and headed back toward the living room closing the blinds as she did so. She switched on her table lamp settling down on the floor with her puzzle once again fumbling distractedly with the foam pieces. Putting puzzles together was something she was neither good at or enjoyed, but it had been a gift from her brother. She had never put a 3-D puzzle together before and was curious how it would look.
It was difficult though. She'd lost sight in her right eye ten years ago in the accident. Not only was she maimed for life she was also partially blind as well.
She sighed, dropping her head onto the table despairingly. She hated living alone, but she couldn't bear to have a house mate either. She'd tried and found she couldn't handle the stress of someone staring at her all the time, even if they didn't mean to, they did. She sighed again; picking herself up she began scooping all her unused pieces back into the box. Maybe tomorrow she'd have more luck with the puzzle. She stood, wandering into the kitchen and grabbing a pot.
Soup was nice. It was snowing out and she loved soup, especially on cold days. Chicken soup, her favorite black and red plaid blanket, and a romance novel - oh she was a sucker for a good romance novel. Not the tacky romance books with the half naked women on the covers, but the true love stories. They truly touched her heart, temporarily filling a void in her life she couldn't get past.
She smiled to herself as she ransacked her pantry searching for some soup only to discover - she was out. She scowled heading to the freezer, she'd just have to make some. She'd frozen some chicken broth not too long ago. She dug out the clear plastic and popped it in the microwave for a minute, nuking it just long enough so the block of broth slid out into the pan. She turned on the heat and hummed as she collected more ingredients for her soup.
A half hour later she was parked on her couch with a large smile, her soup resting on the arm of the couch, the steam warming her face. She'd left it in the pot, too lazy to dirty another dish that she'd have to wash, so she'd just grabbed a spoon. She sipped her soup contentedly staring out the front window. Her front window was her favorite - she loved to sit and stare out it for hours. It faced directly over the ocean.
Once the soup pot was empty she carted it back to the kitchen and curled up with her blanket reaching for her book again. She had two entire rooms just full of books. She didn't go out very much and bought a lot of books off the Internet; once she read them she categorized them. 'Good books' and books that 'weren't so good'.
She'd already read this one, but it was one of her favorites. It was a historical romance set in old Europe somewhere about a woman being the governess of her employer's dead brother's children. It was a nice story, she loved it. She'd just ordered some new books last week but they hadn't arrived yet and she expected the snow would slow their delivery, but there was nothing she could do about that. She often got on the Internet to read, but didn't spend too much time online, the screen hurt her eyes if she sat for long periods of time.
So here she sat, staring out the window wondering what *he* was doing. Did he know she was here? Would he come to see her? Would he avoid her?
Would he ever leave her head? Would she ever let him?
Sesshoumaru barely kept from scowling. He hadn't come to his brother's wedding, so he'd never met this woman, Kikyo, before. He'd not come partially because he could care less his brother had taken a wife and partially because he knew Kagome had been in attendance and he didn't want to see her. Not face to face like that in front of a crowd. If they were going to meet it would be by his choosing and alone. Just them.
He didn't regret the choice though, not going to the wedding. He didn't like this woman. There was an underlining arrogance to everything she did, something Kagome had never had. Maybe that's why he immediately disliked her; she looked too much like Kagome. Her bitter attitude cast badly on Kagome simply by their being so close in appearance.
Dinner was quick, quiet affair. After which he'd claimed to be tired and been shown to a small guest room. He frowned at the accommodations, but his brother had little money. This house had been given to him by their father to keep him from making trouble in the city, and primarily, to get him out of the way. It was small, but it did Inuyasha a lot of good. He'd settled down a lot here although he suspected Kagome had much to do with Inuyasha's change of attitude.
He walked to the window and stared out. He was lucky to have a view of her house, he would have thought his brother would try to keep him from seeing her but he was beginning to think Inuyasha didn't realize exactly whom Kagome was.
He and Kagome had been very seriously involved once, but Inuyasha had never met her to his knowledge during that period. He wasn't sure if his brother even knew her name, his father had known however.
He stared down at the house noting all the shades were drawn except the one in the kitchen. His gaze sharpened when he noticed a figure moving around in the dim kitchen, he wondered if she was cooking.
He smiled. When he'd discovered Kagome had an interest in the place he'd done everything he could to get it. He'd spent a fortune buying that property and took a huge loss by arranging it to be sold to her, but it was what she wanted. He owed her, at the very least, some comfort. His father had been very supportive of the decision and accepted the loss of capital.
Tomorrow he would go see her. Tomorrow he determined, wondering why he suddenly had an ache for sake. Was he actually nervous? He bit his own lip irritably. Damn.
Kagome rose early as she typically did and dressed. With a yawn and a stretch she gathered her things and headed outside for her morning walk. It was still snowing. She loved the snow. The snow had caused this - made her life such a quiet, desperate thing, but she still loved it. She'd long accepted this was her fate; it was just a little hard sometimes.
She stepped out onto the sand pulling her jacket tighter around her. That was another thing she loved at the beach, it was always colder there than farther inland. She enjoyed the cold. Sometimes she stayed out until she was numb. Inuyasha had found her that way, once or twice. She worried him a lot, especially since she knew he cared about her. She was lucky to have him.
She didn't walk far, not willing or interested in venturing away from the house. Not with the chance she'd run into Sesshoumaru. He was really quite slick. She turned to enter the house, stopping when she noticed a small package on her doorstep. It hadn't been there before...
She looked around. Who had -?
Seeing no one, she picked up the parcel and examined it. The only thing on the small white label was her name. "Higurashi Kagome."
She stepped inside, moving to the counter to slice open the cardboard package. It looked like someone might have wanted to mail it and changed their mind considering the address label held nothing but her name. Inside, past the annoying packaging, was a book. A poetry book, she corrected. She blinked. She had never really liked poetry.
She flipped open the cover, almost missing the sliver of paper that fanned out, dancing it's way to the floor. She set the book aside picking up the delicate sheet. It was stationary, not of the sort used by manufacturers or by an invoice department. It looked like personal stationary. There was a string of green ivy across the top of the page but the letterhead was missing.
"I once thought 'condemnation' and 'forgiveness' were nothing more than words."
That was it. The page said nothing else. She frowned. Was this ... from Sesshoumaru? She suddenly had an urge to run to the corner and catch the first bus to the train station and spend the next two weeks at home.
Forgiveness? Holding the slip of paper she walked to the window, pulling on the shade and allowing it to snap up. Forgiveness? She peered out toward Inuyasha's. Did he want to be forgiven? She caught movement suddenly above and noticed a figure staring down at her and she uneasily stared back. That was him. He was staring right at her. Was this paper from him? Did he want her to forgive him?
She turned away sadly stepping away from the window.
Forgive him for what? She wondered. For leaving her at the hospital? That had hurt, but she understood. There was no need to forgive him for that; she was torturing herself over it now. It was long over, she couldn't hold him to blame anymore for that, only herself.
Was... was he still hurting over that incident too?
It seemed too much to hope. Even if he was, he'd never want her now. No one would ever want her again. She tucked the paper inside the book and retreated to the bath. She suddenly had the urge to sink very low in a cold bath.
There was the knock, several hours later. She stepped out of her kitchen making her way to the door expecting Inuyasha. He did not disappoint, but his face was drawn.
"You look stressed." She couldn't help the laugh. Inuyasha ... stressed? The man didn't work for a living he just hung out, occasionally attempting to paint something. She smiled.
"Keh! If Sesshoumaru was your brother, you'd be stressed." He grinned inviting himself in, but he was welcome to. She followed him inside watching as he plopped down casually. "So, Kagome. Tell me about how you know my brother."
Her head snapped up. "What?"
"We were never close; Sesshoumaru and me, but I know him a little. I know when something's bothering him a lot because he acts different subtly. He's been staring over here a lot, so I asked him. He said nothing. Then I asked about you and he told me to 'mind my own damn business'. So I thought I'd ask you."
She smiled weakly. "You want to know how I know Sesshoumaru?" She whispered. "I love him."
She didn't realize she hadn't used the past tense of the word 'love' although she had meant to.
"Love him?" Inuyasha sputtered, suddenly sitting forward.
"I met him at college. I had wanted to open a restaurant once, but decided that wasn't for me and transferred to another college. I met your brother on campus while I pursued a teaching career. I remember he was the most arrogant guy I'd ever met. We didn't get along well at first really. He didn't so much as glance in my direction twice and I wanted to avoid him because he made me uneasy... well, circumstances were against us.
"We were accidentally locked in the classroom one night and had to deal with each other. It was a holiday; we were lucky one of the staff dropped by the next morning since we were in an upstairs room. We were rescued, but we didn't fall madly in love or anything. He 'tolerated' me and I discovered he wasn't such a jerk after all, but a really lonely guy. So I pursued him, and just generally did everything in my power to annoy him. I won him over eventually and he cracked a bit, softening little by little. Don't tell him I said that though.
"I was in the library one day - returning some romance novel I'd picked up. I've always loved them. Sesshoumaru came around a corner, plucking the book from my hands. He made some off comment about women who read romance novels and I got, predictably, offended over the remark. He just grinned at me, looming over me like he always did and make another remark about 'unrealistic fantasies' or something. I opened my mouth to reply - and he kissed me. It was the happiest moment of my life, being kissed right there in the middle of the library. After that, we were sort of an item I guess.
"Sesshoumaru was going on a weekend trip and asked me to go. I said yes, I was all excited. On the way there though, it started snowing and conditions only got worse the farther we traveled-"
"The car wreck? Y-You mean you're the woman from the car wreck in the mountains?! No freaking way!" He exclaimed.
Kagome nodded. "I am."
Inuyasha swallowed hard. "Wow... that explains a thing or two. I always wondered why they made such a fuss over it, no offense. I didn't realize that you and he were... together. He never said anything to me about it."
"I'm not surprised."
"If he finds out I told you he'll kick my ass but, well he'll try to kick my ass," he corrected smugly. "He keeps your picture."
"I saw it yesterday. He left his briefcase on the counter when he went to his room and so I popped it open and looked through his stuff."
"Inuyasha!" She scolded. "You shouldn't do that!"
"Keh! He's my brother besides he's done it to me anyway. I heard him coming before I could do anything but flip open a folder on top of his stuff and there was your picture."
She couldn't think of a reply.
"Do you still love him?" Inuyasha's question was sedate and hesitant.
"It's been ten years Inuyasha. I haven't allowed any man except you to get close to me in all that time so... yes. I think I still love him, clinging to the only memory of a love I have while being afraid to welcome anyone new."
He seemed to frown at her response.
"I'm sorry; I see that doesn't make you very happy. Don't worry about Sesshoumaru. I doubt I'll see him."
She didn't mention the book or the paper slip. He stayed with her just short of a half hour bantering on with their usual liveliness but there was a cloud of tension in the air. She waved him off as he left, once again noting a figure at the window, but she turned away. Was he going to spy on her the entire week he was staying?
Author's Notes: Hey! I'm alive!
No updates - just this new piece. Don't worry though about waiting weeks for updates on this one though, it's finished. It's a one-shot carefully cut into two pieces. I'll post the second part next week after editing. Plus, I have an exam on Monday so time is short for me lately.
Prisoner, My Prisoner is more than half done, but I have to go back and add scenes I left out and I'm not looking forward to it so I've sort of been avoiding it.
I haven't even looked at Blind Stitch My Heart in weeks. I have no idea what I'm doing with that. I'm seriously thinking about axing the last five chapters and completely removing Naraku. I don't know why I made it so complicated on myself.
Corrections, suggestions, ideas, questions, comments - feel free to voice your mind in a review. All comments welcome, *but*, unfounded and unhelpful criticism ignored, and people shouting about how S/K is impossible and other offensive remarks are denied acknowledgement. Catch you later.