In The Night

And in the night, I could be helpless,
I could be lonely, sleeping without you.
-When You're Gone, The Cranberries

"Do you have to go?"

Her voice was so soft, he almost could have believed that he had imagined it, under the hum of the air conditioner. But her eyes turned to him and he knew he hadn't imagined it…she had spoken…she had asked him to…

…to stay?

"Why should I stay?" he countered, his own voice quiet for some reason, as if it knew his words should be quiet and clear even if he didn't.

She looked back at the lines on her comforter, tracing a random line with her index finger until it disappeared under her foot where it crossed under her. She shrugged. "Why do you have to go?"

He looked around her room, listening to the quiet sounds of sleeping breathing in the various rooms, except Souta's…he was playing that video-game that took up so much of his attention. "I'm not needed here," he answered simply, looking out the window.

The sharpness with which Kagome rose her head caught his peripheral vision and drew his attention back to her. "But you are," she argued.

He shook his head and opened his mouth, but she didn't let him speak.

"Inuyasha," she started insistently. "I feel safe when you sleep here," she admitted feelingly. His eyes opened a little in shock at her barefaced confession. She saw the shock in his eyes and lowered her head again, the blush spreading from her forehead to her neck. Swallowing, she made a visible effort to continue talking. "I guess I'm used to it now," she continued, "but I don't sleep as soundly if I don't know you're nearby…" her voice was growing considerably softer and harder to hear, and although a human right next to her might have trouble hearing her, Inuyasha's youkai hearing had very little trouble making out her words in the silent house. He was having far more trouble processing her words, however.

Shaking himself out of his shock, Inuyasha did his best to school his features into looking like someone who hadn't just hoped she had meant those words in a different way. "I…"

"And in the night," she started, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, still looking studiously at the comforter under her. "I could be helpless…" her voice was stronger, as if she had tapped into an unknown reserve of force. Slowly, her head rose, inch by tormenting inch, until her gaze was locked on Inuyasha's. He saw the twinkling of tears in the light of her bedside table mere seconds before the scent of tears assailed his senses. "I could be lonely…" she continued, blinking the tears back. "Sleeping without you near." She stood and stopped a mere inches away from him, looking up at him. "Did you ever think of that?"

"Kagome," he whispered warningly. He started to step away from her, but her hand suddenly took hold of his wrist and he was caught by such surprise, he didn't even consider breaking out of her grasp, even though all his senses were warning him to escape.

"No," she wrapped her hand around his wrist to keep him where he was. "Please, just listen to me?" she asked.

Inuyasha shook his head. "You don't have to…"

"But I want to," she interrupted. That said, she exhaled, seemingly having lost her resolve and let go of his hand as if it burned. "I'm sorry…" she mumbled, sitting back on her bed. "It's just…I wonder sometimes if you know…"

He was waiting for her to finish her sentence and when she didn't, he stepped closer to her, within sight of her lowered head. "Know what?"

"How much…" she faltered and closed her eyes. "…you're needed," she finished. She visibly swallowed. "How much you're…" she seemed about to open her eyes, but stopped herself by pressing them shut. "…missed…when you're gone…?"

Her hands balled into fists in front of her and she pressed them against the mattress. "I know you probably don't care," she said hurriedly. "I know it probably doesn't make much of a difference that I never want to see you go…"

Inuyasha touched her chin with his clawed hand and lifted her chin. Finally, she opened her eyes and he realized almost at once how much it had cost her to say the things she had. "And when you leave me?" he asked, his voice low and gruff.

Kagome blinked and searched his eyes, wondering what, if anything, she should say. "I always hope you come looking for me," she admitted.

He let go of her chin and feh-ed softly, stepping back away from her. "All this because you want me to play watchdog, Kagome?" he asked, brusquely. "Wouldn't it be easier to just offer me extra ramen or a week of no-sits or something?"

Kagome was silent and utterly still behind him. So much so, he was afraid she had fallen asleep or something but when he turned back to look at her, he found her eyes trained right on him, something like pain and surprise on her features.

"Is that what you think?" she questioned.

He wasn't sure what to answer to such a question and so he stared at her instead.

She blinked and turned her head away from him, shaking her head as she stood and went to her desk, walking the long way around him. "Just go," she sighed.

"Kagome," he tried to walk to her, but she must have heard him coming because he felt her still and bristle as if he had brushed her hair the wrong way and he stopped a hair's breadth away from touching her. "I didn't mean it like that," he replied lamely.

"Then what did you mean?" she asked, her back to him, her hands still on a notebook she had opened in front of her. When he didn't answer, she lowered her head as if to look at the desk below her and shook it softly, the tendrils of hair that had escaped her sloppy ponytail falling around her face, her bangs covering her eyes. "Forget it, Inuyasha," she spoke. "If you thought I was just trying to get you to stay and play bodyguard, then you don't know me at all and probably don't want to know me." She clenched her fist again and tried to stop the next words from leaving her lips, but there must've been something in the air because her lips moved of their own accord, "Go and find Kikyou, then," she spoke around the lump in her throat. It was stupid and it was jealousy and she knew it, but still the words came: "She doesn't even have to ask you to stay and I'm sorry to have kept you from her for so long."

If she would have turned around, she would have found a look of pure and complete shock on Inuyasha's face. "Kikyou?" he asked stupidly. "Who said anything about Kikyou?"

Kagome swallowed in an attempt to be rid of the lump, but it wouldn't budge. She was leaning against her hands on the desk now, trying everything to keep from speaking her name, from accusing him of more things she obviously had no right to accuse him of, to stop herself from acting like the jealous little girl that she really was. "Please…" she spoke through grit teeth. "Just go."

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Inuyasha exclaimed in a frustrated whisper. "First you want me to stay and now you want me to go?"

Kagome whirled on him, tears of frustration and anger and even a little bit of pain stinging her eyelids. "Baka!" she exclaimed on a fierce whisper. "You want to go, so go!" She pointed to her window.

"I never said I wanted to go!" Inuyasha countered.

Kagome laughed, but it was the laugh of the mad. "You didn't want to stay," she pointed out.

"I never said that either!"

"Then what did you say, Inuyasha?" she asked, clearly frustrated. "Because obviously, you and I haven't been having the same conversation from the beginning."

"What do you expect me to believe?" Inuyasha asked suddenly. "You tell me you want me to stay and then expect me to think that it's for any reason other than because you want me to protect you?"

Kagome's expression turned pained. "I don't feel safe because you can protect me, Inuyasha, I feel safe because…" she faltered for a moment, shrugging. "Because its you."

"That doesn't make any sense!" he exclaimed, lowering his voice as he realized he had spoken too loud.

She sighed, and looked at him, finally coming to some decision. "I don't want a watchdog," she spoke clearly, enunciating each word. She began to walk up to him. "I…" she pointed to herself, laying her palm flat against her chest. "…want…" she took another step toward him until she was standing mere inches from him. She very deliberately, very carefully, placed her palm flat against his hard chest, pressing against him until she could feel his warmth even through the haori. "…you," she finished.

When she looked in his eyes, he was blinking at her, as if he hadn't heard a word. She sighed. "You are so dense," she mumbled.

"Oi!" Inuyasha replied, having caught that even through his shock. "I am not…"

She took her hands and placed them on either side of his face, pressing against his cheeks and holding his face towards hers and looked deep into his eyes. "I want you, Inuyasha," she repeated. "Do I have to make it any clearer?"

"Does that mean…?" he started, but Kagome had had about enough. Her patience had worn thin and she was going to get through his thick skull tonight, have an answer one way or another and she would do whatever it took to make that happen. Her hands still on either side of his face, she pulled him down to her and pressed her lips firmly to his and waited. It took him about a moment to react, but his lips knew what to do even before the rest of him did and he responded to her kiss, drawing out what she initiated as a chaste kiss into something infinitely more.

When they broke apart, Kagome was surprised to realize his arms had wrapped around her and her hands had moved from his cheek to his hair. She met his eyes, neither one of them really moving from the embrace. She rose her brow in question, waiting for some sort of response from him. "Well?" she prompted.

"Oh," he replied.

Kagome couldn't help it. She laughed. Followed very closely by a sigh. She felt so right in his arms, but she was emotionally worn out. There was no more she could do, so she did the only thing left to her. She stepped backward and was surprised to find that Inuyasha's arms tightened rather than let her go. She looked up at him and rose a brow. In response, he slowly dropped his arms from around her. She sighed and walked to her bed.

"Goodnight, Inuyasha," she spoke, getting in under the covers.

"W-wait…" Inuyaha stuttered.

Settled into her bed, Kagome turned off her bedside lamp. "I'm tired, Inuyasha," she told him. "When you figure it out, get back to me."

She controlled her breathing into a normal rhythm and then listened. She heard a softly uttered "Feh," and then the unmistakable sound of Inuyasha walking to her closet. In the light from the window, Kagome watched him come back with the pillow she always kept there and settle on the floor. She opened her mouth to speak, but Inuyasha interrupted her.

"I don't want to hear it, woman," he said brusquely. "Go to sleep."

"Hai, Inuyasha," she replied, turning to face the wall in an effort to hide her smile. "Thank you," she whispered, knowing he'd hear.

Inuyasha looked up at the line of her back and smiled. He wasn't altogether sure he'd figured it all out just yet, but it would sure be fun getting her to explain it.

Okay, so this is just a quickie that broadsided me at 4 am one of these days when I was up late doing projects and studying for finals. I don't know if I'll ever do any more with this or keep it as a one-shot. I suppose it really depends a lot on what you guys think. You know Puck, my muse, thrives on your reviews, so the more you give this little one-shot and the more of you that ask for this to be continued, it just might be. The Gods know that no matter what I plan on doing, Puck will have his way and I end up writing whatever he gets in his little fairy head of his.
Puck grins mischievously. "Nice of you to realize it."
Em rolls her eyes.