A/N- This is an older piece of mine that I finally went back and finished. It has its flaws, but I still think it had things worth saying. Plus... canon pairings.

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, Inuyasha owns me.


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Inuyasha's hands roam up her belly, sliding under her shirt, warm, and slightly callused, with the best intentions. He kisses her newly-exposed navel, feels for the rhythm of her breath, ears twitching when her heart skips a beat.

Kagome's mind is in a whirl, this is what her foolish body has been clamoring for, is it not? But she is unprepared, nothing could prepare her for this, she wants to stop, now, and think for a few thousand years, or until she can wrap her head around what is happening.

She only smiles at him, though.

Okay, perhaps she doesn't want him to stop. She doesn't want the chance to think about it. She wants to plunge full speed ahead, until she—

His wandering fingers find her bra, that perfect little modern contrivance, keeping everything neat and proper, until he flips it over with his deft little hands, and lays her bare.

Now this is too far. Bookmark, stop now, come back to this later. She covers herself again, and pushes her shirt down, shoving his hands out in the process.

She worries that Inuyasha might be mad, or hurt, but he just looks at her with that unreadable expression, and says, "Always keeping your secrets, aren't you."

"I didn't mean to tease." Well, maybe a little, but not maliciously, she thinks. How far would you have gone with me, anyway? That's your secret for now, I haven't the courage to tease it out of you.

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He knows Kikyou's secret. That she never wanted to be somber. Out in the woods, (their place, no one else's) they would cavort and cackle and dance circles around the fire, sometimes jumping over, pretending that the world could be what they want, and not what it is.

But that fire had her in the end. Claimed her secrets forever.

And perhaps, as she lay dead and burning, the jewel gave them a gift, in exchange for all the pain it brought.

He thinks sometimes, of Kikyou, growing up in a world of pocky and bras and everything fluffy and bright, not having to remember who she was, or that she was supposed to be serious. He thinks she smiles more than anyone else, and that it's not ordinary happiness, but Kikyou's secret joy at being able to smile.

So he plays along. He won't take that gift away from her, drag her into that miserable past. He loves her far too much for that.

Even so, he sees secrets beneath that perfect milky skin, swirled in her veins, lost in the part of her eyes no one can see. He wants to touch them, but he promises to keep them. He won't tell anyone what he finds, not even her.

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Kagome thinks she's open. She shares everything she knows, wears her heart on her sleeve, so no one ever thought to look deeper. What better way to seem shallow, than to put everything on the surface?

So she doesn't understand why Inuyasha looks at her that way. Like she could keep anything from him if she tried.

She has a theory though, a secret fear, which after all, is her first real secret. It's that he might be trying to see Kikyou in her. He's not as clever as he thinks, and she's learning him faster than anyone else has, (anyone but Kikyou, but she doesn't know that) and she knows that look, for all he thinks it's hidden.

She thinks it's odd that his secrets lead to her secrets, and that she didn't have any before she learned the well's secret.

None of this can be good. 'Secrets and lies,' was the saying, they went together, like how Naraku used them. Tricks and schemes, and hiding the one important detail, until it's too late. Kagome believes in truth, believes it can save them, but even truth has its secret.

Truth can destroy, too.

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It is several days before Inuyasha gets her alone again. They kiss this time, and it scares her, because he doesn't kiss neat and orderly like she'd expected, he is gentle, but prying, always searching for something she isn't sure she wants him to find.

He won't let her see, but he's terrified. She came to him perfect, with no knowledge of evil or cruelty, mind and body unmarred. But he's seen how easy it is to break this girl, take away the beautiful heart she was born with, and leave something mean and hurting in its place.

His hands are full of her, and she is soft and firm and everything he had desired, but if she breaks again he will never forgive himself. He knows he is not pure and happy, and he will never be what he was. Even when he met Kikyou, it was already too late, the world had taken its toll on both of them, and though they tried to lift each other up, they'd just dragged each other down in the end.

These are his secrets, his burdens, the scars that are his alone. If she's free of all that, if she can really be blissful and empty, he should let go now, and never look at her like that again.

But if her secrets remain, he wants to see them, just once before he dies.

He kisses her again, not for the pleasure this time, but to silence himself, lest he call out the wrong name. Her lips keep their pact, she will never know how close he came to betraying her.

Kagome feels something, though, an urgency without direction, which makes her heart beat so fast she's afraid it might stop. Surely he can hear that, she thinks. Surely he would hear her heart about to break, and he would pull away, for her? He's always saved her before.

He doesn't know the source of her magnetism, which brings him to her every time, and would never let him stray. Nor does he know how he finally broke free of it, just enough to lean his forehead on hers, and whisper something very important to her.

"I—I don't understand," she says, dazed.

"Neither do I," he answers sadly, not really an answer at all, but an excuse. "But I am. I'm so sorry, Kagome."

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That night, Kagome goes to sleep early. She dreams she is in her house, back in her time, and finds a secret room she'd never known was there. It is big, but cluttered with all her long-lost childhood toys. In a corner, there is a freezer, she gets on her hands and knees and digs in it, sifting through years of dirt and neglect, searching for something long frozen in a place that doesn't exist.

She wakes, having no idea what time it is, other than that it's still quite dark. She's fallen asleep in her uniform, and Shippou is sleeping on her chest, and drooling. Rolling her eyes, she picks him up gently and tucks him in, hoping it won't stain. Maybe it would be better to rinse it or something...

Yawning, she looks around her. Sango lays sprawled out, with Kilala in her armpit. Kagome thinks they both look tired. Miroku sleeps a bit off on the fringe, twitching his fingers from time to time, with a disturbing grin on his face. She doesn't want to know what he's dreaming about.

Stepping gingerly over him, she heads outside, with the vague idea of finding the stream she'd seen earlier, and spot-cleaning her blouse. She hasn't really taken much note of the fact that Inuyasha wasn't sleeping inside with the rest of them, he often sleeps in trees anyway. She wonders why, you'd think that after fifty years pinned to one, he'd never want to see a tree again as long as he lived, let alone be unconscious in one. But even if there is a reason for it, she knows he'll never tell her.

She finds the stream, a little further up than the spot she'd seen before; she can hear a waterfall nearby. Taking her blouse off, she realizes dully she's slept in her bra, too. It digs in uncomfortably, and she adjusts it, but doesn't take it off, not liking the idea of being topless in the woods at night near some village she doesn't know well.

She jumps when she hears voices. Holding her blouse to her chest protectively, she looks around, and listens, angry with herself for bringing the jewel shards, but not her bow.

"Why do you come here every time, when there is nothing to say?" A woman's voice. Familiar, too.

"Must I state the obvious for you? I love you!" Now that is Inuyasha. Though this means she is probably not in danger, Kagome is not relieved. Heart pounding, she creeps as quietly as she can towards the voices. She doesn't want to see. She doesn't....

But she has to.

Kikyou sits in lotus pose under the waterfall, in a simple white kimono. As freezing as Kagome already is, she can't imagine how cold that must be—but then, maybe Kikyou doesn't need to be warm anymore. "You betrayed me," Kikyou says.

"Never. You know that was Naraku."

"Naraku killed me, yes." Kikyou meets Inuyasha's eyes fearlessly, then seems to see something else. Oh,crap, Kagome thinks, the jewel shards! Of course she can see them! Her cheeks burning, she almost turns around and goes back. But she came this far, didn't she?

"But," Kikyou continues, "it is not Naraku that you love."

"I never betrayed you, Kikyou."

So, Kagome thinks, does that mean he doesn't love me? Not that I expected him to, but he should damn well feel something if he's gonna kiss me like that!

"Come here a moment. Sit with me," Kikyou says.

Inuyasha shakes his head. "It's a waste of time trying to make me pure."

"You just don't want to get wet. Come here, it feels nice once you get used to it."

Inuyasha strides purposefully into the stream, icy water swirling around his legs. When he comes to Kikyou, he kisses her on the cheek, and says, "I'll keep your secrets forever. Even if they drag me down to hell." He walks back toward the village, his steps heavier than when he came.

When he is out of earshot, Kikyou comes straight over towards Kagome. Kagome freezes, torn. She could probably outrun Kikyou, who seems physically weak. Kikyou's expression does not seem hostile, but then, it hadn't been all those other times she'd tried to kill her. But she is curious; it hits her suddenly why Shippou was always drawing her as a cat. Damn curiosity.

Kikyou's first move is to put her hands over the pocket where Kagome keeps her jar of shards. Misunderstanding, Kagome grabs Kikyou's wrists and tries to pull them away, but they won't budge. They're ice cold, too, Kagome tells herself it's from sitting in that water.

"These," Kikyou says, ignoring Kagome's panic, "are precious. If I do not make it, and Naraku gathers all of the jewel, you will know what to do." Kagome's brow furrows, she had absolutely no idea what she would do if Naraku got all of the jewel. Die? It seems a likely option, and after all this is Kikyou advising her.

"There are other things that you possess, that are precious. Do not abuse them. Do not take them for granted. All precious things are alike." She looks at Kagome earnestly, not reacting to the other girl's confusion. "I am precious now only in one set of eyes, my secrets are...." She kisses Kagome, and though it is on the lips, it is not driven by lust. "Yourself, your life, your secrets, your love, and—" she lets go of Kagome's pocket, "your duty. These are your greatest weapons against the world, and also the world's greatest weapons against you. Therefore you must always be aware of them, and always be wary."

Kagome is grasping at straws. She doesn't understand what Kikyou is saying, other than that she seems to be trying to help her. "You could," she gulps, "come back with me. Stay with us. We could help you, maybe."

"I see why he loves you." Kikyou says as she turns away. "You should go, child. There's nothing for you here."

"I-I'm not a child," Kagome asserts. Kikyou doesn't dignify that with an answer, so, trembling and cold, Kagome pulls her stained blouse on and leaves.

Back in the hut, she snuggles up to Sango, and is quietly awake until dawn.

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Lately, Kagome does little but glare. Her imagination gone wild, every moment Inuyasha is not directly in front of her, he is with Kikyou in her mind's eye. Talking, at first. Then, kissing. Then after seeing a late-night movie in her time, she imagines them humping against trees like animals. Absurd, right? She laughs it off and glares.

Inuyasha is irritable and sulky, and to the casual observer, looks like the victim. Even Sango is becoming sympathetic towards him. Fine, Kagome thinks, have him, everyone else does. I'm bound to follow him no matter who he loves, isn't that the way it goes?

So, when Miroku makes arrangements for them to spend the night in luxury, with separate rooms for the girls and boys, Kagome is pleased. Her eye twitches when Inuyasha knocks and calls her name. She opens the door to yell at him, and stops short.

He is human. It's like forgetting people's birthdays or something, she always seems to forget the new moon. Several cutting comments pass through her head, but she discards them. "Inuyasha... what's wrong?"

What isn't? he thinks. But he says, "Kagome. I was just... a little lonely. Would you mind keeping me company?"

More nasty thoughts. This time she can't resist. "Why, Kikyou on vacation or something?" She regrets the words the moment they leave her mouth.

"Kagome, what kind of person would I be if I turned my back on someone I loved who was in pain? She has nothing to do with us."

"How can you say that?" Kagome demands. "You were going to marry her before. Don't pretend it isn't a romantic love! I don't know what you two could be doing when you're together, what secrets you could be keeping from me!"

"I see," Inuyasha says sadly. "it's about that again."

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There was a time when Inuyasha was young and foolish, and a girl promised him things that couldn't be real. That he could be loved, and human, and trusting, and that he could really have her, forever and ever.

But when she asked him things, he always answered the same. "It's a secret."

"Come on now," Kikyou would say, "that's a child's answer. Lovers can bare everything." To prove her point, she slipped her clothes off her shoulders. "A little bit at a time?"

"I don't need to play your gossipy woman's game."

"Gossip? You wound me, Inuyasha. Right here, oh, ow." She placed her hands on her chest dramatically, and he winced at the memory, that was where she got her death wound, wasn't it? "It's a lovers game, and we keep our secrets. Forever and ever."

"Keh."

"I see you smiling, that's my first secret of yours. Say keh all you like, your secrets will betray you to me." Her hands snuck under his haori, wriggled, and found his chest. "I'm the doctor, Inuyasha, and I'm a special doctor. You can tell me where it hurts."

Inuyasha didn't like the idea of his secrets showing themselves to anyone. "It doesn't hurt anywhere, and you can't fix it."

"Which is it, it doesn't hurt, or I can't fix it?"

"It's a secret."

"Fine, we'll go the long way around. I have time." No you don't, Inuyasha remembered, you'll be dead by the end of the month. "Does it hurt here, Inuyasha?" Kikyou asked, her fingers circling his heart. Right where she shot him. Oh yes, Kikyou, it hurts now, but I don't blame you.

"No," he said, smiling.

"Okaaay, how about here?" she asked.

"Still nothing. Maybe if you dig your nails in."

"Silly, I'm a doctor! I can't do that! Ummm, here?" She was at his jaw now, thumbs brushing his bottom lip, looking for all the world like a concerned doctor.

"Well, just a little bit, but nothing a kiss from you won't cure."

She kissed him, and smiled. "See, we're making progress. How 'bout here?" she said, touching the tip of his nose.

"A kiss there wouldn't hurt either."

So she stood on tippy-toe, and kissed his nose. "And here?" she asked, lightly stroking his ears. The mark of his demon ancestry.

"No," he said, suddenly somber, "those don't hurt at all."

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"Fine, then," Inuyasha says, pulling her outside. "You want my secrets so bad, they're yours. I tried to save you from them, but I just made things worse."

"Inuyasha, what are you talking about?"

"Here," he says, holding her hand above his heart. "This is where the doctor put me to sleep. I haven't forgotten, have you?"

Kagome's heart pounds. It's like before. What she wanted, but not all at once.

"Here," he says. moving her hand to his forehead. "Where mother kissed me every night. I never told anyone that, not even Kikyou! And she keeps my secrets."

"Please, Inuyasha...!"

"Here." He covers his eyes with her hand. "You know who you look like. I'm not lying anymore. Sometimes, I think of Kikyou, and I see you instead. I don't want you to replace her. You don't replace people you love. But I love you too, and I feel guilty for that."

"Because... you still love Kikyou? Is it because you don't want to betray her?" Kagome says falteringly. She is amazed at herself for saying that, he just confessed his love to her, shouldn't she be ecstatic? But this is all wrong.

"No. Because I don't want to betray you. You deserve better."

"I just keep seeing you two... as lovers." She hides her face, ashamed. This isn't the way it's supposed to go.

"We were lovers, Kagome. But Kikyou is dead. The dead have few desires, and that isn't one of them."

"I see," she says very softly. "You get all hot and bothered on her, then you come to me. You say you're sorry, but that isn't enough."

Inuyasha looks as if the wind has been knocked out of him. He has no comebacks, no explanations, no insults.

When Kagome speaks again, her voice is filled with remorse. "I have to defend myself. Even if I love you. If I don't look after my heart, who will?"

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Kikyou, Kagome thinks, is perfect. So why would she mind the comparison? Why be angry that people think she is like someone who was beautiful and powerful, and died for love? Isn't that more like a compliment?

But to her, it seems more of a reminder of her shortcomings. Because, even if she tried, she couldn't really be Kikyou, just an inferior imitation. She'll never be as pretty, as sorrowful, as passionate, she'll get into fights, and she'll lose them, because unlike Kikyou, she's anything but perfect. Because of the comparison, suddenly everything she is, all her best features aren't good enough.

Her love isn't even good enough. She's never loved anyone before, not like that, so she's scared, she has so much to lose, she has a right to be scared! But even giving everything, her love is cheap to him. And she can't even blame him. Who wouldn't be unimpressed by little old Kagome Higurashi, after they'd held Kikyou in their arms? Kagome has half a mind to love her too.

She may not be Kikyou, but she knows she isn't worthless. Her feelings aren't perfect, but they still mean something. She'll follow Inuyasha, but there are things she isn't ready to give him. If this makes her less perfect, less like Kikyou, then so be it.

But even her resolve isn't good enough. She breaks down, she forgives, her imperfect love conquers all.

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His claws dig in, far gentler than they look, leaving no marks, but tracing over the ones she already has. A scar on her knee, where she fell as a child, he kisses it, knowing it is even older than that. His fingers flutter up over where her clothes dig in, a uniform to yoke her to her time, pressing into flesh it has no right to. He thinks it tries to define her, so no wonder it's too tight now, she's growing, burgeoning into womanhood, becoming so much more than the girl who fell down a well.

And she isn't Kikyou, either. She's not his second chance at the same love, because he doesn't deserve one. He wonders where the line is drawn. What overlaps, what territory is hers exclusively, if her heart is her own, but her feelings for him are older. Dress her as a miko, kiss her softly like before, what remains, which scars are hers? She says that this one was from Buyo, and here she slipped shaving when she was twelve, here Souta bit her as a toddler, and got his first spanking, but he remembers scars of a similar nature. This one from a demon, this one too, here I cut myself when my parents were killed, this was a wild dog, here, on the back of my hand, Kaede scratched me in our one and only fight.

Kagome is curious now, her timid hands exploring, but Inuyasha knows there's nothing to find. He doesn't scar, so what does it matter? No one can see where the demons have put their hands through him, that bad fall when he was seven, the burns on his hands trying to reach his mother on her pyre.

But she is so gentle with him, he wonders if she sees them anyway, like the shine of jewel shards that is for her eyes alone. He is self-conscious suddenly, picturing her seeing him bare, his life etched out on his skin for her. He tries to get a glimpse of her eyes, but misinterpreting, she kisses him. Her kiss above all else tells him that her feelings for him are her own. She is not delicate and subtle like Kikyou, she makes mistakes, and doesn't seem entirely sure what she is doing, or even that she should be doing it, but forges forth bluntly and somewhat forcefully, which he likes. If she had been overly hesitant, he would have worried that he was pushing her too soon, or even that they should not be doing this at all. So he keeps pace with her erratic kisses, which in their sincerity feel like a release from the should I shouldn't I, good dog bad dog dance of their earlier contacts.

He is tempted to slip his hands under her shirt, or better yet, down her skirt, having had these things before, however long ago, he is spoilt, his memories blurred into the joy of sensation. But he understands it doesn't work that way between them, from the very start, it is she who comes to him, all he can do is wait for her with Kikyou's arrow through his heart, and hope she decides to pull it out.

He puts his arms gingerly around her, careful not to trap her or crush her, keeps her secrets, and returns her kisses.