Title: A Wolf at the Door
Word Count: 774
Summary: Sleight of hand.
Author's Notes: Done for the first line meme on LiveJournal. For CinnamonGrrl, first line hers.
Each night she wakes him.
"Are you sure?" is what she always wants to know.
"About what?" he replies. Kagome - his sweet, lost Kagome - just shakes her head and rolls back over, swaddling herself inside the sheets, pulling little linen barriers between them, like the fog in her mind, the doors made only of thought. The flimsiest of shields that he cannot break.
Gone now is his cocky demeanor, his slick bravado. Life tends to do that.
But when he found her again, after all those endless years, his friends and family falling into shadow and slumber, he thought for a moment that he might have done something right, that his empty heroics, his selfish sacrifices might now be rewarded, and he felt the ghost of himself flare in his chest.
"Kagome?" he says, and she looks up from her place beneath the tree.
He looks different now, but he kept his blue eyes, and his long black hair, still pulled into a messy que. He waits for her to cry out his name, run into his arms and be comforted.
But his patient waiting yields poor fruit. Instead, she gives a puzzled frown. "Have we... met?" she wonders aloud.
What now? What else is there to say?
"Yes," he tells her. "Yes."
"You'll have to forgive me," she says later, their second or third date when he takes her out to dinner. "I don't remember much of my teen years. My psychologist says that maybe something will trigger it, and I'll get my memories back, but for now I just have to feel awful about not remembering you. Were we really friends?"
He studies the wine in his glass, fractured through crystal until it makes a beautiful ruby jewel, floating in his grasp.
"I would have died for you," he tells her.
She laughs, gay yet brittle. "Well, I suppose it's a very good thing you didn't have to!"
He smiles back, and remembers her shocked face when he leapt in front of her. He remembers the slice of the tentacle that stole his breath, and the slice of the blade that returned it.
At his end and at his beginning, he heard her cry his name.
"I don't think I believe you," she admits, in the nighttime air, in the fresh green smell of the park. "Surely I would have remembered this."
"What?" he wants to know.
A coy smile beckons him nearer. "This."
Her lips are soft and sweet, and the kiss she gives him strips him to the bone.
"I loved someone, once."
"Yes, you did."
"Was it you?"
He looks out the window of the train, at the landscape whizzing by. It's a grey day, cool and dark, and he could smell the pungent snap of autumn were his nose not so clogged by the pungent decay of humans, were he not swathed in decadence and human things, were he not poisoned into complacency.
He'd kick out the window, leap and roll and run until he found the end of everything, but her beautiful hand is on his sleeve, and there is time enough for dying.
"Kouga-kun," she says again. "Was it you?"
He looks at her eyes, her trusting eyes, and steals her away, just like he always wanted to.
"Yes," he tells her. "Yes."
"I thought so!" she giggles, and kisses him again.
She frowns one day. "I think..." she trails off.
"I think my love hurt. A lot." Slowly, she places her chopsticks across her bowl and folds her hands over her breast, staring at nothing.
He looks down into the abyss of love built on lies.
"Kouga-kun," she says, her voice small and scared. "Did you hurt me?"
But what is truth anyway?
"No," he tells her. Not yet.
She breathes a little sigh of relief. "I knew it. I knew you wouldn't hurt me," she says. "Would you like some chicken?"
And each night she wakes him.
"Are you sure?"
He can hear the hanyou scratching at the window, his memories lifting dry, skeletal claws against the locked door in her head, begging to be let out, pleading to be remembered. He feels the hanyou peering over his shoulder, waiting for the day when she will wake up and know what he's done to her. Never mind that the hanyou betrayed her more times than could be counted, never mind that he was the one who made her cry.
When she wakes up, it will be him she hates, and so he rolls into her, kisses her wild, takes what he can while he can, and she pours into him all the love he stole.
Inuyasha is scritch-scritch-scratching, and the wolf prince leans against the door, praying the lock will hold.