Title: Things Forgotten While Waiting
Word Count: 949
Summary: Life can only be understood backwards.
Author's Note: I wrote this as an excruciatingly late birthday present for Aeryrie, because she wanted Kago/Kouga, but fluffy. I did my best for her, and though it's not terribly fluffy, it's probably the most fluffy thing I've ever written. I think I like it.
And now that it's over, where did it start?
Kagome stares at the grey stone high above her and tries to think through the sleepy pink fog. The echo of the water tumbling down, like the past falling into the future, fills her head.
It might have been the rough thumb on her lips, that warm prelude to the trembling kiss behind the waterfall where they'd taken refuge from the storm, or maybe it was the argument before the storm, when she'd screamed that she hated him, hated herself, hated everything. It could have been that strange half-grin he always wore when he crested the hill behind her as she sat, staring into the water below.
But it couldn't be as simple as that.
Perhaps it was the little things he did for her as she moved through deadening chill, just a rag doll with a sawdust heart who missed her friends so desperately she couldn't even breathe.
"Let me carry that for you," he says, grabbing the overloaded basket out of her hands.
"Kouga, I am not in the mood - " she begins, before he laughs and runs off, slower now that the shards are gone, but fast enough all the same. He carries radishes in a fraction of the time it would have taken her to walk back to the village, so she trudges behind him, scolds him when he knocks over a small child, and is secretly grateful.
"Be my woman now?" he asks.
"I can't," she says, an old ritual, and despite all the baskets of radishes, all the help he gives her, all the things he brings to her, she wants him to go away, never darken her doorstep again. He unearths things better left buried.
He is still there, leaning casually against the door frame as she begins her pickling.
"What about now?" he says.
Anger. "No! I hate telling you no, so why do you keep asking?" she cries, nearly cutting her finger. She turns to glare, guilty, sad, missing things she never had.
Half-grin with pointed teeth. Devilish and self-assured. "Because now you hate saying it," he says, as if this is any sort of answer at all.
Then he shrugs, cocky as ever, and turns away, runs to the safety of his pack who still call her nee-san. She stays in her hut, and pickles radishes, and wonders how long it takes for gratitude to turn to resentment, and resentment to hatred. It can never be love. She is sure of that, as sure as the sun rises.
And what came before that?
"Be my woman?" he asks, laying furs on the floor. She's tired and it's winter, and winter lasts a long time in the north. She couldn't stand to look at the old well any longer, so she wandered, an unfettered girl with no love, a priestess with no shrine to tend, until she came to rest against the mountains, settling in the corners of the country like drifting snow.
"No," she says. He smiles and leaves a rabbit for her. A rabbit is good eating in the winter. He leaves behind a guilty sadness in her heart.
When she curls beneath the fur, she thinks of Inuyasha and cries.
And before that?
A war is passing by, and so many men need care, all of them grasping and needing and she has nothing better to do now that everyone is gone.
Kouga carries water from the stream to the village, and holds men down when they struggle beneath her bonesetting fingers, and he brushes off the whispers with a flick of his tail.
And always further back. Where did it start? Was it at the well where she stared listlessly into its useless depths and he put a hand on her shoulder? Or was it at the patch of ground where Inuyasha and Kikyou sank into the earth, completing their story, and she slapped him across the face when he asked her to join him now that the one she loved was gone? Maybe it had been on the battlefield, where Sango followed her family and Miroku followed his.
Or was it even before that, when he first threw her over his shoulder, or when she decided she loved blue eyes at the age of ten. Perhaps it was when her father left her alone and grasping at nothingness. Perhaps it was then.
She stares at the rocks above her, and wonders where love starts and where love ends.
She thinks, maybe, it started when he grabbed her hand in the rain, pulled her away from the cliff, away from the promise of flying, dragging her down to the little valley and into a safe place. Maybe it was then.
And maybe he drew her heart into his mouth and sank his teeth in when she wasn't looking, kept her from falling - the loyal dog and the fool, teetering on the precipice of the world, and high above the thunder mumbled as it moved across the sky.
His skin is warm, and he smells like leaf mould and forests and wild things, and the arm over her is heavy. She sighs and shifts.
"Kouga?" she says finally.
"Hmm," he mumbles, half-asleep.
"Where did it start?" she wonders out loud.
"Doesn't matter," he replies, and buries his face in the crook of her neck, running his tongue up the column of her throat.
"What about everyone else?" she whispers.
He laughs, and his lips are hot against her skin. "What about us?" he says, and in her chest her heart shatters and leaps, and she tumbles into his waiting arms again, the way it's always been.