Virtue's End

By: Lara Winner


Under the cloak of the night sky, with only the stars as witness, Kagome was giving into a selfish temptation. It was hard not to think of the two innocents sound asleep in their beds, secure in their world as only children are. She hoped their dreams were filled with happiness to stave off the heartache that would come with wisdom and age.

And her husband… she hoped he could forgive her. He knew where her heart remained all those years ago when innocence left her with nothing but the bitter taste of reality. He knew of whom her thoughts drifted to when her eyes took on that look, the one that spoke of a far away place he could not imagine.

It was the roles they played. The family they had both longed for and the hearts sacrificed to achieve those dreams. But she loved another and he loved the image she portrayed.

Even so, her guilt could not falter her steps as they carried her to the vessel that would take her home, an old well that defied time to bring her to the one that had enslaved her heart.

Giving one last glance at the darkened bedroom window that housed her reasons for living this double life, she swallowed the burning lump of self-loathing that restricted her throat. Now was not the time for regrets or recriminations. That could come later, once she was returned to the life she had chosen.

Time stopped as she slipped into the well and the world, if for only a moment, ceased to be. And then her feet touched ground and time began its incessant counting.

He was waiting for her.

Golden eyes peered over the edge of the well and she took the hand that reached for her without a moment's hesitation. He lifted her out and into his arms yet it felt as if her soul soared even higher. Then he smiled, a small smile tinged with a sadness that she had helped create.

"I missed you." she whispered softly, knowing it did little to ease the hurt of being apart. But she felt it too and lived with it everyday taking solace in these few and far between rendezvous.

"Keh."

And there was no time for further reply. There was never time, it had been against them since the day she had first set foot through the well and it had only grown more vengeful in the twenty years that followed.

They were adults and their language was one of heat and passion. Kisses, all consuming and bittersweet said more than professions of love. Clothing was shed and hands roamed the familiar paths of flesh and sweat, still each touch and caress was as exciting and cherished as it had been in the beginning.

And when the passion was spent they remained in the comfort and warmth of each other. Still the night kept time but she dared to remain until the last possible moment.

As always her hanyou was the one to remind her that her world beckoned.

"It's getting late." He commented gruffly, "You should go back. I don't want you to get in trouble or anything."

A wistful memory of angry words filled her mind and she sighed, "And to think there was a time when you wouldn't let me return through the well."

"Things change Kagome. We've changed. I can't stop you this time. I don't have the right to." He growled. "Your kids need you."

"Don't do this please."

"I hate it when you leave. I always did." For her sake he forced a faint smile. "But you always come back."

"Inuyasha…"

He ignored her plea and handed her the thin nightgown she'd worn. She took it without complaint and dressed once again preparing herself to face the life she now lived, one where hanyou's and time-traveling wells were only a fairy tale.

He walked her to the well. She turned into his embrace one last time to savor the taste of lips and hoped it would be enough until their next meeting. Then she stepped away from the only warmth that burned in her soul to enter the well.

The moon continued to shine and the stars twinkled in their ebony sea as she fell through time and back into a future that held as much heartbreak as the past. It was sad really, this thing she had become. But her hanyou lover was right. Her children needed her. For them she would move heaven and earth.

Light spilled onto the ground from the kitchen as she crossed the yard to the house. On the steps that lead up to the back door sat the man she was betraying. He took a drag of his cigarette and smoke swirled around him as he looked up. Brown met tear-drenched gray, gazes that held disappointment and guilt.

"The girls are still asleep." He said to break the oceans to silence between them.

It was all he dared to say and knowing that she looked away. "I'm sorry."

"Yeah me too." He tossed the cigarette and stood. "Don't forget that we are having dinner tonight with my colleague Dr. Chet and his wife. I left the credit card on the table. Go buy yourself something nice. I want you to look your best."

"Houjo…" He paused his retreat into the house and waited for her to speak but the words died before they left her tongue. There was so much she wanted to say and to explain, instead she asked, "What time is dinner?"

"Seven. Don't be late." He said letting the door slam behind him as he left her in the yard to wallow in her own misery.

Choking back the tears that ached to escape she gave the well one last glance. Once upon a time she had waited for her hanyou to come. But he never did and she had taken the only life offered. But he did come for her, months too late. She should have left then but she had tried to do the right thing. She hated betraying Houjo but even the children hadn't been able to fill the void.

Now she had to settle for stolen time. But one day, when her daughters were grown she would leave down the well for the final time. But until then she would wait and hope Inuyasha could do the same.

If time allowed.


A.N. – Nope I'm not dead. I've just been REALLY busy lately but with a little spare time on my hands I decided to try a little angsty fic for New Years. I am going to finish "In the Blood", don't worry. I'm sorry I've been MIA but hopefully I'll have chapter 8 of ITB ready to post soon. Thanks and I hope everyone had a happy holiday. I know I did. I got snow for X-mas!!!!

Oh and if you're wondering why Kagome is living with Houjo in her family's shrine instead of their own house… 1) She's a miko and the shrine is important to her 2) Do you really think she would leave if she knew Inu-kun might come through the well one day?

I think not.