Disclaimer: Don't own it

Note: This fic was inspired by Distance written by Leunra, and this is posted with her permission.

Thanks to ejqHorseLady for noticing some rather grievous errors on my part in this chapter.

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The Pain of Losing Another

Chapter One

It hurt. It pained her so much. Weakly, Kagome grasped the edge of the kitchen counter with one hand and lowered her body to the ground. Her other hand was placed gently over her still flat stomach. The child inside cried out in her pain from within the womb.

Kagome bent over her unborn baby, wrapping her arms around her stomach. "I'm so sorry." She wept softly. "I was too weak. I'm so sorry."

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Kagome blinked. The sunlight was blinding, but felt so good to stand in, to be embraced by the warmth from above. That was the main reason why she kept herself secluded, deep within her home, she didn't deserve such comforts. Her lack of sunshine caused her skin to become a milky white color, rivaling the finest marble, and as translucent as arctic fog.

Against her pale complexion, her raven hair and dark cerulean eyes shown starkly. She swathed her body in clothing of mundane coloring. She refused to wear clothing finer than plain cotton and possessing only beige and brown pigments.

For four years she had tried to make herself out to be as ordinarily weak and disgusting as she truly was. She wrapped her arms around her thin, almost malnourished-looking body, and peered out the window of her small home.

Basking in the rays of sunlight which filtered through the thick foliage was a slender four-year old little boy. He lay on his back with his eyes closed, his arms and legs splayed gracefully around him. Fine silver tresses spread out from his head, reflecting the sunlight in such a manner where it formed a glowing halo.

Unlike Kagome, the boy was dressed in the finest clothes she could afford. They were in bright and pale colors which complimented his natural features well . His slender build was already covered in lean, well-sculpted muscles, without giving him a bulky appearance. He held an almost effeminate sway to his whole being.

The boy was utter perfection, Kagome remarked to herself. Though he was still a child, she knew he would grow up to be a fine and handsome man. 'Just like his father,' she added ruefully.

Unshed tears welled up in her eyes. She often wondered bitterly how she could have borne a child of such absolute flawlessness. His father's superiority must have made up for her ineptitude, she realized. Her beautiful son was perfect. She was worthless.

Long ago, Kagome had come to a decision. She wasn't worthy of raising the perfect child, but at the same time, she was unwilling to pass him on to his father. She was selfish. He had left her, weak and broken, over four years ago. Perhaps in the back of her mind, she wanted a form of petty revenge against him. In the end, she decided she would try to be a loving mother to him, for as long as he needed her.

When she became useless to him, which she was sure she soon would be, she would pass soundless and inconspicuously from his life. She assured herself that she would be doing him a favor. Her son would be so grateful to rid himself of her worthless presence as soon as possible.

Perhaps, when the time came to leave him, she might call upon his uncle so at least he could inform his brother of his son. Then, father and son would be reunited, and she would disappear once again.

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Hoshimaru was bored. He liked to lay out in the sun, but he much preferred that his mama come out with him than stay inside all the time. He didn't understand why she didn't come out in the sun.

She only went out at night, often to pick vegetables or herbs from their garden or to tend to their cabin or other things. For a while he entertained the thought that she might be allergic to sunlight. His mama had once told him that people who had allergies had to stay away from the thing that made them sick.

He shook his head and opened his eyes. No, he remembered once when he was playing by the creek, he had accidentally fallen in. It had happened before he had learned how to swim. His mama had bolted out of the house and practically flew to save him. She had run through sunlight that day, and had been perfectly fine.

Hoshimaru sighed. He rolled onto his side and looked back toward their home. His sharp eyes could see his mother standing at the window watching him. He loved his mama so much, he just wished that she would come out and spend more time with him. He wanted to play with her like they used to do when he was even littler.

"Mama," he called out.

Kagome smiled from where she stood. She walked to the open doorway, carefully remaining in the shadows, and waved at her son. "What is it?"

"I'm hungry." Hoshimaru whined. He was rewarded with a light chuckle. His mama sounded so pretty when she laughed. He thought she was the prettiest woman in the whole world.

"Alright then. Come inside and wash up. I'll have lunch ready by the time your hands are clean." She held open her arms.

Hoshimaru grinned. "Coming Mama!" He stood on his feet quickly and ran into his mama's embrace. She was so warm and soft. He loved the way her arms wrapped around him. Sometimes, he wished that she would hold him like that forever. "I love you mama." He whispered before dashing off to the washroom.

Kagome stiffened as she heard her son's softly spoken words. A warm feeling filled her chest before she harshly pushed it away. No, she didn't deserve his love. He was perfection. "Oh, I'm so sorry. My beautiful son, you don't know what you're saying…" She said sadly.

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The pair had just sat down for lunch when their door burst open unexpectedly. A tall red-headed teen barreled in, launching himself at Kagome.

"KAGOME-KAA-SAN! I MISSSSED YOUUUUUU!" He shrieked.

"Ow…"

Hoshimaru went to stand over the intruder as the teen was currently on top of his mother, pinning her to the ground with his weight. "Shippou-nii-san! You're too big to do that now. Only I can!" He scolded, placing his tiny hands on his waist.

Shippou stuck his tongue out at the silver-haired child. "Since I'm your aniki, I don't have to listen to you. I'll hug mama, all I want."

"Help me…" Kagome gasped weakly from the floor.

With that, the two boys helped Kagome to her feet. She dusted herself off lightly before embracing the taller boy. She pulled back to hold him at arms' length. "My Shippou-chan. It's been a while since I've seen you last. Have you gotten taller?" She held a hand out to the top of his head and brought the hand toward her, measuring that he was indeed about half a foot taller than her diminutive height.

"He's taller than you, mama!" Hoshimaru exclaimed.

"Yep, and soon you will be too, my little dear." She smiled at her son. Kagome turned back to Shippou, whom she still held by the shoulders. "So what brings you way out my way, Shippou-chan?"

Shippou could only grin at his adoptive mother. She would never cease to call him little, even if he grew to be three feet taller than her. "I have great news! But I want it to be a surprise, so I gotta tell you later," he pointed conspicuously at Hoshimaru.

Seeing this, the younger boy pouted. "But I wanna heeeeaaaar." He whined. "Mama, make Shippou-nii-san tell me too!" He spun to face his mama, hands crossed over his chest, face in full pout.

Kagome laughed at her son's antics. "Now now, if Shippou-chan wants to keep it a secret for now, I'll let him. You'll find out sooner or later." She waved her hands placatingly at him, then gestured toward the table. "I think I'll set up a third setting now?" She raised an eyebrow toward her adoptive son.

Shippou grinned widely and Hoshimaru brightened immediately.

"RAMEN!" They squealed in unison.

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Shippou stared sightlessly through the window. The glass had been frosted so that though he could see the other side clearly, he could not see his own reflection. He laid a hand against the cold pane before resting his forehead on it.

Kagome had become thinner. He could tell she hadn't been eating as much. He snorted, she probably thought she wasn't worth the wheat grown for their bread. Every penny she earned went to buying Hoshimaru the finest clothing, food, and luxuries she could afford. Without even looking, he knew the stark differences between their rooms.

Kagome slept on a plain straw pallet in the middle of her unpainted room. One side of the room contained an unpolished oak cabinet she had constructed herself to hold her meager belongings. Hoshimaru had a teak bed with a down comforter and pillows. His room was painted a cream color with matching plush carpet. All of his furniture was hand polished, and made of the highest grade cherry lumber with a dark mahogany finish.

When Hoshimaru had become old enough to begin to notice the glaring differences in the way their rooms were set up, Kagome locked her door. If he ever needed her, she would come to him, and sleep beside him in his room, but he would not be allowed to see her room. She tried so hard to provide the best for him, sometimes going for days without food to pay for his luxuries.

Shippou would stop by at least once a week with food and money, which she would not accept, but he forced it on her anyway. Jade eyes closed as he tried to hold back his tears. Kagome tried so hard, too hard, to raise her son. She was fading away right before his eyes.

When her fiancé had abandoned her, Shippou had found her laying brokenly on the kitchen floor, surrounded by a pool of her own dried blood. He took her to her family for comforting. She had been completely shattered, her body ailing and weak, her spirit defeated. After a few days, she disappeared from her family's shrine, leaving behind a note saying that she did not wish to burden them with her worthless presence.

Shippou had once again sought her out. Finally locating her, months later, at a hospital when someone had found her going into a premature labor on the streets and called for an ambulance. After that, she had tried to flee again, but Shippou had kept a close eye on her.

While in the hospital, she had tried to commit suicide three times, but finally quit after Shippou reminded her of her duty to raise her son. The little premature baby had spent a scant seven months in the womb of his mother, and due to the self-inflicted abuse on her body, he was placed in intensive care.

Shippou had finally convinced her to stop running from him as she lay on the hospital bed, covered in wires and tubes. Her arms were held down with restraints to keep her from hurting herself again.

Shippou, only fifteen at the time, was completely mortified by his mother's reactions. He couldn't understand her heartache, but cursed the man who had caused her to become like that. He held onto her hand as she lay helpless, trying his best to comfort her. At that time, she begged him to not tell anyone about her son or her. She wanted to flee from the city and escape her horrible memories.

Her eyes were full of such pain. Shippou couldn't deny his mother her request. Hesitantly, he agreed, on the condition that she move to a place of his choosing and that she stay there. She nodded as he pointed out to her his father's old hunting cabin.

The cabin was far from the outskirts of the city, tucked away in rural Japan. The location of the cabin would be hard for anyone to find if they did not know exactly where they were going. It was in a place which seemed frozen by time. Most people there were farmers. They would walk from village to village, often bartering for needed items. It was perfect for Kagome's needs.

After the death of his parents as a child, his family's fortune had fallen on his eight year old shoulders. Being a mischievous child, he wanted nothing to do with the responsibility that came with it, so he fled. A fifteen year old Kagome took him in, not knowing his name or origins, but just seeing a child who needed help. Under her guidance, he went back to his duties, but he chose to stay with Kagome anyways. Now, he only wanted her to be happy. He would do anything to ensure it.

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Kagome tucked Hoshimaru into his down bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. She brushed back the few silver strands of his hair from his face and smiled. She bent down and gave him a loving kiss on his forehead before shutting off the lights and closing the door. She made her way downstairs to the living room where Shippou sat, uncharacteristically brooding by the window.

"Shippou-chan? Is something the matter?" She called out softly.

Shippou turned and smiled. Her voice was so lovely. It was a shame that she didn't think so. She thought everything about herself to be horrid and undesirable. "Hai, I'm fine, kaa-san. Just tired, I guess."

"Well, I set up the spare room for you already. You can go and rest while I tidy up around here." She gestured for him to sleep.

"No, I'd rather sit out here and watch you, kaa-san."

Kagome smiled. "Whatever pleases you, dear." Humming to herself, she made her way around the cabin collecting things and straightening out the room, all under Shippou's watchful eye.

An hour had passed, still finding Kagome moving about the cabin, and Shippou watching her. "Kaa-san?" He called out, breaking the still silence.

"Yes?" She replied distractedly as she pulled the wrinkles out from the throw rug.

"Inuyasha and Kikyou are getting married."

Kagome stilled. Slowly, she turned to face the taller teen, her eyes glistening. "Oh..my god. I'm so happy for them. It's about time they got married." She exclaimed as she stood to embrace her adoptive son.

Shippou nodded, refusing to mention the fact that the reason they waited this long to marry was because they were worried sick about her. They had spent so long looking for her, but Shippou had used his family's resources to cover her tracks, to make her disappear. It was what his okaa-san had wanted, he thought sadly.

"You have to tell them how happy I am for them." She said without thinking. When she caught herself, she pulled back. No one was supposed to know where she was, or that Shippou knew she was here. "I mean…"

"Don't say anything kaa-san." He interrupted her gently. "Inuyasha is totally oblivious, but I think Kikyou knows that I know something. She told me yesterday that she wished that her younger sister could be at her wedding."

Kagome blanched. "No, I don't think I could…Oh my dear sister, I'm so sorry, but I can't…" She drew back, falling toward the couch. "I want to be…" She said softly, "but I can't, I just can't."

Shippou strode forward and caught her hands in his. He marveled for a moment how small her hands seemed in his. "Kaa-san, it would mean so much for them if you were to be there." He held her hands tightly, his eyes pleading with her. "They would be so happy to see you again. They haven't heard or seen anything of you for so long. And it would give them a chance to meet Hoshimaru. I'm sure he would love to see the rest of his family."

"I…" Kagome faltered. She desperately missed her family. She had spent four long years away from all of her loved ones, except for Shippou and Hoshimaru. She longed to see their faces again, but at the same time, she feared them. What would they think of her? She was such a disappointment to the family. She had started out so promising, but she had messed it up. What she had done was unforgivable in her eyes, she had been too weak.

"They WANT to see you, Kagome. They all miss you very much." Shippou added, sounding very much like an adult. He could see the internal battle Kagome fought with herself. He had to make her understand that none of what happened was her fault.

"But, what if," she started, tears interrupting her.

Shippou hugged the woman to her, allowing her to cry all over him if that's what she needed. She was so small, so fragile against his stronger frame. She barely came up to his neck. He rested his chin on the top of her head. "Kagome, they don't hate you." He said softly. He could here her muffled sobs against his shirt. He knew that more than anything, she wanted their forgiveness and love, it was something she desperately needed. He just couldn't relay to her that she already had it, full and unconditionally.

Clutching the woman to him, he leaned back to sit on the couch. He settled her into his lap, rocking back and forth in a comforting manner. "Aishiteru, okaa-san." He whispered.

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