This was another piece written for livejournal's iyfic(underscore)challenge. The theme was hair, hence the events that play out. It placed second, but you should all go check out the other brilliant pieces submitted!
But yes, I am alive, and I am working steadily on updates to all my major fics. "A Fortuitous Blunder," "In More Ways Than One," and even "The Beginning of Tomorrow" should be receiving updates very soon. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy this piece. :)
A Matched Pair
One-shot by Kelly O'Connor
"Kaze no Kizu!" InuYasha yelled as he lowered Tessaiga in preparation to unleash his attack.
The wind whipped across the field he and the large animalistic youkai were engaged in combat on. Kaze no Kizu not even having come into play, the Hanyou found himself suddenly distracted.
An unexpected blast of wind surged through, and he found his view obstructed by a familiar sheet of silver-white.
Well this had never happened before.
With as swift a movement as he could manage with his one free hand, InuYasha brushed his cascade of thick hair away so it lay behind him once more.
Shaking his head to clear his mind of the momentary confusion, he readied Tessaiga once more as he made eye contact with the beast.
However, it seemed that Kaze no Kizu would be unnecessary now.
InuYasha's eyes widened as a familiar pink-tinged arrow sped towards the youkai. The shaft of wood had been infused with enough power that the Hanyou knew his efforts would be futile now.
Once her target had been attained, there was an agonizing scream from the creature, before it was obliterated in a burst of pure Miko energy.
InuYasha cursed under his breath and sheathed Tessaiga. Irritated, he glanced towards one of the strands of waist length hair that hadn't made it back over his shoulder.
"What happened, InuYasha?" The dark haired Miko walked up next to the boy and placed her hand on his side in a supportive motion.
"I just got distracted!" He replied shortly, clearly a bit humiliated by what had occurred.
A knowing smile appeared on her features. "Did your… hair get in your face?"
InuYasha made a sound in the back of his throat. "Bah, how'd you know?" He admitted.
"Well… I kind of saw it happen InuYasha."
The teenager's cheeks pinked lightly. "Keh! It's not like it has happened before."
Stepping behind him, the girl took several pieces of his long silver hair in her hands and wound them through her fingers.
"K-Kagome what are you doing?" He inquired, flustered by her sudden action.
"I'm just making sure your hair stays out of your face InuYasha," she replied and continued to twist the strands.
The silver-haired boy was confused.
"I'm surprised this hasn't happened before. It's not all that practical for you to be wearing your hair down, especially since Tessaiga uses wind for most of its attacks."
"Keh, I've always worn it down!"
"Well, what's the matter with trying something new?" Kagome ran her fingers through the loose braid she was in the process of creating.
"It doesn't feel like you're pulling it up," he countered.
"I'm braiding it," she explained with a smile.
InuYasha furrowed his brows. "Don't do that!"
With a sulky pout, the boy crossed his arms. "That's something only weak guys do."
Kagome's hands went lax and she let out a deep sigh. "What?"
InuYasha tapped his fingers on his crossed arms, working to come up for reasoning behind his lame excuse. "That's how Bankotsu and Hiten wore their hair."
The dark-haired girl's hand met her forehead. You have got to be kidding me…
"Oh come on InuYasha!" Kagome persuaded. "Just give it a try, won't you?"
Maybe… I should just deal with this another time. Kagome rubbed her face. How can I get it through to him that this is a good idea?
The boards of the old well creaked as InuYasha leaned further back onto its splintered surface. His feet were tapping and periodically he would pick at the grass with his one free hand. The other hand was braced under his chin as he impatiently waited at the time slip for Kagome's return.
She wasn't late, although it would be a tough task to get InuYasha to relent to that truth. In fact, she had only left a few hours before.
A thump at the bottom of the well caused the boy to dart up in expectation. Peeking into the well, he gave a sigh of relief. "Oi, Kagome. It's about time you're back."
She took a deep breath, expecting this. "I've barely been gone InuYasha. I just grabbed some supplies and visited with my family a bit."
Climbing up the vines on the sides of the interior, Kagome smiled when he wrapped his hand around hers once she was within reach.
InuYasha swiftly but carefully pulled her out of the well, then reached to take the enormous yellow bag the Miko carried upon his own back.
"Thank you," she beamed.
Looking directly at Kagome, InuYasha blinked in confusion. "Neh, Kagome…why are you wearing your hair like that?"
The dark haired girl feigned innocence as she reached her hand back to finger the braid her hair was now tied back in. "Oh… this? I just thought it would be easier for me to move around and use my bow if it was back."
InuYasha grumbled. "Keh."
"Do you still think it's stupid and wimpy?" The young girl asked, lips curled in a devious smile.
Blush seeping across his cheeks at the direct confrontation, the teenage boy looked away. "Well… it looks nice on you."
Kagome flushed red, not expecting an indirect compliment. "I think it would look nice on you as well, InuYasha," she intoned softly, with a hint of shyness.
InuYasha's gaze immediately met with his feet. Biting his lip, he made a sound in the back of his throat exhibiting how her comment had touched him. "…Fine."
"Y-you can do it."
"Bah, braid my hair I mean." He clarified.
Clasping her hands in front of her, Kagome grinned. "InuYasha…" She paused. "Can we do it now?"
The Hanyou nodded.
"All right, let's go down to the nearest pond," the girl requested.
"Hmph, why do we have to do that?" He asked, shifting Kagome's large yellow bag on his back.
"Because I may need water and so the reflection of it can work as a mirror."
InuYasha shook his head in resignation and soon after the two of them made their way down to the crystal clear pond that was by Kaede's village.
The crisp cool grass beside the pond made a pleasant spot for Kagome and InuYasha to engage in the task at hand.
Reaching into the yellow bag InuYasha had just slipped off his back, the dark-haired girl retrieved a brush and a few hair bands.
"I always have these things with me for myself InuYasha. So if you ever want to use them, you can."
"Keh, like I'd need to."
Kagome shrugged and situated herself behind him, moving to begin the process of brushing his silken hair out due to the possibility of tangles interfering with the braid.
"I'm glad Miroku-sama and Shippou-chan aren't here…" She mused as she ran the brush through his hair. "We'd never hear the end of it if they were." A sardonic smile crossed her lips, but that turned into a frustrated pout when she ran into her first large tangle.
InuYasha made a sound indicating pain in the back of his throat, and Kagome sighed.
"Sorry about that," she leaned over and dipped the brush in the water, wetting it to help remove the knots in his full hair. The bristles went to his tresses once again, and Kagome continued the ritual.
"Oi, don't worry about it."
He relaxed under her touch.
InuYasha was always on alert, always somewhat tense.
Almost always. Only her presence was able to instill that feeling of perfect peace within his restless soul.
He felt that right now.
Once Kagome had finished combing his silver mane, she set about the process of braiding it.
"Your hair is so thick," the girl remarked as she separated it into three even chunks. "That's a good thing though…" she trailed off as she slowly began to weave the strands together.
A ray of sunlight shimmering upon its pristine surface brought InuYasha's attention to the pond they sat directly by. He glanced at the tranquil water, and his eyes widened when he noticed that the surface reflected both he and Kagome.
He watched via the mirror the pond provided as Kagome weaved her fingers in and out in the most gentle of manners through his cascade of hair.
Her fingers were calm and consistent, the utmost care being used to execute the task at hand. However, what InuYasha felt his eyes immediately drawn to… was her face.
Serene was the best way to describe it. As she went through the motions, she obviously found a kind of perfect contentment in sharing this simple moment with him.
And to InuYasha, that was precious. That he could cause her to achieve this kind of faultless state both made him proud and astonished.
Proud, because he wanted nothing more than to make her happy.
Astonished, because it never failed to amaze him that he could bring this out in someone.
He noticed that Kagome had not pulled the two side locks that lay in front of his shoulders back into the braid. Glancing over to the strands of white, he was glad for that. It would look more than a little odd.
Kagome bit her lip in thought for a moment as she worked on braiding in a particularly unruly strand of hair. It really is a good thing Miroku-sama, Shippou-chan, and Sango-chan aren't here. There's no way InuYasha would ever let me do this with them around…
As she continued her work, she surveyed his figure. Not a single hint of apprehension, Then again he is so relaxed right now…
She tugged lightly on the obstinate tangle.
Stubborn. He could be horrendously stubborn. He had been earlier that day after their fight with the youkai.
Stubborn enough to make a completely ridiculous excuse, Kagome mused.
That was her InuYasha, and for some odd reason… she had gained an endearing affection for that particular aspect of the teenage boy.
If he complains about it once we're done, I'll just remind him that his brother wears his hair down all the time too.
She'd reached the middle of the braid, and set about tightening it so the top parts wouldn't come loose. Giving it a light pull, she winced.
"Sorry. That didn't hurt, did it InuYasha?"
Making a noise in the back of his throat, he replied. "No… not at all."
Kagome could never hurt me…
Oh, it was true that she could if she had the desire to. She could shatter his heart into a million irreparable pieces or obliterate his existence with one solitary arrow.
He remedied that.
Kagome would never hurt me…
And because of that there was something sublime and ideal about the trust the two shared. Both holding the ability to destroy one another in both the corporal and mental sense, but both having absolute unshakable faith that the other would do nothing but care for them.
InuYasha's lips turned up in a half-smile, and he focused again on Kagome's calm reflection.
"Neh InuYasha," the girl spoke, breaking the peaceful silence. Her voice was soft and thoughtful.
"It was odd that there was such a large youkai near the village today, don't you think?"
"Yeah, it was. Since we don't have the shards anymore, they don't usually show up around here."
"Mhmm," she got to near the bottom of the braid and began using the tips of her fingers to twist the thinner strands. "No reason to come here now for them."
"We work well together, don't you think?" Kagome ventured.
"In battle I mean… when we team up things seem to go a lot smoother." She stroked his sleek tresses.
"I… guess you're right," InuYasha replied after a few moments.
Kagome noted that he was still unusually relaxed. She liked that.
"We're a team…" she trailed off.
The Hanyou made a sound in the back of his throat noting the positive.
I hardly even noticed she was there earlier. Until I saw that arrow… I didn't notice because well, she's always there.
But he certainly noticed when she wasn't present.
Kagome is beside me all the time… do I take advantage of that? Maybe it would work out better if we really did work as a team.
He thought back on the various battles the duo had engaged in. Often times, he would plunge into combat head strong, leaving Kagome behind to watch, due to his reckless abandon and his tremendous desire to keep her safe.
Although, even during those times it was obvious she wanted nothing more to help. Protect him in the same manner he did her.
She's a powerful Miko; it's not as if she can't defend herself. He closed his eyes. But… she's Kagome…
Kagome, who he couldn't bear to see gain even the most minute of injuries.
Perhaps he could be just a bit overprotective at times.
With a deep sigh, his thoughts continued towards the times the two of them had worked as a tag team in battle. Him with his Tessaiga and her with her Purity arrows.
It became very clear in his mind which way of combat was more effective.
As a team, the two could be close to invincible. But without each other, their strength of will was merely a shadow of what it could be.
With each other they also had their strength of heart, and that could ultimately be the difference.
InuYasha silently vowed that he would allow Kagome to fight alongside him more often.
A satisfied sigh interrupted the silver-haired boy's thoughts, and he glanced to the pond to see that the teenage girl was finishing off the braid by wrapping an elastic band around it.
Kagome let out a short giggle as she played with the tassel of hair that remained at the end of it. "I'm all done, InuYasha."
Although she was disappointed to end their peaceful moment, the dark-haired girl stood up and faced the pond.
InuYasha followed suit.
Touching his shoulder gently, Kagome gestured him to glance to his reflection in the water.
"Do… you like it?" She queried tentatively.
Blinking, the Hanyou surveyed his appearance.
It was different, that was for sure. The tight braid fell down his back, and perhaps he was imagining it… but he could swear it made him appear a bit older than his fifteen years.
"I think it makes you look mature," Kagome observed with a light blush.
Maybe he wasn't imagining it then, and he found his cheeks pinking as well.
"Will it… really help me in battle?" The boy finally questioned.
The Miko smiled lightly, taking that as a 'yes.'
"I promise you it will. Your hair is always flying into your face, whether it causes a problem like it did today or not."
She squeezed his shoulder. "When it's hot out it will help you stay cooler, and I think that it will just make things easier for you in general."
Glancing down to her feet with a light flush, Kagome lowered her voice. "And I… I think it looks really nice InuYasha."
The Hanyou looked to her, momentarily touched before regaining his composure. "Keh, well I can't braid it myself."
Face brightening and mouth widening into a grin, Kagome resisted the urge to hug him. "I'll do it for you anytime, InuYasha."
There was a moment of comfortable silence, in which both of them observed their reflections in the sunlit pond.
Kagome's eyes widened though, when she felt a familiar hand slip into hers.
Glancing over, her gaze met with InuYasha's. He wore a cautious expression, cheeks tinged with pink as if he were requesting permission to hold her hand.
Without hesitation, she gripped back, rubbing her fingers along his knuckles in an affectionate manner.
"It looks like we match now," Kagome stated lightheartedly, in regards to the braid she wore as well.
Looking from her back towards the water, InuYasha nodded. "I… guess we do."
Feeling her once more give a light squeeze to his hand, a genuine smile made its way across his features.
InuYasha and Kagome, a matched pair.
He could get used to that.