Author's Note: A one-shot for Morbidity and Kei the Incarnadine Goddess. (Read. Their. Works.) Because gah, I'm small fry compared to them. Written just a couple hours ago; too tired to get it beta'ed.
Inspired by my cure on ice. Read her amazing stuff.
It began with her grief.
"I don't believe in love," I used to say at night, when I'd search beneath her eyelids and find her insides flayed with self-promises and self-inflictions. More often then not, when I'd say that, she'd convulse into herself, tucking her hands where her heart should be so that if her empty ribs collapsed all she'd have to do was push the pieces back together.
At other times, she'd smile and say, "That's sad," when she really meant "you're sad," and then I would say, "Aren't I?" when I was really saying "Aren't you?"
A couple times, she said, "I do," and the dampness in her eyes would be from some rising dust in the air. When my eyes would whisper, "tears don't cure anything," her mouth would laugh and her chest would cave in, and in some distant tree, fast asleep, her silver heart would grumble.
Once, she agreed.
(And it was the happiest day of my life.)
Once, she said she couldn't believe in love because what she felt was too intense, too consuming, too dangerous to be anything that one could describe in one word. She confessed that when she looked at Inuyasha, the only thing she could think about was that perhaps she should have let him kill her when they first met, because then she might have made a beautiful carcass?
(Secretly her eyes wondered, "Would he have loved me more then?" and truthfully I answered "No." She paused then, asking me which question I was answering, and more importantly, which part of her I was breaking. I didn't dare tell.)
We talked a lot, that night. And then, before she fell asleep, burrowing in the blankets she wished was her grave, she said that she knew Inuyasha cared for her deeply and that she had heard him telling me once that he had never felt like this for anyone before. (But would that be enough?) And then she smiled and whispered, "If I had loved you instead, Miroku, at least I would have known I'd never stand a chance."
I didn't speak to her for days after that.
Inuyasha kept her company then, walking the walks I used to walk with her, talking the talks we used to talk. When they got into an argument, he would restrain from saying something he didn't mean, and she wouldn't restrain him at all. Inuyasha, though a little more awkward and gruff then normal, was kind. Like he knew there was something wrong. It was…peaceful.
Every once in awhile she would giggle. Like she was happy. Occasionally, she'd find me staring.
(She was angry with me, though I don't think either she or I knew why; at one point, when she knew I was looking, she tugged on Inuyasha's sleeve and said, "This is the first time I've ever talked to someone so openly like this."
I stopped looking at her after that.)
I was not alone either. Sango was Sango, and I appreciated that. When she talked she didn't Kagome-talk, and when she smiled un-Kagome like it was small and beautiful and rarely meant anything at all. She was a challenge, and I knew if I peered inside her head I'd find a fortress of stone, cold but long lasting, withstanding; Sango was so strong. She was good for the soul.
Occasionally, I caught Kagome staring too.
(I wasn't angry with Kagome, but I was something; at one point, when I knew she was in hearing distance, I turned to Sango and said, "I believe in love."
Sango knew I was lying; she smiled wryly, and we shared the bitter irony.
Later that night, when she was sure everyone was asleep, she disappeared.
When she finally came back, cheeks smudged with finger marks and tears, I pretended that I was sleeping and that I wasn't feeling guilty.)
Days passed. Weeks passed. We started talking, but no longer like we used to. Kagome stopped grieving, after a time. I stopped watching, eventually. She thought she didn't need me anymore; I knew I hadn't needed her in the first place. We were both fine with that.
And then it happened.
I found her in the riverbed, picking at stones. Her clothes clung like a second skin and when she clawed at her chest, nails biting red lines through cloth to skin, I wondered why we had ever believed things would change.
"I don't believe in love," I told her, softly.
She didn't look at me. Instead, she sunk deep into the current, despairing, and for a moment I thought she was really going to submit to her dark thoughts and drown. "Why?" she finally mumbled against the water's surface. The river lapped at her eyes. "Why?"
I crawled in after her, knelt before her, robes heavy. The cold water nipped at my thighs. When I buried my fingers in her hair, pressing my forehead against her slick cheek, she didn't protest.
"Because," I mumbled against her neck, thinking I'd never seen her more beautiful, "if I did and someone like you left, I'd probably be dying the same way you are."
She sobbed. "So your saying that I shouldn't have believed in love either? That…that…" she choked, "…if I'd never allowed myself to love Inuyasha, if he had never loved me back (if at all?), things would be different?"
"Inuyasha wouldn't have almost died?"
"Naraku wouldn't have almost won?"
"I wouldn't have to leave so he never can?"
I stiffened. "Yes."
"Then," she cried, her voice breaking, "if I didn't love him, if it didn't matter, what would there be left for me to stay!"
I didn't answer (what could I say? Me?) but then again, I didn't really need too.
She shuddered against me, arms tangling around my chest. When her lips brushed against mine, desperate, I didn't hesitate in kissing back.
She tasted beautiful.
(Was that even possible?)
After a long moment, she pulled away, eyes shimmering. Tears spilling, she pressed her wet head to my soaked robes and laughed.
"…I should have loved you, huh?" she asked, because it was already too late to think that anything would change. Because even if she did love me it wouldn't make a difference.
I crushed my mouth against hers again.
("Why?" Her eyes cried.)
Because maybe, for you Kagome, I would have believed.