(Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, which belongs to Rumiko Takahashi)
(a/n: Let's not ask questions about how strange this fic will be. Let's just say I was inspired by a song -this is not a songfic, btw- and the strange premise behind reincarnation.)
Scars of Time
Unknowingly, their love had survived though time; however, they would be fated to meet the same tragic end. (Inu/Kag -part AU)
There was a celestial grace in her, and yet a resounding sadness that wrongly added to her beauty. He would watch her with a blank expression, his eyes never seeming to blink and his body immobile like the trees around them. Occasionally, a brisk wind would tease the leaves, but neither of them were disturbed. The girl remained where she had always been, sprawled across the boulder like it were the body of her lover. There were streaks of dried blood in ribbons on her back, visible when the sun broke through the tree's canopy, and yet he could never see her eyes.
That dream was fleeting, coming in and out of his subconscious at saccadic intervals since he was a child. He was told that dreams never had meaning -they were the mind's way of integrating information into the memory from previous experiences. And yet, for someone as rational as he was, he refused to believe the stated truth; however, he never quenched his curiosity. The dream remained unacknowledged in his mind, stacked below his growing list of priorities.
He left home when he was twenty after the untimely death of his mother. She was a beautiful woman in all aspects, the only woman he could regard with high esteem. However, there were times she would hold him and cry, whispering that he was never hers.
"You're the child of the moon and a demon," she would say. As a child, he found the words to be the emissions of a romantic, a poet. Now the memory drove shivers through him.
Traveling alone developed him into a man bleeding arrogance and disdain. That was how he was when she had met him, and how she had regarded him when he had met her.
Her brown eyes had settled on him first, unable to ignore the grown man laying on a bench when the sun was near set. There were the soft remnants of the fiery glow in the horizon, but above, they were encased by a sky the color of sorrow. Heavily dark clouds were spread throughout, appearing like they would leak down to them.
It was cold. He had his back turned to her and when he breathed out, white puffs came out. She watched him hesitantly for a few moments before a brisk wind embraced her and she crossed her arms unintentionally to ward off the cold. The man shuffled and his body contracted, and in return, she touched him lightly on the shoulder.
"Are you okay?" she asked, unknowing what she hoped the answer would be.
She remained standing in front of the bench, wanting to leave but being stopped inwardly. "Do you have somewhere to stay?"
"Do you want somewhere to stay?"
He had a broken voice, one that didn't rise nor fall with words. It made her wonder whether he laughed, or simply smiled stiffly -those smiles where inside, there was nothing to smile about at all. Emotion would make him a beautiful singer, she had thought. Even one change in note could perhaps break her inside. She wasn't sure whether she wanted to be broken.
The man turned around after a few moments when realizing that she hadn't left. His eyes were narrowed into slits, iris and pupil molded into one dark gem in each eye, and dark bangs carelessly cascading over the pair. The direction of his gaze had saccadic movements, running from the girl's full black hair, to her wide eyes and then stopping at her jacket, a green toggle wool coat with a black scarf wrapped around her neck.
"Don't you have somewhere to go?" he asked, preparing to return to his previous position.
"You can't stay out here all night."
In the back of his throat a deep growl rumbled and he closed his eyes tightly. Easily he could ignore her -eventually she would leave. But he felt the cold's caress and knew that she could as well. Opening his eyes, he examined her cheeks, which were flushed with a rose pink tinge. If he touched them, he knew they would be warmth to his iced fingers.
"I have nothing to give you," he finally said, swinging his legs off of the bench and sitting upright. All the while he avoided her eyes.
"I don't mind."
She still never moved and realizing that she was waiting for him, he reluctantly stood up. They walked side by side, like two people who knew each other somewhat but not enough. Not enough for him to put his arms around her, for them to look at one another, for either of them to speak.
"I can't feel my ears," she suddenly said while they came to the end of the park's path. He glanced down at her and noticed a small smile on her lips and could feel a sudden warmth infect his cheeks. She wasn't that pretty, he deduced. Not as pretty as a girl could be, and yet she was something different. No... familiar. A heart-shaped face, light skin, full cheeks and such brown eyes. Very typical, he decided. Perhaps that was why he felt like he had seen her before.
And her ears were indeed red.
When he didn't respond, she made another attempt at conversation. "Are you a traveler?"
Unconsciously he shifted his burlap knapsack and nodded. "Yeah."
"Where are you going?"
"No where..." he muttered, finding it strange that he wanted to tell her the truth; however, he refused to allow himself.
For the rest of the walk they were both silent until they reached the entrance of a shrine. A wry smile consumed his lips and he glanced at the girl, who's face was expressionless.
"This is why you're so generous," he said and the girl parted her mouth slightly in surprise.
"Is there something wrong with that?"
He shrugged. "No..."
The climb up the stairs was cumbersome but he never tired. He was surprisingly athletic and fit, despite his thin frame. The girl seemed to be surprised that he didn't rest when she asked him whether he was exhausted.
At the shrine, he surveyed the snow-covered grounds. It appeared like any other shrine, but oddly, a rather large tree caught his attention. He willed to walk to it, to examine it further, but then he realized how bizarre it would seem to the girl, who was walking to the house. Reluctantly, he followed her inside, where she took off her shoes and he followed suit.
The flush of warmth that embraced him was welcomed and despite feeling alienated within the home, he was glad to be out of the cold. He stood awkwardly in the foyer on a straw mat while the girl disappeared further within the home. She emerged a few minutes later, an older woman whom he assumed to be her mother following.
"Ah, hello!" she warmly greeted, bowing down slightly. He started, unused to such civilities and after an awkward pause, he returned the motion. "Kagome tells me that you're a traveler without a place to stay. Would you like to stay here?"
He didn't. "Yeah. That'd be great."
The mother beamed. "Good, good. I'll make you some food. Kagome, show him to the guest room."
When she left, he remained still, staring at the area she had been standing. He had been used to strange stares regarding his scruffy and unnatural appearance -long ebony hair tied back and violet eyes that were certainly a mutation from the gene pool. Perhaps she didn't notice.
"Are you coming?" the girl -no, Kagome, asked. As he followed her, he observed that she seemed younger within the house, perhaps a year or two younger than him. Her frame was slim and dainty, and without her boots she was a head shorter than him. He wasn't used to feeling tall.
"This is your room," she said, sliding the door to the side. She stepped inside and began to point out the aspects of the room. "There's a futon in the closet, a heater under that table... the washroom is on this side -but don't go through the other door -that leads into my room."
When she finished, she turned to look at him and was met with a blank stare. "Uhm, I'm Higurashi Kagome, by the way."
Her eyes widened in incredulity. "Really?"
"No. It's my nickname."
Kagome frowned. "It would be polite if you told me your real name."
"It would be. But I can't care less." He dropped his bag onto the floor and moved to the closet where she stated the futon would be. Realizing that he was going to ignore her, Kagome released an exasperated sigh and left the room.
"Did you sleep well?"
It was a typical question, and in return, was given a typical answer.
What else could he tell her?
He sat down across from Kagome and next to her grandfather, feeling strange and out of place. It was the first time where he didn't feel like eating and simply stared at his bowl of rice, hands nestled in his lap.
"Mama, I had a strange dream last night..." Kagome said, putting down her bowl and chopsticks.
"Eh, you've been watching too much television!" Mrs. Higurashi said, sighing afterward. Her eyes suddenly turned to him. "Are you ill?"
Again, he was caught off-guard. "N-no..." he said, flushing from his stutter. His right hand lifted and he reluctantly reached for the chopsticks; however, his eyes were focused on Kagome, who had suddenly stopped eating.
"I'm done," she said, standing up. Before she left, he noticed her glance at him with an expression of trepidation and confusion.
When he had finished, he felt obligated to discover what was troubling her. On his way to her room, he found her in the foyer, putting on her boots and wearing a knapsack. She paused midway of doing up her laces and stared at him. He similarly froze.
"I have school..." she explained. "I'm a University student."
When she finished her statement, she finished tying her laces and left the house. Inuyasha followed her, having to run to catch up with her. They walked together in silence before Kagome broke it.
"Why are you here?"
"I'm walking you to school," he answered, as if it were the most plausible answer.
Kagome's eyes narrowed in indignation. "I don't need to be accompanied. I'm nineteen."
"Then I won't," Inuyasha said, stopping suddenly. Kagome walked for a few seconds longer before stopping as well and turning around.
"Who are you?" she demanded, watching his relaxed statue, his hands in the pockets of his jean jacket and left leg bent.
"Tell me your dream."
"Who are you?"
Inuyasha shook his head. "I don't know."
In return, Kagome pursed her lips and her hands rested on her hips. Finally, she released a short laugh and playfully punched Inuyasha on the shoulder. "We have something in common."
It seemed like the same routine for the next two days. He would walk her to her University and then wait for her near the gates in the same spot. People tended to avoid him and although he would've liked to say it didn't bother him, she saw the smallest hint of distress in his amethyst eyes.
In return for his seemingly grudging kindness, Kagome would offer to show him around the town. He tended to always comment negatively about something and rarely display interest. He called her hometown "small" and "dirty", but when she questioned him about his own home, he never answered.
"I wish you would at least try to show interest in something," Kagome stressed on the third day, walking backward so that she could face him. Inuyasha shrugged indifferently and in return, Kagome suppressed the sudden need to strangle him. "And do you even work?"
She shook her head, stopping. "I didn't mean it that way... I'm simply curious to how you spent your day."
"Sleeping and eating isn't a constructive lifestyle..." She resumed walking, this time facing forward; however, she was suddenly surpassed by Inuyasha. Instead of racing to catch up with him, she continued at her lethargic pace, observing him in her own way. His path was a winding one, cutting straight across the lawn of a neighbor and then journeying into the park where they had met. There, he sought the bench he had been sleeping on and sat down, hunched over somewhat as if his attention had been finally caught.
When Kagome caught up to him, his eyes implied that he wanted her to sit next to him and she accepted his wish. In front of them lay the concrete pathway and beyond that, the artificial lake. A few cherry blossom trees were artfully placed here and there -who knew what used to occupy the soil below them.
Her every eventually drifted to him, wondering about what he was thinking. His eyes were always so intense and concentrated, pupil and sclera becoming one in apparent blackness. Dark silken strands of his ebony hair careened over his shoulder and she was curious to see whether they would feel as soft as they looked.
"Nothing here is real," he said, shaking his head.
"How do you know?"
"Over there," he pointed to the right center, "was a forest. There," he pointed further right, "a small boulder and a clearing within the forest. And here," his hands slammed down on either side of him, causing Kagome to jump, "a river."
"...Nothing. It... simply must have been... beautiful."
He nodded solemnly. "It was."
They didn't move after that. Eventually, Inuyasha lay back and Kagome rested her head against his shoulder. They watched the sky change from powder blue to a citric orange and then settle into a gothic lavender. Kagome's eyes closed a few moments later. Hesitantly, Inuyasha shifted his body to allow her to fall into his arms and he gently shifted her until she was sitting on his lap, her head on his shoulder and hand curled up against his chest. She didn't seem bothered the least about the sudden changed -she was absorbed within her slumber and dreams. Occasionally, her normally pleasant face would crumple into an expression of discomfort and once she even clutched violently at her chest, struggling for breath.
Inuyasha wasn't surprised. He simply loosened the scarf around her neck and hoped that sleep would never come to him.
The next day, Kagome found herself in her bed. She had awoken with a start, crimson liquid forcing itself out of her body through her mouth. When she had regained her strength from the horrible event, she realized that she was still wearing the majority of her clothes from last night, minus her jacket, socks and scarf. Puzzled, she stumbled out of her bed and into the guest room. The room was spotless, as if no one had ever occupied it. Confused, quickly wiped off the blood from her chin before running to the living room where her mother and brother were watching television.
"Have you seen Inuyasha?" she asked, not noticing her mother's momentary amused look upon noticing her disheveled appearance. However, the mirth vanished from her countenance when Inuyasha's name was voiced.
"Kagome dear, he left."
She shrugged. "He just thanked me, told me that when he had the chance he would pay me back, and then left."
Realization of the truth struck her like cold ice against the skin. After a moment of stunned silence, she forced herself to smile and bowed her head down slightly. "Of course," she said. "That was nice of him."
Her mother resumed watching television. Souta didn't even look up.
Kagome walked calmly out of the room but when she passed by the front entrance, she couldn't stop herself from bounding out. It didn't bother her that she was bare foot or that she was wearing clothes from the previous day. She was consumed by an inexplicable emotion that burned within her, refusing to extinguish until she found him.
Her feet were bleeding by the time she reached the park a few hours later. She had scoured the train stations and bus depots hoping to find him, but there was nothing. Now, as she walked and left crimson footprints where she treed, she realized that wherever he had gone, she would be unable to reclaim him. He would have to come to her.
He would come to her.
She fell onto the bench, laying down as if it were a bed. Closing her eyes, she waited for him. All the while, her chest screamed and when she coughed, drops of crimson embedded themselves into the creases of her palm; however, she simply wiped it off on her jeans, leaving indistinguishable stains where other stains had been.
He found her later that night. He wanted to scream at her, rip her from the bench and into his arms. Instead, he touched her lightly on the shoulder and then on her cheek. The sudden shock of his cold hand against her warm cheek stirred her and her chocolate eyes opened. Upon sighting him, she immediately draped her arms around him and began to sob.
Neither knew of what had come upon them. It was simply difficult to let go.
Lightly pulling away, Inuyasha found himself seeking Kagome's lips and their mouths seemed to consume one another, as if deprived of water. Kagome's mouth tasted like metal, he noted, willing to pull away but finding it impossible. Her small fingers rested lightly on his cool skin, one hand on his neck and the other on his cheek. Her warmth spread through him with each touch and he wondered what his cold fingers were doing to her waist.
Lifting her up, he broke their kiss. He then carried her like a child, her legs wrapped around his waist and head resting on his shoulders.
"You wanted to leave me," she whispered, clutching onto his cotton shirt.
"I had to."
A small smirk came to his lips. "Kagome, what do you dream about?"
"A lot of things," she answered, voice slightly higher pitched.
"I don't remember."
It became silent once again, except for the soft claps of Inuyasha's shoes against the concrete. The night air was cool, drinkable even, and the sky finally glazed with pinpricks of white stars. Inuyasha followed the path to the end, his grip on Kagome never faltering. Once at the shrine, however, Kagome refused to let him leave.
He wanted to tell her what he knew, but had a feeling she knew as well.
In her room, they stood apart from one another until Kagome took the first initiative. Her shirt was lifted over her head, exposing her bra and bare navel, causing Inuyasha to flush a slight crimson, but he acted as if it didn't affect him in the slightest way. Instead, he complied by taking off his own shirt, revealing a dark scar on the right side of his chest. It spread out like the petals of a demented flower and caused Kagome to take a step back in horror. However, her fear was quickly overcome when she took a step forward and then another. Her fingers lightly touched the scar, which caused Inuyasha to wince and she bit her bottom lip.
"What happened?" she asked, although she knew.
Instead of answering, Inuyasha took her into his arms. "If I stay here, we both will die."
"Why...?" the question came in the form of more of a sob than a comprehensible word. He could tell she hated being consumed by her emotions and furthermore, a victim of fate. He, however, had accepted it long ago. He had also accepted his death.
"I've been dreaming horrible things about you," she finally confessed, her hands resting on his bare arms. Her eyes never met his, focused on nothing in the corner. "I killed you and each time the arrow pierced you through the heart, I would wake up and start to..." She closed her eyes tightly, as if unable to accept the truth herself. "...I would cough up blood."
"I'm leaving," Inuyasha said suddenly, reaching down to retrieve his shirt. Once again, he was stalled by Kagome, whose fiery spirit returned to her.
"I don't care," she stated firmly and reached up to take the frame of Inuyasha's face into her hands. Quickly, she kissed him but was surprised when Inuyasha refused to let her pull away.
While they kissed, Inuyasha ran his hands down her back, feeling the deep horizontal scars that he knew were there. When they began to make love, those scars slowly split open, causing Kagome to release a scream that she muffled by biting into the grove of Inuyasha's neck and shoulder. His own wound began to break his flesh, spreading his dark blood onto Kagome's moon-white skin. However, neither seemed to be abstained by it. Instead, in the end, Kagome was smiling lightly, her fingers weaving through Inuyasha's long hair.
When her breath became shallow, he left her bed and quickly dressed. Before leaving, he slipped Kagome into her nightgown and kissed her lightly on the forehead. Then, clutching his still bleeding wound, he deserted the shrine and Kagome.
Kagome was found the next morning by her mother in blood that had streamed from her back and mouth. There were savage cuts, as if from claws, on the flesh of her skin and even the fabric of her nightgown, which had been viciously torn. She was proclaimed dead before she reached the hospital.
And upon the bench where Kagome had found him five days ago lay Inuyasha, a man no one really knew and didn't really care about. However, for the first time, he was sincerely smiling, his head tilted toward the setting moon.