Because of You


AN: hey guys! well, I've been slaving over this fic for 5 OFFICIAL MONTHS, and I wanted it to be so perfect. I think it came out pretty good, but I still think it's a little choppy in spots. Let me know what you think, I've sacrificed so much to finish this fic. (I'm currently sitting INSIDE on a GORGEOUS DAY in CANCUN FREAKIN MEXICO, just so I can finish this. freakish, much:P) please review!

disclaimer: Inuyasha ain't mine, and the song is "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson


Inuyasha closed his eyes as he sat by the river, letting his body exhale as he felt the wind brush his face. He remembered this place well. This was the very spot where he'd first held her in his arms; where he'd first felt. . . whole. It seemed like an eternity had passed since that moment. Maybe, in essence, it had. Either way, he was fairly sure of one thing; he'd never feel such a way ever again.

I will not make
the same mistakes that you did;
will not let myself
cause my heart so much misery.

She had always been beautiful to him; he would at least admit to that. Although, winning her hadn't been his primary concern at the time, it still seemed to occupy a fair portion of his thoughts. He could never forget her smile, even if it had been too faint for notice to anyone's eyes but his own. Maybe if he hadn't possessed as much agony as she within his own soul, if he hadn't been able to feel the most subtle of her smiles in his very being, he might have realized what was happening to her before it was too late.

I will not break
the way you did;
you fell so hard.
I've learned the hard way
to never let it get that far.

How things had managed to go so wrong right before his eyes, he'd never know. He'd never forget that morning; rather, the memory was stained so unforgivingly deep in his mind that there wasn't any allowance for it to be forgotten. The birds appeared to be singing just for him on that day, and the sunlight seemed to dance on his face. She'd be betrothed to him by the time the day was through; he'd make sure of that. Just as he passed through the trees to where he was to meet his beloved, the sacred jewel laden in her gentle hands for the final time, he saw a sight that never in his wildest dreams would he ever have thought he'd have to endure; his Kikyo, his dear, sweet, Kikyo, a broken woman stained in her own blood, as her weak, quivering hands held her bow just long enough to seal his fate.

He wished so desperately that he could have killed himself, so as not to let his own wretched blood mark her pure hands.

Because of you,
I'll never stray too far from the sidewalk.
Because of you,
I learned to play it on the safe side so I don't get hurt.

"Inuyasha?" a soft voice called meekly, and his ears perked subconsciously in acknowledgment; his consciousness had no desire to speak, however. Not now. Then, she'd never been one for giving up so easily, had she? "Um. . . do you mind?" Only then did he glance her way, and permitted her to sit beside him in the sense that he simply didn't stop her. Their words were held in secrecy as the water flowed past them, occupying them for a short time. "Was there something you wanted?" he asked, speaking for the first time. His agitated tone seemed to rattle her a bit as her reply came. "No. . . not really." She paused. "It's just. . . you seemed so. . . and I was worried, that's all." He sniggered. "Save your concern. You waste it too much." Had his tone of voice not have been so belittling, she might have had half a mind to retort; even so, her words ran dry, and she accepted the silence in defeat as she rose from her spot in a dispirited manner, going forth from whence she came. His gaze stay fixed on the stream, seemingly unmoved by her departure.

Because of you,
I find it hard to trust;
not only me, but everyone around me.

He heaved a sigh and consented to his solitude once again, silently recognizing Kagome's attempt. She meant well, and she tried. She really did. Even if admittance would never leave his own thoughts, he was grateful to her. Regardless, she'd never know his true perception of her. Oh, no. She couldn't know. Not ever. He hated to shatter her confidence time and time again, but it had to be done; he was just too dangerous. The more she knew of him, the more vulnerable she'd be. It was for her own protection, and nothing else; it certainly brought him no pleasure. He paused a moment, processing one last thought he'd tried to cast away countless times. Yet it just couldn't be done, no matter how much anguish it caused him.

. . . the fact that this could have been exactly what Kikyo had been thinking when she. . .

Because of you,
I am afraid. . .

He still remembered the first time Kikyo spoke to him; really spoke to him. It seemed as if she'd mustered every bit of confidence in her bones just to look at him, which proved rather unusual, considering she had no problem with firing an arrow or two at him in battle; that, of course, was no longer the case. Not anymore. It wasn't about the jewel anymore; he could care less, frankly. It was merely his excuse for following her around; meant to save himself a little dignity, and nothing else. Not that he was actually respected in the first place.

"Inuyasha. . ." she whispered. "The jewel. . . why do you want it?" He blinked. "To become a full demon. What else?" She nodded softly, her gaze drifting to the palms of her hands. "Oh." He chuckled to himself, knowing exactly where she was going with this. "What did you think I wanted with it?" she paused, processing her thoughts. "Inuyasha. . . its just that. . . think of what could happen if you would only use it to. . ."

"To be human?" he finished sharply, feeling a sudden rage dwell within him. "Is that what you thought?" Her strength dissipated as quickly as it had first appeared, waiting for him to tell her just how typical she was. "Look, Kikyo, I've never been anyone my entire life. Never. I'm not a demon, and I'm not a human. So what am I, Kikyo? Can you answer me that? Because no one else seems to know what the hell I am." He stared straight into her appalled gaze, fighting himself. He didn't mean to be so cross; he really didn't. It just. . . happened. It was like a horrid beast lay deep within his soul, completely capable of altering every aspect of his life, and he had no control over it. He ordered his mouth to apologize, but when it opened, it only betrayed him even further. "That's what I thought. You're just like the rest of them." He stood quietly, his legs carrying him towards the village. He only stopped at the sound of her futile retort. "Inuyasha, wait! Think about this. Please. If you became human with the jewel, it would cease to exist. And you could live, Inuyasha. You could finally live without fear or rejection or. . . Isn't that what you want?" She approached him cautiously, wrapping her arms around his own. "We both carry burdens that no longer need to be endured. We don't have to be alone anymore." Only then did he win the fight with himself, softening his eyes as he looked at her, whispering bitterly. "It's not that simple. It never is." With that, he separated himself from her and walked off without any disruption.

I loose my way,
and it's not too long before you point it out.

How could he yell at her like that? He really couldn't understand it. He'd spent so many countless hours longing for her in secrecy, and when she finally opens up to him, tries to help him, even, he lashes out at her. He didn't deserve to be treated as an equal. Why should he? He wasn't an equal; he was different. He was a different, despicable, atrocious son of a bitch who wasn't worth the light of day, let alone acceptance.

He didn't deserve her. So why did he still need her?

He sighed with resentment, sitting on the fence that surrounded the villagers' farmland as he buried his face into the palms of his hands. He sniffed loudly, rocking back and forth in his spot, scolding himself not to cry. Don't cry. Please don't cry. Just this once. Let him be strong just this once.

. . . Suddenly, being strong didn't seem so appealing anymore.

I cannot cry,
because I know that's weakness in your eyes.

Inuyasha woke with a start, staring into the waters as they rushed by and swirled his feet. It was just a dream. He groaned to himself as he rubbed his eyes, muttering his own personal opinion of his subconscious for choosing such memories.

"Hey, Inuyasha!" He was barely given the time to process the voice before Shippou eagerly jumped on his lap, crawling up to the top of his head and obstructing his vision entirely. "Hey, dinn-. . ." Before Shippou could even finish the sentence, Inuyasha grabbed him by the tail and carelessly cast him off to the side; it had become more or less of a reflex with him. "Bug off."

"Oh, Inuyasha. Don't be so rude." Kagome chimed cheerfully as she picked Shippou up in her arms, lightly dusting off the new addition of dirt to his tail in her own maternalistic way. Inuyasha grunted; he just wasn't in the mood. Just as he was released from Kagome's arms, Shippou made his second voyage up Inuyasha's body, irritating the hanyou immensely. "Hey, it's dinner time! Aren't ya hungry?"

"No."

"But you haven't eaten anything all day." Kagome attested apprehensively. "You really should -. . ."

"No."

"Hey!" Shippou persisted, hanging his neck over the top of Inuyasha's head in an attempt to lock gazes. "She's right, ya know! You're gonna starve and die, and then you're gonna come back to haunt us in our sleep and blame it all on - . . ."

"I said NO!" Inuyasha yelled, grabbing Shippou off his head with such force that his heart nearly stopped. His vision blurred as his hands took on their own will, cutting off communication with his consciousness altogether. His heart pounded wildly and his senses screamed as his rage intensified more and more with every moment until he felt himself suffocating, yet his body seemed to hold no use for air; it fed off his utter madness and nothing more.

"Inuyasha, NO! Stop it! Stop it, please!" He felt his hands open and his body fall back at the sound of her voice. He panted disturbingly, opening his eyes only to find her sobbing, holding Shippou desperately as he gasped for air, dangerously close to fainting completely. Inuyasha's eyes grew wide as realization and complete shock hit him all at once; he hurt Shippou. He wasn't just playing around, as always; oh, no. He strangled him; he left the poor thing helpless within a mere inch of his life.

He nearly killed a child. He was a monster.

Shaking with more fright than he ever thought possible, he ran straight into the forest without a second thought, tears staining his cheeks.

I'm forced to fake
a smile, a laugh,
every day of my life.
My heart can't possibly break when it wasn't even whole to start with.

The birds were sleeping and night had fallen long before he even dared to look up. His tears had finally run dry, yet his body still felt every drop of intensity trembling within him. His stomach yearned for substance, but he had no intention of satisfying it; that would mean he would have to go back. At present, he was so disgusted with himself that he didn't think himself worthy of their presence; yet he couldn't walk away. He had to go back, if only for a moment. He just had to.

He breathed heavily with false confidence and rose from the ground, carrying himself back to the village, welcoming any available delay.

Because of you,
I'll never stray too far from the sidewalk.
Because of you,
I learned to play it on the safe side so I don't get hurt.

He approached the hut silently; cautiously, at first, but his overwhelming emotions urged him to hurry. He peeked in, seeing nothing but an empty hut - save for Shippou's motionless figure in the corner of the room, snuggled in Kagome's sleeping bag with Kirara resting close at his side. Inuyasha's heart nearly stopped, yet it could have killed him if it beat any faster. It couldn't be. Shippou couldn't be. . . could he?

He looked around him apprehensively before entering the hut, rushing to Shippou's side, shaking him gently. "Shippou! Get up!" he whimpered desperately. Nothing. "Come on! Get up! Stop playing with me!" Still nothing. Tears started to tug at the corners of his eyes, but he wouldn't hear of it; he refused to give up. "Come on, Shippou. . . You gotta get up. . . please. . ."

"It's alright." Inuyasha spun around, staring into Kagome's eyes in shock. Whether she was completely oblivious to his utter dread or it was simply an act, she came in and sat beside him quietly, soaking Shippou's head-cloth in the water that accompanied her. She sighed, feeling Inuyasha's eyes on her; he wanted to speak, but he didn't think himself worthy of any comfort. "He's. . . still alive." she whispered, her voice shaking as she answered his silent question. Inuyasha teared, watching her as she replaced the cloth on his forehead. Her eyes were wet and bloodshot, and her cheeks were red with dried tears; she'd been crying. Hard. Real hard. He should have left; saved her from crying just a little more. Yet he felt that deep within his heart, he knew; even if he had tried to leave, she wouldn't have let him. "He's breathing heavily, but he'll be alright." she continued; there was nothing else she could say to him. She was too distraught to know her opinion of him enough to say anything more.

She didn't dare meet his eyes even once, and watched him as he ran a gentle finger along Shippou's cheek and pressed his hand against his face mournfully. It was enough to make her tear; she knew he was deeply hurt, stricken with terror at what he'd done. It wasn't of his doing; he'd never do such a thing intentionally. Never; he was just so. . . so warm. Passionate. His love for his companions was very great; she knew it was, though she couldn't explain how. . . So who was she to blame for Shippou's suffering body in front of her, barely breathing while all she could do was watch? Who?

Suddenly, she pulled Shippou away from Inuyasha with gentle hands, holding him tightly to her chest as she would her own infant, wrapping him lovingly in a blanket as she cried. Never had she known him so cold and helpless; it was just too much to bear. Inuyasha reached out to comfort her on reflex and pulled away just as quickly. He had no right to console her. No right at all. So what was he to do? Just sit there while she cried, tearing his heart apart little by little? He had to do something; he was just so lost between his role as her secret lover and the offender of practically her child that he didn't know what.

Secret lover. Where did that come from?

"Kagome?" Shippou asked wearily, coughing upon awakening. That same dread that Inuyasha'd felt came flooding back like a nightmare, urging him to run; but no. Not this time. He wasn't running anymore. It only brought more pain. Kagome held him dearly, attempting to rid her voice of any trace of crying while she whispered to him, imploring him not to speak. "I'm ok." he croaked earnestly, putting on a brave front as he tried to release himself from her arms to prove so. "Shippou, no. Please. You're too weak." she pleaded, yet he pressed on. "See, just. . ." His sentence was left unfinished due to a stream of coughs, forcing him back where he'd started, the wind completely knocked out of him as his attempt proved futile. Inuyasha buried his face into his hands, but he still heard every cough, every raspy response out of the poor little child's mouth. It was his doing. How could he? How?

"It's alright." Kagome whispered soothingly, letting him snuggle into her arms in his own little way. "I promise." She bit her lip as she paused, exhaling deeply before murmuring a sweet lullaby in the child's ear. Inuyasha's tears paused as he listened, feeling himself loosen at the sound of her voice. It really was beautiful. He listened intently, as if it was the only thing he had left to hang on to. Well. . . in a sense, she was.

Because of you,
I find it hard to trust;
not only me, but everyone around me.

"He really loves you." Inuyasha said quietly as Kagome lay him down and held his little hand while he slept. She looked surprised to hear him speak at first, but replied nonetheless. "I love him, too. Very much." She exhaled slowly, continuing the conversation. "It's just that. . . He doesn't have a mother, and. . . I don't know. . ." she paused. "It's just. . . not fair. It's not fair for anyone to grow up without a mother." Inuyasha nodded silently. She smiled weakly, still not having looked at his face even once. "And it's almost like. . . he's mine. Ya know? Like he really is my son."

Silence.

The conversation died completely, leaving Kagome and Inuyasha with nothing but their empty thoughts and the feeling of uneasiness growing within them. This wasn't right. Not at all.

"I. . . always wanted to be. . ." she whispered so softly that even Inuyasha's keen ears almost missed it. "What?" He asked, just as quiet. Her skin became a light shade of pink and her eyes sparkled dreamily. "A mother. I always wanted to be one, for some reason. I mean, not that I'd be any good at it or anything, but. . . it's just one of those things. . . I mean, I can't have a child now. . . I'm too young, after all. Far too young. But still. . ." She laughed bitterly and exhaled upon resuming normality. That's not true. He thought. You'd be a perfect mother. Sweet, gentle. . . his thoughts paused. "I sound like such a whore." she spat, disgusted with herself.

". . .I don't think so."

Kagome gasped silently, amazed that she'd heard such a thing. She had felt so wretched, so ashamed for ever thinking such thoughts. And to speak them aloud was the highest of sins. Yet. . . he still understood her. He knew just what she had meant. He knew. "Really?" she faltered, hoping with all of her might that he'd meant it, meeting his eyes for the very first time that night. "Well. . . yeah. . . I think. . . you. . ." he swallowed hard, letting his eyes fall to the ground in embarrassment.

"Kagome! . . ." Sango gasped as she ran into the hut, stopping only at the sight of Inuyasha. She froze, completely unaware of what to say; Inuyasha saved her the trouble, looking into Kagome's eyes one last time before laying against the wall in the corner of the room, closing his eyes to sleep. Kagome sighed, hanging her head.

Because of you,
I am afraid. . .

He shifted tiredly among the leaves of his usual tree, groaning as he listened into the night. Her hut was way down on the ground, yet he could still hear her. She moaned fearfully in her sleep, trying to shield herself from imaginary demons, and, by the sound of it, failed dismally. His keen ears could hear her so closely, he could feel her quiver right through him. He grunted once more before making the journey to the ground, cursing his human sense of compassion for depriving him of a decent sleep.

"Kikyo. . . wake up. . ." he whispered, shaking her softly. She continued to pant fearfully as subconscious tears spilled down her cheeks. "Kikyo. . . Snap out of it. . . Hey there. . . Kikyo? Kikyo, wake up. . ." the panting stopped all at once, and Inuyasha held his breath. "Inuyasha?" she whispered, her voice quiet and shaking. Before he could even reply, she sprung up into his arms, crying hysterically into his shoulder as she quavered. He held her close to him after a moment of speculation, taken aback at her sudden reaction. "Shhh. . ." he cooed. "It's alright. It was just a dream. Shhhhh . . ." But the crying didn't stop. "Kikyo? Hey. . ." Still nothing. The sound of her cries muffled into the fabric of his jacket, yet the hushed words that spilled from her lips spoke volumes. They were not at all organized or complete thoughts, as she barely felt composed enough to form a sentence; they were just a form of muddled, disorderly dialogue that no one could have possibly been able to decrypt. . . yet they were perfectly comprehensible to him. The jewel was just too much of a burden to bear any longer. She simply couldn't take it. It was tormenting her, traumatizing her; it was eating away at her soul and her sanity, little by little, just as it had been for years. And there was nothing she could do about it.

"Kikyo, listen to me." She opened her mouth to speak again, but he held her up, staring her straight in the eyes. "No, listen to me. You can't let it do this to you." He swallowed his tears down, shaking his head as he threatened them to seventy diverse sickening fates if they even dreamed of falling, each curse worse than the last. "You're better than that. I know you are." Silence filled the air, and all he could see was her red, wet eyes, staring back at him with mixed astonishment and relief and desperation all at the same time. A single tear trickled down her cheek, shimmering as it caught the moonlight streaming in through the rice paper panels. She was so beautiful to him, even when she looked so distraught and lonesome; she still had such a calmness and majesty to her that was almost serene, in spite everything that had happened to her. Her soft, gentle hand trembled lightly as it floated into his own, and she allowed his fingers to enlace between hers. Then, just as suddenly as it had stopped, her voice choked, and the tears came once more.

. . . And somehow, the sound of her tears became the closest thing to inspiration he'd ever known.

I watched you die,
I heard you cry
every night in your sleep.

His eyes burst open as his breath left him completely, and the cold sweat against his face made him aware of the sudden drop back into reality; yet he seemed completely unwilling to adapt to the change. Not yet. He swallowed hard as he panted, closing his eyes as he wiped the sweat from his face with shaking hands. He thought he could be so strong for her. He'd learned to live with the failure; there was no sense in punishing himself when failure was so expected. But the memory of her small, shivering figure, huddled to him helplessly as she slowly slipped into madness, begging him, pleading him to save her somehow. . . it haunted him. And though he never, ever, wanted to give in to the reason why it haunted him so, there was just no way around it anymore.

Because he wasn't strong. Not for himself, not for her, not for anyone. All he ever was was scared.

I was so young;
you should have known better than to lean on me.

"Inuyasha. . . Shhh. . ." He could barely register who it was with the combination of the dark room and the thoughts swirling endlessly thorough his head. "Kikyo?" he asked tentatively, barely finding voice enough to speak.

"You know I don't like that." She whispered, running her fingers through his bangs soothingly. His eyes narrowed softly. "Kagome." he confirmed. "Are you alright?" she murmured, her voice shaking with concern. "You're sweating so hard, and you've been tossing in your sleep all night." He closed his eyes lightly, letting her soft caress calm him. Her breath left her. "Oh my God. . . Look at you, you're shivering. . ." he paused, swallowing hard as he looked at her. Her eyes glistened with tears, with anxiety, with concern. . . and he was the cause of it. She was so worried, and for what? Tossing and turning a few hours? Was she serious? She'd done that countless times, yet he'd never been so tender, so concerned for her. . . at least, not out loud. How could she be so indulgent, knowing he might never return it? His jaw shook slightly, her gaze piercing his guilt deeper and deeper. "I'm sorry." he whispered. "I. . . I can't stay here." He stood in a panic, heading for the door before he even registered what he was doing. She grabbed his arm desperately, pulling him back best she could. "Inuyasha, just calm down. . . please. . . don't go out there. . ." No answer. She swallowed. "Please, Inuyasha. . . You're scaring me." He just stood there, his mind blank, every muscle abandoning him.

"'You're scaring me.'" he repeated, so low that it was barely audible. "Scaring. . ." He shook his head, pulling himself from her grasp grievously, tears streaming down his face as he want to leave intensified. "Kagome, let go. . . Please. . . let me go. . . I have to. . ."

"Why? What's wrong? It's alright, you're just sick. You need to lie down. Just please. . ."'

"No, Kagome! I'm not sick!" he said furiously, finally freeing himself. "I can't stay here! Don't you get it? I don't belong here! Not here, not anywhere! I'm too dangerous!"

"Dangerous?" she breathed. "What?"

"You saw what I did to Shippou! Kagome, that could have been you! Do you not see that? Are you so completely blind of that one fact? You're not that naive, Kagome; I know you're not." Her silence enraged him, and he growled as he grabbed his head and shook and screamed until he completely ran out of air. "I just have all these thoughts running through my head. . . Horrible thoughts. . . and they just keep finding some way to come out, no matter what I do to stop it! I can't control myself anymore!" he stopped, panting wildly as he tried to contain his tears. "Shippou's not even breathing anymore, is he? Is he?" She trembled, staring at her feet, terrified at his words as she whimpered silently. "I'm more trouble to you than I'm worth." he whispered. She gave no response, determined not to even acknowledge he'd admitted that; it bothered him to leave her like this, yes, but he really couldn't wait any longer. "I. . . I'm sorry." he said finally, pausing a moment before pulling back the mat that hung in the doorway.

". . . Have you ever felt like. . . like the one person you really love is on the edge of completely breaking, and there's nothing you can do for them?" Inuyasha stopped cold. "You just keep trying, and trying, and all they can do is push you away harder and harder until you wonder why you're wasting so much effort." She choked, continuing softy. "And. . . it's so frustrating, because you know, you really know, that no matter how loud they scream or how hard they hit. . . all they really want is. . ."

"Salvation." he finished bitterly, a single tear trickling down his stained cheek as he stared her dead cold in the eye. "And you're the only one who understands it, because you're the only fucking one who's ever quiet enough to even hear it. But you can't give them that, no matter how you try; all you can ever give them is yourself, so you become so completely indulgent that all you see, all you think about, all you do is just defined bythem, while they're lying helplessly in your arms as they're driven to insanity. And you have all this nagging guilt clawing, and clawing, and clawing at you, until you're so broken that you can't even save yourself anymore! And it won't stop clawing for as long as you fucking live. . ."

"Because you were naive enough to believe you could really be strong enough to save them." She finished, barely able to speak anymore as she covered her eyes and fell to the floor, and he only found strength enough to stare down at his feet. "No. I never have." he whispered grimly, and she began sobbing even harder than before at his words. He shook his head as he sat beside her, letting her grasp his hands so tightly that her nails pierced his flesh; but he couldn't feel it. Not one bit. His whole body became numb as he stared at her, listening as she spoke. "The only one who's quiet enough to hear. . . Quiet enough to hear your voice betray everything you're trying to suppress. . ." he swallowed as their wet, bloodshot eyes locked in a gaze. "What am I saying?" he whispered shakily. She paused, as if finding the perfect words to display exactly what he'd wanted to say so horribly.

". . .'I don't want to be broken anymore.'"

You never thought of anyone else;
you just saw your pain.
And now I cry in the middle of the night for the same damn thing.

He exhaled slowly upon awakening, taking in his surroundings as the birds chirped their first songs of the day happily. Everything had happened so quickly the night before, it just seemed like one big, confusing blur, yet the conversation still was still so clear to him. The things that were said, the decisions that were made, the revelations that spurred from completely exploding and letting everything out. . .

"Hmm. . ." She moaned subconsciously, moving in her sleep to accommodate for the discomfort he'd caused her in attempting to stand. He smiled faintly, his face still stained with tears, and he pressed his lips to her temple warmly. He lingered for a moment, as if grasping what he'd just done and what it meant to him, and with a slow, quiet breath, he walked to the corner of the room where Shippou lay asleep, Kirara caressing his face with licks in comfort. She recoiled as she looked at their new visitor with a watchful eye, momentarily considering scowling at him before deciding against it. "Um. . . Maybe you should let him rest, Kirara. . . Don't wake him up." Inuyasha said softly, more of a plea than a suggestion. At that moment, the young demon's eyes flew open, too quickly for him to have only just woken up. Inuyasha seemed taken aback a moment before speaking. "Oh, you're awake then. . ." He swallowed, sensing Shippou's slight discomfort. It was too soon. Still, nonetheless, he continued, although his apprehension was completely evident. "Um. . . Do you need anything?" He did not reply; he merely flinched at the sound of his voice, more frightened of the hanyou than he'd ever been before. Inuyasha's heart sank. ". . . Oh. I see." Barely thinking an apology would be even considered at this point, he rose from his spot dispiritedly as he walked back to Kagome's sleeping figure in a daze of anguish and pity. . . but a hoarse little whisper stopped him midway. ". . . Water?" Inuyasha's body froze briefly, petrified with shock. The child had barely said a word, yet. . . Inuyasha could still feel a rush of forgiveness, flowing through the air and into his soul. . . and the feeling seemed so intense that he teared slightly as he turned to face him with a soft smile. "Um, yeah. Water. I can do that." And he seemed almost excited as he helped him sit up comfortably, letting him grasp the edges of the ladle as Inuyasha tipped it slightly. He drank earnestly, staring up into his caregiver's eyes with mixed curiosity and bewilderment, and continued to do so long after all of the water was gone from the ladle. He just sat there, examining his expression, his movement, his young mind not able to fully decrypt it; all he could see, in his childlike naïveté, was. . . well, sadness. "Ne, Inuyasha. . . Don't be sad." He attempted. Inuyasha smiled painfully. "Really! I'm ok, look!" he said, getting up slowly and picking up speed as he ran around the room, feeling better than he thought he did in the first place. "See! All better!" he said cheerfully as he sank back in his spot and looked up at the hanyou for a response. He paused. "Thank the Gods." He said, trying his hardest to sound cheerful. . . but how could anyone feel cheerful at a time like this?

Because of you,
I'll never stray too far from the sidewalk.
Because of you,
I learned to play it on the safe side so I don't get hurt.

A single tear tricked down his cheek as he picked the young fox up, holding him in his arms as his father might have done, pouring everything out of himself. "Shippou. . . I didn't. . . Well, I did. . . but Shippou, you have to believe me; I'd never, ever, do anything that could hurt you. . . I couldn't do it. You know that, right?" he nodded simply; whether he was being honest or not was a different question. "When. . . Well, yesterday. . . I couldn't understand anything that was going on. . . all I remember is. . . waking up from it all to see Kagome bawling hysterically over your body, and I just. . ." he swallowed, his fear and dread slowly consuming his tone of voice at the memory. "I cracked. And I've done a lot of horrible things in my life; horrible, horrible things. . . but when I saw you in Kagome's arms, completely choking, and I realized it was me who did it. . . I've never felt more scared in my entire life. Because the truth is, Shippou, . . . I'm dangerous. I really am. I don't have control over one single thing in my life, and the thing that I seem to have the least amount of control with is my temper, and I can't figure out why. Maybe it's guilt, maybe it's fear, . . . Maybe I've been alone just a little too long; I don't know. All I know is that I can't keep running from it. Because every time you try to, it just gets worse, and worse. . . until you squeeze the breath one of the only people you have left in this world. . ." he finished, desperate enlightenment forcing it's way through to him. "It's not alright, Shippou. It's not. And I need to fix it. Because I don't wanna feel so worthless, and despicable, and so hideous anymore." He swallowed as he looked into Shippou's eyes, addressing him directly. "And from now on, if I do anything, anything that you think I'll regret later, or that'll make me do something I don't wanna do. . . I want you to tell me. And if I don't listen, then I want you to kick me, and scream at me, and bite me all you want until I do. Alright?" Shippou nodded. "You swear?"

"On all that's good." he said with a sincere little smile, and he let Inuyasha hug him, holding onto his neck in return. He smiled, letting the warm silence in the room consume him. The storm inside of him seemed to fleetingly quell, and he felt so. . . so strange. A placid, mellow, entirely sober kind of strange. Temperate. Subdued. Then again, the only real word he could find to describe it was different. And he let the tears pour from his eyes wholeheartedly as he whispered. "I'm gonna make this right again, Shippou. I swear it."

Because of you,
I try my hardest just to forget everything.
Because of you,
I don't know how to let anyone else in.

"Hey, Inuyasha, that was mine!"

"Was not!"

"Was too!"

"Can you prove that it's yours?"

"Can you prove that it's not?"

"Alright, alright; that's enough, you two." Kagome said cheerfully, replacing a new fish in Shippou's hand. "There you go. Make sure you eat it fast, or it'll get cold." He smiled. "Thanks, Kagome!" he said, sticking his tongue out at Inuyasha, and he was so preoccupied in doing so that he didn't notice Kirara had already taken his new fish until he took a bite out of his hand. "Oww! Hey, Kirara! Come back with that!" he called, getting up and chasing after her. Kagome giggled. "Now why did you go and take his food?"

"Because it was calling my name." Inuyasha replied, taking a large, satisfying bite out of it. She sighed. "Well, everything's normal again, I suppose." He nodded solemnly. "As normal as it'll ever be, at least."

Silence.

Kagome sighed, speaking softly. "Inuyasha. . . This morning, when you were talking to Shippou. . ." he groaned. "So you were awake, then?" he asked, his embarrassment creeping across his face in red streaks. "No, no, it's alright! Don't be embarrassed. . . I just. . ." she paused. "I just wanted to say. . ." Her face turned the slightest shade of pink, and her eyes glistened with tears so beautifully that his face became even darker. "To say what?" he asked feebly. She smiled faintly, sitting next to him to lay her head against his shoulder. "I'm proud of you." she whispered. he smiled, wrapping his arm around her and kissing her softly. "Thanks." he said gently. "That. . .that means a lot to me." She snuggled into his tender embrace, letting his warmness and care engulf her. "I knew. . . I knew you'd be alright. . ." she said quietly, tears streaming down her cheeks. His cheeks met the same fate as he asked, "Why?"

Because of you,
I'm ashamed of my life because it's empty.
Because of you,
I am afraid.
Because of you. . .

". . . Because you're better than that. I know you are."

Because of you.


AN: Thanks for reading, guys! Please, PLEASE review, I worked really hard on this. Thanks a bunch!

Suki