Disclaimer- I don't own Inuyasha.
She holds such sorrow, that, he fears, if not vented regularly, she will shatter and be lost forever to it, or it will combust into an explosion of madness and many more will be lost instead.
He knows, because he holds that sorrow in his own soul.
"Why do we do such things?" Midoriko whispers softly, nestling her head in his chest, brushing her hair against his stubbled chin. Her harsh, warrior beauty is softened by unending despair.
He cannot answer her. He never does. After all, she'll be gone within a few fleeting hours, and they'll return to their tragically righteous lives.
Instead he whispers meaningless sweetness into her ears, and brushes his lips against her pale skin, scarred by youkai claws and youkai fangs, trying to reach the soul scarred by human words and human ignorance.
He wonders if the people would frown upon them, laying like this, purposefully wandering until they find one another again.
He finds he doesn't care.
He cares about the world, about humanity, about people every other day, every other week of the whole year. Isn't it enough that he has even just one moment to himself and her?
Let the world care about itself for one more day.
They could be selfish for this moment.
The first time they met, she was slaying a youkai, he was aiding those injured by said creature. They briefly talked, about what the demon could have done to those dead.
It was morbid. It was necessary.
Yet as they spoke, walked and talked, though they did not speak of anything but the suffering of others, they saw.
They saw the subtle suffering in the other's hands, the way they hurt in quiet silence as families reunited.
Neither acted on such observations. They parted with barely a farewell.
Hakurei often wondered what people thought of him. They thought him a holy man, sure, but as a mere man, one who lived and breathed and lusted and wanted and hated?
Never. How could the wonderful, the nearly godly monk Hakurei ever think of hating a man, or lusting after a woman, or wanting to be selfish for one moment?
History would never know, never remember Hakurei the man, but Hakurei the Saint, Hakurei the God, Hakurei the Not Human.
The ignorance of humanity was sickening.
When she crossed his path the second time, they met on a crossroad, on a day of grays and rain that was relentless as a youkai's fury.
"Come sit with me beneath this tree," Hakurei offered kindly, hating that instinct and those words the second they left his lips, leaving him filled with half-certainties.
"I thank you," Midoriko responded, bowing her head in a respectful manner that was destroyed by the subtle tension in her movements as she sits next to him.
"We have met before, have we not?" he says, knowing the answer but not wishing to show it.
"I believe so." She nods, smiling with such subtle unhappiness that it is near imperceptible. "Hakurei, wasn't it?"
"Yes, priestess." He agrees, now bowing his own head, knowing he should not be but is pleased she remembers. "How goes your travels?"
"Long and hard, but I am happy to offer my services where I can." They both can tell the lies begin with relating their happiness. Neither is happy.
They give that happiness to others.
"I feel much the same way." Hakurei wonders if she knows he agrees with the silent truth, not with the spoken lies.
"There is still much suffering in this land. We must live to defend and save who we can." The must in her words is said with hidden hatred that only they can see. Midoriko's eyes are filled with sorrows that dance out of sight, only to show a glimmer of themselves for a brief moment, dancing behind the veil of her eyes.
And he is slowly seduced by the dance.
"Such is the life we chose." He nods. They speak no more, and when the rain stops, say their scant farewells.
The second and first times were coincidence. Yet the third time... he does not know if they had sought each other in the unconscious manner that kindred souls did, or if it was merely a single boon from a frugal life.
Either way, Hakurei is guiltily pleased to see her. And she him, or so he hopes in a selfish manner, like a treasured sin.
"We meet again, priestess." Once more, he speaks first. He tries and hopes that he hid the sinful happiness in his voice. "You look as lovely as ever."
He hopes the faint red in her cheeks is not the heat. "How kind of you, monk Hakurei." Her cheek has a single new scar on it, newborn red and irritated. His eyes trace it in the way his fingers long to. They come to a subtle stiffness in her shoulder that he knows, from bitterly learned experience, is a wound.
"You have been injured." Hakurei notes in the concerned manner that he wishes to show but is unable, or unwilling to.
Midoriko almost seems taken aback that he even noticed. Most others, he postulated bitterly, would be more concerned with those whom she saved then her own wounds. "It is nothing." She dismisses, but the soft smile she gives him is rewarding nonetheless.
Their eyes meet, and he has fallen under the spell of her subtle sorrow.
"Let me look at it." Let me heal you, and heal myself.
The priestess pauses, before she nods. "How can I refuse such kindness?"
When was the last time either of them had accepted the kindness they always gave away?
She lets her garb fall around her, as though it was a crash of snowfall. Self-reproach fills him as his hungry eyes trace her delicately scarred skin. "You have been in many battles," Hakurei murmured softly, placing the balms into her shoulder. It is raw and rubbed, as most wounds treated by the self can be.
"My powers afford me the ability to destroy demons. I can do no less than to use them." Midoriko responds, somewhat stiffly, as though she feels vulnerable without the garb of a priestess hiding the fact that she is a woman.
"Still, I feel for you." His breath hitches as he brushes her soft raven locks, which seem cared for, as though she treasures this one piece of her that is all woman, and not warrior. Taking a chance, he murmurs, "I too, am compelled to use my skills as a healer and status as a monk to help those in need."
They are silent for a time, and briefly, Hakurei pretends that she is his wife, and he is not a healer but a husband tending to his wife's hurts.
It is not a bad thing to pretend.
But it still pretend.
Then, Midoriko speaks again. "Why did you become a monk?" her voice is carefully curious.
"It is what I chose." He said simply. "I... I cannot truly explain." He wonders if it is the wrong answer as she falls silent.
"I too, cannot explain. Perhaps it is merely our destinies, Hakurei." Midoriko says, turning her head back and smiling ruefully.
"Perhaps." He replies quietly, sharing in her smile because he has lost his own.
Once again, they say no more.
Though he knows he should not, he follows her. She does not ask why, nor seems to even comment on it.
It is a cruel kindness.
Yet it feels so much better than offering a word of true kindness.
After all, they cannot spare a single bit for anyone but the suffering of others.
They come across a village plagued by a massive bear demon. She, much to the villager's surprise, is the one who fights it. He is the one who tends to the wounded, the sick, the dying.
One such casualty is a child barely six summers gone, and already passing.
The parents weep, and he wishes they would leave. It is hard enough on the child without watching the suffering of others.
Hakurei holds the child's hand, wishing it was him lying there instead of anyone else. Not for altruistic purposes- but so that he can die at last.
"I'm cold," the girl whispers softly, shaking as though she were in the dead of winter. "I'm so cold..."
The mother weeps. The father grips her tightly, as though he can hold her up with his physical strength.
Hakurei is jealous of such simple gestures, such human gestures. "It will all be over soon," he assures her. But not for him, he thinks. Never for him.
His dying would take much longer.
When she passes, he cannot feel sorrow for her death, nor offer condolence to the parents. His kindness has been bled out of him and he feels withered and dry.
The mother stares at him with cold accusation, and the father grips her tightly again, this time to hold back the resentment she clearly feels towards the monk.
When Midoriko returns, he sighs and expels whatever unfelt feelings lie in his soul.
He is tired. So very tired.
"I could do nothing." He says quietly.
She nods, and takes him away.
He is happy to leave this place of ignorance, if only for a moment.
They lay in a room next to one another, neither one sleeping. The owner of the inn had more rooms, but there were refugees from villages staying.
And of course, how could a monk and priestess be so selfish as to want to have their own, separate rooms, take separate meals.
They are too pure, too kind for that.
He does not know who touched who first. Nor does he frankly care.
Both know they shouldn't, that their stations cannot afford such attachments.
Again, neither cares. A life of unselfishness has built a flood of silent greed.
At least, Hakurei thinks, they will have one moment that is just for them.
She cries as she lays in his arms, venting the sorrows of a lifetime of righteousness. He holds her, absorbing her grief and giving her his own. It is an exchange, not a healing.
But that's alright. Healing is for others, not for them.
Their touches are frantic, guilt ridden, as though they feel that the eyes of the world are on them, watching their every movement with challenging eyes.
They will part in the morning under calm goodbyes, both full of understanding and hating the other for doing so.
The winter is cold.
The ground freezes and people's hearts harden even to a kind monk. They have no food to spare, they say. They have no room, they say.
Hakurei wonders if they would remember this day, if they lay sick and dying and he refused them.
But he won't. He won't.
He just... can't.
He hears no word of Midoriko. He tries not to care, pretending that he has no attachments, pretending he is not human.
They meet by chance again, in the vicious rain and brilliant thunder. The day is gray splashed with storms of purple and white.
"We meet again," Midoriko murmurs softly, rain falling down her face like the tears she cannot shed.
"Its been too long," Hakurei responds, his voice tight with uncertainty.
"Stay with me for awhile." She asks, her voice a soft entreaty that could shatter with a whisper from his lips.
Briefly, he wonders if he can deny her the kindness he has given everyone else. Would it be so hard, for once in his life, to say "No"?
In the end, bad habits are hard to break.
Hakurei knows that they are temptations to each other, that this should not be. The world needs them to be pure and kind and good, and temptation, happiness, is out of the question.
And he decides that the world can go to Hell by being selfish, asking for one room.
They do not try to resist this time. They simply do so, giving in to their selfishness.
After all, all good things must end, and happiness is rare for those who bring it.
They have nights like that, holding one another and simply trying to find solace in another soul, trying with quiet desperation and feverish pace to fill up that empty void they had created by being so damnably unselfish.
Weakness is such a delightful thing.
Then, one day, she speaks with a soft voice, barely holding in the morning dawn. "I will die soon... the demons will not stand my existence for much longer."
He knows this. Happiness had to have been snatched away from him eventually.
He expected it.
"Goodbye then." He murmured, his voice flat and unfeeling. "This is goodbye then."
"Yes." Midoriko whispered, resigned, and he hated her in that moment.
This time, there are no farewells.
A moth flitted about in front of his eyes as Hakurei meditated. As best he could, he ignored it, focusing only on his thoughts, on a higher plane.
Yet the moth persists, and dances across his nose.
He wrinkles it in annoyance and disgust.
On and on the creature antagonizes him, flitting into his hair, his clothing, everywhere.
Finally, his control snaps and he strikes the moth.
As though it were held only by a whisper and a prayer, its body exploded, parts flying everywhere with that one movement, covering his clothing.
It was carelessly cruel of him.
He feels slightly nauseated, and tears the cloth off with self disgust, and tosses it away.
Later, he reattached it without a thought.
When news of a great battle between a priestess and a horde of demons reaches him, he does not run to her side. He knows she is gone.
He does not know whether to be happy or sad for her.
Nor does he know to feel grief or jealousy.
Full of confusing contradictions, he journeys on, hating every step and hating her.
It's the smallest selfish thing he can be allowed.
At least her suffering has ended.