A/N: For those that wonder, I do take requests. I can't always fill them, but I do take them, and I will respond. I like a challenge. Not just on pairings, though. I like specific stories that people would like to see. Then, I take it and run with it.
This one was a general request. I was asked to write a romance between Miroku and Kagome. The only way I could see was this. And…I'm really sorry.
I didn't know what to say to him.
That was alright, though, because he didn't know what to say to me, either.
And so we sat. We sat looking at the desolation before us. There wasn't much left. Just charred grass and the smell of cooked meat seasoned with miasma.
A soft spring breeze blew the scent to my nostrils, and I turned away suddenly.
When I was done being sick in the tall grasses behind us, I wiped my mouth on my sleeve, and returned to sit next to him again, the taste of bile on my tongue. We sat, watching the sun set on the end of our happiness.
There were no bodies to bury, but he insisted on making a grave all the same. He refused to let me help dig, so I went and collected flowers instead. It felt strange, knowing that the air was warm and clean, that the grass was full and green, and that the flowers were in abundance. So much life.
I fought the urge to shred the flowers in my hand. It wasn't their fault that they were living, when my friends could not.
When I returned, he was covered in dirt, and sweat, and tears. He wiped his bangs away from his forehead and looked up at me. "I finished."
I nodded and held up the flowers in my hand vaguely. "So did I."
We stood over the empty hole, staring at the dark, earthy bottom, smelling the scent of fresh dirt.
"She loved to garden."
He nodded jerkily. "He loved the trees."
I stifled a sob, and watched him as he turned away for a moment, and walked toward the edge of the woods. He bent and shuffled around for a few moments, before coming back. He held his hand out to me.
I stared at it. He reached out, took my free hand, opened it and placed inside it a round, solid object.
"Plant it. She would have wanted you to."
I nodded and let a tear roll down my cheek. "It's too deep."
He stared down into the hole. "Everything's too deep."
I looked up at him, the flowers in one hand, and the unborn tree in my other. "Perhaps we could fill it in some?"
He stood thoughtfully for a moment, and I watched the spring breeze ruffle his hair. At last he knelt in the grass beside the hole. He pulled something from his sleeve. I watched him toss in a long ribbon. It fluttered down slowly, like a falling bird slowly drained from the ability to flap its fragile wings.
"I took it while she was sleeping. It smelled like her."
I swallowed, set the flowers down beside my feet, and reached into my pocket. The beaded necklace clattered together softly, and I watched it fall to the bottom, and land in dirt.
"He always complained about it…and when he was finally rid of it, all he ever did was ask for it back." I sniffed loudly. "Idiot."
He looked over at me. "He loved you."
I choked on a sob. "She loved you, too."
I watched a tear roll down his cheek, tracing a path through the grime left from digging the body-less grave.
He stood and began to shovel dirt back over it.
"Wait." I walked over to him. I took his hand and turned it over. They were still there. He never removed them. After all the waiting, and all the worrying, and all the longing, and he never even checked.
I held his hand in mine, and looked up into his eyes in question.
'May I?' Mine said.
'Does it really matter now?' His replied.
'It would have to her. And to him. And it does to me.'
He nodded slowly. 'If you must.'
I removed the prayer beads from his hand carefully, and let the cloth covering his palm fall away. I touched the smooth skin of his unblemished hand, tracing the lines, trying to feel the bones beneath the flesh. I looked back up at him. There was no joy in his eyes.
"I would take the curse back, if it meant getting her back again. Getting them both back."
I nodded. "They wanted to fight him too, though. It wasn't just about your curse. We each had our reasons."
I took the beads and the cloth and crumpled them up, pressing them into his healed palm. He looked down at them, looked back at me, and then threw them into the grave as well.
I fingered the jewel at my neck. "I wish I could toss this one in as well."
He gave a sardonic smile. "After all the work he did to get it whole again? He'd be furious."
I gave a watery smile and nodded. It was of no use to anyone now…the swirling pink aura was gone.
"Use it!" he screamed, dodging another attack. "Now, Kagome!"
I could have wished for many things. 'I wish there was no more pain. I wish the world was back to normal. I wish everything would be set right.' But none of those were practical. None of them would truly do the job.
No more pain? Unrealistic.
The world back to normal? What is normal, after all?
I wish everything would be set right? But…what was right? Was Kikyo and Inuyasha right? Was Kagome never jumping down the well right? Was there any true "right?"
I closed my eyes and wished. 'I wish Naraku would be destroyed now, so that he can no longer hurt anyone.'
I opened them to find Naraku disintegrating fast. I turned to smile at Inuyasha, only to find him with a large tentacle already through his body.
He was covered in blood, and his skin was nearly as pale as his hair.
Too late. Too late, too late, late, late, I'm too late.
He hadn't been the same since Shippou was killed. He was bitter, and more vengeful than ever. All he had envisioned and talked about for days was Naraku's death.
He held his head up and watched as Naraku simmered down into nothing.
He nodded grimly in satisfaction, before looking back at me.
"Good job, Kagome." He tried to smile. I ran to him.
He died, and the miasma ate away at his body. It was gone within ten minutes.
My last thought before I lost consciousness was a bitter one. 'Well, Kikyou…guess there's nothing left of him to drag with you to hell, at least.'
He began scooping dirt back into the hole, and we both watched as our happiness was buried along with it.
When he was nearly finished, he stopped and turned to me. I took the round seed in my hand, and knelt in the dirt. I placed it carefully there, and covered it with the remaining dirt.
I leaned over, took the flowers I had picked, and placed them over top.
And then I cried. I cried, and watched my tears roll off the soft petals, or land in the dirt, creating tiny dark patches. Pitter, patter, drip, drop.
He let me. I didn't turn around, but I knew he was crying too. I couldn't hear him, but I knew.
We stayed there until the sun set. The darkness smothered us and choked us, before it finally relented and folded us into its warm embrace.
Perhaps the inky blackness recognized us as kindred spirits.
"You have to try."
I looked up at him.
"Kagome, you have to try."
"I can't leave you alone."
He gave a half sad grin. "I was alone long before I met any of you. I suppose I can survive it again."
I frowned. "Not with this dark hole."
"I am rid of the curse."
"I wasn't talking about the curse."
His grin dropped and he looked sorrowful. "I'll find a way."
I tore my eyes away from his and stared at the wooden ledge. "Goodbye, then. I'll miss you."
He grabbed me suddenly from behind, turned me to face him, and crushed me to his chest. I hugged him as fiercely as he held me, and I cried into his shoulder. I could feel his deep calming breaths, as he tried to hold in his emotions.
When he had gotten control, he gave me one final squeeze and pulled away. I watched him turn his back on me.
"Goodbye, Kagome. I'll always remember you as my friend."
I felt something tear away at my lungs and I couldn't breathe. "Goodbye, Miroku. I will always remember you as my friend as well."
I turned and jumped.
He had to climb down the vines growing up the edge of the well, to help me back out again. I was sobbing. I didn't know if it was relief, or sadness, or emptiness, or fear. Perhaps it was all of them at once. Is it possible to feel all that at the same time?
I asked him.
He nodded seriously down at me as he kneeled in the dirt beside me, deep in the bottom of the darkening well. "It is. I feel it too."
He stared at his hand. "I think…I think it is very much like the kazaana. All the emotions…they open up this void, and it sucks you into it…until you suffocate in the darkness and emptiness of it all."
He looked down at me again. "Please forgive me, Kagome. I didn't want you to go."
I gave him a sad smile. "I forgive you. A large part of me didn't want to go either."
He held me as I cried over yet more people lost from my life. Momma, Souta, Grandpa. I didn't have any bodies to put at the bottom of this hole either.
We stayed in the dark recesses of the well like that, hoping to hide, but knowing it fruitless. But the sunset found us even more quickly there, and the creeping darkness seemed somehow blacker than it had ever been before.
Many sunsets passed before we finally had a body to bury. She was old, and she was tired, and she finally fell to sleep.
I envied her.
Miroku and I both stayed to protect the village when Kaede passed.
We made a good team, and each night, we would sit outside our hut, watching the sun set, and feeling the darkness bury us. Bury us deep, deep, deep, so that we could never claw our way out and into the light again.
And one day each month we would journey together, to pay respect to the mound of dirt hiding our past, and our lost futures.
It was almost as though life was defying death. The little tree that was thriving there grew quickly over two years, and it was like some twisted paradox to us both.
We spent many sunsets seated next to the ever-growing tree.
I'd like to think that we were healing. I had stopped watering it with my tears long ago.
I sighed as we sat outside the hut one evening. I was tired, and my hands were burnt from trying to cook over the fire. Kaede was no longer there to guide me.
"I'm not good at living in the past."
"I'll help you."
"What if you leave too?"
"What if you do?"
He didn't answer. He reached out and cupped my cheek. I stared back at him.
He looked sad and nervous at the same time. I felt the same way.
I let him lean forward and kiss me lightly on the lips. It was soft, warm, and not long enough. I felt my lips tingle.
I looked him in the eyes again when he pulled away.
'I won't leave you,' they said.
I closed my eyes and reached up to answer them.
'I'm glad,' my kiss said.
He returned it. 'They would have wanted it this way.'
I reached up and tentatively touched his chest with both hands. 'Are you sure?'
He pulled me closer to him, and I felt the hardness of his surety. 'I'm sure.'
I trembled against his warm, solid body. 'I loved him.'
He parted my lips with his tongue. 'I know.'
I let him explore my mouth, and nervously caressed his tongue with my own. 'You loved her.'
He moaned softly and pressed me closer with his hands on the back of my neck, and around my waist. 'I know.'
I moaned in return.
He pulled away from the kiss very slowly. I opened my eyes cautiously to find him gazing at me in sadness.
"She was your best friend. He was mine. They cared deeply about us both."
I nodded. "Yes, they did."
They cared, and now they were gone.
He ran a shaking hand through his hair, releasing strands of it from the tie at the base of his neck. He turned and watched the setting sun over Inuyasha's Forest. I could feel the questions inside of him. They were fighting to escape me too.
I approached him from behind and laid a hand gently on his back. I felt it expand as he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Is it wrong, Kagome?"
I didn't answer. I didn't know.
"I used to imagine, when we would sit next to each other, or eat dinner around the fire together…I imagined it was Sango, and not you. I would see you out of the corner of my eye, with your dark head bent low over the fire, or gazing up at the stars…I'd pretend it was hers that I was seeing."
I cleared my throat. "When you'd hold me at night, when I would wake up crying from nightmares…I pretended it was him. I imagined that Inuyasha was holding me and that he was stroking his fingers through my hair."
He gave a sad, bitter chuckle. "Aren't we a pair?"
I didn't say anything.
He nodded his head toward the pink spot low over the line of trees. "Another sunset, Kagome. Here we are, back in the darkness again."
He turned toward me then and I stepped away. We stood there, a foot or so apart, staring at one another across the gaping void that had suddenly opened up between us.
He spoke again, quietly. "I didn't…when I kissed you. I meant to, but I didn't. I closed my eyes, ready for an image of her to be there, but she wasn't. I don't think she wants to be there anymore. All I could see was you."
My eyes stung. I had done the same thing. "I tried…I tried to see him but couldn't. I don't think he wants to be there either."
He nodded, and I could see moisture gathering at the edges of his eyelids. "The worst of it was, though…that I wasn't disappointed."
I let a tear slip down my cheek. "I wasn't either."
"Is that wrong?"
"If it is, I can't help it."
"Nor can I."
He looked over his shoulder to the sky. "I'm sick of sunsets, Kagome," he said with his face turned away.
I reached my arm across the great, swirling hole between us and put my fingers beneath his chin. I turned him to face me, watching the way the fading light glinted off the hoops in his ears, the way the shadows caressed his handsome face, and how deep and fathomless his eyes were when he looked at me.
I stepped across the gap until I was close enough to feel the warmth radiating from his body, but not quite close enough to be touching.
I was breathless, but he wasn't. I could feel warm air from his parted lips blow gently across my face. "I think…" I said. "I think we should skip this sunset."
He let the trace of a grin onto his lips. "Do you?"
"Yes…we've seen too many of them."
His grin grew slightly, and a small sparkle that hadn't been there for years suddenly flashed in his eyes. "I never did care for them much anyway."
I smiled in return. "I think…I think we've let the sun set on far too many possibilities."
He nodded slowly. "I think you're right."
He leaned across the millimeters of space between us and caught my lips with his.
'No more endings,' he seemed to say.
'No more endings,' I agreed.
Pressed closely against his body again, I had no twinges of guilt, and I had not regrets for the past.
Inuyasha's memory seemed more content this way. It was as though he knew that I would be taken care of.
'I love you,' he seemed to say, 'and if I couldn't be with you, I'm glad that it was at least someone I can trust.'
I could feel Sango's approval as well when Miroku picked me up to carry me into our home, his lips never leaving mine.
'You were my best friend,' she seemed to say. 'And I care for you and Miroku above all others. If I couldn't be the one with him forever, I'm glad it was you.'
He laid me down on the mats and blankets we had placed together. He had gotten up so many nights to comfort and hold me, that we gave in to the inevitable after Kaede died, and placed our bedding side by side.
I let him remove my kimono. I had refused to wear the priestess garbs, much to the villager's consternation. Kaede had understood my reluctance, and provided me with kimonos instead. Miroku had also taken to wearing common village attire, and retired his monk's robes. "It felt wrong," he had said.
He ran his hands down my sides, letting his tongue delve deeply into my mouth. I slid my hands beneath his shirt and pulled it from his shoulders before reaching down to untie his hakama.
He groaned, and I moaned in return.
There was no hurting here, and no loss. The darkness wasn't lonely and painful, but full of possibility. The fire flickering from its hole in the center of the hut cast dancing lights onto our bodies, and I gazed at him appreciatively. There was no shadow of Inuyasha casting hazy images over my sight. It was only Miroku, and that was all I wanted.
He leaned back from me, and held his torso up with his hands pressed to the floor on either side of my head. He looked down at me, and I felt his gaze roam over my body before returning to my eyes. There was no disappointment in his face, no lingering doubt.
"It took ages for us to get here," he said softly.
"It did," I agreed.
"It really isn't wrong, is it."
It wasn't a question. It was a statement, and it was full of evident relief.
He frowned for a moment. "We almost let it pass us by."
I nodded. "We thought there was no happy ending."
He nodded as well. "But there is, isn't there?"
"Yeah…yeah, there is."
He smiled down at me, and I smiled shyly up at him. He ran his eyes over my body again, and I blushed, trembling with a sudden light and fullness that was threatening to burst forth from my body. For the first time in years, I didn't feel empty and dark.
His eyes met mine again. He lowered onto one elbow, and propped his head on his fist, his body stretched out over mine, one muscled leg between my own. "Kagome?"
I blinked up at him. "Hmmm?"
"I love you."
A smile pulled slowly at my lips, and I felt my skin crack and reform at the shift. I had not truly smiled in so long. "I love you, too."
My body shuddered and trembled and ached. Longing, and excitement, and nervousness, and passion welled up inside of me. Is it possible to feel all that at the same time?
Yes. Yes, and more.
There was no sunset for us that night. Only love, and renewed hope, and passion, and tenderness. No more void threatening to always suck us into despair. We filled it.
I suppose it was our own fault, our own blindness. We forgot that with every death, there is the possibility of life. With every grave, the promise of a tree and growth. With every loss, a chance to gain.
We almost missed it all. We dwelled so long in mourning that we failed to realize we were wasting the precious lives we had been allowed to keep.
I laid awake the next morning, and watched the sunlight creep in. He still had his eyes closed, and I was content to watch him.
The light crept slowly up our bodies, dispelling the darkness. 'Be gone,' it said, 'You have no place here.'
It inched its way up, his bare shoulders, his neck, the tips of his tousled hair, his chin, his lips, his nose, his eyes.
They opened. I found light inside them, too. 'Go away darkness,' the light said. 'He is yours no longer.'
I smiled at him. He smiled at me.
And we lay there letting the sunrise drift over us both, promising infinite possibilities, and a glimpse at new life.
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