Chapter 8: I Hate Myself

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, any of the charecters, or any of the plotlines. Only the source of many headaches you unfortunately (for you) see below.

The night was quiet. Inuyasha could relate to it, having spent a previous lifetime of nights almost identical to this one, but more recent experiences meant that the night, although comforting in it's silence, still managed to put him on edge. 'City slicker.' He thought to himself, trying to prevent himself from jumping when he rolled onto a small twig and it cracked underneath his weight. He kind of wished he could have just slept in some tree, but the ability to jump any more than 3 feet (on a good day, with a running start, and no pole-vault stick) in the air had been lost to him. He kind of thought that he'd just fall out anyway from the recent lack of practice. All things considered, the feudal era was probably less dangerous than the time he had come from (no guns, no tanks, you name it), but that didn't mean he wasn't still restless.

He finger unconsciously played with a thread working loose from the binding on the tetsusaiga. He rolled over in his sleeping bag, eyes resting on the small form sleeping on the other side of the fire. Inuyasha contented himself, as he had many times before, with simply watching her even breathing, the soft rise and fall of her chest. She shivered a bit, the fire barely staving off the evening chill. How he longed to just go over and touch her. Simply tuck that loose strand of hair behind her ear, smooth her wrinkled brow, tuck her sleeping bag around her form just a bit more. But the few feet in between them might as well have been lightyears, galaxies, a universe. He loathed himself at that moment.

Shippo seemed disappointed at his reply. There was no surprise, only disappointment. But he agreed to tell Kagome anyway. "You know that she'll guess. She's not stupid." The kitsune warned him.

He became acutely interested in some small speck of dirt on his shoe. "Yeah. I do." He couldn't do this, he couldn't face her. What had started as a small, but grim, thought, a far-fetched scenario at best, had turned into crippiling doubt, paralyzing him. 'What if she hates me for leaving her behind?' 'What if she thinks I've been avoiding her?' 'What if she blames me for not showing up until now?' 'What if... what she said... wasn't true?' He could see her face clearly, tears falling from her glistening eyes and onto his own bloody face. 'What if it was only the shock, the grief, talking?' 'What if... she just felt sorry for me?' He couldn't do this. He slowly turned and walked away, cursing at his own cowardice. 'Gimme' a demon anyday. At least I can see what I'm up against then.' He knew it was the wrong thing to do, but somehow he couldn't stop himself. He turned the corner, watching the small cracks in the sidewalk disappear under his worn Etnies. And tried to ignore the renewed sobs echoing behind him, killing him more effectively than any blow.

He regretted his decision the moment he made it. Kagome found him in his room later that evening. He had made no effort to hide from her. Inuyasha laid on his temporary bed, staring at the ceiling, his sword resting in his lap. He nodded, acknowledging her presence as she took a seat on the edge of the foot of his bed. He still couldn't meet her eyes, but her own were focused on her hands as she played with her fingers. The silence between them was deafening. Kagome finally broke it.

"I think I always knew it was you, even if I didn't want to admit it to myself. When Shippo told me to take you with me to go back to the feudal era, all that was just confirmation. After you... died... all I wanted was to join you. I cursed myself, my helplessness, how you always had to protect me. If I was just stronger, I thought, you might not have had to sacrifice yourself. I didn't go to school for weeks, I wasn't even able to talk to my own family about it for a month. I still haven't gone out on a date, even though I've been asked more than a few times. You meant that much to me."

The bottom dropped out of his stomach. He noticed the past tense there: "meant". This was exactly what he was afraid of. He stayed silent though.

"I never did forget your promise you made to me. I guess what I was doing, more than anything else, was waiting. And after so long, I think I was starting to give up hope. That was when I really mourned you. I could no longer deny that were really gone, and I had nothing to look forward to."

He had no idea he had put her through that much agony.

"You were so much to me. And when you died, it was like a part of me had been ripped away. I no longer felt whole, not having you there. But I've been doing a lot of thinking. And I guess, the only thing that made any sense to me, was that, I guess..."

Oh God. She was stammering. Repeating herself. This can't be good.

"...You were never the person I thought you were if you couldn't even work up the courage to come talk to me. You said...you said..."

His heart was breaking. He couldn't take this. The silent tears streaming down her face. The way she wrung her hands. That small hurt voice. He sat up, to get a better look at her, while trying not to draw attention to himself. She thankfully didn't look up from her hands.

"...You said you trusted me. Maybe you regretted protecting me that day. Maybe you simply didn't care. Maybe you found someone else. But it doesn't matter, Inuyasha, because I loved you, but I don't know if that's true anymore. I don't even think I can trust you if you can't confide in me."

'Somebody, please, just shoot me now.'

"If you still feel like going with, I'll meet you in the well house tommorow at three. It's your choice if you want to come. I'll go either way."

She didn't slam the door. She didn't yell at him. She didn't slap him, she didn't even glare. Just those small tears running down her cheeks, from eyes covered by those dark, glossy bangs. She didn't look at him the whole time either. And somehow those hurt more than every wound he had ever gotten. Somehow, someway, they had gotten through all the rough spots before. But he knew this would not happen this time. He had hurt her so many times, it had been a miracle that she had ever trusted him in the first place. But he still loved that little girl in the green skirt, and he couldn't just walk away. He had started this. And he had f'ed up the second chance that he hadn't even dared to dream of. But he had to finish it. Even if she never looked at him again, he would still follow her. Protect her however he could. Maybe grant her some peace. Release her from the guilt, the remorse. And he owed Sango and Miroku.

And yet, these were all rationalizations, even if they were true. It was something deeper than that, something he had no right to. Some small part of him still hoped for the happy ending he had just given up all claim to. There was no logic to back it up. Maybe it was just that he had spent so much of his life, even if he didn't consciously know it, looking for her, yearning for her, that he couldn't just give it up. It was amazing how an act so simple, not being able to talk to her, had caused so much harm. Little things like that tended to cause a lot of the problems in his life. The world could be cruel.

A small spark soared up from the fire and into the night air, glowing brightly, defying the limitations imposed upon it. Looking for something more. A small orange star against the blackness of the night. And then, just as quickly, it was gone, snuffed out. 'Damn metaphors.' With one last glance at Kagome's sleeping form he buried his head in his sleeping bag and tried not to cry. 'I'm getting so soft these days...' He cursed himself. He hated himself. He loathed himself. And he knew he totally deserved it as well.

A/N: T.T So sad. Why is this so angsty? Why? WHY? I don't like angst. This is romance dammit! So why is everything so sad? So Inuyasha's not alone. I hate myself too... But you should see the fluffy end scene that keeps playing through my mind! It's wonderful! But this... (grimaces). You must all think I'm some kind of sadist... but I'm a humorous person! I only read romance fics (most of the time). WHY DOES THIS FLOW FROM MY DEMENTED FINGERS?

Legato (The blue-haired psychopath of Trigun. We all have our days, he has a lifetime.): Welcome to the sadist club! Glad to have ya'!

IHEC: That was a bit of an oxymoron.

Legato: Fine. The world is a dreary place. There is no such thing as true love. Expect nothing- it will all be taken away in the end. Is that better?


(Lots of flashing red lights and speakers screaming: "PERV ALERT! PERV ALERT!")

Legato: But Master Knives! His brother wouldn't stand by his side so I must!

IHEC: So you steal his brother's arm and stick it on yourself cuz Vash doesn't feel like slaughtering the whole human race?

Legato: Duh.

IHEC: (Rolls eyes and steal's Wolfwood's cross punisher) I know you wear cookie monster boxers! Confess!

Legato: (clutching ratty blue teddy-bear) You! You! You ratted on me Mr. Fuzzum-Wuzzums!

IHEC: I think I'm going to go find some discrete corner to go throw up in... (lurches off looking rather green)

Okay. So maybe it's a bit obvious I like Trigun better. Sorry about that... heh. heh. (tugs collar). Anywho, sorry about the late update. I was going to prepare a nice little fanart site to link to this. But, I tried 4 FREAKING SITES and none of them worked. (Anybody got any suggestions? Much appreciated) And I'm a really good artist too. And I'm not just saying that. Lots of people do. I had one guy threaten to shove he off a hill, take my picture from me, and then run around and tell everyone he drew it. So there. (pauses) Maybe I will take Legato up on his invintation...