Ok, before you guys yell at me for starting another fic, I swear this will be very, very short. Like, two, maybe three chapters at the most. It would have been a oneshot, but I didn't have enough time to finish it all, lol.
This idea just came to me last night, and I don't know... I just really wanted to write it down.
Anyway, you know the drill- critiques, comments, and mindless babble wholeheartedly welcome, flames... not as much. Really, I don't care that you hate the pairing. For crying out loud don't read. I mean, it's only common sense... (You must be stupider than dirt to subject yourself to the torture of reading about a hated pairing just to flame it. Puhlease, for both our sakes, get a life...)
As for the rest of you, please enjoy.
He had felt her get up and leave their bed, imagined her soft footsteps padding across the bare wood floor, and now he could hear her crying silently in the hallway.
She thought he was asleep.
Presently he could make out her frantic scramble, rushing to the bathroom down the hall with feet that never made a noise. She was vomiting again. The flush of the toilet, the sound of the faucet running...
How many nights now, he wondered, had he awoken to this ritual?
Sesshomaru rolled on to his back, brushed a hand against his eyes, and let out a muted sigh.
It was becoming more and more frequent. Some weeks it happened every night.
A part of him knew he should go to her, try to comfort her, but a bigger part stubbornly refused.
She wasn't supposed to be doing this in the first place. Who was she to demand something like that from him?
Only his wife...
But she wasn't supposed to be like that- that woman who wept in the dead of night sometimes for an hour, sitting against the wall of their bedroom. She was supposed to be more than that; she wasn't supposed to feel the need to cry or want to.
Wasn't that why he had married her? Because she wasn't like other women? Because she wasn't emotional, didn't need or ask for his affection? And she had known just as well when she agreed that he wasn't the man one could demand such things from.
It was supposed to have been convenient.
And yet here she was ruining that agreement with those damned tears she wouldn't even let him see.
Once, on one of the first times he had been roused from sleep to find her not beside him, he had actually given in and called out her name.
He had detected the small startled gasp, terror-filled at having been discovered, at the possibility of having to explain. In his mind he had imagined her quickly drying her eyes, forcing her voice back to normal.
"Just a little parched," she had told him in a tone belying her earlier actions while sliding back into bed. "I went downstairs for a glass of water." He hadn't questioned her.
From the hallway he heard her approach, heard the undistinguishable sound of her erasing the last evidences of her nightly practice.
Quietly he turned his back to the door, pretended he was still sleeping, as she climbed back between the sheets, sank back down on her side of the massive bed. She didn't go back to sleep though. He didn't need to see them to know her eyes were wide open, staring blankly at the darkness. She would remain so all night long, at least until the first rays of sunlight penetrated the sheer curtains. Then she would rise once more, go into the adjoining master bathroom to fix herself and change into the clothes of the woman he had thought he'd married, the clothes of a wife who had a successful husband, a beautiful house. The clothes of a woman who was alive.
It was late spring now meaning she would wear a light dress of soft material, silk and Egyptian cotton, painted with flowers in subdued pastels, the double strand of pearls he had given her early in their marriage gracing her pale, swan-like neck.
He would leave the bed only after she left the room to go to the kitchen and prepare breakfast. After a quick shower, he would get dressed in the usual business suit she readied for him, fix the tie himself, then go downstairs to eat. The paper would be waiting beside his plate.
Kikyo would serve him omelets and sausages, maybe crepes with fresh fruit, eggs benedict and toast- the things she knew he liked.
"Looks delicious," he would compliment, and she would smile a little and pour him a cup of coffee before taking her place across from him in the circular breakfast table.
Sometimes he caught her staring at him during breakfast just briefly after she sat down. To anyone else, it might not have meant much, but he could always apprehend the lost look in her eyes, as if she didn't even recognize him or knew what she was doing there. The look unsettled him, and he would quickly divert his attention to the paper until he felt her lower her eyes.
They ate quietly.
Neither had ever been given to conversation, but now he could sense her distancing herself from him, little by little, until he could no longer even fathom how they came to be married in the first place. Once again he turned his focus to the daily news- at least they were comprehensible. But out of the corners of his eyes, he could always see her. She took a bite or two of her food and pushed the rest around her plate listlessly.
Sometimes he would comment, "You're not eating."
But she would just look up, smile her vacant smile, and answer, "I'm just not very hungry this morning." And he wouldn't push the matter farther.
After a second cup of coffee, it was time to leave for work. Taking his briefcase and his keys, he would meet her by the door where she awaited with his jacket, or when it was summer, nothing at all.
"Have a good day at work," she would wish him.
"I'll see you at dinner." No warm embrace, no parting kisses. They didn't touch, but that was nothing new. Sesshomaru wasn't one to show affection easily, not even in the privacy of his own home, and Kikyo never forced it upon him. That was why he had married her.
At the office Sesshomaru threw himself into his work, and more often than not, he ended up breaking his morning declaration and didn't get home until well into the night. Still, dinner was always waiting for him, kept warm in the oven, even when Kikyo wasn't. A lot of the times he found her already fast asleep, curled up on the couch with the thin mohair throw wrapped tightly around her slender shoulders.
He always left her there, not wanting to disturb her- it was the only time he was aware of that she actually slept. It never occurred to him to carry her upstairs to their bed, though it couldn't have been much of a task. She was so thin now...
But in any case, she would wake up a little later, change into a cotton nightgown, and join him of her own accord, though she wouldn't go back to sleep. Then sometime past midnight, he would feel her leave the warmth of their sheets, walk into the cold of the hallway- far enough where she thought she wouldn't disturb him, but close enough in case he should awaken- and cry her mute tears.
It truly frustrated Sesshomaru.
If he had known before hand that this was the wife he was tying himself to, he would never have married her in the first place. But then again, back then the thought of Kikyo ever shedding a tear for anything, let alone herself, would have been a laughable idea.
Of course she felt things. Not many people might have suspected it, but he knew that much. She towed a hard line sometimes, but inside she was always sensitive of others' feelings, their wants and needs, sometimes he felt even to a fault.
But crying? His ever rational, reasonable Kikyo? It was unimaginable.
They couldn't be the same woman, he told himself. Sometime in the night, sometime when he wasn't looking, someone had sneaked in and stolen away his calm, levelheaded wife and replaced her with this liquid transparent copy who nightly shed herself in her tears.
What was she even crying about? Sesshomaru could not even begin to guess at the answer.
Wasn't he good to her? Didn't he provide her with everything she could ever want or need? A large house, nice things, trips all around the world, luxurious clothes, expensive jewelry. What else could she possibly want from him? Hadn't he given her everything there was possibly to give to a woman?
Yes, a voice inside his head vehemently answered.
So then why did she insist on slipping away from him? Did she no longer wish to remain with him? Were the things he offered her not enough?
But if they weren't enough, then he wasn't enough, he thought angrily. And if he wasn't enough for her, if she was so hell-bent on getting more, then it was fine by him. Let her seek fulfillment in another man's bed.
The thought rang loud in his head, like a gunshot echoing off the walls of his mind.
Was that really the answer?
Sesshomaru had never bought into the overly commercialized idea of marital bliss. In fact, he had never thought to get married at all except that it was a convenient image to portray- something the naïve public wanted. Convenient. And he had thought he'd met a woman who understood that. A woman who didn't demand flowers and romance, long walks on the beach, or horse drawn carriages into the sunset. He had thought Kikyo was realistic and self-reliant, whole, undeluded. Someone who wouldn't hinder him with useless sentimentalities.
And yet nightly she left his side to cry in the hall, like some damned child.
Well, if she's no longer content, he found himself thinking irritably, he wasn't either. It would be best if they went their separate ways. The whole idea of marriage was a mistake- one he should have recognized the moment he laid eyes on her.
The thought continued to dominate his mind all night long and continued to do so in the morning, while they ate their silent breakfast, while they said their goodbyes and she watched him drive away, while he worked and came home- on time for once- while they ate just as quiet a dinner.
He eyed her across from him, twirling the fettuccine around her fork before bringing it daintily to her mouth for a small bite and replacing it on her full plate once more. Sometime in the day she had changed into a soft gray cashmere sweater and dark slacks to ward off the evening chill, her hair don up in a simple twist secured in place with a lacquered chopstick, the pearls still around her neck.
Could he really do it? he asked himself. Could he really sever himself from her? And more importantly, did he really want to? The answer was quite obvious.
Of course not. She was his wife after all. And besides, Sesshomaru never gave up on anything- to give up was the same as to fail, and if he was anything, it certainly wasn't a failure.
"How was your day?" she asked him.
"Good," he answered without elaboration. Work was not something he liked to discuss. "And yours?"
"Just as well." No details.
They sank back into silence.
Then again, Sesshomaru reconsidered, there was such a thing as cutting your losses. It was only a code of survival- like a drowning man being dragged down into the water by the weight of the corpse he was lashed to, someone who had given up trying to swim. You had to cut the ties and save yourself.
Sesshomaru didn't believe in saving those who wouldn't save themselves.
But this was Kikyo, he reminded himself. His Kikyo. Could he really let her go?
The dinner ended and she collected the plates, scooping up the remainder of the food into the trash before loading the dishes into the dishwasher. She had refused his offer to hire a housemaid for her, but watching her work, he realized it was probably all she had to busy herself now that she had taken a sabbatical from her teaching for an undetermined length of time.
Still, when she was preoccupied with those simple tasks, he noticed how at peace she seemed, certain and sure. Like the Kikyo he used to know.
Carefully Sesshomaru weighed his options in his mind. Was it better for him to just let her go, or was there still something there worth salvaging?
His thoughts were interrupted by a noise outside the kitchen door. Not a knock, more like the scratching of some stray animal or other.
Kikyo opened the door to see a cat dart off to a safe distance in the shadow and watch her with keen yellow eyes.
Without closing the door, she opened a cupboard and took out a can of tuna, opened it up, and spooned the contents into a small saucer which she placed on the stoop.
"What are you doing? Don't do that," he reprimanded, a little aggravated that she didn't know better. "You'll only encourage it to return."
She glanced back at him and he caught her eyes, caught the flicker of overwhelmed lostness in their dark depths.
"But it's hungry," she told him quietly.
Wearily he pushed himself away from the dining table and turned away. It was pointless to argue with her.
Since it was still early, he went into his study to look over some preliminary figures he had brought with him from the office while she curled up on the couch and fell asleep.
Was this all there was? Sesshomaru asked himself once more, pausing at the foot of the stairs before heading upstairs for bed to gaze at her slumbering figure. Was this really worth holding on to? Was she? She didn't even seem to want to be held at all.
In their bedroom he changed into flannel pajama bottoms, got in between the sheets, but didn't fall asleep. Instead he took up a book he had been meaning to start and opened it up.
Half an hour later she came in and he watched as she went into the bathroom and returned dressed in a fitted nightgown, white and gauzy. She sat with her back to him on her side and began brushing out her long hair.
They exchanged no words until she set her brush aside.
"Perhaps we should divorce," he observed reasonably, like one commenting that perhaps tomorrow he might cut the grass- they were looking a little long.
She froze for a second and didn't react, just taking in his words as she raised her feet into the bed to lay down, all the while never turning to him.
"Yes," she replied in a voice even less emotional than his, "perhaps."
For a moment he studied her, questioning whether he had done the right thing, but she just lay there, unmoved and unmoving, affirming his decision.
It was all for the best. She wasn't happy, and he didn't want to deal with it anymore. All for the best.
Turning off the lights, he eased down onto the mattress and fell asleep until the familiar rustle of sheets awoke him. The door creaked open, clicked shut, and he was alone on the bed again. She was just outside, sitting with her knees up against the wall, but she wasn't crying. Not tonight. He didn't know how he knew because even when she did she didn't make any noise, but he just did.
He thought about going after her, let her know he knew, had known all along. But then again, what difference would it make now? Sesshomaru remained where he was.
Out in the hallway, Kikyo buried her face in her hands and let out a shuddering breath. Her heart weighed a ton, but oddly enough, her mind felt lighter, more at ease.
The thing had been decided, and it was all for the best. She knew that.
She wouldn't have to concern herself anymore about disappointing anyone, making them worry about her. She would be free now that no one was holding on to her to drift and drift until she eventually disappeared and faded from this world.
She had dreaded the moment he would realize she was not the woman he had thought her to be, but now that it had passed, in a way it was a relief, like a heavy burden being lifted from her weary shoulders. At last she wouldn't have to try anymore.
She hated herself for ever letting him believe she was someone she could never be- strong, independent, worthy of love. Deep inside she had always known she was broken, but for a while, him believing she was somehow whole had made it possible for her to pretend that she was, had been enough for her to hold all the little pieces together. Now, however, there were too many, and she no longer had the strength to try. One by one they escaped from her grasp like fractured glass, jagged pieces better left unhandled.
Sesshomaru didn't need a broken wife always in need of repairs to tie him down. She had fooled him into taking something she knew full well he could never want. And he deserved much better than she could ever give him.
Divorce... She had known it was coming for sometime, though it wasn't because she believed him to be unfaithful. Actually, she didn't really know what had prompted him to bring it up now aside from their customary estrangement, but perhaps he had just finally grown weary of her. Perhaps he had just come to realize what a mistake it had been to take her in the first place...
Whatever the reason, it didn't really matter. In the end it was all for the best.
Half an hour later, she returned to the bedroom and gazed for a solitary second at her husband lying on his side, his back to her, fast asleep. As quietly as she could so as not disturb a moment of that sleep, she got back on her side and stared at the empty darkness.
If only it would swallow her up... then he wouldn't have to deal with the paperwork of a formal divorce. Yet another inconvenience she would cause in his life.
Looking back, it kinda reminds me of a quote from the book 'White Oleander' when Claire tells Astrid, "Take my advice. Stay away from all broken people." Except Kikyo doesn't even refer to herself as a person, and hence the title.