I must have been on crack to think I could have done this story as a oneshot... :sweatdrop:

Anyway, sorry I haven't been as frequent with my updates lately. I've been shopping lately, though I don't know why considering I had trouble trying to find space for all the clothes I already had. It's the curse of being female- too many clothes and still nothing to wear. But oh well. I'm also in the middle of trying to reorganize my room, which I keep procrastinating with the distraction of money spending. It's a vicious cycle, really.

So yeah... but I'll try to be better.

...OOO...

She stared at the darkened ceiling and worried. The voices were getting louder again, the insecurities seeping in once more. She had tried to ignore them, but with every passing day they became more and more persistent. Always when things were at their best.

The higher she was, the harder she fell. No wonder she was so broken.

Kikyo glanced over at Sesshomaru sleeping soundly beside her, his arm across her waist. She couldn't get up without disturbing him; he was such a light sleeper.

She sighed a little. He looked so content, so satisfied with their life.

He was happy wasn't he?

Kikyo ran her fingers around the pearls at her neck. She wore them constantly now, trying to reassure herself of the promises she had made.

He seemed happy, or at least as happy as Sesshomaru ever allowed himself to be.

So why was she so worried?

They were only a week away now from signing the contract that would once again bind them by law as husband and wife, reaffirming their love for one another.

And he did love her, didn't he?

Of course he did. He showed her every day- perhaps not with the grandiose gestures of an infatuated lover, but the simpler overtures of a husband who cared.

Didn't he kiss her every morning, come home as early as he could every night- just for her? Didn't he provide her with everything she needed without her ever having to ask?

He loves you, she whispered silently to herself. He loves you. He loves you.

Or did he only love the woman she was pretending to be?

But how could she pretend to be anyone? she asked herself. How could she be anyone other than who she was?

He loves you.

So why did it make her feel so guilty?

Kikyo bit her lip, hard; trying to get her mind to focus on the physical pain, distract it from her groundless insecurities.

It wasn't enough.

What if he saw through her fa├žade, she fretted. What if he suddenly realized she wasn't the woman he wanted? What if someone better came along?

What if it was all a mistake? What if second chances ended like the first? After all, what had really changed between them that would result in a different outcome? She was still broken.

Every day the list of what-ifs grew longer. Every day new sources of fear and doubt cropped up until all her energy came to focus almost solely on them. It zapped her of her strength. Even eating and sleeping became difficult tasks.

It was probably just as well though, she realized. Kikyo had gained a few pounds. It was another one of her concerns.

Couldn't he feel them under his arm- the extra amount of fat accumulating in her waist? What if he stopped finding her attractive?

"You're not asleep?"

The cool sound of his voice startled her from her thoughts.

She glanced over and stammered, "No, I..." and reprimanded herself for faltering, forgetting her lines. "I'm thirsty," she lied, indicating his arm around her, "but I didn't want to wake you."

Quietly he removed it and she pushed herself out of bed and went downstairs.

Sesshomaru waited for her to return.

For the past few days now he had felt that there was something bothering her, but he couldn't understand what. He watched her closely trying to determine the source of his apprehension, but there were no visible signs. She acted normal enough during the daytime.

She did eat less during their meals, but he thought that was to be expected. Already she had gained some more weight and looked healthier. It wasn't unthinkable to assume she was merely not hungry- Kikyo never did have much of an appetite anyway.

And it wasn't as if she was withdrawn, the way she had been before their divorce.

Every day she sent him off with a smile and every night she greeted him the same. She didn't try to draw away when he touched her.

One night he had even asked her, "Are you happy?"

Her eyes had widened in surprise at the question.

"Of course," she had answered. "How could I not be?"

So why then did he feel that there was something missing? That there was something she wasn't telling him?

Was he still doing something wrong? he wondered.

It took Kikyo ten minutes- a little longer than it should have- but she did climb back into bed, kiss him goodnight, and closed her eyes.

Sesshomaru frowned for a second and stared at her, but she had shifted on to her side, her back to him. She seemed at ease, sleeping.

Maybe he was imagining things.

Still, his grip tightened around her.

Friday night, in anticipation of the weekend, he made love to her. She hadn't tried to avoid his advances, but during intercourse, she was less receptive than she had been the weeks before. Finally he pulled away.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

But shaking her head slowly, she smiled wanly and replied, "No. I'm sorry, I'm just a little worn tonight..."

Sesshomaru quenched his lust. With an understanding kiss, he fell back on to his side of the bed to let her sleep.

But she didn't sleep.

"I'm a bit thirsty," she declared after several minutes. "I'm going down for some water. Would you like me to bring you a glass?"

"No. I'm fine."

She smiled at him again and threw on her robe, went downstairs.

Sesshomaru gazed at the ceiling thoughtfully.

Was he really just imagining things? Or was there really something wrong?

Depression is a cancer... it can always return.

But Kikyo wasn't depressed, he reminded himself. At least, she didn't seem like it.

Perhaps she was only anxious about renewing their marriage license, he reasoned.

But why should she be? Hadn't he shown her that he could be better? That he could be relied upon to meet her needs and her wants? That this time, things would work?

Was that what she was worried about- a repeat of their last attempt at a life together? Was she having doubts, second thoughts?

What was he still doing wrong? he questioned and found no answers.

Downstairs, Kikyo stared blankly into the sink, down into its bottomless drain as if perhaps the solutions were there, just hiding from her.

What was wrong with her? she demanded. How could she let him down like that? And after swearing to be better, to make him happy no matter what.

She had resolved to never fail him again, and had been determined to carry out that intent all the way through. She had promised herself that this time she could do it, but now... now she wasn't so sure.

Could she really do it, she wondered. Could she really continue to make him happy when she didn't even know how to be herself?

How long, she asked herself truthfully, could she really keep this charade going? How long could she keep smiling, how long could she keep ignoring the voices? How long before the pieces unraveled again?

They were bound to unravel...

And what if he found out she knew all along that they would, and yet let him believe that she was better anyway? He would hate her then. She knew he would. She hated herself for deceiving him already.

What had she been thinking in deciding to do so in the first place? How could she have thought that it didn't matter, that he'd never have to find out? Of course it mattered, and of course he would find out sooner or later, that she wasn't the kind of woman he thought she was, wanted her to be.

Who was she trying to fool? Inside she had known it all along herself that she could never be a woman he could love or who deserved to love him. It was all just a lie...

But in one week, she thought fearfully. In one week she would once again allow him to tie himself to the dead weight that she was.

She let out a slow sigh and passed a hand over her face, as if that would somehow erase all her worries.

It didn't, but they would have to wait. She had to go back before he got suspicious.

Turning on the faucet, Kikyo filled a glass up with water. She stared at it for several seconds, then dumped it back out before going back upstairs.

Sesshomaru was still waiting for her, and she allowed him to draw her close, all the while hating herself for it.

But she couldn't resist either.

Quietly she wrapped her arms around him, laid her head on his shoulder, enjoyed his scent.

He was so real, so solid. The one good thing in her life that wasn't constantly floating away.

She had thought she could hold on to him, anchor herself so she wouldn't drown. But now she realized- what if she was merely dragging him down with her?

The tides were pulling her back, and if she loved him, she would let him go. If she really loved him, then she would let him save himself.

Kikyo only wanted what was best for him, and she wasn't it.

But letting go was easier said than done.

The sun rose and broke the iron resolve of night once more.

The daylight was her stumbling block, the morning reviving the tiny hope that perhaps, just perhaps there was still a chance that things would be ok. That second chances didn't end like the first. That the inevitable could somehow be avoided.

Maybe the pieces would hold after all.

She was so naive.

...ooo...

Sesshomaru couldn't understand.

Kikyo wasn't happy. She tried not to show it outwardly, but he wasn't blind. He could read it in her smiles, in her eyes when she saw him. That lost look he could never fathom.

One day Sesshomaru came home earlier than usual to find her sitting at the kitchen table, her face smothered in her hands, unmoving.

Sesshomaru froze by the doorway, unsure what to do, but she jumped when he entered.

"Oh," she said, surprised but managing to plaster a smile on her face nonetheless. "You're home early. Is everything alright?"

"Fine," he answered, very tempted to buy into her smile. "A client cancelled a meeting." He kissed her temple and held her lightly, wanting to read her feelings through touch.

But she drew away before he could determine anything and began opening up cupboards and cabinets.

"What would you like for dinner?" she asked taking out a box of spaghetti, shaking her head and putting it back.

That night while she showered, Sesshomaru went to his study and closed the door. Turning on the computer, he found a search engine and typed the word he refused to believe.

He found a website and clicked on it.

Most people, the site read, who have gone through one episode of depression will, sooner or later, have another one.

Most people with depression never seek help...

In his mind, Sesshomaru could not believe his own actions. To even entertain the idea there was something wrong with his wife... He might as well have admitted defeat, his inner voice was telling him. But he had to know.

Determinedly he clicked on a link.

Symptoms.

A list popped up and right away he recognized several indications. All things he had and continued to attribute to other problems.

Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies.

A change in appetite with significance weight loss or weight gain.

A change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping...

Restlessness...

Other ones scared him.

Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt.

Thoughts of suicide or death.

It couldn't be true, he argued with himself. Surely Kikyo had no such pessimistic delusions about her own self-worth, the woman he had always admired for her quick wit? Her cool temper? How could she possibly think she was worthless? What need had she to feel guilty about anything?

Thoughts of suicide or death. But she would never allow herself to entertain such ideas. She was stronger than that.

The doctor's words rushed back into his mind, "She tried to kill herself... An overdose of sleeping pills."

...difficulty sleeping...

"It was an accident," she had told him.

The same voice which had pleaded, "I'm so tired..." Was is really a prayer for salvation, or merely an imploration for the ultimate form of rest?

Hurriedly he closed the window on the screen and pushed himself away, trying to distance himself from the answer he refused to comprehend.

A knock at the door diverted his attention.

Kikyo pushed it open to peek inside, making sure to smile when she saw him.

"I'd like to go to bed early tonight," she said. "Unless you'd like me to wait for you. Will you be much longer?"

Shaking his head, he crossed the room to the door, nudged her back outside and closed it securely behind him, locking away the unacceptable possibilities within the contained walls of his study.

"Perhaps we could both use the rest."

Upstairs they changed into the proper attire and climbed into bed, but before either fully hit the pillow, Sesshomaru studied her briefly and asked, "How have you been feeling?"

Kikyo gave him a quizzical glance, "What do you mean? Physically?"

"In general."

She frowned a little as if searching her mind for the right answer, then answered, "I've been feeling well. Why would I be otherwise?"

"No reason," he replied, "but you seem to have trouble sleeping recently."

"Oh yes... just a bit of insomnia," she assured with a smile meant to ease his concerns. "Nothing for you to worry about."

Staring at her for just a bit longer, he responded quietly, "You're my wife. Of course I worry."

As had become his habit, he put an arm around her and drew her a little closer before falling asleep.

Kikyo watched him silently.

The statement stabbed at her guilt, and she grimaced inwardly. He had enough things to worry about- she wasn't supposed to be one of them.

How could she be so selfish? she rebuked herself. If anything she was supposed to help alleviate his concerns, not add to them. She should have had solutions, not been a problem herself...

The thought made her jump.

What if that was all she was- a problem he had to deal with. She didn't put it past him to tolerate her for the sake of duty. Sesshomaru always did feel an obligation to fulfil the roles he committed himself to- even if they weren't as pleasing a proposition afterwards.

Like her husband.

Even though they had technically divorced, he still continued to view her as his responsibility. That was why he kept sending those checks, wasn't it? Why he had come to the hospital when she called him.

Kikyo felt sick to her stomach at the realization.

It was true. She was nothing but a burden to him. A stumbling block always hindering his progress. She didn't know how to be anything else.

What angered her the most was that deep inside, she had always known it, but had been too selfish to admit.

How could she had ever claimed to love him? She had only been trying to save herself, never giving a thought that perhaps by doing so, she was killing him as well.

Why, why, why? she asked herself. Why did she have to be so weak? Why couldn't she have been better? Unbroken?

Why did he have to care?

Quietly she sobbed into her pillow, her back to her sleeping husband, unable to leave because of his arm around her.

Why did he bother to hold on? Why couldn't he see what kind of woman it was he held in his arms? Broken and useless and better left being thrown away.

Save yourself, she wanted to tell him.

His embrace tightened and she closed her eyes, pretended she was asleep while he shifted her to face him and brought her close.

She wanted to cry even more.

The next day was Friday, the day of their departure for Hawaii, paradise. Sesshomaru still had some last loose ends to tie up before taking leave, so he was going to his office in the morning while she packed, and come back at noon to make their five o'clock flight after a quick stop at the courthouse for a marriage license.

He lingered at the doorway before leaving for work.

Something inside of him felt uneasy.

"I'll see you this afternoon," he told her, but waited for her affirmation.

"Of course," she replied after a brief silence he did not like. But Kikyo had always been true to her word and 'of course' was not the same as 'good-bye'.

Giving her another light kiss, he went to work reasoning that the sooner he did, then the sooner he could return.

She would be alright for a few hours, he tried to assure himself on the drive to the office. And he was certain she would be a lot better once they were in Hawaii, once they got away for a while. She was just stressed out- that was all.

The nagging feeling grew anyway.

At home, Kikyo bit her tongue for making another promise, but at least it was one she could keep this time. And he did deserve that much from her, she thought, though it was would be much harder to let go of someone when they were holding on to you as well. Never in all her life did she think she would seek to loosen herself from someone who loved her, cared about her. It was all she had ever really wanted and thought she needed.

Always about herself. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

If he loved her, then it was even more reason for her to leave. If he loved her, then she knew he would never sever himself from her.

Didn't he realize how futile it was to hold on to broken things? How dangerous, even?

At best they would slip from your grasp anyway, and at worse cut you to pieces if they didn't.

She loved him, and she couldn't allow that to happen. She was a mistake she wouldn't allow him to make twice.

This time she would sever their bonds for good, and he would have no reason to feel guilty or obligated. Not if it was her wish.

When Sesshomaru got home, he found her with only one suitcase packed and sitting on the bed, her hands on her face, trying to work up whatever strength remained inside to fortify herself for the self-inflicted separation.

"I can't do it," she told him quietly, staring at the floor unable to meet his questioning eyes. "I can't marry you again."

Sesshomaru had never been one inclined to speak many words, but it was the first time in his life he had ever been at a loss for them.

What had happened?

"What caused you to change your mind?" he asked calmly, too numbed by the unexpected announcement to arrive at a more appropriate reaction.

She just shook her head, "It's nothing... I just..." Sniffling a little, she ran a tissue under her nose, but continued in a steadier tone, "It's for the best." Quietly she took up her suitcase and made her way past him.

In the few seconds it took her to cross to the door and push pass his body still blocking it, a dozen thoughts and emotions flickered through Sesshomaru's head suddenly buzzing to life.

A part of him demanded a more concrete explanation.

What had he done wrong to drive her away? a voice asked heatedly. Even after everything he had done to take care of her, it was still not enough. What more did she want from him that he was so incapable of giving, she thought it was better to seek it somewhere else? He had opened himself for her, why couldn't she do the same?

Just as she walked out the door, his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist, stopping her more by surprise rather than the sheer physical force.

"Stop running from me." The words left his mouth hard, so low she barely heard them.

Kikyo looked back startled.

"I'm not..." Was that really how he saw it? That she was running from him?

She could have laughed at the bitter irony. If she had her way, they would never part for a single second. But it was better this way.

"It's for the best," she told him softly but firmly, tugging at her hand that he wouldn't release.

"If it's for the best," he countered, that dangerous hint of anger in his voice, "then why did you choose to return in the first place?"

"It was a mistake," she responded.

"Mistakes are not something I am capable of making."

"You made one when you married me," she snapped back, her patience breaking. Why did he have to be so stubborn?

"And just how are you a mistake?" he demanded angrily. "Or do you wish to say you're the one who made the mistake in agreeing? Is that it?"

"NO!"

"Then what? What is it that you want that I am incapable of giving you? I love you," he blurted, the words stumbling out of his mouth before he had time to stop them. "Isn't that enough?"

It was the first time he had ever dared to say them out loud.

Kikyo froze, then went limp, stopped trying to break his iron grip around her arm.

Why? Why did he have to make this so difficult?

Tears swelled in her eyes, but her voice was surprising clear and concise even in her own ears as she repeated, "It's for the best."

"No," he declared just as firmly. "Until you can give me a reason, I won't let you go."

"Why can't you understand?" she cried. "I'm not... I can't..." Raising her eyes to meet his, she pled with him silently.

And then he saw it again- that same look that always came when her eyes found him, that look he was never before able to name

It was fear.

The discovery surprised him. Kikyo was fearless. What was she so afraid of?

"Tell me," he ordered quietly.

And then something happened that his logical brain could not begin to comprehend- Kikyo, one hand to her face, now crying openly in front of him.

"Why can't you understand?" she repeated, her voice thick with her tears. "I'll only make you miserable if I stay. I can't make you happy- I don't know how to be... I'm not well, Sesshomaru. I never have been, and I'm sorry for letting you believe otherwise, but I can't continue pretending." She stifled back a sob, "Are you satisfied now? I'm weak- hate me all you like, but please just let me go."

He did just the opposite. Pulling her to him, he encased her thin figure in his arms, let her burry her head on his shoulder.

Was that why she never told him? Because she afraid he would love her less because she wasn't like other women? Because she was sick?

He wondered himself why he had been so adamant to deny that fact.

She was sick, but it wasn't what defined her.

She was Kikyo, orphaned at five months and raised by an ailing grandmother. She made the honor roll all throughout elementary, junior high, and high school, and put herself through college. Majored in art history.

She taught classes at a community college although it offered less money, and fed stray cats with cans of tuna.

She liked to sleep when it rained, and take long baths.

Her favorite food was salmon and pasta, her favorite wine: Pinot noir.

Her favorite flowers were those of her namesake, and her favorite poem was Annabelle Lee.

'And this maiden she lived with no other thought than to love and be loved by me.'

It was the only line Sesshomaru could ever remember.

She was his wife, and she had an illness, but there was more to her than that.

Even if she was broken, he thought, couldn't he love the pieces just as much as the whole?

He kissed her wordlessly, pressed her a little closer.

"I'm not letting you go," he told her. "Understand?"

She could only nod and hold back another sob. She didn't have the strength to argue, and he was so stubborn anyway, it would have been useless. Instead she merely locked her arms around him and held on for dear life. She was so tired of being lost.

...ooo...

White florescent lights glared down at them from above, crisp and clean. In fact, the entire room- the entire facility- was white. White walls, white tiles, people in white coats. But everywhere there were also pots of green leafy plants soaking up the sun under large windows.

Kikyo and Sesshomaru sat silently in the grey waiting room chairs, neither one speaking.

Their trip to Hawaii had been postponed for the moment, and they had instead visited Dr. Ikari for a who referred them to a specialist- a psychotherapist by the name of Dr. Inoue. Kikyo wanted to stay away from pills if possible.

Sitting beside him, she didn't say anything, but Sesshomaru could tell she was nervous, constantly fingering the pearls around her neck, biting her lip every now and then, crossing and uncrossing her ankles. She had an aversion to doctors, but Chiyako Inoue seemed like a nice enough woman.

From her stand behind the registration desk, the receptionist flashed them a beaming smile and announced, "Dr. Inoue is ready for you."

Sesshomaru rose to his feet and Kikyo followed suit after taking a deep breath to calm herself.

Looking forward, he took her hand.

"It'll be alright," he told her, not with optimistic confidence, but just pure certainty. "We'll see this through."

She glanced at him and smiled, fingering her necklace one more time as he opened the door to the doctor's office and led her inside.

Yes, it would be alright.

Broken things could be mended after all.

...OOO...

Yes, that is the end! And not a moment sooner- seriously, I've been up all night (no, not writing this, but I really wanted to have it done, so I stayed up even later to finish. It's not morning- a quarter till six and I gotta be somewhere in like... four hours. Crap! Will my contacts even have time to soak before I have to wear them again? Shoot! My glasses have a screw loose... :Bangs head on desk repeatedly:)

But yeah... sorry for any misspelled words and grammar errors and all, but I'm just too durn tired to go back and read. I need sleep.

So how did you like it?