Author: Squishy Penguin
Status: One-Shot, Complete
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own.
She struggled at first.
She refused to give in, refused to succumb. It would be wrong, she told herself. It would go against everything she had fought and bled for in these last two years.
All the time, all the pain, all the tears that had fallen in this world. If she gave in, it would be like none of that even mattered anymore. All her sufferings over these past years would have been for naught.
She pounded this message into her brain: Do you really want it to end like that? To give up everything you've worked for just like that?
Her conditioned response was no.
No she did not want to. She wouldn't stop holding to her inhibitions. She wasn't the kind of girl who was able to drop them just like that.
She would stand strong in the face of temptation. She would stand strong against enticement. She would hold her ground and not give an inch. A tree with roots running deep, that would be she. Nothing would move her from her convictions, nothing.
It was unfortunate for her that she didn't believe it.
Outwardly she was normal, laughter infectious and a smile always ready at hand.
A smile that did not reached her eyes.
The monk and the taijiya suspected something. They had noticed over the months the air of happiness that had floated around her and seemed to encompass her entire being.
And now the sudden turn of guarded eyes and fake smiles.
They never asked her about the changes they had noticed in their friend, though she knew that they knew. Or at least suspected.
Still, she did her best. It was like an elegant show the three performed with each other. Smiling false smiles and hiding behind masks as they danced the dance of normality.
She laughed a bit hysterically, staring into the flames of the campfire.
It was a bleak night, and a cloudy one. The crescent moon pulsed softly in the sky, shedding dim light to the world below.
She figured it was perfect for her mood.
It was…just so hard to forget. To forget the touches, the memories, the moments. To forget him.
If only it were so easy!
She sighed, tending to the fire.
Life used to be simplistic. Everything and everyone fell into categories, their own little groups. It was an uncomplicated system, and effortless to follow.
Black and White.
Friend or Foe.
Not a mix of both.
They were lines that did not blur, did not blend. Oil and water, simple and clean. That's how it should have been.
But it wasn't.
It had been a night like this one, she recalled. Returning to the old miko's village the day before, she was eager to get back to her secret spot.
The others never knew where their friend would sometimes wander off to in the mist of the night. She would never tell where, for it was her spot.
When the world overwhelmed her, she went there. When the world was cruel, she went there. When the world made her unbelievably happy, she went there.
The little meadow was her rock.
Night was the best time to visit, the moon casting a surreal look upon the waving grass. The flowers glistened silver.
But that night, when she arrived at her meadow, someone was already there.
It had been him.
She could remember the shocked silence shared between them, neither had expected company that night.
She was first to draw her weapon, anger building against this intruder. Her meadow had been invaded by one of the individuals who had driven her to seek such a place to begin with. And she would not stand for it.
Embittered blue eyes stared steadily back into her furious brown, but he remained weaponless.
She recalled her rage at not being taken seriously, not understanding why he would not arm himself.
She hadn't understood until she looked past him to see his halberd half buried in a mound of dirt.
Six graves laid in her beloved meadow, and Banryuu had dug every single one of them.
Her anger had lessened then, eyes darting back to meet his demanding gaze. They stood, facing each other, for what seemed like forever. In reality, it had only been several minutes.
He, however, did not enjoy being pitied.
Especially by her.
Throwing sarcastic and brazen words at her, he broke their silence. She retaliated and stormed off, leaving him behind with his graves and her meadow.
But she refused to leave her secret place to him, let him keep so easily what she had kept hidden for months.
So she returned the following night to drive him off.
And the night after that.
Then the next night, and the next.
And every night she came, he was there.
At first, it had irritated her to no end that he wouldn't get the message and just leave. She would slip into the meadow, prepared to trade angry words with the man who couldn't put his friends behind him.
It had become a game to them, who would drive the other out of the meadow first.
Night stacked upon night, argument piled upon argument. Her days fell into pattern.
Days of demon fighting and shard hunting with them; nights of verbal sparing and bickering with him.
She hadn't even noticed as heated disputes gradually turned into satisfying debates.
After awhile, one might have even gone as far to call them friends.
That is, if anyone even knew about their odd relationship.
Yet no one did, expect for the two that kept it.
It was a silent agreement between the two, one known by both yet voiced by neither. They had become friends, underneath all the circumstances and conditions. They were friends.
And the meadow was to be shared by both.
She could remember the happiness she'd felt upon entering the meadow every night, ready to greet him.
It had been a slow change, from foe to friend. She couldn't even pinpoint when her opinion of him altered. Instead of looking upon their meetings with annoyance and irritation, anticipation and eagerness had taken their places.
It was a good friendship, a solid one.
She found herself telling him more than she had ever wanted. And then she realized that she didn't care.
Unintentionally, he and their nightly talks had bit by bit become the highlight of her days.
She didn't even mind sharing her beloved meadow with him.
Poking the fire with a stick, she sighed.
Yes, it had become a good friendship, one that was cherished by both sides.
Until he had to go and change everything.
He had kissed her.
He kissed her, and things could never be the same.
She didn't know whether to love or damn him for it.
It had been almost exactly one month since she'd celebrated her 17th birthday. A summer night; they'd spent most of it with good-natured bickering. Dawn was coming within a few hours, she'd had prepared to return to the others shortly.
She'd made some sort of move to stand from the grassy hollow they'd been sitting in when his hand clasped around her wrist and made her pause. She had looked at him, confused over his reason for stopping her.
Bangs overshadowing his eyes, he'd told her that he had never given her a gift for her birthday.
She was about to tell him that it didn't matter, that she didn't care.
She never got a chance to.
Placing his hands delicately on her shoulders and refusing to meet her eyes, he kissed her softly on her lips.
She remembered it had only lasted a few seconds, but it seemed as if time itself had stopped.
Bangs had still covered his face as he quickly left the meadow, leaving behind a stunned birthday girl and the flickering fireflies in his wake.
The light of the dancing flames glimmered along her lips as her fingers brushed across them in phantom remembrance of that night.
In spite of herself, she smiled.
It would become the first of many more to follow.
She closed her eyes, recalling the rush of emotions she had felt that night. The astonishment, wonder and confusion it had brought…she smiled again.
She mustn't forget pleasure.
It had been awkward afterwards, each unsure how to act around the other. Both were withdrawn and uncomfortable. She remembered that in her frustration she had started up an argument over something petty, something that broke the social ice and that enabled them to return back to normal.
But it had been a new 'normal.' A normal that started off with little touches; lingering glances. Then came longer embraces, purposeful physical contact. Snuggling and cuddling became an efficient way for warmth on cool evenings. It was turning into a normal that rapidly fed by the expanding emotions and desires between the two.
Memories enveloped her, bringing back images of their second kiss. And then the third. And the fourth. The fifth.
There had been too many to count.
And she had been happy. Incredibly, unbelievably happy.
He had become the gray in her black and white world, and she loved every minute of it.
Regardless of the fire crackling before her, she couldn't help but shiver.
They say that happiness doesn't last forever.
Had she been a fool to believe that it did?
It had happened three nights ago.
They had been in the meadow, as usual.
Sitting in a cove of soft grass, she could feel the tenseness in his arms and saw the unease on his face as he fiddled with some strands of grass-cushion.
Something, whatever it was, had been bothering him for nights now. It had been as obvious to her on the darkest night as it would have been on the brightest day.
And that night -that night- she would find out exactly what it was
She, even now, could still feel the feelings of dismay that had begun to worm its way into her belly.
She remembered sitting in a pool of unease, waiting in silence for him to finally admit to what had been troubling him. And he did, eventually, with a strangled cry; wrapping his arms around her waist in tight embrace.
With his face buried in her hair, he began to tell the startled girl what he had been brooding over for days. Things that were hard for him to disclose, things that had been hard for her to hear.
He wanted to leave.
To disappear, melt into the countryside.
Naraku may have given him a second chance at life, but as a minion.
And a minion he did not wish to be.
He had even toyed with the idea of going up against the hanyou, but from what he had seen and known of himself, the idea would prove pointless. Whether he liked it or not, he was not strong enough to rise up against him.
He was no coward; death did not scare him. But now, he told her, looking away, now things were different.
He could no longer die his second death without any regrets.
That left merely one choice.
Vanishing was the only likely option to decrease the risk of subjection to servitude.
It would prove ultimately foolish to remain so close to the gravesites of his fallen brethren when the hanyou decided it was time to snatch him up once again.
Foolish, as well as obvious.
But it would cut deeply to leave behind the resting places of his brothers, his comrades in arms.
He, however, was not one to shrink at what had to be faced. He never had before and he would not do so now.
That left only one unanswered detail, one part of his plan that was still uncertain.
He wanted her to come with him.
And she didn't know what to say.
Almost the whole time he had been speaking, she felt misery threaten to overtake her. She had braced herself for a flowery goodbye, words of farewell. She expected herself to be able to plaster a fake smile across her face as he spouted phrases of affection but insisted all the same on departure. But never this.
Did he…did he really care for her so much?
As if sensing her indecision, her shock at the most crucial part of his plan, he pulled her even closer, tightening his embrace and nestling her against his chest.
She had clung to him, an unknown tear departing from one brown eye.
He caught the drop on his thumb, wiping it away.
With her head tucked beneath his chin, she remembered idly wondering how he really wasn't much taller than she.
He then shifted uncomfortably; she could see in his face that he had something more to say. It was there, whatever it was, frothing at his lips as he tried to bring himself to speak.
She would had laughed at his situation if she hadn't been so nervous.
He would still be trying when all hell broke loose.
The inu-hanyou had found their secret meadow.
And boy, she remembered, had he been pissed.
He had stormed over to them, yanking the startled couple apart. Ignoring her companion, he scooped her up into his steely grip. Thinking back now, she mentally cursed herself. She had stood there like a fool, stunned over his plan and the hanyou's appearance. A fool who allowed herself to be taken with barely a whisper of protest.
He recovered before she, whirling his fist toward the hanyou. Nearly spitting with rage, he had almost looked like some sort of an avenging angel.
And he, her beloved friend—a friend, was that all he was?—had leapt into action in an attempt to save her. A wayward blow flew from the hanyou to crash into his face. Cursing, he had fallen back to regroup and charge again when the hanyou landed another wild punch across his face. She remembered wondering why, just why he was not fighting the hanyou as powerfully as she had witnessed before. Before, long before they had have met in their meadow.
It was her fault, she had then realized. Hers and her meadow's as she watched the dark haired man become the receiving end for yet another hit. The hanyou was screaming his fury as his punches connected, pupils dilated as he threatened the other to never come near her again.
He was beginning to slip into unconsciousness.
Spending so much time with her in their meadow had thrown off his quick reflexes. Thrown off a degree, granted, but it had proved enough to become deadly.
He had stared at her as blue eyes began to slowly close. He had struggled to say something to her, lips forming inaudible words that she couldn't hear.
She was sure.
One of the words had been 'love.'
It seemed he had been able to tell her what he wanted to after all.
The hanyou had wasted no time in evacuating the scene, with her still clutched in his arms. Her mind had been spinning, her thoughts whirling around him. Her life was shifting so rapidly, so quickly—it had become quite hard for her to keep up. She had almost been glad that the hanyou held her safely in his grasp, sheltered from changing world. Glad! It sickened her now.
Once they neared the old miko's village, he had unceremoniously dumped her on the ground. And there she had stayed, eyes glazed, as he ranted at her. He had gone on and on about her duty of finding the rest of the shards. How it had been her fault that it had shattered, she could not simply leave now. He slung insult after insult at her. He cursed her, screaming how he was one of them. He was someone who they had fought against. How he stood for everything they did not.
How he must had been using her. How he had been lying to her. Jerking her around, playing with her emotions. Worming his way into her puny heart so they would not kill him. He was a liar, a cheat, a player, a trickster. A rotten filthy bastard.
And he was dead.
With narrowed eyes, his voice had dropped down to a whisper for the first time since he had erupted into the meadow. Her friend was one no longer of this earth. A living corpse, a zombie, the walking dead. And she had let that touch her. She had betrayed them all for the touch of a dead man, and he would never let her forget it.
She had only then noticed that the whole village had come out to watch her humiliation, pointing fingers at her and whispering amongst themselves. The hanyou gave her the coldest look she had ever received and turned to leave her alone in the gossip and taunts.
He had let one word drop from his mouth as he stalked off. Like poisoned honey, it dripped from his lips.
He had called her a whore.
The entire village laughed at her shame.
Wincing at the cruel memory, she brought herself back to the present. Had that only really happened three nights ago? It felt like eternality.
The hanyou had spent the last days alternating between ignoring her and whispering words of her betrayal in her ears. He told her that her clouded mind was finally doing the right thing for once when it came to the subject of him. Disregarding any fairytales he'd had woven for her and leaving him be.
And she, to her utter shame and relief, had done just that.
She hadn't been to the meadow since.
And she had never answered his question.
She just didn't know what to believe. Even she could remember her own surprise when he had asked her to go away with him, astonished about his level of affection towards her. Could the hanyou be right? Could it just be some elaborate plan to ensnare her? Was he going through the motions of fondness but really laughing behind her back? Was he? Was he?
Or was she throwing away the best thing that could have happened to her?
Questions that had plagued her for days, invading her thoughts, her mind. Images of his face, the touch of his hand, the feel of his skin. Lingering at the edge of her consciousness while she went through the façade of normalcy.
She bit her lip as she stared into the campfire. She was the only one awake at this time at night, her body used to its visits with him.
She laughed ruefully.
Sleep would only be restless for her.
What if he really did care for her? What then? Would he see her avoidance of him as rejection? That she didn't give a damn what happened to him? To them? To whatever future they might have had?
Would she have really gone away with him?
And that was what scared her the most. To leave behind her friends, the quest, everything. All because of one man. All because he had asked her to.
So much for conditioned responses.
Was "love" really one of the words he had been trying to tell her in their last moments together?
What a bittersweet word.
She clenched her fists in anger. The hanyou had told her that he himself loved her.
But if that was true, why was he the one trying to keep her away from the one she loved?
Her heart froze in shock.
'The one she loved?'
Her eyes widened in panic.
'The one she loved?'
Her fingers trembled.
The one she loved.
God, she was a fool.
Suddenly she didn't give a damn about the poisonings the hanyou had fed her. She didn't give a damn if he had been the enemy. So what if he had died a first time? He was alive now. The hanyou and the village's opinions on their relationship shouldn't matter, didn't matter. They didn't know him. Who were they to judge?
Who was she to let them judge?
She loved him.
And that was all that mattered.
Stealing a glance at the sleeping forms of her companions, she engraved their faces into her memory. She hoped they wouldn't hate her after they realized what she was going to do.
Rising from her seat on the log, she noticed the fire had long since burned itself out. The night was a murky dark. Dim light from the crescent moon attempted to pierce the shadows with little success.
She dismissed this from her mind. Light was unneeded. She would always know the path to their meadow.
Slipping into the trees, she hurried along the path towards where it had all begun. Towards where it would begin again.
She wouldn't let thoughts of his early departure take root in her mind.
Moving steadily among the trees, she thought of her family. Would they think her dead when she did not return? No. She remembered the look in her mother's eyes when she had spoke of him to her. Her mother had realized all the way back then what she had only realized now.
She smiled. Mother's intuition.
If only she herself had realized earlier.
The path only she knew was coming to an end; the meadow would soon be in view.
And so should he, if he was still there.
Damn her treacherous mind.
The path through the trees gave way to waving wild flowers. Its mouth opened into sea of lush grass, pale moonlight glinting off rough headstones of six fallen men.
She stood at the edge, unsure if the meadow would still welcome her after her misplaced uncertainty.
If he would.
She scanned the area desperately, searching for some sign of him, any sign of him. She needed to see him, touch him. Ask his forgiveness for her doubt, her distrust of him. Her hesitation with going away with him, at being with him.
She didn't know what she would do if he were truly gone.
Anxious brown collided with guarded blue.
She had found him.
They stared at each other, faces betraying no emotion. His icy eyes searched hers, seeking to discover what truth lay beneath.
She stepped into their meadow.
And suddenly he moved, as quick as a cat, to meet her. And then she was in his arms, wrapped in embrace.
His lips descended on desperately on hers, crushing her slight form to his. She felt his fingers weave themselves through her hair as hers caressed his skin. Warmth surged through her as she poured every bit of feeling she had into their kiss.
It just felt so right. Being there, kissing him.
Filled with emotion, she broke the kiss to gaze at his face. He was breathing hard, they both were. She lifted a hand to his cheek, stroking the soft skin.
Intense blue met caring brown as he leaned into her touch. He closed his eyes as a slight smile grew across his face at the contact.
He felt her sigh contently against him. Placing a gentle kiss on his cheek, she tilted forward, warm breath puffing against his ear.
"Do you know how much I love you, Bankotsu?"
A grin crept across his face, eyes lighting up. He drew her to him again, pulling her into a tight embrace.
She allowed herself to be pulled into the hug, content. Resting her forehead against the bridge of his nose, she sighed with pleasure.
She, or rather, they never heard the enraged inu hanyou coming. His silent approach had fallen on deaf ears. Neither had realized that the hanyou had snuck up behind her lover until he was screeching his fury.
She had remained blissfully unaware even when his sword came swinging down.
It was a bleak night, and a cloudy one. The crescent moon pulsed softly in the sky, shedding dim light to the world below.
Six rough gravesites of six fallen men fell into place against a backdrop of black velvet and waving ferns.
A hanyou stood silent in a meadow touched by silver. A gentle wind tugged at his pearly hair, blowing tendrils of it across his face.
Two severed heads lay a few feet away from him, their eyes closed and smiles forever transfixed.
Black and White.
Friend and Foe.
Miko and Mercenary.
A girl and a boy.
The hanyou sunk to the ground in disbelief. He only had wanted to kill him, him! He who dared to ever lay his dirty hands on his precious Kagome.
Why did she have to be so close to him in height? And in the utter darkness of the night…
The hanyou agonizingly moaned as he slammed his fists into the bloody ground.
Black and White.
Friend and Foe.
Miko and Mercenary.
A girl and a boy.
Two more graves for the meadow.
Completed: June 5th, 2006. 10:40 PM
Should have been working on chapter 7 for Bumps, another KagxBan fic, butI got this idea in my head that continued to bounce around until I gave in and wrote it.
This one-shot actually has an alternate ending, a happier one.(Basically subtract anything from when the hanyou is mentioned at the end and stick on 6-10 happier lines and you've got the other ending) I wrote the "happier" ending first, but this was what I had in mind for the original ending and I decided to go with it because it fit the story a bit better.
If you're like me and like fics where they end up together (well, alive together) then just let me know and I'll send you the other ending.