Disclaimer: I do not own any of the rights to Inuyasha. All rights to the characters of Inuyasha are property of Rumiko Takahashi. I also do not own any of the rights to Unfaithful as performed by Rihanna.
Author's Note: This fanfiction was inspired by the song Unfaithful by Rihanna. I'm not completely happy with the way I had to break down the lyrics to get it to work intermitten in the fic. I usually prefer something a little more unified, but it'll do, I suppose. Also, I highly doubt that Houjou's given name is Akitoki, but I don't recall it ever being mentioned in the anime/manga/movies and since his ancestor's name was Akitoki...
On a further note, the lyrics to Unfaithful can be found at http(/)www.metrolyrics(.)com/lyrics(/)228303755(/)Rihanna(/)Unfaithful
"Don't worry, Inuyasha, I'll be back in two days. I promise!"
She closed her eyes against the memory of her last few moments in Sengoku Jidai and the promise she'd made to a brooding hanyou as she jumped through the well for what she soon discovered was her last time. That had been two years ago. Two years since they'd killed Naraku and completed the Shikon no Tama. Two years since she'd last seen her friends.
She'd been eighteen then and had needed to make the trip to her era in order to take the last of her exams before graduation. Back then, that sort of thing had been important to her. So important that it wasn't until later, when she lay on a bed in the emergency room, that she'd realized she'd totally overlooked the worried expressions on her friend's faces or the look of distress and sadness that had come over Inuyasha's golden eyes when she made her excuses. Had they suspected she'd be locked away from them? Had he somehow known?
When her two days were up, she had packed her bag again and leapt over the lip of the Bone-Eater's well, just as always, and had received a jarring surprise when she hit the bottom. Her ankle turned sideways with a sickening pop and she'd fallen to her hands and knees, looking up to discover the shrine roof above her. The throbbing pain in her ankle came in only second to the startling realization she was no longer allowed to travel through time.
Jii-chan had heard her sobbing screams while sweeping and had run in to check on her. Somehow, they had managed to lift her out of the well and rush her to the emergency room. She'd spent the next three weeks in bed, a cast on her leg so the bone could heal, but nothing to hold her broken heart together.
It had been amazingly easy to give in to the depression after that, knowing she'd never told him how she felt. Never once had she managed to gather enough courage to confess her feelings to the hanyou; to let him know she thought he was perfect exactly the way he was and she loved him so much she would be willing to give up her life on this side of the well just to be with him, if he would have her. There had never seemed to be the right time. There had always been Naraku to fight or Kikyou to deal with or tests to take, but she'd made up her mind after the completion of the Shikon no Tama to let him know. She just wanted to finish her finals first.
A day hadn't gone by since then that she hadn't regretted that decision.
She became a virtual recluse for three months, only going out when she had a doctor's appointment or when she needed to attend one of Souta's soccer games or his other various extracurricular events. She was punishing herself, not her family after all.
Finally, the girls lured her out and begged her to tell them why she was so sad all the time. They knew it had something to do with Inuyasha, but she hadn't given them any information and still didn't.
It wasn't until Houjou had approached her at Souta's championship games that she finally broke down and admitted everything - well, nearly everything.
She had been sitting alone on the bleachers, watching the players kick the ball around. Her grandfather had gone looking for snacks and her mother was closer to the sidelines, snapping pictures. Houjou had sat down next to her and waited for her to acknowledge him before speaking. When he did, he was gently to the point.
"You've been avoiding everyone," he stated softly. "May I ask why?"
She ignored him, choosing to stand and cheer for her brother instead, as he made a goal.
When she'd sat back down, Houjou touched her shoulder, gaining her attention. "Higarashi, whatever's happened must have been really hard on you. I just want you to know that I'm here if you ever want someone to talk to. I'm a pretty good listener and, unlike the girls, I promise to keep my opinions to myself." He offered her a quick grin, letting her know that he was attempting to tease her slightly.
There had been something in his eyes, a sort of earnest desire that convinced her to speak. With a long, drawn out sigh, she hung her head. "There was - is - this guy, Inuyasha. Eri and the others think of him as my boyfriend, but he wasn't, not really. He was - is - my best friend and I...I love him." She blushed bright red as that was the first time she'd ever admitted it to anyone out loud. "But he was sort of with someone else, so I settled for just being his friend. A few months ago, it finally ended with that other person and I was gonna tell him, you know, how I feel."
Her hands gripped the metal bleachers on either side of her legs and he carefully laid his hand on top of hers that was between them. "But you didn't?" She shook her head and he squeezed her hand lightly. "Why not?"
She was silent for a moment, keeping her head down, as she quickly came up with an ending to her story. She couldn't tell him the truth - that they were five hundred years apart - but she could tell him something similar. "He took a trip, to a collage he was looking into...in America. The day after finals, he called to tell me he was going to move there...with her - the other girl. I couldn't tell him."
Houjou had held her hand through the rest of the game, giving her silent comfort. He never did tell the other girls what she'd told him, but waited until she was ready to do so. Just as she'd suspected, they'd had plenty to say about the ungrateful jerk who'd two timed her for so many years, even after she tried to explain they were never together for him to be cheating on her.
After that, Houjou had spent more time with her, coaxing her out of the house and back into the world until she started to feel normal again. Her heart would never truly heal from the devastation it had suffered, but she was beginning to live around it.
She supposed they became a couple, but neither of them ever acknowledged it out loud. Then one night, five months before, he had taken her out to dinner and left her speechless by presenting a gorgeous diamond ring to her over dessert.
"Kagome, I think you're one of the most wonderful, talented, kind, and gentle women I've ever met and I would be the luckiest man on Earth if you would marry me."
She gasped, looking down at the ring in his hands and then up at his eyes, reading the hopefulness behind them. She felt detached from her body, numb, as if she were not truly experiencing these events but merely watching them play out from across the room. "Akitoki -"
He held his hand up to silence her. "There are so many different kinds of love in the world, Kagome. The love you feel for your friends, your family, your significant other, but nothing and no one can ever compare to your first love. I know because you were mine." He set the ring on the table and took her hand in both of his. "I don't expect to take his place because I can't and I don't want to. I'm just asking if there's room enough in your heart to consider loving me enough to be my wife."
Biting her lip, she nodded and watched as he slipped the ring on her finger. As he kissed her knuckles, her tears began to fall in a mixture of pain and joy.
Five months had gone by since then and they had moved into a small apartment together, though they still shared separate bedrooms. Kagome felt unable to move their relationship forward any farther and he never pressured her. She still couldn't help but feel guilty because she wasn't able to give him more. They had tried, once, after initially moving in together, but she had frozen in fear and begun to cry. He'd ended up just holding her all night while she apologized profusely for her inability. He deserved something for the patience and kindness and love he'd shown her.
That was why she found herself sitting in a little bookstore a few blocks from their apartment. The front of the store was spotted with tiny, two person café tables and a counter at one end where a person could buy coffee or tea while they read the newspaper or a magazine. She hadn't set a date for their wedding, or even begun to plan the ceremony, and had finally come to the decision it was time.
She'd gathered several bridal magazines and set them on the table, flipping through them while sipping tea, daydreaming of the wedding she truly wished to have.
Oh, gods! I'm a horrible person! She scolded herself silently, squeezing her eyes shut. I'm supposed to be marrying Akitoki and I'm daydreaming about Inuyasha!
Her eyes opened slowly and she stared, unseeing, at the page before her. Great, now I'm feeling guilty and imagining his voice.
"Hello? Kagome?" There was a whistle from behind her and she saw a hand pass in front of her eyes, jolting her out of her stupor.
There is no way...It wouldn't be possible, would it? He'd have shown up before now if it was, wouldn't he? She lowered the magazine to the table and slowly turned around to see who had come up behind her, playing tricks on her mind. Her eyes widened when she was confronted with the sight of a tall man, probably in his mid-twenties with long, white hair that had been pulled back in a tail at the nape of his neck. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was giving her a smart-ass smirk. Fitted, dark-wash jeans showed off muscular legs and a dark red button-up shirt brought out the gold in his eyes. But the oddest feature were his ears - round human ears on either side of his head instead of triangular puppy ears on top.
"Inuyasha?" She stood, fighting to breathe properly. The last thing she wanted to do was cause a scene in the bookstore. "Is it really you?"
"Don't know who else I'd be." He'd watched her with one brow cocked while she examined him from head to toe, but now that cocky grin was back. He lifted something from the collar of his shirt and she could see the bluish-purple beads of the kotodama rosary. "Or why the hell I'd still be wearing these."
She threw her arms around his waist, biting her lip to keep from sobbing. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again, Inuyasha. How? What happened?"
He shrugged and lightly put his arms around her, blushing and glancing around at the people watching them. "I should be asking you that. You're the one who said she'd be back in two days," he muttered, sounding put out. "By the way, you're five centuries late."
She raised her head to look at him, a trace of a grin on her lips. "Nu-huh, just two years."
"Depends on how you look at it, I guess." He dislodged her arms from around him and placed her back in her chair, taking the one across from her. "So, what happened? You never came back. Why?"
Kagome blinked, trying to absorb it all, not daring to truly believe she was actually sitting and talking to Inuyasha.
"I don't know," she answered quietly, lowering her eyes to the table. "I came home and took my exams and when I tried to go back, the well wouldn't work. I broke my ankle trying to go through and after that, I just couldn't work up the courage to try again."
"So you didn't abandon us." He shook his head, lazily leaning back in his chair.
Her head shot up and she glared at him with narrowed eyes. "Of course I didn't abandon you, baka!" She hissed angrily. "Do you really think I'd leave, for good, without telling you! What kind of person do you think I am!"
He matched her glare, leaning forward. "How the hell was I supposed to know that, huh? You just disappeared! I couldn't get through the well to come and get you, so how was I to know what happened? Maybe you got tired of me - us - got tired of us."
Her features softened and she reached across the table, taking his hand. "Inuyasha, why didn't you come to me sooner? Why did you wait so long?"
He looked away, blushing slightly. "I wasn't going where I wasn't wanted."
She started to say something, but he grabbed her right hand, holding it up and examining the ring on her finger. "Kagome?" He knew what that sort of thing meant, but he needed to hear it from her for confirmation. "What's this?"
She blinked, a single tear rolling down her cheek. Why did things in her life always have to be so complicated? "I didn't think I'd ever see you again, Inuyasha. Houjou asked me to marry him."
He placed her petite hand back on the table, letting go, still starring at the diamond. "Congratulations." He started to stand up, but she reached for him, wanting him to stay put and he sat back down.
"Please, please don't do that," she pleaded quietly in a near whisper. "Please, don't walk away. Don't leave me. I don't want to lose you again. I don't think I could handle it." She managed an awkward smile. "Tell me about Shippou and Sango and the others. What happened to them?"
He sighed. "Kagome I -" he had begun to protest, but one look at her pleading face caused his words to die in his throat and he growled slightly in irritation. "Have dinner with me tonight and I can tell you everything."
She smiled a genuinely happy smile and nodded emphatically. "Of course. Just tell me when and where."
He left her with an address and a kiss on her cheek while she paid for her things and practically floated back to the apartment she shared with Houjou.
She had made dinner plans with another man. Most women in this sort of situation would have probably concocted some sort of scheme or lie to keep their significant other from finding out the truth of her whereabouts, but Kagome believed in being honest with the person you were committed to - or even with someone you weren't committed to. In her eyes, honesty was the best policy.
So, when she had greeted Houjou as he came in from work, she had started with the usual small talk of how his day had gone and if he needed anything from the store. Then, she had lain the entire situation at his feet, waiting patiently for some sort of reaction.
He had sat quietly for a long time, watching her while his eyes clouded with something she didn't recognize. Feeling as if this had perhaps been the wrong path and that she should say something, she finally took a deep breath. "If you aren't comfortable with it, I'll call and tell him I can't go," she offered quietly.
She must have said the right thing because life seemed to come back to his face and he'd smiled gently, taking her face in his hands and kissing her forehead. "Go. Have fun and I'll see you when you get home."
She smiled happily and hugged him tightly before getting up to get dressed. Still, despite her thankful relief he had approved, she couldn't help but noticed the shadow didn't leave his eyes and she felt the knot of guilt beginning to tie itself in the pit of her stomach.
Later, after she had dressed and was kissing him goodnight on her way out, she momentarily frowned at the fact the shadow remained. But he'd wished her to have a good time and ushered her out the door while she all but skipped down the sidewalk to the restaurant where Inuyasha was waiting for her.
And then she didn't have time to wonder at the mysterious shadow in Houjou's brown orbs. She was too caught up in the thrill of having Inuyasha back in her life. He sat them in a little booth in the corner of the restaurant where potted plants and candles created a shadow over half their bodies, shielding them, for the most part, from the prying eyes of other patrons.
He told her about Sango and Miroku, picking up with the day she'd left. Apparently, the houshi had sworn to Sango that very day that he would give up his lecherous ways if she'd promise to be his one and only woman. It seemed that was an offer even the taijiya couldn't turn down and the two had gotten married several months later. Over the years, she'd given birth to six children - four boys and two girls.
"You remember back when Sango first promised to have Miroku's brats? Even ten or twelve of them?" He asked, snorting, and she nodded. How could she possibly forget? It was all the taijiya had been able to talk about for weeks after that (but only when it was the two girls in the hot springs). "When she found out she was pregnant the last time, she kicked him out of their bed. Didn't last long, of course, but it was funny as hell those first few nights. I can see why she was mad, though. By that time their oldest was already married and had a whelp on the way."
Kagome couldn't remember the last time she'd laughed so much in one night, hearing about Miroku and Sango's marital problems and their 'adventures' in child rearing. Of course, it saddened her to hear about their deaths as well as Kaede's, but it was obvious her human friends had lived full and happy lives.
Her youkai friends had also lived, and were living, happy lives. Shippou had stayed with Inuyasha and grown up to be a fine man...boy. He was still adolescent by most standards, looking to be about sixteen or seventeen, and attended high school every thirty years or so to keep up with the changing educational standards. Kirara lived with them as well. It seemed she hadn't been fully mature when she was living with Sango and had acquired the ability to take on a human form when she reached maturity. They shared an apartment in downtown Tokyo.
What did surprise her was when Inuyasha told her that Sesshomaru had taken on a new name and was the president and owner of a large business chain with franchises all over the world - and Inuyasha was CEO and Vice-President of his Tokyo branch. The tai youkai preferred to keep himself in luxury living in the mountains.
She listened with rapt attention and when he was done, she stirred her soup absently, digesting what she'd heard. "Okay...I'm still missing something." At his curious look, she leaned forward and traced her finger lightly around the shell of his ear. "Those. You're eyes are still the same color and so is your hair, but what happened to your ears or fangs or even your claws for that matter?"
He chuckled and lifted his arm, pulling the sleeve of his dress shirt up a bit to reveal a dark green tattoo over his wrist in the shape of a leaf. "Mononoke magic," he replied with a shrug. "Remember how Hachi and Shippou used those leaves to be able to change forms? Same idea, but the magic's worked into the ink of the tattoo. Lots of youkai and hanyou have 'em nowadays."
He rolled his sleeve back down and went back to pushing his own food across the plate. "After youkai and ningen merged, I got the tattoo. For the first few centuries, I walked around in my human form - black hair, black eyes -"
"Indigo," she interrupted before catching herself. When he cocked his brow and gave her a blank expression, she blushed. "Your eyes...when you were human, your eyes were indigo, not black. They were really dark, but there was a lavender tint to them in the light."
He gave her a knowing look, having realized she'd accidentally admitted to studying him more than she'd let on during their trips. "Anyway, it wasn't until the 1960s and 70s that it wasn't seen as strange to have a different hair or eye color. So I went back to what I was used to. It was more comfortable, if you can believe that."
Kagome nodded and pushed her bowl away, not feeling as if she could finish her meal. He did the same thing and motioned for her to climb out of the booth, following behind her. He left enough money on the table to pay for the check and give the waiter a descent tip before escorting her onto the Tokyo streets.
"Hey, Inuyasha? Do you think I could see Shippou and Kirara? I really missed them." She laced her fingers through his as they walked down the sidewalk with no destination in mind.
He nodded. "Shippou'd be pissed as hell if you didn't go see him," he told her, chuckling. "I told him earlier that I'd seen you and I thought he was gonna shit a cow or something. It'll have to be next week, though. He and Kirara had to go do some project for Sesshomaru, whatever the hell that means."
She frowned, looking up at him with concern in her features. "What sort of project would Sesshomaru have for them?"
The hanyou shrugged. "As long as it ain't illegal and ain't gonna come back to haunt me, I keep out of his business. Probably something to do with a human kid. Every sixty years or so, he gets shackled to another orphaned whelp." He laughed, an unusual sound to her ears and yet one of the most beautiful. "I guess it's his punishment for his treatment of humans during his first few centuries."
Kagome was too amazed by the sound of his laughter to pay much attention to his joke at the time. He had never really laughed with happiness back in Sengoku Jidai. Mirth, yes; sarcasm, of course; sadistic humor, lots...but never happiness.
When he reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys, she knitted her brows and looked from him to the key ring. "What are those for?"
He glanced up at the building they were standing in front of and then back down at her. "We're at my building. I thought you might want to come up and see my place? I can show you some pictures of Shippou and Kirara so you're not so shocked when you do see them."
Any and all thoughts of disastrous consequences flew out of her mind at the sound of his jangling keys and she nodded, letting him lead her through the building's front doors and onto the elevator.
He handed her a glass of water and sat on the couch next to her while she curled into his side the way she had so many times when they were traveling together. The only light in the room was from a floor lamp next to his side of the couch and the half full moon in the window behind them. As soon as they'd entered the apartment, he'd released the mononoke magic that kept him looking human and became the hanyou she'd always remembered...only ten years older than she remembered.
"What happened to Tetsuseiga?" She wondered, lying her head over on his shoulder. She picked his hand up off of his leg and wrapped her fingers around his palm.
His fingers grasped at hers. "Don't need it no more. The only time my youkai blood was a threat was when I felt my life was in danger, remember? Which was pretty much every damned day back then. But now, with all these laws and stuff, there's no need to carry a sword. I put it with Tenseiga and Toukijin in one of Sesshomaru's display cases."
She nodded against his shoulder and closed her eyes, breathing deeply of his scent and feeling her body relax. His voice brought her out of her comfortable stupor, but she kept her eyes closed to savor the moment.
"I answered all your questions, now answer mine." She mumbled an agreement and he continued. "This Houjou guy...you're gonna marry him?"
Her brows drew together and she stiffened slightly. She hadn't wanted to think about that right at that moment, not when she was enjoying being with him. "I told him I would," she answered slowly.
She sighed deeply. "I told you, I didn't think I was ever gonna see any of you again and I was really upset. He was there for me and he took really good care of me. We got to know each other a lot and it just sort of happened."
"And now? That you know Shippou, Kirara and me, are still alive? Now what?"
She groaned and sat up, turning to look him in the face. He wasn't meeting her eyes, but looking at the shelf that lined the wall on the other side of the couch. "I don't know, Inuyasha...I just...I don't know."
He nodded and didn't say anything more on the subject so she settled back down and leaned her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes once more. Between forcing her way through her nerves enough to begin planning her wedding and then finding, or rather, being found by Inuyasha, her day had been long and trying.
He heaved a sigh and put his arm around her, drawing her to him and arranging her body so she sat across his lap, her head laying on his chest and his arms wrapped around her. She smiled contentedly and breathed him in, one arm going around his waist and the other going up to rub his ears. A light growling purr vibrated through his chest and she giggled.
"Oi, what're you laughing at, wench?"
She opened her eyes, leaning her head back to look at him. "When I saw you this morning, I couldn't help but think about how you'd changed, but now...you haven't changed at all." She let her hand glide down from his ear to brush through his silver hair which he'd freed from the band that held it back.
She made a face he couldn't see and sat up slightly, fingering the kotodama rosary around his neck. He'd been stuck with them for five hundred years, she realized, feeling a pang of sympathy until she remembered it wasn't like anyone could have used the command on him. A smile tugged at the corners of her lips as she imagined using the command on him now, for old time sake, but knew she wouldn't do it. Without a word, she lifted the beads and pulled them over his head, sliding his hair through them until she held the inactive rosary in her hand.
Feeling bold, she leaned forward and kissed his cheek while he stared at her hand, not seeming to comprehend what she'd done for the first minute. Then she dropped the beads on the coffee table while he muttered, "Good riddance."
"I should probably get going," she stated, trying not to let her disappointment show in her voice. She didn't want to go - ever. She made no move to disentangle herself from his arms, however, and he tightened his grip.
"You don't have to - yet - if you don't want to."
She bit her lip and looked down at his hands around her waist. Two years ago she would have killed for an opportunity such as the one she now found herself facing. An opportunity she might never have again...
When she arrived back at their apartment the next morning, she couldn't find it in herself to face Houjou and slipped quietly into the bathroom to run a shower. When she emerged in fresh clothes and poured herself a cup of coffee while he read the paper, she still couldn't meet his eyes.
He never questioned her about her whereabouts the night before and she never offered an explanation. She could have lied and said she'd lost track of time and gone to her mother's house, not wanting to wake him. There were a hundred excuses she could have given him, but they meant nothing because it was obvious he knew the truth. One look at her when she arrived home would have answered any questions he had; the wrinkled and disorderly state of her clothing, her uncombed hair, her engagement ring dangling from the chain around her neck instead of sparkling on her finger...
She hadn't been afraid with him.
He read the answers on her every movement and she knew this. It hurt her to see the shadow that remained in his eyes, having realized that morning the emotion she hadn't recognized before. It had taken that shadow appearing in Inuyasha's golden orbs at sunrise when she rose and dressed to figure it out. That shadow was the life being slowly eaten from within. And she caused it.
She wanted to scream and pull at her hair. She wanted to cry until she blacked out from it all. The two people who had been there for her, cared for her, helped her, were in pain because of her and she didn't know what to do about it.
If she kept her promise to Houjou and became his wife, she would have to say goodbye to Inuyasha. Her heart wouldn't let her be near him without being allowed to be with him. Her high school days were over. Just being allowed to be by his side was not enough anymore.
If she left Houjou to be with Inuyasha, she would be hurting someone who didn't deserve it. He had held her when she cried, comforted her when it hurt, and helped bring her back to life when she lost the things that she loved most.
Was that how Inuyasha had always felt whenever someone told him to chose between her and Kikyou? He had been bound by his honor to Kikyou, but it hadn't just been his honor that drew him to the priestess. He had cared for her as well. He had loved her. If he would have turned his back on her, she would have suffered and hadn't she already suffered enough? But it was obvious to anyone who was around them, that he held some sort of affection for Kagome as well and had no desire to let her go either.
In the end, he hadn't had to chose. Fate had worked its magic and Kikyou had been lain to rest months before the final destruction of Naraku.
Somehow, she knew fate wouldn't intervene for her. This was one problem she would have to solve on her own.
Three days later she had received a phone call from Inuyasha asking her to see him again. She hadn't been able to deny him, but after seeing the way Houjou had looked at her after her return that first night, she had started to second guess her decision to tell him the truth. If it would keep the shadow from his eyes, she would lie and do it happily.
But it wouldn't and she knew it. Since she'd come home after her night out with Inuyasha, she had felt his eyes on her at all times. He never asked her where she was going when she left the house or who she was talking to when she was on the phone, but she knew he wondered if she was going to him again. When she left the house now, she felt his eyes on her back, heard the unasked questions in his mind.
She didn't know how much longer she could do this.
When he came home that afternoon, she was cooking curry. "Hey, how'd things go today? Were you busy?" She smiled over her shoulder at him as he removed his shoes. He'd been working at his parent's drug store.
"So-so, I guess. Curry? Your's is always the best." He came up behind her and put his hands on her hips and kissed her cheek. "Kind of early, though isn't it? You don't usually eat till later." He put his hand to her forehead, checking for fever and she laughed, swatting it away.
"I wanted you to have a nice meal that you didn't have to cook yourself," she explained, keeping her eyes on the pot in front of her. "Ayumi called earlier. She and the girls are going to a club tonight. They want me to go with them, so I told them I would. I figured you'd be too tired after work to go...Of course, if you want to go, I'd love for you to."
It wasn't a complete lie. Her girlfriends had made plans to go dancing that night and had invited her to join them. And she had agreed to go. She just happened to leave out the part where she'd told Inuyasha to meet her there so the could sneak off. By the time they left the dance club, the girls would be smashed and wouldn't remember if she'd been there or not.
Gods, what had she become? She was using her friends, manipulating Houjou, sneaking around with Inuyasha...never in her life had she dreamed this was what would become of her. She'd have taken fighting Naraku over this any day.
His hands fell from her hips and he backed away, heading towards the bathroom. "Nah. You were right. I'm too tired." His voice was light with only the slight undertone of sadness to it.
She hung her head knowing he'd figured it out. So, he didn't always seem to be the brightest kid in the crowd, he wasn't an idiot...and she was a horrible liar.
They ate dinner in silence and then she went to her room to dress for the night out. He had probably been surprised when Ayumi, Eri and Yuka showed up on their front stoop to pick her up, already smelling of alcohol and looking a little tipsy, but he hadn't shown it. Instead he'd kissed her goodnight and said he'd see her the next morning - the only hint he gave to having figured out her plans.
She met Inuyasha at the bar as soon as they arrived at the club. The girls had headed directly for the dance floor, moving provocatively to the bumping rhythm of the music as the base traveled through the floorboards and vibrated through the patrons chests. It was extremely loud and, unless the mononoke magic also subdued his senses, she doubted Inuyasha was enjoying himself.
She leaned in next to him, her mouthnear his ear so that he could hear her over the music. "You wanna go for a walk? You're gonna go deaf in here." She leaned back and grinned at him so he could see she was teasing him.
He nodded and then pulled her towards him by the wrist so he could speak and be heard. "What about those girls you're with? They ain't gonna bother you, are they?"
She laughed and rolled her eyes. "Yuka's celebrating being newly single. They went for drinks before even coming to pick me up. They won't even remember I was gone!" She grabbed his hand and tugged him up so he was standing and led him through the crowd towards the doors.
Outside, he stopped to rub his aching temples and get readjusted to the near silence of the street. Shrugging his light jacket off, he draped it over her shoulders to indicate she should put it on. She'd worn a spaghetti strapped halter top. She smiled gratefully and slipped it on.
"So, what happened? I told you to call me when you got home and you never did." He gave her a side glance.
Looking completely guilty, she stuffed her hands in his jacket pockets, shuffling her feet slightly as they walked. "He was there when I got home. He knew, Inuyasha. How could he not know? I just felt so guilty...I couldn't call. I'm sorry."
He was silent, his posture and expression taking on the brooding look she was so familiar with as he glared at the sidewalk in front of them. "So, you regretted being with me."
"No!" She grabbed his arm and turned him to face her. "Kami, Inuyasha, how could you think that? No, I don't regret it. I regret that it has to hurt him - that it had to hurt anyone!"
"Then do something about it!" He snapped. He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her fiercely, sending shivers down her back as her lips parted and allowed him access to her mouth. When they parted, he pulled her to him, lightly resting his chin on the top of her head while she caught her breath. "What are you gonna do, Kagome? I don't wanna pressure you - kami knows you didn't pressure me, but I'm not patient like you. I'm no good at waiting."
She wrapped her arms around his waist, hugging him as tight as she could. "Inuyasha -"
"Do you love him?"
She refused to look at him, but kept her face buried in the folds of his shirt. "I care about him a good deal. I want him to be happy and I don't want to see him hurt. He's...special to me."
He snorted under his breath. "That ain't what I asked."
"What do you want me to say, Inuyasha? I answered the best I could."
"Just a simple yes or no - do you love him? How hard is that to answer?" He growled out, looking down at her when she pulled away and removed herself from his hold.
"I don't know, it just is!" She exclaimed, her own irritation flaring. "Yes, I love him! But I loved Miroku and Kouga too - that doesn't mean that I was ready to commit my life to them!"
"Does he love you?" His question caught her off guard. "Does he love you enough that he'd be willing to fight for you? Does he love you so much he'd die to keep you safe? To take care of you when you're hurt or sick? To put up with having his face slammed into the ground, forno reason,whenever you damn well pleased? Enough to live for five hundred years - alone- just hoping he might see you again? Does he love you that much, Kagome? 'Cause I do!"
At some point during his questioning, he had grabbed her upper arms and held her so that she had to look at him. She watched him, completely speechless from his outburst. This was a side of Inuyasha she'd never really seen.
Irritated with himself for having lost his temper, he growled and let her go, turning slightly away from her with a blush on his cheeks. "Damn it, Kagome, I know I never said it and I treated you like shit most of the time, but...Kami! You can't tell me you didn't know!"
"I knew." Her voice was soft, little more than a whisper. "I wouldn't admit it to myself because knowing and not being able to act on it hurt so much, but I knew."
He stood where he was while she kept her eyes on his profile. After a few moments, he shook his head. "Damn...You really love him, Kagome?"
He turned slowly, golden eyes catching the light of a street lamp and reflecting it back with an eerie glow. His hands were stuffed in his jeans pocket and his posture was slightly slouched in a defeated way. "More than me?"
"Never," she answered quickly, taking two steps until she was right in front of him. "There's a difference between loving someone and being in love with them. I love Akitoki the same way I loved Miroku or Kouga. But I've only ever been in love once."
He leaned towards her. "And that's with me, right?"
"No, with your brother." She lightly slapped his shoulder, giving him a scolding glare. "Of course with you, baka!" She smiled softly and placed her palm on his cheek. "Just trust me, okay? I'll figure something out."
She spent the next two days packing her personal belongings into bags and depositing them at Inuyasha's apartment, working while Houjou was at work. Only the things from her bedroom were being carried off for the time being. When she finally said goodbye, she wanted to be able to walk away and not remind him of what she'd done with her presence. It would be easier that way.
On the third day, she started packing the few things of hers that were displayed in the main part of the apartment, mentally preparing herself for what was about to happen. She wouldn't put him through what she had gone through for so long when Inuyasha still wavered between herself and Kikyou. It wouldn't be right, not when she had suffered so much.
As soon as he walked in the door, he knew something was wrong, she could tell by the wild and frightened look that came over him when he saw her sitting on the couch waiting. Hoping to get it over with as painlessly as possible she approached him, studying the tatami mats beneath her feet.
"I can't tell you how sorry I am," she began quietly. "But I just hope that you'll forgive me. I've always been honest with you. You knew from the start how I felt for Inuyasha. When he was gone, I thought that I was ready to move on and wanted to move on with you. If I hadn't believed that, I would have never put you in this position by accepting your proposal."
She twisted the diamond ring around her finger and pulled it off, holding it between her thumb and her forefinger. "Please don't think I was using you. I wasn't, I swear. I love you very much and I would have been happy as your wife." She took his hand and dropped the ring into his palm, closing his fingers around it.
"Kagome, please, don't do this..."
She lightly squeezed his hand before looking up. "It took Inuyasha coming back for me to realize I'm not ready to let him go. A part of me is still with him and you deserve to be with someone who can give themselves to you completely. Akitoki, I've been in your position and I know how much it hurts when someone loves you, but can't let go of their first love...when they can't chose between you. I dealt with it for years and I won't put anyone else through that. I'm making my choice and it's Inuyasha. I'm sorry."
She stood on her tip toes and kissed his cheek. Letting go of his hand, she turned and grabbed her bag, tossing it over her shoulder. With a final apologetic look at his shocked and heartbroken face, she walked out, closing the door on that part of her life and opening the door to her new life with Inuyasha.