Full of Grace
Chapter 3- Completely Miserable
The grass was soggy under his shoes. It squished and pulled at him, invited him to stay and sink into its depths—just for a little while, it promised. He disregarded the call and kept along the beaten path.
It wasn't hard to find her; a lone figure in the rain, soaked to the bone and sitting on a bench in the open, without the comfort of even a single tree branch to shelter her. He approached and stopped in front of her. She didn't look up.
"You forgot again."
Hair plastered against her skin, her clothes; he couldn't see her face, her eyes were trained on the muddy ground. Her voice was flat. A simple statement.
Just as simple. What more did she want from him? Kurama knew what was coming. Anything he said was sure to add more fuel to the fire.
"I guess I should be thankful," she said and he picked up small traces of bitterness, "that you even remembered at all this time."
"I'm sorry." He meant it, too. With all the chaos lately, it had slipped his mind. "Unfortunately, Yusuke—"
Kagome interrupted him, raising her voice. "Don't blame it on him or the demons. I'm here, aren't I? I have just as many problems as you."
He could feel his clothing getting heavier with each raindrop that pelted him. Her clothes clung to her and he could see that she was shivering with cold. She wasn't even hugging herself for the little warmth it would have provided her, and instead, her hands firmly grasped the edge of the bench as she kept her eyes level with his shoes, stubbornly refusing to meet his gaze.
He started off gentle. "Kagome, it's raining. Let's continue this inside."
"Kagome," he repeated, sternly.
"No," she said with a shake of her head.
He sighed in frustration at her obstinance. "You're going to catch a cold."
She glanced to the side. "I don't care."
Even as she said it, she was trembling. He reached out a hand to tenderly touch her cheek. She jerked away the second his fingers made contact, and his hand was left suspended there.
She had a right to be angry, yes, but between her retorts and her refusing his touch, he felt his own irritation rise. "You're being unreasonable."
Her hands tightened on the wood at the same time that Kagome stomped her foot. He could hear the squish as it slapped against the ground. "Don't do that!" she exclaimed, turning blazing eyes to him. "Don't treat me like a child!"
"Then perhaps you should stop acting like one," came his cool response, ice in his tone.
He wouldn't tolerate it if she acted this immature. He had done wrong by her, but there were reasonable ways to deal with it. Her way was juvenile and stubborn. She had continued sitting there to prove a point. She could've gone home long ago. Kurama hadn't actually expected to find her there, and he only came to make sure she hadn't lingered. But no, she had stayed and waited, intentionally bringing misery upon herself.
And for what? To make him feel remorseful? He already felt guilty. This little stunt was just overkill.
Her gaze was heated, a burning glare that would have even made one of Hiei's looks seem like that of a puppy dog's. Kurama met it evenly.
"I've already given my apology, I won't give it again," he informed her. "I did not mean to miss our meeting, but life doesn't always heed our wishes."
She barely had room to stand, and Kurama certainly wasn't going to step back and grant her that extra space, but Kagome managed anyway, her body brushing against his. She had to crane her neck to look up at him.
"Kurama, this is the first time I've seen you in two months! Is it too much to ask for my boyfriend to actually show up once in awhile? To remember me?" she shot back.
For every one of her angry replies, his voice grew colder. "And you've never forgotten?"
The dark flush that crept up to her cheeks was a clear giveaway of her guilt. It gave her face more color, but she still looked sickly, drenched from head to toe as she was.
"Not as much as you have! And I always remember eventually. I've never left you waiting in a restaurant by yourself for hours," Kagome said.
Beneath the rage, he heard the underlining hurt. Even knowing that, it didn't stop him from responding. He was only giving her what she wanted. This fight was predetermined the moment she decided to linger on that bench.
"Maybe not. But you have arrived several hours late for dinner with my family."
"That's unfair!" she exclaimed. "You know I would've been there if Inuyasha hadn't been in a fight for his life!"
"When is he not?" The excuse was hardly impressive.
Her face went through a variety of emotions then. Startled and furious being the most obvious two. Her eyes narrowed. "Take that back!"
Now she was being ridiculous. "There's nothing to take back. It is simply the truth."
Kagome let out an indignant cry and then did something that caught him by surprise; she brought both hands to his chest and gave him a solid push. Off-guard, he stumbled back a step or two. When she brought her arms up again, he caught one of her wrists before she could shove him further back.
"Let go!" she yelled at him, the look in her eyes scalding him from the inside out. She twisted in his grasp and tried to yank her arm away, but his grip was solid.
"No," was his only reply. Not until she calmed down. This was absolutely absurd; she was acting childishly. He had seen it before, but never this bad. She could just be so frustrating sometimes. Frustrating and inflexible, set on doing things her way. Honestly, this was completely and utterly—
Ouch. It stung when she slapped him, and his hand, on instinct alone, grabbed her free one. His grip tightened in an attempt to hold her still. He stared down at her as she struggled, and he brought her closer to his body to stop her escape. When he caught her eye, she stilled, finally.
They both stood frozen, their eyes locked in their own silent battle.
And then he sensed it.
Something in his face, his eyes, scared her. She had never been afraid of him before. Not once.
He let go of her with an abruptness that sent her stumbling backward. She didn't have that far to go before the back of her knees bumped into the bench and she suddenly plopped down on it.
Numbly, he watched as she clasped one of her wrists in her hand, bringing it close to her chest in a protective gesture. Her hand massaged her wrist gently and he felt a tinge of regret; he hadn't realized he was holding her so tightly.
So young. So very human.
He went to his knees on the grass, not caring about the mud even as it seeped into his clothes. He noticed her shoulders trembling, but this time, he doubted it was from the cold.
Kurama reached out a tentative hand toward her. He grazed her jaw lightly with the back of his fingers. She didn't flinch away, and he took it as an invitation to tilt her chin upward and gaze into her face.
She was crying. Gods, he hadn't meant to frighten her.
He smoothed the hair plastered on her face away, tucking it behind her ears. "I'm sorry," he murmured to her. He slid forward and wrapped an arm around her fragile form, bringing her to him.
"You're an ass," she informed him shakily, her cheek resting against his shoulder.
"A forgetful one?"
She let out a sound halfway between a laugh and a sob. "Absolutely."
It was two years to the day. Two long years after their first meeting and they found themselves at the beginning all over again.
The party was eerily similar to the one a couple years before, thrown for the same person with the majority of the attendees having returned and a few new ones, as well. The women chattered and gossiped, the children ran and dodged around the tables as they played their games, and a few couples danced merrily around the dance floor, staged in the center just as it was before.
A breeze swept through his hair as Kurama turned to Kagome. "Let's dance," he said. He offered her his hand.
She took it. "I thought I'd let you ask this time around," she teased lightly.
He gave her hand a small squeeze as he rose from his seat, and she with him. He led her leisurely across the grass, much different from the lively way Kagome had dragged him away during their first meeting. He smiled fondly at the memory.
"Do you remember the first time we danced?" he questioned her. The music was light and airy as they reached the dance floor. He brought her a few inches closer and placed his hands on her waist.
"You mean how I hauled your butt over here and practically forced you to dance with me? Nope, not at all," she replied as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She immediately rested her head against his shoulder, but he caught sight of the small smile on her lips before her face disappeared from his view.
"We had some good times, didn't we?"
Had. Past tense. Why did that bother him? She probably hadn't even realized she had said it, or why it would matter. He was reading too much into it for no good reason.
"Yes," he agreed.
It was a long time before either of them said another word. The song changed, and the music grew slower and their dancing along with it. Eventually, Kagome stood up straight and took half a step back so that she could look up into his face without straining herself.
She gazed at him, silent for a long time. He met her gaze evenly, his expression giving away nothing. Hers gave away everything.
Her blue eyes were clear and bright, but they sought something in him. There was curiosity there, uncertainty, and… something else he couldn't quite identify. Or perhaps, he just didn't want to.
Her brow furrowed as she continued her scrutiny. When she spoke, her face was entirely serious, but her eyes... they seemed lost.
"I love you," she told him, certainly not for the first time. Her voice was firm and convinced.
Tucking a loose strand behind her ear, he smiled softly down at her. "I know."
A small smile blossomed on her face in return, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Neither had his.
His hands went to her forearms as he pulled her away from his body and then used one hand to guide her through a slow twirl across the dance floor. Her dress lifted just slightly and twirled with her, the dark blue material spreading out around her, a halo at her feet.
When she came back to him, all traces of her smile were gone. She linked her hands around his neck once more, but she didn't look up at him again.
This young girl…. He had been intrigued by their first meeting, fascinated by how peculiar and unusual she was. She came into his life again and again those following months, and every conversation made him more interested, until he finally set up a permanent way to be around her. That was when he truly began to know her, and her, him. He adored her antics, her concern for others, her innocence. She became a part of his life, and he became fond of her and her charming, although stubborn nature. Over time, he had grown to love her.
He loved her still.
Looking into her face, he saw the love there, shining right back at him. And yet…
"This isn't working anymore, is it?"
There it was, spoken openly by her; something he had been wondering himself for awhile now. Her body grew tense when he didn't answer right away.
"No," was all he could say. " I don't think it is."
The tears pooled in her eyes immediately. She closed the distance between them, her arms tightening around his neck as she buried her face in his shoulder. He drew her closer still when he felt her body begin to tremble, his arms wrapping around her, his hand resting on her bare back.
It was not the answer she had wanted. And yet, she wasn't looking for lies, either. No, she wanted it to be truth; that he would immediately deny any possibility that they were growing apart, because they weren't. Kagome wanted him to tell her that they belonged together, were meant to be, and have it be real. But how could he give her anything but his honesty?
He could identify it now, exactly what it was before he had seen in her eyes as he searched her face for answers.
The music was distant now; the chattering of the other guests had faded away in his ears. He felt eyes upon them, saw the sweet smiles. He didn't care. None of it mattered, not in this moment. All he could hear, all he could see, was the frail girl in his arms, crying quietly into his shirt.
He heard her whisper, faint and breathy, "I love you. I do," she told him and herself. "I really do."
He rubbed his hand up and down her back in a soothing motion. "Shh, I know," he told her. "Believe me, I know."
Kurama hated himself for this moment. He could feel himself already beginning to let go. No, it wasn't working anymore. He loved her; he loved her smile. But that alone wasn't enough to keep them together. The very thing that brought them together, both their knowledge of the other world, the one full of demons and strange powers, was tearing them apart.
They were too different. A miko and a youkai, their very natures were against one another from the start, not to mention their differences in personality. She was young and hotheaded, quick to make rash decisions that threw her in harm's way. And he knew from first hand experience her love of a good argument. He was cool and steady, logical; assessing everything around him like pieces to his own puzzle before he truly acted.
Now, they rarely saw each other anymore, and it only caused them to clash more. Absence did not make the heart grow fonder; it merely widened the gap between them to the point where both were having trouble crossing to the other's side. So many problems, both large and small, loomed over them, and they would no longer be ignored.
But how he wished he could.
Ever so gently, his hand found her chin and titled her face upward. Their eyes met for a long, silent moment. The tears still fell, and he could feel them slide down his hand. Her chin quivered in his grasp.
Without a word, he leaned down and captured her lips. His kiss was sweet and painfully slow, each tender brush sending a deep ache throughout his body. Kagome responded just as unhurriedly, savoring the taste. Hot tears mingled with their lips and at the taste of them, it seemed she only cried harder.
He didn't want to break the kiss. He'd rather the moment last forever, painful as it was, because if the moment continued, then he'd never have to let her go; because when they kissed, nothing else mattered. And as soon as it ended, everything would resurface, and it would truly be over.
She let out a desperate, nearly inaudible cry when he drew away. Both of her hands were fisted in his shirt, but she didn't try to bring him back for another. She hung her head low, her forehead resting on his shoulder, and let the tears slip silently to the ground.
It was better this way. It had to be.
Kagome looked up at him with those blue eyes, the ones he loved so dearly, and he wondered if he'd ever see them again beyond tonight. And even if he did, would it be the same?
No. No, it wouldn't.
"What do we do now?" she asked him in a whisper, her voice breaking.
She was still shaking, trembling in his arms. He brought a hand to her cheek, wiping away the smeared make-up. He guided her forward so that her cheek rested against his chest once more, probably for the very last time.
"Just keep dancing."
-End Chapter 3-
AN: So, the first thing I did when I saw that so many of you seemed to like this story? I sent a message to Guyute (my absolutely lovely friend and beta) saying, "Oh my God, they're going to kill me!" Because, of course, I had this chapter in mind when I said it.
This story was all the stages of a relationship; the meeting, the build-up, the actual relationship, and the fighting, the downfall. Hey, the story's not listed under drama for nothing. The summary should've been another tip off. XD
But yeah, I had this ending in mind all along and didn't think much of it until I got a whole lot of reviews for the story. Now, I'm just going to don my protective helmet, huddle behind this shield, and wait for the fangirls' attack to begin.
P.S. Thanks for all the reviews for this story! I'm sure half of you would like to take them back now, but I really appreciated them! I'm glad you liked at least some of it, and I'm curious to know exactly how many of you hate me for this ending:o)