Summary: He cupped her cheek with his hand, warming her skin where the tears and wind had cooled it. "It would be easier if you hated me." His whisper was soft and broken. The darkness hid his anguish. Another secret.
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
Secrets in the Darkness
Darkness hides many things.
A whispered word. A fallen tear. A wounded soul. In the darkness, there is nothing, nothing but silence and secrets.
He was not sure what the darkness would hide this night. The shimmer of wetness in her eyes? The catch of breath in her throat? A flash of anger or slash of hurt? Bleeding from unseen wounds, walking alone through the darkness. Did she wander in the hollow silence even now, blind without light, frozen from within and without? The sharp wind was cutting. But he…he had cut her deeper, far deeper.
Why did he always leave her? Why did he always walk away?
He had lived this before. The darkness hid the pain in her eyes. The night's cold wind covered the whisper of her tears. Unseen, unnoticed, unknown. And yet he did know; he could not deny the secrets in the darkness. The secret of her pain.
She never told him. She never betrayed the wounds in her heart, wounds he had inflicted. A gentle warrior, the bravest soul, she bore the battle scars of forsaken love and stood unbowed.
His slow steps paused and he lifted his face to the blowing wind. His hair whipped out behind him, and his eyes caught the faintest hint of starlight and gleamed.
He remembered the scent so clearly that it seemed to linger faintly in his nose even after sunset. Such a strange scent, earthy but stale, the smell of something once alive but no longer. Bones and graves. Familiar, yet all wrong. So very wrong.
He had done it again. The cover of darkness did not forgive his actions.
She had called him, the walking past that haunted his every moment of silent thought, every draw of his breath, every beat of his heart. His past, his present, his future; all were hidden in the darkness, secrets of his heart. Secrets and lies. That was his life.
She had called him. And he, the weak and contemptuous creature that he was, had answered. Had obeyed. Like a pet, like a slave, he had followed her call.
In so doing, he had broken a solemn promise to himself, betrayed his own heart and wounded another's. The shards of his promises were scattered throughout the darkness, more secrets, more lies. Pieces and pieces, broken over and over.
Every time he returned from that incarnate ghost of his past to the living blossom of his present, every time he saw what the darkness could never hide, he swore he would not leave her again. He promised himself, next time he would ignore his haunting and haunted past. When she called him, he would not give in. He would leave the past behind him, where it should be.
What a fool he was. Such a captive to her whims.
He would swear to himself, seeing the suffering in her eyes, that he would never leave her. But then the walking bones of his past would call, and the jagged splinters of his undeclared promise would join the others in the darkness.
His eyes slid closed, pain etching the shadows in his face deeper. Another secret, another lie. She didn't know his pain, hidden in the dark of night, hidden under the skin.
Pain was weakness. He had to be strong, yet he was never strong enough to resist that dreaded call. Dreaded and desired, irresistible and despised.
His broken promises were secrets in the darkness. Only he felt the bite of those shards as he walked across the inner landscape of lies and evasions, shards and shattered dreams. Only he bled from the betrayal of self that was embodied in every forgotten oath to be true, to be faithful, to be what she needed him to be.
His steps resumed, heavy with a weariness unrelated to anything physical. Trees whispered and creaked all around him, muttering their disapproval. The grass swayed underfoot, the soft touch of leafy blades unseen and ignored.
The bitter wind carried another scent to him, one the cleansed the smell of bones from his nose and filled his lungs, a sweet, intoxicating perfume. She was close, so close that he could smell her, even on this night. His pace increased, instinct carrying him where he knew he should not go. Where he'd been going all along.
He stopped at the edge of the trees, hidden in darkness, and watched her.
She stood silently, almost invisible in the faint starlight. Her back was to him, her raven hair streaming out behind her in the wind, her hands limp at her sides. She stared out across the meadow, positioned on the peak of the low hill.
He knew she could see nothing of the swaying grass and blooming wildflowers that spread before her. They were black shadows, leached of colour and life by the blanket of night. Yet still she stared, still she waited.
Waited, as she always did when he left her. The shards of his most recent promise sliced at him. Secrets and lies.
He slowly approached. He knew the moment she heard him coming as stiffness rippled through her body, her arms and back filling with rigid expectation. He stopped when he stood beside her, studying her out of the corner of one wary eye. Her face, like his, was hidden in darkness.
The silence settled over them like a stifling blanket, heavy and uncomfortable.
He stared out over the night-cloaked meadow. "Are you going to yell at me?" he asked, his soft murmur little more than a part of the night. The wind seemed to snatch the words off his lips.
Another long moment of silence. "No," she whispered.
"Are you going to sit me?"
The darkness hid so much. "Are you going to hate me?"
The dark silhouette of her head turned sharply. He felt her gaze on his face, unable to penetrate the mask of shadows.
"No." Her voice cracked.
Shards in the night. "Why not?" He wished he could see her eyes, grateful she could not see his. "Why don't you hate me for…?"
A soft sigh. "I could never hate you, Inuyasha."
Another sigh, followed by silence. It was a familiar silence. He knew she would not answer, and he knew he would not pursue it. A pattern that they both knew well. This barrier had stood between them from the first moment his past had begun to walk the present.
And yet…the darkness hid many things. Secrets waiting in the darkness. Unseen and unknown, but not untouchable. He shifted to face her. Her eyes, concealed in ebony shadows, turned towards him.
"Why won't you hate me, Kagome?" he whispered. "I deserve your hate. I deserve it a hundred times over."
"I can't hate you."
"Why?" he demanded, his voice rising with frustration to match the angry groan of the wind. "How can you forgive me over and over? How can you ignore that I—when—I leave you again and again!"
The quiet night waited for her response. "Why?" she countered, her voice revealing so little. Secrets. Lies. "Why do you leave me?"
"I—" He turned back to face the meadow, his movements sharp. "I don't mean to. I just—I can't help it. When she—I mean, I don't… I just can't…can't let go." The last words escaped in a reluctant whisper.
She didn't answer, was silent for so long.
His hands clenched into tight fists. So many secrets. "How can I let go of my past when it's become a part of my present?"
His sleeve shifted as invisible fingers brushed against it. "Do you want to let go, Inuyasha?"
"Of course I do! But I can't. Not as long as… Not until..." A low growl rumbled through him. "I guess I can't let go just like you can't hate me for not being able to let go."
"Do you wish I hated you?"
"I deserve to be hated. I've earned your hate."
Silence. Darkness. Secrets. Shards and shards of what he couldn't be for her.
Suddenly she shifted closer, her hand coming to rest on his upper arm. "Maybe… Maybe you don't deserve it."
"Kagome… What do you…?"
Her voice was gently wry. "If someone from my past—someone who had died—were walking around asking to see me, would I go to them? I think I would."
"Even if that person had tried to kill you? Even if you didn't think you could trust that person?"
"Yes…if it were a person that I loved. How could I deny them?"
There was it was, unseen in the darkness. The barrier, the wall, the fortress that existed between them, separated them, kept them forever apart. They stood in silence. There was nothing more to say. The bones of his past stood between them. Secrets and lies were all they had.
Her hand still rested on his arm. Hesitant, uncertain, he lifted his free hand to brush the back of hers. Then he laid his palm lightly over her hand, curling his fingers over hers.
Time is frozen in the black of night. Caught in the embrace of darkness, encircled by the secrets of their unspoken thoughts, they stood together in soft silence.
"Kagome?" A whisper of sound, eddying in the darkness.
"Yes?" An even softer murmur.
"I wish I could promise that I wouldn't do it again." Shards of his secret oaths, sincerely sworn and always broken, pricked at his soul. "But…"
A soft, shaky sigh. His inevitable recognition of the sound produced a cut of pain at the one thing the darkness would not hide. He lifted his hand from hers and reached out blindly until his fingertips touched her cheek, found the trail of wetness that snaked down her smooth skin. He gently wiped away her tears, knowing not how to soothe her pain, knowing he was the cause of it.
She pressed her cheek into his hand, the tears still falling.
He found her waist with his other hand, pulled gently in an unspoken offer. She hesitated, then melted into his embrace, pressing her face against his shoulder and closing her hands around fistfuls of the front of his kimono. He closed both arms around her, feeling the tremble in her limbs, the shuddering of her breath against his neck.
His arms tightened. "I'm sorry," he whispered again. The words were so inadequate, empty, meaningless.
She slowly lifted her head. He loosed one arm to find her face again, wiping away the fresh tears with gentle fingers. He cupped her cheek with his hand, warming her skin where the tears and wind had cooled it. He leaned his head down until his chin was touching her hair.
"It would be easier if you hated me." His whisper was soft and broken. The darkness hid his anguish. Another secret.
Her gentle fingers found his cheek, traced his skin upwards. He closed his eyes and her fingers lightly bushed across his eyelashes, finding the faintest hint of moisture that betrayed him.
Her hand paused. Her breath faltered.
"Inuyasha…" Her hand pressed against his cheek, his hand still resting on hers, their touches mirrored in the darkness. "You really don't mean to do it, do you?"
He looked down into the shadows of her face. "No," he whispered, the word catching in his throat. Secrets, always secrets.
"Every time…" He swallowed. "Every time I come back to you, I promise myself that I'll never…never leave you again. But then she…and I… I just can't stop myself." To speak of those broken shards gave them power, the power to hurt them both even more, yet the darkness eased the revelation. He could not see her pain.
The wind tore at their hair and clothes, its murmuring voice obscuring the silence. Her free hand rose to find his other cheek, and she cradled his face in her gentle hands, staring up at him.
"It's such a mess, isn't it, Inuyasha?"
"Yes." His thumb brushed over her cheek, checking for fresh tears. He closed the fingers of his other hand over her shirt at the small of her back, pulling her just a little closer.
"You don't want to, but you have to. I don't want you to, but I can't stop you." She leaned against his chest. He slid his fingers from her cheek into her silky midnight hair. "It would be easier if I could hate you. It would be easier if you could hate me—or hate her. But we can't, can we?"
"No." It was a nearly soundless sigh, an exhalation, a resignation.
"Such a mess," she murmured again. Her thoughts were another secret in the darkness. She seemed to hesitate. "I wouldn't… I wouldn't hate you, even if you chose her, Inuyasha."
Secrets. "Maybe not…but Iwould hate me," he whispered.
Her fingers on his cheek stiffened with her surprise, her confusion. "Why?"
"Because…that would hurt you."
Silence and shadows. "Is that all that's holding you back?"
The first real flash of potent emotion he'd felt since nightfall caught him by surprise. "Of course not!"
"Then what? Why don't you choose her?"
His hands fell away from her and he slipped away from her touch. His angry steps carried him away before he whirled to stalk back over to her. The wind whipped his hair across his face, and he angrily shoved it away.
"Do you think I don't know that she's dead? That she's not the same person I knew fifty years ago? Do you think I don't know that this husk of her is missing so many of the things that made Kikyo Kikyo?"
"You don't want her because she's not the same as she was?"
"She's the past, Kagome. My past. I can't relive the past."
"You didn't answer my question."
"The Kikyo that I—She died. The woman that I would have chosen fifty years ago died, and she hasn't come back. This Kikyo isn't her, but I can't ignore that she's a part of her. I can't abandon her or ignore her; I can't let her go because I know she's walking this world in pain and emptiness and loneliness, and the only thing I can do to help her is be with her when she wants me."
He exploded away from her, circled, came back.
"How can I deny her when she asks for me? How can I make her suffer more by abandoning her?" His teeth ground together. "But I can't win, can I? Because if I go to her, I hurt you. If I stay with you, I hurt her."
The darkness revealed nothing as she watched him. He pressed a hand over his eyes, suddenly weary. "I can't abandon her as long as she's alive. I can't promise that I won't leave you again, Kagome." His hand dropped away from his eyes. "But I can promise"—his voice sharpened, fierce with conviction—"that I will always come back to you."
The silence descended again, a soft wave of heaviness. The wind buffeted against the wall between them. Night's shadowy hold hid their thoughts and their feelings, their eyes and their expressions. More secrets, secrets in the darkness.
"Do you really mean that, Inuyasha?"
"Yes!" He grabbed her shoulders, staring into the shadows of her face. "Kagome, I may not always be able to be with you, but I will always come back to you. Always!"
Her hands suddenly locked on the front of his kimono, tightening into fists around the stiff material. "Inuyasha…" Tears choked her voice.
"Kagome?" Now what had he done? What had he said? Did she think he would break this promise too, that it would become more shards in the darkness, another secret, another lie?
She pressed her face against his chest, sniffling. Releasing her shoulders, he slipped one arm around her waist to support her and used the other hand to gently coax her face up. Fingers lightly holding her chin, he leaned towards her, squinting at her face through the concealing darkness.
"What are you crying about now?" he demanded.
She let out a shuddering laugh. "I don't think you'd understand. It's a human thing."
"Then now would be the time to explain, wouldn't it?"
"I understand that you can't just leave Kikyo, not while she's still…alive," she hesitated over the last word, then seemed to shrug it off. "I understand that. But…" One of her hands unclamped from his kimono and found his cheek again. "But knowing that you'll always come back to me, no matter what… That makes all the difference."
Curse the darkness for hiding her eyes. Damn the secrets.
"Does it, really? I'm still going to leave again. I'm still going to hurt you."
"It hurts you too," she whispered. "But as long as you come back to me, I can endure the hurt."
"Kagome… I don't want to hurt you at all."
"But you can't help that right now, and that's okay. When things change, when the situation is different… We'll worry about that then."
He sighed, tipping his head to press his cheek into her palm.
"I just want you to know… I promise to always wait for you to come back."
There are so many secrets that wait in the darkness, so many words unsaid, sights unseen. So many shards of those secrets to slice the unwary. But veiled among the shards and the lies…some secrets are just waiting to be found.
Old secrets laid bare. New secrets hidden away. Secrets and lies. Secrets and truth.
He gathered her in his arms, cradling her delicately. He pressed his face against her hair, inhaling her warm scent, that soothing, enthralling fragrance. There was a tremble in his hands, a shiver in each slow breath. She relaxed in his gentle hold, sinking into his strength. Her fingers brushed over his cheek, back and forth, back and forth. Soothing, comforting, consoling.
The darkness hid nothing now. Nothing at all.
The wind snatched at their clothes, but he did not feel the chill. It grumbled and murmured its impatient song, but he did not hear any sound but her soft breathing. The darkness concealed her face, but he did not mind.
Secrets? No more.
He lowered his head until his cheek brushed against hers. Her fingers fit themselves against the line of his jaw, holding his face in place. He could feel her warmth breath on his skin. He could feel her hand on his jaw, her fingers spread across his cheek. He could feel the soft curves of her body in his arms, against his chest.
He knew he would hurt her still. He knew he would leave her again. And he knew he would always, always come back to her.
His arms tightened around the precious soul that he held. This, this was why.
Her head slowly moved as she pulled back and lifted her eyes, searching for his gaze in the night's dark shroud. As her face aligned in front of his, the concealing darkness wrought an unexpected blunder.
As her face moved, too close, her lips brushed against his.
It was a soft touch, her upper lip glancing against his lower, the motion sideways, unintentional, following the movement of her face. An accident. Her breath caught and she leaned back sharply in his arms, distancing their skin.
He was frozen, paralyzed. Longing, sharp and unanticipated, speared him.
He stared at her, knowing she wanted to be released, to put distance between them, to undo her miscalculation. Yet his muscles had locked, his thoughts in disarray. He didn't move, and her strength could not shift his grip.
She didn't struggle. She stilled, silently waiting. Her hand still rested on his face, curved over his cheek and jaw, just brushing the skin of his neck.
His internal battle was swift and violent, but finally he was able to loosen his arms, allowing her to step back if she wished. "Sorry," he whispered. He waited for her to pull away.
She didn't move. Her shadowed face was a mystery, her silent thoughts an enigma. New secrets. More secrets.
And then she was leaning against his chest again, leaning back into his arms. And then her hand was tightening on his cheek, and then her face was coming closer, too close.
She hesitated, her lips hovering just before his, her trembling breath warm on his skin.
His limbs had locked to stone again. His breathing quickened, his stomach fluttering in an unfamiliar nervousness.
Her lips brushed against his, a feathery light touch. She pulled back uncertainly.
The rigid tension melted from his muscles. He pulled her to him, crushed her to him. His hand found her neck, pulling her face back to his. But he paused before their lips touched again. Stilling, he waited. His shaky exhales came quickly and his stomach danced with nervous anticipation. Flickering fear danced just beyond, awaiting certain rejection.
Her fingers on his cheek flexed, coaxing his face down that last breath of space between them.
They came together, lips connecting in something so soft and sweet. Their mouths molded perfectly together, gentle and tender. It was a kiss of innocent dreams, a touch of moonlight, a whisper of the softest and sweetest shade of love. Neither moved, draped in shadows and darkness, lost in a moment of fortune and fate.
They parted for only one beat of time before coming together again. He brushed his lips over hers, softly exploring. Her fingers stroked his cheek, gentle encouragement. He took her bottom lip between his lips, marveling at the supple softness of her skin. He slid his lips over the curves of her upper lip. He lightly tasted the corner of her mouth.
To taste the sweetness of her ceaselessly soothing and intoxicating scent.
Her breath shuddered in and out, as unsteady as his. He could both hear and feel the thumping of her heart, tripping beneath her breast in an urgent race. He gently nudged her chin up with his nose until his lips found the perfect curve of her chin. He slid his lips along her jaw up to her ear and back down. She shivered in his arms, her hands suddenly sunk into his hair, her arms around his neck.
He brought his mouth back to hers and she met him eagerly. They molded as one, lips moving together. He pulled her against him and she pulled him yet closer. When the tip of her tongue traced his upper lip, he growled softly, deep in his chest. He caught her bottom lip and let it gently slide from between his teeth. She responded by crushing her mouth against his.
Soft light broached the trees. The inevitable approach of the sun.
Darkness hides many things. Some things exist only in that darkness and nowhere else.
Their lips broke apart for the last time. They stood together, wrapped in one another's arms, and looked into eyes that had before been hidden. Saw what was before unseen.
She pressed her palm against his cheek once more. "What will happen in the morning?"
"I don't know."
She nodded and leaned to rest her head on his shoulder. He snugged his arms tighter about her and stared across the meadow that now shimmered with a dim predawn glow and softly clinging shadows.
"Whatever happens," he whispered, "I will come back to you."
"Whatever happens," she whispered, "I will wait for you."
Darkness hides many things. Darkness holds many things. Secrets of the heart, some that wait to be found, some that will never be found. As morning made its slow advance, he wondered what secrets the light of dawn would reveal…and what secrets the dark of night would keep.
x : END : x :
I hoped you enjoyed this small taste of Inu/Kag romance. If my obscurity was a little too much for you, a quick explanation: Inuyasha had gone to see Kikyo earlier in the day and when he returned to see Kagome, the night of the new moon had fallen—so he was a little more open and honest than we might normally expect of our gruff and tough half-demon.
To my wonderful and faithful readers who have been waiting over a year for me to begin posting on FFnet once more, I regret to inform that this is not my triumphant return to fanfiction. I don't know if/when I'll have the time to write fanfiction again; this was a short project inspired by my dwindling free time (thank you, winter holidays) and some very nice reviews and PMs that I've recently received.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has reviewed my stories, particularly SLSP and FLFH. Although I don't visit FFnet very often anymore, I still read and enjoy every review that I receive. With your support, the two stories combined have over 3,700 reviews, over 320,000 hits, and are on over 1,000 favourite stories lists.
Readers and Reviewers: This story is dedicated to you.