In Armor Not-So-Shining
Disclaimer: I doth not own thy Inuyasha. Eth.
A/N: This was written to celebrate my one-year fanfiction anniversary. Whoa! And what a year it's been. Thanks, all you guys, for just generally being awesome. As a present to myself, I decided to indulge several urges and plot-bunnies I had previously been suppressing, due to my better judgment. And then I decided, hell with that. So anyways, I got sick of the classic Kikyo-Inuyasha-Kagome love triangle. Bo-ring. Here's my take on a few "what ifs".
The dry brush crackled underfoot as Kagome made her way back towards the bone-eater's well in the dusky twilight. She wasn't crying, not now- right now she was too sad, as if even her eyes knew that tears wouldn't do any good. Stupid hanyou. Stupid Inuyasha.
Calling him names isn't going to do any good, either. Kagome reflected for a brief moment. But it makes me feel a heck of a lot better.
That morning had started out so beautifully- Shippo had attacked her with a wet kiss and a furry hug, shortly thereafter waking Sango and Miroku, who wished her a happy birthday with glee. Purely happy occasions were a rare thing among the Inu-tachi, and the least excuse to relax was always welcomed with open arms. For Kagome, the tajiya had prepared some of the herbs she knew the miko carried with her, and Miroku had presented her with a lovely scroll he had covertly been working on all week.
And Inuyasha... The hanyou had awoken early, shaking her awake and whisking her off before she had a chance to fully wake up. When they had arrived at their destination, she was greeted by a brilliant scarlet-and-pink sunrise, even the sky apparently wishing to celebrate her seventeenth birthday with grandeur.
'Inuyasha... This is beautiful! How did you know?'
'Keh, wench... Don't expect me to reveal all my secrets.'
The day's spell was broken, however, when Inuyasha ran off after the soul stealers immediately after breakfast.
Nearly choking on her anger, Kagome finally reached the well, breathing a deep sigh of relief as it came into view. Suddenly, from the forest behind her, came Inuyasha's voice.
"Kagome! Hey, Kagome, wait!"
The hanyou ran up to her, a confused look on his face. "What's going on, wench? I thought you were gonna stay here! We were gonna go on a picnic, and you said you had a cake, and..." His voice trailed off at seeing the spark in Kagome's bright eyes.
However, the miko seemed to reconsider yelling at him, and simply said, "Why would you care, Inuyasha?"
"The hell? Of course I care! What are you talking about?!"
Kagome took a step closer to him, speaking in a low tone she knew his sensitive ears could pick up. "We did it without you because you weren't around." She took another step towards him, and his silvery ears flattened against his skull. "You left, remember? You made that choice. And I decided that I wasn't going to put my birthday on hold just because you had to run off. We had fun today. It would have been nice if you could have-" here, she swallowed hard- "stayed with me- with us, but you didn't."
Anger was building inside the hanyou, and he stepped towards the miko until he could have reached out to touch her. "Hey, just wait! I had to go! Kikyo- she had some important information, about Naraku! We're getting close, Kagome, and I couldn't afford to just not listen!"
The miko set her jaw, and looked up at him. "Couldn't you?"
Spinning around, she began to walk closer to the well when his hand caught her wrist, yanking her back so that her nose was inches from his. "Don't walk away from me, bitch! You can't just go home!"
"Oh, can't I?" Kagome laughed at him, a bitter note in her voice. Quickly, she broke away from Inuyasha's grasp, rubbing the skin he had touched as if he had burned her. "It's my birthday, Inuyasha. I want to go home. My family is waiting for me."
She spun around, and succeeded in putting one foot over the side of the well before his voice followed her. "But...you're coming back... aren't you?"
Wearily, Kagome turned back around, looking at him with a sad expression on her face. The hanyou flinched visibly- he hated seeing her unhappy. Her voice was quiet, steady, resigned. "Of course I'll come back, Inuyasha.
"I know what it's like to be left behind."
And with nothing more than a swift drop and a blue glow, the girl was gone.
Kagome sat back, comfortably full of oden and birthday cake. Mama smiled at her, and Souta gave her a quick hug before dashing off to his game console. Just as she was about to get up and head for her room, the phone rang, its clanging noise echoing in her ears. Picking it up, she was instantly greeted by the high-pitched voices of her three best friends.
"Hey, 'gome, happy birthday!" Eri squealed before passing the phone to Ayumi.
"Yeah, happy birthday! Now come on, you have to go out with us!" The phone was then passed to Yuka, who quickly seconded her friend's ideas.
Kagome bit her lip, shifting the phone to the other ear. Normally her post-fight routine consisted of a cup of tea and a fluffy pillow- a night of shopping and ramen noodles just required too much energy she didn't feel like expending. "I don't know, guys, I'm really not feeling up to it-"
"Oh, come on, Kagome!" Yuka interrupted, her voice gentle. "I know you haven't been feeling well lately, but really, it's your birthday! It won't be too much, I promise."
"Unless, of course," Ayumi said quietly, "You already have plans with your boyfriend..."
The image of Kikyo and Inuyasha flashed through Kagome's mind. "No, no," she said quickly, flatly. "I don't have any plans. Meet you in a little while."
The little group of girls giggled as they walked through the swinging doors, their arms full of packages. Kagome was feeling rather giddy- in the modern era, on her seventeenth birthday, it was just too easy to forget about all Inuyasha in the sengoku jidai.
Suddenly, just as the young miko was walking through the doors, one flew backwards, hitting her square in the nose and knocking the bags out of her hands. Inwardly groaning, she stooped to pick up her items, trying to ignore the eyes of the people swarming around her.
Then, before her, was a hand, holding out one of the boxes that had rolled away from her. Kagome's cheeks flushed red, and she looked up, only to have her blue-grey eyes meet with warm brown ones. Flustered, her mind raced, trying to think of something to say that wasn't complete gibberish. Fortunately, he spoke for her, smiling invitingly as she took a hold of his hand. "Hey- are you alright? I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there."
Still rather speechless, Kagome smiled back at him, that smile widening as he handed her some of the bags she had dropped. "It's- I mean, it's fine, it was just an accident." She stood quickly, smoothing down her skirt and trying to look moderately composed. It took her a few moments to gather all her dropped bags in her grasp, but once she had, Kagome smiled up at the young man before her.
"Thanks for helping me up. After all, most people wouldn't have." He shrugged off the compliment, his smile coming quickly and easily.
"Hey, don't worry about it." His eyes met hers, twinkling with a friendly light. "But while you're here, could I get your name? Consider it payment for my help."
Kagome laughed without thinking, a small part of her marveling at how easy the sound came. "No way, not if you're going to demand it as payment. However, since you asked nicely- my name's Kagome. And you, kind sir?" She could feel her eyes sparkling back at him; perhaps a touch more friendly than she meant it to be, but it didn't matter, right?
He laughed back at her, a slight blush teasing his skin when he realized his omission. "Oh, sorry- my name's Makoto- call me Mako."
Kagome nodded her head towards him, trying to keep her silly grin under wraps. "Well, it's been lovely meeting you, Mako." When the boy didn't say anything right away, she began to walk away, only to be stopped by a light touch on her arm.
"Wait!" Makoto smiled gently, his voice low. "I know I sort of got off on the wrong foot, but would you consider going out to dinner with me tomorrow in spite of it?"
It was Kagome's turn to become red now, but she smiled, nodding her head. After all, why not?
The next evening, Kagome stood awkwardly in front of her mirror, trying get everything just perfect. It was hard to remember the last time- if ever- she had gone with a boy to a nice restaurant, and Makoto would be coming to pick her up any minute. Hair- check. Makeup- check. Perfume- perfect. The teenager grinned in quiet victory. Inuyasha hated it when she wore things like perfume, but she wouldn't have to worry about that, because tonight-
Frustrated, she screwed her eyes shut, shaking her head to clear her mind of unwanted thoughts. This was her night, tonight, and she wasn't going to spoil the perfectly good time she'd have with Mako just because stupid blockhead Inuyasha wouldn't get out of her head.
Then, chiming up into the rafters of the shrine-house, the doorbell rang, its small song so seemingly trivial for such an important visitor. Kagome leaned against the cool glass of her mirror, hoping that her erratic heart rate would slow somewhat before she had to go downstairs and interact like a normal, social, human being.
Inuyasha sat quietly in the god-tree, his gaze fixed on the clouds. By the looks of the rolling grey thunderheads, there'd be a hell of dumping before sunrise the next morning. However, instead of heading for some shelter like most sane people- including Miroku, Sango, and Shippo, who had been at Kaede's most of the day- Inuyasha simply made himself more comfortable, shifting his eyes from the sky to the well.
She'd be back soon. Its not like she has a test or anything. It's been a whole day, how much longer does she fucking need in order to cool off?
The hanyou shook his head quickly, expression completely frustrated. He hated waiting. He hated not knowing. And he hated, most of all, knowing that this was what Kagome went through all the time- and knowing that this was the reason that she would be gone for so long.
Bowing his head, he let his hair fall before his eyes, blocking out everything from his vision except the well itself.
Kagome slapped a hand over her mouth, trying to keep down a most un-ladylike snort that wanted to burst from her nose. Her dinner companion wasn't in a much better position, and as they both gasped for air Kagome took a long sip of sparkling water from her glass. Though she could hardly believe it herself, she was having such a fun evening. Makoto had picked her up at her door with a small nosegay of roses, held open the car door for her, and been a perfect gentleman to her family. Everything so far couldn't have been better.
Finally smothering his laughter, Mako looked up at her, his eyes twinkling. "I suppose you can tell that it gets boring in a big house all by yourself. At least the servants and housekeeper gave me some sort of human contact, right?"
"Oh, of course," Kagome said laughing, setting down her dessert fork. "I'm sure you made their lives an absolute terror."
Mako shrugged innocently. "That's what my parents get for leaving me an only child. Count yourself lucky you had a younger brother."
As Makoto waived the waiter over for more water, Kagome leaned back in her seat, drinking in the sight before her. It was a cozy scene, the little French restaurant lit with romantic, flickering candlelight. The first few drops of a rainstorm splashed against the window to their right, the pattern of the water causing the candlelight to seem to ebb and flow. The couple had hardly seemed to stop talking all night, swapping stories about family life and their schooling.
Finally, Mako glanced at his watch with a sigh, looking at her with a shrug. "Are you about ready to go? It's getting late." Kagome nodded in response, and they made their way to the door, Makoto helping Kagome into her light jacket. However, as they stepped outside, they were greeted with sheets of rain, the water coming in almost sideways in order to soak them through even as they waited by the door. After watching the torrents of rain for a few minutes, Mako suddenly turned towards Kagome and held out a hand, grinning all the while.
Leaning in close, he whispered, "Wanna make a run for it?"
Before giving her a change to answer, he grabbed her hand, tugging her out into the rain towards his car. Clicking it open on the way, he held the passenger door open for her as she leapt, dashing around to his side and jumping in before slamming the doors closed.
Kagome couldn't help but laugh at the sight he made, a wide grin on his dripping face, his dark brown hair plastered against his forehead. However, seeing the similar mirth in his eyes, she knew that her own appearance must not be any better, and she blushed fiercely. Mako chuckled under his breath and reached out a hand, tucking a strand of dripping hair back behind her ear. However, his fingers lingered by her cheek, and he murmured softly, "You look cute wet."
Leaning in, he was soon within inches of Kagome, and she found her eyes drifting shut as cool, damp lips were pressed against her own. His hand pulled her closer, and her own hands clenched together in her lap. Though the kiss was sweet, Kagome's mind wandered, and she wondered idly when it would be over.
How... anticlimactic. I kind of expected more- this is just...
Then quietly, a little though in the back of her mind suggested that there was nothing wrong with the kiss- it was the person giving it to her. Involuntarily, she frowned, and Mako pulled away, a look of concern on his face. "Something wrong, Kagome?"
She blushed, more than slightly embarrassed. "N-no, nothing's wrong. I think I'd like you to take me home now." Makoto frowned in reply.
"But, Kagome, the night barely started! C'mon, I didn't do anything wrong, did I? No need to be shy..." Smirking now, he leaned in towards her, Kagome narrowly avoiding another kiss by ducking her head backwards. Angry, he made one more grab for her, only succeeding in catching and tearing the collar of her jacket.
Kagome's eyes were wide at first, and the sound of heavy breathing filled the small car. Soon enough, though, blue-grey eyes narrowed dangerously, and with a slam she threw the car door open, stepping out into the rain. Mako's voice from inside the car called her, "What are you fucking nuts, Kagome? Get back in the car. It's six blocks back to your place."
However, he greatly underestimated a fuming Kagome, and she stalked off, growing wetter by the nanosecond as her heels clicked along the sidewalk. Soon enough she heard his car start and drive away, obviously not wanting to be associated with the crazy girl, walking home by herself in the rain.
Once his car was out of sight, Kagome allowed herself a trembling sob, though the tears were indistinguishable from the tracks of rain running down her cheeks. Using her anger to give her energy, she kept walking, eyes on the ground to try and keep the rain out of them.
If after once block, she was wet, after two she was certainly soaked. Most people were indoors due to the unpleasant weather, so she all but had the streets to herself. The oily puddles shimmered with the light cast from the streetlights, the only things that were keeping Kagome from straying. As she turned a corner, one slim heel of her shoe caught in a crack in the slippery pavement, and down she went, said heel neatly snapping off at the connecting point. Almost relieved to have something to be angry at, Kagome ripped off the offending piece of footwear, leaning against a cool brick wall as she struggled with the winding straps. However, it soon became obvious that she could not mutter curses while dealing with a clasp and balanced on one high heel, and the girl fell to the ground, the rough pavement simultaneously muddying her clothes and abusing her tender skin.
The long moments she sat their seemed like an eternity, and Kagome cried hot, salty tears into her scratched hands. Suddenly, as she swiped futilely at her damp cheeks, someone strong and warm scooped her up into his arms, his bare feet slapping against the sidewalk as he dashed back to the shrine. He ran as fast as he possibly could without disturbing the girl in his arms too much.
Kagome didn't even think to question why Inuyasha would be here, why he was saving her when she had been so mean to him before leaving. Instead, she looped her arms around his neck, snuggling closer into his still-dry chest. Of course Inuyasha's here... Inuyasha always comes to rescue me. He always... Eased by the warmth of his arms and the gentle rocking as he ran, Kagome drifted into an exhaustion-induced doze.
She didn't wake up again until Inuyasha was climbing through her window, turning to close it behind him and shut out the raging storm. He apparently hadn't yet realized she was waking, and so gently set her down on the edge of the bed and dashed to the other side of the room in order to grab a stack of towels. Soon enough he was back at her side, and she opened one sleepy blue-grey eye, looking at him with a slightly puzzled expression.
Relieved to see her awake, Inuyasha tossed one of the towels over her head, reaching around her shoulders to tug another towel around her shoulder and pull it tight. Kagome reached up to push it out of her eyes, too tired to make the perplexed look she gave Inuyasha more than half-hearted. Gruffly, he reached on hand up and ruffled the towel in an attempt to mop up some of the water in her hair.
"Come on, wench, you have to dry off, before you go and get sick." His voice was rough, but quiet, and he lifted her to her feet as he stood. "Go get into some dry clothes. You need to sleep."
Kagome frowned slightly and opened her mouth as if to speak when suddenly, a wave of fatigue came over her and she nodded in submission, grabbing a t-shirt and shorts and pulling her shirt over her head.
Almost instantly, Inuyasha flushed red and turned around, studying the wall with great interest. After a few minutes, the girl came and placed a hand on his arm. "It's alright, Inuyasha, I'm decent now."
He nodded silently and turned to head back out the window again when her soft voice followed him. "Aren't you going to stay?" Freezing in place, he glanced over his shoulder, only lifting his eyes long enough to see her standing by the bed, a hand on the edge of the quilt.
Inuyasha turned around slowly, his dark brows drawn together on his forehead. His voice was still quiet as he stuttered, "Are y-you sure? I don't want to-"
Kagome cut him off by pulling the blanket back farther, her eyes tired. "I'm positive. I want you here with me- now get in." Though his countenance still appeared puzzled, he obeyed, crawling in after her and quickly realizing that he was much more tired than he felt. With a flick of his hand he covered them up, sighing deeply as she put her head on his shoulder and curled into him. As they drifted off to sleep, he ran his claws through her still-damp hair, the pair too tired to think anymore.
The girl was awakened by the sun the next morning, each hand fisted around a bunch of Inuyasha's haori and her cheek pressed against his chest. His hand was still in her hair, the strands snarled around his claws. Kagome lifted her head slightly, just high enough to see that the hanyou was still asleep, his expression for once peaceful and serene. They had become even more entangled over the course of the night, Inuyasha's other arm about her shoulders and her leg throw over his.
Blushing only slightly, Kagome surveyed just how trapped she was, and slowly tried to extricate herself out of Inuyasha's tight grasp. However, her struggles soon nudged the half-demon awake, and she jump when his gruff voice interrupted her. "Oi. What are you doing?"
Within a second her cheeks were completely scarlet, and Kagome looked up at him, stumbling over her words. "Well, I was just trying to- I mean, I wanted to-"
Stopping short, Kagome sighed, propping herself up on her elbows in order to look the hanyou directly in the eye. Taking a deep breath, she asked suddenly, "Inuyasha, why did you follow me? Why did you even come back for me?"
Inuyasha frowned, his amber eyes searching deep in her own. "What are you talking about?" Slightly confused, his voice grew a little louder. "I always come back for you, don't I? I take care of you."
"But I was awful!" The words burst out of Kagome's mouth, and she stopped up short, unsure of what to say to follow that up. Slowly, she began again, her words tentative. "I didn't have any right to say those things to you, and I'm sorry I did."
Now it was Inuyasha's turn to sit up, his brows drawing together. "Listen, Kagome, what you said was true. You were right- and I'm so sorry. Now quit this blaming yourself shit before I get mad."
Kagome shook her head. "I might have been right, but it wasn't my place to tell it to you. Especially not with the way that I went out on a date with such a creep afterwards." Barely suppressing a shudder, the miko made a face. Pulling back to sit on the bed next to him, Kagome crossed her arms, just missing the flash of red that came and went over Inuyasha's eyes. "I mean- I don't know if I would have been able to forgive me like that- and be so kind. Why won't you rub it in, tell me just how wrong I was? If something like this had happened to you-" Embarrassed, she hung her head, avoiding his eyes until a sharp snort caused her to look up in concern.
"First off," Inuyasha began, "I don't cry. Second, I would never, ever do that to you. Don't even think it." Reaching out an arm, he grasped Kagome by the shoulder, clumsily pulled her against his chest. Relieved, the miko threw her arms around him, hiding her face in the crook of his neck.
They stopped talking then, simply sitting back in bed and enjoying the warmth and the silence.