A/N: Okay, please put up with me. I know I've got more important things to be doing than writing oneshots, but I really wanted to try my hand at a KuramaKagome. However, it's sad-ish, so please be forewarned. Please be forewarned as well, that this takes place right before the last chapter of the InuYasha series. Because I've read the whole thing, and this just sorta fit in nicely. This is an effective SPOILER WARNING. But it's not too major... just BE WARNED.
Ummm... and I don't know where I found that little poem thing about the trees, but please know that it's not mine. So if it's yours, I apologise for using it without your permission! Please don't hate meeeeee! ALSO! Vist my profile to search for the sequel… ;)
Now, without further ado...
Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or YuYu Hakusho.
For The Trees
If Kurama was completely honest with himself, he would say he had had it up to here with the female species. Ideally, he'd have liked to believe that there was some good in them. Really. That they were a decent, intelligent species. However, they had yet to prove him correct.
Now, he was beginning to assume that for once, he was wrong- that they were all brainless. They lost all common sense as soon as they saw a pretty face. Not that he thought his face was pretty, specifically… but if he was to be completely honest?
Lately, the team was busy. They weren't busy with missions from Koenma, no. They were busy with their lives. Because aside from the traditional 'capturing' or 'killing' demons, and 'protecting the human species' and that whole bit, they had lives and appearances to keep up.
High school took up the majority of Kurama's time, now. Having found nothing better to do, he immersed himself with learning and studying and quenching Youko's foxy curiosity. The first rounds of exams for his year were fast approaching, and he had been asked by the teacher to help a 'special' student with her studies and exam preparation.
He had been informed before he met her that during middle school, she had been sick a lot. This, of course, had resulted in her missing a bulk of the school year curriculum, and she had been forced to teach her self what she could simply in order to survive final exams to graduate with her class. Now, in high school (only having made it through with a vacancy) she needed to stay on the right track to keep her spot.
His mother, his teachers and the principal had agreed with the idea of Kurama becoming a tutor. During a meeting with the girl's other, a small fee was even agreed upon for his services. The end product was Kurama's first foray into teaching, and albeit hesitantly, he set to work preparing for his first meeting with her.
Perhaps the truth was in front of him, all along.
When Kurama first walked up the stone steps of the Higurashi shrine, a chill of uneasiness ran down his spine. He didn't suppose that a girl raised in a shrine would be any different from any of the others he had met- and he prayed feverishly that she already had someone important in his life, so that perhaps the tutoring sessions wouldn't have to be something to dread every other day.
Whereupon finally reaching the top of the steps, Kurama was pleasantly surprised by the simplicity and beauty of the shrine. Stone and wood were tastefully combined, and a gigantic tree stood tall, to his left like a silent guardian. An odd calming sensation washed over him, and he immediately felt better. Perhaps this tutoring wouldn't be so bad, after all…
Perhaps he just couldn't see.
Kagome was a beautiful young girl, full of life. She had brilliant blue eyes and dark wavy hair; blacker than most. She was clever and quick-witted, and seemed infinitely wise beyond her age. Her body was attractive, he was slightly embarrassed to note, for she seemed unnaturally lithe and agile for someone supposedly so sickly. She couldn't sit still for very long, and loved studying outside, wholly in part- she explained- because she found the walls and the roof confining.
Perhaps the most unique thing about her, however, was her initial reaction to him. The first time he had entered her house, she greeted him from her place at the kitchen table without turning or rising to face him. In one hand she flipped her pencil expertly around her fingers, and the other was tangled in her hair.
"I'm sorry- I know I'm being terribly rude, but I have a lot to do, and I'm so close to figuring out this question, and-" she abruptly stopped talking when he moved around the side of the table, taking a seat beside her.
As soon as she got a good look at his face, her eyes widened almost comically, and her mouth gaped, forming a small O.
"You're Minamino-kun!!" she smiled, her expression one of understanding or enlightenment.
He flinched subtly, waiting for what inevitably came next, his mind already three steps ahead planning the best way to get out of tutoring this girl.
"My friends adore you," Kagome watched him carefully as she explained. "Apparently you've got the 'body of a god'. But I had no idea who they were talking about." She chuckled like there was a joke he just wasn't in on.
"Yet beyond your dashingly good looks and charm, I do happen to know you're incredibly smart. Thanks for taking the time to come here to help," she smiled charmingly then, and Kurama felt his heart thud to an abrupt stop. A deafening silence seemed to ring in his ears for a moment before everything suddenly picked back up again, and he felt his cheeks heat.
"Uhm," he was at a loss for words. "Please call me Kurama,"
"Okay, Kurama-kun." The name rolled off her tongue, and he shivered in delight. "Please call me Kagome!"
"Um… well, Kagome-chan…" he hesitated, tripping over the name in embarrassment, but was reassured by her dazzling smile.
"Let's get on with this, shall we?" and he managed to smile back.
Perhaps he was afraid.
His time spent with Kagome quickly became the highlight of his days, and he thrived off every smile she directed at him. Any kind of physical contact- a light touch on his shoulder or the brush of their arms when they walked side by side- never failed to send shocks rippling through him from the point of contact. Kurama decided almost instantly that he loved to make her laugh. He noticed that when she was sad and gloomy, he felt his own mood sink empathetically. Her happiness never failed to make him happy. Her unhappiness made his chest ache and made him wish he could whisk her away from all her pain.
Kurama knew that something had changed in him, but he couldn't solve the riddle that he had become. He didn't tell his friends about Kagome, instead choosing to keep their 'relationship' a secret. Of course, they noticed the change in his demeanor practically the moment it happened- but he waved off their questions and let them draw their own conclusions. Kurama went through great lengths to keep his memories and feelings away from Hiei's probing, which turned out to be less of a challenge than he had initially anticipated. The little hybrid seemed to understand that he wanted some privacy, and didn't once press the matter.
His afternoons with Kagome eventually turned into evenings, which turned into weekends, which turned into days. The weeks passed, the months flew by, and then finally, the year was over, and Kagome finished her first year at the top of her class.
"Thank you so much, Kurama-kun!" she laughed in delight as he handed back her exam breakdown, which she had procured a copy of just to show him. "I couldn't have done it without you!"
Kurama's stomach sank. After this, he'd have no reason to continue seeing Kagome- they'd never had anything other than an academic relationship. The study sessions would end, and he'd be lucky to see her in the hallways at school, or maybe at lunchtime, if they shared the same lunch period. He felt like he was drowning in despair when a light touch of his arm brought him out of his emotional musings.
"I was wondering…" Kagome said softly, flushing pink. "I mean, the teachers here are great and everything, but it's easier to understan when Kurama-kun is teaching me." She mused aloud, finding her feet suddenly interesting to stare at. Her shyness made him feel masculine, and good.
"Well," Kurama felt his heart soar. "I could keep coming over for study sessions, if you'd like. Once or twice a week, or more, if you need extra help, and I, uh-" his words stopped as his brain abruptly shut down. Kagome had launched her self at him, her arms wrapped squarely around his middle.
"Really?! Thank you so much!" she squealed, delighted. Her happiness was contagious as ever, and Kurama smiled back, his fears forgotten.
"Next year will be so much fun, just you wait!"
Perhaps he was lost.
Their middle year of high school passed like a dream; though they were not in the same classes, they were both top of their class as well as the top boy and girl of their grade. Kurama enjoyed his time with Kagome immensely, and they often would go out for celebratory ice cream or coffee after study sessions and tests. Kurama understood Kagome didn't think of them as dates, but part of him liked to pretend that's what they were, even if she didn't.
The more time he spent with her, the happier he felt himself becoming. Despite that, Kurama couldn't find the courage in himself to ask Kagome to be his girlfriend; the constant fear of being rejected close to the forefront of his mind. On more than one occasion, he had found her wearing a mournful expression as she stared off into nothingness. She seemed to brighten whenever he was near, and to a lesser extent when anyone pulled her from her odd musings, but the same face would appear time and time again.
Hope took root and slowly began to grow inside him when he wondered if perhaps he was the cause of her distress, his mind easily coming up with all sorts of scenarios that revolved around a rather romantic confession. The other, distinctively less romantic side of his brain countered the thoughts with the fact that if it was indeed him that she was thinking of, then didn't that make it his fault she was unhappy? And Kurama hated it when Kagome was unhappy. It never failed to sour his mood.
Once, and only once, Kurama had done some research on Kagome, talking to her friends (which amounted to very little) and looking up a young man named Houjo, who had gone to middle school with her. He had discovered that she was indeed absent a lot, with varying illnesses. Some were more plausible than others- but there were some it should have been impossible for her to ever catch. Some were fatal, though she miraculously recovered. Some, Kurama found, he didn't even know existed. Upon questioning her mother, grandfather and little brother, he learned nothing further. All three were vague about her middle school years, and would subtly change the topic of the conversation unerringly.
She was a mystery in and of herself, but Kurama decided not to press the matter. He didn't want to press the matter, largely because he didn't want to push Kagome away. The curiosity lingered, especially when she wore that melancholy expression, but he tried to tamp it down.
In retrospect, Kurama realized he should have pressed just a little bit more.
It was during their study date for their final exam… Tension was riding high amongst the whole student populace, but Kurama felt hypersensitive. He was leaving for a University in the USA, far away from both Japan and Kagome. She seemed to shy away from the topic of pos-secondary education, though they both knew she would easily be accepted to wherever she wanted. Kurama badly wanted her to come with him to the United States, though he mentioned it only once. She had abruptly changed the topic without even answering his question; and Kurama realized he would have to do something drastic, or risk losing her, permanently.
They were going over an English question, which involved translating a quote, and answering technical questions about it. It was an advanced question, but Kurama had little trouble with it. Kagome was much better with English, and he was immediately curious to hear her translation.
"Are you finished?" Kurama asked, setting his pencil down and looking up at Kagome, who was leaning against a tree with her eyes closed.
"Yes," she smiled, and picked up her paper. "I'll read mine to you, okay?"
He nodded affirmative. She began speaking, her voice music to his ears. How he loved her… love…
"To those who fear true love will never be;
For everyone who looks far and wide,
Seeking something that's not trying to hide.
To those with eyes wide but cannot see;
For everyone who lies awake in the dark;
Fearing to let someone hold their heart.
To those whose ship is lost at sea;
For everyone who has followed loves road to the end;
But refuses to see what is offered in the eyes of a friend.
To the ones who cannot see the forest for the trees."
Kurama watched her face closely as she read the little paragraph, watching the emotion pass across her face like the shadows from the tree above her. The sadness that she harbored… he knew it was in a place that he couldn't touch. There was a secret that he wasn't privy to… but that was okay. Of course, it bothered him, but he knew that she was too important to let it stop him.
Kurama loved Kagome. He understood it now. He knew all he needed to do was tell her. But…
"Kurama… Kurama? Are you listening?" she chided, waving her hand in front of his face.
"Oh, yes. Sorry. I was just thinking that the selection just described me fairly accurately." He said sheepishly. Looking at his watch, he began packing up. Kagome followed his lead, rising to walk him to the stairs.
"Um, Kagome…" he paused at the top of the steps.
"Yes?" she turned to him and smiled again, and he was dumbfounded a moment at her beautiful silhouette.
"I know we're going to do different things with our lives, but I have something that I need to tell you." He said in a rush, turning to face her. It was now or never. "I want you to know that I can't live without you. Somewhere, helping you study, I fell in love with you, and I just… I don't know what I'll do if I can't see you every day after school is over."
Kagome looked shocked at his confession, but she smiled softly. "Kurama-kun, I…" she trailed off, at a loss for words. Kurama watched her uneasily. Turning her face towards him, her bright blue eyes were filled with sadness.
"You know," she said, her eyes reflecting the setting sun. "That selection probably described me better than you." She touched his face lightly. "I'm sorry."
And she turned away, leaving him standing at the top of the stairs, his heart in pieces at his feet.
Perhaps he was ignorant.
Kurama watched closely as Kagome smiled at the crown, collecting her numerous awards and her diploma, posing for pictures with the principal. This would undoubtedly be his last chance to talk to her, and he had to make it count. His heart pounded erratically in his chest; she was just so beautiful. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted to wake up every morning and see her sleeping face beside him. He wanted to come home after work and scoop up their children, and press a kiss to her temple. He felt so overwhelmed by his intense emotions, but he felt more certain about then than he'd ever felt about anything else. But how was he supposed to tell her that?
The rest of the graduation ceremonies passed by in a blur as he concocted his final stand. I know you maybe don't feel quite the same, but… Kagome, I… I've only known you for a few years, but… Please… I love you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life. His mind repeated his declaration in fragments.
All he would have to do now, was step aside with her, and beg her to listen a moment. Yet it seemed fate was eternally against him; in his previous life, and now this one. The ceremonies ended and hats fell from the air like shooting stars. His friends circled him in joy, in laughter, despite their teary eyes. Trying to make his way through the throngs of people without seeming rude or dismissive proved to be more challenging than he had accounted for. He watched Kagome disappear amidst her own friends- posing for pictures, smiling and shaking hands…
Several times he caught sight of her, and each time he lost her moment later as more faces approached to congratulate him. Finally the crowds began to disperse, and Kurama found a small circle of Kagome's friends chatting happily, diplomas in hand.
"Have you seen Kagome?" he was breathless, his eyes slightly crazed, and his heart pounding in his throat.
"She left a while ago," one giggled shyly.
"Can we help you with something?" Another waggled her eyebrows suggestively as her friends tittered at her audacity. He ignored her and left for home, his hopes dashed.
He wondered, depressed, if Kagome had avoided him purposely, using the crowds as a barrier between them. Kurama couldn't force himself to believe that she'd do it on purpose, but a nagging voice that wasn't Youko's for once repeated over and over, what if?
He finally resolved to go visit her one last time- no doubt she'd be leaving for wherever she was headed soon, just like everyone else. A few days later, when he finally made it over his anxiety and up the now familiar steps of the shrine, he was welcomed back by Kagome's teary-eyed mother.
That day, he learned Kagome had disappeared.
In the end,
He just couldn't see the forest for the trees.