Title:            Cycles of the Moon

Author:         Shun'u [Author ID: 61008]

Series:          Inuyasha

Genre:          Angst/AU

Rating:          PG

Pairing:         Umm… guess. ^_^;

DISCLAIMER:  All Inuyasha characters are the creation of, and © to Rumiko Takahashi, and subsequent parties. "Cycles of the Moon" is the creation of my demented mind, and © to Shun'u Hanashiro 2000-2002.

Spoilers:        None – only thing is this is an AU of my AU… Oro~! That sounds very weird but it's true. I was exploring a "what if?" situation which is outside the bounds of my original story line. This probably fits somewhere in with my other stories… I just have to figure out where exactly. ^^;

OCTOBER 2002 (Edited Version)

C Y C L E S • O F • T H E • M O O N

An Inuyasha Fanfiction

By Shun'u Hanashiro

Part I: Inuyasha

She found him sitting beneath a blanket of iridescent lights. Face upturned to the heavens; arms folded across bent knees. The night embraced him in welcoming arms, recognizing the kindred darkness within his being that had not been there in his youth.

"Where have you been?"

Their annual ritual always began with the same question. It was worded in many ways, sometimes flowered with euphemisms, sometimes bluntly direct, but still always asking the same question beneath all of the shifting words.

She sat with human gracelessness. "Walking," she said.

Silence resumed. She didn't know why, but a long forgotten melody came to mind in that perfect stillness. Maybe it was the nostalgia that this particular night always brought forth in her. Or maybe it was just whimsy. For whatever reason, she measured each passing second using the simple cadence of a childhood rhyme.

Tick.

Tock.

Tick.

To-

"Who were you walking with?"

So blunt. Other than for their opening ritual, he had never been one to skirt around sensitive issues, had never quite accomplished the social skills of evasion and prevarication. That was part of his charm.

"I was alone," she said.

Just as blunt. Daring him to contest the verity of her statement. She ran her palms against cool evening grass. Carefully trimmed nails caught on a weed and unearthed it.

'Throw it away,' something told her.

'Crush it,' said another, more merciful voice. 'Don't just abandon it.'

'Return it to the earth,' ordered the gentlest voice. 'Let it live another day.'

She closed her ears to them. Such a blatant lie, that last. The weed would die come morning, exposure to the elements having already begun to take its toll on fragile leaves and thin crumpled roots. It had been uprooted, and there would be no returning to the way it was. Poor little weed.

"Did you enjoy your walk… alone?" he asked.

"Yes," she said. "Very much so. Nights like this, I can see the stars so clearly." She plucked a flower still too young to bloom. It seemed to be a night for killing.

"There's no moon to pollute the darkness," he said. Wide, old eyes set in a young face turned to her. "Are you all right?"

A seemingly simple question could be so loaded with meaning. The flower was flung into the dark.

"Yes. Why wouldn't I be?" she said. She felt his shrug through the distance that separated them as if their shoulders were touching, and they were side by side instead of mile-long feet apart.

"I don't know." Emotion vibrated in the air. He was angry but not violent yet. "You never talk to me anymore. Never stop to visit."

So sad, she thought, so lonely – not really angry at all although the violence always lurked in the background, threatening to explode.

"That's not true. We're talking now, aren't we?" she asked. "I'm visiting now."

He ignored the last. "What are we talking about?"

She was surprised into a laugh. That seemed to be the only way her laughter came with him nowadays. Salty tears pooled, followed by clouding vision and stinging eyes. No matter, there was nothing to see but unreachable stars anyhow. No point in teasing herself with the impossible. Dreams had been discarded with the shedding of adolescent coltishness in favor of more attainable realities.

"I don't know anymore," she said truthfully.

The night was warm. Earth having jealously hoarded the sun's energy all summer long, storing it for white winter nights the way a miser hid his riches for death. A glimmer of her old youthful playfulness returned. She stretched her arm across the distance, reached for him with beckoning fingers – the same that had brushed away his tears in a not so distant past; the same that had ripped out his heart in cruel abandonment.

"What?" He was confused by her smile.

"Come with me," she said. A secret, mischievous grin graced her lips.

"Where?" Distrust and embittering time widened the gap between them.

"Does it matter?" she asked.

"No… I guess not," he said.

He stood on his own. She lost a little of her smile, but gave nothing away of what she felt. She was an old hand at wearing masks where he was concerned. She led the way. Waiting for him when he would dawdle and doubt.

"Come on, it isn't very far."

"You still haven't told me where we're going," he said.

"You'll see," she promised. "Just don't fall behind."

He felt his way through jutting tree roots, newly cautious of tripping hazards once overlooked. She led him on a meandering path, her night vision having become better than his through the years. Over stone and under trees, they made their way deeper and deeper into the enchanted woods once called his home.

"Where are we going?"

She sidestepped a true answer. "Why do you keep asking?"

"Why are you being so mysterious all of a sudden?" He thought carefully. "This isn't like you."

"And you know me that well?" Irritation laced her words, caused her brow to crease, and lips to downturn. She paused in her trek to wait for him. He looked away from her beauty and fidgeted with a well-knotted tie.

"No." He forced the scowl to leave his face along with the burning blush. "I guess I never knew you at all." He avoided her too observant gaze, and said, "At one time I would have wagered my life that I understood you... but not now. You've changed."

He let the accusation hang in the air, tired of tiptoeing around her. She smiled a small, hurt, bittersweet smile. She was tired too. They had been playing this game for too long.

"You're right," she said. "I have changed." She sat on a root by the Old God Tree. They had reached their destination. "I'm not so… gullible anymore."

"Don't you mean innocent?"

Pale eyes hardened. "No. I meant exactly what I said."

His bark of laughter was harsh, caustic to the ears. He sat, but not too near. Neither had come close to approaching the great gulf that divided them. Discomfort had become comfortable in its security.

She said suddenly, "You don't understand me at all, do you? You sit there and point your finger at me, accuse me of lying and betrayal, but you don't have any idea of what I went through for you."

"I was there, wasn't I?" He faced her with glittering eyes. "I was there the whole time. Every moment." His voice cracked. "But you didn't see me, all you saw was him."

"Him? You say that as if you and he were different people. When will you admit that you're one and the same? You were never-"

He cut her off. "When will you see me?"

"I see you," she whispered. "I see too much. I see a man at odds with himself. So much so that he separated his being into two entities and played God to decide which one should live and which should die. I see half of a soul."

"Do you really? " He asked quietly. "Do you see half of a soul? Or is that what you say to yourself at night to take away your guilt?"

She wanted to weep; she wanted to scream. She slapped him with enough force to snap his head to the side and leave a red handprint on his cheek. They had not been so far apart after all. A rushing sound came to her ears, drowning out all else into deafening silence.

She said, "I wasn't supposed to be here, to live in this place and time. My life was supposed to be straightforward. Go to school; obey my mother; take care of my brother; maybe have a career; meet a nice boy; get married; have children. Those were the things that I was raised to do. Not this. Never this."

Unhappiness forced her to curl up into a tight ball of pain. She rocked back and forth in the shadows as he watched with equal pain and misery. The years had been kind to him, leaving him youthful despite his humanity, but nothing could bring back the innocence in those eyes.

"Day after day, facing danger. Constantly having to watch my back because if I didn't something out of my nightmares would come and eat me alive." She punched the ground repeatedly. "And for what?" she asked. "For some jewel that only brought heartache and pain to its possessor. Stupid."

Her laugh was forced, brittle. Unwittingly, he reached out to her, then let his hand drop boneless to his side. A bridge of tears formed between the two.

"I'm sorry."

Their hands found each other and clasped in the dark.

"I never meant to hurt you, to cause you heartache." Clouds raced across the sky, dimming the night. Granting them temporary privacy from winking stars and creating that utter darkness that encouraged the confession of long nourished secrets. "I'm clumsy, oafish, too coarse. Never knowing what to say, or when to say it, I stumble about like a blind man." He pressed her hand against his cheek, pressed a kiss into a palm callused by bow and arrow. "And I hurt you many, many times."

There was no denying that. She had shed bloody tears for him, because of him. They sat in brooding silence for a long while before he gathered the courage to speak again.

"I am blind, you know."

"What?"

She shied away. This was not a part of the script. Year after year they met on this night, on the anniversary of their estrangement – the night when he became human for eternity. Repetition had aided in the development of a pattern in their dialogue. And now he broke the mold with this news.

"I can't see anymore."

She waved a hand in front of him. "You're tracking motion fine. What are you talking about?"

A little bit of exasperation was in her voice. It reminded him of days gone by when she would tell him boldly that he was being an idiot instead of dancing in circles to get to the point. Back then he hadn't appreciated her almost brutal honesty.

"Do you think that you're the only one to have been hurt?" he said in a flat, even tone that was completely unlike him. "I've lost too. These eyes work, but they can't see with the acuity that they used to. These ears are normal, but I can't even hear a burglar sneaking up on me unless he was to pound on the door to be let in. And I might as well not have a nose for all the good it does me. Just because you can't see what I've lost, doesn't mean that I haven't suffered for my humanity."

"I'm sorry."

It was a night for apologies.

"I never knew."

"Neither did I, until it was too late."

They fell into a comfortable pause. It was almost a return to days when they would travel together with long lost companions on a quest for a jewel. In those times everything had been seen through rose-tinted glasses, and anything had been possible.

"Why?" She finally asked.

He mulled it over. Then said, "Because I thought that was what you wanted. I thought… that if I were human, then you would love me more. That if I wasn't some monster then you would stay here with me and we could be happy and raise a family. Maybe have four kids and a house with a yard. Foolish, isn't it? I had the same dreams that you did. I didn't know that you loved the monster."

"I-" She didn't know what to say to ease the heartache. His accusation was true. But it wasn't the only truth. "I loved you."

"Then why didn't you stay with me?"

"Because… I… I loved everything about you," she confessed. "There wasn't anything about you that I didn't love. Don't you see?"

"What should I see?" He was angry.

"You shouldn't have changed for me. I loved you the way you were, not for what you could have been."

"Is being human so terrible?" He asked.

"No," she said. "Not so terrible."

They sat there together to reflect on revelations that came too late.

"Were you really alone?" he finally asked in a voice almost normal again.

"You know the answer to that," she reproached him.

"I want to hear you say it," he said.

"No, I wasn't." She was uncomfortable, and tried to explain away the inexplicable. "He worries. About you… and me."

"More about you, I think," he said softly.

Dew gathered on the grass and whisked away the smell of dying summer.

Afterwards, he asked, "Will you be returning to him now?"

"Yes," she said. "I have to."

He grabbed her arm as she rose. "Before you go. Can I ask you a question?"

She nodded a little hesitantly; wary of his loaded questions with answers too complicated for mere words.

"Why?" He held her there with the power of his violet eyes. "Why him?"

She sat back down, floored by the question that he had never dared to ask before. They sat there together, throughout the night of the new moon. And as the dusk began to encroach upon the hours of darkness, chasing them away with its rays of light, Kagome answered him with a little bit of the truth – the part that he wanted to hear. It was the only kindness that she could do for him; to say that once upon a time, they had shared an equal love.

"Because he retains everything of what you used to be."

A haunted expression was etched into Inuyasha's features as he watched her progress. His whisper followed Kagome's footsteps with a measure of the truth as he saw it.

"It's because you love him."

Author's Notes:

Ano… twiddles thumbs I have no excuses. . Please don't kill me. ^_~

Now for some explanations… I was experimenting in this fic. Can you tell? I've only done one other angst-type story, and that is a Rurouni Kenshin fanfic and still incomplete (and on the backburner). This one takes place well after the events in Full Circle – I'm talking years down the road.

If the perspective is obscure, that's because it's intended to be that way. The first references to "him" aren't about Sesshoumaru at all, but rather about Inuyasha as a hanyou (i.e., half-demon). It isn't until the very end that Inuyasha and Kagome talk about Sesshoumaru. The entire story is actually just a discussion that an older (and not necessarily wiser) Kagome and Inuyasha have about their relationship after they've long since ceased their adventures.

The times that they say, "I'm sorry," it's supposed to be unclear as to who is speaking because it can be either of them or both of them.

Hmm… I'm not sure if this story works. But heck, it was worth a shot. Please review or email to let me know what you think, ok? ^_^ I don't usually beg for reviews – figure everyone's mature enough that they don't have to be reminded or threatened with bludgeoning *cough* – but in this case it'd be really nice to get input because of the different style.

Ah well. This was one of my takes on the possible consequence of using the jewel. As for the title... notice how they've returned to where they met? You could say that they've come full circle again (^_~): completed a cycle and achieved closure.

Shun'u