Summary: AU. She wanted him to give her what he couldn't, anymore. So instead she settled for less, knowing whose fault it truly was.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha and I make no money from this story.

WARNING: Lil' bit of steam.
Wonder if I should make an epilogue.

Chapter 6 - And when you learn to forgive

"I'm sorry…"

Inuyasha blanched as the doctor blew his nose quite loudly. A lifetime of grim thoughts pierced his mind in that precise moment, his heart clenching violently despite the predictable self-denial. Wild palpitations wreaked havoc on his already fragile mental state, driving him mad with dread. It seemed eerie to him that the strong Kagome he knew – persistent, lively-to-the-point-of-annoying Kagome – could ever be overcome by something utterly silly simply because of a reckless move on her part. He remembered her always there, always keeping him from being impulsive. At a time like this he didn't even allow his thoughts and memories to drift to the pain she'd caused him, the concoction of feelings temporarily ignored; instead, he settled on one that rang loudest in his inner ear, one he had buried six feet under, throwing dirt on it with no original expectation of ever bringing it back to life. Now, however, it resurfaced cheekily, spitting in his face like a cruel lover.

He still loved her.

It was as simple as that, though complicated in itself. She was… he didn't even want to let himself go there – better to just welcome the terrified shivers and relish the fleeting ignorance. He almost wanted to stop the doctor from saying the words, as if not hearing them would turn all this mess into a scam and he'd be able to go back to hating her, or at least to the effort.

"… but she's very weak right now," Suikotsu Sensei continued, ignorant of the relieved shudders passing through Inuyasha's limbs and climbing all the way up his spine to lift the heavy weight from his shoulders and throw it away as if it had been feather-light. "She's going to have to be transferred to the ICU and be taken care of intensively, but the worst part is overcome. She's… lost a lot of blood, but she's fortunately stable now. If you have any questions, the doctors inside will be available for answers in a little while."

"Thank God," Inuyasha exhaled in sheer relief, realizing with strange detachment that it wasn't only her life that had been hanging by a thread, but his, as well. For just a brief moment he'd had half a mind to join her if she passed.

"Can I see her?"

"Not right now," the doctor explained, "but you will, soon."

"All right," Inuyasha nodded. "Good. Great."

Miroku had been in the room for a total of twenty minutes and in that whole span Inuyasha hadn't moved a bone. Not a wink. Kikyou looked as normal as she had when he'd first entered the hospital room. In fact, now it was almost as if Inuyasha was the ill one – he looked sicklier than she did.

Sango entered quietly, noticing her husband watch their friend look right through Kikyou with a mixture of resigned curiosity and annoyance.

"What happened?" she asked Miroku, hoping to distract him for just a while, because it seemed he was about to say something not quite entertaining if Inuyasha didn't snap out of his trance soon.

"Kagome happened," he explained simply, his lips pursing in remembrance of exactly how he'd found out about Inuyasha's… plight.


Sango was all too familiar with the story behind the twosome and was honestly surprised to hear Kagome's name being mentioned anywhere near Kikyou. She'd thought Inuyasha's business with her had seen closure. "What about Kagome?"

In that moment Inuyasha showed the first sign of existing. "Mind your own business, monk," he urged in a harsh tone.

Ignoring him, Miroku started explaining everything like he had no care in the world.

"Guess who donated the kidney," he challenged and his wife's eyes widened.

"No way!"

Nodding, he continued, "and guess who almost died today."

Instinctively casting worried eyes to the bed, Sango replied, "Kikyou?"

"Wrong. Kagome. None other than Kagome."

Inuyasha growled in a wholly uncharacteristic manner, sending his friend a murderous look, but he said nothing more before redirecting his devoted attention to Kikyou's soundly sleeping face.

"She's fairly okay now," Miroku further explained to his wife, "but they won't let him see her just yet. Hence the zoning out thing. As if he couldn't do it in front of the ICU."

"I'm right here," Inuyasha muttered in annoyance. "Can still hear you, ya know?"

"Yeah, well you should stop moping. It's not your emotional default – that would be grouching – so there's no reason for you to be doing it. Knock it off and go ahead and choose for a change," the ever helpful friend nicely encouraged.

Inuyasha made a face, feigning indifference laced with underlying irritation at being well read. "What makes you think I'd even consider being with Kagome again?"

What went on next was as predictable as Inuyasha's familiar mood swings. In the blink of an eye Miroku snapped, his restraint flushing down the toilet just like that. "Oh, right," he mocked, "Riiight. Cause you don't still love her. Cause what she did for you doesn't matter. Not worthy of your attention, right? Still hasn't earned your respect, huh? Cause she's sooo much worse than Kikyou, who you know wouldn't do something like this for a woman you cared about. Tell me, Inuyasha, to what lengths does a woman have to go to finally make you see that she cares?" To be precise, he twisted the knife in the bleeding wound even further, completely ignoring Inuyasha's deeply upset face. "Does she have to cut her wrists? Bleed to death? Or what? Does she have to be miserable all her life? Do you get to punish her by throwing Kikyou in her face all the damn time? What does she have to do? Die?"

It happened like lightning. One moment Inuyasha was there, right next to Kikyou, simmering in his suppressed anger, and the next he had Miroku by the throat, snarling at him like a raging dog.

"Shut up," he hissed, but even then Miroku didn't back down.

"Or what?" he taunted, "you gonna kill her yourself?"

A guttural, uncharacteristic growl pierced the tense atmosphere in the room. The hold tightened and there was a sharp intake of air, but no words were issued. Sango didn't dare say anything.

"Shut up, shut the fuck up." More frowning, more sizzling nerves. The button just right there within easy reach, itching to be pushed.

"I won't," Miroku squirmed, trying to slap Inuyasha's hand away, but the grip was pretty potent and he couldn't risk getting choked.

"I swear to God, Miroku, if you don't shut the hell up…"

The threat lingered as the grip tightened and Miroku coughed a bit, surprising his friend. He saw this as an opportunity to push Inuyasha off him, which he did. Sango had to move fast. Before Inuyasha could lash onto her husband's neck once again, she placed herself between them, protecting what was hers.

"Inuyasha, Miroku, stop it, for God's sake. You're acting like morons."

Frowning menacingly, Inuyasha ordered her to get out of the way.

"I mean it, Sango. I'll kill the bastard."

"What for?" she challenged, looking him right in the eyes in a way that made him feel increasingly uncomfortable. As if he was supposed to somehow feel ashamed. "For telling the truth? For making you see what is lying right under your nose? My God, Inuyasha, you truly are an idiot."

"Woman, if you know what's best for you-"

"Look," she said with a sigh. "Kagome almost died, okay? How can you be so fine with that? I get it that you hate her, I get it that she hurt you like hell, but dammit Inuyasha, wounds heal, all right? Especially after what she did for you. Look behind you, take a look at Kikyou. She's lying there all healed and dandy only because of Kagome, okay?"

Inuyasha's gaze dropped to the floor, his hands closed in tight fists at his side.

Miroku's sigh echoed in the whole room.

"Sorry, man, I took it too far. But I wanted to make you see the obvious. I wanted to show you that that woman really loves you. And I think you still love her, too. I've seen how you look at Kikyou and it's not it. You might think you love Kikyou, man, but it's not the same way you used to look at Kagome."

Miroku felt a hand on his shoulder from his wife that was now behind him.

"I'm not saying you marry Kagome, but at least... just stop hating her. She loves you, she really does. If risking her life for the life of the woman you love doesn't make you see that, I don't know what will."

"Fuck," Inuyasha whispered through gritted teeth. "I know. I know all that shit. I know she loves me, I get what she did for me, I know she almost died because of me, for me." Surprising the two onlookers, Inuyasha raised bloodshot eyes at them, his voice shaking, "Don't you think I know all that?"

"My God," Sango whispered at the same time Miroku managed to mumble a staggered "Holy shit…"

"Get out," Inuyasha ordered, turning his back on them as if having decided they'd seen enough of his vulnerability for one day. His weakness was not an issue to be discussed in Kikyou's hospital room. "I want be alone," he added, knowing that would shut them up for a change. Wordlessly, they left the room, leaving him to his thoughts.

Miroku was right. Every word, every comma. Sango was, too, but even if recent actions weighed heavily, he still could erase the past from his mind. It was still there, still deeply engraved. The image of Kagome's legs spread open on their couch with another man between them still lit his nerves afire. He knew that people made mistakes, that human nature worked that way, but sometimes it was just so hard to move on. Kagome's atonement spoke volumes, though. She'd reduced herself to a nobody for him, had misplaced her dignity for his pleasure, had put her life on the line for his mere comfort, his happiness. She clearly loved him to death, and did it matter that he loved her, too? More than Kikyou, more than any other person in the world, he still adored her to bits.

The room was small and there were no flowers or candies or cards or teddy bears, but honestly, what did she expect? When Kagome opened her eyes, she expected to be met by silence and not by the most amazing irises she'd even known.

"Inuyasha," she breathed out, her voice sounding strangely not hers – scratchy in a way that disturbed her hearing.

"How are you feeling?" he asked cautiously, fetching her a glass of water as if reading her needs, making it hard for her to decipher whether there was any worry in his tone. It was childish of her to even wish for it.

"I'm just… fine. How's Kikyou?" she inquired, oblivious to his sudden tension.

"She's great, thanks to you."

"I'm glad," she said in a small voice, looking as if she meant every syllable.

"I know."

He glanced out the window for a while, his mind clearly elsewhere. With Kikyou, she supposed. He was sitting down right next to her bed but it felt as though he was miles away and Kagome wished he'd leave her alone. She wanted him out of her life; she wanted to have some space, to have the air free of his heady, masculine scent that seemed to be haunting her. In a nutshell, she needed time to heal, and not only physically. If she had to, she would admit that it stung like a bitch, but she pushed the pain away to deal with later.

"Look, I think we should talk," he suggested unexpectedly and she decided to let him do his thing. It seemed as though he'd prepared this speech for a long time and maybe it was time they told each other what they felt. Things had to get clear between them or she'd be crazy.

"It's my fault," he said. "This… thing. It got out of hand. It shouldn't have come to this. That first night when you came? I shouldn't have let you in back then. I knew you loved me and that's why I decided to hurt you, even if it was a double-edged sword."

"Oh my God," she said with a defensive laugh meant to sound indifferent, unconsciously looking anywhere but at him. He noticed this and cringed. "Great, really. It's good to know that… I've been making a fool of myself all this time, huh?" she commented, clearly offended.

"It's not like that, Kagome; look-"

"Go, okay?" she begged, too defeated to sound firm. "Please. I can't deal with this right now – I've just got up. Go, yeah?"

"All right," he conceded, getting up. "Fine, I-"

"I know what you're going to say to me," she interrupted. "Don't."

He nodded, knowing she probably didn't have a clue that he'd intended to let her know he'd think about forgiving her for the past.

He just didn't know what to do anymore.

Three weeks passed and Kagome was worse than she'd envisioned. Not even the fabulous backrub from her top girlfriend, Jakotsu, could improve her pathetic mood.

Inuyasha was surely married by now. For all she knew, he could be sipping a dry Martini – his favorite drink – next to his wife in Bahamas or making love to her on a wide beach under the hot sun.

Groaning in misery, Kagome downed another vodka shot. This particular brand scorched her throat deliciously, just enough to inflict a sensual sting. Tears wouldn't leak out because she'd learned how to rein them. Even so, it seemed as though Jakotsu could feel her misery as he shook his head.

"Stop judging me," she groaned, burying her face in a firm pillow. On second thought, she had the assistant pour her another shot and downed it in a frighteningly quick gulp.

"Take it easy, love. You might hurt yourself," the gay massage artist advised.

"I'm one kidney short, Jak, not a cripple or a baby," she complained, going for another shot of the wonderfully burning liquid.

"Stop calling me Jak. It makes me feel so manly," he said with a disgusted shudder.

"Right," Kagome giggled, enjoying the wonders of a talented hand.

"Listen, love, are you sure you don't wanna call Sango yet?" Her shoulders tensed under his magical fingers. "I take that as a no," he answered himself.

"Remind me why I told you what happened again," Kagome muttered groggily.

"Because you – oh, hold on."

The comfortable warmth of the fingers was gone, but Kagome had neither the energy, nor the lucidity to argue the loss.

"Speaking," Jakotsu answered the phone. "Really? Oh. Wow, then… Absolutely. Totally fab. A friend of a what? Oh, right. I'll make sure it goes that way then. Ta."

"Who was that?" Kagome asked, pleased that the talented hands were back to working out the kinks in her back. There was so much tension there…

"Just a friend who told me Takahashi is still a bachelor," Jakotsu commented casually, pretending not to notice the way Kagome's muscles contracted out of sheer surprise.


"He's not marrying Kikyou at all, this friend tells me."

"He isn't?"

Kagome got up, suddenly looking drastically more sober. She tried to ignore the wild hammering of her heart and the annoying humming in her ears, but it was an impossible feat to pull. "He really isn't? Why?"

"Because he doesn't love her."

"He doesn't?"

"Baby girl, if I say he doesn't, then he doesn't."

In a flash there was nothing on the massage table that Jakotsu could work with. Kagome was gone just like that.

Miroku had said this would work. He'd guaranteed. Truthfully, Inuyasha hadn't heard from her in two weeks – since she'd mysteriously disappeared – and frankly he couldn't wait to see her. He understood why she'd left so unexpectedly; everything was probably hard on her – but ultimately it had been a poor decision on her part. Lately, it seemed that everything they did was brash and reckless.

Inuyasha was ready to forgive and forget. It was finally time to draw a line and admit that he could not be himself without Higurashi Kagome. He simply needed her to function as she was his better half, even with all of her shortcomings, because he knew her inside-out. It was how he was convinced she'd fight for what had once belonged to her. If she won this last fight, he'd finally give her the victory over the war.

"So what do you call that stunt you pulled earlier?" Miroku asked, sounding more ticked off than anything else. It was Inuyasha's fault he was going to be deprived of amazing sex with his wife for a week, not his.

"I call that checkmating your ass to the next galaxy and back. Unless, of course, there's a better way of wording it, which I doubt," Inuyasha joked, trying to distract himself from thinking of sex… with Kagome… naked on a beach, riding him – or perhaps a dry Martini, an olive and a teasing tongue wrapping around it, perhaps some sexy lines leading to raw sex on the hot sand. Gulping audibly, Inuyasha focused on the task of further humiliating his friend. It was Miroku's fault his mind had taken such a lecherous path after all. Now that there was no Kikyou to stand between them – he'd broken up with her a while after her recovery – he found it a hell of a lot easier to let his mind wander to dangerous territories that included dirty bed sheets and naked bodies writhing between them.

Somehow Kagome knew he was waiting. She was out of witty lines this time, had no energy to conjure any, but hoped her passion would make up for it.

204. She was here once again – she couldn't believe she was here. Nervousness struck her subtly, but she remembered what Jakotsu had repeatedly told her: "Go get your man, baby girl. Grab him and kiss him then fuck him, and then never let him go, fab?"

Got it. Kagome knocked once, twice, just like she used to. With record speed, Inuyasha opened the door, his smile dazzling and hers the same. He invited her in wordlessly, offered her something to drink, and generally simply watched her until the patience inside him snapped like a dry twig.

He reached out and pulled her against his chest, pressing his lips against her puffy ones like there was no tomorrow.

"No words, okay?" he told her before the meshing of lips and battle of tongues.

"We wouldn't want to ruin this," she whispered against his mouth breathlessly, step by step regaining all traces of lost self-confidence. It was not a process of reacquainting, but one of discovery. He discovered beauty in her actions, elegance in the way she touched his chest, his abs, trailing a blazing path downward to his crotch. Inhaling sharply, he felt her hand on his hardness, wondered at the strangely new feeling. The scent of her seeped into his bloodstream so swiftly that he got confused whether this was his ecstasy or hers. A cacophony of moans and groans intruded on his silence as his fingers thrust in and out of her. Kagome was beautiful as she thrashed around, naked like she was, arching her back in an animalistic fashion that awakened every beastly instinct inside him. His tongue licked, his teeth nipped gently, he nibbled. He groaned and thrust, the feel of her so tight, so fresh, so unbelievably hot. He changed angles and she went crazy, her toes curling, hands shaking. Without meaning to, she unleashed the rivers of desire that she'd kept locked inside.

Gravity was defied with instinctive positions as he took her in every way that he knew how. He wanted every fiber of her to feel that she belonged to him.

This time, though, he belonged to her, as well.

It was so far into their past that it was almost foreign now, but Kagome could remember a time when his eyes had held nothing but cold, sadistic hatred for her, as if Pandora's box had been opened because of her. Sometimes she still shed tears for those days, recounting all the pain, all the mistakes. It still hurt, but she was over it. There was no doubt that sometimes he still thought about the ways she'd hurt him, but hate was a side of love that she didn't want to let go of just yet. It was exactly what made her treasure what she now had, what was solely hers.

He was her first and was going to be her last, and Kagome knew that this time around she wouldn't change it for the world.

Holding up the stick, she sighed. Negative again. A figure appeared behind her, kissing her neck sensually enough to light a spark of desire inside her core.

"So? Are we going to have a baby?"

"Not yet," Kagome answered as she turned into her husband's embrace, holding his gaze seriously.

"Well, we'll keep trying then," he decided with a smirk. "Trying is fun." His wink and seductive grin sent tingles all the way up to her nape even before he picked her up to take her to bed without having sleep on their list of activities to do.

"Seriously now, Inuyasha – I might not get pregnant at all," she warned, her back arching off the sheets as his skilled tongue teased her relentlessly. Nonchalantly, he lifted his glistening face from between her legs, shrugging.

"Then we'll adopt. Stop worrying, woman, and enjoy this."

And she did, right when he made her scream again.