Disclaimer: Inuyasha is owned by Rumiko Takahashi. I am not profiting from this fanfiction.
Inuyasha was the impatient type. He knew this, of course; he'd always had a short fuse, even as a child. After his mother died, however, his self-control nearly evaporated. It was the most he could do, most of the time, to simply pace himself. Why he acted this way was a mystery to him as well -- perhaps he was trying to hurry himself towards his death, even as he fought against it. Maybe he hated everything about his life, and though he kept on trying to live, he wanted nothing more than for it to end.
So far, his life had been one long day, without so much as a hint of sunset. He imagined it was the same with every hanyou and rejected human and despised demon.
The question in his mind, for the majority of his adult life, had been why. Why did he keep fighting to live? What was so bad about death? These thoughts, luckily, did nothing more than confuse him. He lived on, planning no more than a day in advance, one breath at a time.
And then there was Kagome. Not only had she managed to wriggle her way into his heart and take the place Kikyo once occupied (and, yes, taking up a yet larger space), but she gave him something he'd never had before: patience. When she was around, he was calm, in control, tolerant and understanding. She brought up questions and answers he'd never explored -- and what a wonder that was, she being a mere child against his two hundred years.
But it was true, and inescapable. The only time he ever ran into his usual impatient self was when she were somehow in danger. In those instances, there was no time -- not a second -- to spare to hesitation; she was in danger and he had to get her back now.
This was why, when she went back to her time and could not return, things in his world turned upside-down. He tried, desperately, to cling to that patience she had once supplied him with. Sometimes it worked, other times he lost the battle in its entirety. If nothing else, he regained some semblance of control when around his friends, when within his village.
And it really was his village, now. He was the only hanyou in the small town, but he was also the most capable, the strongest, and by far the least afraid of all the villagers. He protected them, saved them, rescued them, and in turn, he was tolerated, even liked. A few of the young women in the village liked to flirt with him, in their girlish, roundabout ways. He tended to pretend to not understand what they wanted.
. . .Because none of them were anywhere near Kagome. No; Kagome was unique, one in an infinite sea of look-alikes and fearful babes. She was strong, powerful even, capable and smart and, damn it -- why had he never told her how wonderful she smelled? She was lovely, in every sense of the word.
He missed her. Oftentimes he would pine, frown, reminisce, all for her. And the more he pined, the more he understood what it was about her that he missed so.
It was always her eyes. The way she looked at him. He wasn't some half-breed, monstrous being in those eyes. He was Inuyasha. She saw past the white hair and gold eyes and dog-shaped ears and dangerous, sharp claws; she saw the person who wore those attributes, against his will, the person in control of the monster he was.
Though he knew, without doubt, that she would never describe him the way his own mind did. She never had. The only insult she had ever slung at him (granted, she had thrown it a lot) was that he was an insensitive jerk. There was never an inkling in anything she did or said that was pointed at his bloodline. She didn't care for others who did, either; how many times had she defended him, in those situations? Many, his mind answered.
It was as though fate were toying with him. The first time he met her -- yes, he thought she were Kikyo, but at the same time, some part of him told him not to hurt her. It was so quiet, such a subtle suggestion, that he obeyed the command without thought. Sure, he would claim he was only holding himself back for other reasons, but that was hardly the case.
It was luck, he supposed, that he ended up bound to her by the necklace that remained with him even now. If it weren't there, would he have stayed with her? He didn't know, and that alone was the most frightening of the questions he posed to himself.
Time passed and it was as though he were absorbing parts of her. He took on her traits, one by one: things he had never allowed himself to feel, to do, ways he never let himself act. He listened to others more, heard the other side of the story. He held his tongue on insults and threats. He started caring and worrying more. He lent a hand to people who hated and despised him. His world expanded.
And encompassed hers.
Kagome was an enigma he would never unravel, though he would gladly spend eternity trying. She was warm when he was cold, calm when he was out of control, understanding when he didn't want to listen, comforting when he was hurt, strong when he was weak and weak when he needed to be strong. In a word, she was his balance. His world never rocked out of his grasp when she was there.
And again, he was sure fate had a hand in this. He hadn't been meant for Kikyo -- rather, it was the other way around. He wasn't attracted to Kagome because she was like Kikyo, he had been attracted to Kikyo because she was like Kagome. And now Kagome was gone.
For a year, she had been here with him, at his side whenever he looked. When she wasn't, he knew where she was, regardless. And if he didn't know where she was, he was lost; lost and demanding to find her again.
Memories flooded him, silently and sweetly tearing at him. He remembered, more clearly than her scent or eyes or spirit, the way she felt when he held her to him. In one way, he could remember being giddy; would she shove him away, or let him have his fill of her? In another, he was content, sure of himself; no, she wouldn't push him away. When he held her and she let him, without a word, he understood what she had never said.
She loved him.
It was that knowledge that came barreling into him, so long ago, that made him cling to her so tightly. And it was this same knowledge that tore him apart, even as he did what he had to do: let her go. She had her time to return to, and he couldn't be so selfish as to trap her here with him when she had a loving family waiting for her. So he let her go, and in doing so, felt half of him die inside.
The only thing that kept him going was the thought that, somehow, he might be able to see her again -- if he lived for another five centuries. And the only thing that kept him smiling was his friends, happily chatting with him in their loving, futile attempts to keep his spirits up. They knew as well as he did that without Kagome here, he simply wasn't the same.
Then a miracle happened.
He smelled her again, the scent so rich and sweet that, for a moment, he believed his mind was playing tricks on him. It wouldn't have been the first time. Three seconds later, the truth hit him full force, and without a single thought about who was around or what he was doing, he leapt towards the well. She had just straightened after pulling herself out of it when he arrived.
At once, his mind split into two: he wanted to run to her, pick her up, spin her around, hug her and smell her hair and -- yes -- kiss her. And yet, there she was, feeding him patience just by existing. He smiled, strode over to her, and wordlessly pushed her hair back from her face and shoulder. He might as well hold onto his dignity, he supposed; there would be time enough for everything else later.
She was back, and this time, he wasn't going to let her go.