Many thanks to Incomprehensible, hedanicree, and enlightened-heart-ai for serving as my betas.
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha; all rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi. Title was borrowed from Avril Lavigne's song 'Forgotten,' which played a partial role in formulating ideas. Most of the story plot itself is formulated from the movie 'The Forgotten', with my own personal twist.
Chapter 1: Therapeutic Answers
It was an annoying sound: the creaking of the chains as they swung back and forth, groaning from disuse. At the same time, it soothed the woman's troubled soul; her brown eyes stared across the vast gray of the approaching winter as shriveled leaves dropped softly from their branches to the ground below. The grass had become cold and unwelcoming, much like the sky above. She could not recall the last time she felt sunshine warm her face or heard the flutter of a bird's wings as it flew by.
Slowly, her gaze moved from the palms of her hands and toward the old playground stretching out in front of her. Even as the paint continued to peel from the well-worn structure, the laughter of children filled the air. A sad smile touched her lips as a memory of a little girl came to mind. Her eyes stung with tears, but she could not cry. Ebony hair touched her face with the cool breeze, and she wrapped her arms tighter around her body, relishing in the warm fabric of her coat.
She pressed her head against the chains of the swing, lazily allowing her eyes to wander the remainder of the park. She watched as happy parents welcomed their sons and daughters into the warmth of their embrace. Her hand came to rest above her chest, a throb of pain coming from her heart. A frown marred her lips as her eyes darted around. Suddenly, the smiles seemed to be suffocating, and she found the outdoors too tight. Childish laughter rang in her ears, even as day turned to night and she was left alone.
The swing continued to creak.
Rain battered against the window pane. Her eyes were drawn to the streets below, watching as people with umbrellas quickly made their way through the storm. The yellow hue of taxi cabs seemed odd in the otherwise gloom of the city. She absently wondered who chose to paint the cars such a bright color.
A sigh escaped her lips as she turned her gaze to the small room she occupied. It seemed like a prison, with two small windows and pale colors. The storm sent an array of patterns across the wall, creating various shades of gray. Her lips twitched slightly with a smile. It was the first beautiful thing she had seen in a long time. It wasn't often she allowed herself to steal a glimpse at the simple pleasures in life.
The masculine voice brought her out of her musings. She looked at the man seated across from her, suddenly all too aware of his presence. He had a decent build and hair black as night, tied in a small ponytail at the nape of his neck. A pair of glasses sat upon the bridge of his nose andhis violet eyes peered at her intently. She must have zoned out again during their session. It happened often.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
He crossed one leg over the other and sat his notepad on his lap. "How much time did you spend at the dresser compared to last week?"
A familiar faraway look came to her eyes. "Less," she replied quietly.
"How much less?"
A bouquet of pressed daisies, the petals rough beneath her fingertips as she gently sat them down. She always loved flowers.
She shook her head slightly. "I don't know."
"Can you make an estimate?" He took a sip of his coffee, patiently awaiting her response.
"Oh, not even an hour a day."
She had been so much smaller than the other children. Her hair color resembled that of her mother's and her eyes held the warmth of sunshine. Kagome watched the television as a little girl ran around, grinning as she played. A smile touched her lips.
"How long has it been since your loss?" the doctor asked. It was the same question he asked every day.
She looked at him, letting loose a humorless chuckle. "You're hoping I guess again."
"How long?" he repeated, ignoring the barb.
Her eyes found her hands. "Fourteen months. Six days. I can tell you what time it was down to the hour and minute if you want." She peered up at him with glazed eyes and a sad smile. "I can't help it."
He nodded slightly. "It's all right. Just a memory doing its job."
"Eleven Die in Air Tragedy," the newspaper's headline read. There was no escaping the cold truth. Her daughter smiled back at her in the black and white print, wearing a single flower in her hair.
"Sesshomaru says I have a death grip on the past," she mumbled after a moment of silence.
"How are you getting along?" He scribbled something down in his notes before peering at her over the rim of his glasses. "Did you fight at all this week?"
Kagome quirked her head, smiling at him mockingly. "Sesshomaru doesn't fight, he negotiates."
"Are you comfortable physically?" he interjected, shifting in his chair. "How's the sex?"
She wrapped an arm tightly around her torso as she tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "How would you feel if I asked you that question?" she replied uncomfortably, sighing. "How's sex with Mrs. Houshi? Would you answer?"
A humorous smile touched his lips. "If I had a wife, yes, but I'd have to charge you more."
Kagome grinned at his comment. Glancing over at the table beside her, she was surprised to find an unused coaster sitting there. Her brows furrowed with confusion as she touched it, half-expecting it to be an illusion. When nothing happened, she turned around and looked at the window ledge, moving her hair away from her face.
Dr. Houshi watched her movements intently. "What's wrong?"
She placed her hand on the coaster once more. "I had my coffee." Her eyes found his.
"No," he replied slowly. "Not today."
"I just had some," she insisted.
"I offered, but you said no this time. Last time you had a cup." She could only stare at him with disbelief as he set his notepad to the side, giving her his full attention. "Memory slips."
"I didn't forget," she said, shaking her head. "I can still taste the coffee."
"You smell my coffee," he stated, pointedly raising his cup. "And you manufactured a memory, a taste. That's all." He slowly took a small sip. "You do hang on hard."
The words coming out of her therapist's mouth made no sense. It was all she could do to convince herself he was a liar. She moved her tongue inside her mouth, feeling the faint burn as she swallowed. It had been a small cup of coffee, two sugars with a hint of vanilla. There was no mistaking the rich taste. So why was he telling her different?
He set his cup back down and readjusted his glasses, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. "Sometimes the mind needs help in letting things go."
Kagome narrowed her eyes into slits, contemplating the man sitting across from her accusingly. "You expect me to let go of my daughter?" she enunciated, catching on to the implied meaning behind his words.
A small part of her knew she was being difficult, but the larger part of her refused to be swayed. Her patience was tried every time she set foot in the man's apartment. It was him who had trouble seeing things the way they should be. She could see a grim line forming on his lips and a deep sigh escaped the doctor's lips as he paused.
"Kagome, do you perhaps think you amplify some memories of Rin? Add to them?"
Her head shook slightly. "No," she replied quietly. "Why would I?"
"I don't know. You tell me," the doctor said calmly, seeming to scrutinize her.
Kagome hesitated, unsure exactly what Dr. Houshi wanted her to say. He scribbled something down on his clipboard one-handedly, probably noting about her reluctance to answer his odd questions.
Silence filled the room, the clock in the corner quietly ticking as it wound down the hour and the end of their session. The rain continued to pound against the windows as Dr. Houshi sighed and stood, finishing whatever it was he wrote on the annoyingly ever-present clipboard, and swinging his arm toward the door. "Our time is up for today, Kagome. I'll see you later this week."
She merely nodded and followed his lead, walking through the remainder of his apartment before parting ways with him by the elevator. It was four floors down to the ground level, but every day she took the stairs. That way, she was able to determine how fast she walked, which direction she'd take and who was beside her. She was in control.
Kagome nodded at a passerby with a smile before clutching her purse tighter around her shoulder. She bowed her head as she stepped out onto the bustling sidewalk, allowing the rain to dampen her hair, before quickly striding across the street. Standing in the middle of the road, she glanced around fervently for her car, her eyes swinging up and down the crowded street. She could have sworn she had parked it right in front of Dr. Houshi's apartment complex.
"Do you need help?" a foreboding voice called from a nearby car.
She glanced over to see a man with dark hair and unusual burgundy. "I parked my car here," she said, digging her keys out of her purse and standing near his window. "Just an hour ago."
He nodded with concern. "What kind of car is it?"
"A red Volvo." His eyes glanced behind him to the opposite side of the street. He pointed to a car that matched her description. She sighed with relief. "Thanks."
His lips twitched into a smile, and a shiver ran down her spine. "I forget all the time." She nodded slowly, suddenly feeling self-conscious under his gaze. With a final glance, she began walking toward her car. Her heels clicked heavily on the pavement as she hastened her stride, fighting the urge to look back over her shoulder at the man.
The ride home only took ten minutes, but it was enough time for her to mull over their session that day. Although she had forgotten things before – like times for appointments or where she left her keys – she hadn't been mistaken about the coffee.
Even now, she could still taste it when she licked her lips. Was the doctor right? Had her memory slipped so far that she was making up things or producing false memories? Kagome shook her head, not wanting to drown in such things, instead deciding to ask about it in their next session.
Ayumi, a long-time friend and next door neighbor, was just locking her door as Kagome drove up in front of the building. Parking on the curb, she climbed out of her car and met the dark-haired woman half way.
"Hey, Ayumi," she greeted cheerfully, smiling brightly at the robust female and leaning in for a hug.
"Oh, Kagome! How've you been? I haven't seen you in a while."
"I know," Kagome lamented, rubbing the back of her neck and smiling sheepishly. "I've just been really busy."
"Don't be silly," Ayumi cut in, waving the explanation away, "I didn't mean it that way; we just haven't hung out in a while. I've gotta go now, but give me a call some time and we'll get lunch or something."
"Sure," she replied easily, moving out of the way and watching as Ayumi unlocked and slid into her car. "Catch you later."
It was strange to talk to her old friend after such a long time – they hadn't spoken since right after the accident. After the time for consoling had passed, a rift had begun to form between her and the rest of the world. The time had come, she decided silently, to allow life to continue forward; no matter how painful it would be. It was for the best; that much she knew.
With a smile, Kagome hurried up the porch steps and into her home, closing the door behind her.
The phone began ringing upon her arrival, and she rushed to catch it, listening to the sound as she searched for the missing appliance. On the fourth ring, she managed to find the phone buried beneath the couch pillows.
"Hello?" she answered while setting down her bag.
"Good afternoon, Kagome," a cold voice spoke over the receiver. "What are you doing?"
She took off her coat and laid it across the back of the couch. "Oh, I just got back from my appointment with Miroku."
"Perhaps you would feel up to going out tonight?" he spoke. The bustle of city traffic could be heard in the background.
Kagome bit her lip. "I don't know," she replied slowly, unsure of venturing out. "I think I'd rather stay home. Sorry."
"I suppose that's all right." His voice sounded like it had been squeezed out of his chest, contradicting his words, and Kagome knew he was disappointed. Although the change in his voice was slight, knowing him the way she did, she was able to pick up on the difference.
"I'll cook something fancy," she said with a smile in hopes of making up for it.
He paused, thinking it over. "No," he replied, his voice stern. "It's too much for you to handle."
"I want to," she persisted immediately, rolling her eyes even though she knew he couldn't see it. She stared longingly at the picture on the small side table that usually accommodated the phone's charger as she sat down and absently kicked off her shoes. She traced the three people in the picture – Herself with a happy glow and huge smile; her daughter, alight with laughter; and even her husband with a tiny, nearly imperceptible smile on his face – with her eyes as she made up her mind.
"Sesshomaru, I want to, okay?"
She could hear his exasperated huff on the other end before he admitted defeat. "Do as you please." The dial tone greeted her immediately after his compliance, and she knew he had hung up. He never was one for goodbyes, though, and that suited her just fine.
Glancing to the photograph one last time, she placed the phone in its cradle. With a heavy sigh, she proceeded to put her things away and make her way to the kitchen. Perhaps she could try her hand at something she'd all but deemed out of the question; once her daughter's favorite.
"Life must continue on," she reminded herself as she padded down the hallway. If she could do this small thing, then maybe she could make herself believe that as well.
Kagome smiled. "Maybe."