At first it was nothing…

… nothing but simple and innocent infatuation. A mere fascination for the fierce female that had saved him from all his nagging nightmares that kept him locked away within.

The monstrosity that was Naraku no longer his keeper, his pitiless puppet master, because she had changed it—she had taken him from that, from him.

The figure that still found a way to hold his life even when not around…

There was something about her, something sweet yet stern, something beautiful but brutal, something pure and still so tainted.

She was like him, was that what made him worth her efforts? Why she had gone out of her way once she vindicated him from the shikon no tama shard in his shoulder and given him life like no one could her? Perhaps, he'd never know though for he'd never ask.

There would always be fear of the truth within him…

He had nowhere to go, shame kept him from his sister, and she had nowhere to be. He was uncertain at first when he stated to tag along with her on their wordless journeys but she did not protest and he did not ask—did she want him there?

Did she just not care? He could believe that, though they stayed in villages under false pretenses—her a living priestess, him an innocent youth who wished to be a healer—and she could shine still so bright whenever her smile rose up her lips each time children beseeched her attention, each time she tended to a sickly, bleak person and give them hope with just that one gesture.

She could give anything hope, she just didn't have any left for herself…

At first he thought nothing of it, just a smile—a nice one but who cared? It took many sightings to see it for what it was, a fraud. She was as fair as a fake flower—pretty from a distance but the moment you touch you can feel it's not the same.

She wasn't the same; he had felt her skin or, rather, lack thereof. It was like a pot, a cold, smooth pot—no, he couldn't compare it to that. She was more, like a work of an art. She was a statue, created by a god to walk amongst the soiled mortals.

He was so soiled but soil is needed for growth…

One night, they shared a modest hut. She never really slept, he never really knew until one night the terror of his horrid, haunting dreams cast him awake with screams. The images that were forever burned in his blur free mind—memories he wished to whisk away but cursed to keep—tears streamed down his cheeks and he felt such shame.

It was proof; he was still just a boy. A man did not cry, that's what his father always said. What shame he had brought to his family, to his father, after all that had happened would he still have called him a son?

A echoing no always rumbled about his jumbled mind but which really tortured him more? That knowledge or the images of an unclothed monster that constantly grew—claws in his skin a thrust to steal all the innocence he had left. That kept him prison, those memories, did it make him a bad son, a terrible brother, if those—what only affected him—hurt the most?

A yes screamed to him.

That night, something stunning stilled his fear drenched shivers…

The way she looked when her lids were sealed, how still she was, it was like a doll. As quietly as he could he crawled over to her, he held his breath as she did hers—she never breathed—and reached out to touch her cheek. To see how she felt, the moment he did was the moment he discovered she never slept.

Her eyes opened while he was looming above her. Instantly his chestnut gaze locked with her boundless browns.

They never spoke of that night, or how long they lingered like that…

One time, he watched her with the red clothed hanyou. He would like to think she did not know he was hiding so far away but he was never certain of anything that had to do with her, or her powers.

There was something tragic in the way they looked at each other, something real in the pain when she spoke to him. Those were the only times he ever got a glimpse at the true soul locked in her artificial prison. Then there was that pain that pierced right through him when that look appeared on her face as the fool left her to go to someone else, a girl that looked alike yet could never compare.

That look he knew, that look he loved. It was an ache that radiated so deep it burned a hole through one's soul.

He knew it because he had the same problem…

He often felt that hole pry at him, the burn of tears from memories he could not forget, from crimes he could not undo, but he never spoke of them. She never spoke of hers; she rarely gave evidence it ever existed.

But then there was the incident. He was but a curious boy, and one whose fascination had grown to new level.

Perhaps even to dangerous proportions…

She had gone to the river; he had snuck down to get a peek. Yes, he was ashamed but he wanted to see more than that and, really, he was ashamed of so much that it seemed like just another rock upon the bolder that he carried upon his back.

He knew she was not real, if he were to touch her it would not be the same as any other woman, he knew that there was no chance at intimacy with what no longer lived, but when she shed her clothe she looked real in the glimmer of the moon.

It was then that he realized that was her scene, the exact state the god had created her for, bare and beautiful, basking in the moonlight of the night.

She belonged to it more so than the day; he was always in the dark and never the light.

"Kohaku," she spoke just loud enough for him to hear, he jumped more than his heart did. "Come out, Kohaku."

He cast his eyes to ground as he obliged her offer, quickly bowing his head down and begging for her forgiveness.

But she did not give it, because she found nothing wrong.

"It is fine," she whispered and finally he dared to glance up to see her waist deep in the water that was far too cold for anyone alive to enter, her back to him and eyes locked with the moon.

It was only then that he realized how large it was, it seemed she could step up and walk through it. He would not be surprised if she could, he always felt she deserved a place up with the gods.

"Does someone know you?"

"What do you mean?" He replied as his brows bent together.

Her answer hurt more than the hole, "no one has ever really known me. Once I thought someone did, but I was wrong."

There was a singe of sorrow in her tone, one he never heard in less she spoke to that man that always made her show her pain.

"Does someone know you?" She repeated.

It took a moment for him to think, "once someone did, but now she would not."

"No one knows either of us," she murmured.

They both knew the tragedy of that…

Was a flower still beautiful if there was never anyone around to appreciate it?

When she had been alive there never was but now that she was wilted and dead there stood a boy that did, it was just hard in between the nightmares that caused him to lose sleep every night.

She held no delusions; her life had been a tragedy and her death no different but him? Just his life was worth than both for her. She only knew a few heartaches in her life, and only died with the taste of bitter betrayal on her tongue. He knew more and something far worse—guilt.

Guilt was more deadly than a lovers tiff.

"Sh," she had hushed him after one too many nights of pretending she did not hear him cry. At first he was shocked that she had moved over next to him but it did stop the tears. Not the trembles, that took her fake fingers combing through his soft hair. He fell asleep

He fell asleep with a head on her shoulder and knew a night without fear…

Within their silence was something intimate, at least he thought so. He cherished their time, each night she stroked his hair as he fell asleep, each morning he opened his eyes to see her right there. Everyday a good, great, feeling began to override the misery.

And slowly he started to see more smiles, a real one hidden in the bunch every once and awhile.

One that was always directed at him.

It made him feel as if he had found his place up with the gods…

"Are you certain you wish to?" She had asked after his rather peculiar request, but with rose colored cheeks he merely nodded as his eyes locked with the floor. Uncertainty coated her words, "If that is what you want…"

It was—more so than anything he had ever desired. It took courage to cast his chestnuts back up at her and lean to press his lips to hers.

It wasn't like kissing a real woman, he knew. She was not warm, her mouth was not wet, and her lips were not stiff but so smooth. It was divine all the same.

He did not think she loved him, not like he did her but there was something about him that made her give into his strange requests when he rarely made them and that was enough. There was some sort of affection. That was more than he most likely deserved.

Him, a filthy mortal.

Then everything that was worth something became nothing…

There are no words for what he felt in witnessing her fade away from the world. The damned place he was stuck in.

Worse… she faded away in his arms, in the red robed hanyou that hurt her more than the monstrosity that had killed her ever could.

She had brought him back to life; she had freed him from his fears, from the hold that halted his life, from so much only to leave him…?

But he would go on, he lived only to see another die.

The tears his sister shed when they were brought back together, once the devil that had destroyed everything was finally dead, were touching but could not fill the hole that had only spread to new depths.

Spread so deep there was doubt that he had a soul left to take…

He stayed, he still felt a responsibility to her but none to the red robed hanyou he refused to look at, to speak to, to learn the name of even. He watched her wed a man that would take care of her, he waited until there was news that she would soon have her own family then he told her a lie, "I'm going to return to slaying, sister."

And she smiled, cheerfully, "take Kirara with you, and be careful."

He was going to slay something, just not what she had hoped. The pain that suffocated him, the pain that was so deep he felt numb whenever awake, had to go.

And what could cure it?

The sweet salvation only death could bring. He wasn't supposed to be alive anymore.

All that was left to live for was long gone, but not forgotten, not by him. By the red robed hanyou that waited by the well for another perhaps, but never by him. She could never know devotion like he held, the other could never understand her like he did.

Their pain was akin, their lives doomed from the start, and the looming loneliness.

No one knew him.

Once someone had, a celestial being trapped in a living statue had known him.

Once he knew what it meant to feel accepted, for all his flaws, for all his virtues.

And once was enough.

He knelt upon a hill with white flowers in the dark, all he ever really knew, and stared up at the moon that was blindly in both size and shimmer.

It reminded him on that night… a tear trickled down his cheek as he took a breath in and held the knife in both hands in front of him.

He had no regrets of what he was to do; his list of sins was already unforgiving in length…

He shut his eyes and felt a strange warmth brush his cheek as he thrust the knife in.

Burdened blood bathed the white flowers, drowning them in a way no rain could purge them from.

As he fell to the ground he opened his eyes perhaps he was delusional in his final moments but he was certain he saw her smile in the moon and felt the warmth she should have possessed around him as his slipped away.

The red robed hanyou might have held her in his last moments, but she found a way to come to him in his.

In the death, two tragic souls joined together in a way they never could have in life.

Written for prompt flower at community . livejournal . com / inuyasha_et_al . If you like alternative/rare-canon couples go there, join, read wonderful fanfics, and participate.

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