My Heart Chapter Thirty-Four
These Are My Heart Songs
Miroku sat across from Inuyasha; freshly brewed coffee steamed between them on the aptly named coffee table. Inuyasha was holding a damp rag against his nose, which had stopped bleeding long ago, but the coolness felt nice against his skin. The rag was adorned with variously shaped blood spatters that could have been Rorschach's inkblots:
a tribute to Sango's excellent right hook. Inuyasha glanced toward Miroku, who was relaxed against the back of the couch, looking at him with a quiet, dark look that seemed to say: sorry my pregnant wife punched you in the face, but you rather brought it upon yourself, don't you think?
Inuyasha sighed deeply. "I didn't mean to call her fat. I didn't mean it like that," he grumbled morosely, not sure if he should feel acutely embarrassed a woman had knocked him on his ass, or if he should just feel lucky Sango hadn't caught him while he was down and curb stomped his face in. She had left the room to change into warmer clothes, but he could still feel the heat of her anger even in the next room.
"I'm sure," Miroku said quite agreeably. "For future reference, the correct response would be congratulations, you look lovely! And then if at all possible, offer her chocolate. Chocolate seems to appease the beast within. Of course, in your case, she may have punched you anyway."
Inuyasha's ears perked and he took the bloodied rag away from his face. "Why?"
Miroku shot him a flat look. In that moment, Inuyasha could see behind the mild-mannered veneer Miroku had in place. Behind the polite banter and the docile temper, he could see the anger, like embers of a banked fire, flickering behind Miroku's gaze.
"You've been gone for a while. No one has seen or heard from you in months. We've all been worried about you, but you didn't even have the decency to give us a call, an email - nothing. You could have been dead for all we knew, and then you just show up on our doorstep at three in the morning and call my wife fat. You're lucky Sango got to you first."
Inuyasha had never seen Miroku genuinely angry before. He wasn't yelling, but there was something in his tone, a cold reproach that had never been there before. Even the way his dark blue eyes shone in the half light told Inuyasha how pissed off Miroku was. Guilt made his limbs feel heavy. Miroku and Sango had always been there for him. He hadn't realized until now how much he had taken their friendship for granted.
Ears drooping, gaze lowering, shoulders slumping forward, Inuyasha looked the perfect image of repentant. Miroku almost missed the quiet "I'm sorry" the hanyou uttered. Miroku felt his eyebrows raise towards his hairline. He had never heard Inuyasha apologize for anything, to anyone, for as long as he'd known him. Sango chose that moment to stomp back into the room. "You should be sorry. I can't believe how selfish you are. Did you ever take a moment to think about what your little disappearing act would do to us? To Kagome?"
Inuyasha winced, hardly daring to meet Sango's blazing eyes. "Yeah, remember Kagome? The girl you cheated on your fiancé with because you were supposedly frickin' soul mates, or something? I just don't understand you. You broke that girl's heart, and for what?"
"Sango…" Miroku started to warn, but Sango glared him into silence. She was on a roll.
"No, he needs to hear this." She turned her furious glare back to Inuyasha, who was sitting motionless on the couch, eyes wide, face pale.
"You didn't just break her heart; you shattered it. She is devastated. Kagome was the only person I knew who believed in fairy-tales, and happy endings, and fate, and all that crap. She is the happiest, kindest, most giving person I know, and you broke her. You made her doubt you ever actually cared about her at all. Do you want to know the worst part? She still can't get over you. There is still a part of her that will not give up on you, even though you don't deserve that kind of faith."
Sango paused to take a breath, but then caught sight of Inuyasha's face. He looked like a man being impaled. The gut-wrenching agony in his eyes was enough to douse the heat of her anger, hormonal or not. Despite how angry she was with him, he was still her friend, and she still cared about him. Beneath the layer of fury over his behavior, there was a layer of relief that he was back and relatively unscathed.
"Oh, Inuyasha." Sango sighed and sank down on the couch beside her husband. "You're an idiot, but I am happy to see that you're alright.."
Miroku set down his mug of coffee and patted his wife's knee, accustomed to her mood swings. "We're both happy to see that you're alive and well. Out of curiosity, why did you come back now?"
Inuyasha picked up his own mug, more to do something with his hands then out of actual thirst. The warmth was comforting as he searched for words. His original plan had been to find out where Kagome was. He'd first checked the University, then had come to his old home, but he'd known upon arrival that Kagome wasn't there. He'd intended to find her…and then what? Beg for her forgiveness, try to explain himself, and spirit her away so they could live happily-ever-after? That plan, which had felt half-baked since fruition, seemed utterly futile to him now, especially after seeing Miroku and Sango's reactions. His need to see her was simple; all consuming. He just wanted to see her, if only one more time.
"I don't know," Inuyasha answered, his voice desolate. "I wanted to find Kagome. Where is she?"
Sango and Miroku exchanged quick glances before answering. "She's at home with her family. At the shrine," Miroku allowed.
"What are you going to do once you find her?" Sango demanded.
"Tell her I'm sorry. Tell her…goodbye." He quickly decided. He had virtually unlimited funds. He could go anywhere in the world, vanish from Kagome's life forever. Never trouble her again. Let her be happy and free of him. Kagome deserved so much better. He firmly resolved to leave Kagome Higurashi alone. All this time away had been like a detox. He'd been slowly weaning himself off of her like a drug.
She was almost out of his system. He had been spending all of his time trying to convince himself he no longer needed her. That he was much better off by himself, sheltered away from those he loved, his existence unable to poison the lives of his friends. In the long run everyone would be better off without him. Kagome would be happier without him to disrupt her life. It felt like time for a relapse, but maybe that would be the worst thing. Seeing her would make it harder for him to leave. It wasn't fair to Kagome and it would just about kill him to leave her a second time.
Sango sighed, as if sensing his thoughts. "Look, if you want to disappear again, I can't stop you. But if you do, don't see Kagome. It'll just hurt her and ruin all the progress she's made so far. If you leave, just leave."
Inuyasha nodded slowly, his amber eyes dull. "You're right. It's too late after all. I'm sorry for barging in like this." Inuyasha stood and gave a shallow, formal bow. "I guess this will be goodbye for a while. Sango, Miroku…congratulations. I'm really happy for you."
"Thank you, Inuyasha," Sango said quietly, looking up at him with a piteous expression. She moved to give him a hug, her round belly acting as a barrier between them. Miroku reached out to shake the hanyou's hand.
"Could you please just tell Kagome that I'm sorry about everything?"
"Of course," Miroku agreed, looking uncomfortable. He kept giving his wife pointed looks.
Inuyasha turned to leave, but Sango called out. "Wait, Inuyasha! Before you go…there's something I want you to see."
'I miss you…'
Those three little words echoed in her heart, so simple, yet so profound.
She missed him the way most people would miss a limb. Every now and then she would feel his phantom presence, forget he was gone, and reach for him only to suddenly remember that he had left. Kagome woke up in her childhood bedroom, blinking against tears. She had dreamt of him again and the dream had left her…wanting.
Her heart cried out for him, as did her body. Her body had yet to come to the realization that he was gone and possibly never coming back. She was too warm under her blankets, desire pooled deep in her belly. She rolled over onto her back, kicking off her blankets, startled by the depth of her yearning. Kagome closed her eyes, fingers curling, as she tried to pretend like her blood wasn't on fire, screaming for the only person who could slake her need. If she was honest with herself, she would admit it was not just a physical yearning, but an emotional need that bordered on spiritual. The very cells in her body felt his absence. Her soul was wounded - it had a hole and it was Inuyasha shaped.
The moment stretched on, gaping, endless like an abyss, until finally the feeling began to abate and recede like the tide. It would be back, but for now it was gone, and Kagome was grateful. She was tired of longing for his touch. She wanted to feel angry, to hate him instead of miss him, or at least feel ambivalent enough about him to begin to forget. She just couldn't. He was too far under her skin.
It was barely dawn, but Kagome knew sleep was lost to her. Her lust had passed, replaced by a feeling of pure discontent. Rolling out of bed and moving quietly around her room, she began to dress for the day. Her camera caught her eye and before she knew it, the familiar weight of the Nikon was in her hands.
Kagome sat bundled up in her warmest winter coat under the Goshinboku, starring up at a cloudy, pewter sky. It was early; everyone else was still asleep, but she felt wide awake and utterly restless. She looked up at the sky, heavy with the promise of more snow, through the grand tree's naked branches. A thin, glossy layer of ice sheathed the sprawling branches, encased the still, silent world around her as the sun unfurled from the clouds ever-so-carefully.
The warm arcs of amber light glowed as the left-over snow and ice reflected it back, so that the whole world looked like it was glistening with diamonds. The morning was infinitely beautiful, yet Kagome's camera lay unused in her lap, the lens cap still securely protecting the lens. Kagome sighed, watching her breath form into a little cloud of moisture. Her inspiration intended to hibernate through the winter, it seemed.
Kagome shivered inside her coat, feeling a little defeated. She had wanted to take a picture of the shrine like this, something she could remember it by, always. Her dark eyes took in everything, the natural beauty acting like a balm, but it couldn't reach far enough to heal the parts of her that filled her with longing and kept her awake at night. Admitting defeat for the day, Kagome gathered her camera and retreated back to the house. She cast one more glance over her shoulder at the thawing world before closing the door with a definitive click.
Inuyasha's life had felt surreal since the day he'd watched the life flee from Kikyou's body. Nothing had felt real or normal since that day…and yet this day, while young, seemed promising. It almost felt normal. It was nice, spending the morning with his old roommates. They'd stopped at a small diner for breakfast and the chance to catch up.
Inuyasha found out that Sango had discovered she was pregnant during the tail end of the honey moon and Miroku sat next to her looking happy and impossibly smug. When Inuyasha told them exactly where he'd been hiding out all those months, his admission was met with wide-eyed disbelief.
Sango sat, looking stunned, a strip of bacon clenched between her teeth. Miroku's eyes were wide. "Well, that's certainly the last place we would have looked."
After a while it began to feel like he had never even left, although Sango kept effortlessly slipping between wanting to hug him and wanting to kick him. Inuyasha was careful to keep Miroku between them at all times.
"So where exactly are we going?" Inuyasha questioned, even though the area was quite familiar to him.
"I want you to see Kagome's final project," Sango answered stiffly.
Raising an eyebrow, Inuyasha shot her a questioning glance. "Why?"
"Just shut up and walk. We're almost there. Just trust me, you're going to want to see this."
Miroku shot him a warning look and Inuyasha had his tongue and curiosity in check. Eventually, Sango and Miroku led him into the gymnasium which had been converted into a small art gallery. They led him through a sea of stunning photos of nature and people and places. Some were black and white, some were full, radiant technicolor. All of them were beautiful, except for the ones that weren't meant to be beautiful, but even those were lovely in their own way.
Inuyasha's eyes glossed over them all, quietly trailing behind Miroku and Sango until they came to a stop. He was about to demand an explanation when a familiar face caught his eye: his own.
Blinking owlishly, Inuyasha gave his full attention to the massive collage taking up most of the wall in front of him. The pictures seemed to flow together so seamlessly, his eye had a hard time distinguishing the many different images, and then his eyes adjusted, and he began to notice the individual photos. A lot of the pictures were of Kagome's family, many featured Miroku and Sango, and other friends Kagome had made over the years. Each image was a perfect snapshot, a precise moment in time captured on film. Each picture felt intimate and personal, and each were surprisingly beautiful, even the simple pictures of everyday objects or Kagome's rotund cat. There was even a picture of a sunrise over the Higurashi Shrine that made Inuyasha feel as if he'd never properly seen the sun rise before. He could sense Kagome's presence in each photo, even though she rarely made an appearance in one. What surprised him the most was how many of the pictures were of him.
Some he remembered her taking, like physical manifestations of his own memories, and others he'd never known she'd taken.
'Damn that wench is sneaky with a camera…' he thought, stepping closer. There was one she'd taken on the day he'd first caught a glimpse of her, kneeling in the snow with her camera. One he hadn't been aware of, the other was when she'd caught him catching snowflakes on his tongue. One where he was sipping hot chocolate for the first time; his first snow angel, him wrapped in Christmas tinsel, trying to look annoyed, but really he just looked happy. Kagome wasn't in the frame, but he knew he was looking at her.
His first Christmas with her. He felt his heart clench as he took a closer look at the group photo, that one he'd never seen until now. Miroku and Sango stood close together, flirtatious and glowing, suffused with happiness. Kagome was in the middle, but she wasn't looking at the camera. His arm was slung around her shoulder in a move that had come so naturally. Her gaze was focused on him, shyly peeking up at him through her lashes as she flushed pink, the look on her face so exactly mirroring his feelings for her it almost floored him.
He was in so many pictures, clearly dominating the collage. There he was fixing her car, dressed in a jumpsuit, and covered in grease, yet Kagome had managed to take the picture in a way that made him look like he modeled for a living.
There he was with Shippou, ruffling the boy's mop of red hair, looking for all the world like an elder brother. There he was half-asleep in his bed, looking relaxed, his eyes focused on Kagome, full of intent. He was shirtless, covered only by a sheet and the fang-shaped beads Kagome had once given him as a present. He touched the necklace, now, his fingers rolling over the smooth beads, surprised by the memory the picture invoked. He could practically feel her skin against his, smell her warm scent wrapped up with his own. His breathing suddenly hitched and he quickly looked away.
There were so many pictures, so many moments of their lives. His eyes fell to the plaque beneath the collage.
'My Heart' - Kagome Higurashi
This has been sitting on my computer for a while now. It's been so hard to find time to write lately, but I have been so touched by the response to this story that I didn't want anyone to have to wait one more day. I've started on the next chapter so I should have that posted in a few days. Actually, I'm going to spare you guys a long author's note and go back to writing! I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who had read and taken the time to review. You have no idea how much it means to me! I appreciate everyone's patience - but no worries. I will never abandon this fic.