Disclaimer: Don't own Inuyasha and I'm not making money from this fic.
Summary: Kagome realizes something a little too late…
Warning(s): There aren't any, really.
Rating: T
Theme(s) used: 30_kisses, Miroku/Higurashi Kagome, #4, our distance and that person
Author's Notes: This fic is also one of Saku's drabble wars winnings; she wanted Miroku/Kagome. This is not exactly Miroku/Kagome, but yet it somehow still is. It was supposed to be a drabble, but my muse kinda made me write way more than I intended. And no this fic doesn't necessarily have a happy ending, but maybe it's not an unhappy ending either? It perhaps replicates the complicated nature of human hearts and emotions… Maybe. And no I am not continuing this. It's a stand-alone one-shot. I briefly entertained the thought of making it a two-shot, but I decided that this is complete as it is.
WC: Approx. 1670

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A Little Too Late
By Yo's Subordinate
Completed/Posted on 5/26/2013

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The harsh bark of the tree she leaned against felt good against her hands. It was rough. It hurt against her palms, her fingertips. And she didn't care if she got splinters. She'd just pluck them out later. Her legs were crossed at her ankles as the tree took the rest of her weight. She stared up at the too-blue sky above her as if it might hold answers to her problem. Sparks of anger kindled in her dark eyes as she alternated between sighing in frustration and gritting her teeth. Strands of her long raven hair slightly shuffled in the calm breeze. She didn't understand why everything was so tranquil around her when there was a storm brewing inside her.

I'm not even angry at them. I'm angry at myself, Kagome thought, suddenly clenching her fists against the tree's bark. I knew they would end up together…that they loved each other. Like Inuyasha loving Kikyo, even after she was gone. I could understand that. I accepted he would never love me like that. I was sad, very heart broken, but I wasn't this angry.

She wondered, not for the first time, if she'd fallen in love with the wrong man…or if she had only thought she was in love with Inuyasha all those years she traveled with the group here in the feudal era, where they had endured so much together and finally defeated Naraku. She wondered if she'd been lying to herself all these years. For Sango's sake. For Inuyasha. For Miroku.

I'm in love with the lecher, and the realization's come years too late. He's married to my friend and he's a father. I'm so stupid, Kagome berated herself, still staring at the sky.

"Kagome?"

Inuyasha's concerned voice made her jump. He was up in the branches above her. She quickly shut her eyes, and that was when she noticed there were tears staining her cheeks.

"You okay?" Inuyasha asked.

Kagome didn't answer as the hanyou jumped down beside her and pulled her into his arms.

"What's wrong, Kagome?" He coaxed, pulling her even closer.

"I realized something," She stated as blankly as could, hiding her face in his silver tresses, in the side of his neck and breathing him in.

"Oh," was all Inuyasha said.

Kagome smiled a little at the thought of her strange relationship with the hanyou. He was her best friend. They didn't love each other in a romantic sense. It took her a long time to understand that and even longer to reconcile it within herself. But she was glad, so glad that she still had him this way…that the well didn't close him off from her forever. Because he was her rock, her strength, through everything.

"I realized I've been in love with Miroku all these years," Kagome murmured.

"I figured. I seen the way you always looked at him. How you looked at him with Sango. It's another reason we couldn't have been together. Cuz I knew you loved him, even if you didn't know it," Inuyasha answered, somehow seeming to hold her tighter.

Kagome smiled a little more against his neck. There was no judgment in the hanyou's voice. Just the truth. He could've called her a blind fool, but he didn't, even though that was the truth too.

"You never cease to amaze me Inuyasha," Kagome said and let him go, giving him a soft smile and turning her back to him.

"I can be perceptive at times, too," He huffed and blushed a little as he turned his head to the side, a secret smile on the edge of his lips—he was glad he could make her smile again.

"I'm going to tell him, so that I can let this go and move on with my life. It's selfish of me I guess," Kagome stated and started marching toward Miroku and Sango's home in Kaede's village.

Inuyasha silently wished her the best of luck, jumping back up into the tree.

x

Kagome knocked at Miroku and Sango's door, suddenly nervous and silently cursing her stupidity. What the hell am I doing? I shouldn't mess with them and their life. They don't deserve that. There's no damn reason I can't keep this to myself.

"Just a minute!" Miroku's muffled voice came through the door, causing her heart to race.

Damn it. I should turn around now. Yep I'm leaving, Kagome thought, even though her feet didn't budge.

Miroku threw open the door, his face a little flushed. He was shirtless.

"Kagome! You know you don't have to knock," Miroku scolded gently, stepping aside to let her in. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"

Kagome couldn't help it. Her face turned beet red and she quickly averted her eyes, not budging from her place outside the door.

"I can come back later. You seem busy," With those words, she actually did move, backing up away from the half-dressed monk. "I'm sure you're busy with Sango."

Kagome coughed at what those latter words dredged up in her head. "And the kids too. Bye Miroku!"

She turned on her heels and raced away from Miroku.

"Kagome? Wait!"

Oh gods, he was chasing after her half naked.

"Leave me alone! And put on a damn shirt," She cursed at him, not daring to look back or think about the spectacle they were causing in the village.

"Kagome please wait. Something is the matter and I want to know what it is," Miroku pleaded, gaining on her.

Kagome ignored him, blindly running toward the well. Toward the safety of her time. Away from the insufferable monk and the crappy feelings he dredged up inside her. He couldn't make it to the other side of the well. Only Inuyasha could. She was grateful for at least that small mercy.

"Kagome, please."

The monk was extremely close to catching up with her.

She continued to ignore his pleas and tried to make her legs go faster. And then she tripped over a root and landed face first in the dirt.

Great. Just great. And I was almost home free too, She spit some leaves out of her mouth at that thought and stared longingly at the wooden well, not even five feet in front of her, but knowing when she was defeated.

She didn't even turn toward him when she heard the monk stop and kneel beside her.

"Are you alright?" Miroku asked, worry for her evident in his voice.

"Yes," Kagome replied knowing she wasn't going to get away with avoiding him anymore. Might as well get this over with.

She turned to face this…beautiful, frustrating, very married man. Her heart was trying to tear itself from her throat. His face was red from the exertion of running, sweat dripping from his brow and down his bare chest. His dark eyes swirled with concern for her. His shoulder length black hair was down and damp. He must have been bathing when she knocked on the door. She absolutely refused to let her mind travel down the forbidden trails those images dragged to the fore of her thoughts.

"I really am sorry for bothering you. It's nothing important. I just…wanted to talk about something," She said, once again averting her eyes and moving to sit up.

Miroku tried to help her, but she gently shoved him away.

"You never bother me. I was just getting out of the bath when you knocked. Just enjoying the day without Sango or the kids and Shippou around. I love them, but they are sometimes tiring," Miroku rambled.

Kagome stared. Miroku never rambled. He was the most eloquent man she knew, what with his silver tongue and all.

"Em. What did you want to talk about?"

"I…I'm…I'm…eh…" Kagome stammered, flushing in the process and looking away. Why the hell couldn't he have put a shirt on?

"Yes, Lady Kagome?"

Did she just imagine him shifting closer to her? Yes, she must have.

"So, uh, where's Sango and the kids?" She asked awkwardly, the words catching in her throat.

"They traveled to the Demon Slayer Village. Sango had some business there to handle with Kohaku, and the kids wanted go since they are old enough," The monk explained.

Was he breathing on her neck? She definitely had an overactive imagination.

"Oh." How articulate Kagome! Just tell him already!

"Kagome what did you need to talk to me about?"

"Well, I…I know this is selfish…but I need to say it, and I promise you'll never hear it again after this," Kagome said, finding her nerves and looking up at Miroku before she continued, "I realized I'm…I've been in love with you all these years. I was in denial. And blind. And didn't want to hurt Sango. Even…even Inuyasha knew the truth long before I did."

She turned away from him and pulled her knees to rest up under her chin, wrapping her arms around them and holding herself tight.

"I wish you had told me sooner because I was in love with you, too. Some part of me still is," Miroku confessed, somehow sounding unbearably sad.

Kagome didn't know what to make of his words, even as she looked back at him again. Suddenly she smiled.

"Look at us, a pair of fools together," Kagome joked, her heart cracking as she closed her eyes, not bothering to stifle the tears that came.

A warm pair of lips descended on her forehead causing her to sigh a little in between hiccups. Miroku embraced her, holding her as if he never wanted to let her go. He softly cried with her.

"You are my soul mate, and regardless of who else I love, that will not change in any lifetime of ours," He whispered into her ear.

Then he did let her go, and she knew they would never speak of this moment again.

xxx

Owari