Read between the lines

Disclaimer: As always, i do not own inuyasha

Reading between the lines

“Sit boy.” I hissed, feeling a tinge of statistic joy as I watched the young boy’s face slammed into the ground.

Turning away from him, I took a deep breath and attempt to calm myself. I hate feeling like this. Feeling so much anger and hurt, but not quite enough to escape a twinge of guilt for sitting him.

“Damn it wench, what was that for?” I heard Inuyasha say as he struggled to get up from the forest floor.

A stab of pain goes through me. That word. I can’t hold back anymore. “Sit sit sit sit sit sit sit.” I screamed, finally reaching that special point the point where I can watch him hit the ground again and again without remorse. The point that I can finally be satisfied that with each bone jarring impact his physical pain matches the searing ache I feel with every slicing word from his mouth.

Despite this satisfaction, I can still feel the humiliating tears begin to gather in my eyes. Suddenly, I can’t stand to be near him anymore, can’t stand to let him see me cry again and to see that look of disgust in his eyes. I can almost read his mind in these moments. He resents me for not being strong like her. In his head, he’s comparing me to his pain-filled memories of Kikyo, calculating and analyzing the differences. I’ll never be worthy like Kikyo was. He has always pointed out how useless and clumsy I am. How often he needs to protect me for every little terror in the forest. I am not a strong infallible person, able to stand up to a towering demon with merely a bow and arrow. I cannot use my Miko powers to protect whole villages from gangs of crazed demons. In his eyes, I’ll never be as pretty, smart, crafty, or worthy of his love as she is.

Hiding my tears, I throw my backpack over my shoulder and head for the well, shouting back at him that I was leaving for good. I run, knowing that if he called out to me I would lose my conviction and come crawling back to him. I hate myself for that. Hate myself for not being able to live without him for any long period of time. So I flee like a weak coward while he is still chocking on dirt, unable to stop me. Flying through the forest I come to the one place of safety from him. The well. Jumping over the side, I feel the soft blue light swell around me, carrying me safely towards the future. Sitting in the bottom of the well in my own time, I am able to let go and sob.

How could he say such things to me, calling me a wench? Is that all that I am to him? Does he see me as merely something to be used until I became inconvenient or unneeded, until he could finally throw me back into the street like some kind of stray dog? Yes, I’m nothing but his “shard detector”. He’s never shied away from telling me that. He’s made it perfectly clear that I am merely his tool for getting his revenge on Naraku, nothing more. And knowing that kills me. Even now in my own time, away from his prying analyzing eyes, my heart aches to be near him. I know that no matter how much I threaten, how much I promise myself that I won’t go back. That I will stay here and leave the past in the past instead of tormenting myself trying to stay torn between the ages. I know that I will not be able to stay way form him for long.

Dragging that giant yellow bag behind me, I run towards the sanctuary of my room. I know that it will only be a matter of hours before the hanyou arrives to force me back into the feudal era and all the pain that comes with it. Throwing the bag down once I got through the door, I dive into the comforting contours of my bed. I begin to cry fully now, letting go completely to the wracking sorrow that feels like it’s going to tear me apart. My mother hears my sobbing and I can hear her footsteps coming my way. I know she worries about me. My whole family worries about me. They think that I am focusing too much of my energy on my task in the feudal era. They worry about my schoolwork and my future. They plead with me to split my time evenly so that I can go to school like a normal girl and get my education. That way, when our task is completed in the feudal era and I have to come home, I will have the education and the skills to be able to return to a normal life. They want me to go to college, get a job and a husband, and have some children. I don’t have the heart to tell them I can’t.

Inuyasha has become much more than a traveling companion to me, he has become my life. I am in love with him, helplessly in love. Once the well is sealed, if I am trapped in my own time and unable to return and visit Sango, Miroku, Shippo and most of all Inuyasha, I won’t be able to go on. How could I? How does one lose four of the most important people in your life, not to mention dozens of friends, and still have the will to live? How could I just return to my old life, go to school, hang out with friends and act like nothing had ever happened, like they never even existed? Even if I could bring myself to do it, it would not be right. My friends are like my family now and Shippo is my son. I couldn’t leave them for the world.

“Kagome, you must stop this.” I almost jumped when I heard my mother’s voice behind me. I could only cry harder even with her comforting hand on my shoulder. “You must stop tormenting yourself.” In a gentler voice she begged, “Come with us visiting this month. Take a break from them, please Kagome. I can’t stand seeing you in pain like this. You deserve some time off.”

Three weeks? Three weeks away from him would be worst then torture. I was about to refuse, about to tell her that it would be best if I just stayed here. I could make some excuse about having a big test at school or something. But then I caught sight of my reflection shining in the mirror. I looked like a monster. My eyes were red and swollen from my crying. My cheeks were stained with tears and my face was bright red from sobbing so hard. Still, it was the look in my eyes that scared me the most. My eyes were empty, void of the happiness and passion that use to shine like diamonds. I wasn’t myself anymore. Suddenly, I realized that I did look like Kikyo, but in the worst way possible. I looked like a corpse.

“Yes, I think I will. I will go with you. I think that would be lovely.” I forced myself to say. All the pain that I would have to endure seemed immediately worth it when I saw how my mother’s eyes lit up. I did not realize just how worried my family had been. She looked like a drowning man just thrown a life raft. Satisfied by my answer she rose to leave me alone to my tears. After she left and I had cried myself out, I sat there wondering just how I would go about telling the others that I would be gone for three weeks. I realized with dread that Inuyasha would never allow it. He would bar me from leaving, telling me that I was ruining the mission and that I was being selfish for wanting to leave now. Even if I managed to escape him, he would follow me. Two days after I left he would just show up and drag me back with him, kicking and screaming sit all the way if he needed to. Nothing would stop him from getting his vengeance on Naraku for what he did. He cared for revenge more than anything in the world.

I won’t tell him, I decided. I knew that it was cowardly of me. I knew that the others, especially Shippo, would be worried sick about me, but I also knew that if I went back he would convince me not to go and I needed this. I needed to get the life back into my eyes.

We left that very day merely hours after my mother had asked me to join them. I think she was afraid that if she waited too long to leave that I would back out of my decision. She made me promise that I would at least try to have a good time and forget about the feudal era for a little while. I was surprised by how easy that was. For three weeks, while surrounded by family and friends, I was able to forget all the worry and stress of chasing Naraku, forget the pain of loving Inuyasha and knowing that he loved someone else. I was finally free from all that.

I was able to go to some movies and hang out with some of my old friends around our families homes. I was able to go shopping with some of my cousins and even flirted with a few other boys, but nothing serious. My heart was taken after all. I bought the others a few things out of guilt of leaving them for three weeks. Other then that I did not think about them much. For three weeks, I was a normal girl running about Tokyo without a care in the world.

After those weeks were up I felt refreshed and finally ready to get back to work in the feudal era. I had to admit I was very eager to return to the others. Despite the fact that being normal for a while had been fun and relaxing I realized something very important during this time. After spending so much time in the feudal era, facing death on a daily basis, having people depend on you for their very life, life in the normal world seemed completely silly. The worries that seem so important today were foolish compared to the constant struggle to survive and thrive in a demon infested time. Living in the feudal era was much more fulfilling. Even if I could not have Inuyasha, the life I have there is still worth so much. I was looking forward to the chaos waiting for me outside the well. I was also looking forward to seeing the others and to hold my foster son in my arms again. I realized how much I missed them after all this time apart. The only thing that I was not looking forward to was facing their anger. I know they were probably very concerned about me while I was away and I felt terrible for not telling them I was leaving.

My mother seemed neither surprised nor angry that I wanted to go back as soon as we got home and unpacked. Perhaps she just needed to know that I could bounce back from my slump and become her little girl again. She smiled at me and silently gave me one of my school uniforms and told me that she would pack me a lunch for my trip over. I nodded and told her that I was going up to pack. Once in my room, I hesitated. I fidgeted and dawdled in unpacking my things from the trip until my mother called up to tell me that the lunch she made was ready. Finally, I decided that I had stalled long enough. I packed my giant yellow bag with all that I needed, closed the door to my room, kissed my family goodbye and headed for the well.

Jumping down into the inky blackness, I felt the blue light encompass me at once and deposit me on the other side of the well. Taking a breath of the clean untainted air, I sighed. “I’m home,” I whispered, grabbing a hold of the conveniently placed vine and began to ascend the walls of the well. I was surprised when no strong arms grabbed me and haul me over the side. I expected the moment I ended up in the well Inuyasha would catch my scent and be here to scream at me for holding them up. Instead, I climbed the well’s walls and threw my yellow bag over the side without assistance, before pulling myself over the lip as well. I glanced around and saw nothing but the surrounding forest.

I was furious. I leave for two whole weeks and they don’t even know that I’m gone. How else could I explain the fact that there was no hanyou there to greet me? I huffed and headed towards the village fully prepared to kill a certain half-demon. I was partly there when I hear a familiar voice.

“Come on mutt, you’re not even trying. Fight me. Tear me apart.” Koga? What is he doing here? Maybe he heard that I was gone and came to look for me. Realizing that he and Inuyasha must be in the forest somewhere fighting, I headed towards his voice, silently hopping that Inuyasha would not kill him before I got there. “Come on, move. Defend yourself. Give a damn about your life!” On that last word I heard Koga’s voice break and was confused. Something was terribly wrong. I could feel it. Dropping my back I began to run towards the sound of his voice, the underbrush of the forest slowing me down.

“Fine, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. Damn you Kagome. How could you? Damn you?” Koga sobbed. I stopped shocked by the sound. The sobbing got fainter and I realized that Koga was moving away. Why was he leaving? Why wasn’t Inuyasha fighting him, cursing at him for what he had just said? On the other hand why was Koga cursing me in the first place? Koga usually fought tooth and nail for me just to look at him. The forest was finally thinning out, telling me that the clearing was ahead. I burst through the trees.

Koga was gone and for a moment I thought that Inuyasha had left too. I couldn’t see him standing in the clearing, sword thrown on his back as he would be after any other fight with Koga. Then I caught a flash of red to my right. “Inuyasha?” Yes, it was the firerat robe alright. I could see its ruby color shining in the sun. But something was wrong. It was lying on the ground like someone had thrown in a heap, unless. . . I ran forward my heart beginning to pound in my chest. Yes, it’s Inuyasha. He was lying on the ground and he was not moving.

“Inuyasha!” I screamed as I ran to his side. What had Koga done to him? When I got to him, I began to cry. Oh my god what had happened to him. Inuyasha was unconscious, lying on his back. He skin was pale as death and he was barely breathing. The first thing I noticed was that his cheeks were sunken in, hollow with starvation. He looked like a war victim. Tears blurred my vision as I took in his tangled filthy hair, his soiled and dirty clothing, and his sunken eyes. He looked like he had not eaten in days. I had to get him to the village, to get him help.

“It’s alright Inuyasha, I’m here. I’ll get you some help.” I cooed to him, trying to comfort him. I had to move him. I didn’t know if he had gotten hurt in his fight with Koga, didn’t even know if he had had the strength left to lift a sword, but I feared he would die if I left him here while I ran back to the village. “I’m going to lift you Inuyasha. Don’t be afraid.” I wasn’t sure if he could hear me, but I hoped he could. Carefully I reached over to take his wrist so I could pull him into the sitting position to throw him over my shoulder in a fireman’s hold. I sobbed when I felt his arm. He was nothing but skin and bones. Any muscle that used to rope up his arms had been devoured by his body in an attempt to keep him alive.

“What happened to you?” He was so light. He had to weigh less than the bag that I had brought over the well. As fast as I could I ran towards the village. “Hold on Inuyasha. We’re almost there.” I huffed. I could smell the smoke of the village fires nearby. Silently, I just prayed for him to keep breathing, for him to hold on for just a little while longer. I saw the first huts in the distance.

“Kaede, help! Kaede!” I screamed as soon as I saw the first few villagers.

“Kagome?!” I heard a familiar voice call out as I ran.

“Miroku. It’s Inuyasha. He’s hurt.” I said, almost sobbing in relief when I saw the purple robed figure standing near me. Ever since finding Inuyasha I was sure that the others were dead. That was the only way I could imagine Inuyasha ending up in such a poor state. I ran towards him, hoping he would help me. I stopped in my tracks when I saw his face. He looked furious, like he was about to strike me. He was angrier then I had ever seen him. Stepping forward, he snatched Inuyasha from my arms both as quickly and gently as possible as soon as I came within reach. Then, glaring at me, he started to jog towards Kaede’s hut, leaving me standing there confused and alone. He wasn’t the only one giving me angry looks. All around the villagers’ vicious glares met me. Trying hard to ignore them, I ran after Miroku to the healer’s hut. Just as I was coming up to it I heard another familiar voice. “Kagome, you're back.”

Seconds later I was nearly knocked down by a flying fur ball. I caught Shippo with practiced skill and was quite surprised when the young boy latched onto my neck with all his strength and began to cry. “I thought you were never coming back.” the young boy sobbed. “You left and then Inuyasha got sick. I was so scared,” the young boy trembled with each heaving sob and my heart broke for him. Sensing someone else near me, I looked up to see Sango staring at me.

“Sango, Inuyasha’s. . .” I cried out as her hand hit the side of my face hard causing me to reel for a moment. During my dizziness, I saw Shippo launch himself at her.

“Don’t hit Kagome.” the boy cried, slamming his tiny fist against her chest a few times. Sango did not try to stop him, just stood there and let the boy hit her. After awhile, he collapsed into her arms, clinging to her shirt helplessly. “Please don’t hurt Kagome. She might leave again and never come back.” My heart lurched in my chest. I looked from the crying boy, to the murderous looking Sango, towards the healer’s hut, and a terrible thought occurred to me. A thought that made me moan as my stomach started to churn, fearfully.

Sango seemed to read my mind. “Yes, Inuyasha wasn’t attacked. He hasn’t been ill. He’s like this because of you,” she said in a detached voice. I gasped, tears falling down my face as my legs gave out from underneath me and I fell to my knees, my mind whirling in a fit of pain. “Come inside.” She told me, going into a neighboring hut.

“When Inuyasha realized that you were gone, he figured you had gone back to your own time, since you guys had been fighting. But after two days passed and you did not come back, he went looking for you. When he got to your house, all the windows and doors were locked. He said that your scent had been gone for at least a day. He could not even smell your cat. That’s the last day he ate. After a week, Miroku and I thought you weren’t coming back. You usually told us if you were going to be gone that long. Since Inuyasha said that he saw no sign of struggle or any disturbance at your home, we figured you had left willingly. We told Shippo that you had to leave and we urged Inuyasha to eat and to except the fact that you were not coming back. Shippo cried every night after that but slowly seemed to understand that he would never see you again. It was hard for him but he accepted it.

‘Inuyasha on the other hand refused to move on. He refused to leave the village in hopes that you would come back. He would wake up every morning and walk to the well to wait for you. At night he would hunt for Shippo and us, but would refuse to eat anything. Then he would go to sleep for a few hours before starting the routine over again. Around a week and a half after you had gone, he left the village altogether and started to spend all his time at the well. I think he did not want to admit to himself that he was getting to weak to walk back and forth from the village every day.

By that time Koga had heard that you were gone and had come to see if it was true. When he saw Inuyasha he was appalled. Inuyasha look about as bad as he did when you found him in the clearing today. I don’t know if it was out of a feeling of duty to you or if Koga actually liked Inuyasha, but from that moment on he vowed to help us. Him and Miroku held Inuyasha down and force-fed him. Inuyasha gagged the whole time, but the broth stayed down. His body wouldn’t let him throw it up. Together they could force him to eat, but they couldn’t force him to come back to the village. Every time they tried he would thrash and fight them until they were afraid that he would break something. So they left him there.

‘He sat there by the well all day regardless of the weather and waited for you to return. Sometimes Shippo would join him, but at the first sign of bad weather Inuyasha sent him back. He cares about him like a son I think. Koga stayed close to protect Inuyasha in his weakened state. Inuyasha would not even leave the well’s side to protect himself. Sesshomaru came and tried to goat him into a fight. In a way I think it was his way of trying to help his little brother. Inuyasha didn’t move. Even when Sesshomaru grabbed the hilt of his sword, he did not care. When Sesshomaru left, I was almost sure I saw tears in the demon’s eyes, but I could have been mistaken.” Sango sighed, setting down the now sleeping Shippo on a cot in the corner. She then turned towards me and I saw the depth of pain and suffering in her eyes and it almost killed me. “That’s the way it went on. Every two days they would force Inuyasha to eat. He stopped struggling when they did it after awhile. He simply sat there staring at the well. They would then sit down and talk to him for awhile, try and convince him to come back to the village. Kikyo even showed up eventually. Three times she visited him and she tried to convince him to eat. He didn’t even look at her. His eyes stayed glued to that well like he expected you to come climbing out of it any minute.”

He ignored Kikyo?! But Kikyo was the love of his life. He wants to be with her forever, wants to follow her into hell. He would die for her, wouldn’t he? My head was spinning. Images kept flashing through my mind. Inuyasha standing outside my house, the windows dark and empty. Inuyasha staring at the well, ignoring the beautiful women standing at his side. Inuyasha wasting away waiting for me. Suddenly, it all made sense. His anger when I came through the well late, his jealousy every time Koga tried to take my hand, all those attacks he leapt in front of minutes before they hit me, it all fit.

“What have I done?” He loves me. All this time he has loved me. Not the way in the storybooks, not all flowers, sweet words, and chocolate, but in his own way he cares and I left him. All those years I envied Kiko and I had what she use to have all along, and I left him just like she did. What have I done? Why couldn’t I read between the lines? I broke down, sobbing harder than I ever have in my life. As I did, I heard someone enter the hut.

“Kaede says he’s alive. He must have passed out from exhaustion, but she says if we can’t get him to eat anything besides the broth that he is going to starve to death in the next few days,” Miroku said. I could feel his eyes on me though I could not stop crying to look at him. “He is away but barely. You may speak to him.”

Kaede did not look surprised or angry at me when I walked into the room. She simply gave me an expressionless glance before gesturing towards the curtain in the back of the room. She then left the hut to give us some privacy. I parted the curtain and entered the room. He was lying asleep on a cot. I knelt down, trying not to sob as I looked at his fragile thin face. Gently, I reached forward to brush dirty silver bangs away from his closed eyes. He stirred and opened those honey colored eyes, blinking like he didn’t believe what he was seeing.

“Kagome?” His voice was hoarse and weak; it almost broke my heart.

“Yes, Inuyasha, it’s me.” Suddenly, he lurched forward, throwing himself into my arms and hugging me with more force than I thought his brittle body could muster. .

“Kagome, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean what I said. I’ll never say it again. Please come back.” Then Inuyasha, one of the strongest persons I have ever met, began to cry. My heart shattered. He blamed himself. He’s laying there half-starved, filthy, and near death and he blames himself. I couldn’t hold my tears back anymore.

Gathering him into my arms, I begin to rock him like a child as we weep together. “It’s not your fault Inuyasha. I shouldn’t have left without telling you first. I shouldn’t have made you hurt yourself like this. It’s not your fault.” I whispered into his ear. He cried harder, his whole body wracking with sobs that he was fighting to hold back.

“I love you, Kagome, I love you.” he whispered again and again like a prayer, holding me so tight I could barely breathe like he was afraid if he let go I would disappear.

“I love you too, Inuyasha, with all my heart always.” I whisper back sending him into another fit of tears. I just held him and rocked him until he calmed down. Finally, after awhile, he runs out of tears and his sobs fade. He’s exhausted and clearly embarrassed by his tears. Carefully, I lower him back onto the mat and stroke his face and hair. He just sits there and stares at me as if I am the most beautiful thing in the world.

After we continued this way in silence for a few minutes, he suddenly frowns. “What’s the matter Inuyasha?” I whisper, unable to stand him being unhappy.

“Kagome…I’m hungry.” he stated, looking up at me innocently.

I laugh, tears threatening again only this time tears of joy. “I’ll tell them to get you something to eat right away.” I tell him, starting to get up. His thin arm stops me. I look back at him and seeing the twinge of fear in his eyes, I freeze.”

“Please don’t go.” He begs. Sighing, I lay down beside him. Gathering him up in my arms I begin to stroke his hair again.

“I won’t Inuyasha. I’ll never leave you again.” With that, we both fell asleep in each other’s arms.