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Kagome's right palm hit the ground forcefully to support her weight, her fingers sloshed in the rapidly congealing puddle under Inuyasha. Both her arms shook visibly as she took unsteady breaths, sawing in and out of her chest in beat with her pounding heart.

She had felt his pulse beneath her fingers, he was alive. And that was all that mattered.

Shakily, Kagome raised her head. Dread had already settled in her gut knowing already what she would find. But she had to see it with her eyes. And acknowledge it.

Severed body parts, heads with bulging eyes frozen in expression of terror, and dark splotches decorating the dirt in a macabre motif. The bandits' mutilated bodies were strewn all across the field.

All very dead and very human.

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"I did this?"

.

She hovered at his side, hands awkwardly fluttering but not touching him, although she desperately wanted to. She wasn't sure how he would react in this state and he definitely did not look like he could handle any more. Inuyasha could barely walk, dragging each step painfully using Tessaiga as a crutch. She was used to seeing his body broken and as much as that wrenched her heart it was nothing compared to watching him now.

His brows were drawn tight, his clenched jaw and pursed lips making hard lines crease the corners of his mouth, aging him by years in an instant. His normally brilliant golden eyes were dulled, hollow yet bleeding anguish as they took his surroundings. Bodily wounds healed, especially aided by his demon blood. But this… this, she was wasn't so sure.

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"If you get too close, you'll be killed!"

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They were not wrong to think that. There was blood smattered in his long silver hair, drenching his robes, dried in an ombre pattern from his claws down his forearms. Though his fangs had shrunk, red smeared the corners of his mouth. He would look objectively menacing. And yet… yet that blood wasn't all from the bandits. A good amount of it was his, spilt to save her and their friends once again. The men had made very clear what they would do to her and Sango; death seemed like a mercy in comparison. And Inuyasha had prevented that from happening.

But she couldn't pretend they were evil youkai. They were despicable men, no doubt murderers and rapists, likely would've been put to death in her time but they were completely human.

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"That's a monster!"

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Even though the movement was minute, she saw it. He'd flinched, ever so slightly as if physically struck. She'd spent countless hours watching him, memorizing his every flicker, every hint of expression so she could read him better. Inuyasha was not a man of words, so she would learn his language. And what he screamed silently now was crushing her chest with the enormity of it. All of that loathing was directed inwards. Inuyasha was in so much raw pain, the kind Kagome felt hopeless against.


Her feet was already steadily bringing her closer to where he was by the river bank judging by the loud splashes. Kagome clutched the towel in her hands tighter, steeling herself as the thoughts raged in her head. Before she could hope to comfort Inuyasha, she needed to make peace with the fact that the day she fell down the well, the world stopped existing in solely black and white.

She, Higurashi Kagome, loved a killer.

A killer who was also incredible, brave, and generous to those needing help, who would trade his own life for her safety without a second thought, who loved with every fibre of his being.

If she was to love him — really love him, Inuyasha, then she would have to acknowledge this head-on. No euphemisms, no shying around it. He was wild, lethal and capable of so much destruction. But beneath the claws, the raw power was his kind heart, still unwavering and true when his past experiences could easily have destroyed it many times over.

He was not wholly human and yes, he was a killer. And he likely will be as long as he lived; to live in this era.

But he was definitely not a monster.

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A/N: This scene is from anime episode 52, manga 185-187 where Inuyasha turns full youkai and slaughters Gatenmaru and co. Wouldn't you be a little shocked if you see the love of your life severing people's heads?

Although dark, I think this ranks high on my favourite pieces to write in this collection. Curious on your thoughts?

I'll follow up with a VERY fluffy chaser shortly :)