A week he stayed. He refused to budge from the well. Miroku and Sango had tried to pull him away, but all of their attempts were met with growls and lashes of claws. His clothes were stained from the last battle and dirt from the bottom of the well. The would never mention it but they were sure he had attempted to dig his way into Kagome’s time; his claws cracked and caked with dirt and his own blood. They would take turns over the seven days to check on him, never doing more than to make sure he was still there and hadn’t done himself more harm. He could feel their presence but never acknowledged it, he couldn’t spare the time.
On the seventh day, Miroku had started on his way for his turn to check on their friend when the sight of the Hanyou stopped him short. InuYasha’s face was pale, pinched and exhausted. There was a new guard that had never been there before starting to slide over his features; resigned and heartbroken.
“If you understand Houshi… don’t ask… please… just don’t say anything.” InuYasha’s voice cracked from what Miroku could only imagine was crying and yelling. The man took in a breath and nodded. InuYasha gave a curt nod of his own and let out a shaky breath before continuing towards the village.
They knew better than to talk about that week, the fact that he had come back to village of his own accord was enough. He never mentioned it, but they knew, she always on his mind. A girl’s laugh would make his ears twitch, and change in the breeze and he would pause to sniff the air. But she was never there. They never said anything when they noticed he started a routine of checking the well, watching him silently slink away to stay for several hours on every third day.
A month had passed, and he crept up to the well on his appointed third day. He didn’t always talk, but some days he would. Today was not a day for it. He put a clawed hand on the ledge and peered down into the darkness. There was still the slightest hint of her scent around the well and he closed his eyes to better appreciate it. While her scent calmed him, the fact that it faded a bit every time he was there sent a jolt of tightness and fear in his chest. He allowed her name to roll off his tongue, ever so softly. He only hoped, he prayed, she would hear it.
He had to keep himself busy; if he didn’t he found himself staying by the well far too often. He wouldn’t do that, she wouldn’t want that… would she? Miroku and Sango had decided to stay in Kaede’s village, but they were finding themselves called out to help the neighbouring villages with ‘pest control’. InuYasha would never not go on those calls. Regardless if they asked him or not, he was the first ready. The monk and slayer never dissuaded him from it. It was in these small ventures that he started to become himself again, bit by bit. His usual arrogance and crude personality remained, but was different then before. It was thoughtful somehow, like he thought a moment longer before he spoke. Whether he knew it or not, he was maturing in his own small ways.
‘She was within his grasp. She was calling out for him. In the darkness of the Shikon Jewel he found her. The scent of her tears sharp in his nose. She was so close! His hands reached out for hers, she was right there, he could feel the warmth of her skin radiating. But she was starting to fade, her voice getting further and further away. No… NO!-‘
“KAGOME!” His own voice woke him up, bolting upright, his hands clenched reaching out into the night air. His chest heaved with ragged breaths, his face felt wet. He blinked blearily, recalling his surroundings. He noted the scent of the fire to his right, and the presence of three other bodies. Ears lowering, he saw Miroku and Sango sitting up in their bedrolls, looking up at him with sad eyes. The Kitsune snored softly nearby. Without a word, he leapt up from his perch in the tree and ran deeper into the woods, away from their hearing. He could feel the tears drying on his cheeks and he gnashed his teeth together. He stopped finally and immediately threw his fists into the nearest tree. He hit it with all his weight and strength. The tree groaned and shook with the assault. He only stopped when he felt his knuckles break. A choked sob wrenched from his chest, but it wasn’t from the pain in his hands… he wished it was. Slumping to his knees, his head fell against the tree trunk, crippled hands laying limp in his lap. Broad shoulders shook and silent tears tracked down his heated cheeks. He stayed until morning light. If Sango or Miroku noticed his reddened, puffy eyes, they didn’t say anything. Sango merely took his battered hands into hers and tended to them. He allowed her to chastise him for being so reckless, grateful for not mentioning his nightmare. From then on, he slept further away from anyone. Too often he found himself awoken by the terrors of her slipping away. Though they never mentioned it if they witnessed them, he couldn’t stand their looks of pity.
“You’d be happy to hear Kagome, you were right all along. The monk and Sango finally got hitched this week. They built themselves a hut here in Kaede’s village, looks like we’re stuck with em.” He smirked and looked down at his hands. His back was leaning against the side of the well, his legs crossed with his Tetsuaiga balanced across his knees.
“I’m sorry you missed their wedding… you… you would’ve enjoyed it. You didn’t get a lot of opportunities here to have fun.” his smiled faded and he bowed his head, his silver hair covering his face.
“This isn’t getting easier, Kagome. I thought by now I’d get used to it… but I’m not. I… don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.” His dark eyebrows pulled down into a scowl, amber eyes darkening. He stood up abruptly and he launched himself down the well. He landed on the cold dirt, claws digging in viciously.
“Damn it woman, just… come back already!” he growled, slamming his fist down.
After a year, InuYasha finally decided it would be prudent to not keep living in the woods of the village. They seemed happy enough with his presence, there was nothing stopping him from making his own hut. He could be somewhat civilized. He did however, plot out his land on the outer edge of the village, he couldn’t abandon the call of the trees entirely. He waved off any offers of assistance from the village men when he started to procure materials; it was a matter of his pride. Miroku and Shippo would come by occasionally and lend him a hand discreetly before he realized what they were doing and he shooed them away. By the end, he was rather pleased with his little hut. It was modest, fit for a bachelor, though he had allowed himself to make it a little roomier than necessary… for her. He would never admit it out loud but he saw Kagome in the hut with him as he had made the plans and built it. He had built it for her. It was his way of keeping hope alive in his heart.
“You’d like the hut Kagome. At least, I hope you would… will…” his voice trailed off. He sighed and turned his face up to the sky. The setting sun turned his eyes to liquid honey. Darkness started to settle over the glade. There was no moon tonight. He had found himself wandering from his hut that evening, he had felt trapped pacing in the small space. Every new moon since she had left, he found himself there. He knew she would likely be scolding him if she could see him, out in the open on his most vulnerable nights. But he couldn’t help it. The last rays of sunlight faded and InuYasha could feel the transformation begin. He gritted his teeth as his senses dulled; the sounds around him quietening, the scents fading and his vision blurred. If he was honest with himself -which he rarely was-, being alone on these nights made him feel worse now that he had gotten used to her being with him. She had accepted every part of him; human, demon and all. She made him feel comfortable in himself. He leaned back against the aged wood of the well again, closing his eyes for a moment.
“Here’s to another sleepless night, Kagome.” he murmured.
He wasn’t surprised that Miroku and Sango were expecting as soon as they were. It had always been in the cards. But, he still felt shocked now and then that life continued to progress in the wake of her absence. He showed his support for his friends in his own way; gruff and silent. He backed Miroku more often when Sango fought for them to allow her to come on their exterminations as her pregnancy progressed.
“I don’t doubt your abilities woman! I doubt his! How in the hell are we to get anything done when we both know he’d get too distracted by you being there?!” He snapped at her once. Sango had made a face but conceded, seeing the glint of concern in his eyes. She realized he spoke not only of his concern for her, but if Kagome had been in her place.
“Are you… nervous?” Miroku heard InuYasha shift uncomfortably and he glanced at him discreetly. The Hanyou was staring off into the night.
“Nervous about what my friend?”
“You know… a kid…” Miroku turned now to properly look at his friend.
“Shall I be completely frank with you?
“Of course I’m nervous. Children are a huge responsibility. Being a parent is one of the most difficult parts of life but… I’m also thrilled. It’s a privilege to watch a new generation grow. I believe having a partner with whom you feel so complete with, helps. I know I wouldn’t want this with anyone but my dear Sango.” InuYasha watched his face become soft and loving at those words. He stayed quiet.
“Did you ever want children?” Miroku prodded gently. InuYasha looked up, eyes wide. No one had ever asked him that.
“Never thought about it really… never really got close enough to anyone for that to really be on my mind… you know being half demon and all. Not exactly someone a girl would wanna be that intimate with…” His voice got more clipped as he went on.
“The closest I’ve ever been with someone was Kag… Kagome.” He clammed up immediately after he murmured her name. Miroku took a breath and knew that it was an end to the conversation. He watched silently as InuYasha stood to leap into the trees near their camp, not to be seen until morning.
“They have twins Kagome. Friggin’ two of em! Hopefully they take more after Sango.” InuYasha propped his chin up with a fist as he stared out over the top of the well. Though his voice was irritated, a soft smile spread across his face.
“They’re cute though… you’d like em. They make the weirdest sounds. I’ve never been so close to a baby before. Miroku forced me to hold one. She didn’t cry like I thought she would.” A soft blush bloomed across his cheeks at the memory. He had been so overwhelmed in that moment, especially when her tiny fist had gripped his thumb.
“Shippo’s damn happy not to be the runt anymore. He’s already claiming he’s going to be the one to protect the girls.” He scoffed softly.
“I know Sango wished you had been there. It’s not really something Miroku or I could help with… we weren’t allowed in the hut. Kami knows those little girls need another sensible woman in their life.” He smiled wryly. His thoughts were a jumble the last few days. When Sango had gone into labour, InuYasha hadn’t known what to do. Miroku hid his nerves quite well under a practised mask of calm, but InuYasha could smell the anxiety immediately. Not to mention all the conflicting scents from Sango; fear, anger, pain, joy, pain, pain, pain. It was enough to drive him out of the village briefly, his feelings of complete uselessness too much at that point.
“She was really brave through it all really. Though, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her so angry with the monk.” he chuckled.
“I’m sure you’d be just as brave, if not more so.” The last few words were a soft murmur and a blush heated his cheeks. Shaking his head, he couldn’t entertain those thoughts. It was too much. The ache in his chest would kill him if he entertained the idea of children with her. Where had those thoughts even creeped out from?
“I gotta stop hanging around Miroku so much.” He grumbled.
InuYasha swung out with his claws, missing by a sliver. He growled impatiently.
“You’re still too slow.” His brother’s voice was as neutral and irritating as ever. Why InuYasha had even asked him to have these sparring sessions with him sometimes was beyond him.
“The lack of your Miko’s presence has made you lazy.” He hadn’t just said that… had he? InuYasha felt his temper rise at her mention. He could manage Miroku and Sango bringing her up, hell even when Shippo mentioned her, he had gotten better at hearing her name. Hearing Sesshomaru speak of her however, was a slap in the face. This time, he managed to lock his blade against Sesshomaru’s, their weight pressing against each other.
“You don’t get to speak of her you bastard.” InuYasha threatened, smashing his forehead against the other demon’s. Sesshomaru pressed further, a single eyebrow arched. He opened his mouth to reply, when a young girl’s voice interrupted.
“Sesshomaru-Sama! I didn’t know you were coming today!” Two pairs of amber eyes flickered over to the edge of the field where Rin stood. Her arms were full with a basket of plants. Shippo stood next to her, his face significantly less happy at the sight. InuYasha stumbled when his brother suddenly left, his weight no longer countering the Hanyou’s.
“I will be leaving soon.” Rin only beamed up at him as she led the Daiyoukai away.
“Oi, Sesshomaru! Next time I won’t miss!” InuYasha’s call went unanswered.
“That looked a little more aggressive than your normal spars.” Shippo piped up, coming to stand by his friend. InuYasha scoffed and sheathed his sword.
“You may have matured, but you still have a stupid temper.” The Kitsune continued. InuYasha scowled, but resisted the urge to hit him as he once would’ve. Since Shippo had been regularly training with the other Kitsunes, his dodging had gotten much better, and it took the satisfaction away.
“He mentioned her didn’t he?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Please, that’s all anyone has ever had to do. You’re too predictable.” the young kit sneered as he followed after the Hanyou. InuYasha felt his face flush and he grumbled to himself.
“You know, I think she’d be proud of you.” That made him stop. He looked down at Shippo with wide eyes, his jaw slack.
“What’dya mean runt?”
“Despite you two hating each other’s guts, you and your brother have actually started working together more. It’s not like you’re brotherly or anything, but it’s something. I think she would’ve liked to see that.” InuYasha watched after the young demon as he scampered back towards the village. Damn… the kid was growing up.
InuYasha tossed and turned in his futon. Why he even bothered with the thing sometimes was beyond him. The howling wind and rain outside reminded him that it was more comfortable than being sopping wet. Sighing, he spread his arms on either side of him and stared up at the ceiling of his hut. Shippo would sometimes stay with him when he wasn’t off training. Tonight it was just the Hanyou. He would never admit it, but he missed the little twerp, he had gotten used to hearing his soft snores. It was comforting having someone to protect in the silence of the night again. His thoughts started to trail off towards Kagome, as they so often did in his solitude. He thought of her long dark hair, had she kept it long? He hoped so. The way it blew in the breeze when he carried her. The way it tickled his nose, her scent that wafted from it. Kami, how he missed her scent. He closed his eyes to better picture her face. Those big brown eyes that no matter how often she chastised him, always managed to stay kind. The way they sparkled in the sun and always seemed to warm him with a single glance. Her smile, Kami that smile melted his stubborn heart. He could almost feel her weight against him as he remembered carrying her all over the country, her smooth legs secure in his large palms. He groaned as his lower belly flared with tight heat. His cheeks flushed and he rolled over onto his stomach, squashing his arousal. No, he couldn’t, wouldn’t, give in this time. It always made him feel lonelier afterwards.
“Can’t I just sleep without you haunting me woman?” he mumbled into his pillow. The silence answered him.
“Of course not.”
He had figured it out long before Sango had any inkling. Her scent had changed and was becoming stronger as her pregnancy progressed. He kept his mouth shut however. It wasn’t his place. He was just relieved when she finally did realize and told Miroku. At least the monk wasn’t complaining of her wild mood swings to him anymore. It had been a struggle for him not to blurt it out in those moments.
“I hope it’s not twins again… the girls are enough as it is without a third one. Let alone four!” He shuddered, his back bumping the side of the well.
“They’ve discovered my ears Kagome… They seem to think they’re a new fuzzy toy just for them.” he complained, instantly rubbing the sore appendages.
“They're not gentle either... these little brats have no idea how strong they are sometimes.” He smiled and sighed, turning to face the well. Propping his chin on the ledge he let his gaze become unfocused.
“I’m getting too used to speaking to this damn well. You know if… when, you come back, I’m not going to be used to you answering me. Damn it woman you could talk my ears off!” Again, he was met with silence. How he had come to despise the silence.