1. Old Ghosts by Patchcat
Disclaimer:† I do not own nor make any money from the use of these characters.
Originally posted to the LiveJournal community iyfic_contest on October 31, this was written in response to their "Spooks" theme.†
††††††††††† It had been ten years since the well closed and her fairy tale ended, but it didn't seem to matter.† She could still hear them; still hear Sango's battle cry as she threw her giant boomerang; still hear Miroku's chants and Shippo's cries of encouragement.† It was the one voice she didn't hear, however, that made her stay away from her family's home and not linger when she did visit, that one missing voice that had driven her across the ocean in the hopes of piecing back together the ragged edges of her broken life -- except on this night, Halloween night, Samhain, the one night of the year when the spirits of those who have passed on are in closest contact with our world; this one night when it was possible that her heart's prayer would be answered and she would finally have her chance to say what she needed to say.† It could not have been coincidence that her husband has been called to a meeting here at this time of year; it just couldn't.
††††††††††† Kagome quietly made her way across the shrine courtyard on that warm autumn night, secure in the knowledge that she would not be disturb.† Her mother was in the kitchen preparing the evening meal and her husband and child were occupied with costumes and treat routes.† Souta was out, following the hallowed pursuit of all college students, a Halloween party.† Her family thus occupied, Kagome knew she had some time and maybe, just maybe, she would find some peace and lay her demons to rest.
††††††††††† Gently, she slid open the old wooden door and snapped on the flashlight she held in her hand.† Sweeping in across the tiny, enclosed space, she was not at all surprised to discover that nothing had changed in all the time she had been gone.† She made her careful way down the steps and, setting the flashlight down so that the beam shone against the outer wall, solemnly laid her hands on the lip of the old well.†
††††††††††† "It's been a long time, hasn't it?" she whispered into the silence.† "I'm sorry I've been away so long."† Taking a deep breath, she felt gingerly for the ladder that her grandfather had installed so many years ago.† She let it out when her fingers encountered the rough hemp.† She really had half expected it not to be there.†
††††††††††† Kagome turned so that she sat on the lip of the well and then slowly lowered herself down that old ladder.† At the bottom of the well shaft, she sat with her legs drawn up and allowed her memories to turn back to those days when she had traveled the country with a rag-tag band of friends and defeated the ultimate evil.
††††††††††† "We had some good times, didn't we, Inuyasha?" Kagome's voice echoed faintly in the tiny space.† "Even if we did fight a lot and you called me such terrible names in the beginning, you were the best friend I ever had.† I loved you so much, did you know that?† I never could bring myself to tell you."†
††††††††††† She sat in the darkness for a while, allowing her thoughts to drift back to those days when they traveled and argued and fought and loved.† Those memories didn't hurt so much anymore.† Time had past and, as it is wont to do, had healed most of the scars in her heart; except, perhaps, the one that brought her down to the depths of a dreary old well on the one night when spirits are at their most restless.
††††††††††† "I never had a chance to tell you --" Silent tears made their way unnoticed down her face as she choked back a sob.† "I'm so sorry, Inuyasha.† I never meant for that to happen to you.† If I hadn't hesitated --"
††††††††††† "It would have been you with a slimy tentacle through you instead of me, and I would be the one at the bottom of some smelly old well begging for forgiveness.† Quit sniveling, wench.† You know I hate to see you cry."
††††††††††† Kagome stiffened and scrambled up the wall, looking frantically for that voice out of nowhere and shivering in the sudden cold.† By the time he finished speaking, she had turned completely around and could not find where that voice was coming from.† Hands on her hips, she tilted her head toward the top of the well and said angrily, "Okay, Souta.† Very funny.† I can't believe you would sink this low!"
††††††††††† A ghost of a chuckle from behind her made Kagome turn back around, and she stared in uncertainty at a column of light that had formed in the middle of the shaft.† Just as she was about to decide that getting out of there sounded like a very good idea, the light took a familiar shape and that long missed voice spoke once again.†
††††††††††† "Keh.† You always did have to have things proved to you, didn't you, Kagome?† Sorry to disappoint, but I ain't your brother."† There before her stood her hanyou just as she remembered him, albeit a little see through.
††††††††††† "In-Inuyasha?"† Kagome's voice quavered as she tried to process what she was seeing.† "Is that really you?"
††††††††††† "In the flesh, so to speak.† Who did you think it would be, that worthless wolf?" †††The spirit crossed his arms and scowled at her.† It looked like Inuyasha, it even sounded like Inuyasha, and even if it was little unbelievable for her to be seeing the ghost of her dead love, Kagome hoped with all her heart that she hadn't fallen and hit her head on her way down that ladder.† As she stood there and tried to think of something to say, Inuyasha reached out an ephemeral hand as if to touch her cheek and his expression melted to one of concern.† "Why are you crying, Kagome?† You know you did the only thing you could do.† None of us blame you at all."
††††††††††† "But -- but I --"
††††††††††† "No buts, wench.† You didn't do anything wrong."† Inuyasha smiled at her sadly.† "You stayed away so long.† I really thought I wouldn't have a chance to tell you -- Damn it!† So soon?" He cursed as the hand on her cheek started to fade.† "This wasn't enough time!"
††††††††††† "Inuyasha?" Kagome said, frantically turning her head in search of him.† "Inuyasha, where are you?
††††††††††† "I guess my time's up, Kagome," his voice whispered across her ears.† "I had my chance to tell you that we didn't blame you.† I guess that's all I get.† Don't forget us, okay?"
††††††††††† "I never could," she whispered.†
As the warm night air once again took its place, Kagome felt the sensation of cold on her mouth, as though ghostly lips had glided chastely across them, and heard one finally whisper, "I loved you, too."
Kagome sat, stunned, at the bottom of the old dry well that had once been the conduit to a world of adventure and cried for the love she hadn't been allowed.† She didn't know how long she sat there, but it was long enough for her tears to dry and for her to realize that, for the first time in years, her heart was no longer heavy with the burden of "what might have been" and the last of her demons had been slain.† It seemed that even now, so many years after his death, Inuyasha was still taking care of her.
Smiling wanly, Kagome stood up and climbed the ladder one last time.† At the top, she dusted herself off and made her way back up the stairs, drawing back the door and stepping out into the warm night.† The sound of the door attracted the attention of a little girl in a princess costume who stood a few feet away.
"There you are, mama!" she cried happily, running to Kagome and throwing her arms around her.† "What were you doing in there?"
"Oh, nothing, sweetie," Kagome answered as she turned and closed the door, "just… visiting some old ghosts."
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InuYasha ¬© Rumiko Takahashi.
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