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I'm Sorry

Chapter 19

Chapter 19: I’m Sorry

 

     Inuyasha rapped on the thick wooden door. The echo of the last knock had barely faded before he rang the bell. The cheerful melody of 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' sounded through the house. A small giggle distracted him and he looked down at Shiro, bundled up with mittens, hat, and scarf.

 

     "I want to ring the bell!" Shiro stood on his tiptoes, straining to reach the bell. He scowled in frustration when his fingers didn’t come anywhere close to the button.  Determined to make the happy Christmas song play again, he crouched slightly and jumped, slapping the side of the house in hopes of hitting the button.  Unfortunately, he was much too small, and missed by quite a bit.  His daddy decided to help him out after the third failed attempt.

 

     Inuyasha lifted his son level with the doorbell. Shiro poked the bell and it obediently played its tune. With a delighted giggle, Shiro punched the button again and again and again. Every time he did, the song started over.

 

     The door abruptly swung open as Shiro pushed the button for the fifteenth time. Sango glared out at them, holding a thin robe closed over her pajamas. Her long dark hair fell in snarls and tangles to her waist. She did not look happy.

 

     "Do you have any idea what time it is, Inuyasha?" she hissed.

 

     "Um… morning?" Inuyasha flinched a little at the look on Sango's face. Maybe this wasn't one of his better ideas. He pulled Shiro close and away from the bell which he was still merrily hitting. The song finally ran its course and there was quiet.

 

     Sango gritted her teeth. "It's 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Normal people are still asleep. What the h--" She broke off what she was about to say with a quick glance at Shiro who was listening to the conversation with interest.

 

     "I am normal," Inuyasha protested. "And don't use that kind of language in front of my son."

 

     Sango sighed and leaned against the doorjamb. "It's too early in the morning to deal with you. I don't suppose you would consider going away and coming back later." She saw the stubborn look on Inuyasha's face, sighed again, and pushed herself away from the door. "You might as well come in. You're letting all the heat out."

 

     Inuyasha grinned as he followed her. Once inside, he looked around with interest. He had never been in Sango's house before. All he knew about her was that she was engaged to the pervert, and she was Kagome's best friend. And there was a little brother around somewhere.

 

     The house was neat, not excessively tidy, but Spartan. There just wasn't a lot of clutter. He could see the end of a model spaceship poking out from under the sofa. On the wall above were pictures of people, Sango and her brother among them. Still holding Shiro, he walked over for a closer look. The biggest portrait in the middle showed a man and a woman with a much younger Sango and Kohaku.

 

     "That's a picture of all of us just before mom got sick." Sango's voice came from behind him. Inuyasha made a noncommittal sound and studied the picture of the happy family. "Kohaku was just a baby. He doesn't really remember her." Sango came up beside him and ran gentle fingers over the image. There was a sad smile on her face.

 

     "I'm sorry," Inuyasha said. He fiddled with a loose string on Shiro's shirt. "What about your dad?"

 

     "Dad died in a factory accident two years ago." Inuyasha opened his mouth to speak, but couldn't think of anything to say that wouldn't be stupid and meaningless. Sango waved her hand in a dismissive gesture. "He was pretty well insured, but afterwards we found out that he hadn't been well for a while. There were a lot of medical bills. We barely managed to keep the house."

 

     She led the way into the kitchen and started rummaging around in cupboards. Inuyasha deposited Shiro in a chair and helped him remove his hat and coat and unwind his scarf.  He draped the clothing over the back of another chair and took one himself. Sango emerged with two cups and a box of teabags. She arranged everything on the counter before filling the kettle with water and setting it on the stove. Sorting through the bowl of fruit next to the sink, she extracted a banana and returned to the table.

 

     "Are you going to tell me why you invaded my house at the crack of dawn?" She handed the banana to Shiro and fixed Inuyasha with a stern glare. "Does this have anything to do with the fight you and Kagome had?"

 

     Inuyasha squirmed under her gaze. "You see, about that," he stammered. He rolled his eyes to Shiro, happily eating his banana. Sango gave him a look that clearly said, 'the things I do for you.'

 

     "Hey, sweet pea," she said to Shiro. "I think its time for Kohaku to get up. Why don't you go jump on him and tell him that I said that he is supposed to play with you."

 

     "'Kay." Shiro crammed the rest of the banana in his mouth, dropping the used peel on the table. Sango pointed him in the right direction, and she and Inuyasha watched him trot down the hall. A few minutes later there was a muffled cry followed by the delighted laugh of a small child.

 

     "I hate you, big sister!" Kohaku's voice drifted into the kitchen.

 

     "If I have to be awake, then you have to be awake!" Sango shouted back. "Just keep Shiro busy for a while!"

 

     The corners of Inuyasha's mouth twitched as he tried to keep from laughing. "You should know that Shiro takes everything literally. And I don't think we want to know where he landed when he jumped."

 

     Sango laughed. The kettle whistled and she went to the stove, filling the two mugs with hot water and dropping a teabag in each. She set one in front of Inuyasha before resuming her place at the table.

 

     "So, what's on that walnut you call a brain?"

 

     Inuyasha grew silent. He dunked his teabag up and down in the water. "I need your help," he finally said in a voice so low that Sango almost missed it. She did choke on the swallow of tea she had just taken.

 

     Sango coughed and spluttered. Inuyasha continued to stare into his mug like it was the most fascinating thing in the world, frowning slightly in irritation at Sango's reaction.

 

     "I think I need to get my ears cleaned out," Sango said when she had regained control of herself. "I thought I just heard you say that you needed my help."

 

     Inuyasha's frown turned into a scowl, though he didn't look at her. He pushed his chair back and stood up. "I knew this was a stupid idea. We should just leave."

 

     Sango leaned forward and grabbed his wrist to prevent him from walking away. "I'm sorry, Inuyasha. What can I do to help?"

 

     With a heavy sigh, Inuyasha sank back into his chair. Absently, he began drawing patterns in a puddle of spilled tea. "I was wrong." He glared at the table when she made a choked sound like the beginning of a laugh. "I shouldn't have hit that jerk. I shouldn't have yelled at Kagome. And I shouldn't have walked away."

 

     "What do you want me to do?"

 

     Inuyasha looked up for the first time and met Sango's eyes. "I want you to fix it. Tell Kagome to forgive me and I promise that it will never happen again."

 

     Sango got up carefully from the table. She walked around to where Inuyasha was sitting and, with one hand, smacked him on the back of the head.

 

     "Ow!" Inuyasha grabbed his head and glared at Sango. "What did you do that for?!  I’m not Miroku, you know!  You can’t just hit me because you feel like it."

 

     "You really are a jerk!" Sango walked back to her chair and sat down. "You got yourself into this mess and it is up to you to fix it."

 

     "But I don't know how," Inuyasha whined. "That's why I came to you."

 

     "I'll help you," Sango agreed, "but nobody can make Kagome forgive you except you." She leaned across the table and jabbed him in the chest to emphasize her point. Getting up, she walked over to rummage in a drawer and returned with a pad of paper and a pen.

 

     "Now," she said, holding the pen poised above the paper, "I'm sure Kikyo got mad at you all the time. What did you do to make her forgive you?"

 

     "What does Kikyo have--" Inuyasha began with a bewildered look on his face. Then his expression cleared. "Oh. Let me think." He tapped his finger on his chin, his eyes half-closed in thought. "When Kikyo was mad, she wanted expensive presents -- bouquets of rare flowers, diamond bracelets, fur coats -- that kind of thing. Once I had to promise a trip to France before she would let me back in the bedroom." Suddenly, his eyes widened and he sat up straight, placing both hands on the table. "You don't think Kagome wants any of that, do you?  I don’t have that kind of money.  Shiro needs a new coat and he’s almost outgrown the shoes I bought him two months ago and I promised to take him to the new amusement park.  What am I going to do?"

 

     "Kagome has much less expensive tastes," Sango assured the agitated young man. "But I think flowers and a present would be a start."

 

     "A start?" Inuyasha echoed.

 

     "Take her out to dinner or dancing or to the movies." Sango smiled warmly, her eyes lighting up with enthusiasm for the ideas.

 

     "A movie might be a good idea," Inuyasha said slowly, beginning to see the possibilities. "There's this new show out, 'Brother Bear,' that Shiro wants to see and-- What's wrong?"

 

     Sango was frantically shaking her head. "Leave Shiro with a sitter. You and Kagome need to go out alone. Got it?"

 

     Inuyasha blushed. "Right. Now, what flowers should I get Kagome? Does she like orchids?"

 

^**^

 

     "Miss Higurashi!"

 

     Kagome heard the voice, but paid it no more attention than the buzzing of a fly. A smile curved her lips. In her current daydream she could see Inuyasha standing before her. He wore the tightest pair of jeans and a red shirt that strained across his muscled chest. Maybe he would look better in a tuxedo? Kagome frowned as she imagined the switch. No, he looked much better in jeans. He held out his hand to her, his lips moving. Kagome leaned forward, trying to hear what he was saying. She could almost make out the words.

 

     "Miss Higurashi!"

 

     What?! There was a clatter as Kagome jerked out of her daydream, causing the chair to slip and sending her crashing to the floor. Kagome blinked up at the teacher from her undignified position. She scrambled to her feet, her face red as she heard the barely suppressed laughter of the other students.

 

     "Do you have a problem, Miss Higurashi?"

 

     "N-no, sir," Kagome stammered, trying to cool her heated face. She kept her eyes fixed on the floor. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see one of the teacher's shoes tapping the floor impatiently.

 

     The teacher sighed. "Well, whatever personal problems you are having, keep them at home where they belong. When you are in this classroom your mind belongs to me. Do you understand?" Kagome mumbled assent. "Take your seat and pay attention." The teacher returned to the front of the room and Kagome slid back into her chair. It wasn't her fault. These lectures were so boring that a root canal began to sound entertaining. As soon as the teacher's back was turned, writing some meaningless facts on the blackboard, Kagome slipped back into her much more pleasant daydreams.

 

     "Are you okay, Kagome?" A girl asked, her brow wrinkling with concern. Classes for the day were finished and they were moving slowly along with the crowd of students leaving the building.

 

     "I'm fine, Eri," Kagome answered. "Why do you ask?"

 

     "You just seem so distant lately." Eri clutched her books to her chest, looking anxiously at the other girl. "Maybe you should get out more. Go on a date. Have some fun." She frowned at her unresponsive friend. "Kagome, are you listening to me? Kagome?"

 

     Kagome had stopped listening to Eri's chatter some time ago. If it hadn't been for Eri's pushing, she never would have gone out with Hojo. And her heart wouldn't feel trampled on right now. All around her, students were whispering, shouldering each other, and craning their necks to look at something that was shielded from her sight. Kagome frowned and pushed past two taller students who were blocking her path. She stopped so suddenly that Eri ran into her.

 

     Inuyasha stood at the entrance to the schoolyard, just like in her daydream, except that he wore a handsome dark suit and carried in his arms a dozen red roses. That wasn’t exactly how she had pictured him, but, hey, she wasn’t complaining.  He smiled at her where she stood frozen in the middle of the yard. In several swift strides he crossed to her side. Girls sighed and cast envious looks Kagome's way. Boys muttered and grumbled when they found that their girlfriends were no longer paying attention to them. Kagome snapped out of her shock when Inuyasha shoved the flowers at her. She reflexively grabbed the bundle, dropping her books in the process.

 

     Inuyasha colored slightly and bent to scoop up her books. "Do you like them?" he whispered. Kagome glanced at the slightly mangled roses she was clutching. She raised them to her face to take a sniff.

 

     "They're beautiful," she breathed. Inuyasha relaxed and reached out to grab her arm.

 

     "Let's go." He tugged, but she resisted.

 

     "Where are we going? And why should I?" Kagome was aware of the crowd they were attracting. She tried to pull away.

 

     "I made reservations. If we don't hurry, we'll be late." He looked at the students watching their conversation and lowered his voice. "Please? We need to talk."

 

     "What about Shiro?" Kagome made one last effort to stall. She wasn't going to drop everything for any man, not even Inuyasha.

 

     "Your mom's watching him. I think she's planning to spoil him. They were talking about making cookies and drinking hot chocolate when I left." He turned those irresistible violet eyes on her. "Please? I promise that if you still want to leave after you hear what I have to say then I'll take you right home." Kagome nodded and allowed herself to be led to Inuyasha's car, ignoring the renewed whispers behind her.

 

     "But, Inuyasha," Kagome exclaimed once they were belted in and he had pulled into traffic, "I'm not wearing the right clothes to go to a fancy dinner." She looked down at her school uniform. Inuyasha managed to keep one hand on the wheel while he reached into the back seat, extracted a bundle of red cloth, and dropped it in her lap. All without taking his eyes off the road.

 

     "Your mom got this out of your closet. It's the outfit you wore when Shiro and I came for dinner the first time." He took his eyes off the road long enough to grin at her. "You can change when we reach the restaurant. But I think you look beautiful, no matter what you wear."

 

     Kagome was still blushing at the compliment when they pulled into the parking lot and when she disappeared into the restroom to change. She blushed again when she saw the appreciative look on Inuyasha's face. He escorted her to their table and politely held her chair for her. An attentive young waiter appeared a moment later to light the candle in the middle of the table. Inuyasha picked up a bottle that was sitting in a bucket of ice.

 

     "Wine?" He reached for her glass. Kagome's hand on his arm stopped him.

 

     "That's sweet, Inuyasha," she said, "but I'm not old enough to drink wine. I'm only 19."

 

     Inuyasha blushed. "Sorry, I wasn't thinking." He put the bottle back in the bucket. "Can I get something else for you?"

 

     "Later." Kagome settled back in her chair. "You said that you wanted to talk. So, I'm listening."

 

     "I'm sorry." Inuyasha spoke to his place setting.

 

     "What was that?" Kagome leaned forward to hear better.

 

     "I'm sorry." Inuyasha looked up her. Kagome was startled at the emotions she saw swirling in his eyes. "I was a jerk and I overreacted. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?"

 

     "Why should I forgive you?" Kagome demanded, her expression hard and determined.

 

     Inuyasha sucked in a breath to snap at her, but remembered what Sango had told him. 'Whatever you do, don't yell at her. She was very upset when you left. If you want her back, then you'll have to apologize like your relationship depends on it -- because it does.'

 

     "I'm an idiot." He kept his eyes locked on hers, willing her to feel his sincerity through his gaze. "I don't deserve someone as wonderful as you. But, I'm willing to admit my mistakes." He grinned ruefully. "Maybe I'll even learn from them. I was scared that Jojo would take you away from me. Just when I realized how much I cared for you."

 

     Kagome reached out to touch his cheek gently, her face softening into a gentle smile.  She blinked against the tears that filled her eyes as she listened to a proud, stubborn man humbly apologize, his heart visible in his eyes.  "Silly boy," she said fondly. "Hojo is a friend, but he is nothing compared to what I feel for you."

 

     Inuyasha grinned. The orchestra struck up a waltz. Standing up, he walked around the table. Kagome looked uncertainly at the hand he held out to her.

 

     "Would you care to dance?"

 

     Kagome smiled and allowed Inuyasha to lead her out onto the floor. He carefully arranged their hands and began a slow sway around the dance floor.

 

     "Ouch!" Kagome winced as Inuyasha trod on her toes for the third time. He was frowning in concentration and she could hear him counting under his breath. "I take it you never learned how to dance?"

 

     He stumbled over his own feet. "Only what Sango could teach me in an afternoon. Kikyo wanted to mingle, not dance." When he landed on her toes again, Kagome pulled him to a stop in the middle of the dance floor.

 

     "I'm impressed." She looped her arms around his neck and smiled at him. "You apologized and you learned how to dance. What could make this evening more complete?"

 

     "There’s only one thing I want right now, and that would be a kiss." Inuyasha bent down and brushed his lips against hers. She made a soft whimper and he obligingly continued the kiss, making it deeper. The orchestra, the crowded tables, everything faded into the background. They each held the other close, both having the same thought.

 

     'This evening is perfect.'

 

^**^

 

Food for thought: (courtesy of Artcat411)

 

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory

copyright: The Literary Dragon 2004