Summary: On the worst day of his adult life, a WWII dog tag washed ashore. Now, being a Navy man himself, he feels like tracking this soldier down is the right thing to do. It's amazing how sometimes random twists of fate can help you heal in ways you didn't know were possible.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from the Inuyasha universe or any of the popular name brand apps, products, services, etc. The rest is mine.
Inuyasha's calves burned as he ran along the shore, his feet sinking into the soft sand as the grains gave way to his weight. His lungs were screaming at him to stop as he panted, but he ignored the pain. He knew that it would be worth the adrenaline he'd feel in his veins when he was done. He pressed the skip button on his earbuds when a slow song came on. He should have made a workout playlist by now, but it wasn't a priority. One day he'd find the time. His girlfriend, Kikyo, had always teased him about it.
Given his near gymrat status, she thought it was stupid that he hadn't taken the hour out of his life to just throw together something on Spotify. He had always replied that he had other things he would rather do with that same hour.
She would then giggle and tell him that she would make one for him, but then they would get distracted before she could start. Or rather...he would distract her.
He glanced down at his watch and felt a grin break out across his sweaty face. 9 am. That meant that it was 6 am in California. That meant that her flight from Milan should have landed about half an hour ago, and she would be waiting for her luggage. She worked in the fashion industry as a designer for Lephant - a company that had been almost nonexistent until a few years ago when she was hired. She had helped turn them around, and her clothes could be seen on anyone who was anyone on the red carpet now.
He had met her a few years ago when she came to Florida on vacation and he had taken some shore leave from the Navy. He and his buddies had gone to a local bar they had heard great things about, and she was trying to order an appletini. The bartender, for whatever reason, was ignoring her. Being the gallant gentleman he was, he waved the man down and ordered a drink for her and a beer for himself.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Now they had been together for three years, all while she lived in California and he stayed in Florida. He was hoping to change all of that now, though...and, in fact, had some exciting news he wanted to share with her.
As if she could sense his thoughts, his song was interrupted by her ringtone, and he slowed down to a steady trot before popping out his earbuds and hitting the answer button on his cell. He had asked her to call him as soon as she got her luggage, and he had been anticipating her call all morning.
"Hey," he greeted breathlessly into his phone.
'Hey yourself,' she cooed back. 'I just got my suitcase and am waiting on my Lyft.'
"Good," he panted, slowing to a walk. "How was the flight?"
'Long. Boring. Not nearly as much fun without you there to keep me company,' she whispered huskily into the phone.
"My apologies," he smirked. "Next time I'll try to accompany you."
'Ah...if only,' she laughed lightly. 'I would appreciate some new in-flight entertainment.'
He let out a ragged breath at the thought of the kind of in-flight entertainment she had in mind.
'You're breathing rather hard...just what are you up to?' She teased at the sound.
"Not what I'd like to be," he replied huskily. "I just went for a run on the beach to pass the time until you landed."
'Mmm...I like it when you get all hot and sweaty,' she purred. 'What are you wearing?'
"You first," he teased. This was always a dangerous game.
'Do you want the truth or should I make something up?'
"The truth - you'd be beautiful and sexy as hell in a potato sack."
'Design inspiration from the most unlikely of places,' she laughed. 'In that case, that Navy shirt you left that one time at my place, a pair of black leggings, and some sandals.'
He audibly groaned at the thought of her in his shirt again, and couldn't help but imagine taking her out of it. She laughed lightly at the sound before she started talking to someone else - presumably her Lyft driver, since she was thanking someone for taking her luggage.
He heard a car door open and close before she finally said, 'Alright. Your turn.'
He smirked and pressed a button on his phone to pull up his home screen, and swiped until he found Snapchat. He flipped the camera around and held the phone away from his body while sucking in his gut, or lack of one, to accentuate his already defined abs further. He hooked his thumb into the waistband of his shorts and underwear, and pulled them down ever so slightly so that the carved lines of muscle creating the V at his hips became more visible. He snapped the photo and sent it to his girlfriend and waited for her response.
'Snapchat notification from Inuyasha? I wonder what it could be?' she teased, and he heard her breath catch when she clicked to open the picture. He quickly received a notification telling him that she had taken a screenshot of the photo, and he immediately called her on it.
'Of course,' she replied. 'I needed to save it for tonight when I'm all alone in my big ol' apartment and you're on the other side of the country.'
"I won't be on the other side for much longer, you know," he said, breaking out into a giant grin.
'Oh? Do you have more shore leave? Can you come out to my coast?'
"Better," he replied, his grin somehow widening even further. "I put in for a transfer a while back to California. I got word that they want me in Ventura County Point! I'm already packed, and I'll be there this week. We'll be two hours away from each other. Two hours!"
'Oh...wow! That's...that's great, Inuyasha.'
His grin started to slip at the tone of her voice.
"It is, isn't it?"
'Yeah - you've been saying for years that you are ready for a change. This will be good for you.'
Good for you. You.
"And it will be even better for us," he replied, nervousness settling into the pit of his stomach.
'Inuyasha, what we have is fun...but you shouldn't be moving here for me.'
"Wait...fun? What the hell does that mean?" he demanded.
'It means that this was never anything serious...you know that. We've just been fooling around and it's bee—'
"—Fooling around? Are you fucking kidding me right now, Kikyo?! We've been dating for three years! You met my parents!"
'Inuyasha, I thought you knew that this wasn't serious...I didn't know you thought that meeting them was a big deal.'
"Fuck, Kikyo! Of course meeting my parents is a big deal! So is coming to fucking Christmas and Thanksgiving! What the hell is going on here?! We've been exclusive for three goddamn years!"
'Inuyasha...I think you're the only one who has been exclusive in this relationship. I made it clear the night we met that I didn't want anything serious. I was just looking for some fun, and you were a fantastic lay, so I—'
"—You've been cheating on me this whole time?" He whispered.
'Technically, it's not cheating if we're not exclusive…'
Inuyasha pulled the phone away from his ear and looked down at it in dismay. He couldn't believe this was happening right now. Everything he had done over the last three years had been for them, and now it turns out that there never was a them.
'...so if you move here, I think that's great...but it won't change anything for me.'
"Kikyo," he calmly replied. "Do me a favor? Lose my number."
He pulled the phone away from his head and pressed the red button with the phone symbol on it, ending their phone call. He looked down at his cell, trying to process how the hell his whole damn life had just been turned upside down. He had been wanting to tell her this for weeks, but she had been so busy preparing for her trip to Milan, and then she was in Milan and could hardly be reached…
If he had known that this was just some casual fling for her, he would have ended this years ago.
"Fuck…" he whispered, looking down at the black screen on his phone. This wasn't real...was it?
It was though.
"Fuck!" He yelled this time, taking his phone and chucking it as far down the beach as he could, his chest rising and falling in anger. He ran his fingers through his cropped silver hair as he leaned back to look up at the perfectly blue Florida sky above.
How the hell did this happen?
He sighed and trudged down the beach to pick up his phone and dusted the sand off of it. The screen lit up with Kikyo's name and a photo of the two of them wrapped in an embrace as she called him. He pressed the button on the side to decline the call. He didn't want to talk to her. There was nothing left to say.
She didn't want him, and when he was willing to move heaven and earth to be with her, she didn't give a shit.
As far as he was concerned, she was dead to him.
A text lit up his screen.
'I'm sorry, baby.'
Yeah. So was he.
He walked over to the surf and sat down, removing his socks and shoes. He threw them higher up the beach so they wouldn't get wet and allowed the tide to wash over his feet in its ebb and flow.
Bending his knees, he crossed his arms and rested them and his head against their tops. He felt the water rush over his toes and feet before pulling away. He closed his eyes and sighed.
Everything was packed. The movers were coming tomorrow. He'd be in Ventura County Point by Friday. Starting his new post Monday. And to think...he used to be looking forward to this. If he weren't so fucking crushed, he'd laugh.
He wasn't going to back out now. He didn't think he could, even if he wanted to.
If...yeah. Right. Without Kikyo, he didn't see the point in the move. His friends and family were here. He had made a name for himself here. He had only wanted to move to California to be closer to her. He wanted to be in the same state before he finally proposed...and he had been thinking about it for the last year. That's why he put in for the transfer. She couldn't move here because her career was there. He got it...but at least the Navy had bases there, so he was willing to be the one to make the leap.
He was willing to try for something that apparently wasn't even real to begin with.
"Fuuuuck," he groaned, lifting his head and watching the ebb and flow of the tide.
Maybe this was for the best.
Maybe this move would help get his head on straight and help him work past the break up.
He curled his toes, scrunching the sand between them.
He had really thought that she was in this for the long haul, like he was. They shared things together. Emotionally as well as physically. He had told her things he had never told anyone else. He had really given her a part of himself he never thought he would give to anyone.
He wished he could have seen this coming. He really did...but the signs weren't even there. She always had time for him. Never hid him away. They had weekly Skype dinner dates for fuck's sake!
Then again, did you really need to hide someone away when they were on the other side of the goddamn country?
He flopped down onto the sand and closed his eyes, throwing an arm over them to stop the sun from turning the inside of his eyelids red.
He didn't know how long he had stayed like that until his phone started ringing.
He picked it up and glanced at the screen to confirm two things. The first was that he really had scuffed up the screen when he threw his cell. The second was that his mother was on the other side of that phone call.
Unfortunately, the answer was yes to both.
He sighed but swiped his thumb across the screen, accepting her call.
'Hi, honey! Your father and I just noticed the time and realized that Kikyo had to have landed by now! We just wanted to know how it went? How was Kikyo's trip?'
"I don't know how her trip was. We never made it that far...but I'm sure it was wonderful," he scoffed. "We broke up, Mom."
'What? Oh, honey...I'm so sorry...what happened?'
"We were just...on two different pages," he sighed. He didn't want to relive the gory details with her right now. He wasn't in the mood for it. "I thought this was something more than she did."
"I'll be ok, Mom," he smiled weakly. "I think this move might be good for me."
'You're still going?' he could practically see her wrinkling her brow on the other side of the phone.
"Yeah," he sighed again, pinching his eyes shut and rubbing them with his thumb and middle finger. "I am. It's too late to back out now, and I think a change of scenery could be good."
'Inuyasha, are you sure?'
"Yeah, Mom...I am," he replied, opening his eyes again and staring out at the surf. He watched as it carried something shiny onto the shore a few feet away from him. Fucking litterers. Because the ocean didn't have enough problems as it was? He leaned forward and scooped it up so he could throw it out when he hung up with his mom.
'Well...you know your father and I will support you in whatever you decide to do with yourself.'
"I know. Thanks, Mom," he replied, furrowing his brow at the metal he had assumed was trash. It was an oblong circle and almost looked like an old, worn down coin...only it wasn't. Coins didn't have names, next of kin, and service numbers on them.
"Listen, Mom...I'm not really in the mood to talk right now. Can I call you back?"
'Of course, honey...we're here if you need us. You know that, right?'
"Yeah...I know, Mom. I'm gonna run now - love you."
He pulled the phone away from his ear and hung up before he could hear her reply and stared down at the metal chip between his fingers.
This was a dog tag.
A really fucking old dog tag.
Mushin igur shi
92463856 T 2 43
Kaede H ra i
76 3 Bri ton A
L An les, CA 9 47
California. Of course it had to be California.
He exhaled in a deep sigh.
He hadn't been wanting a pet project, but it looked like he had one now.
This day was turning out to be fan-fucking-tastic.
This story is dedicated to my wonderful beta, Saucy Librarian.
I hope you liked the first chapter! Next one is going up Tuesday. If you liked it, send a review my way! It makes me feel special, and when I feel special, I write faster. I will also respond to all reviews, even if it's just to say thank you for leaving one.