InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Castle on the Cliff ( Chapter 7 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~Castle on the Cliff~
“This is heaven---I mean really heaven! I'm telling you, I don't think I could possibly be happier than I am right now!”
InuYasha growled and shook his head. `This is hell---I mean, really hell. I think I might die, and then we'll see how fucking happy she is . . . .' He could kick himself for mentioning the pond. He deserved to burn in hell for putting himself through this. Kagome was splashing around and obviously having a very nice bath. He was pretty sure he was going to die. “Are you done yet?” he hollered without turning his head.
“In a minute,” she called back. He sighed as an exaggerated splash echoed through his mind. “You should take a bath later! The water's a little cold but once you get used to it, it's fantastic.”
He glared straight ahead and tightened his arms around Tetsusaiga. `Cold might be good,' he allowed grudgingly. “Quit playing and get out of there,” he snarled. He wasn't sure when he had started hating Kagome's almost-religious baths. He'd never actually liked them at all. Her fastidious desire to be clean was fine. He just hated having to sit here and listen to her while knowing what she was doing and, more precisely, what she was---or wasn't---wearing. That he'd accidentally seen her during her baths a few times . . . well, those memories certainly didn't help him at all.
Of course, she was completely oblivious to the effect she had on him, and after last night . . . .
“What are you doing?” he growled. `She's . . . she's wiping my face?' Too stunned to stop her, he could only stare in confusion as she gently rubbed the dirt away.
“Yeah . . . me, too.”
A savage desire to reach out for her assailed him. He wanted to touch her, to prove to himself that she was real. Too often he'd felt it, the yearning ache to have her near. Transcending physical, it was the simple comfort of her laughter that had the power to bind him to her. She understood him, knew the ugly things about him, and she trusted him anyway. His gaze dropped to her mouth. Lips slightly parted, she gasped quietly, so quietly that she probably hadn't heard the sound at all. He'd never wanted anything quite as badly as he wanted to kiss her. He knewshe knew it . . . and she ran away to hide in the blankets of her bedroll.
He sighed, absently thankful that no youkai had chosen that time to attack. He was so lost in that memory that he'd have been an easy target. He frowned and straightened his back. `Baka!' he berated himself. `Your first task—your onlytask—is to protect Kagome. Quit thinking about other stuff, especially when she doesn't feel the same way or you'll just end up miserable---and alone. She's your friend---your bestfriend, and . . . and that's got to be enough.'
`Take care of her.'
He would. Even if Kikyou hadn't asked him to do it, he would have.
“If you don't hurry, dinner's going to be burned,” he remarked.
“All right, I'm getting out,” she answered. “No peeking!”
“Do I ever peek?”
“I don't know. Do you?”
She laughed. He heard her splashing around, and her voice was moving closer to the shore. His ears twitched, catching the soft sounds of her movements. `Don't look, baka! She'll make you eat dirt if she catches you.'
“Yeah, I guess it's nothing you haven't seen before,” she commented lightly.
“I've told you before, I've never seen anything,” he stated.
“What about in Togenkyo? You don't remember seeing me then?”
He nearly whined as the image flashed through his head, of Kagome in that tub in the basement of the sage's dwelling. Completely naked and just happy to see that he was still alive, she hadn't even realized that he could see all of her until he had started stuttering. “Keh! I was human then. I don't remember.”
She flopped down on the ground next to him, fully dressed and properly covered. It didn't help. He could still smell the dampness on her skin, the disturbing scent of those foreign soaps she used . . . . “So . . . when you're human you don't remember anything? That's what you're trying to say? You think I'm buying that?”
He didn't answer. Shooting to his feet, he stomped back toward the camp and leaped into a tree, set on ignoring Kagome even if it killed him.
She wasn't laughing as she wandered back into camp but her amusement was obvious, and she set her bag down before kneeling by the fire to check on their dinner. Tilting her head back, she blinked at him, eyes sparkling and happy. “Are you going to come down to eat?”
When he didn't answer, she sighed and flipped open her pocket knife. Interesting contraption, he had to admit. Not nearly as useful as his claws, of course, but not bad for a human pathetic human.
She settled back with a small portion of food. He watched with a frown as she quietly ate.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked, her voice soft. She was gazing up at him again with unmasked concern in her gaze.
He sighed and dropped out of the tree to scoop her up and leap back to his perch again. He pointed at the western horizon. She gasped softly. Silhouetted against the rising moon stood Sesshoumaru's castle. Even from this distance, the structure was intimidating. Immense, cold, commanding, it stood alone on a tall cliff.
Kagome stared in awe. “That's where we're going,” she remarked. InuYasha nodded. “And this thing you're looking for? Is it there?”
“No. It was there. Myouga said it was stolen long ago, but he didn't know who took it. I thought maybe Sesshoumaru might know something. I doubt it. Even if does, he won't tell me unless I beat it out of him . . . and I don't think I'd much care if it came to that.” He stared at Kagome for a few moments and finally shook his head slowly. “I don't even know where to start looking,” he admitted.
Kagome absorbed that in silence as the two stared at Sesshoumaru's castle. She sighed softly, and he glanced down when he felt her cheek come to rest against his shoulder. “I don't know what it is you're looking for. I don't know where to tell you to start searching, either. I do want to help you, if you'll let me.”
“Keh. Do I have a choice? You've already followed me once.”
She smiled at his tone. His words, as always, were gruff, but his voice had been gentle, touched with a hint of gratefulness. She understood the things he'd never been able to say.
“How long will it take us to get there?” she asked, nodding toward the castle on the horizon.
InuYasha crossed his arms under his haori sleeves, careful not to disturb Kagome. “Two days.”
She was almost asleep. He couldn't help the little grin that surfaced as she snuggled closer to him. “Come on. You can't sleep in a tree.”
She smiled slightly. “You do.”
“Just a little longer?” He turned and pulled her into his arms. She let her head rest against his chest, and she sighed softly. “Is this why you sit up in trees?”
He stared at the top of her head with a slight smile twitching the corners of his lips. “Yeah.”
She giggled, but her voice was groggy when she spoke. “Dogs don't climb trees.”
She laughed a little harder. “I can't see your brother sleeping in a tree.”
`He would have, if he had to run for his life from youkai,' InuYasha thought with a grimace. “Nah. Stupid bastard would fall on his ass.”
“This is nice.”
`You have no idea . . .' he thought with an inward sigh. “Is it?”
“I could sleep here all night.”
“You'd fall on your ass.”
“I wouldn't,” she shot back with a stifled yawn. “You wouldn't let me fall.”
`No,' he thought as he wrapped the sleeves of his haori tighter around her and smiled as he buried his nose in her hair. `No, I wouldn't.'
Kagome arched her back and stretched then choked out a small cry as she nearly lost her balance. Arms wrapped around her and held onto her. She grasped the clawed hands tightly and peeked down.
“What the hell are you doing? You're not a bird, wench.”
She swallowed hard. “It looks a lot higher in the daytime.”
“Keh!” He lifted her and dropped to the ground. “I suppose you want to eat before we leave.”
She frowned at his back as he stomped off. He'd been so different last night. Apparently, the InuYasha she was used to was back. She sighed. `Come to think of it, he's been acting a little weird lately. What's gotten into him?'
Making quick work of rolling up her unused bedroll and packing everything away again, she was sitting with her calculus book when InuYasha crashed through the brush. “You make enough noise to wake the dead, InuYasha,” she commented without looking up.
Kagome stuck her book back into the bag and waited while InuYasha doused the fire.
“Where did you go?” she asked as they started out again.
He didn't answer, and he didn't look at her. “I thought I heard something.”
“Nope.” She slowed her step and frowned at InuYasha's odd behavior. Noticing that she had fallen behind, he stopped and turned to stare at her. “Something wrong?”
She forced a bright smile. “No, everything's fine . . . you're the one acting strange.”
He started walking again, leaving Kagome to catch up with him. “I thought I smelled Sesshoumaru,” he finally admitted. “I couldn't find him, but he's been through here recently.”
InuYasha shrugged. “In the last few days.”
She didn't miss the reluctance in his tone. He really didn't want to go to Sesshoumaru's castle . . . . “Do we have to go to the castle? You said that this thing was stolen, right? So why are we going there?”
“Sesshoumaru might know something. I wouldn't put it past him.”
“Is this thing valuable?”
“Depends on what you consider `valuable'.”
She frowned at his enigmatic answers. It wasn't like him to be so pensive. She stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Do you consider it valuable?”
The wash of emotions that crossed his features startled Kagome. Anger, reluctance, stubbornness, irritation, fear, all mixed together as he glared at her. “I couldn't care less.”
He turned again and stomped away. Kagome bit her lip as she watched him go. He was lying, and she knew it. Whatever it was that he was looking for meant more to him than he wanted to admit, even to himself. But why would it frighten him?
InuYasha hissed as the antiseptic wash Kagome sprayed onto the wound stung. “Sorry!” she said with a wince.
“Just hurry,” he bit out, keeping his teeth clenched.
She snapped the lid back on the spray and carefully placed a bandage over the laceration on the back of his shoulder. “There.”
He pulled his haori back in place, carefully not to disturb Kagome's handiwork.
Kagome repacked her first aid kit and stuck it in the backpack after checking to make sure the Shikon no Tama was still safe. “We should have purified this already,” she remarked, more to herself than to InuYasha as she dropped the jewel back into her bag. “Then we wouldn't be getting attacked as often.”
“It's just a scratch,” InuYasha said with a snort as he carefully stretched out on his side.
Kagome rolled her eyes. The laceration had come from a poison frog youkai's tongue. He'd sensed the Shikon no Tama and thought that he could take on InuYasha, just because InuYasha was `only half-youkai'. The frog had gotten a good taste of Tetsusaiga, and now he was dust in the wind.
“Still, if we purify the jewel, then it'll be gone, and—”
“We can't, not yet.”
She stared at him for a few moments. He was dragging his claws across the ground in his typical `I'm Thinking' manner. She stirred the stew on the fire. “Do you need some aspirin?”
He'd gotten more and more edgy as they traveled. It seemed like the closer they got to Sesshoumaru's castle, the more irrational InuYasha became. As though the thing he was searching for had the power to harm him, he acted more like a man on his way to the gallows than someone his age ought to act. She wanted to help him. She always wanted to help him. He never let her, not willingly. Why?
She handed him a bowl of stew and a set of chopsticks before retrieving her own bowl and utensils. InuYasha pushed his food around. “It's a book.”
“What's a book?”
He sighed and set the bowl aside. “This thing I'm looking for . . . it's a book.”
“What sort of book?”
“A fucking book that never should have been written.”
Kagome could only watch as InuYasha shot to his feet and leapt into a tree. She knew what that meant: discussion closed.
Shaking her head slightly as she frowned up at the stubborn hanyou, she couldn't help but wonder just why he was acting so strangely about the entire situation. Surely this book wasn't really such a horrible thing. He behaved as though he thought that it really could hurt him.
She sighed quietly and poked the fire with a long stick, watching as tiny sparks flew up into the sky and burned themselves out. A book? What sort of book would have the power to upset him so badly? Kagome watched InuYasha as he stared off into the distance. He didn't come down the rest of the night.
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Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Chronicles): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.