InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Defenseless ( Chapter 22 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
The stillness echoed through his head, through his brain, settling as a dull ache that pressed against his eyelids like an oppressive shroud. Forehead resting against the door, knuckles poised to knock . . . and yet he'd stood there for what felt like hours, waiting until all was silent, until this stillness threatened to break him.
The door made no noise as it opened. Sliding into the room, a sudden wash of light came over him, and the light was her. He needed it, this thing that had come from her. This part of her that might hold the ability to grant his wish. Gliding over the floor without even a whisper, locating the precious thing in the dark, he had to trust his fingers as he watched her, making sure that she stayed asleep.
He found it at last. Toward the bottom of the bag, buried under other things, he held it to his chest, closed his eyes as a thread of hope sparkled in his mind. It could help him. It had to.
After one last look at the sleeping girl, he slipped out of the room as quietly as he had come and strode across the hallway into the empty chamber. He sank onto his futon, stared at the glowing light of the fire in the small central pit.
With a sigh, he let his gaze fall to the pilfered bounty that he still held cradled against his heart.
He stared at the cover as a stabbing pang twisted his stomach. Flattening his ears against his head, InuYasha couldn't help the whine that escaped as he suddenly, violently missed Kagome's touch. Body rebelling against the idea of reading the book without her, he let it fall from his hand.
Guilt that he had even considered reading her diary without her gnawed at him. `She trusted you, baka! This is how you repay that trust? By sneaking into her room and stealing the damned diary?'
He shook his head. That wasn't why he took it. He wanted to read her feelings. Afraid that he'd done irreparable damage, his last hope had been this book---the book that he didn't even dare open, not without Kagome.
With a heavy sigh, he grabbed the book and got up to return the diary. He scowled and tried to brush the guilty feelings aside as he opened his door.
“Aahhh!” he hollered as he stumbled back.
Kagome stepped into his room with her arms over her chest and a menacing glower that pinned him to the floor.
“Do you have to scare me like that, wench?”
“I don't know,” she replied in a deadly-quiet voice. “Did you have to steal my diary?”
`Say it, stupid! It's just two words!'
His ears flattened again, and he sighed. `Easier said than done, damn it.' He dared a glance at her. She didn't look amused. He winced. “I didn't steal it,” he grumbled. “I borrowed it.”
“You borrow a pen or a piece of paper. You borrow a jacket or a blanket. You borrow money or a cup of sugar. Taking someone's diary is stealing, baka!”
“Fucking fine, I stole it! Is that better?”
Her gaze narrowed even more. “I don't think it is,” Kagome replied coldly as she snatched up her diary and turned on her heel to stomp out of the room.
InuYasha shot off the floor and caught her wrist. “I'm sorry,” he growled, flinching at the hint of desperation that he couldn't hide. He sighed, shoulders slumping as he let go and returned to his futon. “I wasn't even mad at you . . . I was just . . . .” He sighed again. “I'm sorry.”
She stopped and slowly turned her head to gaze at him. “You mean that, don't you?”
Her feet padded softly across the floor, and she knelt down next to him on his futon. “I'm sorry, too. Just because I was angry didn't give me the right to say those things to you. I knew you were upset, and---”
“Don't apologize to me, okay?”
She was about to answer when his stomach rumbled---loudly. Kagome grinned and got up before reaching down to catch InuYasha's hand and pulling him to his feet, too. “Come on. I put some water on earlier for a cup of hot chocolate.”
He followed her with a half-smile. `Hot chocolate . . . not bad . . . wonder if she's got any ramen in that bag she lives out of . . . .”
She made quick work of mixing two packets of the chocolate mix with hot water. He set his mug aside and dragged her bag into the light. Kagome didn't even have to ask what he was looking for as he rummaged around. `Maybe she knows me a little too well,' he thought with a grin. Pulling out a cup of the instant wonder, he held it out to her, refraining from utilizing the notorious blink to get his way. She rolled her eyes but smiled as she opened the cup and poured hot water over the dried noodles.
InuYasha dug into the bag once again, this time for chopsticks. “Can you keep anything else in here, wench?” he grumbled as he gave up and started pulling things out and setting them aside.
“I'm a girl. Girls always carry that much stuff.”
“Keh! I've seen girls, both here and in your time, and I've never seen any of them hauling around a monstrosity like this.”
He pulled out the chopsticks along with smaller pink bag, and he frowned at it, bringing it to his nose and cautiously sniffing. “What's this?” he asked suspiciously. He hadn't seen this bag before. He knew he hadn't.
Kagome glanced over and pulled the chopsticks out of his slack hand to stir his ramen. “Oh, that? That just holds my hair things.”
He shot her a dubious look. “Hair things?” Slowly, he unzipped the bag and pulled the edges apart to peer inside. “Oh, that stuff,” he remarked, losing interest when Kagome offered him the cup of ramen.
“You'd better save half of that for Shippou,” she commented as she drank her hot chocolate.
“Keh!” InuYasha scoffed. “Are you going to tell him?”
He made quick work of the ramen then blinked as he surveyed the mess he'd made. `I can't believe all this stuff fits in that bag,' he mused as he started shoving stuff back into the backpack.
Picking up the pink bag, he glanced over at Kagome. She was sitting, knees raised, one arm draped over her knees, the other elbow leaning against her legs as her hand rubbed the back of her neck. She looked so tired. He scowled. She caught his expression and her features immediately clouded over. “InuYasha?”
“You should get some rest,” he replied gruffly.
She reached over and plucked the bag out of his hand. Digging around for her brush, she pulled her hair over her shoulder and sighed as she started to drag it through her hair.
InuYasha watched for a minute. She flinched when she caught a tangle in her hair. He scooted behind her and pulled the brush out of her hand. “What are you doing?” she asked.
He gathered her hair and pulled it back before gently drawing the brush through the length of it.
She sighed and leaned her cheek on her raised knees. Eyes closed with a slight smile, InuYasha felt his breath catch before it reached his lungs. He kept brushing long after all the snarls were removed.
`Is this how she feels when she plays with my ears?' he wondered. Her contentment was so real to him that he might have been able to touch it. Eyes closed, a slight smile toying with her lips, she looked like there wasn't a place on earth she'd rather be. He shook his head as a little grin surfaced on his face. `If it's even close . . . I hope so.'
Finally he set the brush aside. Almost asleep, she mumbled, “Done?”
He leaned over her shoulder, close to her ear, to whisper, “Come on. You can't sleep sitting up like that.”
When she didn't move, he shook his head and gathered her up to lay her on the futon. She sighed as she rolled over onto her side. InuYasha stretched out with her, head propped up on his hand as he stared at her. “Will you sing . . . that song?” she asked sleepily. “Your mother's?”
He did. As he sang to her, she smiled, willing her eyes open to stare at him. She reached up, stroked his cheek, ran her fingers along his cheekbone, his jaw. Her touch shot through him, an aching need building even as he fought to understand what it was she made him feel. A fierce emotion, both wild and beautiful, welled up inside. The will to protect her combined with the encompassing fear that she would somehow slip away from him.
`Stay with me, Kagome . . . . If you left . . . if I lost you . . . .' When her hand fell away as her eyes drifted closed, he had to fight the desire to wake her up, to beg her to touch him again. But it was late, and she was tired, and in the morning, they'd be leaving again.
He finished the song to her soft, steady breathing. He leaned down to press his lips against her cheek before he laid down, his eyes closing and sleep drifting over him even as his contented rumbles broke the soft calm of the room. In her sleep, Kagome snuggled against him. In his sleep, he smiled.
“Kagome! Have you seen InuYasha? Tetsusaiga's in his chamber, but---” Miroku burst into Kagome's room.
Kagome sat up quickly, rubbing her eyes as she yawned and tried to make sense of the monk's words. “Miroku?”
“Pardon me! Carry on with . . . yeah . . . Okay, whenever you two are ready . . . Uh . . . .”
“What the fuck? Tetsusaiga---”
Kagome gasped as InuYasha's grumbling reminded her that she hadn't been alone. “It isn't what it looks like!” she declared.
Miroku's grin was a little too smug. “I didn't think anything of the sort, Kagome,” he assured her. “You are above reproach. InuYasha, however,” he added, nodding toward InuYasha, who was sitting on his haunches issuing a low growl, “has the manners of a, err, dog.”
“Fucking lecher! I'm nothing like you, damn it! Get back here!” InuYasha bellowed as he shot to his feet to intercept the retreating monk. He stomped out of Kagome's room.
Moments later, she heard a door slam open followed by, “I didn't see anything! I swear!”
“Of course you didn't, pervert! Nothing happened!”
“Not even a kiss? InuYasha, I'm disappointed in you . . . .”
“Lecher! Fucking stand still!”
“Let's not do anything rash . . . how about a moment of quiet reflection?”
“Reflect on this, baka!”
Kagome winced as a dull thump echoed back to her. Changing her clothes as quickly as she could, she smiled despite her acute embarrassment. Under different circumstances, it might have been nice, waking up next to InuYasha . . . .
`I can't believe how good I slept last night,' she marveled as she repacked her bag.
She'd just finished putting everything in order when InuYasha stomped back into her room, Tetsusaiga fastened securely to his hip. “Come on, wench. We ain't got all day.”
Kagome sighed. Obviously everything was back to normal, which meant that surly-InuYasha was back. `It was nice while it lasted,' she thought with a wry grin. “I'm ready,” she said as she headed for the door.
He took her bag and slung it over his shoulder. She caught the look in his eyes before he turned away. She hid her smile as she followed him out of the room. That one glimpse of emotion spoke to her, called to her soul. At least for that moment, he was happy.
He didn't answer as he sat high in the tree, arms folded together, staring off into the distance.
Kagome sighed. She'd really hoped that InuYasha had enough time to calm down.
Waiting until everyone else was sleeping, Kagome had forced herself to stay awake before carefully maneuvering Shippou to the side so she could get out. After grabbing her diary, Kagome wandered over to the tree where InuYasha had been keeping silent watch all night.
If it hadn't been bad enough that Miroku had found them asleep like that, InuYasha had made such a racket this morning that everyone knew about it. Kagome had been embarrassed but, because of the stir, InuYasha hadn't said more than two words to her since they left Katosan's castle. She could understand his acute discomfort, sure, but Miroku had made it that much worse by teasing InuYasha most of the day.
Sango, at least, had taken pity on the hanyou during their noon lunch stop. After another colorful comment about how cozy they'd looked when unceremoniously burst into Kagome's room, the youkai exterminator had announced that if Miroku didn't knock it off that he would be on the receiving end of Hiraikotsu. Not willing to temp fate, the monk had left off, at least, whenever Sango was nearby.
“It's not really fair, you know,” she called softly. “I didn't do anything this time.”
When he still didn't answer, Kagome gave up. Turning to go back to the warmth of her bedroll, she gasped in surprise as strong arms caught her and cradled her against a warm hanyou. He bounded back into the tree, letting Kagome rest against him as her blood thundered in her ears. “You should warn a girl before you do that,” she chided. Her voice sounded breathless, and he snorted.
“Keh! As if you didn't know I would.”
“I didn't,” she protested. “I was going to go back to bed.”
He sighed. “I've been plotting ways to off the monk,” he admitted. “Haven't thought of any that wouldn't look too obvious.”
“You might as well admit it, InuYasha. You're all bark and no bite,” she said as she sat up and turned to reach for his ears.
He ducked away with a scowl. “And what do you think you're doing, wench?”
“Oh, come on! I didn't get to rub them at all yesterday!” she protested.
He rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh to let her know what he thought of her demands but got up anyway, letting her scoot back against the tree trunk. He stretched out on the branch with his head in her lap.
“Don't you want this?” she asked, offering him the diary.
“Of course, wench! Give it.”
She pulled it out of his grasp and wrinkled her nose. “Ask nicely.”
“Come on,” she cajoled.
“That wasn't part of the deal.”
“You're so bad.”
“I'm sure as hell not letting you sit here playing with my ears because I like it or anything,” he grouched as he snatched the diary out of her hand.
“Really,” she remarked dryly.
“Quiet, wench. I can't read when you're blabbing.”
She grumbled under her breath but stopped talking.
He flipped to the marked page and rolled enough to catch the firelight on the page.
`In our search to find Kikyou, we stumbled into a trap Naraku set. The miasma cast a spell that he called `Illusory death', and I lost track of everyone in the shouki. It was there, in that stifling place that we all saw our worst dreams become a sort of reality. I didn't know where everyone else was, so I kept wandering when I found Kikyou. She wasn't an illusion. I think she sought me out on purpose. Naraku tried to control her using a tainted shard of the jewel. He should have known that she couldn't be controlled like that. He'd had to resort to his disgusting trickery to kill her in life. What really made him think that she'd be so easy to control after death?'
InuYasha flinched. Her diary entry was one he wasn't sure he wanted to read. He'd wondered for too long, whether or not Kikyou had really tried to kill Kagome. Now that he was about to find out, he was almost afraid of the answer.
`She shot one of her arrows, and it grazed my cheek. I was scared, really scared. It wasn't until later that I realized that Kikyou was a master archer. There wasn't any way she could have missed me, if that had been her intention to kill me outright. I think the arrow was meant to scare me, as her way of telling me that I was somehow less than her. I think the arrow was only meant to do that, and to open up the pit that I slipped into.'
He frowned as he reread the paragraph. Kikyou said she'd tried to kill Kagome. Kagome didn't think she had? That made no sense . . . unless . . . .
`Kikyou took my jewel shard. I couldn't stop her. I was wrapped in her Shini-dama-chuu. They carried me up, and for a moment I thought that Kikyou would help me. I hung there, powerless to stop her, and all I could think was, would InuYasha care? Kikyou stole my shards, and I wondered about that. I could have died if I'd fallen. From where I was, I couldn't see the bottom of that pit. I'm ashamed to admit that I wondered, if Kikyou killed me, would InuYasha even care? I don't know what Kikyou wanted, in the end. Whether I was too far beneath her to bother killing me outright with her arrows or whether she just didn't care one way or the other, she told InuYasha that she tried to kill me.
`When he asked me if she had or not, I didn't know what to say. Tattling on Kikyou seemed so stupid, and yet this ugly part of me that I can't control tells me that she wouldn't have been upset to see me dead. So I suppose, in a weird way, she did try to kill me, and even if I told him, it wouldn't change a thing because I know that deep down inside InuYasha still loves her. I wonder what it would be like, to have someone love you that much?'
InuYasha closed his eyes against the sadness still evident in Kagome's words. He'd known the truth, that Kikyou had tried to kill Kagome. He hadn't wanted to believe it. Looking back, that was when he'd first started to understand that the Kikyou that had been resurrected by Urasue's black magic wasn't the same woman who'd died before. It didn't make the truth any easier for him to take. “Why didn't you tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
He caught her hand and sat up, slowly turning to stare at her. She didn't understand what he was talking about. He let go of her and folded his arms over his chest. “I asked you if Kikyou had tried to kill you, and you never said. Why?”
“Why did you have to ask me?” she countered softly. “She told you she did, and you didn't want to believe her. If I had told you, would you have believed me then?”
Digging his claws into the branch, InuYasha struggled for a calm that he was far from feeling. She was right. He knew she was right. It didn't matter, though. “I thought you trusted me! If you trusted me, why didn't you tell me what she did to you?”
She rubbed her hands over her face, as though she was tired, and she sighed. “What did you see, InuYasha? In the shouki? What did the Illusory Death show you?”
He didn't answer. Scowling at the ground below, InuYasha couldn't meet her gaze, couldn't answer her question. That day over fifty years ago . . . the day his first life had ended . . . holding Kikyou, promising he'd protect her . . . and then . . . Kagome . . . . “You'd be amazed what I saw,” he snarled. “I fought the miasma so I could save you.”
She laughed but the sound lacked any real humor. He winced inwardly. “It doesn't matter now. You would have had to make a choice that I wasn't willing to force you into making.”
“Keh.” As much as he hated to admit it, even to himself, Kagome was right. The trouble back then was that, while his heart would have chosen Kagome, honor had bound him to Kikyou.
Staring up at the stars, Kagome's eyes were bright with tears that didn't fall. Arms wrapped over her stomach as though the gesture comforted her, InuYasha reached out, took her hand, pulled her into his arms. “I'd have followed Kikyou to hell, if she had asked me to. I owed her that. I never wanted to go with her . . .” he trailed off and growled in frustration. “Never mind.”
She leaned away enough to look up at him. “You . . . you didn't? Then why---”
“Keh! Stupid girl! Are you going to talk all night or are you going to be shut up and scratch my ear?”
Kagome sighed but sat back again. Satisfied that she would let the subject drop, InuYasha stretched out once more, conveniently letting the diary fall to the ground below. `Later,' he thought as Kagome scratched his ear. `Much later.'
“You dropped my diary,” she remarked.
She was quiet for a moment. “I thought you said you don't like it when I play with your ears and you were only doing it so you could read my diary.”
“What of it?” he demanded.
“Then why are you letting me do it?”
“Because you like it.”
Her hand paused for a moment. “Oh . . . thank you.”
He yawned. “Don't mention it.”
Shini-dama-chuu:Kikyou's soul collectors.
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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.