InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Warmth ( Chapter 27 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
“Are you warm enough?”
Kagome nodded but didn't expend the energy to speak. Her jaw hurt from clamping her teeth together. Huddled under the blanket in the cave, even the decent fire InuYasha had built up did little to dispel the subzero temperature. Add that to her damp clothes and the damp blankets, and there wasn't much comfort to be found, and there wasn't much warmth, either.
“Talk, wench. Normally I can't get you to shut up.”
She forced her heavy eyelids open and pulled the blanket closer. “Ab-b-b-bout what-t-t-t?”
He sighed and scowled as he stood up and stepped over to the cave's opening. “About anything. Just talk.”
Kagome curled herself up tighter and let her eyes close. `So sleepy,' she thought as her mind started to drift. `Just sleep . . . mm?'
“Don't fall asleep, wench! Wake up, okay? Kagome!”
`InuYasha's talking to me . . . should . . . answer . . . .'
Something nudged her. It brought back the cold, the pain of her aching body that hurt from the shivering she'd done. She whimpered as her body reawakened from the numbness that had settled over her and that had brought her a moment of peace.
“What would you rather be doing right now?”
“Hmm?” Her mind was too sluggish, too slow to digest InuYasha's softly uttered question. `He's lying down with me? Under the covers . . . and he's warm . . . .'
She didn't see his relieved expression as she gravitated toward the warmth of his body. He curled around her tighter, willing his body to help hers stay warm. “Tell me about your school.”
“Don't . . . wanna go . . . .”
He shook her slightly, willing her to open her eyes. Sesshoumaru's words came back to him in the gloomy cave, `Get up and move. If you lay down in this cold, you will not rise again.'
She moaned softly but didn't open her eyes. InuYasha whined softly as he nudged her with his nose, arms tightening around her. Limp in his arms, no more than a whisper of a girl, InuYasha shook her a little harder. “Kagome! Damn it, wench! Open your eyes!”
His cheek rested on hers, and he winced. Her flesh was so cold, too cold. Her clothes were still damp from the driving snow that had beat at them from mid-morning and into the afternoon as they'd struggled to find shelter somewhere. In the end, this cave was the best he could find, but by then the temperature had already dropped significantly, and it was only getting colder. The cave offered shelter from the blowing winds and icy snow but the frigid cold permeated the rocks, the earth, and Kagome, having already endured the elements for the greater part of the day, was nearly frozen. He had to do something to get her warm quickly.
He sat up, careful not to let any of the cold air under the blankets, and jerked open his haori and undershirt. Kagome's sweatshirt and tee-shirt fell victim to his claws. She didn't move, didn't flinch as he tore through. He pushed the clothing off her and pulled her against his chest, wrapping her in the folds of his haori. At least it was warm and dry, he figured. “Come on, Kagome . . . wake up . . . .”
Her skin was cold, clammy, and InuYasha held her as close as he could. “Kagome? Can you hear me? Wake up . . .” he shook her gently. She whimpered. Relief washed over him, despite the pitiful sound of her discontent. “You can be mad at me later, wench. You can say `it', if you want, as much as you want . . . just don't . . . . Just wake up!”
“In . . .u . . . Yasha?”
Hot tears stabbed his eyelids as he squeezed his eyes closed against the sound of her voice. Relief washed over him in merciful waves, and he blinked quickly, pulling her even closer. Her body started to shiver almost violently, and he did his best to quiet her.
“C-c-c-cold,” she stuttered. “S-s-s-so c-c-cold.”
“I know,” he whispered in her hair. “I'm sorry, Kagome. I should have left you behind.”
“N-n-no . . . I w-w-wanted to come with you,” she answered.
He jostled her when she fell quiet again. She moaned in protest. “Wake up, Kagome. Talk.”
“Tired,” she mumbled.
He sighed. “I'll let you sleep after you've warmed up,” he promised. “But for now, you've got to talk.”
“I'll shake you,” he warned.
“I don't like you right now,” she shivered, trying to keep her teeth from chattering.
He heard the tears behind her voice, and that kept him from taking her words to heart. “You don't have to like me, but you do have to keep talking. So why don't you like me right now?”
The deep breath she took quivered, and he squeezed her tight. “Because I'm tired, and you won't let me sleep,” she whined.
“You'd keep me awake, too, if you had to.”
She shook her head slightly. “I wouldn't . . . I'd let you sleep, if you wanted to . . . because I'm nice, and you're not.”
He swallowed back the lump that rose in his throat. She really had no idea how close she'd come to freezing, did she? `That's it, Kagome, keep talking . . . .' He shifted, drawing her closer. She whimpered in protest. “Are you any warmer?”
“No,” she sniffled. “You keep moving.”
“You pout a lot, wench,” he goaded.
“Look who's talking! The master of the sulky pout!”
“I don't sulk.”
“You do! You—” she cut herself off with a sharp gasp. “What did you do to my . . . where's my . . . InuYasha!”
Panic. Red hot panic. He knew she wasn't going to like it, when she realized what he'd done to her shirts. His grip tightened on her before she could hop up and osuwari him straight to hell. “I wouldn't have had to if you had the sense to put on something dry,” he grumbled.
“InuYasha . . . let go of me,” she said in a deadly-quiet voice.
She hesitated before continuing. “Why not?”
He couldn't stop his ears from flattening against his head as he admitted, “Because you'll say `it'.”
“I'll say `it' if you don't let go,” she warned.
“Keh! You'll be flattened, if you do, stupid girl.”
She sighed. “At least let me put a shirt on,” she grumbled. He could tell from her tone that she was blushing.
“Promise you won't say `it'.”
“This isn't . . . Let go!”
“Could wait all night,” he growled.
She choked back an embarrassed sob. “Fine.”
He let go and scooted out from under the blankets, satisfied that she'd keep her word.
“What'd you do that for?” he snarled as he pulled himself off the ground.
“Why do you think, you dog?”
He didn't trust himself to speak. He dragged off his haori and tossed it to her before stomping toward the front of the cave again. `That's the last time I save her from freezing,' he fumed as he stared out into the blinding whirl of snow.
Kagome stared at InuYasha's retreating back before letting her gaze drop to the haori he'd thrown at her. `Why did he give me this? There's no danger in here, and I've got more clothes in my bag . . . .'
Okay, so it was dirty of her, to say `it' after she'd promised not to. It wasn't as though she was even angry at him, really. Nope, just really, really embarrassed . . . . `Still, he only gives me the haori if there's a danger, and I can't sense anything . . . just the . . . cold . . . .'
Her eyes widened, and a low groan escaped her. He'd found this cave, and by then, Kagome had thought that her entire body was numb. The first thing he'd done was drag her bedroll out of the backpack, telling her to cover up before she froze. Then he had made short work of finding wood and starting a fire.
As though her mind had been as numb as the rest of her, she hadn't been able to answer him when he started firing off questions at her, and she hadn't noticed when he had gotten under the blankets with her, either. Had she almost succumbed to hypothermia? `Don't answer that, Kagome,' her mind instructed as she deliberately put aside the idea that she had been in danger, and that he had realized it, too.
`He was trying to . . . save me . . . and I . . . .'
She hopped up and dragged on the first thing she grabbed out of the bag, which happened to be an overly large navy blue turtle neck sweater before she grabbed the haori and ran after InuYasha.
If he heard her approach, he didn't show it. Staring out into the snow with his arms crossed over his chest, he didn't move at all. She gently draped the haori over his shoulders and forced herself to walk around to face him. “I'm sorry,” she said, unable to meet his gaze. “I didn't realize . . . and . . .” she trailed off helplessly, unsure what she could possibly say that might convince him that she really was sorry. Staring at her hands clasped before her, Kagome felt the sting of rising tears and blinked them back, unwilling to let them fall.
Suddenly she felt the weight on her shoulders as InuYasha put the haori around her. She pulled it closer and dared a peek at him. He was staring over her head, a thoughtful frown drawing his eyebrows together. His eyes were unusually bright as he stared at the darkening sky, and he cleared his throat before he spoke. “I didn't want you to know,” he mumbled. “It was too close.”
A million images filtered through Kagome's mind. How many times had he saved her? How many times had he showed up at the last moment, when she had desperately needed him, and in those moments, she had believed he'd come for her. How often had he known what she needed without having to ask? And how often did she ever tell him that she appreciated him?
With a muffled cry, she leaned forward, rose up, reached for him. She didn't give him a chance to retreat, a chance to hide himself behind his gruff demeanor. Her lips brushed over his then returned. He stood still, rigid, and for a moment, Kagome thought he would pull back. Sensing his shock, his reluctance, she coaxed him with gentle kisses, following the outline of his lips. `Don't leave me, InuYasha . . . .' Slowly, though, his arms closed around her, holding her gently, his lips returning the pressure as hers surrendered. The subtle shift brought a weakness to her knees, and she buckled against him. He caught her and held her as he moaned softly against her.
An effigy of light engulfed her, radiated toward him. The fissure of the energies between them transcended the night, wrapping them in the warmth of the moment, the surreal touch of light and dark, purifying and powerful, his indecision melted as the innate secrets were whispered, the stunning belief that she was meant to be with him. `Stay with me, Kagome . . .'
All too soon, though, the intrusion of the bitter cold seemed to bring him back to his senses, and he sighed and hugged her. “Come on,” he said, his voice oddly husky. “You'll freeze out here.” He must have sensed that her body wasn't willing to cooperate though, because in the next moment, he swept her up and carried her back to the warmth of the fire.
`Okay,' InuYasha thought with a scowl. `Maybe kissing her was a bad idea.'
Kagome leaned over to hand him chopsticks. He took them, and her hand brushed his. He was sure it was accidental on her part. He still couldn't stop the rush of `Monk-in-Pain'-red that shot to his cheeks because of it.
“You're not hungry?” she asked innocently, staring at him over her own cup of ramen.
Eyes shining in the light of the fire, she seemed to have completely forgotten the kiss that she'd instigated.
He'd carried her away from the entrance because, judging by the way she had looked, she wouldn't have been able to move herself. He hadn't bothered to figure out why she'd think that and had opted for the easy route, instead. Then she'd practically dove under her blankets the very second her feet touched the ground, emerging only long enough to start some water to heat for their dinner.
Since then, she'd barely spoken more than a few words, and he'd intercepted a few strange looks from her. The one he'd been able to discern seemed almost frightened, and that was enough to set him on edge, if nothing else had.
He snapped back to the present with a scowl at his now-cold ramen. With a snort, he set the cup aside and shot to his feet, stalking back toward the entrance of the cave.
“Where are you going?” she called after him.
“Wood, wench! Unless you want to go get it?”
She didn't answer.
Kagome stifled a sigh as InuYasha stomped off. `I'm so stupid! Baka! He's probably half-way back to Musashi by now . . . what was I thinking?'
She sighed. `Admit it, Kagome, what really scares you is that you enjoyed that kiss toomuch . . . and maybe InuYasha did, too.'
That was true enough. She hadn't known what to do with the residual emotions that coursed through her, and when he set her down, she had done the first thing that came to mind, which was to hide under her blankets. He had given her an inscrutable look but hadn't commented.
Then she'd spent the next hour or so trying to come up with something to say that didn't sound either completely stupid or like she was begging him to kiss her again. In the end, she hadn't been able to come up with anything. `Maybe I should have kissed more guys so I knew what to say afterward,' she thought then made a face. `What am I thinking? I've kissed one guy, and he's stomping around outside looking for firewood in a blizzard.'
In the end, she got up and heated water for ramen, hoping that InuYasha's favorite food would coax him out of the mood that resulted in the dark frown on his features. That had obviously not worked, either. She stared at his untouched ramen with a sigh.
`Maybe you should kiss him again,' her mind prodded. `At least then he'd know you wanted to do it the first time.'
Kagome moaned. That was the entire problem, really. She'd heard a lot about kissing. She'd watched tons of movies where kissing was involved. She'd read books that talked some about kissing. What she felt, though, when she had kissed InuYasha? That was something she'd never expected. Maybe it was naïve or stupid of her, but she really hadn't realized it was possible to feel that sort of overwhelming emotion. She'd heard the phrase `lose oneself in a kiss' before. She'd always thought it was kind of funny. How could you get lost in a feeling? The expression used to make her giggle.
She wasn't giggling now.
InuYasha dropped an armload of firewood in a loud crash. Kagome jumped. She hadn't heard him come back.
He sank down near her, balancing on the balls of his feet, as though he expected her to attack. She winced inwardly. He didn't speak for awhile. Kagome had the feeling that he was trying to figure out a way to say whatever it was he was thinking. Finally, he cleared his throat as his gaze grew more intense, more irritated, as he stared into the flames.
“I'm sorry that I scared you.”
She frowned and shook her head. “You didn't.”
He shot her a quick glance before his scowl flew back to the fire again. “I saw you, Kagome . . . it won't happen again.”
She scooted toward him. He moved away. She stopped and shook her head slowly. “I wasn't scared of you.” Slowly, hesitantly, his eyes shifted to meet hers, and she saw it: the self-disgust, the vulnerability . . . the all-consuming fear that she would reject him. Her heart crumbled. “It wasn't you at all . . . .”
Confusion registered in his gaze, and he shook his head. “I don't—”
Her eyes fell away, and she could feel the flush creeping up her cheeks. “I've just never . . . I've never felt like that before.”
It took a few moments for Kagome's words to make sense. Very slowly the ugly emotions melted away, and he stared at her, eyes full of wonder, as though he was daring to believe her. He didn't smile but he looked like it was a close thing. She almost hoped he'd reach for her. He did reach—for his ramen.
With a sigh, Kagome watched as he ate it—cold.
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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.