InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Good and Evil ( Chapter 36 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~Good and Evil~
“Wake up, wench.”
InuYasha smiled vaguely as Kagome stirred out of her sleep. Still exhausted from both their encounter with Mai as well as the disagreement following, InuYasha hadn't been surprised that she'd spent the majority of their travel time sleeping against his back. It hadn't bothered him. It had given him more time to think.
He could drive himself crazy, worrying and waiting and wondering when Kagome would reject him. Yet in his heart, he had to admit that he wondered if she ever would. He wasn't the easiest person to get along with, but she didn't seem to mind. There were times when he'd catch her staring at him like she thought he could conquer the world for her, and she wasn't far wrong. If she asked him to, he'd run to the edge of the earth and back again, whatever she wanted . . . .
Reading her diary after she'd fallen asleep, he'd been reminded of something that he had forgotten. Over the course of time that they'd traveled together, some things had dimmed in his mind, things that hadn't seemed significant at the time but now were more bits of the puzzle that was Kagome.
`InuYasha wanted to increase Tetsusaiga's power, so he went to see Totosai, and after a mix-up and some fake `training' that actually ended up just preparing a bath for the swordsmith, InuYasha returned, and though he wasn't any stronger, he had made a new friend. We set out then to find more shards. I guess the theory was, if InuYasha couldn't figure out how to break Naraku's barrier that protected his castle, then the least we could do was continue on, business as usual.
`Myouga showed up to tell InuYasha of a way to strengthen Tetsusaiga enough to break powerful barriers. After finding out that he only needed to defeat a youkai that could cast a strong enough barrier, we set out again. This morning, we met Shiori, a bat hanyou, and possibly the cutest and yet saddest little girl I've ever seen. With a human mother and a powerful youkai father, I can see in InuYasha's face that he can identify with her. The trouble is, she is the keeper of the barrier, and even though InuYasha wants to strengthen Tetsusaiga, I know in my heart that he cannot hurt her. Too young, too vulnerable, too much like him . . . I only wish there were another way for InuYasha to achieve his goal, another way that doesn't include having to harm Shiori . . . .'
Kagome had been right. There hadn't even been a question in InuYasha's mind about harming Shiori. It didn't matter that he needed to strengthen his sword. The idea of hurting her had sickened him, put him on par with the youkai who exploited her abilities for their own gains. In the end, InuYasha had helped to free Shiori from her youkai grandfather and had helped the little girl return home to her mother, where she should have been, all along. Maybe her mother couldn't save Shiori the ridicule of humans and youkai, but she'd love her daughter, and maybe that had been enough.
He'd also been able to strengthen Tetsusaiga, too. Myouga had been mistaken. InuYasha didn't have to harm Shiori; he only had to destroy the red sphere that contained the power to create the barrier. Shiori had been the only one who could utilize that power, and in exchange for helping her return home, she had willingly sacrificed the sphere.
`How does she do that? How is it that Kagome knows me better than I even know myself?' Those were the questions that had preoccupied him. It frightened him, how easy it was for her to discern him.
But maybe it wasn't nearly so important to know why Kagome felt the way she did so long as she did feel that way? Maybe, if he felt more worthy of her, maybe if he thought he had something to offer her . . . maybe . . . .
“We're almost there.”
His smile widened as they crested the hill that overlooked Katosan's castle. He carefully lowered Kagome's feet to the ground but didn't let go of her until he was certain she was awake. “Come on, wench. I ain't carrying you into the castle.”
She stretched and yawned, blinking in surprise as she took in her surroundings. “I slept all day?”
“Keh! Pathetic human.” He let go of her and stalked forward. Kagome ran to catch up and fell in step beside him.
“I'll be up all night,” she remarked.
“So long as you're not chattering the whole time.”
Her retort was cut short when Katosan stepped outside to greet them. “InuYasha-sama! I'm pleased that you decided to come.”
InuYasha followed Katosan into the castle as Kagome followed along behind. “Kaede said you found the diary,” he remarked.
Katosan narrowed his eyes. “I'm afraid that it was a mistaken lead. I apologize for your having come all this way for nothing. However, since you are here, there was something I did wish to discuss with you—” his eyes flicked coolly over Kagome, “—alone.”
Kagome's hand slipped into his and squeezed. InuYasha turned and offered her a half-smile. “Why don't you go find the others? Make sure everyone's all right?”
She nodded and took the backpack from his other hand. He watched as she headed toward the hallway and the rooms they'd occupied on their last two visits.
“You care for that miko.”
InuYasha deliberately blanked his expression as his gaze shifted back to Katosan. “What of it?”
Katosan smiled slightly and shook his head. “She is lovely. A word of friendly advice?” InuYasha nodded once. Katosan glanced around before leaning in close to tell him, “Show caution. Wearing your heart on your sleeve might prove detrimental to you. You never know who might seek to exploit such a vulnerability.”
InuYasha digested that for a moment before he answered. “Kagome ain't a vulnerability. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“I wondered if you've given any more thought to what I told you about Musashi.”
Katosan wandered over to the fire and knelt down before gesturing for InuYasha to join him. He did, ignoring the cushion on the floor as he sat down in his normal fashion. “Do you plan on taking the miko as your mate?”
“Hadn't thought about it,” InuYasha grumbled, feeling his face warming uncomfortably. For some reason, he didn't want to talk about this, at least with Katosan.
“If you are,” Katosan went on smoothly, “then perhaps you ought to consider it. The Inu no Taisho meant for you to have it, InuYasha-sama, and I daresay your miko would prefer life in a castle as opposed to life . . . in a cave?”
InuYasha tried not to let it show, that Katosan's words hit home. Hadn't he thought the same thing already? He knew he didn't have anything to offer her, and yet she didn't seem to care, either . . . or did she? “She wouldn't want all of Musashi,” InuYasha remarked, struggling to keep the hint of doubt out of his tone. “Kagome doesn't care about stuff like that.”
“Are you so sure? Begging your pardon, InuYasha-sama . . . she is a mortal, and mortals . . . are greedy.”
“Keh! You're wrong about Kagome.”
“InuYasha-sama . . . it would pain me to see you lose the one you care for over an oversight like this when you could rectify it before it ever became an issue. If you set your sights on Musashi, I would be willing to offer my assistance, whatever the cost.”
InuYasha shook his head. “What the hell would I do with all of Musashi? I don't want it, and I don't need it.”
Katosan shrugged. “Think on it, InuYasha-sama. Would you dishonor your father by not claiming what he willingly gave you?”
InuYasha frowned. “My old man gave me Tetsusaiga. That was enough.”
Katosan's smile was enigmatic, faintly condescending. “Think about your miko, then. Is your father's Tetsusaiga enough for her? Oughtn't you consider what she might want?”
`Not Kagome.' InuYasha pondered his words for a moment before he stood up and left Katosan. `She never acts like she cares about material things . . . She'd give away everything she had, if someone needed it . . . No . . . Katosan's wrong about her . . . .'
“InuYasha! You've finally arrived!” Miroku said as he stepped out of his chamber.
“What? No black eye this time? Sango must be slipping . . . .” He stopped and wrinkled his nose before sniffing once and jerking back, away from the monk. “What the fuck is that smell?”
“Smell? What smell?”
InuYasha covered his nose with his forearm with a wince. “Hell, it's you! What the fuck is that?”
Miroku sniffed, too, looking confused for a moment. His eyes widened suddenly, as though he realized what it was that InuYasha had smelled. “I don't smell a thing.”
“You wouldn't if it's your own stench, monk! Ugh!” InuYasha staggered away from Miroku, backing into Kagome's room. “Get the hell away from me!”
Kagome looked up as Miroku followed InuYasha through the doorway. From her place on the floor coloring with Shippou, she seemed to sense something, too. She made a face and wrinkled her nose as Shippou covered his with his tiny paws. “Miroku . . . why does it smell like you took a bath in Flex-All?” Kagome asked dryly.
InuYasha skittered away from the monk to kneel down behind Kagome, burying his nose in her hair to counteract the vapors emanating off the monk. “Get out!” he bellowed. His nose stung from the fumes.
“I tried to warn you, Miroku,” Shippou said without uncovering his face before he turned to blink at Kagome. “Can I sleep in here with you?”
“Not!” InuYasha snarled.
Miroku chuckled and bowed, hand before his face. “Is there something you two wish to share?”
“No!” Kagome and InuYasha insisted, which only served to further Miroku's amusement.
Miroku's grin was downright smug as he remarked, “Ahh, matching shades of `Monk-in-Pain'-red? Interesting . . . very interesting.”
“Kagome! InuYasha! When did you arrive?” Sango asked as she stepped inside the room behind Miroku.
“Just,” Shippou remarked as he turned his attention back to his picture, burying his nose in his sleeve.
Miroku closed the door and leaned against the wall as Sango knelt down across the fire pit from InuYasha and Kagome. “Have you spoken to Katosan, InuYasha? Has he told you anything?”
InuYasha lifted his nose out of Kagome's hair, made a disgusted face, muttered something that they were all probably better off not hearing, and buried his nose again. “Yeah . . . he said he wanted you to beat the crap out of the monk if he doesn't do something about that smell.”
For some reason, Sango blushed. Kagome turned her head to exchange questioning glances with InuYasha before she narrowed her gaze on the two. “Why do you smell like a bottle of Flex-All?” she asked slowly.
“Sango whacked him a good one with Hiraikotsu,” Shippou supplied without looking up from his picture.
“Nice,” InuYasha approved, peeking around Kagome's shoulder. “Impressive, Sango.” Golden eyes flashed to lock on the monk. “Lemme see.”
“No one needs to see anything,” Miroku insisted as his face blossomed in a vivid shade of scarlet. “Anyway, the bruise is nearly gone now, and—”
“It is not,” Shippou piped up, raising his eyes though his nose remained buried in his sleeve. “It was bright purple last night, and sort of yellowish, but it was still there . . . .”
“Thank you, Shippou,” Miroku remarked tightly, face growing redder by the second.
“Where'd you hit him, Sango?” InuYasha pressed.
Sango blushed as dark as Miroku. “I didn't mean to,”
InuYasha nudged Kagome's arm. “Must've been another invisible youkai.”
“Must've been,” Kagome agreed.
“C'mon, monk! Let's see!” InuYasha goaded.
“It's not that big a deal,” Miroku insisted.
“That's what you get for ass-grabbing, lecher,” InuYasha added for good measure.
“Yeah . . . at least you're not trying to kiss her anymore,” Shippou grumbled.
Four shocked expressions greeted Shippou's commentary. InuYasha and Kagome gaped at Sango and Miroku, who looked shocked for completely different reasons—and were both very, very, very red-faced.
InuYasha was the first to recover. “No wonder she tried to kill you,” he remarked.
One of Katosan's servants entered the room, bowing low to the assembled friends. “Begging your pardon. The meal is served.”
InuYasha grabbed Kagome's arm before she could follow her friends out of the room. “Miroku really needs to get rid of that smell,” he told her. “Katosan's full youkai. It'll knock him out.”
She nodded. “I wonder what we missed?”
InuYasha made a face. “I dunno . . . but I'm kind of glad we did.”
Kagome giggled and quickly leaned forward to kiss him.
“Ahhh! What's going on?” Shippou yelled, shaking his head back and forth as he smashed his hands over his ears. “What happened to you two?”
Kagome froze. InuYasha leaped to intercept the kitsune, who was running for the door as quickly as he could go. “You didn't see a thing, runt! Got that?”
Shippou's scream escalated. Miroku poked his head back into the room. “What's . . . going on?”
InuYasha let go of Shippou, who bounded over and pounced onto the monk's shoulder. “Ahhhhh,” Miroku hissed, dumping the kitsune onto the floor.
Shippou shrieked, hopping up and skittering out of the room as he called out for Sango just as InuYasha lunged for him again. Miroku clutched his shoulder and stared at InuYasha, who was sprawled on the floor at his feet. “I take it Shippou irritated you?”
“The shoulder, eh?” InuYasha countered as he got up and covered his nose again. “You'd better get rid of your stench before you see Katosan. You're liable to kill him, stinking like that.” Pushing past the monk, InuYasha couldn't help himself as he patted Miroku's sore shoulder hard. Miroku nearly hit his knees as pain registered in his expression. “Hurry up, will you? Come on, wench!”
Kagome hurried after InuYasha but stopped to grimace at the suffering monk. “I'll take a look at that after dinner, if you want.”
“Thanks,” Miroku gasped. He straightened up slowly and winced again. Somehow, he just wasn't that hungry anymore . . . .
“This is heaven!” Kagome said with a happy sigh as she settled into the warm bathwater.
Sango glanced up with a smile as she fussed over Kagome's clothes. “Kagome? Is this blood?” she asked, holding up the crimson sweater that Kagome had worn the day before.
Kagome opened her eyes and peeked over. “Yeah. We were attacked by three cat youkai.”
Sango frowned and dropped the sweater into the pile of dirty clothes. “I'm glad you're safe. Then again, InuYasha would never let harm come to you, so I don't worry when you're with him.”
Kagome's smile faded, and she remained silent as she leaned over the side of the tub to retrieve her body wash and scrubby sponge.
“Kagome? Is something wrong?”
“Hmm? Oh . . . no . . . .” She forced a smile that Sango saw right through.
“What is it, really?”
Kagome sighed and slowly scrubbed her neck and arms. “Nothing, really . . . .” Taking a deep breath, she smiled and sent the exterminator a pointed look. “Now what's going on between you and Miroku? There's something that you two aren't saying . . . and was Shippou telling the truth? Miroku almost kissed you?”
Sango flushed and sank down on her knees to refold the still-clean clothes. To her surprise, Sango actually looked irritated. “I thought Shippou was sleeping,” Sango grumbled in a distinctly un-Sango-like tone. Then she sighed. “He said . . . he said he wouldn't kiss me unless I asked him to,” she admitted in a tiny voice.
Kagome was taken aback by that. “He did?”
Sango nodded, her cheeks reddening a little more. “It makes me want to . . . I don't know . . . do something!”
Kagome could see Sango's point. `Talk about frustration . . . if InuYasha made me ask . . . .' Deliberately curtailing that thought since the very idea of InuYasha's kisses was enough to bring a flush to her own cheeks, Kagome bit her lip and tried to concentrate on Sango's problem. “So . . . make him sorry he said that?”
Sango choked a little. “Wha—? How?”
Resting her forearms on the side of the tub with her chin atop her hands, Kagome turned thoughtful as she considered Sango's dilemma. “Make him want to kiss you so badly he can't stand it.”
If Sango had thought that she couldn't flush any darker, she was mistaken. The poor exterminator was as red as InuYasha's fire rat haori, and she pressed her palms against her burning cheeks, unable to meet Kagome's amused stare. “Oh, Kagome . . . I don't know . . . .”
“Sango . . . how many times has Miroku rubbed your butt since you've met him?”
Sango shook her head miserably, staring at her hands that had dropped into her lap. “I don't know . . . too many to count?”
Kagome giggled. “Well, if he can rub your rear that many times, then you can and should get him back, especially if he won't kiss you.”
Sango sighed. “Till I ask,” she grumbled.
Kagome sighed, too. Trouble was, she didn't have much better ideas, as far as teasing Miroku. Back home she always tried to put off Houjou, and here . . . well, InuYasha was completely different. “Are there things you do that make Miroku react like he wants to kiss you?”
Sango bit her lip and frowned. “He likes it when I lean over his shoulder . . . .”
Fidgeting uncomfortably, Sango avoided Kagome's gaze as she shrugged. “There've been a few times when I've leaned against him when we were traveling on Kirara. But those were accidental.”
Kagome raised her eyebrows. “Why does it have to be accidental?” she asked innocently.
Sango's eyes grew wide, huge, as her hands flew back to her cheeks again as she shook her head quickly. “Oh, no, Kagome . . . I can't! I couldn't! It's . . . He's houshi-sama!”
Kagome stood up and grabbed a towel to wrap around herself before she stepped out of the tub. “Sango, do you want that kiss?”
Sango swallowed hard and finally nodded.
“Then make him earn it.”
Sango narrowed her eyes as she frowned in deep thought. “Earn it, huh?” She sighed and slowly lifted her gaze to meet Kagome's. She opened her mouth and closed it a few times, as though whatever it was she wanted to say was difficult. Kagome wrapped her hair in another towel as she waited for Sango to speak. “Have you ever . . . ?” She shook her head slowly, ducking her head as color tinted her skin again.
Kagome grinned. As uncomfortable as she might be discussing InuYasha's kisses, Sango really needed some help, and she really didn't have to say who she had kissed . . . . She knelt on the floor next to her friend. “Yes, I have.”
Sango repeated the open-mouth, close-mouth gesture. “Is it . . . worth it?”
Kagome didn't answer right away but she could feel heat infusing her face. Sango looked slightly reassured. “Yes.”
Sango shrugged and sighed. “Really worth it?”
Kagome smiled as fleeting wisps of emotion came back to her. InuYasha wasn't anywhere near, and she felt as though he was there with her, holding her . . . . “It's . . . beautiful.”
Sango finally smiled, too. Suddenly she turned thoughtful as she stared at Kagome. “Have you kissed InuYasha?”
Kagome's smile vanished. She grabbed a tee shirt and busied herself getting dressed, stalling for time and wondering how to avoid Sango's question.
Sango gasped. “Kagome! What happened to you?”
Pulling the shirt over her head, Kagome blinked in confusion as she met Sango's frown. “What do you mean?”
The exterminator pointed at Kagome's chest. “Those cuts. They look deep.”
Kagome made a face. The scratches still stung a little but really weren't a big deal. “I got hurt last night. They're nothing. I'm fine.”
Sango didn't look convinced as she dug into Kagome's bag for the first aid kit. Ordinarily Kagome would object but since she'd rather keep Sango from resuming her prior line of questioning, she figured that letting her friend tend the wounds she refused to let InuYasha see would be the lesser of the two evils. She took the antiseptic cloth that Sango extended and pulled her arm into her shirt to use it, silently thanking the fates for sidetracking Sango before she'd had to answer.
InuYasha shivered slightly in the cold water with a mutinous scowl on his face as he wondered just how long it would take Kagome to figure out that he'd drowned Shippou in the tub . . . .
“Was it nice?”
“Shut the hell up, lecher,” InuYasha snapped as Miroku grinned at him.
“Tell me, InuYasha . . . how warm is that `miko's aura'?”
InuYasha growled. Miroku should have taken the warning. He laughed instead.
“You ought to consider a longer than two-second kiss next time,” Miroku added for good measure.
InuYasha's growl escalated into a snarl. The monk still didn't get the hint.
`I'm gonna kill that runt . . . as soon as I find out where he ran off to hide,' InuYasha fumed. Having just gotten into the tub—in his blessedly empty room—InuYasha had made the fatal mistake of telling Miroku that he could come in since the monk had wanted to talk to him about Katosan. Shippou had come in, too, and that was where it all went downhill, as far as he was concerned. InuYasha still wasn't sure how it had even come up, since he had been busy shaking water out of his ears, but Shippou had blabbed to the monk about the quick kiss he had witnessed earlier, and, well, it had snowballed from there.
“Have you stroked her—?”
“Shut the fuck up!” InuYasha bellowed. Then again, maybe he'd start by sharpening his claws on the monk before he hunted down that damned kitsune.
“'Monk-in-Pain'-red looks good on you, InuYasha.”
Snarling became what could only be described as a very loud bark. Miroku relented—for a moment. “All right, InuYasha, you win. I'm finished bedeviling you . . . can I tell Sango?”
InuYasha shot to his feet. Miroku was faster, and InuYasha wasn't out of the tub before the monk was gone. Seconds later, he heard another door slam, and he grimaced, waiting for the gales of female laughter and hurrying out of the tub and into his clothes before they burst in here to tease him even more.
It never came.
With a heavy sigh, he grabbed Tetsusaiga and sank down in the furthest corner from the door, arms wrapped around the weapon, and a dejected look filtering into his gaze.
Servants came and removed the tub. InuYasha didn't move. Slowly the sounds of the castle died away as the inhabitants found the escape of sleep. The fire burned low in the pit. InuYasha didn't move. Letting his forehead fall against the wall, he whined low.
He wanted to go to her, to Kagome. He just . . . couldn't. Knowing that perverted monk, he'd already dealt a lifetime's worth of teasing on her, too, and it was all his fault. `What was I thinking? I shouldn't have let her kiss me, especially in front of that damn kitsune . . . just wait till I get my claws on him . . . .'
He sighed. It wasn't Shippou's fault. As much as he hated to admit that, even to himself, he really didn't have anyone to blame but himself. He'd done the one thing he had never wanted to do to her. Because of his carelessness, because he let his guard down, he had left her open to ridicule . . . .
Images came back to him, half-forgotten yet never really out of his heart . . . the things that he'd heard as his mother had played in the castle garden with him . . . things that tore at him worse now then they had at the time. He understood what they said when he hadn't quite grasped it at the time . . . .
`Stay away from her! She's one of them!'
As much as he hated the memories, the taunts and hatred from the humans echoed in his head, threatened to overpower him even as he fought to lock them away once more. `Mother . . . why did you do that to yourself? How can I ask Kagome to suffer the same?'
She'd never forgive him. `Baka! What was I thinking? She trusts me to protect her, and I . . . damn it!'
InuYasha sighed, closing his eyes against tears that he refused to let fall. `Kagome.'
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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.