InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Force of Nature ( Chapter 37 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~Force of Nature~
Kagome stared at the door and heaved a heavy sigh. She'd been trying to do her homework. She'd fallen behind in the last few days, and since she was well-rested, she figured there was no time like the present to make up for it. Trouble was, she couldn't keep her mind on the math when there were other more pleasant things she could be thinking about . . . . Belly lurching in an altogether delicious way, Kagome rolled onto her side and pressed her hand against her stomach, willing herself to concentrate on her work. `Knock it off, Kagome . . . you're as bad as Miroku . . . . Well, maybe not that bad . . . yet.' With a frown, she willed the door to open, hoped that InuYasha would walk through it. Maybe it was presumptuous of her, but she thought InuYasha would come see her, at least to make sure she was sleeping. `It was all that talk about kissing—that's why you're still awake.'
Turing her attention back to her calculus book, Kagome tried again to focus on her schoolwork. `This is all InuYasha's fault. If he hadn't kissed me, I'd be able to pay attention to this . . . .' She sighed but smiled at her musings. Math somehow paled in comparison to the hanyou . . . . `And you kissed him first, Kagome. Convenient, how you forgot that, huh?'
Smile fading, something else crept into her brain. For some reason, Katosan's words kept running through her mind. `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—alone.'
What did he want? Kagome bit her lip and tried not to think about that. InuYasha would tell her, if he wanted her to know. `But I don't trust Katosan . . . he wants something . . . he wants something from InuYasha . . . but what? InuYasha doesn't have anything except Tetsusaiga, and full youkai can't even touch that without the barrier repelling them . . . .'
Yet the more she thought about it, the more positive she was. `I know Katosan wants something from InuYasha . . . I wish InuYasha would just listen to me . . . .'
At the soft knock on her door, Kagome sat up and closed the book she wasn't studying. “Come in,” she called as her stomach erupted in odd little tremors. The only person who would come to her room this late was InuYasha, and if he didn't want to talk, she supposed that'd be all right, too.
Kagome gasped as an instant and thick rush of trepidation that coursed through her, and she could feel every muscle in her body constrict and tighten as Katosan stepped into her room and closed the door behind himself. The sense of foreboding cast a pall over the waning disappointment that it hadn't been InuYasha, after all, and she tucked away that emotion, unwilling to give Katosan any advantage since he obviously had a reason for seeking her out in the middle of the night . . . .
The imposing inu-youkai stared at her for long moments before finally breaking into a rather nasty smile as Kagome slowly stood up. A quick glance to the side proved what she had known. Her bow was definitely out of her reach. Collecting as much calm as she could muster, Kagome lifted her chin and stood her ground as the youkai stalked toward her. “Rather late for a social call, isn't it?” she asked, careful to keep her tone as neutral as she could.
“This isn't a social call,” Katosan agreed. “But I think you knew that.” Kagome didn't disagree, and she didn't take her eyes off the youkai as he knelt on a cushion by the fire pit. “Sit with me, Miko. I'd like to ask you a few questions.”
Kagome hesitated but sat back down. Whatever game the youkai was trying to instigate was lost on her but aside from screaming at the top of her lungs for InuYasha, there wasn't anything she could do but play along with Katosan . . . for the moment. “What do you want to know?”
He watched her for several seconds, hooded eyes glowing in the half-light like a predator stalking his prey, as if he were trying to back her into a corner. “They call you a curious one. They say you are a miko of magnificent power, of power unrivaled in our world. They say that you disappear from time to time to a place where none can find you . . . is this true?”
His eyes were cold, calculating, staring at her as though he was trying to probe the deepest recesses of her mind for answers. Kagome schooled her features, willed her expression to remain blank, and she took her time in answering, choosing her words carefully. Why did she feel like everything she said would be weighed, measured . . . tallied? “I don't know about my so-called power, but you've heard right. I do come from a very distant place.”
“And if he asked, would you accept InuYasha-sama as your mate?”
She felt the heat of embarrassment wash over her features at his question. Swallowing hard she shook her head. “That's none of your business,” she remarked, controlling the tremor in her voice, the telling waver that would give away too many of her feelings.
Katosan didn't like her evasion. The way his eyes narrowed to slits proved it, and when he spoke, there was an underlying growl behind his words. “Why do you toy with InuYasha-sama?”
“Toy with him?” she echoed incredulously, drawing back as though he had struck her. “I don't—I never—I'm not—”
“Avoidance will avail you nothing, Miko,” Katosan cut in coldly, punctuating his assessment with a single raised eyebrow. “Why do you hold him back?”
“InuYasha doesn't think so.”
Katosan shook his head, letting loose a nasty little chuckle, more of a sneer than what the sound should have been. “InuYasha-sama is inebriated with your very presence. You weaken him; you cast him in the role of the pathetic hanyou. You convince him to be satisfied with mere table scraps when he could have the feast. Do you know what I speak of?” He clucked his tongue, his eyes filled with anger so intense that it seared her as Kagome sat, mute in her outrage. “Of course you don't. InuYasha-sama wouldn't tell you, precious miko . . . do you know why?”
Kagome's voice faltered. `Because he . . . .' She shook her head, unable—unwilling—to finish that thought, even to herself. “He's my friend.”
“Your friend?” Katosan chuckled maliciously. He hadn't missed the moment of uncertainty, the break in her controlled facade. “Hasn't he told you? Hanyous have no friends—but they can have power.”
Kagome clenched her fists so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Struggling for a measure of self-control, knowing that Katosan was deliberately baiting her, she felt the edges of her calm slip away. “That's not true. InuYasha doesn't care about power. He cares about his friends and—”
“Doesn't he?” Katosan hissed, pinning her with a fierce glower, turning on her, leaning forward, forcing her back with the air of distain that resonated from him. “Then I was mistaken? He never sought to gain strength for his precious Tetsusaiga? Tell me, Miko . . . if it came down to it, what would he choose? You? Or Tetsusaiga? Don't answer that if it hurts you.”
“He wouldn't choose,” she said, her tone even, flat. His question hadn't shocked her, as she supposed was his intent. Anger rose up, the indignation that anyone would ever think that she'd ask InuYasha to make such a choice. She'd never asked him to choose between Kikyou and her. She certainly wouldn't ask him to choose between Tetsusaiga and her. There wasn't even a choice to be made.
`The fang, forged for InuYasha's father in order to protect his human mother . . . .' Myouga's words came back to her, and in them, she found the strength to repel Katosan's hostility.
She wanted to claw Katosan's eyes out. She held herself back because . . . because InuYasha trusted him. “I wouldn't ask him to do that.”
“Yet you ask him to put his life in danger time and again to collect the shards of the Shikon no Tama that you so haplessly broke. How many times has he nearly died for you, Miko? For your mistakes?”
And how many times had she thought the same thing? She winced at the deadly accuracy of Katosan's words. “InuYasha wanted the jewel, too. He wanted to help me collect them.”
“Why?” he demanded.
Her voice rose as frustration and regret gnawed on her mind, preyed on her own feelings that she had somehow been the cause, not the solution . . . that she was responsible for bringing back the Shikon no Tama when she had been dragged into the well so long ago. “To restore the jewel!”
Katosan leaned closer as his voice lowered. As though he knew that she was crumbling, as though he could smell her own doubts. “Why?”
Kagome swallowed hard, dropping her gaze away from Katosan. “To become full youkai,” she whispered, staring at her hands. She shook her head quickly as another memory shot to the fore, the pathetic image of InuYasha, standing in a pond as he frantically fought to wash the scent of blood off his claws. “But he didn't want that . . . after he transformed . . . he didn't, so we went to Totosai, to make Tetsusaiga lighter . . . .”
“And why would he do that?”
“Because . . .” she said, confidence growing in her tone even as a lingering doubt remained. “He didn't want to transform anymore.”
“No!” Katosan growled, slamming his hand on the floor in front of her. Kagome jumped back and winced. “Because—of—you.” Unable to hold back the small whimper that escaped her, Katosan sat back, anger apparently appeased for the moment, and he smiled as she blinked, staving back the sting of tears that burned the back of her eyes. “So you see? You ask him to choose all the time.”
“You're wrong,” Kagome finally said quietly as she lifted her eyes to lock with his again. Defiant, determined, she refused to let him further intimidate her. “I don't ask him to choose. Any choices he's made were his own. I've never expected anything from him.”
“Hmm.” Katosan intoned, a tepid smile twisting the corners of his lips, indulging her speech as he pondered his words. They were long in coming. “It might interest you to know that InuYasha-sama is the rightful heir to Musashi.”
Kagome couldn't control the surprise that registered on her features. “What?”
“That's right. All of it. Ironic, isn't it? The very thing that weakens InuYasha-sama—that is, his human blood—is the same thing that gives him the right to claim what should be his . . . . Does it interest you?” Katosan's gaze shifted to the side, toward the door, eyes narrowing as though he was looking beyond the walls of the room into the hallway beyond. He turned his head back, glare locking with hers again in their silent battle of wills. “Now, Miko, knowing this . . . now would you take InuYasha-sama as your mate?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, trying to figure out what he was trying to prove even as she fought down the blush that threatened to seep over her skin. “I've already told you. That's really none of your business,” she answered tightly.
“Hmm. He is the son of the Inu no Taisho, whom I proudly and humbly served. I swore long ago that I would uphold the honor and protect the lives of the family of the Inu no Taisho, so you see, Miko, it is absolutely my business.”
“I . . . I think you should leave,” Kagome whispered, wrapping her arms over her stomach to protect herself from Katosan's animosity.
Katosan shook his head. “Brazen. You are in my home, Miko.”
Kagome slowly stood. “Then I will.”
He flicked his wrist, waving away her bravado as though it was wasted on him. “Sit down. Your show of righteous indignation is wasted on me.”
She didn't comply but she didn't gather her things, either. “Why don't you tell me what you really want, Katosan? What is it you really want from InuYasha?”
Katosan rose to his feet, towering over Kagome though he maintained his distance from her. “I simply wish to see InuYasha-sama get what he deserves, Miko. No more, no less. Is there something wrong with that?”
“That sounds ominous,” she countered as the need to protect InuYasha rose in her heart again.
Katosan nodded once, sensing something from her that she couldn't quite define. “It isn't meant to be, I assure you. Your desire to shield InuYasha-sama is commendable, even if it is misplaced.” Deliberately, Katosan turned away for a moment then sighed as he faced her once more. “Or is it that you do not realize that he lives to protect you?”
“I don't need to be protected,” she replied. InuYasha's protection was something she loved, something she allowed him to do because it was something he needed from her. Hadn't she always known that? One of the first things she had come to understand about him was this. Almost an obsession for him, InuYasha needed to be her hero, her guardian. But to be told that she couldn't protect herself by a man like Katosan? Kagome stood her ground. “He wants to protect me.”
“He'll protect you into his grave, and you'll let him, won't you?”
“You don't know anything about us,” Kagome countered softly. “I wouldn't let InuYasha die, not for me, not for anyone.”
“And you think you can stop him?”
“What do you want?” she asked in a whisper, her hands rising to rub her temples as she fought off the deadly accuracy of Katosan's words.
“I told you. I want to see InuYasha-sama reclaim what should, by rights, be his.” He stared at her for long moments, assessing her, looking into her eyes as though he really was trying to read her every thought. “You aren't going to try to convince me that you wouldn't be happy if InuYasha-sama reclaimed Musashi? Think of it: the castles, the servants . . . a place to keep warm in the winter? A home where you and he can raise your pups? Isn't that what all bitches want?”
“Why would I try to convince you of anything? The only person's thoughts I care about are InuYasha's, and he knows the truth.”
Kagome shook her head slowly, arms crossed over her chest as she glared at the youkai. “You don't know a thing about InuYasha or about me or about what either of us wants.”
“Don't I?” he hissed suddenly, eyes flashing with the light of his anger, his rage. They reached out to burn her. She backed away from the flames. “You come from a place where you have it all, don't you? A princess, perhaps, so to speak? Are you so like Izayoi-sama? She gave everything away for the Inu no Taisho, and she was very happy—until he died protecting her and InuYasha-sama. The pup never knew his father. He was barely given a name, did you know? Izayoi-sama was reviled, ridiculed, ostracized . . . until her own father killed her.”
Kagome covered her mouth with her hands, unable to hide her absolute horror at the past, so eloquently described to her. An intense sadness washed over her, and Kagome knew in that instant that Katosan spoke truth. But she also knew in her heart that Izayoi was happy with InuYasha's father, and that their love, their happiness, no matter how short-lived, had been worth anything else that she'd had to bear.
“And this is the life you wish to mimic?”
Kagome shook her head slowly. “I . . . .”
“If InuYasha-sama were to take Musashi . . .” he trailed off then chuckled. “Power breeds respect, Miko. Perhaps, if he did this . . . perhaps your story would end differently from theirs.”
With that, Katosan turned on his heel and strode to the door. He paused and turned back, staring at her for a long minute before he spoke again. “The choice is yours, of course. Well, yours and InuYasha-sama's. I would sincerely hate to see the two of you . . . dead.”
Kagome watched the youkai leave her room as quietly as he had come. She dropped to her knees on the futon as her body started to tremble. Unsure what to make of the altercation she'd just taken part in, she keened softly, mind reeling as the torrent of late emotion crashed down on her. She'd stood her ground and yet still came out lacking. Somehow Katosan had managed to twist, to convolute, every good and beautiful thing she'd ever believed about InuYasha . . . and about herself.
With shaking hands, she fumbled with her calculus book, trying to shuffle it into her backpack. Her hands were so unsteady she dropped the bag, spilling things out over the floor. A whimper escaped her as unaccountable rage washed over her at her own show of clumsiness.
Shoving the things back into the bag, Kagome's hand stilled as her fingers closed around the flat red stone. `The wishing stone . . . InuYasha . . . .'
She held it against her chest, willing her body to stop shaking. `I . . . I need . . . .'
Without a second thought she pushed herself to her feet and ran out of the room, leaving her things scattered over the floor.
InuYasha strode across the room and threw open the rice-paper covered window, letting his head fall back as his eyes closed against the consuming sense of being lost, the knowledge that he was being controlled by things he could neither see nor touch. The frigid air ripped over him, soothing him yet leaving him raw, bleeding in places that would never be seen.
`Mother . . . .'
`Kagome . . . .'
Anger and sadness mixed, combined deep inside into an ache that nearly drove him to his knees. He'd overheard too much, more than he ever wanted to know about things that may have best been left forgotten. He gripped the windowsill, digging his claws into the wood as it splintered, cracked. It wasn't enough.
He hadn't known how she died. He'd never really thought about it. He'd been too young, too removed, and, in the end, too oblivious . . . . `He killed her, Mother . . . .'
And Kagome . . . . Kagome, with her smile and her heart and her life . . . The one life that meant more to him than anything else in the world. She was proof to him, that there was true beauty in the world, that there were things that were fighting for. Kagome had always showed her feelings, no matter what they were. He'd never met anyone quite like her, and he knew that he wouldn't ever meet another again. She was the clean water that broke over the falls. She was the spring rain that washed away the winter's stale air. She was the earthquake that split the rocks. She was everything in the world to him, a force of nature too free to be contained with a heart that was big enough to accept a pitiful hanyou who didn't want to need her.
Yet still . . . . Was Katosan right? Would taking Musashi change anything at all? Would anything? Would that make it all right? Would it give him the strength to hope for something that he wasn't sure he dared to hope for?
The soft scrape as the door slid open. InuYasha whirled around, gaze flying to glare at the intruder. Kagome stood, framed in the blackness of the hallway behind her, glowing with the warm light of a dying fire. Eyes bright with unshed tears, and even across the distance, he could feel her trembling. With a small sob, she flew to him, hurling herself against him, gripping him tightly, as though she was afraid to let go.
`Let go, baka! Now, before you destroy her!'
He shook his head, unwilling to listen to the voice that echoed in his ears. His arms tightened around her, and he sank to the floor, holding her close, closer than his heart. No words were spoken. As if they both knew that the silence was a fragile thing, he held her, rested his cheek against her temple, tried not to think about how perfect she felt to him, snuggled against his chest, tried not to think that if he died in that moment, at least he would die with her in his arms . . . .
“Hold me,” she begged in a whisper.
He sighed, squeezing his eyes closed. If she never knew how much it cost him to answer, he'd be grateful. “Keh.”
Burying her face deeper into his haori, she gasped out another small sob. “I . . . I can't feel you.”
He squeezed, drawing her more firmly against him, tightening his hold on her, lending her the strength that he didn't have to share and yet giving it to her, because she needed it from him. “Better?”
“Yes.” She choked back a whimper. “InuYasha?”
“Don't let me go.”
`Musashi . . . Mother . . . Kagome . . . .' He tried to breathe. His chest felt as though it had been wrapped in iron bands. “Never . . . I . . . I can't . . . .”
So much, too much . . . yet the only word that he understood was Kagome. She believed in him, she trusted him, and if giving her what she needed meant he had to do something he never wanted to do . . . . `Think of it: the castles, the servants . . . a place to keep warm in the winter? A home where you and he can raise your pups?' Was Katosan right? Was this the thing that he had to do, to make himself worthy enough for her?
Gradually her body stopped shaking, her breathing settled, her heart stopped feeling as though it was trying to leap from her into him. She never let go, her hold never diminished. Was she as afraid as he was, that if they let go of each other that they would both be lost?
She tilted her head back, staring at him in the darkness. The moonlight filtering in the window illuminated the darkness of her eyes casting them in a blue hue that illuminated her face. “I brought this back to you . . . I forgot I had it . . . if you still want it . . . .”
She held up the wishing stone. He took it. “How do I use this thing?”
Her smile was tentative, hesitant, and radiant at the same time. “You hold it, close your eyes, and make your wish.” She pulled it out of his hand and closed her eyes as she held it against her heart. When she opened her eyes again, they were bright with tears. She dashed her hand across them and handed the stone back.
He stared at the blood-red stone. Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to make the wish, not yet. Kagome sensed his reluctance and sat up, turning his face with her gentle fingers. “You don't have to make a wish now, if you don't want to. I just wanted you to know that you can when you're ready.”
`You're my wish, Kagome . . . don't you know?' He pulled her close again as she wrapped her arms around him once more. Silence fell again but this time, it was more comfortable even if his thoughts were not. Clearing his throat as though to interrupt the quiet, Kagome lifted her head again and waited for him to speak. “I'll take you home,” he finally said.
She sighed and shook her head. “You heard, didn't you?”
He didn't need clarification. He knew what she was asking. The things he'd overheard . . . they were too painful, too raw, too close.
She leaned away to stare at him, a thoughtful frown darkening her eyes, marring her brow. “I don't want Musashi, and . . . and I don't think we're like your parents in that way. You're you, and I'm me, and it doesn't matter to me, any of it . . . what makes me happy is being with you.”
`Don't you see, Kagome? It does matter . . . It matters to me!' Wanting to reach out, to touch her face, to kiss her, and yet he held himself back. The need to protect her from himself warred with the need to pull her closer. In the end, he did nothing.
She shivered. InuYasha forgot he'd left the window open. With a sigh, he let go of her. She stood, wrapping her arms around herself as he closed it then grimaced when he realized his fire had also burned itself out. “Come on. You're cold,” he said, grabbing her hand and Tetsusaiga and hustling her over to the door.
In her room, she broke away and made quick work of cleaning up the mess she'd left as he dropped a couple more logs on the fire and sank down on her futon, staring at the flames. Katosan's words echoed in his head. `Power breeds respect . . . .' it was true, he realized. He'd silenced those who would taunt him with his claws, and later, with Tetsusaiga.
`She said she doesn't care about Musashi, and maybe she doesn't . . . now . . . but what about later? I can't give her the things she has in her time . . . how am I supposed to compete with all that stuff?'
Kagome crawled around behind him, rose up on her knees. Fingers gently toying with his ears, he closed his eyes and blanked his mind, deliberately concentrating on her touch alone, the feel of her hands. He stretched out on her futon, and she didn't stop.
It didn't occur to him that he hadn't asked to see her diary as an exhausted sleep descended to claim him.
Hmm… what is that Katosan trying to do? He's really becoming rather vile . . . Resurfacing of that wishing stone was interesting to me . . . wonder what will happen next? MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
== == == == == == == == == ==
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.