InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Separation ( Chapter 46 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Staring out the window of her childhood bedroom, Kagome tried to push away the edges of worry that gnawed at her. `A week since I've seen him . . . .'
She sighed. It had been a week since InuYasha brought her home. In the end, she'd been able to compromise with him, much to her own relief. She was still trying not to worry about him.
“You can't come with me!”
“If you're leaving tonight, then I'm coming, too!”
“Wench, I said—”
“For the last time—”
Glaring at him as she carefully kept her distance from the edge of the well, Kagome stood her ground. “If you'll wait till tomorrow, I'll stay here.”
InuYasha rolled his eyes. “It don't matter because you're not coming with me.”
“I'll follow you, and you know I will.”
“Damn it, wench! Katosan's already threatened you, and I'm going to make sure he never does again! Stay. Fucking. Here.”
She crossed her arms over her chest stubbornly and sighed. “You're just trying to protect me, aren't you?” she finally asked. His chin dropped as he leveled a pointed glower down at her. “Well, that's what I'm trying to do with you, too. I'm not asking you not to go at all. I'm only asking that you don't go tonight.”
“Keh!” But he let her take his hand and he jumped into the well with her.
She sighed again. When she awoke the next morning, he was gone, and his absence left her feeling as though nothing would ever be right in her life again. `InuYasha . . . I miss you . . . .'
The times they had traveled to Katosan's castle, it had taken almost two weeks to go there and come back. `Another whole week, at least . . . .'
Her gaze fell on the diary laying on the nightstand. Izayoi's diary. She had caught up to InuYasha's bookmark. She hadn't read any more even though she didn't think he'd mind so much. She was hard pressed not to read it, though, the last few days. Last night she'd fallen asleep holding the diary to her chest. Touching the book was enough to make him seem a little closer.
She got up and hesitantly picked up the book before sinking back into her spot by the window. Opening the old book always gave Kagome a feeling of melancholy, maybe because of the sadness in InuYasha's eyes whenever he talked about his mother . . . .
`You amazed me, InuYasha. Such a solemn child, yet so full of love. I remember how you'd spend hours picking flowers for me because they made me smile. I watched you grow from an infant into a toddler into a little boy with such a big heart. No matter how often you were pushed aside or called hurtful things that you didn't understand, you never stopped trying. I know how desperately you wanted friends, and if I could have given them to you, I would have.
`I remember watching you grow, and I recall the small things about you. You used to get so cross with me when I taught you how to read. The stubborn set of your dear face always made me laugh. The little pout you indulged whenever I told you that you couldn't have your way made me wish to give in to you every time. I think the worst, though, was the way you'd blink at me, so innocently. That look was enough to get your way most days. Mostly I remember how you loved to simply be held and cuddled. As though you were starved for the attention, you seemed to crave it.'
Kagome smiled to herself. `So he's always been like that, has he? Figures.' She stared out the window. `InuYasha . . . be safe.'
`I did my best to shelter and protect you. You never wanted to let me see the things you feared. As though you worried that your fears could hurt me, you guarded them with a fierceness, and in this, you were exactly like your father. I know your greatest fear came on the nights of the new moon. I know you fought against what you didn't understand at such a young age. It didn't make sense to you, why you couldn't smell, why your vision dimmed. Your youkai senses were dulled those nights, and you wouldn't let me out of your sight. It was on those nights that I worried the most, what your life would be. Finding someone you trust enough to share your secret with may prove difficult. But know, InuYasha, that if you can find the one spirit who will seek to protect you, then you may have found the one you were meant to protect in return.'
Kagome reread Izayoi's words with a slight smile. `I'll protect you, InuYasha, and I know you'll protect me, too . . . .'
Mrs. Higurashi stuck her head in the door. “Kagome, I've got to run to the store to get eggs. Do you need anything?”
“No, thanks,” she replied with a smile.
Mrs. Higurashi nodded. “Okay, dear. I'll be back in a few minutes.”
“What are you doing out here?” Miroku dragged his gaze off the stars to smile at Sango. She pulled the shawl around her shoulders a little tighter, and sat down beside him on the small bench. “How is your back?”
She wasn't convinced. “You should let me look at it, at least. The bruising was severe.”
Miroku grimaced. For the first few days after the fight with Waku, he'd nearly cried every time he had to move off his pallet. His back had been stiff and sore, and he had secretly despaired that he'd never be able to move properly again. But the last day or so had been decent with his back only twinging every now and again. Besides that, he had willingly asked to learn the art of the youkai exterminators. If he couldn't take a few bruises along the way then he had chosen the wrong vocation.
“It's fine, Sango.”
“Houshi-sama . . . don't you think it strange that Waku knew that InuYasha's night of vulnerability was the new moon?”
Miroku nodded slowly. “I thought as much, myself,” he admitted. “Then again, InuYasha hasn't been as careful with the secret as he should have been. Don't forget, he's let Kouga and his kin see him.”
“And he did let Kagura see him, too. I always wondered why she never told Naraku about it.”
Miroku shrugged. “Perhaps she thought that InuYasha could free her, when he defeated Naraku.”
Sango smiled sadly. “I think she was happy when she died. I always wondered why Sesshoumaru stayed with her in the end.” She giggled softly, shaking her head at her own fanciful thoughts. “Maybe he cared for her more than he was willing to admit.”
“It could have been that. Perhaps he simply respected her.”
“How can two brothers be so different? They're like night and day . . . .”
Miroku shook his head. “In any case, I don't think InuYasha's night of vulnerability is common knowledge, but I also don't think that he's been as cautious about keeping it a secret as he could have been. Between fighting and choosing to let some see him in that state . . . . We don't know who might have been lurking in the shadows that might have witnessed the transformations, too.”
She sighed and nodded her agreement as she stared at her hands, folded primly in her lap. He could tell she was thinking about something. He grinned. “Something on your mind?” he asked quietly.
She glanced at him, her cheeks warming in the thin moonlight. “I was just thinking how remarkably you fought against Waku.”
Miroku looked away, suddenly feeling sheepish with the words of praise. “Well, he was already missing one arm, thanks to Kagome. I imagine it greatly affected him.”
Sango shook her head. “It wasn't that,” she insisted. “You remained so calm . . . the hallmark of the youkai exterminator. I'll be honored to fight by your side, houshi-sama. . . . Even more than I already was.”
“Do you want to fight, Sango?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, do you fight because it is something you wish to do, or do you fight because you're the last exterminator?”
Sango lifted her gaze back to the heavens with a soft smile and sadness in her eyes. “I fight because I don't wish to be the last of the exterminators . . . because I don't want there to be another threat as great as Naraku. But I'm not the last of the exterminators anymore, am I? Thank you, houshi-sama.”
He shook his head, his hand slowly closing over hers as he stared up at the stars, too. “No, Sango . . . . Thank you.”
InuYasha pushed off the ground, sailing over the tops of the trees as he tamped down the urge to rip something to shreds. `Where the fuck is that bastard hiding?' he fumed. No one had seen Katosan in nearly three weeks, or so his people claimed. `Damn! He didn't just crawl into a hole and die, did he?'
Nothing was working out the way it was supposed to. When he left Kagome at dawn just after he'd changed back into his hanyou form, he hadn't anticipated the feeling that he was leaving a part of him behind as he hopped into the well. After a day of traveling, he had felt like turning right around and rushing back to her. `Baka! Just hurry up and find Katosan, kick his ass, and you can go back.'
He growled. Every time he thought about what Katosan had said to her, every time he thought about what might have happened if Kagome hadn't been able to get away from the bastard, every time he considered the implications of the things Katosan had threatened Kagome with the hotter his rage burned. Because of that, he'd reached Katosan's castle in less than two days only to find that no one knew a damn thing as to the youkai's whereabouts.
Something else had occurred to him in the hours of solitude as he moved. He'd realized it before, of course. He'd always tried to ignore it. But he knew that he had to do something to better protect Kagome. He had to somehow find a way to get even stronger. There had to be something. There had to be a way . . . .
He sighed. `Well if I have to put off my search for that bastard, maybe I should drop in on the other old codger . . . .' Suddenly turning in mid-air and springing back the way he'd come, he smirked. `Wonder if sneaky wench is up for a short trip . . . ?'
Lighting on the ground, InuYasha sprinted through the trees. An incredible feeling of anticipation flooded over him. `If I don't stop, I can be at the well in two days. The well . . . and Kagome . . . .'
A familiar scent assailed him, and InuYasha skidded to a quick stop as a growl issued from his lips. As silent as the breeze coming from the east, InuYasha waited as the youkai stepped out of the trees directly into his path. He leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest as he grimaced.
“I thought I smelled your stench, ignorant half-breed.”
“Keh. What the fuck do you want, Sesshoumaru?”
The doorbell dragged Kagome out of her reverie. She untangled her legs and dropped the old diary on her desk as she hurried out of her room and down the stairs to the front door. “Can I help you?” she asked with a smile at the tall man who stood almost nervously on the porch.
He bowed slightly and offered her a small smile. “Pardon my intrusion. I was passing by and was suddenly hit by the inspiration to visit the shrine. Do you mind if I have a look around the grounds?”
Kagome shrugged. “No, it's fine. Make yourself at home.”
He smiled again and turned to move off the porch and onto the path that led around the house to the actual shrine. He stopped and glanced back at her, his gaze troubled. “Would you mind giving me a tour? I've been here before, once, when I was younger. But that was such a long time ago . . . .”
“Um, oh . . . okay,” she agreed slowly. “Let me get my jacket.”
He nodded as she closed the door with a slight frown. As she pulled on her jacket, she shook her head. There was something familiar about that man. She was sure she'd never seen him before. Still . . . . `Get a grip, Kagome,' she scolded herself as she stepped into her slippers. `You're being overly suspicious of everyone lately. Must be from spending too much time with InuYasha . . . .'
She stepped outside and pulled the door closed behind herself.
The man hadn't moved at all. But he nodded to her again as she skipped down the steps and led the way around the house. She pointed out the highlights, making quick work of giving the young man a brief overlook of the shrine grounds. Pausing before Goshinboku, the man seemed even more interested in the tree than he had been in anything else
“So this is the famous God Tree.”
Kagome smiled, remembering the same tree, over five hundred years ago, with the body of the crimson-clad hanyou stuck to it by Kikyou's sacred arrow . . . . “Yes, it is. It has protected this shrine for centuries.”
“Really. I'm familiar with the lore . . . wasn't it said there was some sort of spirit sealed to this tree?”
`Spirit? A spirit I wish would hurry back . . . .'
“So they say.” She grinned as she pointed to the small knothole in the trunk. “That's where he was pinned . . . and he was a hanyou.”
`A temperamental, grumpy, grouchy, surly, arrogant, beautiful hanyou . . . .'
“A hanyou, you say? And wasn't he freed by a powerful miko from a strange and distant land?”
Kagome suddenly shifted uncomfortably. For some reason, the man's question struck her as odd. Most people asked why a miko would have pinned InuYasha to the tree. Most people would ask questions about Kikyou and would marvel at possessing spiritual power enough to contain `the evil' hanyou. Why did this man want to know about her instead?
The man stared at her as though he was trying to see into her head, and even though she knew she'd never met him before, there was something entirely unsettling in his light brown eyes, something that reminded her of someone else . . . someone who stared at her with that sort of intensity, with that sort of distain. She stepped back quickly, distancing herself from the unspoken threat, the unwarranted animosity that overwhelmed her.
The odd look in the man's eyes dissipated quickly, gone before she could flee. He smiled, his expression almost predatory, and she stepped back again. “Feel free to look around,” she said as she turned back to the house. “I hear the phone . . . .”
She ran inside and slammed the door, locking it behind her before she collapsed against it. The house was eerily silent, like a graveyard at midnight. She'd used the phone as an excuse, and oddly, she thought that the stranger might have known that, too. Kagome pushed herself away from the door and ran to the front of the house to lock that door, too.
Creeping over to the window, she peeked through the vertical blinds as the stranger slowly walked around Goshinboku. His light brown hair—almost bronze in the sunlight—gleamed, and as she stared, his disguise disappeared. She gasped softly and backed away from the window, her hands dropping to the back of the sofa to support herself since her knees suddenly felt as though they were made of jelly.
“Katosan . . . .”
Miroku scanned the meadow with a scowl as he searched for any traces of youkai presence near the Bone Eater's Well. At least, that's what he told Sango he was going to do. She'd stayed behind to help Kaede with a few tasks. The miko was getting older and while she was just as hale and healthy as she ever had been, some of the everyday tasks were taking their toll on her.
With a sigh, he stared at the well, silently willing the girl on the other side of the time slip to reappear. She was like a sister to him. He'd always been able to ask her advice, to talk to her about anything. Kagome was also Sango's best friend, and while his sense of honor screamed at him that it was unfair to seek information from Kagome about her, he was near the end of his patience, and he really didn't know what else to do.
`Kagome, if you come through right now,' he thought as he leaned on the short wall and stared down into the darkness below, `I swear I will never touch another rear that isn't Sango's as long as I live . . . .'
He shook his head sadly and turned to head back toward the village. `Never hurts to try.'
He was almost to the forest path when a distinctly female grunt sounded behind him. Afraid to believe his ears, Miroku slowly turned in time to see Kagome crawl over the top of the well. The grunt must have been caused by the huge bag she carried, and he ran back to help the young miko. “Kagome! Just the woman I was hoping to see!” His expression darkened a little when he noticed the upset on his friend's face. “Something wrong?”
She forced a smile though her eyes still looked worried. “Oh, it's nothing . . . is InuYasha back yet?”
Miroku shook his head. “No . . . .” He stared at her another moment. “Are you sure you're all right?”
“Yeah, I'm fine.” She smiled again, and this one was much better. “How has everyone been here?”
“Just fine. Shippou missed you, of course. He's come to sit by the well nearly every day. Today, however, he is helping Sango with some of Kaede's chores.” Miroku took the giant bag and slung it over his shoulder, wincing only slightly when the heavy books inside bounced off his still-sore back. “Kagome, can I ask your opinion as a woman?”
“Okay,” she said cautiously. “Shoot.”
Miroku stopped and turned to face Kagome with a heavy sigh. “What am I doing wrong?”
Understanding dawned on the miko, and she nodded slowly. “What do you think you're doing wrong?”
His shoulders slumped as the bag dropped to the ground. “If I knew, I wouldn't be asking.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him for a moment. “Well, for starters, what were you thinking when you said you wouldn't kiss her unless she asked you to?”
He flinched. “She told you about that?”
“Don't change the subject. You know Sango's shy. Better to dangle water in front of a man wandering in the desert.”
“Never mind,” Kagome muttered. “It just wasn't a very smart thing for you to have done, though.”
He winced. “I didn't want her to feel pressured,” Miroku admitted as his cheeks warmed. “I care about her . . . .”
“Why would you say that to her, anyway?”
His cheeks heated up a bit more, and he studiously avoided the miko's probing stare. “I've never . . . I mean, I'm not . . . I haven't . . . .” He trailed off, fingers grasping at invisible answers that eluded him.
“You've never kissed a girl?” Kagome asked, her tone registering as much disbelief as her face.
“The youkai in women's disguises don't count, do they? I mean, I have, but no one like Sango,” he finally said, his voice dropping to a whisper as he shuffled his feet and scowled at the ground. “I just want her to feel the same things I do when I look at her.”
“And what makes you think she doesn't already?”
“Because she hasn't asked me to kiss her!”
Kagome thought it over. Finally, she giggled. Miroku glanced up at her with a miserable frown. “You can wait till the cows come home for her to ask, then . . . . Or . . . .”
Miroku's eyes widened in alarm as Kagome grabbed the bag and strode toward the forest trail. For the first time, ever, he understood perfectly why InuYasha insisted on calling the young woman `sneaky wench'. “K-k-Kagome!” he called, racing to catch up with her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her around to face him. “Or what?”
She grinned and patted his cheek—his sore cheek. He winced again. “Or . . . you could kiss her without waiting for her to ask, baka!”
Miroku's eyes widened in surprise as he watched Kagome head off down the path toward the village again.
“What do you want? I've got more important things to do—”
“Ask me not, your frivolous questions. What do you here, so far from Musashi?”
“None of your fucking business. Why did you seek me out?”
“Ignorant half-breed. You pass through my lands, and I smelled the stench that is you.”
InuYasha snorted. “Keh! I was looking for someone.”
Sesshoumaru was mildly interested, if the slight lift of his eyebrows meant anything. “It's Katosan you seek.”
Just the mention of Katosan's name was enough to make InuYasha gnash his teeth. “What of it? You know where that bastard is?”
“I have no interest Katosan's current whereabouts.” He looked around slowly, carefully, and without turning his head at all. “Where is your miko? Did she finally tire of your slobbering presence?”
InuYasha contented the itch in his hand spurred by the desire to draw Tetsusaiga by resting his hand on the sword's hilt. “I have my reasons for leaving Kagome behind. She's safe.”
“A threat levied against your miko, perhaps?”
InuYasha's eyes flared wide then narrowed as he stared at his half-brother. “What do you know about it?”
Sesshoumaru's head turned enough for him to cast InuYasha a side-long glance as he casually flexed his claws. “Katosan has never harbored affection toward humans, unlike some pathetic half-breeds.”
“Well, if you can't help me, then I'm outta here,” InuYasha growled as he turned to leave.
“One more thing, InuYasha.”
He stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. Sesshoumaru stared off to the right, expression inscrutable, golden eyes narrowed as he scanned the forest. “You'd do well to better guard your dirty little secret from those who wish to exploit it.”
“Kagome isn't a weakness and there ain't a damn dirty thing about it, bastard.”
Sesshoumaru's eyes shot back to lock with InuYasha's again. “I speak not of your vile relationship with the miko, baka. Trifle not with Norimitsu.”
That was enough of a taunt for InuYasha. Drawing Tetsusaiga as he rounded on his brother, InuYasha's lips twisted into a sneer as he stared at his sibling. “You know he attacked Kagome, don't you? And that he was looking for me. Why?”
Sesshoumaru broke into a rare half-smile and further confounded InuYasha by chuckling nastily. “I would not worry how it is that I know of this. I would worry more how it could be that Norimitsu knows so much about you.”
InuYasha drew back in surprise. A rush of understanding crashed down on him, and he narrowed his glare at Sesshoumaru. “He has it, doesn't he? He has Mother's diary.”
Sesshoumaru shrugged almost imperceptibly. “Perhaps.” The youkai turned and started away, back into the forest to fade into the trees. “Heed my words, InuYasha. There are those who would as soon see you gutted than let you live. It might be in your best interests to keep those claws from digging into your back when you least expect it.”
InuYasha frowned as he considered Sesshoumaru's words. Nothing made sense. Sesshoumaru knew something more than what he'd said but it wouldn't do any good to ask him anything else. He'd keep information from InuYasha just for spite and to watch him squirm. But one thing was clear to him, despite everything else. `Norimitsu has Mother's diary . . . but . . . why would he have wanted it? And how does Sesshoumaru know this?'
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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.