InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Choices ( Chapter 51 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
InuYasha stretched and rolled his head back as he yawned and glanced around the empty hut. `Keh! I can't believe I slept so long!' he thought with a disgruntled frown as he stomped toward the door and outside into the beautiful spring morning.
Lifting his nose and sniffing the air, InuYasha turned to follow Kagome's scent. She was close. Maybe she was training in Kaede's garden . . . . “Ow!” he growled, slapping his neck and not at all surprised to see the flattened flea come away with his palm. InuYasha lifted Myouga carefully between his claws to glower at the youkai. “What do you want?”
Myouga moaned miserably as he slowly puffed back up into his normal form. “InuYasha-sama! I was simply passing through and thought I'd stop in and have a bit of breakfast.”
“What do you think I am? A walking, talking smorgasbord? Scram.”
“Word has it that you were off seeking Katosan.”
At the mention of his name, InuYasha growled. “What do you know? Where is he?”
Myouga hopped to avoid InuYasha's grasping claws. “I don't know . . . no one has seen him in weeks . . . .”
“Keh! Tell me something I don't know, Myouga.”
“Why do you seek him?”
InuYasha snorted again. “None of your business.”
“InuYasha-sama . . . .”
“He threatened Kagome, that's what. He'll stay the hell away from her.”
Myouga shook his head slowly. “He's strong, that Katosan . . . . Be careful, InuYasha-sama. You can't underestimate Katosan's power.”
“Keh! I'll introduce him to the power of my Tetsusaiga, and we'll see who walks away,” InuYasha assured him. “Why is he so concerned about Musashi anyway? He's not even from Musashi.”
Myouga sighed and sat down. “Your father held Musashi. Many—Katosan included—were outraged when the Inu no Taisho gave up his holdings for a human.”
“Yes, for your mother. I believe Katosan would simply have liked to see Musashi returned to the rule of the current Inu no Taisho.”
“Sesshoumaru? Keh! How would my taking over Musashi benefit that bastard?” Myouga didn't answer right away. InuYasha could sense the flea's reluctance. “Out with it.”
“It's true that your taking Musashi wouldn't strengthen Sesshoumaru, nor would it return Musashi to Sesshoumaru's control. However, your death . . . .”
InuYasha stopped suddenly as Myouga's words sank in. “So you're saying that Katosan wanted me to take Musashi so that if I died Sesshoumaru could have it back?”
Myouga nodded slowly. “So it would seem.”
A low growl welled up in InuYasha's throat. “Not fucking likely,” he ground out. “But why threaten Kagome?”
Myouga's laugh was a little nervous and a lot condescending. “You don't know why?”
“Would I ask if I did?”
“Because she's your chosen, isn't she?”
Myouga shook his head. “Your chosen! The one who will bear your children! Your mate! That is what Katosan doesn't want. If you were to have children, they would, by rights, inherit Musashi should you decide to claim it.”
The embarrassed flush at the mention of `mates' was edged out only by the heat of anger that ripped through InuYasha's mind. “So he did threaten her because of me. Damn it!” Striding off with an obvious intention, Myouga had to grab into InuYasha's kotodama rosary to keep from flying off the hanyou's shoulder.
“InuYasha-sama? Where are you going?”
“Keh! I'm going to find Katosan and fucking shred him. I don't care if I have to go all the way to hell to find him . . . and then I'm going to kill that rat-bastard of a brother of mine.”
“But InuYasha-sama! You can't! Katosan hasn't been seen! Looking for him now will be like looking for a grain of sand on the beach! Let him come to you!”
“What makes you so sure he'd do a stupid thing like that?”
Myouga seemed relieved that InuYasha was at least listening a little bit. “Because he hasn't given up that you can be convinced to go after Musashi! Why else would he threaten Kagome-sama?”
InuYasha hated to agree with anything Myouga said. But the flea did make a good point. He'd been out searching for Katosan for weeks and had come up with nothing. Still, he hated to have to wait to be sought out. It was weak and pathetic . . . .
“Work on unlocking Tetsusaiga's power, InuYasha-sama! Strengthen your sword before Katosan comes to find you!”
InuYasha growled at the flea once more. “You know, I'd love to do that. Unfortunately, two old codgers won't tell me a damn thing about what I have to do about it.”
“So . . . you haven't figured out the secret of the Aoirotoku.”
“Aoirotoku . . . the Blue Shield barrier.”
InuYasha dumped the flea into the dirt without missing a step. Myouga hopped his way up to InuYasha's shoulder before he was left behind. “You know, Myouga, I'd figure it out a lot faster if you'd just tell me this secret.”
Myouga edged closer to InuYasha's neck. “A technique only means something to you if you must struggle to learn it.”
“Keh! Says you. If it makes Tetsusaiga stronger, then I'm all for it. Just tell me what I gotta do, will you?” He glanced down at his shoulder and snorted. “Bite me, and I'll make sure you never suck blood again, leech.”
Myouga sighed and backed away from InuYasha's neck. “It's something you must discover for yourself,” the vassal maintained. “I can't tell you! I promised the Inu no Taisho that I let you figure it out, yourself!”
InuYasha stopped short to round his incredulous glare on the flea youkai. “Are you telling me that my old man wanted you to do something to Tetsusaiga, not tell me what you did, and that I'm just supposed to figure it out all by myself?”
Myouga nodded quickly. “Yeah, yeah, that sounds about right . . . .”
“Keh!” InuYasha flicked the flea off his shoulder as he continued to follow Kagome's scent. `Un-fucking-believable! My old man has some grudge against me now, too? How the hell am I supposed to be able to figure out how to unlock Tetsusaiga's potential if no one will clue me in as to what it is I'm supposed to fucking do?' he fumed.
“InuYasha-sama!” Myouga called as he bounced after the hanyou. “Oh, the life of a flea . . . .”
Stopping at the empty field behind Kaede's hut, InuYasha frowned as he watched Kagome. Standing in the middle of the meadow with her eyes closed, hands folded before her, he was amazed to see her suddenly surround herself in a bright pinkish-white hue. “Such power, InuYasha-sama!” Myouga remarked enthusiastically as he bounced his way up to InuYasha's shoulder once more. “Beautiful, tasty, and powerful . . . a dangerous combination, eh, InuYasha-sama?”
“Use Tetsusaiga, InuYasha-sama! Aoirotoku! Aoirotoku!”
“The barrier! Use Tetsusaiga to cast the barrier on her!”
InuYasha frowned in confusion but drew the rusty sword anyway. The last time he used Tetsusaiga, the blade hadn't changed color at all . . . . “I don't think that's working anymore, Myouga. On the way back from looking for Katosan—” InuYasha cut himself off as the sword's blade shone blue again. Myouga chuckled happily. “What the hell is going on?”
Myouga's chuckling turned into an extremely happy, almost devious, laugh. “InuYasha-sama, I'm truly impressed!”
InuYasha didn't hear Myouga's words as a flash of blue flame came hurling at the unaware miko. “Kagome!” InuYasha bellowed as he dashed forward. “Move!”
InuYasha swung Tetsusaiga with everything he possessed as Kagome started and dove out of the way. The Kaze no Kizu flashed out of the blade and sped across the field tearing up the earth and leaving the singed grass blowing away from the lines of flame. `I don't smell anything strange . . . then what . . . ?'
Shippou popped up between the scalded streaks of grass and bounded straight toward him, his little face twisted in an indignant sneer. “InuYasha no baka!” the kit screeched as he launched himself at the hanyou's chest. “What were you trying to do? Kill me?”
InuYasha pulled the kitsune off his chest and held him up, nose to nose. “If you tell me that you intentionally shot your fox-fucking-fire at Kagome I will cook and eat you!” InuYasha snarled.
Shippou paled slightly and bit into the hanyou's hand to gain his release then skittered over to Kagome, who was slowly standing back up with a grimace of pain. “InuYasha—”
“Stay out of it, wench!” he growled as he advanced on Shippou. Shippou dove between Kagome's feet, his little body shaking in fear. “Don't even try to defend the little menace! Get out here, runt!”
“InuYasha! He's helping me!”
InuYasha blinked, his expression blank. `Keh! She did not just say—'
“I asked him to help me with my training,” Kagome explained in a soft, soothing tone.
`Keh! She did! She did just fucking say—'
“He's been a tremendous asset, InuYasha,” Kaede said as she slowly made her way to the gathering.
InuYasha's glower shifted slowly from one face to the next, stopping on Shippou as he tried in vain to contain his growing rage. The memories of Kagome's pain, of the black and blue marks on her back assailed InuYasha. Child or not, Shippou should have known better, should have realized that Kagome might be tough, but she was still a human, and humans were frail. Instead of getting his anger under control, his fury escalated. The possibilities of what could have happened were enough to make him feel sick somewhere deep down. InuYasha's growl escalated into an enraged snarl, and Shippou shrieked as InuYasha's eyes flashed red with the beat of his heart. The kitsune took off as fast as his little legs could move.
The hanyou slammed Tetsusaiga into the scabbard as he sprinted after the kit. Kagome screamed for him to stop. InuYasha ignored her. `That damn brat! He could have hurt her! Have they all lost their fucking minds?'
Shippou kept shrieking as he darted past InuYasha in a wide arc, doubling back toward the women. InuYasha altered his course, set to intercept the kitsune.
“InuYasha! No! InuYasha! Please!” Kagome called as she tried to catch up with him, to make him stop. “InuYasha! Osuwari!”
“Fuck, no!” He fought against the effect of the kotodama rosary, fought against it harder than he ever had before. The weight of the spell dragged at him, and he bent over but kept moving. Rage carried him forward, and with a mighty jerk, he yanked himself upright and bellowed as he escaped the subjugation. Kagome's gasp filled his ears as the strand snapped. The dark beads and white fangs flew in every direction in flashes of pink light, and InuYasha didn't miss a step as he chased the kitsune.
Shippou tripped over a root sticking out of the ground. InuYasha pounced and caught him. “She takes care of you, Shippou! What the hell were you doing?”
He raised his fist to thump the kit a good one. Kagome caught his arm. “InuYasha! Please! No!”
Tears stood in Kagome's eyes, coursed down her cheeks. The sight of those tears, the smell of the saltiness, hit him hard, and InuYasha bellowed, “Fuck—he's got it coming! Don't you know he could have seriously—?” Another scent registered, and with a suspicious look, InuYasha pinned Shippou with his leg as he reached over and pushed up the leg of Kagome's shorts. The sight of the slow healing burn pushed him over the edge. The burn that was left from being hit with Shippou's fox fire. In a flash of movement, InuYasha had Shippou smashed against the ground as he pulled on the arm Kagome still clung to. “Damn you, Shippou! Did you see what you did?”
“InuYasha, no! It's my fault, not his! Listen to me, please! He didn't want to do it! We didn't have a choice!”
“Get the hell off me!” InuYasha bellowed as he tried to jerk his arm loose again.
Shippou wailed. Kagome was crying in earnest. InuYasha's head was pounding as he fought back the throb of his youkai blood. All the bruises on Kagome's narrow back flashed through his mind again, unmercifully, unrelenting, magnified a thousand times as the beat increased. With a quick yank, he shook off Kagome's hands, raised his claws, cracked his knuckles.
“Kagome! He's transforming!” Shippou squealed as he struggled to escape the irate hanyou.
“Do it, Kagome!” Kaede demanded.
Kagome sobbed. “I can't!”
“Ye must do it! It will not hurt him! He's hanyou!”
With a vicious snarl, InuYasha slashed through the air. Kagome's terror-filled scream, “No!” filled his head as a flash of light engulfed him and Shippou, and InuYasha's consciousness faded.
InuYasha heard voices. `Sango . . . Miroku . . . where . . . ?'
He flinched as the throbbing in his head increased as he slowly woke up. Forcing his eyes open with a low groan, InuYasha blinked slowly as fuzzy images came into focus. “K'gome . . .?”
“You should rest a little longer, InuYasha. You took quite a hit.”
He groaned. Even Sango's soft tone was enough to make his head spin in pain. Fighting back the waves of nausea that threatened to engulf him, he forced himself to speak. “Sango? Where's Kagome?”
The youkai exterminator winced slightly and looked up at Miroku who was, oddly, wearing his monk's robes again. “Kagome's with Shippou.”
“Shippou . . . ?” InuYasha shook his head then groaned again. “What's . . . matter with the runt?”
“He, um . . . he . . .” Sango trailed off, her voice wavering as she shook her head.
Vague images of chasing the kit . . . . The memory of seeing the seared flesh on Kagome's thigh . . . . “Did I . . . do something?”
“You were just angry,” Sango assured him. “Just angry . . . you didn't mean to—” She muffled a sob with the back of her hand as she hurried from the room.
“Miroku, what didn't I mean to do . . . ? What's going on?”
Miroku sighed and hunkered down on the floor beside InuYasha's pallet. “You caught Shippou training with Kagome, and before she could explain it to you, you went after Shippou.”
InuYasha closed his eyes. Everything was blurry, incoherent. The memories he had of it were distorted and heavy. He knew somewhere in his mind that he'd done something, that he'd somehow fought against some power that wasn't his, and that he'd won . . . but at what cost? “Go on.”
With another sigh, Miroku gathered his thoughts before he continued. “Kagome had to purify you, but you were holding onto Shippou.”
“What do you mean?” InuYasha demanded as his brain slowed to a crawl.
“Shippou was caught in the purification that Kagome meant to use to stop you.”
Swallowing a thickness in his throat, InuYasha nodded slowly. “How . . . how's he?”
Miroku shook his head and suddenly looked away. `Shippou's not . . . that's why . . . Miroku's wearing his robes again because they don't think . . . . What have I done?'
“. . . It doesn't look good.”
InuYasha sat up straight, pure stubborn will keeping him from crashing right back down. He leaned on Miroku to stand and stumbled toward the door.
“InuYasha, no . . . you . . . no.”
InuYasha braced himself in the doorway and sadly stared at the monk. “No?”
Miroku shook his head slowly. “You don't want to see him.”
InuYasha turned his head, stared at his claws only to see that they were gone. `Human . . . Kagome purified me . . . ? Shippou . . . .'
Ignoring Miroku's protests, InuYasha stumbled out of the tiny back room and into the main living area of Kaede's hut.
He couldn't see Shippou. Kagome sat on the floor, her back hunched over, shoulders slumped forward as though she was cradling something—or someone—in her arms. She rocked slowly, forward and back, mumbling something—or was she singing? He shuffled forward a little more then dropped to his knees beside Kagome. Tears coursed down her cheeks as she cradled the young kit to her chest, and the song she sang to him was InuYasha's lullaby.
`I did this?' InuYasha couldn't breathe. As though the very air surrounding him was trying to stifle him, he stared in horror at what he had caused. He hadn't noticed before, how very tiny Shippou really was. He'd never remarked the absolute vulnerability of Shippou as a very young kitsune. With his huge emerald eyes, InuYasha had always just seen the kit as another of their group, somehow older, wiser, more a companion than a child. `Wake up, Shippou,' InuYasha begged. `Come on . . . you know you want to say it . . . InuYasha no baka . . . .'
He flinched as he reached over to brush back Shippou's mop of unruly auburn hair. The kit's face was ashen, pale, breathing so shallow that for a moment, he was afraid that Shippou wasn't, at all. Kagome glanced at him, stared at him, her pain a palpable thing. Still she sang as her gaze dropped back to the kit once more. InuYasha leaned in closer, slipped his arms around them both, and he joined in the song with her.
Kagome cleared her throat softly, turning her face to look at him. “I didn't want to do it,” she whispered. “I didn't know what else to do . . . .”
InuYasha shook his head slowly. “Don't blame yourself. You only did what you had to do.”
She choked on a sob as she let her gaze drop to the kit in her arms. “If something happens to Shippou because of me—”
“Keh! It'll never be because of you. I did this.” He sighed then reached for the kitsune. Kagome resisted for a moment. But she let him take Shippou before she slowly stood. “Where are you going?”
She sniffled and wiped at her still watering eyes. “I need to get some water,” she mumbled as she picked up the bucket and walked slowly out the door.
InuYasha scooted back against the wall and cradled Shippou in much the same way that Kagome had. He smoothed Shippou's hair back off his face, tapped his cheeks gently. The guilt didn't lessen as he stared at the child. It grew worse and worse, rising in him, thick and ugly, trying to choke him, trying to overwhelm him.
He shook the kit just a little, willing Shippou to open his eyes, to say something—anything. “Come on, runt . . . you've been through worse than this . . . . Remember? You helped save your father's fur from the Thunder brothers . . . and Souten . . . . Remember her? Wake up, Shippou. I don't wanna have to chase down all your girlfriends. Too damn many of them . . . you're worse than the monk, runt . . . .” He forced a chuckle as his eyes burned, stung. `Open your eyes, Shippou . . . you gotta . . . for Kagome . . . for me . . . .'
“InuYasha-sama? You're human.”
InuYasha sighed and threatened to flick the flea when Myouga hopped onto Shippou's chest. “Leave the kit alone.”
“Why are you human?”
InuYasha shot the flea a dark look. “Kagome purified me. You didn't see it?”
Myouga chuckled nervously. “Did she? I must have missed that . . . .”
Gaze narrowing, InuYasha glowered at the flea. “You ran away from that? Are you sure you're not a fucking chicken youkai?”
“Well, I'd better be off. It was nice tasting you again, InuYasha-sama . . . .”
Myouga stopped and hesitantly glanced back up at him. “My lord?”
“But you said—”
“I need you to taste him because I can't smell him.”
Myouga thought it over a moment then nodded. “Very well . . . .”
InuYasha watched as Myouga stuck Shippou. The kit didn't react. After more of a drink than Myouga needed in order to assess Shippou's condition, InuYasha deliberately raised his fingers, poised to flick the flea away. Myouga quickly let go and sat back with an indiscreet belch. “Well?” InuYasha demanded.
“He'll live. Weak, he is. His youkai has been greatly diminished, but he'll be fine.”
InuYasha sighed as just a little bit of relief ebbed over him. “You'd better be right about this, Myouga, or I'll squash you like the pest you are.”
Myouga hopped quickly toward the door, mumbling under his breath about `ruffians'.
`Wake up, Shippou . . . .' He lifted the kitsune and settled him against his shoulder, cradling him like Shippou was a baby.
Miroku knelt down beside him, leaning over to look into the youngster's face. “He looks a little better.” The monk stared at InuYasha for a moment. “Can you tell me exactly what happened?”
“Ask Kagome,” InuYasha muttered.
Miroku shook his head. “I did. She wasn't very coherent at the time.”
With a heavy sigh, InuYasha leaned his head back and closed his eyes. “I saw Kagome training, and I saw a ball of blue fire coming at her. I thought it was a youkai attacking her . . . .”
“And you lost your temper and went after Shippou.”
InuYasha flinched. That Miroku hadn't been accusing in his tone made him feel like an even bigger monster. “All I could see was Kagome in danger, and I . . . I transformed. If Kagome hadn't stopped me when she did . . .” he trailed off, unable to finish his thought out loud. He lifted his head and shifted his gaze to meet Miroku's. “I had Tetsusaiga on me, and I still transformed.”
Miroku nodded. “It was your desire to protect Kagome, then, your fear that she might be in danger, and your rage that she never truly was.”
“She could have been!”
With a sigh, Miroku nodded again. “Fox fire, at Shippou's age . . . It's strong even if it isn't deadly.” The monk raised his hand in a silent prayer before speaking again. “Don't blame yourself, InuYasha. If I were you and Kagome was Sango . . . I might have reacted the same way.”
InuYasha stared down at the unconscious kitsune. “That's not good enough, Miroku. That's not nearly good enough.”
InuYasha held onto Shippou all afternoon, refusing to let Kagome take him even though he hadn't eaten a thing all day. Kagome paced around the fire pit with that look on her face that meant she wanted to say something but didn't quite know how.
Miroku leaned closer to Sango. “I think they need to talk.”
Miroku nodded. Sango got up and crossed to InuYasha, reaching out slowly to take the injured Kitsune. InuYasha snarled. Sango jerked her hands back as Miroku whacked InuYasha in the head with his Seibai. “Leave Shippou with us and go get some air. Both of you.”
Kagome looked like she was going to argue. InuYasha did argue. “Keh. I'm not leaving till he wakes up.” Looking down at the child, InuYasha shook him gently. “You hear that, runt?”
“They're right, InuYasha,” Kaede spoke up from her seat by the fire. “Ye need not go far. Shippou will be fine for a few minutes.”
Miroku caught Sango's eye over the hanyou's head. He nodded. Sango reached for Shippou again. This time, InuYasha let her take him. Kagome ran over to take the kit. InuYasha caught her and dragged her outside in spite of her protests.
The night air was crisp, clean, clear as glass with a wash of stars shining down and the odd paradox of the full moon and a human InuYasha. Kagome rubbed her arms and sighed, glancing back toward the hut as InuYasha shuffled his feet in the dirt. She turned back and started to head back inside. InuYasha caught her again and pulled her back.
“Let me go,” she whispered miserably.
“Keh! If I gotta stand around outside, then you do, too.”
“Can you listen to me for once?” he snapped. “Stop trying to fix everything, will you?”
She drew back as though he had slapped her. “I'm not trying to fix everything! I'm—”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I know why you wouldn't let me hold him. It's my fault he's hurt . . . it's my fault you're human.”
Eyes as dark as the night sky stared back at her out of the face she knew so well. Yet they weren't really InuYasha's eyes. He was as strange to her as someone she'd just met, and the look in his gaze was full of sadness, of anger. “You think it's your fault that I attacked him? You think it's your fault I couldn't control my rage? If I stay human the rest of my life, it's no more than I deserve, but you . . .” he cut himself off, staring off to the side, looking for answers when there were none. “Just don't. It ain't your fault, and you can't help Shippou by blaming yourself.”
She stared at him in the moonlight, tears falling like diamonds from eyes that seemed lost in a sea of stars. “You're saying the same things that I've said to myself all day, and yet you say that I can't help Shippou by blaming myself? What about you? You can do what I can't?”
Her soft tone was marred by the rasp, the crack, as her sorrow came through her voice. “I asked Shippou to help me train. He didn't want to. He thought you'd be angry. I told him I wouldn't let him hurt you, and I didn't let you, did I? No, because instead, I hurt him. Me . . . and I hurt you, too . . . .” She leaned back against the barrel beside the door, arms crossed over her chest as she glared defiantly into his eyes. “You didn't do anything but what you always do. You tried to protect me. It was my mistake.”
His gaze narrowed as he stared at her, shaking his head slightly, as though there was something that he didn't think she comprehended. “You were training because you want to be stronger. You needed to train because I've failed to protect you one time too many. You didn't make me come after Shippou. If it hadn't been for me—my temper—he wouldn't be like that. You did what you had to do because I made you do it.”
The words in Izayoi's diary came back to Kagome as she stared at the stars in the sky. Was he remembering, too? `But in you, I saw what your father was like in those earlier times. As much as I adore you, InuYasha, I also hope you learn to manage this aspect of yourself. Fury and rage, when controlled, can be a great asset. Running around in a constant state of anger, however, can be a disability.'
It might be true, that InuYasha had trouble controlling his temper sometimes. But it didn't help to know that when, in the beginning, and now at the end, it had been her choices that had brought them here. Blaming him wouldn't repair what she'd done. `Just be all right, Shippou . . . .'
She shifted her gaze to stare at InuYasha out of the corner of her eyes. He was staring up at the stars, too, a vulnerability, a sadness that she couldn't begin to understand held in the depths of his eyes. What was it like for him, to look upon the full moon with human eyes? And why was there suddenly a distance between them that felt like more than five hundred years?
“InuYasha! Kagome! Come quickly!” Miroku called, his voice breathless, almost panicked.
They glanced at each other before running for the doorway. InuYasha beat her there, and he hurried inside without looking back to see whether or not she was following. She swallowed back a lump that rose in her throat. Half-afraid of what she would find when she stepped inside the hut, Kagome drew a ragged breath and fired off a quick prayer. `Let him be all right . . . just let Shippou be awake . . . .'
Kagome stepped inside as a shooting star streaked across the heavens.
Aoirotoku: Blue Shield Barrier (Thanks to BakaBokken for helping me name this one!)
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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.