InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ To Live and Let Die ( Chapter 71 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~To Live and Let Die~
“You bastard,” InuYasha growled as his disbelieving gaze narrowed on his brother. “What the fuck is wrong with you? If you—”
“You're hardly in a position to cast aspersions,” Sesshoumaru reminded him with a raised eyebrow.
“You want me to beg?” InuYasha snarled, letting go of Kagome and stalking toward his brother. “I'll beg. I'll plead. Just save him.”
Sesshoumaru's cold gaze flicked over InuYasha's face, a trace of recognition in the slight narrowing of his eyes. As though he was borne away to a time long past, as though InuYasha's heartfelt entreaty was something that was all-too familiar, Sesshoumaru's eyes seemed sad, angry. “Why do you care so much? He's just a kitsune. He's just a child. Leave the world of the living to the living. Leave the dead in the world of the dead.”
“How can you say that?” Both men turned to stare at Kagome. Tears streaming down her face, her gaze was fierce as she met Sesshoumaru's without flinching. “He's a child! And what about Rin? You saved her before. It was the same thing. There wasn't a reason for her death, just like there isn't one now. How can you say to leave the dead in the world of the dead?”
The vaguest of nods from the inu-youkai as he stared at Kagome, the acknowledgement of her words. “I saved Rin. I watched her grow. I watched her age, and in the end, I watched her die.”
“That was different,” InuYasha insisted. “She was human. You knew that would happen.”
“And that changes nothing, InuYasha. She died old and frail . . . perhaps it would have been best, to let her go when she had been a child. Perhaps it would have been better to let her die with her child's naiveté, her innocence . . . her unerring belief that the world didn't have to be a terrible place.”
“Do you believe that?” Kagome challenged, viciously biting back her tears, her pain. “Rin's family was killed by bandits. Rin, herself, was killed by a pack of wolves. She saw that. She knew the world wasn't as safe and happy as it should have been. You brought her back, and you gave her that security. You protected her, and you restored that belief that the world wasn't ugly. Can't you do the same for Shippou? Can't you?”
Sesshoumaru stared at Kagome as though seeing her for the first time. Precious seconds ticked away as she stubbornly held the kitsune tighter in her grasp. The scent of Shippou's blood was everywhere, strong enough that Kagome could smell it, too. She refused to give in to the pain, the loss. Daring Sesshoumaru to argue with her now, she blinked back tears, refusing to succumb to the grief when there still might be some hope.
InuYasha cleared his throat, drawing Sesshoumaru's unfathomable gaze once more. “So what'll it be, Sesshoumaru? Will you save him?”
“Why did you choose to come to me now? Why did you not seek me out in the past?”
“It would have taken too long to find you,” Kagome whispered, her gaze dropping to the child in her arms—the child of her heart if not even really her own. “Please . . . you can't let him . . . please!”
“Do you think it is as simple as that?” Sesshoumaru countered coldly. “There's no telling whether or not Tenseiga would choose to save him, in the first place. Are you prepared to find out that your kitsune is meant to die?”
Kagome choked back a sob.
“Listen, you self-righteous bastard! Who the hell gave you the right to decide—?”
“Sesshoumaru! What are you thinking?” Leikizu demanded in a quiet hiss as she strode into the study. Carrying Tenseiga in its scabbard, she brushed past her son and stomped to her mate, thrusting the sword under his nose. “You have the chance now. Save their kit, or so help me . . . .”
Sesshoumaru stared at his mate, anger delineated in his stance, in his eyes, in the slight furrowing of his brow. “Lei, you know as well as I that it isn't that simple. Just because you wish it to be so doesn't mean—”
“And if it were Nibori? Would you attempt to save your son?”
“Be not daft, woman! You know I would!” Sesshoumaru yelled, showing more emotion in those words than Kagome could ever recall having heard from him before.
“Then save the kitsune!”
“He is not their flesh and blood!”
“He might as well be,” Kagome mumbled miserably, tightening her grip on the tiny body.
“He's been mine since we took him in,” InuYasha snarled, advancing on his brother, flexing his claws, ready to tear into Sesshoumaru if he had to.
“And it doesn't matter when you love a child like your own!” Leikizu maintained, her eyes flashing red, glowing bright, countering her husband with the force of her predecessor. In that moment, it was clear to everyone that Leikizu truly was Kagura's reincarnation.
“It is not that simple, Lei,” Sesshoumaru maintained. “He is not their child.”
“If not their child, then whose? For the love of heaven, Sesshoumaru, they are the only parents he's had for the last three years, and you, yourself, told me that! Wasn't that the reason you asked Katosan to go to them? Wasn't it?”
Sesshoumaru stared at his wife as precious seconds ticked away. Kagome, unable to withstand the anxiety, the all-consuming worry, sank down in one of the plush chairs. Nibori put a hand on her shoulder, seeking to comfort her. InuYasha growled and stomped over, pushing his nephew's hand away with a warning look.
Standing toe to toe with the Inu no Taisho, Leikizu stood her ground. “You failed once, Sesshoumaru. Now fix it before it's too late.”
He narrowed his gaze on his wife but finally nodded, taking Tenseiga from her and drawing the sword. Holding the blade up to his face, he stared at it for a long time. A hundred emotions passed through his eyes as he focused on the blade. Kagome stared in silence as he frowned. Sadness, melancholy, bitterness mingled with the sense that there had been something very, very wrong, and maybe it was something that she was better off not knowing. Glancing at Leikizu before slowly and deliberately stepping around the desk, Sesshoumaru stood before Kagome, Tenseiga resting point-down against the floor.
“Uncover the kit,” he said softly in a tone that Kagome had never heard before. InuYasha obviously hadn't, either. He looked stunned when Kagome glanced up at him. Staring at Sesshoumaru with an odd sense of respect, InuYasha nodded once toward Kagome without taking his eyes off his half-brother.
With a deep breath, Kagome let the haori drop on the floor. Whimpering at the grayed skin, the blood soaked garments that covered the kitsune, she closed her eyes, bracing herself, then opened them and waited.
Sesshoumaru lifted the blade, waiting for a sign that the sword wished to save the child. A pulse beat, then two, and he nodded his head once.
Kagome winced as the blade passed through InuYasha's arm, through her chest, cutting the air above Shippou. She heard the agonized cries of the soul bearers as they dispersed and died even though she couldn't see them. The blade didn't leave a scratch in its wake, and Kagome gasped as Shippou stirred in her arms.
“Sh . . . Shippou?” Kagome whispered, hardly daring to believe as the kitsune blinked groggily and opened his eyes, as though he had simply been sleeping. “Shippou!” Picking him up despite his sleepy protests to cuddle against her shoulder, the tears that filled Kagome's eyes this time were tears of relief.
“What happened?” Shippou muttered with a wide yawn. Suddenly he gasped and leaned away from her, eyes widening, rounding in wonder. “Kagome! I didn't think I'd ever see you again! The well closed, and—where are we? Why are you crying?”
Kagome gave him a squeeze then let him down since he was struggling to get loose and explore this new place. The blood on her clothes was gone. Shippou's clothes looked untouched, too. The healing power of Tenseiga had wiped away any traces of the sorrow, of the pain of the kit's death.
She was surprised to see Sesshoumaru close his eyes, letting the flat of the sword's blade rest against his forehead before he resheathed it and handed it back to Leikizu. The woman's eyes were bright with tears, and she kissed Sesshoumaru's cheek before hurrying away to put up Tenseiga.
“Why did you send Katosan to warn us?” InuYasha asked quietly.
Sesshoumaru affected a bored expression and waved his hand in dismissal. “Does it matter? Your kitsune would be dead had it not been for the warning.”
InuYasha nodded slowly. “I know.” Staring at Shippou, who was demonstrating his kitsune tricks on Nibori, the hanyou blinked rapidly. Kagome smiled. InuYasha might not say it, but she knew exactly what he was feeling. It was way too close.
Leikizu breezed back into the study with a bright smile. “Nibori, why don't you take Shippou to the kitchen? The poor dear looks like he's starving.”
Kagome sighed. Shippou tended not to eat whenever he was upset. It was a good bet that he hadn't eaten much in the last few days. Shippou shot Kagome a questioning look. She nodded and watched the child run off after Nibori.
“There is the small matter of payment,” Sesshoumaru remarked as he leaned back against his desk.
“Payment?” InuYasha echoed. “What the fuck do you mean, payment? For using Tenseiga? The sword you got from our old man?”
Sesshoumaru nodded slowly. “I was busy working here, baka, if you didn't notice. Your intrusion has sorely messed up my schedule. I demand just compensation for the disturbance.”
“You hella nasty—I should have known you were still the bastard you've always been,” InuYasha fumed.
“InuYasha, we do owe him,” Kagome cut in. “Shippou . . . you wanted to save him, too, right?”
InuYasha looked like he wanted to argue the point on principle but he finally rolled his eyes as he folded his arms together. “What the hell do you want then?”
Sesshoumaru cracked a sly smile. “Give me your fang.”
“Again?” InuYasha asked incredulously, reaching for his necklace. “What the hell did you give it to me for if you just wanted it back, bastard?”
“Not that fang, baka.”
Slowly dropping his hands away, InuYasha narrowed his suspicious gaze on his brother. “I don't think I like where you're going with this,” he growled. “Give me one good reason to let you pull another of my fangs.”
Sesshoumaru's chuckle was downright nasty. “Isn't your reason in the kitchen with Nibori as we speak?”
A low growl greeted that assessment, and InuYasha narrowed his gaze at his demented half-brother. “Fucking fine. Make it fast.”
Kagome winced as Sesshoumaru deliberately took his time yanking the fang. To his credit, InuYasha didn't even flinch as the youkai wrenched it out of his gum. With a sickening pop, the fang broke free. Sesshoumaru stared at it for a moment as he stepped back. Leikizu offered InuYasha a bottle of water. Though the hanyou was careful to keep his expression blank, Kagome knew it had to hurt. No doubt about it, she'd have to baby him later . . . .
“Deplorable,” Sesshoumaru remarked with a slight curling of his top lip. “You slobbered all over it, baka.” That said, the youkai strode from the room, leaving InuYasha and Kagome alone with Leikizu.
“You love that kit, don't you?” Leikizu asked with a smile.
“Keh,” InuYasha managed, careful to keep his mouth closed. Kagome winced again. Yep, definite babying . . . .
“I know he's not really mine,” Kagome said softly, “but it's like he is. I can't remember not having him around. I love him . . . .”
“Sesshoumaru has trouble expressing his emotions,” Leikizu apologized. “There are moments when I think that he has to be the most anal-retentive being on earth . . . .”
InuYasha nearly smiled. “Just a plain old bastard, if you ask me.”
“He saved Shippou, though, and he didn't really have to,” Kagome remarked, defending the youkai who had saved the child. She didn't care about his reason. It was enough for her that he had done it at all.
Leikizu smiled wanly. “I think maybe he felt otherwise.”
Kagome frowned. “Why?”
Leikizu shook her head. “He had a promise to keep.”
“Keh. Sesshoumaru doesn't make promises.”
“To whom?” Kagome asked, ignoring InuYasha's bleak assessment.
Leikizu shrugged. “To himself.”
Sesshoumaru stared at the fang in his palm. All right, so he had to admit that a small part of him rather enjoyed the extraction. It never ceased to amaze him, how InuYasha would rather die than admit that he needed help, especially when that help came from Sesshoumaru.
He frowned. `This one thing,' he thought as he turned the fang over. `This one thing, and the rest shall be left to InuYasha . . . .'
Closing his hand around the fang, Sesshoumaru stepped into the kitchen to find Nibori sitting at the table with a couple of boxes of pocky and two glasses of milk as the kitsune devoured the treats with reckless abandon.
“You know, Mother may skin me for not making you eat something a bit more substantial than this,” Nibori remarked ruefully.
Shippou waved his little hands. “But pocky is food,” he argued.
Nibori chuckled. “So it is.”
“Know you why you're here, Shippou?” Sesshoumaru asked as he approached the table.
Chocolate-covered-Shippou swallowed and nodded slowly. “I was . . . dead, wasn't I?”
“So you lied to InuYasha and the miko?”
Shippou shook his head. “I don't want to make Kagome cry anymore. She's mortal. Mortals are weak, InuYasha said.”
Sesshoumaru conceded with a curt nod. “Some are, some aren't. The miko isn't nearly as weak as InuYasha would have you believe.”
Shippou sighed, gaze dropping as his shoulders slumped. Nibori shot his father a discerning look. Sesshoumaru nodded as Nibori got up and slipped out of the room.
“Tell me, Shippou . . . what is it you wish?”
A tiny hand dashed over the kit's eyes, wiping away tears as he drew a deep breath. “I just want a family. I want to be a family with InuYasha and Kagome,” he admitted quietly. “But I don't think InuYasha wants me.”
“He brought you to me.”
Shippou's chin lifted, a hopeful wonder easing the worry in his expression. “He did, didn't he?”
Sesshoumaru pushed one of the packages of pocky toward the kitsune. “And if I told you I could give you this family you wish for, would you want it?”
Shippou stared at him as though he wasn't sure if he ought to trust him or not. “Why would you want to?”
Sesshoumaru shrugged. “I have reasons, though none more worthy than another.” He leaned in closer, studying a hair on Shippou's shoulder. Slowly pulling it loose, he sniffed it carefully and made a face. “Ah, perfect. One of the miko's hairs, though it smells more like that half-breed brother of mine than it does like her.” He sighed and shook his head. “This will have to do. Shippou, give me one of your hairs.”
Shippou frowned but did as he was instructed. He watched in silence as Sesshoumaru wrapped the hairs around the fang and as a dim green light melted the hairs into the gleaming tooth. With his index finger, he drilled a hole through it before stringing one of his own hairs through the fang. “By the edict of the Inu no Taisho, let it be so. I bind this family with my blessing,” Sesshoumaru said as he dropped the necklace over the kitsune's head.
Shippou stared at the fang with a cautious smile. He lifted it in his tiny hand and brushed at his misting eyes with his free hand. “So . . . ?”
“Do not remove it. If you do, you run the risk of breaking the newly forged bond. I leave it to your discretion, when you tell your parents. Remember, Shippou, a youkai always shows proper respect to their parents. Addressing InuYasha as `Father' ought to do.”
Shippou frowned as he dug into the pocky again. “InuYasha will hate that,” he remarked.
Sesshoumaru smiled slightly. “So he will.”
Shippou gasped and stared, eyes wide, at the hustle and bustle of Tokyo as they walked back to the shrine. Leikizu had concealed Shippou with a temporary seal so that he looked human, and the kit wasn't drawing nearly as much attention as InuYasha's silvery hair was. Kagome gaped as two girls ran up and asked to touch his hair. Before she could decide whether or not she ought to be jealous, InuYasha had yelled a few obscenities that sent the girls running as he fought down a painfully dark flush.
“Do you think we can get back through the well?” InuYasha asked quietly as Shippou stared at modern Tokyo in silent awe.
Kagome had wondered that, herself. Had the warp only accepted Shippou because he had been dead at the time? Or had something changed when InuYasha had used Tetsusaiga to reopen the well? If it had somehow changed, what did that mean for the others? Could anyone who stumbled into the well use it as a gateway? She sighed. Her head hurt just thinking about it.
It had been hard enough to figure out before. As near as she could tell, it had always allowed her through, but only when she had possession of the Shikon no Tama or if she was returning to her time. InuYasha had been able to go through whenever he wished. Though others had tried whether by accident or by design to use the well, it wouldn't allow anyone else through. But it had allowed Shippou through . . . .
“We have to try,” Kagome reasoned. “Sango and Miroku are probably worried sick, and we never did tell them about the jewel.”
“They know you purified it, Kagome . . . .” A puzzled expression surfaced on the kitsune's face, and he stared from InuYasha to Kagome then back again. “How did you come back? I remember, I went to the well in case you did . . . but I don't remember after the youkai came after me.”
Kagome and InuYasha exchanged troubled looks. “I thought you'd like to see my time. You always said you wanted to,” she answered in the happiest tone she could muster. It wouldn't do any good to tell Shippou the truth. She didn't even want to remember it, herself, and judging from the look on InuYasha's face, he didn't, either.
“Oh . . . .” Luckily for them, Shippou was sidetracked. Running over to a store display window, the kitsune gasped and stared at toys.
“I can't tell him,” Kagome admitted.
InuYasha nodded. “Yeah.” His gaze darkened as he watched Shippou. Hands and nose plastered against the glass window, the kit didn't look like he was hearing a thing happening around him. “I'll hunt down Norimitsu, and I swear I'll kill him.”
Kagome swallowed hard, trying to forget what it felt like, to hold Shippou in her arms, to cradle him to her, knowing that he was dead. A shiver ran up her spine, and she cleared her throat. “Come on, Shippou. We've got to get moving. Miroku was injured, and I need to check on him.”
Shippou turned away from the window and sighed. “Can I come back with you more often? Since we're fami—familiar with getting through the well together now?”
She grinned. “You'd have to ask InuYasha.”
InuYasha snorted and started walking again. “Keh.”
Shippou smiled, as though he had a really great secret. Neither InuYasha nor Kagome noticed as they all headed for the shrine.
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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.