InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Chronicles ❯ Needle in the Haystack ( Chapter 82 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~Needle in the Haystack~
InuYasha sat up in Goshinboku staring at the unbroken forest surrounding him. Kagome and he had returned earlier, and she was spending `girl time' with Sango, or so she claimed. With a sigh, InuYasha tried to push away the worry that tugged at him. They'd left Shippou with Kagome's mother so that she could start getting him ready for school. Since he was behind other children his own age, Mrs. Higurashi had suggested hiring someone to give the kit a quick course to catch him up with the others before the fall term started. Kagome had promised InuYasha that they could go get Shippou in a week, once he had his assignments lined up and everything had been arranged. InuYasha still didn't like it.
Still, he had to admit that what really bothered him the most were Sesshoumaru's cryptic words: `Find Myouga. Ask him the secrets of the well.'
“Keh!” he snorted. `I have no idea where to find that little coward! It could take me forever! Damn! He likes Totosai, though. Could he be there?'
“InuYasha? Ah, there you are!”
Peeking down at Miroku standing at the base of the God Tree, InuYasha dropped down, landing next to the ex-monk. “What?”
Miroku made a face at the hanyou's surly tone. “Kagome was wondering where you were, so I told her I'd check.”
Narrowing his gaze suspiciously, InuYasha frowned. “Why'd you really come out here?”
“Is it that obvious?”
InuYasha shrugged as he headed back toward the village. Miroku fell in step beside him. “Only to anyone who knows you. Spit it out already.”
To InuYasha's surprise, Miroku flushed. “I found . . . something, and I'm not certain what it meant.”
Eyeing the monk-turned-exterminator with a suspicious scowl, InuYasha couldn't help but think that he might not really want to know what Miroku was talking about . . . . “What was it?” he finally forced himself to ask since Miroku was actually blushing just a little.
Miroku shook his head. “That's just it. I'm not sure what it is, though I have a good guess . . . anyway, I'm not certain if Sango wanted me to find it or if I just found it, and she didn't have any intention of showing me.”
InuYasha shook his head, confused by Miroku's odd confession. “What the hell are you talking about, Miroku?”
Miroku blushed a little more. “The box said `Body Condiments' . . . .”
InuYasha frowned. “Sounds weird to me.”
Miroku nodded. “I thought so, too . . . .”
With a shrug, InuYasha lifted his eyebrows as he folded his arms together under his sleeves. “So why don't you just ask her>?”
Miroku's eyes flared wide as he turned his incredulous gaze on the hanyou. “You're not serious! What am I supposed to say? `Oh, Sango, I just happened to be looking in your things and just happened to see the box of Body Condiments . . . `. InuYasha, have you ever been thumped with Hiraikotsu?”
InuYasha nodded slowly. “Yeah.”
The monk grimaced. “Then you know exactly why I'm not asking her.”
Stopping suddenly, he crossed his arms over his chest and pinned Miroku with a suspicious look. “Just where did you find them, lecher?”
Miroku frowned, scuffling his feet along the dirt path. “. . . In her trunk.”
InuYasha rolled his eyes. “Then it's a safe bet she had no intention of showing you at all.”
With a heavy sigh, Miroku nodded. “I suppose . . . I was sort of hoping she did want to try them out. There was an instructional booklet . . . .” he mumbled, digging into his armor. “Want to see it?”
Trying to keep himself from blushing, InuYasha snorted in response. “Keh! No.”
Miroku grinned. “Ah, is that `Monk-in-Pain' I see before me?”
“It will be,” InuYasha promised as he sped up, leaving a laughing Miroku in his wake.
`Once a pervert, always a pervert,' InuYasha thought, his face twisting into a cynical sneer as he neared the edge of the village. Lifting his head, he sniffed, trying to catch a whiff of Kagome. Her scent was vaguely discernible. Bounding off to follow her scent, he wondered how much effort he'd have to put into luring Kagome into disappearing with him for awhile. `Hell! I'm getting almost as bad as Miroku!' Shaking his head, InuYasha sighed but grinned as he tracked her down to their hut.
“Oi, wench!” he called as he pushed the bamboo curtain aside. “Where are you?”
Kagome peeked out of the small storeroom that they'd decided to use as a bedroom. Unfortunately she hadn't had time to clean the room out before, and it was still full of dirt and debris from the building of the hut. Dressed in a tank top and very short shorts, she was covered with dust from her head to her feet. Face smudged with grime and hair sprinkled with enough dust to make her hair look gray under the bandanna she had tied over her head, he couldn't remember her ever looking better to him. “I'm cleaning up the mess back here. It's filthy. Why are you yelling like that?”
“I thought you were spending time with Sango,” he challenged, ignoring her question.
Her smile was tired when she grinned at him. “I did. Then I thought I should get after this so we have a more private place, just for us.”
He couldn't argue with that logic. With a smile of his own, he hunkered down beside her and blinked innocently at her. “So . . . just for us?” She nodded as she bent over again, dragging the small scrub brush she had used for her fingernails across the floor. “Keh. That'll take you all day,” he grumbled, waving his hand at the little brush she used.
She shook her head, rubbing her nose with the back of her hand as she tried to keep from sneezing. “I have to do it,” she remarked. “There's an inch of grime on the floor.”
For some reason, he didn't like seeing her scrubbing like that. As though he thought the task was somehow demeaning her, he reached over and snatched the brush out of her hand. She sat back and shot him a quizzical look. “We've got to discuss this jealousy issue of yours,” she remarked dryly.
“Keh! It has nothing to do with that,” he grumbled, feeling his cheeks redden under her scrutiny. “We've got to go find Myouga, remember? We're going to see Totosai.”
Kagome shrugged. “Do you think he'll be there?”
With a careless shrug, InuYasha wrinkled his nose. “I have no idea where he is.” Ears drooping just a little, he shook he head and snorted. “I swear, if Sesshoumaru is sending me on some sort of pointless search, I'll—”
“Shove Tetsusaiga where the sun doesn't shine, I know,” she cut in. “You've got to admit, sometimes Myouga does know what he's talking about. We aren't leaving today, are we? I mean, it's already after noon. If we wait then we'll have all day to get there.”
InuYasha frowned as he watched Kagome drag the broom across the floor since he'd taken the brush from her. It didn't make sense to him. If Myouga knew something about the well, why hadn't he told him before? Why would he have waited so long, and how would he know anything about it, in the first place? He sighed, frustration gnawing at his stomach with a dull ache. `Damn Sesshoumaru . . . what the fuck isn't he saying?'
`That scent . . . .'
Katosan stopped, lifting his chin as he surveyed the area with a marked frown. An enigmatic smile, a brightening of his golden eyes as he caught the smell once more and followed it. `Weak . . . nearly destroyed . . . doubtless the work of InuYasha-sama's miko. Hmm . . . .'
The dank, damp cave offended his senses. The overwhelming stench of the pitiful creature unnerved him. Staring at the once proud lynx was a strange thing. She was almost pitiable, almost pathetic. `She is everything I despise . . . and yet I feel . . . drawn to her . . . .'
Her low moan, her weakened gasp as her eyes fluttered open was so different from the brash youkai he had come to know. “Kato . . . san? Is that you?”
Kneeling beside her, he nodded slowly. “Ayamakita . . . did you get your claws clipped?”
She hissed at him, the sound missing much of its threat since she was too weak to so much as lift her head. “Did you come here to mock me, Katosan? If that's your intent, then I wish you'd leave.”
He growled low in his throat. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Aya. You and I both know you'd as soon die than show such pathetic weakness.”
“Pathetic, Katosan? Leave me alone.”
“Have it your way. You'll die here. You're already dying. The miko's grown stronger . . . . Tell me. What did you do to exacerbate your dire predicament?” She didn't answer. “I'm willing to wager that this wasn't in retaliation for throwing yourself at him the first time . . . the miko is far too kind to carry a grudge.”
Ayamakita closed her eyes. “Go to hell, Katosan. I don't want you here.”
He stood and turned to go. The needling sight of her stopped him, the sadness that surrounded the dying youkai. If he left her alone . . . .
Before he could talk himself out of it, he lifted her despite her weakened protests and set off toward the northwest.
“Come on, InuYasha! Just a few minutes?”
Folding his arms together in the sleeves of his haori, the hanyou snorted and turned his face away in abject defiance. “Keh! I told you! I ain't doing it.”
“You know you want to.”
“Just this once won't hurt you.”
“I'll never ask you to do it again, I promise!”
She sighed. “You're being a spoiled sport.”
“Will you shut up if I do it?” he growled.
She grinned. “Yes.”
Staring at her for a very long moment, InuYasha shook his head and snorted. “Can't believe I have to do this. I swear, wench, you just love seeing me act like an ass . . . .” he grumbled.
Kagome giggled as she dug into her backpack and dragged out the bright blue Frisbee. InuYasha rolled his eyes as he waited. The only reason she wanted to play was because, more often than not, he'd end up catching the stupid flying disk with his mouth, which she thought was hilarious.
“We're wasting time, you know,” he pointed out as she stretched her arms in preparation to throw.
“Totosai's still alive in five hundred years. He'll still be there if we're ten minutes later.”
“Five, sneaky wench,” he reminded her. She laughed and let the Frisbee fly.
He caught it easily and whipped it back at her. She had to leap to catch it, making her blouse rise up and exposing a nice peek at her stomach. He whined as she threw the Frisbee back again.
She giggled as he leaped off the ground to intercept the disk. Landing on his feet with the Frisbee in his hand, InuYasha suddenly stopped and turned, an overwhelming uneasiness assailing him.
Kagome ran over to him. “InuYasha?”
He glanced at her. “Come on,” he said, pulling her onto his back.
“You felt it, too, then?”
“Yeah,” he answered, swiping up her bag as he lit out at a dead run back toward the village—back toward the well.
“It doesn't feel like Shippou's in danger,” Kagome mused.
InuYasha shook his head. “Not danger, no,” he agreed. `But what? More like the kit was . . . upset?' “Hold on, Kagome,” he told her as he picked up speed.
Kagome's grip on his haori tightened, and she leaned in closer to him. “Hurry up!”
“Keh! What do you think? I'm jogging here?” he shot back as the forest flashed past them in a blur.
“I know you can run faster,” she argued.
“You want to do the running?”
“Then shut up and let me do this!”
They made it back to the village in half the time it had taken them to nearly reach Totosai. Miroku called out to them as they sped past. Kagome had enough time to holler, “Shippou!” over her shoulder before she and InuYasha disappeared into the forest, heading for the well.
He didn't slow down at all as he sprinted out of the trees and into the clearing, didn't pause as he lunged forward into the hole. Kagome didn't bother getting off his back as they fell through the time slip. As soon as his feet hit the ground, InuYasha leaped out of the well, not stopping until he had nearly barreled straight into the doors of the shrine.
“Shippou!” Kagome hollered as InuYasha threw open the door. InuYasha grabbed her hand and dragged her straight through the house into the kitchen. The kitsune was sitting on Mrs. Higurashi's lap, sniffling and trying to eat pocky at the same time.
Mrs. Higurashi offered the two an apologetic smile over Shippou's head. “Souta took him to the zoo,” she explained.
Kagome winced. “Oh, Souta . . . why did he do that?”
“It was awful,” Shippou mumbled, struggling off Mrs. Higurashi's lap and scampering over to Kagome. “They had them in cages, and . . . there were other foxes . . . .”
Kagome shot InuYasha a helpless glance. It must have been obvious from his expression that he didn't have a clue what a `zoo' was, because she sighed and said, “They capture wild animals and take care of them so that everyone can see them.”
InuYasha's eyes narrowed. “They cage them?”
“It sounds crueler than it is. There are a lot of species that would have died out if they weren't,” Kagome explained with a grimace, as though she realized how lame her excuse sounded.
“Where is this `zoo'?” he demanded, crossing his arms over his chest.
Kagome's eyes widened in alarm. “Oh, no, InuYasha . . . No.”
Pausing with his hand on Tetsusaiga's hilt, he glowered down at her. “They're not meant to be kept, wench.”
“You're not breaking into the zoo, InuYasha. Absolutely not.”
“Kagome! InuYasha!” Miroku and Sango ran into the kitchen, crashing into InuYasha's back and panting for breath.
“What's wrong with you?” InuYasha demanded, rounding to stare at the monk and his wife after he caught himself before he ended up flat on his face.
“Sprinting has a habit of doing that,” Miroku explained dryly. “We were worried.”
“Come on, lecher. We've got a job to do.”
“No!” Kagome insisted.
“Can I come, Papa?” Shippou piped up.
“No!” Kagome insisted louder.
InuYasha rolled his eyes. “Give me one good reason—”
“Jail!” she yelled, “which would mean you in a cage, all day, every day, for however long they make you stay in there . . . . You can't right every wrong in this day and age, and you really can't do it with Tetsusaiga.”
He snorted. He really hated it when Kagome was right about this sort of thing . . . . “Keh! Fine,” he snarled, letting go of his sword while Kagome and Mrs. Higurashi explained the situation to Miroku and Sango.
Unwilling to let go of his sulk, InuYasha leaned back against the wall as the others sat down at the table.
Shippou hopped down and ran out of the room only to return moments later. “InuYasha? Do . . . do you want to see my papers?”
InuYasha glanced down at the kitsune and held out his hand. Shippou hopped up onto his shoulder to explain his assignments. With a small smile, InuYasha nodded. The kitsune seemed to enjoy the challenge of the school work. “You like it here, Shippou?”
The kitsune nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah! It's fun! There are lots of things to do, and Grandma said she'd buy me a skateboard . . . .”
An odd sense of loss wrenched at InuYasha's chest. Adopting Shippou just to leave him in the present? He handed the papers back to the kit and ruffled his hair. “Go show Kagome, runt,” he said gruffly. Shippou hopped down and shoved the papers under Kagome's nose. InuYasha shook his head slowly, ears drooping as his shoulders slumped. `As long as he's happy, I guess I can't complain . . . .'
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Leikizu:
I wonder how the voting is going on what our child(ren) will be . . . .
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.