InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Desideratum ❯ Filling the Void ( Chapter 3 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter 3~~
~Filling the Void~


InuYasha wrinkled his nose and glared at the clothes lying on Kagome's bed.  Standing in the doorway of the entirely too-familiar room, he could feel the emptiness in the air and stifled a sigh.  Mrs. Higurashi had bought him clothes to help him 'fit in', and he knew she was trying to be helpful but it didn't alleviate the bitter stab of resentment that surged in him.

'Kagome . . . didn't care that I didn't 'fit in'.

Out of sight, out of mind, or however that saying went . . . The only thing that Kagome seemed to mind was that other people would see his dog ears, and since the initial reaction to those in the modern age was for people to want to touch them, he didn't mind wearing the baseball cap.  She never asked him to dress differently.  She never really asked for much.

'Ain't nothing wrong with my fire rat clothes,' he grumped as he turned away from the room and stomped toward the stairs.  'I ain't wearing those.  No one can make me!  Keh!'

Souta was lying on his stomach in the living room, playing one of his 'video games' with Hitomi.  There had been a few times before, when the boy would try to get InuYasha to play, too.

"Inu-no-nii-chan, you can play the winner," Souta offered without looking at the hanyou.

"That'll be me," Hitomi assured him.

Souta scowled at the girl and rolled his eyes.  "Fat chance!  You stink at this game!"

"Oh, really?  Then who beat whom the other day at the arcade?  That's right; it was Hitomi-chan, wasn't it?"

"Because I let you!"

"You did not!"

InuYasha's decisive snort went unheeded by the arguing youngsters as he tried not to remember the same sort of petty arguments that normally ended with an irritated miko yelling the word that InuYasha both despised and somehow craved.  "Osuwari!"

'Keh!  I don't miss that, damn it!  Why the fuck would I miss that, of all things?'

Still the emptiness surged inside him as the ache of missing her grew more intense, uglier.

"You're such a pain, Hitomi-chan!"

"And you're such a baka, Souta-kun!"

'Playing's for pups,' InuYasha thought sourly, ignoring the argument that struck a little too close to home.  'I ain't got time for that.'

He didn't, not really.  Spending all his waking moments trying to concoct a way to reopen the Bone Eater's Well, to find a way back to the past—to Kagome . . . Those thoughts were the things that kept him moving, kept him thinking, drove him like the threat of Naraku never had.  To think that there really wasn't any way to get back to her would be akin to giving up, and, well, InuYasha had never been very good at that, either.

Grandpa Higurashi shuffled through the back door, eyes shifting around the living room as though he were looking for something in particular.  His gaze lit on InuYasha and stuck.  The hanyou's ears twitched as the man drew near, as he reached into his shirt and pulled out an ofuda.

InuYasha glared menacingly at the old man.  He didn't trust the strange look in Grandpa's eyes, and when the old man raised the paper charm to put it on InuYasha, he drew his lips back in a fierce snarl meant to ward off the action.  Grandpa ignored the obvious warning, slapping the paper on InuYasha's head.  InuYasha pulled it off and crumpled it in his fist.  "I told you, old man, your stupid little pieces of paper don't work on me!"

Grandpa grumbled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like, "Next time it will," before shuffling off toward the kitchen.

'We'll see about that,' InuYasha thought with a decisive snort.  'Yeah, it ain't happening . . . the only one who could purify or seal me is Kagome, and she ain't—' His ears drooped as he cut himself off.  Glancing around quickly to ascertain that no one else had noticed his momentary lapse, he made a face.  'She ain't here.  Stupid Kagome . . .'

It confused him a little.  Since finding out that Kagome hadn't made it back after purifying the Shikon no Tama, her grandfather had been almost hostile toward him.  InuYasha didn't care—at least, that's what he told himself.  He only wished he knew why.  It was almost as if the old man blamed him for Kagome staying in the past, and in a way, it was true.  InuYasha strode toward the doors, figuring that Goshinboku was the best place to be at the moment.  At least he would be safe from little brothers and irritated grandfathers.  Then he could think in peace.

Leaping into the highest branches to hide in the relative tranquility of the God Tree, InuYasha settled back with a dejected snort, thrust his arms together in the sleeves of the haori.  He figured he had a good hour or two before Mrs. Higurashi came looking for him.  She had an annoying habit of doing that at odd moments during the day.  She always stared at him with a slight frown, as if she thought he was going to sprout another four heads and start breathing fire.

He knew that the Shikon no Tama had been the reason the well had been allowing the time travel in the first place.  He could understand that, he supposed.  It hadn't really surprised him when the well had closed.  To be completely honest, he'd rather expected it.  He just hadn't expected Kagome to wish to stay in his time.  Why should she?  Sure, Sango, Miroku, and Shippou were there, but her family was here.  Her friends were here.  All her modern conveniences and those things she couldn't seem to live without were here—things like shampoo and the rest of the things that she loved to remind him of on a daily basis.

Even then . . .

Even then, the worst of it all was the feeling that he was absolutely useless here.  He wasn't entirely sure why, but there just weren't the numbers of youkai these days—if there were any at all—which he was seriously starting to doubt.  But that didn't make sense, did it?  Youkai were strong.  There was no way that they'd be extinct.

Nope, the one in real danger from youkai was Kagome, and that was one of the many thoughts that tended to keep him up at night, too.  Sure, she had Miroku and Sango with her, and he knew damn well that they would look after her, but he was the one, wasn't he?  The one who always rushed in, the one who always saved Kagome.

'Sure, except you're underestimating her—again.'

InuYasha snorted indelicately.  'No way!  She's just a pathetic human—and a girl!  She cries at everything, remember?  And she never shuts up . . . Maybe she could blab the youkai to death . . .'

Then he sighed.  The truth of it was that as much as InuYasha liked to think that Kagome needed his protection, she didn't, not really.  He'd started suspecting early on that she chose to let him protect her, and maybe she understood that somewhere deep down, someplace hidden in the confines of his psyche, maybe he needed to protect her.  She was smart, she was strong . . . and maybe InuYasha was the one who really needed Kagome far more than Kagome had ever needed him.


:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:


"Did not."

"Did, too."

"Did not."

"Did, too."

"I did not, you liar!"

"You did, too, you baka!"

"I don't think it matters, which one of you emptied the last water bottle," Sango interrupted reasonably.  "We'll refill them as soon as we stop for the night.  It isn't a problem."

Kagome rolled her eyes as she hitched her bow over her shoulder and spared a glance behind her at the fighting youkai children.  Bunza sat on Sango's lap, sticking his tongue out at the kitsune, while Shippou crouched on Miroku's shoulder, glowering back at the lynx-youkai.  They really couldn't seem to stand one another, and Kagome wasn't entirely sure why it would be so.  As though they were vying for some sort of rank in the social hierarchy of the group, Shippou and Bunza were wearing on her already thin nerves.  She wished they would just stop bickering.

"That's enough, you two," Miroku said, heaving an audible sigh as he slowly shook his head.  "This looks like as good a place as any to make camp."

Kagome dropped her backpack and rummaged around for the water bottles.  "I don't like him, Kagome," Shippou said as he scampered over to her side.  "He's shifty . . . How do we know InuYasha really helped him before?  We don't, do we?  We can't trust just anyone, right?"

"Shippou," Kagome began in a warning tone.  "He's just a little boy like you.  I'm sure you'll be friends once you get to know him."

Shippou wrinkled his nose, crossing his arms over his chest and reminding Kagome of InuYasha during one of his stubborn moments.  "Here," she said, digging a packet of pocky out of one of the last boxes in her backpack.  "Why don't you try to make peace with Bunza?  I'm sure he'd like pocky as much as you do."

The kitsune looked appalled at the suggestion that he share his precious snack with the lynx.  Kagome stood up with the water bottles, ruffled Shippou's russet hair as she shot him an encouraging smile before heading off to find the stream.

The late afternoon sunshine reflected off the rippling water as a sultry heat brought an instant sheen of sweat to Kagome's brow.  Wishing that she'd taken the time to change into a cooler blouse, she couldn't help wondering how warm it was back home; couldn't help wondering how InuYasha was adjusting to life on the other side of the Bone Eater's Well.  Hunkering down beside the water's edge, Kagome rinsed the water bottles before she began to fill them.

"Those two get along as well as InuYasha and Kouga on their best day," Sango remarked as she stepped out of the trees to kneel beside Kagome next to the stream.  Taking up an empty bottle, the youkai exterminator wiped her brow and blew out a breath of air that sent her bangs flying up off her forehead.  "You've been quiet," she remarked, trying for a casual tone of voice.

Kagome tried to smile but it looked more like a grimace.  Sango tilted her head in a compassionate sort of way, and the gesture only served to make Kagome feel that much worse.  "Sorry, Sango-chan . . . I guess I've just not been in the most talkative of moods lately."

"It's okay.  We all understand.  We miss him, too . . . even Kirara does."

"I feel so stupid," Kagome admitted, gazing at the water, at the silvery glints of sunlight that reminded her of InuYasha's hair, of the way it blew behind him, rippling in the breeze as he ran through the forest.  "I'll bet he blames me for being there.  I blame myself for him being there . . ."

"That's not true.  How were you to know that he'd want to go to your time?"

Kagome smiled sadly, digging a rumpled kerchief out of her pocket and dipping it into the tepid water.  "That's just it, you know?  He always complained about my time.  Too noisy, too smelly . . . too crowded . . . I never thought he'd choose it.  I never thought . . ." She shrugged and squeezed the excess moisture out of the kerchief before wiping her face.  "What do you think he's doing right now?  Do you think . . . do you think he misses us, just a little?"

"Kagome, of course he does!  He chose your time because of you.  He must have believed you'd choose it, too.  Then you'd have been together."

Sango was right, and Kagome knew it.  Still it offered little in the way of consolation when there was no way to fix the wishes gone wrong.  In the two days since they'd left the village to help Bunza's clan, Kagome had started to come to grips with the idea that InuYasha might not be able to come back at all.  She didn't want to believe it.  She also couldn't think of a single way to change it.  The well was closed.  Midoriko had said as much, and while InuYasha might have lived through the five hundred years separating them if the situation were reversed, Kagome wouldn't be able to do that.

"It's so stupid," Kagome mumbled with a shake of her head.  "Just . . . stupid, you know?"

Sango sighed and shook her head.  Kagome could see it in her friend's gaze.  Sango felt helpless, as though nothing she could say or do would really make a difference, at all.  Maybe it wouldn't, but it did help to know that she was surrounded by people who loved her.  Sango, Miroku, and Shippou . . . they were as close as family.

'InuYasha . . . will you find that, too?'

Thinking about that brought the memory of her mother's face to mind.  Sharp and poignant, Kagome couldn't quite grasp the idea that she really wouldn't see her again.  'Mama will help you, InuYasha . . . She'll do it because that's what Mama does.  I don't think she'll be able to help herself, but maybe you'll help her, too . . . Maybe you'll help her so she doesn't miss me . . .'

Kagome shifted her gaze toward the hazy blue sky.  'Such a perfect evening,' she thought with a stifled sigh as she drew her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees.  How often had InuYasha and she sat on evenings such as these, content to stare off into the distance from the highest boughs of Goshinboku?  No words had ever been spoken.  They hadn't really needed them back then.  It was enough to sit beside him, to accept the quiet comfort of his presence.

She felt like a child all over again.  She felt the same uncertainty and fear she knew on that first day of school long ago.  Staring at the strange faces of the other children in her class, she'd wanted her mother to take her back to the safety and security of the shrine.  In the end she'd been fine, of course.  Kagome had never forgotten that feeling of dread—the same one she felt again years later after she'd fallen through the Bone Eater's Well in the time before she had met InuYasha . . .

The same sky felt emptier now.  The world seemed darker and somehow sadder.  Still, she knew that with every second that passed, every minute that slipped away, the memories she held so dear—so vivid in her mind—would fade with time until all that was left was the thin wisp of a hazy vision, and the cherished memory of sensations that might make her stop and think and wonder.  She would remember his name.  She would remember that she loved him.  Would he remember her?  'Such a sense of serenity . . . but I can't find any real comfort in it, at all . . .'

The fluffy clouds resembled the shape of a surly hanyou, and the smell on the wings of the subtle breeze smelled like him: like InuYasha.


:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:


"She's not doing as well as she wants us to believe," Sango said softly, staring across the dancing flames of the campfire at the sleeping miko.

Miroku stifled a sigh and rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  "Of course she isn't.  She misses him, as we all do.  They've always shared a special bond.  It stands to reason she misses him more."

"A special bond?" Sango echoed as Kirara curled up on her lap.  "She loves him.  She's loved him forever."

"Small comfort that he verified what we all suspected," Miroku agreed.  "His actions proved it, didn't they?  He chose to be with Kagome, but he never thought . . ." He trailed off and shook his head, sighed as he turned his head to stare at Bunza, who was curled up on a blanket nearby.

She fell quiet for a moment, her gaze careful, direct as she slowly stroked the fire-cat's fur.  "What'll become of her, without InuYasha?  She chose to stay here because of him, but . . . But he's not here, and I don't think . . . He can't come back, can he?"

"I don't think so," Miroku agreed.  "I don't know of anyone who could reopen a time slip."

"I just wish there was something we could do."

"I know what you mean.  I feel that way, too.  There isn't really anything we can do for Kagome, aside from being her friends.  She's strong.  She'll be fine."

"I know.  It just makes me angry," Sango said suddenly, vehemence thinning her voice to a hiss as her eyes sparked dangerously.  Miroku winced inwardly.  He'd seen that look one time too many.  Her fire, her passion, the same fierce determination . . . He adored that about her.  He adored everything about her . . . "Why would Midoriko do such a thing?  She had to have known, didn't she?"

"I don't know, Sango.  We can't ask her.  She had to have had her reasons."

"Houshi-sama . . ."

He could feel her troubled gaze but didn't dare to look at her.

"What did Midoriko say to you?"

'I cannot change things for you.  I cannot lessen your fears nor can I dispel your doubts.  I can tell you that the things you seek are not impossible.  The path is troublesome, but you, Miroku . . . you must be certain that it is what you truly want.'

Shaking off the sadness inspired by Midoriko's words, Miroku forced a half-smile as he tossed another log onto the fire.  "It's not important, Sango.  Don't worry about it."

She looked like she wasn't sure what to believe.  His words were confident enough, but he knew that she could see right through his attempt to evade her question.  He didn't doubt for a second that she was far from buying his feeble attempts to placate her.

"It's hard to believe that the Shikon no Tama is gone, isn't it?" she finally asked.  "It seems strange.  I want to be happy, but . . ." Her words died away as her gaze returned to Kagome's sleeping form again.  Sango sighed and shook her head.  "Maybe it was true.  Maybe what we did to purify it . . . maybe it was our faults."

"I don't think so," Miroku replied.  "It's all right to be happy.  You lost your village and your family because of Naraku's evil wish to possess the jewel.  You've earned the right."

"Not all of my family," she ventured quietly.  Her gaze fell to her hands, clasped in her lap.

"He'll come back eventually," Miroku told her.

Sango sighed and bobbed her shoulders as a hint of a blush crept up her cheeks.  "I sound so petty, don't I?  I should just be glad—thankful—that Kohaku lived, and here I am, whining because he is off on his own . . ."

"I don't think that's whining, and I don't think you're petty, either," Miroku said gently.  "Maybe, instead of dwelling on the idea that he's out there alone, you should think about the things you want to do."

"Like what?" she asked, her tone more questioning than challenging.

Miroku considered it before answering.  "I don't know, Sango . . . Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind."

"I want to restore my people," she replied automatically.  "When I think about my village . . . when I think about the sadness that lives there . . ." Trailing off with a sigh, she shook her head.  "I want there to be laughter again.  I want to be able to smile when I think about it—when I look at it."

Miroku chuckled.  "I think that's a fine ambition, Sango."

She didn't respond, but she didn't have to.  He could sense a definite lightening in the air surrounding her, and while he knew that she wouldn't delude herself into thinking that it would be easy, he did know that there was no one quite like her once she set her mind to something.

"And you?" she asked at length.

"Me?"

She nodded.  "What is it that you want, houshi-sama?"

Miroku smiled as Sango's gaze rose to meet his.  Reluctant, unsure, her body seemed to whisper things that his mind tried desperately to ignore.  It was the closest they'd been since the night they had gathered to purify the jewel.  Too worried about Kagome to concentrate on anything else, Miroku and Sango's moments had been few and far between since the mishap.  There were still too many things that Miroku wasn't sure he could ask of her, too many sacrifices that she would have to make.  She would choose to make them, wouldn't she?  She'd smile and say it was her choice, after all.

Miroku shifted his gaze away, unable to voice his concerns.  If there were no answers for InuYasha and Kagome, what were the odds that there would be any for the likes of him?  "That's simple," he said, his tone deliberately teasing her.  "I have earned the right to sleep.  Between Shippou and Bunza, it's been a really, really long day, don't you think?"

Sango was caught off-guard by his flip answer.  For a moment, he thought she was going to call him on the intentional sidestepping of her question.  In the end, she stretched out on her blanket.  Kirara curled up in a ball of fur beside her.

Miroku stared at the fire for a long time.  When he glanced over at Sango, she was asleep.


:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:O:


InuYasha kicked a rock as he wandered through the familiar forest, trying to ignore the strange sense of emptiness that surrounded him.  Located behind the shrine, he'd sought refuge here after Mrs. Higurashi's well-meaning but unwelcome attempts to cajole him into trying on the clothes she's purchased for him.  All of the animals that used to roam the same forest were gone, chased away by too many humans, by the smelly air of the hulking buildings that loomed over the top of the trees: the city of Tokyo.  It used to be his forest.  It used to be filled with birds and animals, and even the trees were silent now, relegated to the role of little more than nuisances that hindered the further development of the vast city.

He'd never understand this time, and without Kagome, he didn't really want to.

The feeling of utter helplessness was something that nearly killed him.  Used to being able to fight through whatever opposition came his way, the foreign sense that the situation was entirely beyond his control was enough to put him on edge.  For the first time in his life, the antagonist was something he couldn't touch or see or smell.  He couldn't track it, he couldn't hunt it, he couldn't confront it.  'How the hell am I supposed to defeat it?'  It wasn't as simple as a youkai, standing between Kagome and him.  No amount of hollering or fighting was going to change it.  Digging in the well until his fingers bled under his claws didn't work, either.  He'd tried everything he could think of.  He'd run out of ideas.

Kagome.

What was she doing now?  Did she miss him?  Did she worry about him?  Was she trying to figure out a way to get to her time?

Mrs. Higurashi had mentioned that she was checking into finding a tutor for InuYasha.  He hadn't really understood what that meant, but as she kept talking, he had gotten the distinct feeling that whatever she meant couldn't possibly be good.  She said that since they didn't really know how long InuYasha would be staying with them, that it was safest to assume that he'd be there indefinitely, and if that were the case, then he'd need to have an education.

He did understand what education meant.  It meant the same to him that it had to Kagome: tests and exams and stupid books.  'Keh!  Over my dead body,' he grumbled, stomping a little faster as he flicked his ears and glowered at the sparse grass on the forest floor.  He hated when Kagome ignored him in favor of studying.  There was no way in hell he was going to do the same thing . . .

But the main reason he didn't want to cooperate was the irrational notion that in doing so, he would be accepting his fate, and if he accepted that, then it meant that he never really was meant to be with Kagome, didn't it?  It meant that he would have to give up hope.

'Stupid Kagome . . . What was she thinking?  She knew I'd choose to be here with her.  She had to have known.  Why does she always have to be so difficult?  I swear she did this on purpose.  Some sort of stupid trick of hers, ain't it?  She's always trying to push me . . . I'll bet she did this just to piss me off!  Well, I'll show her!  I . . . I don't care!  Why should I care when she didn't?  If she did, she'd be here, too, wouldn't she?  If she cared . . . Wench . . .'

He sighed, scowl dissipating as InuYasha's ears flattened against his head.  It was simpler to be angry with her than it was to let himself feel anything else.  It was easier to deal with that.  It was far less complicated to tell himself that she didn't care, that she'd done all this on purpose.  Irritation and rage were things he knew.  Those emotions had always worked to cover the truth of his feelings.  Kagome had peeled away those layers, had uncovered a vulnerability that InuYasha truly despised.  In the time they'd spent together, he'd allowed Kagome to see more of his heart, more of his emotions, than he'd ever showed a single soul.

He needed a good fight.  Unused to living in a time and place where youkai were either unseen or had ceased to exist, InuYasha's outlet for his pent-up frustration had been taken away.  At least if he were still in the past, he'd only have to go so far as to search out his bastard of a half-brother.  Always willing to oblige him in a decent fight, InuYasha figured that was Sesshoumaru's single saving grace.  Then, too, he could have looked for Kouga . . .

At the thought of the wolf-youkai tribe's leader, InuYasha stopped and uttered a low growl.  'Damn that Kouga . . . He'd better stay the hell away from Kagome . . .  Knowing that coward, he'll be sniffing around her just as soon as he figures out I'm not there . . .'

Wincing as the memory of Kouga, holding Kagome in his arms after the mangy wolf kidnapped her so long ago, InuYasha's growl escalated as he cracked his knuckles.  Kagome didn't like Kouga—at least, not that way—but that hadn't ever stopped Kouga from trying, and InuYasha didn't even try to delude himself into thinking that the wolf-youkai wouldn't try it again, especially when he found out that InuYasha was gone.

'Yeah, that ain't happening,' InuYasha snarled.  'I'll kill Kouga if he tries anything . . . See if I don't!'

A streak of movement off to the right caught his attention, and he turned his head.  'Who the hell is that, and what the fuck is he doing in my forest?' InuYasha thought with a scowl as he cracked his knuckles and darted toward the blurry figure running through the trees.  'Youkai?  No . . . hanyou . . .'

InuYasha sneezed and lifted his sleeve to cover his nose as he chased after the hanyou.  He stank—really stank—-smelled like a mix of scents, and not one of the scents seemed natural.  It was almost as though he were hiding his true scent, but the odor of the fumes emanating from the strange hanyou prevented InuYasha from even beginning to discern a thing.  Silvery hair and hanyou dog ears, and when the hanyou looked back over his shoulder, InuYasha narrowed his gaze.  Golden eyes, a knowing grin . . . There was a familiarity about the hanyou that InuYasha couldn't place.  'Who the hell is that?' he asked himself again as he increased his speed, as he sprinted after the stranger.

Cresting a low rise that dropped sharply to create a small gully, InuYasha skidded to a halt as the hanyou he'd been chasing stopped beside the one being InuYasha hadn't bargained on ever having to see again.

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

Amber eyes lit with unabashed amusement flicked coolly over InuYasha and dismissed him just as quickly as InuYasha fought down the fierce growl that welled in his throat.

"It's been a long time—worthless half-breed."


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A/N
:
Ofuda: paper charm.
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Reviewers
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xxXDark SlayerXxx (FFnet):
You are a master of fanfiction Sueric, this story is kind of heartbreaking, but yet kind of funny. How do you come up with the ideas for your stories? Do they just randomly pop into your head or are they parts to some real life situation you've been in?

Sesshoumaru:  This Sesshoumaru is convinced that Sueric is insane.
InuYasha:  Shut the hell up, bastard!  You're just jealous 'cuz you haven't even been mentioned yet
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MMorg
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Final
Thought from InuYasha:
Who the hell is that?
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Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Desideratum):  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.

~Sue~

Chapter 2
Chapter 4
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