InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Fourteen: Aftermath ( Chapter 14 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Update: A few clarifications added, adjusted some grammatical inconsistencies and streamlined the punctuation.

  Fireside Chats
Part Fourteen: Aftermath


The climb to the Slayers' village was torturous for Inuyasha, who had lost a considerable amount of blood in the fight and had expended about all the energy he had in the process. Transforming into a full demon was exhausting because he tended to move a lot faster and fight a lot harder. Plus he had had to fight like hell to keep his sanity within reach of Kagome's voice. It was every bit as exhausting as trying to swim against a raging current while trying to fight Koga using only fangs and claws. By the time they reached the gateway itself, Inuyasha's vision was beginning to blur. Miroku put a hand on his shoulder, silently bracing him and lending his own strength. Kagome noted that the monk deliberately avoided touching Kiniromaru at all. This seemed really out of character of him and she resolved to grill him about it. Granted, they hadn't encountered too many female demons in their travels, but Miroku was hardly one to curb his flirtatious tendencies just because the woman was a demon and not a human. And she knew that Miroku refrained from flirting too much with her because Inuyasha was jealous enough to pound the monk to a pulp just to teach him a lesson.

Once inside the village, Inuyasha sank to one knee and shrugged the unconscious uma-youkai off his back and onto the ground. Miroku managed to catch her before she hit the ground too hard. "Careful with her, Inuyasha! She's pretty ill."

"Keh!" Inuyasha spat. "I still think we should put her out of her misery. What the hell is Kikyo up to, making us do this?"

"The first order of business should be to bathe her," Sango said pragmatically. "She's covered in blood and dirt, and I think she's got some of Sesshomaru's venom -- recent splashes of it -- on her, which are burning her skin. Come on, Kagome, let's get started. You prepare the bath and I'll go find some other clothes for her. That body armor of hers will need some serious repair."

Shippo and Kirara set about foraging for herbs and vegetables. Miroku strong-armed Inuyasha into stripping to the waist so that the monk could have a good look at his injuries. Kagome and Sango bathed and treated Kiniromaru's battered body. The demon came to while they were in the process of scrubbing the dried blood off her chest. However, the loss of blood and the effects of the venom rendered her too weak to move much and she declined to comment.

"This is very strange," Kagome commented, hesitantly touching the poorly-healed puncture wound over Kiniromaru's heart. She fought down a blush as the demon flinched. Kiniromaru didn't seem the least bit ashamed of her own nudity, but the old wound was clearly sensitive.

"What is?" Sango asked. "The wound? I think that's where Sesshomaru clawed her last time. He said he pierced her heart."

"I meant the Jewel fragments. The one on the... left?... is slightly larger, but it's... it's almost like it's about to break in two. Wait... the shards are kind of moving..." Kagome narrowed her eyes and tried to focus on the tainted glow she knew only she could see. "They're kind of moving, switching places..."

"Are they moving in time with her heartbeat?"


"Maybe that's why. That's where the shards are, isn't it? In her heart."

"Yeah. So they must have been implanted into the heart muscle, and as it beats they move with the muscle tissues. Still, a human heart doesn't move that drastically... I've seen videos of a heart beating..."

"She's not human."

"I know that," Kagome waved a hand irritably, "but I can't imagine that human-shaped demons are all that different. Well, whatever." She shook her head to clear her thoughts. "Back to the one shard, it's... one side of it is black, but the other side of it is trying to... it's not purifying the other, but it's trying to overpower the corrupted part of it. The other shard is as black as any I've seen."

"Can you purify them without taking them from her?"

"I can try."

Kagome put both of her hands over the uma-youkai's heart and focused her concentration on the two Jewel fragments. She vaguely heard Kiniromaru's swift intake of breath - akin to a gasp - as she did so, but tried to ignore it.

There they are. If I can just reach them with my power, I can remove the taint for a while.

Kagome formed an arrow in her mind and shot it at the larger of the two fragments. As it struck, she felt the poison taint in the fragment evaporate. With a quick turn of thought she fired another mental arrow at the other fragment, purifying it as well.

"Did it work?" Sango put a hand on Kagome's shoulder. Kagome opened her eyes -- only belatedly realizing that she'd clenched them in concentration -- and noted somewhat extraneously that Kiniromaru had lost consciousness again. The purification must've been pretty painful for her.

"I think so." Kagome pulled her hand away from Kiniromaru's chest and studied the cleansed light of the fragments. There was something unusual about that larger fragment... "I... I think that one is trying to heal something. I don't get it -- I've never known Shikon fragments to actually heal. And why the one and not the other?"

"Do you suppose the one that's trying to heal her is the one that came from Nijimaru?"

"Well, I can't imagine any Jewel coming from Naraku would have that ability. But why would Nijimaru's?"

Sango shrugged. "Out of curiosity, how much larger is it? Is it two shards in one?"

"No, it's only slightly larger. The regular one is about three-quarters the size of the larger one. I think it's just a slightly larger fragment."

"Does it still look like it's trying to split in half?"

"Well... sort of. And not in half, so much as a small piece of it, about a third of it or so, is either straining to stay attached, or straining to break away. I can't tell..."

Sango frowned in contemplation. "I think I'd better go do some research when we get done with her. Shall we dress her now?"

"Oh fuck no, no, no," Inuyasha growled in the back of his throat, startling Shippo. The kitsune was playing with Kirara.

"What's the matter?" Miroku looked up. He'd been standing before the many graves of the villagers, in the process of offering prayers for the departed, when Inuyasha jumped to his feet and snarled.

"Stinking wolf," the hanyou snarled. "What's he doing around here, near a village?"

"That must mean that Koga's coming here. Well, he's in for a rude shock if he's hunting humans," Miroku said, leaning his staff against his shoulder and returning to prayer. "Don't worry about it, Inuyasha. Besides, if you're worried about Kagome's safety with Kiniromaru around, having Koga around as well will be a bonus. You know he stops at nothing to protect her, just as you do."

Inuyasha growled wordlessly.

A few moments later, Koga emerged from the palisade gate, flanked by his two bumbling packmates Ginta and Hakkaku.

"I thought I smelled you, Mutt-face," the wolf said complacently. "I also smell that conniving bitch Kagura. Where is she? Did you let her get away again?"

"She made her getaway as usual," Miroku said before Inuyasha could snap a retort. "Left us with one helluva strong opponent to keep us busy so that we didn't even see which direction she went in and the saimyosho masked her scent trail."

"Figures," Koga snorted. "Mutt-face, you couldn't finish her off, eh?"

"Shove it, wolf," Inuyasha snarled. "I was a little preoccupied with Kiniromaru trying to kill me."

"Miroku," Kagome called from the bath-house. "Can you come help us? She's really too heavy for either of us to carry."

Miroku hesitated. Inuyasha scoffed. "Bah, weakling. I'll do it."

Kagome noticed Koga. "Oh, hello, Koga!

"Touch her and die, wolf-cub!" Inuyasha spat as Kagome ushered him into the bath-house to retrieve Kiniromaru.

Koga smirked; "Whatever, dog-breath."

"What brings you here?" Kagome inquired, hoping that if she kept the wolf talking, he wouldn't have time to do anything that might set Inuyasha off. She didn't want to see Inuyasha exacerbating his wounds before she had had a chance to treat them.

"I smelled Kagura."

"Here? In the village?"

"No, outside, a little ways away. But then I smelled you and Mutt-face and thought I'd see what you were up to. What are you up to anyway?"

"Remember that female horse demon from the last time we met up?"

"The one on the yellow horse? Yeah, kinda. Big attitude, as I recall. Mouthy and bossy."

"Well, to make a long story short, apparently she got into a nasty fight with Sesshomaru, and was nearly poisoned to death by his toxic claws. The forest guardian was killed in the process, and Kiniromaru is hell-bent on killing Inuyasha in revenge."

Koga blinked. "Huh?"

"I'll explain better a little later. Just keep in mind that since the last time you saw her, she's been nearly poisoned by Sesshomaru's venom, and Naraku decided to make use of her. She's now got two Jewel shards in her heart. She's hell-bent on killing Inuyasha. However, one of her Jewel fragments is behaving strangely, so we're trying to heal her a little to see if the behavior of the Jewel shard can be used as a clue to defeating Naraku."

"Uh, okay... Geez, Mutt-face, you sure have a lot of enemies. Makes me kind of jealous."

"Kiss my ass, wolf!" came the predictable reply.

"Why don't you stay with us for a while?" Miroku offered. "I'm sure we can scavenge up more food. You three are looking a little hungry."

"That's an excellent idea!" Kagome enthused.

Wait a minute! What am I saying?! Having Koga around will put Inuyasha on edge and make it impossible for me to treat his injuries!

Ginta and Hakkaku looked expectantly at Koga, their eyes practically begging him to accept the offer. Koga sighed; "Sure, why not? The forest around here looks ripe for hunting. Go see if you can find something," he addressed the two wolf-demons directly. Ginta and Hakkaku took the command without question and trotted off to go find something to eat.

Koga crossed his arms and regarded Kagome measuringly. "So, explain more about this Kiniromaru. I don't understand what her grudge against Mutt-face is. What the hell happened after we left you guys?"

By the time dinner was ready, Inuyasha had calmed down from learning that Koga and his brood would be spending the night - and perhaps a few more nights - in the village with them.

Kiniromaru came to again once they'd laid her out on a futon. However, apart from glaring coldly at them, she offered no other interaction. She ignored any questions and refused to even acknowledge anyone. She refused food and turned away when Shippo tried to coax her into talking.

Finally, the group gave up on trying to convince her to eat something and tackled their meal. Koga brooded on what Kagome had told him about the circumstances surrounding Kiniromaru's arrival here. Ginta and Hakkaku, oblivious to it all, kept up a lively banter, but Kagome noticed that Inuyasha was unusually quiet and withdrawn.

Actually, so was Miroku.

"That reminds me," Kagome said. "Miroku, I have a question for you."

"Yes?" The monk put his bowl down in anticipation of her question.

"Are you afraid of Kiniromaru?"

That was probably the last thing he'd expected her to say, and he stared at her, agape. "What?"

"You act like you don't even want to touch her. That's not like you."

Miroku maintained a "WTF?" expression.

"Whenever you come across a pretty lady, you're always so helpful with them," Shippo reasoned. "So why do you avoid her? She's pretty."

"Well, for starters, she's a demon..."

"That never stopped you before," Sango snapped.

Miroku's left eyebrow twitched in irritation. "Fine. She creeps me out. Happy now?"

"Creeps you out?" Shippo tilted his head and widened his eyes. "How? She seems harmless enough to me."

Inuyasha grunted. "Harmless? That horse? Hardly."

"Well, she's pretty sick right now."

Miroku frowned in contemplation. "I don't know what it is about Kiniromaru, but I get a weird feeling around her. My gut instinct is to stay away from her. I can't tell you why I feel that way, because I don't know, but I just... she strikes me as ten times more dangerous than Sesshomaru."

"I don't know about that," Inuyasha said, "but she's dangerous. Very dangerous. Whenever I'm near her now, Tetsusaiga reacts."


"It feels like it's straining against the sheath, like it wants me to draw it. Or maybe it's just warning me. But here's the thing: it's never done that before, not like this."

"What's that supposed to mean, Mutt-face?"

"Considering that the Tetsusaiga's primary purpose is as a weapon to defend humanity," Miroku said quietly, "one must assume that it is aware of Kiniromaru's inner thoughts towards humans. Unlike any other demon we've encountered, she must hate humans with a fury. She said herself that her tribe was slaughtered or enslaved by humans. And the forest uma-youkai were duty-bound to kill any human that wandered into Nijimaru's forest without his permission, so obviously she had little regard for humans to begin with." The monk looked meaningfully at Koga. "You ought to know where she's coming from on this. You lost your tribe."

Koga cocked an eyebrow. "I'm going after the demons responsible for the slaughter of my tribe. I don't give a damn about other demons, unless they are either in my way or threatening my mate." Inuyasha growled. "I don't hate other demons in general, or even half-demons, though the two I know of are both assholes."

"There's nothing rational about hatred," Miroku replied.

"I want all of you humans to stay away from her," Inuyasha said calmly, his voice steely with resolve. "Especially you, Kagome. You are not to be around her by yourself. Ever. She's ruthless and filled with hatred. And she knows what it'll mean to me if she kills you." He looked up at Kagome. The look in his citrine eyes sent chills down her spine.

"I don't do this very often," Koga said finally, "but I agree with him. That horse demon sounds bloody dangerous."

"I want you to promise me you will follow my instructions, Kagome," Inuyasha added. "You have a bad habit of disregarding my warnings. I'm dead serious here. She's not the kind to toy with her prey. If she gets the chance, she'll rip out your throat before you can even scream. Don't be fooled by her apparent weakness. She did me a good number out there on the battlefield. She's every bit as quick as Koga, and all she has to do is get one good lunge in and you're gone."

"But how can I monitor the Shikon shard if you won't let me get close to her? I need to be close at hand to see the shard's behavior, you know!"

"Just don't go near her alone. Have either me or Koga with you when you're around her. I don't trust her. I need you to give me your word, Kagome. I need you to promise me you'll do what I say in this. There's no way you can predict what she'll do next, even looking at those shards. Don't go near her alone. I need you to promise me that."

The intensity of his speech was perhaps the most disturbing thing. I don't think I've ever seen him this spooked. Not even with Muso...

"All right, Inuyasha, you have my word. But that doesn't mean I won't be tending to her. I'll just make sure someone else is there with me."

Inuyasha's eyes narrowed; "Either me or Koga. I don't think anyone else can move fast enough to intercept her if she attacks. Mind you I'm not thrilled with the idea of Koga doing this, but if he's going to stay here a while, he might as well make himself useful."

last updated: August 28, 2005