InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Here at the End of All Things ❯ A Song for the Ages ( Chapter 6 )
Author's Note: Unfortunately, because this story has been idle for so long, I've chosen to end it early. I was planning to do ten chapters, but any and all ideas for future chapters have been rendered invalid or unusable by the sheer lack of drive to write that I've been cursed with. I just don't have any projected future for this fic, so I'm finishing it here. If, on the extremely unlikely off-chance that I get the urge to continue it, I'll reopen the story as in-progress, but for now, this finishes it. Sorry, to everyone who was expecting a lot more out of it. I just can't do much more. This was never intended to be much of a fic. It grew to be more than I wanted it to.
Here at the End of All Things:
Part Six: A Song for the Ages
"Careful. Don't overexert yourself," Kagome chided as she and Sota both hoisted Inuyasha to his feet. He insisted on getting up and moving around, insisted he would be just fine, that he was just stiff and needed to get his joints moving. As the shock of the passage through the time portal faded, his old personality reasserted itself.
"Keh, overexert myself," he snorted. "I'll be fine if you stop coddling me, Kagome! Sheesh!" He tried to shrug her off, but she held fast.
"She could always start coddling me," Miroku quipped from where he still sat beneath Goshinboku. He attempted to use his dazzling woman-wooing smile, but the pain in his hand curled the corners of his mouth into a grotesque parody of winsome smile.
"Hey, now, Monk, I warned you about that! Don't make me come over there and kick your sorry ass!"
*I think Sango can do that just fine anyway,* the tiny fox kit chirped as he projected telepathically.
"Well, she's not over here coddling me," Miroku said with a pout. "I'll take what attention I can get."
"Animal," Sango retorted, thumping him over the head with her fist. The uncertainty of the thump spoke volumes about both her feelings for the former monk and her uncertainty about her own place in the world. She felt naked without Hiraikotsu. The mighty six-foot-long boomerang made of demon bones had broken in the final battle against Naraku, and in the hurry afterwards it had gotten left behind. Besides all that, she was still unsure what to think of her connection with Miroku. The world had upended on her; she was still trying to figure out which direction was up.
Miroku gave her a strained grin, trying to ease her discomfort, despite his own pain.
Inuyasha was wobbling, swaying and staggering almost as if he'd had quite a few too many sakes, but he was staying upright on his feet. His legs were wobbly, but they weren't collapsing on him. His determination was strong enough to keep him upright.
Mrs Higurashi came out of the house carrying a tray of tea and rice-cakes. She passed cups and cakes around to each young adult, patting Shippo's little furry head affectionately as she did so. Inuyasha sat down at the base of Goshinboku, leaning gratefully into the tree's sturdy trunk.
"So, you're not going back there again, Kagome?" Mrs Higurashi asked of her daughter.
"I don't think I can," Kagome said. "And besides, there's nothing left back there for me. Everyone's here with me. Everyone who survived, anyway..."
Mrs Higurashi nodded sagely; "Well, I suppose it's just as well then that you've come back. I do worry about your future, you know, dear. You're never going to get into high school unless you pass those entrance exams, and you're running low on time." She patted her daughter on the shoulder comfortingly. "But you're home now, and your friends are with you, so cheer up. Everything will work out in the end."
"Thanks, Mom." Kagome smiled tiredly.
"I have an idea," Mrs Higurashi said after a long silence. "Why don't each of you take a bath and change your clothes? We'll need to take some measurements of your friends, and I can go to the store first thing tomorrow and find something decent for them. The stores are probably all closed by now, but I'm sure Gramps has some shrine-clothing for your friends that will do until we can get them something modern."
Kagome had to admit that it was weird seeing her friends dressed like her grandfather. It was even weirder seeing Sango dressed like a shrine-maiden than it was to see Miroku and Inuyasha in shrine-keeper clothing. With his hand now treated with antiseptic cream and bandaged fully, Miroku was showing more energy now that the pain was beginning to fade. Inuyasha was slowly coming around as well, though he was still so exhausted he could hardly move around much.
Mrs Higurashi was taking Sango's measurements so she could buy clothing to fit her, when out of nowhere, Shippo yipped and Buyo hissed. Buyo was sitting on the top of the couch by the front window, with Shippo seated on the floor next to it.
Kagome closed the book she was reading and looked over at the window. A car had pulled up and a man was getting out of it. There was something familiar about him...
"Is that a police car?" Gramps asked incredulously, looking out the window as well. "What do the police want with us?"
Mrs Higurashi came over to the window and looked out. "Oh dear. That's Kin no Hitomi, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is!" Sota said excitedly. "He's so awesome."
"Keh," Inuyasha said from where he reclined on the couch. "He sounds like trouble, to me."
Kagome watched silently as Kin no Hitomi paused at the edge of the driveway, looking contemplatively at the house. He was definitely familiar, but she couldn't place how.
Mrs Higurashi went to the door and opened it just as the detective approached the porch. "Good evening, Kin no Hitomi-san. Can I help you with something?"
The detective apparently said something, because his mouth moved, but Kagome, seated where she was, couldn't hear him.
"Yes, by all means," Mrs Higurashi said hurriedly, ushering the man into the house. "Is there something wrong, sir?"
He apparently didn't see the point in answering her at all, even as she led him into the main room. He stood in the doorway, scoping the entire room without a word.
Now that he stood a mere ten feet away from her, Kagome could size Kin no Hitomi up with a critical eye. He was indeed very slender, almost too slender. He wore black trousers, a dark gray sweater and a long black coat that came down just past his hips. It wasn't a trench-coat, but it was definitely a European cut of clothing. He also had black gloves on. For a police officer, she noticed, it didn't look like he was armed at all. No hand-cuffs, no guns, no weapons or defenses at all. An unusual bandana encircled his forehead, and his eyes were shaded by unusually dark sunglasses (and given how late in the day it was, Kagome thought that sunglasses would be unnecessary unless he was deliberately hiding his eyes). His jet-black hair, bound into a ponytail at the base of his skull, looked like it was longer than even Inuyasha's hair. It looked like he had some scars on his cheek, but try as she might, she couldn't seem to focus on them long enough to see exactly what they were. And he definitely had two arms, both of which seemed to function normally.
As much as she desperately wanted to believe that this man was somehow connected with Sesshomaru, she couldn't sense any youkai energy from him. He seemed completely human.
He strode forward to stand in the middle of the room. His stance was one of someone who is searching for something. His nostrils flared slightly as he inhaled deeply. He faced Inuyasha, who was sitting up apprehensively.
"So," he said. "We meet again, Inuyasha."
That voice was so familiar.
"Who are you?" Inuyasha said suspiciously. "How do you know me?"
"You don't recognize me? I thought you of all people would know me, no matter the disguise." Kin no Hitomi reached up and untied the bandana around his brow, pulling it away.
Inuyasha started violently, forcing himself to stand up and back away. "You!"
Kin no Hitomi removed his sunglasses and tucked them into a pocket as he removed his coat.
Kagome finally got her brain to work. Despite all the signs pointing any way but this, there could be no denying that vibrant blue crescent moon on his forehead. And when she looked again, those "scars" she though she saw on his cheeks were actually stripes.
"Sesshomaru!" Kagome stared at him. "But... how can you... you don't have any presence. You seem completely human. And your arm...!"
Kin no Hitomi -- no, Sesshomaru -- responded by turning to face her. Without speaking, he tapped his left forearm. It took Kagome a moment to realize that he was indicating that she should listen. It slowly dawned on her that he was tapping something that actually made a sound. His arm was... well, it wasn't exactly hollow, but that was definitely not the sound of a living limb. In other words, he had an artificial arm. A prosthetic arm.
Not only that, but the more she looked, the more she realized that, rather than lacking a youkai presence, he so utterly outclassed her expectations that it had fooled her. His youkai presence transcended anything she'd encountered before. He was on a level far beyond anything she'd ever seen.
"But... how did you survive?" Inuyasha asked, his utter disbelief overriding his usual surliness with Sesshomaru. "I thought you died a long time ago. I could have sworn that's what he told me, that you died after purging the youkai from here."
Sesshomaru's face, true to form, didn't emote at all, even though he was most likely seeing his brother as a human for the first time. "He didn't tell you anything. He showed you. And because you didn't see me, you assumed that I died. But you are not the only one who has learned how to survive."
No one else spoke for a long time. Sesshomaru soundlessly scanned the room, registering all people within it. Not an ounce of youkai energy permeated anyone, not even that strange little fox. The fox wasn't normal, but it wasn't really a youkai, either. Or rather, if it was a youkai, it was the kind that so completely mimicked a mundane creature that it was of no consequence to him. His targets were youkai who targeted or encountered humans and revealed their natures to those humans. A youkai incapable of revealing its supernatural nature to a human was immaterial to him.
"So, did you need something, sir?" Mrs Higurashi asked tentatively.
"I came to see them. I sensed them earlier in the day. But I see no threat in them. The only one with any youkai power left at all is that creature there," he gestured toward Shippo, "and its powers are so faint, it is of no interest to me. However..."
He faced Inuyasha and studied him minutely. "What are your plans?"
"What do you intend to do with yourself now?"
"I... hadn't thought that far ahead."
Sesshomaru folded his arms across his chest, his eyes firmly fixed on Inuyasha's face. Inuyasha, true to his canine nature, couldn't hold his gaze for long before looking away.
"I need to figure myself out first. I don't know what options are available to me. Dammit, I haven't even been here more than six hours, you know!"
Sesshomaru arched an eyebrow slightly. "Are you then determined to merge with humans? To join their way of life and become one of them?"
Sesshomaru abruptly turned around. "Then I have no further business with you. If you are determined to become an ordinary human, you are no threat to my domain. Fare you well." Bowing respectfully to Mrs Higurashi, he left without another word. No one moved at all until after he'd gotten in his car and was gone.
"That..." Sango said breathlessly, "was even more nerve-wracking than facing Naraku."
Inuyasha sank to the floor, exhausted. "I... I really thought he was going to kill me. He always said he would, and... God, for the first time in my life, I was afraid to die. I... I never thought about it before now. And all I could think about was how I just don't want to die now. I... I've never been so frightened for myself. I feel so weak now."
Kagome knelt beside him, putting her arms around him. "It's all right. It's over now, and I don't think he'll be back. It looks like he was just doing his job, ascertaining whether you were a threat to his duties or not."
"I am so weak as a human, it's just ridiculous and pathetic," Inuyasha muttered.
"Actually," Miroku said, "even as a human, I've got to admit, you're the strongest person I've ever met. You've endured and survived things no human should have survived, even during your human nights. And quite frankly, you're the only one who was brave enough to face him. If you'll notice, neither Sango nor I spoke once while he was here."
"Come on," Kagome said, pulling his arm across her shoulders so she could help him stand. "Why don't you go to bed early and get some rest. Tomorrow we'll figure out what we're going to do with the rest of our lives. I think we've had enough excitement for one day."
He grunted as he stood. "You know, I hate it when you're right."
Having ruled out Inuyasha as possible threat, Kin no Hitomi, as he continued to think of himself, returned to his daily routine, quietly soldiering on through time, carrying out his duties and cherishing his precious, fading memories, using them to shore up any human or canine emotions such as loneliness.
True to his word, Inuyasha had blended in with society, and only his distinctive scent kept him at all on Kin no Hitomi's personal radar.
Inexplicably, he found himself repeatedly drawn to the Higurashi residence, though he refused to cross the property line. He merely went near enough it to ascertain for himself that yes Inuyasha still lived, and still resided within the walls of that house. Somehow, knowing that his brother still lived seemed to ease his heart. Why, he couldn't begin to understand, since he had no affection for said sibling. But perhaps out of respect for their mutual experiences during the Warring States era, perhaps he felt a kindred spirit to those time-travelers.
Or perhaps he was just getting soft.
Some time later -- whether it was weeks, months or years, he didn't know and didn't care; time seemed to flow around him rather than with him -- he came upon the house to see that it was decorated for a wedding. Nothing fancy, but decidedly western in flavor. He didn't hang around long enough to see who the bride and groom were. He had a pretty good idea anyway.