InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Dilemmas ( Chapter 6 )
"Houjou said you two had a terrific time on your date last weekend," Ayumi remarked as the girls sat in their regular booth in WacDnalds, their favorite after-school haunt.
"He's such a sweetheart!" Yuka exclaimed with a giggle as she munched a French fry. "Did you have fun?"
"Did you kiss him?" Eri asked in a loud whisper.
"Eri! You know a lady never kisses and tells!" Yuka chastised. "But since you already asked . . . Did you, Kagome?"
Kagome felt her face heat up under their collective scrutiny. "The movie was good," she hedged.
"Kagome! Don't keep us in suspense! Did you kiss him?" Eri pressed, clasping her hands together as she begged for more information.
"Does it matter?" Kagome snapped as heat stole up her cheeks. She sighed, grimacing as her friends' expressions took on varying degrees of hurt at her abrupt answer. "Anyway, I'm not going to date Houjou-kun again."
"He said you had to go visit a friend who's in some sort of trouble," Yuka remarked a little too nonchalantly. "It wasn't that bad boyfriend of yours, was it?"
Kagome blinked in surprise as she choked on a sip of soda. Coughing furiously as her face rushed through the gamut of shades of increasingly-darker reds, she nodded gratefully as Ayumi thumped her back with the palm of her hand. "InuYasha? Oh, no!" she managed between bouts of coughing. "He's fine . . . fine! And he's not really my boyfriend . . ."
She sighed. 'Of course he's fine . . . Just a little distant lately . . .'
True enough, he'd been even more quiet than normal on their way back to the village. There was something bothering him and even though she'd tried to coax it out of him, he hadn't told her a single thing. He hadn't even tried to stop her when she told him that she had to go home to finish up her term papers and study. That had been surprising enough. After that, he offered to walk with her to the well, and he'd been . . . nice?
"Is something bothering you?" she asked as they headed into the forest along the well-worn path.
InuYasha shrugged. "Not really . . ."
She frowned since she didn't believe him but didn't call him on it, either. "I'll try not to be gone too long," she offered, raising her face to catch some of the filtered sunlight.
"No hurry, all right? I'll check around for some clues while you're gone. That old man can't be the only one with some idea about the jewel."
She stopped abruptly and shot him a worried stare. "Since when do you not care how long I stay gone?"
He blushed slightly but shook his head. "It's not like I don't care . . . Keh! Are you trying to piss me off?"
She sighed. "Of course not! It's just not like you to be so . . ." trailing off as he narrowed his gaze on her, Kagome quickly hurried to find a better way to state what she had been about to say, ". . . so accommodating about my school work."
Continuing along in silence, Kagome pondered the unexpected change in his behavior. He'd barely said more than two whole sentences to her on the trip back to the village, and while he hadn't seemed angry, he had seemed very worried about something.
"The sage's death bothered you, didn't it?" she finally asked. "I'm sure there's someone else who might know something . . ."
She didn't have to look at him to know that he was giving her that sidelong stare of his. She could feel his eyes on her. "It wasn't that," he admitted. "There was something wrong in there . . . Didn't you sense it? You're the one with spiritual powers . . . You should have felt it long before I ever did."
She frowned. She had sensed . . . something. She had chalked it up to the sage's lingering presence. As though someone was still there, some sort of malignant power . . . With a shiver, Kagome forced the unsettling feeling away.
"Earth to Kagome . . . Come in, Kagome . . ."
With a start, Kagome blinked and gasped when she realized that Ayumi was waving her hand two inches from Kagome's nose. "I'm sorry," she said quickly. "You were saying . . . ?"
Yuka giggled. "Eri asked if you've kissed InuYasha since you won't say whether or not you've kissed Houjou."
The flush that flooded Kagome's face was intense, immediate, and painfully hot. "No!" she yelled then cleared her throat as her friends' eyes widened at her vehement denial. "Uh, no . . . We haven't."
"But you've been seeing him for years, Kagome . . . He's never kissed you?"
Shoulders slumping as her chin dropped, Kagome shrugged in what she hoped was an offhanded way. When her friends all winced, she grimaced inwardly, knowing that her forced show of bravado had failed. "It's not like that, with him . . . I guess we're more like . . . really good friends."
Her inward grimace surfaced when Eri and Yuka muttered, "Aww."
Ayumi smiled. "That's good! You can't build a lasting relationship without having a firm foundation of friendship," she insisted.
"I think you're better off with Houjou than you are with InuYasha . . . At least Houjou is nice and doesn't try to control you," Eri accused.
They'd met InuYasha once, and they had liked him well enough then. Seeing how often and badly upset she was sometimes, though, her overzealous friends had decided that InuYasha was to blame, and that they were right in their original assessment that InuYasha was way too jealous and way too much of a 'bad boy' to ever make a suitable boyfriend for her. She'd given up trying to convince them that they were wrong. If she only had a clue where she did stand with InuYasha . . .
Kagome sighed and gathered her backpack and tray. "I've got to run. I need to finish my thesis tonight. Bye! See you tomorrow!" she hurried to say, deliberately cutting off whatever comments the others were trying to make as she swept away from the table and hurried to empty her tray before practically sprinting out of the restaurant and down the street toward the shrine.
She didn't stop running until she reached the sanctity of home. "If anyone calls, I'm not here!" Kagome hollered as she rushed through the front door.
"Kagome?" Mrs. Higurashi called after her. "Is everything all right?"
"Fine," Kagome lied as she dropped her bag on the stairs and stepped into the kitchen. "I've just got to get busy on these papers, especially that thesis." She sighed.
"Let me make you a snack," her mother offered as she set down the spoon she was using to stir the pot on the stove.
"No, thanks. I had some fries and a soda after school." With a sigh, Kagome headed out of the kitchen, retrieving her bag as she headed into the living room to curl up on the sofa with her books. The first book she dragged out was one on common reasons for infertility and the numerous options available to treat it. Kagome wrinkled her nose and started to put the book away but the back cover caught her attention.
'. . . Many couples who face problems with carrying a child to term or cannot conceive for whatever reason, do seek the services of a willing surrogate . . .'
"A willing surrogate . . ."
"What was that, dear?"
Kagome dropped the book and jumped at the sound of her mother's voice. "Oh, nothing," she lied, hoping her too-discerning mother didn't notice the obvious fib. "I was just reading out loud . . ."
Mrs. Higurashi smiled. "All right. I need to run to the store for a few things."
"Okay," Kagome answered with a forced smile as she picked up the book and reread the back cover again
InuYasha's words drifted through her mind again, what he'd said when she told him that she wanted to help Sango and Miroku. 'Don't see how you could, short of having a pup for them . . .'
'What? No . . . Get a grip, Kagome! That'd be like giving away your own baby, and you couldn't do that . . .'
She propped her elbow on the arm of the sofa and dropped her forehead into her hand, a thoughtful frown marring her brow as she read the words over and over again. 'Could I do that? It wouldn't really be my baby . . . It'd be theirs from the start . . .'
Still, her logical mind wouldn't let go . . . 'This isn't a doll or a toy . . . It's a baby, Kagome, a baby! You couldn't do it; you know you couldn't, even if you want to think you could . . .'
The image of Sango's sorrow, of her holding that tiny lifeless baby stuck in her mind, wouldn't let go. Closing her eyes against the image didn't make it go away. It grew more vivid, more hurtful, and Kagome felt tears welling up in her eyes as Sango's words haunted her . . . 'I don't know if I can do it again, Kagome . . . I just don't know . . .'
The absolute despair in her friend's eyes was like a nightmare she couldn't escape. Sango, who had lost so much—her entire village, her entire family, her home, everything . . . and now, the chances of becoming a mother were growing slimmer and slimmer with every miscarriage, and with each one, Kagome watched as a part of Sango's heart died, too. Sango, who had grown to be as close as any blood sister could ever have been . . . and Miroku, the last of his line, too . . .
Kagome sighed. 'Even if I decide I can't do it . . . I owe it to her, and to myself, to at least think about it . . .'
"How do I make a decision like that?" she murmured, staring at the clock on the wall without actually seeing it.
InuYasha strode toward Sango and Miroku's hut with a purpose in his gait, expression serious, arms crossed under the billowing sleeves of his haori. "Oi, monk."
Miroku straightened up from the garden plot he was helping Sango pull weeds from. Dusting his hands off as he stood, Miroku grinned as he ambled over to the hanyou. "You look like you've been thinking," he said dubiously, his smile fading fast. "That never bodes well."
Shooting the monk a glower for his efforts, InuYasha ignored his unwelcome commentary and said, "Shut up and listen, will you? I've got something I've got to take care of. Keep an eye on Kagome if she comes back early."
Miroku's gaze turned contemplative. "Sounds a little subversive. What do you have to take care of?"
InuYasha snorted. "Keh. If it was your business, I'd have fucking told you, don't you think?"
Miroku nodded slowly as he leaned back against the short fence separating him and InuYasha. "You're right; it's none of my business . . ." Trailing off with a sigh, the monk looked like he had something else on his mind. Damned if InuYasha was going to take that bait, though. Finally, Miroku drew a deep breath and plunged in. "Beautiful night, last night, wasn't it?"
InuYasha narrowed his golden gaze on the monk, wondering just what it was Miroku was trying to say. "Didn't notice."
Miroku nodded. "Slept in Goshinboku, didn't you?"
Miroku sighed and shook his head. "When Sango and I took a walk last night, we saw Kikyou's Shini-dama-chuu hovering over the forest to the east. I don't suppose you saw them, too?"
InuYasha didn't answer. Turning on his heel, he walked away before Miroku noticed that he was gone.
'Damn . . . Why's he got to be so fucking perceptive?' InuYasha thought with a scowl as he headed toward the east. 'Anyway, it's not what he thinks . . . It's not what any of them think . . .'
In truth, he wanted to ask if Kikyou knew who or what could have left such an odd aura in the old sage's hut. It had been bothering him ever since they'd found and buried the man, and for some strange reason, he needed to know why that was.
He sighed as he broke into a sprint. It didn't sit well with him that he was doing the very thing that Kagome always feared. He hadn't run off to find Kikyou since they'd all joined forces to defeat Naraku. The few times he'd seen her had been with Kagome there, and those had been purely coincidental. They'd done no more than make awkward small talk for a few minutes before heading off in separate directions.
When had he realized that he didn't love Kikyou anymore? He winced. No, that wasn't right. It wasn't that he didn't love her anymore, it was that the love he had for her had changed, grown into more of a mutual respect, a quiet friendship. Strange, how that had happened. Maybe it was just the underlying knowledge that the Kikyou he'd known and loved had died so long ago, and Kikyou now . . . It was just too late. It had been too late when he'd met Kagome.
Pushing himself faster, driven by an urgency that stemmed from an unspoken fear, a nameless dread, InuYasha pushed off the ground to sail over the trees as he scanned the horizon for any traces of Kikyou's Shini-dama-chuu. Something in the sage's hut . . . Something that had felt to him like a subtle warning . . . When he looked at Kagome in the desolate dwelling, he'd felt a definite fear, as though something was coming for her. It was that fear that had convinced him to send Kagome back to her time so that he could search for some answers as to what, exactly, had happened in that hut, and that search . . . He sighed again. It all led back to Kikyou. She came by information that he couldn't, and maybe, with any luck at all, maybe she had heard whispers of something that could help him.
Not to mention that even he had to admit he'd been a complete ass toward Kagome the past week. It hadn't been intentional, exactly. He grimaced. All right, it had been. He couldn't help it. Either he acted like a complete baka to keep her at bay or . . . He sighed as he picked up speed. Why the hell else would he leave every month at the same time?
He growled in frustration. If he could at least make sense of it himself, then maybe he could deal with it differently. All he knew was that every month for at least the last year, he had to stay away from Kagome. He wasn't sure when he realized that it had something to do with the full moon, but it was as predictable as the rising sun. As if it weren't hard enough for him to maintain a comfortable distance from her anyway, around the time of the full moon, something about her—only her—captured him, captivated him, drew him in. He'd always been attuned to her. As though her very soul spoke to his, it was second nature for him to know where she was, what she was doing . . . but lately . . .
It had come to a head a few months ago. They'd been traveling back from Totosai's since InuYasha had promised the old coot that he'd bring Tetsusaiga in to have it looked over. That night, as though he couldn't help himself, he'd stood over Kagome's sleeping form huddled in her sleeping bag. Pale skin glowing in the warm light of the campfire, hair flowing around her like a cascading waterfall, the soft hollows under her cheekbones delivering such a stark contrast in the weak light, something about Kagome's body, Kagome's face, beckoned to the secret reaches of him. He watched her, hands shaking, body straining against his own will, his own control, as she smiled faintly, the hint of a dream lingering on her lips, and then she mumbled his name in the dark. He'd made the ultimate mistake of kneeling down, lifting a lock of her hair to his lips, to his nose. It had taken every single bit of strength he possessed to leave her alone when his youkai blood had wanted nothing more than to wake her and . . .
With a shake of his head, InuYasha deliberately cut off those thoughts before he turned right around and headed back to find her. The full moon was tonight. He had to stay away from her. He had to. He was a hanyou, not human, not youkai. He was both, and he was neither . . . and she was Kagome, the most beautiful, beguiling creature he'd ever met: impulsive, naïve, happy, and free. He'd fight to protect her, he'd follow her to the ends of the earth if she asked him to, he'd die for her if he had to. He just couldn't subject her to the stigma of the hanyou.
'Focus, baka! I've got to find Kikyou . . . I've got to know if she has any idea what happened to the old sage . . . I've got to know why I feel like Kagome's in some sort of danger . . .' With new determination, he leapt again. 'I swore, Kagome . . . I swore I'd protect you, but I can't protect you if I don't know what I'm trying to protect you from . . .' he mused with a frown as another pang of guilt shot through him. 'Forgive me . . .'
Kagome sighed and narrowed her sore eyes as she clicked on another link. Her mother had splurged last year and bought a computer for the family. Kagome had been up all night searching the internet for good websites that talked about surrogate parents and the actual process of artificial insemination. She thought maybe, if she had all the facts, it might help in her decision-making process. 'Well,' she thought with a wry grin that better resembled a grimace, 'I've got more facts than I know what to do with now . . .'
She glanced at the clock and groaned. 'Two a.m. . . . I'm going to die at school . . .'
Trouble was, though mentally exhausted, she doubted she could sleep now, even if she tried.
Smashing her fingertips against her weary eyes for a moment, Kagome pushed herself out of the chair and stumbled toward the kitchen for a glass of water.
Grabbing a bottle out of the refrigerator, she stopped in front of the sink and stared idly out the window as she took a long drink of the refreshing liquid. Not for the first time, she thought that she could really use someone else's opinion on this. Normally she'd talk to Sango or even Miroku since he really was a good listener and did offer great advice, despite InuYasha's very jaded opinion of him. There wasn't any way she could ask them, though. No, if she wasn't absolutely positive she could do this, then she couldn't raise their hopes, if they were willing to try. InuYasha wouldn't be any help on this, either. She valued his opinion but chances were nearly one hundred percent that he would say something . . . well . . . stupid and not really listen to her at all . . .
With another sigh, Kagome headed back to the computer desk and pulled a clean sheet of paper out of the printer. On the top, she wrote, 'Why I should do it'. Halfway down, she wrote, 'Why I shouldn't do it'. The scratch of the pen against the paper was the only sound in the silent room for several minutes. When she set the pen aside, she frowned at what she'd written. The positive half was completely full. The negative side only had one word: baby.
She dropped the pen with a dull clatter and thumped her elbows on the desk. Dropping her face into the cup of her hands, she massaged furiously at her temples and wondered just for a moment where InuYasha was sleeping tonight.
'I can't remember a time when I didn't . . . love him . . .' she thought with an inward grimace. How did her life get so complicated? In love with a mythical being that existed in a time and place that she shouldn't have been able to reach, in the first place . . .
Kagome groaned softly and massaged harder, willing back the edges of the headache that was brewing. So much to think about, and no real answers anywhere . . . She felt as if she were coming undone, as if, for the first time in her life, her heart wanted to do something that her mind couldn't allow.
'. . . and me.'
If she let her heart decide, she would do this in an instant. After seeing her friends in so much pain, after watching and being unable to do a thing as Sango lost her seventh child, Kagome could only imagine the horrible ache inside the exterminator, the overwhelming sense of grief, the pain of feeling somehow lacking because she couldn't do this one simple enough thing: because she couldn't give her husband the child he wanted. How would she feel, if she were Sango? Kagome closed her eyes. She'd feel like she was dying, that's how . . .
Her mind, however, was vicious, reminding her with a ruthless abandon that she wasn't pondering something as simple as giving Sango and Miroku a doll or a pet . . . It was a baby, and if she decided she could do this, she had to realize just how hard it would be, no matter what, to give away a part of herself . . .
'It would have to be at least a little easier, to know from the start that the baby is theirs,' she reasoned. 'Unlike some girls who accidentally get pregnant and can't decide what to do . . . This wouldn't be an accident, and this wouldn't be like that . . . Would it?'
Though she realized, too, that it wasn't something she could decide overnight, she also knew it would haunt her until she did commit, one way or the other. The trouble was she'd been raised in the shrine. Her father, when he had been alive, had told her so often that living was giving, that in order to fulfill a part of her soul that needed nourishing, she had to learn to give of herself. Her mother had always encouraged it, too, though in a completely different way. Kagome had learned from her mother's example, not by simple words that were easily spoken, but through the examples that were manifest in her actions.
Kagome's chin lifted, and she blinked, as though she were just waking up. "Mama . . ."
Slowly rising off the chair again, Kagome gathered the papers she'd printed out as well as the list of her internal arguments for and against the idea of offering to be a surrogate mother for Sango and Miroku. It was late, and her mother was sleeping, but Kagome knew that she wouldn't be upset. When was her mother ever upset when Kagome wanted to talk to her?
Creeping up the stairs and down the hallway, past her own room, past Souta's closed door, past Grandpa's room, Kagome drew a deep breath as she stared at her mother's open doorway. She always left her door open. Kagome smiled despite the brigade of butterflies that erupted in her stomach as she slowly stepped into the room. That Mrs. Higurashi always slept with the door wide open . . . In Kagome's mind, it was significant as to the kind of woman her mother really was.
Taking a moment to draw a steadying breath, letting her mother's soothing aura help settle her nervous soul, Kagome closed her eyes for a moment before she slowly approached her mother's sleeping form.
"Mama? I'm sorry for waking you," she said softly as she gently shook her mother's shoulder.
Mrs. Higurashi blinked a few times and yawned as she slowly sat up. "Kagome? Is something the matter?"
Kagome swallowed hard and sighed, shaking her head as she struggled to find the words she wanted to say. "I'm sorry," she apologized again, clutching the stack of papers tighter to her chest. "I just . . . I don't know what to do . . . Will you help me?"
Mrs. Higurashi didn't ask anything as she drew Kagome into her arms, hugging her tight. Tears welled up, spilled over as Kagome tried to steady her emotions, and her mother held her, waiting for Kagome to explain.
Shini-dama-chuu: Kikyou's soul collectors.
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Final Thought from Kikyou:
So, InuYasha . . . you seek answers from me . . . ?
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Metamorphosis): 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.