InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Seeking Answers ( Chapter 7 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter 7~~
~Seeking Answers~

Mrs. Higurashi sighed softly as she stroked Kagome's hair.  Gradually the tears subsided, and Kagome sat back with a sniffle.  Mrs. Higurashi tugged a tissue from the box on her nightstand.

"Thanks," Kagome mumbled as she dried her cheeks then blew her nose.  Drawing a deep, ragged breath, she shook her head slowly and climbed up onto the bed to sit beside her mother.  "I'm sorry for waking you up," she apologized again, "I just . . . I need to ask your advice."

Mrs. Higurashi smiled as she brushed Kagome's bangs out of her eyes, her fingers gentle, warm.  "All right, you have my full attention."

Kagome shrugged as she struggled to find a place to start.  "I was thinking a lot about Sango and Miroku . . . and I want to help them . . ."

"Of course you do.  Is there something you could do?"

She shrugged again, staring carefully down at her lap.  "I think so . . . maybe . . . It started with something InuYasha said, and I started thinking . . ."

"What did InuYasha say?" Mrs. Higurashi asked reluctantly.

Kagome winced and hesitated before she answered, bolstering her courage to tell her mother what she had been mulling over.  Almost afraid that her mother would think she was insane, or worse, that she would laugh at her, Kagome sighed as she twisted her fingers together in her lap.  "Well, he didn't know he was giving me an idea, but he said that the only way I could help them was to have . . . a baby . . . for them."

When her mother didn't reply right away, Kagome dared a peek.  Staring out the window with a thoughtful frown on her face, she braced herself to be told that it was a foolish, stupid idea.  Instead Mrs. Higurashi sighed.  "That would be one way to help them, all right . . . Are you considering this?"

"I researched it, online . . ." She handed over the stack of papers as Mrs. Higurashi fumbled around for her lamp switch.

"Kagome . . . what about adoption?  Aren't there children that need a family?" her mother asked as she leafed through the stack of paper.

"I don't know . . . most of the orphans we've seen are well past baby stage."  

"And you've read all this?" Mrs. Higurashi asked as she looked up from the barrage of information.  Then she sighed and slowly gave the faintest shake of her head.  "Of course you have.  You wouldn't have gotten me up in the middle of the night if you weren't seriously considering this."

Kagome nodded.  "I just . . . I know it's a huge decision . . . I thought maybe you could give me some advice?"

Mrs. Higurashi sighed and shook her head slowly.  "I think it would be very hard . . . How would you . . . do this?  They can't come through the well . . ."

Kagome made a face.  "I don't know . . . I thought maybe I could bring some of Miroku's . . . stuff . . . back in something."  She could feel the flush rise in her face and swallowed hard.

Mrs. Higurashi sighed again.  "And Sango's egg?"

"That's what makes it more difficult," she finally said.  "I think I'd have to use my own."

"I see . . . that would make it more difficult.  Would you be able to do that?"

It was Kagome's turn to sigh.  "I don't know . . . When I think about Sango's face, her sadness . . . but then I think, I couldn't . . . and then I think of Sango's face again . . ."

Her mother looked troubled, though she finally managed a wan smile.  "But you don't have to make this decision tonight."

She nodded and leaned against her mother's shoulder.  "I don't want to make it right now . . ."

Mrs. Higurashi slipped her arm around Kagome's shoulder and squeezed.  "There's another thing you need to consider.  How do you think InuYasha would feel about this?"

Kagome drew another deep breath.  "I don't know . . . sometimes I feel like we're so close, and others . . ." she trailed off as more tears stung the back of her eyelids.  "I guess we're just friends."

Mrs. Higurashi clucked her tongue as though she didn't agree.  "Are you planning on asking InuYasha what he thinks?"

She couldn't hide the grimace as she considered InuYasha's possible reactions—none of which were positive.  "I planned on it, but I don't really expect that he'll be very supportive."

A sudden cloud filtered over her mother's features.  "Kagome . . . you're not thinking of doing this to spite him, are you?"

Frowning in confusion, Kagome shook her head.  "To spite him?  No!  I wouldn't think of something like this just to hurt him.  This isn't about him, Mama.  It's about Sango and Miroku . . ."

Mrs. Higurashi let out a deep breath but managed a wan smile.  "Okay, good.  How about this: I'll make you an appointment to see a doctor so you can hear everything for yourself, from a professional."

Kagome nodded.  Mrs. Higurashi kissed her forehead and squeezed her shoulders again.  "Mama . . . would you go with me?"

With another sigh and another hug, her mother's smile widened just a little bit more.  "Of course."

Kagome hugged her back and scooted off the bed.  "Thanks . . . goodnight."

"Goodnight, dear."

Kagome headed to her bedroom and shut the door.  Instead of going to bed, she wandered to the window and stared at the God Tree, bathed in the gentle light of the full moon.  'InuYasha . . . where are you tonight?  Do you miss me at all?  Are you sleeping in Goshinboku?'  She drew a deep breath and shook her head.  He felt so far away . . .

'What will I do if he really hates the idea?  Could I do this if he doesn't like it?'  She bit her bottom lip and sighed.  She didn't know the answer to that . . .


::0::0::000::0::0::

"Shippou?  Where are you going?"

Glancing back at Miroku, Shippou shrugged before heaving a heavy sigh.  "I was just going to see if Kagome came back yet," he admitted.  "I miss her."

Miroku smiled and ruffled Shippou's auburn hair.  "She'll be back . . . and remember: we don't really want her to come back yet."

Shippou made a face.  "InuYasha no baka . . . why did he have to go look for Kikyou anyway?  If Kagome finds out, she'll probably end up crying again . . ."

"Precisely why we hope she doesn't come back until after InuYasha does."

Shippou nodded and started back along the path toward the Bone Eater's Well.

He was halfway through the forest when a strange scent caught his attention.  With a frown, he stopped and glanced around.  "Who's there?"

The bushes off to the left rustled.  Shippou screwed his face up into what he hoped was a fierce glower and dug into his shirt for his 'weapons': his toys.

The bushes rustled again, and Shippou leapt.  "Huh?" he mumbled as he came up with his hands wrapped around the scrawny neck of a malnourished monkey.  "Who are you?  Don't you know that sneaking up on someone is a good way to get yourself killed?"

The monkey changed into a more human-looking form with a quiet 'pop' and a puff of smoke before he turned sad eyes on the kitsune.  With a sigh, Shippou let go before digging into his shirt again, this time for a dried persimmon.  "Here . . . you look like you could use that."  The monkey youkai hesitated but finally took the food.  Trying to gobble it down as fast as he could, he choked.  Shippou rolled his eyes and patted the little youkai's back.  "I'm Shippou, Master of Illusion . . . What's your name?"

The monkey swallowed the last of the persimmon and sighed, staring at Shippou with an air of fearful wonder.  "Ichisaru," he replied.

"Are you alone?  Traveling?  I travel sometimes, with my friends."

Ichisaru nodded slowly and glanced over his shoulder. "No . . . I'm with my master."

"Master?" Shippou echoed with a marked frown.  "What do you mean, master?"

Ichisaru shrugged, his little face registering a pathetic mix of sadness and loneliness.  "Master takes care of me, since my mother and father died."

"My parents both died, too," Shippou said.  "That's why I'm here with my friends.  I watch over them, you know.  They're just weak humans, except for InuYasha, but he's hanyou . . ."

The monkey youkai suddenly stiffened, alarm making his eyes widen, making his tail curl into a springy coil.  "Wh-what kind of hanyou?"

Shippou, missing the obvious signs of panic since he was busy digging around for some of his toys to show off with, shrugged carelessly and, with an arrogant snort, said, "Inu-youkai and human."

Ichisaru grimaced.  "Silver hair?  Dog ears?"

"Yeah . . . have you met him already?"

"Yeah . . ." the monkey grumbled, rubbing his head as though he were remembering being on the receiving end of a good hanyou-thumping.  "He hit my head."

Shippou laughed.  "He does that to me all the time.  He's got a wicked temper . . . Did you deserve it?"

"No!"  Ichisaru winced.  "Well, yeah . . . sort of . . ."

That got Shippou's attention.  Regarding the youkai with a measure of suspicion, he shook his head slowly.  "What did you do?"

Ichisaru blushed.  "I used my monkey form to try to trick the girl so I could steal the Shikon no Tama, for my master."

"You mean Kagome?  No wonder he thumped you.  Kagome's his woman . . . Well, she would be, if that baka would get around to telling her that."

Ichisaru sighed and shook his head.  "I better go.  If I'm not back soon, my master will be angry, and—"

"Ichisaru!  Where are you, you worthless brat?"

Both youkai cringed at the tone of that loud bellow.  "Is that your master?" Shippou whispered, having recovered from his initial shock.

Ichisaru nodded miserably.  "Goodbye, Shippou . . . thanks for the persimmon."

"Hey, wait!" Shippou called after him.  Ichisaru stopped and stared at the kitsune.  "What is your master?"

Ichisaru swallowed hard.  "He's human . . . a really big human . . ."

Shippou considered that for a moment then shrugged off-handedly.  "Why don't you stay here?  My friends and I can protect you."

A cautious light brightened the depths of Ichisaru's blue gaze.  "R-Really?"

Shippou nodded.  "Yeah, but for now, we'd better get out of here."  Heading back onto the path, Shippou waved for Ichisaru to follow.  "I was just heading toward the well, to see if Kagome came back yet."

Ichisaru frowned but fell into step behind Shippou.  "She lives in a well?"

Shippou laughed.  "In the well?  No . . . it's just how she gets home . . ."

"Oh . . ." Ichisaru said with a shake of his head, obviously not understanding, at all.  Shippou grinned and led the way.


::0::0::000::0::0::


InuYash a stifled a frustrated growl as he launched himself off the ground, mid-stride.  'Damn waste of time,' he thought with a snort.  'Three days, and when I finally did find Kikyou . . .'

It had taken three days to locate the resurrected priestess, and with each of those passing days, InuYasha's temper had escalated just a little bit more.  By the time he had found her in a clearing, deep in the forest where she was gathering herbs, it had taken every bit of self-control to keep from snapping her head off at first sight.

"Where the hell have you been hiding?" he demanded, eyes blazing with every negative emotion that had simmered in the three-day search.

Kikyou turned to smile at InuYasha but sighed upon seeing the very recognizable signs of a hanyou on the edge.  "Nice to see you, too, InuYasha.  I've not been hiding."  Resuming her task, her calm only served to bolster InuYasha's anger.

"Keh, whatever.  What do you know about the old sage in the north forest?"

Kikyou sat back on her heels and shook her head.  "Matsukita, you mean?  He's very old."

InuYasha snorted.  "I know that.  He's also very dead."

"I see . . ."

"There was something strange about his death," InuYasha explained as Kikyou stared past him at the forest.  "It felt . . . weird."

"What do you mean?"

InuYasha shook his head as he struggled to find a way to explain what he'd felt in the old man's hut.  "When we got there, he hadn't been dead long, but . . . there was this weird feeling, like . . . like his soul was already gone . . ."

Kikyou stood up slowly and frowned.  "Was he killed?"

"I don't know . . . maybe . . . there was another person there—a woman—and it smelled like they . . . they . . ." Furious with himself, InuYasha felt his face flush, and he still couldn't bring himself to say what it was he had discerned.

Kikyou looked surprised.  "Old Sage Matsukita and this woman you sensed, you mean?"

"Well, yeah."  He sighed as Kikyou pondered his statement.  "There's something else, too . . . I got a feeling . . . I don't know why, but I think Kagome . . . I think she's in danger."

"Because of the jewel?"

InuYasha shook his head.  "I don't know.  It's just a hunch, but it won't go away."

"So you sought me out for information," she said with an understanding nod.  "I see . . . I'm sorry.  I have none to offer you.  I wish I did."

InuYasha clenched his fists in frustration and nodded.  "Damn."

Slowly Kikyou retrieved her bow and the quiver of arrows that lay on the ground beside her herb basket.  She was quiet for awhile as she meticulously checked her bow.  Finally she sighed and smiled slightly as she lifted her chin to gaze at InuYasha.  "Have you told her?"

"Keh!  Are you nuts?  Of course not!  I can't tell her I think she's in danger but have no idea why."

Kikyou shook her head and sighed.  "Not that, InuYasha . . . I didn't think you would tell her that.  I meant, have you told her how you feel?"

He looked away as he felt his cheeks burn.  "Dunno what you're talking about," he grumbled.

Kikyou chuckled.  "You don't have to protect my feelings.  I've known for a long time, and I'm not angry anymore."  Her smile faded, and she took on a more serious expression as she stared at him.  "I used to wish that things had been different, that I would have lived, but I also realized that it doesn't do any good to wish for things that can never be.  You and I  . . . we were a dream . . . a beautiful dream, and dreams aren't ever meant to last."

"Kikyou . . ."

"It's all right.  Kagome is the one you need to protect.  She's the one you were always meant to protect . . . and to love."

He didn't answer.  Unable to admit as much to himself, there wasn't any way he could admit it to Kikyou, of all people, and Kagome?  He flinched as he shook himself out of his reverie and pushed off the ground once more.  'Better to have Kagome as a friend than not at all.  Just be happy for what you have and stop trying to reach for what you can't touch . . .'

InuYasha didn't realize when his ears flattened against his head, didn't notice the soft sigh that escaped him as he thought about her: Kagome.  So quick with her smile, so easy to make her laugh . . . she was a mystery to him with her tears and her temper, her quiet joy, her beauty that shone from the inside outward . . . all wrapped up in the warmth and gentleness of spirit that was her, personified.

'Maybe,' he thought with a bitter smile, 'maybe Kikyou was right.  Maybe dreams aren't meant to last.'


::0::0::000::0::0::


With a heavy sigh as she lugged the huge backpack filled with treats for her friends out of the well, Kagome set the bag down and stretched.  "Oh!" she gasped, wrinkling her nose as she bent over to dig into the side pocket of the huge bag for the sheet of notebook paper that Sango had written her flower request on.  Kagome had forgotten to give it to her mother before she came back.

Staring at the bag with a thoughtful frown, Kagome wondered if it would be safe enough to leave it instead of having to drag it around any more than necessary.

She was still debating that when Shippou shouted her name.  "Kagome!" the kitsune hollered as he launched himself straight at her.  

She caught him and barely managed to keep from falling from the force of the impact but giggled.  "Did you miss me?"

"Yeah!  Did you bring me pocky?"

Kagome's attention was caught on the small child youkai that had followed Shippou hesitantly.  She narrowed her gaze as she tried to place the familiar youki.  "Who's your friend?"

Shippou glanced over from his task of trying to break into the goodie-filled backpack.  "That's Ichisaru.  You've already met him, right?  When he tried to take the Shikon no Tama?"

At Shippou's words, Ichisaru froze, his little face paling as he wrung his hands nervously with a small squeaking-monkey noise.

"I see," Kagome said evenly as she stared at the monkey youkai.  "So your name's Ichisaru?  You didn't come back to try to steal the jewel again, did you?"

The little monkey youkai nodded slowly and shifted from one foot to the other.  "You . . . You aren't going to send that hanyou after me again, are you?" he asked timidly, covering his head with his hands.

"It depends," Kagome lied since she had no intention of doing anything of the sort.  The youkai didn't seem any older than Shippou . . . not even as old as Shippou, actually . . . Still she couldn't let him think he'd be allowed to take the jewel, either.  "Why do you want the jewel?"

He sniffled and hung his human-looking head.  "I don't," he confessed.  "My old master does."

"Who's your old master?"

He shrugged.  "I don't know . . . I always called him 'master' . . ."

"I see."

"He's human—a really big human, Ichisaru said," Shippou answered as he dug two boxes of pocky out of the bag and tossed one to Ichisaru.  "I told Ichisaru he could stay.  He doesn't have anyone, either."

"If you want to stay then you have to promise me that you'll never try to take the Shikon no Tama," Kagome warned.  "If you try, InuYasha will thump you again."

Ichisaru swallowed hard and rubbed his head, obviously remembering the previous thumping.  "All right," he agreed.  "I promise!  Monkey shake?" he offered, hopping around to wiggle his tail at Kagome.

Kagome covered her mouth as she tried not to laugh.  She swooped the monkey child into her arms and gave him a quick squeeze instead.  "I'm going to trust you," she remarked, "so you'd better be telling me the truth."

Ichisaru nodded as his face exploded in a wash of bashful color.  Kagome squeezed him again before she set him down and pointed to the pocky Shippou had so generously offered to share.  "There.  Those are Shippou's favorites."

Ichisaru sat down and started tugging at the box with a scowl of concentration, his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth.

"Shippou, can you stay here while I run this back home?  Just promise me you won't eat all the pocky or you'll make yourself sick."

Shippou nodded and waved a hand to dismiss her.  Kagome rolled her eyes and hopped back into the well.

Ichisaru was adorable, she had to admit.  She frowned as she climbed up the ladder at the shrine.  Knowing InuYasha, he wouldn't like the new youkai.  She'd just have to reassure him that she'd be more careful with the jewel . . .

"Mama!" she called as she stepped inside the back door.  Mrs. Higurashi answered from the kitchen.  Kagome hurried in to give her the list.  "Here . . . I forgot to give this to you . . . Sango's choices."

Mrs. Higurashi glanced up from washing dishes and wiped her hands on a towel before taking the paper.  With a slight frown, she shook her head.  "That's interesting," she commented.

"What is?"

She smiled.  "She chose all lilies . . ."

Kagome hurriedly kissed her mother's cheek and grimaced.  "I've got to go.  I left Shippou alone with the pocky."

"All right.  Kagome, I made that appointment for you.  It's next Monday."

Kagome nodded and smiled before she waved and darted back toward the door again.

Her smile disappeared as she ran to the well-house.  That was the main reason she decided to go back so soon.  She had to talk to InuYasha.

As she dropped back into the well, she sighed.  She'd given it a lot of thought in the last couple of days, and she'd come to a few conclusions.  She didn't try to convince herself that InuYasha would be supportive of her idea.  That wasn't ever even a possibility in her head.  She just wanted to make him understand, if it were possible, and she wanted to know how he felt about it.

Climbing out of the well, Kagome grinned as she heard the two youkai youths discussing crayons.  Shippou was trying to tell Ichisaru what they were, and the monkey youkai was obviously having trouble understanding.

"You two eat all the pocky?" she asked as she hauled herself out of the well.

Shippou blinked innocently.  "No . . ."

Kagome narrowed her eyes at him but smiled.  "Meaning you left one whole box?"

Shippou grinned.  "Half of one . . ."

"Ugh, Shippou . . ." Tugging the monstrous backpack over her shoulder, Kagome sighed.  "Is InuYasha around?  I need to talk to him."

"InuYasha?" Shippou echoed as he and Ichisaru led the way toward the forest trail.  "I haven't seen him . . ."

Kagome frowned.  "Did he go hunting?"

"Hunting?  Yeah . . . yeah, he went hunting."

Kagome didn't say anything else as they made their way back to the village.  Maybe Shippou was preoccupied with his new friend.  In any case, she brushed off his strange answer as she sighed.  She really wanted to get this talk with InuYasha over with.  She needed to know where she stood with him, wanted him to at least try to understand why she would even consider carrying a baby for Miroku and Sango.

Miroku waved when he caught sight of Kagome and the youkai heading toward him as Sango glanced up from her vegetable plot.  "Who's this?" Miroku asked as he knelt down to look at the newest arrival.

"This is Ichisaru.  He's a monkey youkai," Shippou supplied as Ichisaru blinked in wide-eyed wonder at Miroku.

"This is Miroku and Sango," Kagome said, waving a hand at Sango.  The exterminator stood and brushed her hands off as she came over to meet Ichisaru.  

"Hello," Sango greeted as she knelt beside Miroku.

Ichisaru leaned his head to the side and stared at Sango.  "You're sad . . . why?"

Sango forced a small smile.  "I lost a baby recently," she answered, her voice soft, eyes bright though no tears fell.

The little monkey youkai nodded slowly.  "I lost my mother and father . . . I'll be your friend," he offered.

Sango's smile widened slightly.  "All right.  I'd like that."

Ichisaru grinned.  "Me, too!" he exclaimed as he hopped down and spun around.  Before Kagome could say anything, Ichisaru wiggled his tail and hollered, "Monkey shake!"

Sango covered her mouth as her eyes brightened.  Miroku turned his head and coughed into his raised fist.  Kagome giggled.

"Did InuYasha say when he'd be back?" Kagome asked after she got her giggling under control.  She scowled as Miroku and Sango exchanged a telling look.  "All right, first Shippou acts strange, now you two.  What is it?"

"Strange?" Miroku echoed.  "We're fine . . . never better!"

"What aren't you telling me?" Kagome demanded quietly, eyes shifting to stare each of her friends in the eye.  When Sango's eyes fell away, unable to meet her gaze, Kagome shook her head slowly and swallowed hard.  "I see," she rasped out, her mind understanding what her friends didn't want to say.  She cleared her throat and stepped back.   "I just remembered . . . I forgot something at home . . . I'll be back . . ."

Whirling on her heel, Kagome stalked off again as fast as she could without running.  Willing her mind to blank out the rising hurt, the welling panic, she blinked as tears gathered in her eyes.

'Kikyou . . . you went to see her, didn't you?  That's why you wanted me to stay gone . . . InuYasha . . .'

Striding through the forest, Kagome dashed a nimble hand across her eyes and sighed.  She didn't notice the subtle change in the air, the awakening of the forest to welcome home its namesake.  InuYasha dropped out of the trees right in Kagome's path.  She gasped and stopped before taking a step back, away from his imposing presence.  "Thought you'd still be gone," he remarked in an accusing tone.

She cleared her throat and shook her head.  "Did you go see Kikyou?" she asked quietly, breath held as she waited for his answer.

He shot her a guilty look, ears flattening against his head as his face shifted into the well-known pout.  "Keh."

She nodded and pursed her lips as she sighed.  "Would you tell me why if I asked you?"

An odd look, almost pained, flashed over his features before he blanked his expression.  He shrugged.  "It's not important."

Kagome's gaze dropped to the packed dirt of the forest path.  As if by rote, they moved on their own, carrying her toward the well as she felt the sharp pang of frustration, of sadness, of complete and total futility twist her stomach . . . or was that her heart?   'There's your answer, Kagome," she told herself as she tried to hold back her tears.  'He can't really say it much better than that, can he?  He really doesn't care, not at all . . .'




~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~= ~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~*~=~
A/N
:

Ichisaru:  One  Monkey . . . get it?  lol!
Saru means 'monkey', ichi means 'one'
Matsukita:  'North Pine'

== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Ichisaru
:
 Monkey shake!!
==========
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.

~Sue~

Chapter 6
Chapter 8
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