InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Lingering Memorial ( Chapter 10 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter 10~~
~Lingering Memorial~

Kagome gathered her books and shoved them into her backpack without paying attention to the murmur of her fellow classmates as they packed up their belongings and filed out of the room.

As if she were in a daze, she let the surge of students carry her along as they headed for the doors.

The last week had been oddly hazy to her, vague and foggy like a lingering dream; a whole week without InuYasha.  So far, his absence made her feel empty, incomplete, like he had taken a part of her when he'd gone, and maybe he had.  Spending nights lying awake in her bed as she struggled to make a decision was the most difficult thing she'd ever done, especially after she followed InuYasha through the well only to see him disappear into the forest.  It puzzled her, why he had run off, to start with.  She wasn't sure if he had heard her or not, when she had hollered into the well.

A wan smile surfaced on her face as she stumbled along the sidewalk, heading home.  At least one of the obstacles Dr. Hisaka had mentioned had been removed.  At her regular doctor visit, she'd found out that the hymen that Dr. Hisaka had said would present a problem in getting pregnant had somehow been torn.  Kagome grimaced.  After her doctor had discovered this in her pelvic exam, she had gone on to lecture Kagome about safe sex and means of birth control—yet another thing she'd rather forget than think about.

She could only imagine that it had been ripped when she had used tampons, which wasn't a frequent occurrence until lately, or maybe it had happened when InuYasha carried her around on his back.  She'd heard that it happened sometimes to girls who rode horses, and while InuYasha wasn't a horse, there were times when the piggy-back rides got bumpy. . . She blushed but couldn't help her ironic smile.

"Kagome-chan!  Wait up!"

Stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, Kagome turned and waited for her friends to catch up.

"Are you going straight home?" Eri asked.

"Yeah, I've got to finish a few papers," Kagome remarked as she forced a smile.  'It's funny . . . they don't notice anything different about me . . . They have no idea what I'm trying to decide . . .'

"Has Houjou-kun called you, Kagome-chan?" Yuka spoke up.  "I saw him a few days ago, and he said he was going to."

Kagome made a face.  "Nope, and I told you, I'm not going to see him again."

"But he's so nice, and so good-looking!" Eri insisted.  "At least he has a normal name, unlike some guys you spend time mooning over."

Kagome felt her face heat in a blush.  "It's just a name," she grumbled as a sudden, sharp pang hit her.  'I miss him . . .'

"Did you guys fill out your applications for the university?" Ayumi broke in.

Eri and Yuka groaned.  Kagome bit her bottom lip.  "How can you talk about the university when we're still cramming for finals?" Yuka complained.

"Are you going to apply, Kagome-chan?" Ayumi asked.

Kagome pretended not to have heard the question as she quickened her step.  "See you tomorrow!" she called over her shoulder as she gave them a jaunty wave just before she hurried away.

The university . . .

She wanted to stop thinking.  Her head throbbed with the myriad of thoughts that kept spinning around her mind.  Too many all at once and no answers to any of them . . . they were enough to make her gasp as she broke into a sprint down the street, heading toward the shrine.  'Trying to run away from them?' she wondered.  She was so tired of thinking and wondering and worrying . . .

Darting up the steps to the shrine, Kagome stopped and stared at the package in front of the door.  'Best Blooms,' she read the return address as she picked up the box.  'Sango's flowers . . .'

Wrinkling her nose as she opened the front door, Kagome shrugged.  'I've got some time.  I'll take them to her.'

"Mama?" she called as she stepped inside.  Poking her head into the kitchen, she located her mother as Mrs. Higurashi chopped vegetables for dinner.  "Sango's flowers came today.  I thought I'd take them to her, if that's all right?"

Mrs. Higurashi smiled.  "Go on, dear!  I hope she likes them."

Kagome grinned and hurried out of the kitchen, pausing long enough to set down her bag at the base of the stairs before she headed for the back door.


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


"She called him 'InuYasha'."

Lavender eyes flicked coolly over the lumbering human, regarding him in silent speculation as Aki massaged her shoulders through the thin silk kimono.  "This I already knew.  Tell me, did you find his weakness?"

Oro shrugged.  "Ain't it obvious?  The girl with the jewel.  Quick to rescue her, he was."

A condescending tolerance strained the corners of her lips as she sighed dramatically.  "That means nothing.  If she were in danger and if she bears the Shikon no Tama then of course he would protect her."

"He weren't in any hurry to put her down after he saved her.  Stared at her for the longest time.  He didn't care that I took off, either."  Oro grinned nastily.  "She's his weakness, mark me."

Hisadaicho finally smiled.  "Leave us, Aki . . ." she instructed the servant.   He did as commanded.  She waited until he was gone before she spoke again.  "You've done well, Oro . . . I am impressed."

"And my payment?" he rumbled, eyes raking over her as he remembered her promise.

"Yes, of course," she agreed as she slowly rose off her cushion.  "Payment.  What was it I promised you?"

Shaking his greasy hair out of his eyes, he stepped closer to her as cold desire ignited behind his gaze.  "You remember."

Hisadaicho's smile widened.  "Very well then," she purred as she slowly reached a hand into her kimono.  "I'm a woman of my word."

Oro's grin was wicked, cruel.  "Good . . ."  Slowly bringing her hand up before her face, she opened her fist.  Oro narrowed his gaze as he stared at the iridescent powder in the palm of her hand.  "What's that?"

"This," she informed him with a sweet smile, "is your payment."  He stepped closer, and she blew the dust off her hand, into his face.

"What the—?" he growled as he rubbed at his watering eyes.  "What the hell did you do to me?"

Hisadaicho laughed.  "Now be gone before I decide to kill you, and don't return . . . if you know what's good for you."

Anger lent a deeper red to his already ruddy flesh as he stalked forward.  He stopped as his frown slowly dissipated.  "It's you," he murmured, his tone full of wonder, and of fear.  "You . . ." Gaze narrowing in suspicion then widening in shock as he stared at her, he nodded once then turned to leave.

Hisadaicho's smile returned as she watched the retreating human.  "So . . . it works . . . sweet dreams, Oro . . ."

"Hisadaicho-sama."

Shifting her gaze to regard Iwazawa, she beckoned him forward with a flick of her wrist.  "So you've returned."

Iwazawa bowed as he came closer.  "The one they call Sesshoumaru . . . He is powerful.  They say that he is one of the most powerful youkai."

"Power comes with a price," she mused.  "Go on."

He nodded once and bowed again.  "He keeps an imp.  He's useless.  He also keeps a human: a girl-child, and they say he indulges her even if no one knows why he would do such a thing."

"A little human pet, you mean?  How noble . . ."

Hisadaicho slowly turned, paced the floor as she deliberated.  'A child . . . the great youkai would deign to keep a child?  How interesting . . .'

"Your orders?" Iwazawa asked as he rose to his feet.

'This could be used . . . this child will bring him,' Hisadaicho thought with a growing smile.  "Fetch the girl.  I have plans for her."

Iwazawa bowed again.  "As you wish, Hisadaicho-sama."

Throwing open the window as she stared at the gathering darkness of nightfall on the land, her smile widened, a lazy light filtering into her gaze as she considered her plan.  It was coming together nicely, and the end result . . .

The dormant violet orb resting in the cradle of the clay urn called to her.  Striding to the table, lovingly caressing the sphere, she could feel the stirrings of a long- quiescent supremacy, and soon her vision would clear . . .  'Show me, Oro . . . show me what is in your heart . . . if you still possess a heart . . .'

Whispering movement as Aki came to her, knelt before her.  'This child would prove the mighty Sesshoumaru's undoing.  For one so powerful to keep such an indulgence . . .' she mused as Aki shoved aside the kimono.  Hisadaicho shuddered as Aki's tongue flicked against her.  'Sesshoumaru will be the first to fall . . . and then . . .'


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


InuYash a stared at the brooding cave with obvious apprehension.  Grasping Tetsusaiga in his hands, he couldn't help but feel an ominous aura as he cautiously approached the barrier over the opening.  What sordid thing was brought to life here?  Why did he feel like it was somehow familiar?

Eyes widening as understanding dawned on him, InuYasha stepped back and shook his head.  'It's her . . . I felt her presence in the old sage's hut . . . but what the hell is she?'

Raising Tetsusaiga while the blade took on a red sheen, InuYasha tightened his grip on the sword and brought it over his head.  Smashing it into the barrier, he closed his eyes for a moment as the light flashed, the fissure between Tetsusaiga and the barrier colliding in a flash of brilliant light.

The barrier gave way to the sword and flickered out.  InuYasha slowly stepped into the cavernous darkness.  The stench of death caught in his nose, filled his brain with acrid images, inane whispers in the dark.  Taking a moment to shake the cobwebs out of his mind, he stepped forward into the dank cavern, into the veil of stagnant jyaki.  

The passage was long and narrow, claustrophobic.  If he had brought her, Kagome would be babbling by now, about the confined space, about the darkness.  She always did that when she was nervous, and if he'd learned nothing else about her in the past four years, it was that Kagome could babble with the best of them . . .

And yet it was the simple thought of her, of her face, that brought a smile to his lips as he moved forward in the dark even as the dull ache of missing her squeezed at his heart.  She whispered in his mind, her voice as dim as the cave.  'Hurry back, InuYasha . . . Do you miss me?'

He swallowed hard, lifting his sleeve to cover his nose against the looming stench of decaying flesh as he descended further into the abyss.  Did he miss her?  InuYasha sighed.  Yes, he missed her.  He missed her more than he ever wanted to admit.

The tunnel opened up, and he stepped into the larger chamber.  Thankful for the part of him that was youkai, InuYasha stared around in horrified fascination at the tableaux laid out before him.

Ghastly stalactites hung from the ceiling like a hundred jagged teeth as moisture dripped from every orifice to pool on the ground in an unholy sludge.  Rock formations littered the cave, half broken and hollowed out.  With a frown, he stepped closer to inspect one.  Thick slime coated the inside of the hole, the scent of something foul lingering, hanging over him, thick and ugly.  'Something was housed in that—in all of these,' InuYasha realized as he gaped at the ruins.  Malignant and foul . . . something already dead?  'These things . . . are like cocoons?  Made of rock instead of silk . . .'

Stepping away from the ruins, InuYasha looked around again.  Strange how the cocoons stopped in an arc, and in the darkest corner . . .

Brushing aside the sense of foreboding, InuYasha picked his way across the ground, avoiding the sharper bits of rocks that had been scattered when the cocoons had hatched open.  The cocoon he found there was smaller than the others, thicker, as though whatever had been inside had to be better protected than the others.  Leaning in closer to examine the shell, he reached out with his free hand, touched the interior.

Rubbing the powdery residue between his fingers, InuYasha frowned and stepped back.  The scent in this corner, around this cocoon . . . he knew it.  He'd smelled her before, at he old sage's hut.  "She was born here . . ."

A few more minutes of futile search yielded him nothing.  InuYasha turned to leave.  The small pedestal drew his attention.  He hadn't noticed it before.  Standing next to the largest pool of water, InuYasha stepped over to it, laid his hand on it.  The rock was warm under his fingers; an aura of complete evil, utter malevolence seemed to surround him, radiating from that structure.  Without thinking, he swung Tetsusaiga, shattering the stone pedestal, dispelling the aura.

A sort of dusky light filtered into the cave.  As though the rock had held the space suspended in darkness, InuYasha smiled just a little as he sheathed his sword and headed for the passage, and toward the freedom of the open air.

Leaning back against the gaping hole of the now-dead cave, InuYasha dragged in a few lungfuls of clean air.  He lifted his fingers, frowning at the iridescent powder that clung to him.  It reminded him of the odd body powders that Kagome sometimes used.  He wrinkled his nose.  Those always made him sneeze.  With a decisive snort, InuYasha pushed away from the rocks and sprinted away toward the sound of water.  Whatever powder it was, he'd be damned if he'd end up sneezing because of it . . .

Wrinkling his nose as InuYasha dug a handful of sand out of the water, he rubbed the dirt over his hands to scrub away the powder.  Shaking off his hands, he sank back on his haunches and tried to make sense of the cave.  'Whoever she is, she was born in there . . . but what does she want?'

Thoughts interrupted by a sudden sneeze, InuYasha's expression registered his disgust, and he leaned forward to cup his hands under the water to rinse his face.  After ten handfuls of water, InuYasha was satisfied that the lingering traces of the cave's morbid presence were gone, and he rubbed his face with his haori sleeve to dry himself off.

The sun was close to setting, and he sighed.  He needed to find a place to spend the night before dusk came.   'I hate being human,' he thought with a derisive snort.   The new moon was coming, and InuYasha knew better than to be caught out during that . . .


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


Kagome peeked up from her math notes to watch as Sango carefully dug into the earth with the small hand spade that Kagome had brought her long ago.  Carefully placing a bulb into the earth and covering it over, Sango carried out her task with all the love and attention that Kagome imagined she'd have showed her children, if they had lived.  A bittersweet smile touched the exterminator's lips even as a telling brightness developed in her deep brown eyes.

"Are you sure you don't want me to help?" Kagome asked quietly as a voice whispered in her mind, 'How much bigger will this garden grow?  How many more babies will she lose before she just gives up, before her heart forgets to remind her that she is alive?'

Sango peeked over her shoulder and smiled.  "No, thanks . . . this is something I want to do on my own."

Kagome nodded and stifled a sigh as she stared up into the empty branches of Goshinboku.  A sudden and vicious pang hit her, the distance between herself and InuYasha seemed so overwhelming.  'You could do it, Kagome . . . if you offered, what would Sango say?'

Forcing her attention back to the book in her lap, Kagome deliberately tried not to think about the question that was always so close to the surface in her mind.

"How much longer will InuYasha be gone?"

Kagome closed the book and stuck it back into her bag as she reached forward to grab the paper that Sango had used to carefully plan out the placement of each flower bulb three days ago.  "He said it could take a month," she answered, unable to keep the slight note of longing out of her tone, "and he's only been gone ten days."

Sango planted another bulb and sat back, turning to stare at her friend.  "Kagome-chan . . . why don't you tell him?"

"There's nothing to tell," she lied, knowing very well exactly what Sango was talking about and stubbornly trying to pretend that she didn't.

"You know that isn't true," Sango chided as she arranged the cardboard pictures of the flowers she'd just planted.

Kagome sighed.  When she brought the bulbs to Sango three days ago, both Sango and Miroku had tried to tell her the same thing, that she should tell InuYasha how she felt, and while a part of her agreed with them, the rest of her was absolutely terrified of what he'd say, what he'd do . . . that he'd say something rude or arrogant, and the hurt that would cause . . . it was enough to keep her from thinking that it would ever be a good idea, at all . . .

"It's not that simple," she said, hating how lame her voice sounded to her own ears.  "It never is, with him . . . and then, there's Kikyou . . ."

"But he doesn't love Kikyou, at least, not like that," Sango argued gently.

Kagome reached for the flower cards.   Sango handed them to her.  "I know everyone says that, but . . . You can't just forget about someone you loved once, especially your first love, right?"

Sango sighed.  "Do you think Houshi-sama and I would want to see you hurt?  If we didn't think that InuYasha truly does love you, do you think we'd encourage you to tell him how you feel?"

Kagome shook her head as she stared at the pictures of the vibrant lilies.  "Maybe, after finals.  I just can't do it yet."  Forcing a smile, she drew a deep breath and wrapped her arms around her raised knees.  "Enough about me.  How are you holding up?"

"Better.  Don't worry about me.  I'll be fine."  A hint of fear, of cautious hope that was only hanging on by a thread crossed her face.  She shook her head.

"Sango-chan . . ."

"It's all right.  Houshi-sama says we can try again, when I'm ready . . . I'm not sure when that will be.  I want a baby of my own, but . . ."

Kagome nodded slowly.  "I understand."

Sango took her time planting the last of the bulbs and sat back again.  "Maybe I wasn't meant to have children.  I know he doesn't want to admit as much, but . . . I know he's thought it, too."

Kagome didn't know what to say.  Staring at the flowers, the riot of colors and variants in each, they were all similar in the flower shape, in their very aesthetic.  Alone, each possessed their own beauty; together they would be stunning as a whole.  Was that how Sango had viewed each of her babies?  Kagome smiled sadly.  Yes, it was . . .

With a sigh, Kagome got up, gathering her bag as she stretched.  "I've got to go back," she told Sango.  "I've got a few reviews tomorrow, and I've got to finish a few papers, too . . . will you be all right?"

Sango nodded.  "Of course.  I was almost done here, too, and then he promised he'd offer a prayer of blessing over it . . ."

Kagome gave her a quick hug before heading off toward the well.

Pausing as she sat on the ledge with her legs dangling over the edge, Kagome sighed.  To be completely honest with herself, she knew the main reason she came back every afternoon was because, even though he was gone, she felt closer to InuYasha here than she did in her own time.  Glancing around before she dropped over the side, she wished once more that she'd spot the familiar crimson streak, the stroke of his reassuring youki . . . 'Hurry back, InuYasha . . . Do you miss me?'

She sighed and shook her head before pushing off the side and falling into the well.

'Why don't you tell him?'

Kagome frowned as she felt the warmth of the time slip engulf her.  What would he say, if she told him how she felt?  What scared her more?  That he would scoff at her?  Or that he would feel the same way?  Did it matter what everyone else told her constantly, that he didn't love Kikyou the same way anymore?  InuYasha hadn't ever told her how he felt about the resurrected miko, and Kagome was afraid to find out.

And yet she felt so selfish, thinking about herself when Sango and Miroku were suffering so much.  They both tried to act like it was all water under the bridge.  In actuality, Kagome could sense the very real tension.  It was a living thing, so thick between the two, an underlying sense of the battle of two wills: Miroku's optimism, his belief that if they just tried once more, that it would all be fine, in the end warred with Sango's fear, her reluctance to lose yet another baby . . .

Feet touching down on the ground as the light of the time slip faded, Kagome sighed as she climbed out of the well.  'If they could come through the well,' she thought with a shake of her head, 'then Sango could see a doctor here . . . then she could have her own baby . . .'

With a wince, Kagome wondered just how selfish that sounded.  It was just that one lingering doubt, that last question that plagued her.  'It wouldn't really be my baby, though, would it?  My egg, yes . . . my body, sure . . . but I'd know all along that it wasn't really my baby . . . Sango and Miroku would be terrific parents.  He's always so calm and so good-natured, and he's been so good to Sango, and Sango . . . she'd love the baby.'

Kagome closed the well-house door behind herself before hopping down the stairs.  A sudden gust of wind rustled the branches of Goshinboku.  She stopped and stared at the ancient tree with a smile.  Wandering over to it, slowly running her fingers over the rough bark, she couldn't help but feel a little closer to InuYasha when she was near the tree.  It was the first place she'd seen him, after all.   On that day so long ago . . . had she realized then, how much he'd mean to her?

Turning around and leaning back against the tree, she stared at the courtyard she knew so well.  As a child, she played here in the shade of the God Tree.  As a young girl, she'd sought the comfort of the silent strength the tree provided in an ever-changing world.  Now she wished that the tree could talk to her, that the sentient spirit could tell her what to do.

Gaze shifting to the side, Kagome frowned as she stared at the awakening flowerbed near the storehouses.  Pushing herself away from the tree, she slowly moved forward, images in her mind fitting together as a sense of understanding fleshed out.

'The flowers . . . the lilies . . .' she thought as she knelt before the fledgling plants.  Though not even close to being ready to bloom, Kagome didn't need to see the colors to know.  She'd seen them for years, every summer they blossomed.

A staggering sense of déjà vu washed over her, and Kagome gasped.  Her grandfather had told her before, that the garden was sacred, that it had existed for centuries.  Her mother had said that she wasn't sure how old the flowerbed was, but that the seven varieties of lilies thrived in that spot, the sign that they had been planted with the most complete love and devotion . . .

'Sango's garden . . .' Kagome realized, bringing her hand up to her mouth.  The garden that her friend had just planted on the other side of the well . . . it had endured until now.  And something else, something Kagome couldn't quite say . . .

A single tear slid down Kagome's cheek as she tenderly fingered the vibrant waxy leaves.  For Sango to have devoted so much love in planting these flowers that could live and endure through five hundred years . . . The seven different colors and varieties that she'd so carefully selected: one for each of her lost babies . . .

Kagome closed her eyes and slowly stood.  A sudden peace filled her heart, a tempering of the love that had been borne from the pain of loss . . .

Feeling someone's gaze on her, Kagome looked up to see her mother standing in the doorway, a knowing smile full of resigned understanding as well as cautious optimism and pride, Mrs. Higurashi stepped toward her as tears brightened her eyes.  "You've made your choice, haven't you?"

Kagome nodded as her mother pushed her bangs off her forehead.  "Yeah."

"I thought you would, when you realized about the garden."

"How did you know?"

Mrs. Higurashi sighed and turned to stare at the beautiful green stalks.  "I didn't.  I had a hunch, though, when I saw the list of the bulbs that Sango had chosen."  She cupped Kagome's face in her hands and kissed her forehead.  "Even if you would have decided that you couldn't do it, I wanted to let you know how proud I am of you.  To have given this so much thought, and to have weighed all your information . . . I know this wasn't an impetuous decision on your part, and if you need my help, all you have to do is ask."

Kagome nodded slowly, and the two stood and stared at the silent garden that spoke to Kagome's heart.

"If it helps, Kagome . . ." Gazing through her tears into her mother's watery eyes, Kagome wiped her cheeks as Mrs. Higurashi smiled and hugged her shoulders.  "The seven varieties here are the only ones that have ever grown here . . . maybe you were meant to do this, for them, to keep Sango from having to add to her garden."


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

Jyaki: wicked energy, also translated as "miasma," or a "nauseating fume."

I know that some have said that they didn't have to get pelvic exams early on.  I did.  I think it is largely dependent upon the family and the medical history, and while I realize that not everyone got them, I based this off my own knowledge.

== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from InuYasha
:
… … … You're gonna do what?????
==========
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 9
Chapter 11
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