InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Shades of Gray ( Chapter 12 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~Shades of Gray~
Smiling slightly as he sailed above the forest he knew so well, InuYasha tried not to think about the reason he was in such a hurry to get back to the village—and to the well. Three weeks and six days had been too long, and other than locating the cave, he hadn't actually been able to gather much more information, other than that the men who had suffered the mysterious deaths were all older, and all had been alone at the time. Still, though, the scent of the strange woman lingered, and that was enough to bother InuYasha.
He certainly wasn't in a hurry to see her. No. Not at all. InuYasha snorted and shoved aside the underlying guilt inspired by his claims that he hadn't missed Kagome. `Keh. Fine. Maybe I missed the wench . . . a little.'
He sighed. He was exhausted. He couldn't rightfully recall the last time he'd gotten a decent night's sleep. It had to be better now. It was just the distance between Kagome and him that had been bothering him, he reasoned.
Deciding to pass the village for now, InuYasha headed straight for the well. He could tell by the emptiness in the air that she wasn't here. For that matter, InuYasha could tell that the others were gone, too. Well, he'd figure that out later, but for now . . . What would Kagome do when she saw him?
Sprinting through the forest straight toward the well, InuYasha didn't slow down in his stride as he vaulted over the side and dropped into the time slip.
Kagome's scent hit him hard as soon as he landed on her side of the well. She might not be inside the well-house, but she was close, and she was outside. Staggering back as the fragrance wrapped around him, he leaned against the wall with a stifled whine before he could gather the strength to jump out, to find her.
Pushing open the well-house doors, InuYasha stopped, blinked, stared. Kagome sat on the ground near a small flowerbed with a book on her lap and a slight frown marring her brow. As though she sensed him near, she slowly lifted her head, turning her face slowly, eyes locking with his across the courtyard.
He didn't move. He couldn't move. Her scent was deeper, richer, stronger than he remembered though still Kagome, still everything that he craved. An underlying sense of something that he would be able to discern if he could clear the sight of her out of his head nagged at him. He ignored it as he slowly pushed away from the doors, as he slowly stepped toward her.
She set the book aside and got to her feet. The little blue skirt she wore flipped around in the breeze, the blouse billowing around her as she lifted her hand to pull her hair out of her face. Fidgeting nervously as he approached, she tried to smile but the expression failed. “You're back,” she said softly as she stepped back in retreat. The idea filtered through his mind, that she acted as if she was scared of something. He shoved that thought aside, too.
Shifting from one foot to the other, Kagome sighed and shook her head. “InuYasha, I have to tell you something.”
“Can't it wait, wench? Don't you have some ramen or something around here?”
She winced. InuYasha narrowed his gaze at her strange behavior. “It can't wait anymore.”
That strange undertone in her scent came to him again, and InuYasha stepped back. He hadn't smelled that sort of thing on anyone other than Sango, but it was enough for him to recognize. `No, fucking way,' his mind insisted as he shook his head, as he backed away from her. With every breath, with every smell, he felt like he was being suffocated. Unable to keep the confusion, the accusation, out of his tone, he stared at her, eyebrows furrowing, and said, “Kagome?”
“I tried to tell you . . . I tried to ask you, and you said—”
“You're fucking carrying that lecher's pup?” he bellowed, unable to keep his temper in check.
She flinched and raised her hands to placate him. He backed away from her. “We're trying it, I don't know for sure yet, and—”
He snorted. “I just fucking told you, didn't I? What . . . why?”
“Because they can't! Because you were right. There aren't any shades of gray. You said it yourself. There's only black and white, and—”
Why didn't she smell like she'd been claimed? If she was carrying Miroku's child, why couldn't he smell that fucking lecher on her? He sniffed again and winced inside. No, all he could smell was the pup . . . Confusion spun out of his control; anger welled as the confusion reached a painful high. “Damn it, bitch! You never said you were going to be with him!”
“I wasn't . . . I—”
“How could you do that? I thought I knew you. I thought . . . Keh!”
“You thought what?” she countered softly. “Listen to me, please, I—”
“Was he what you wanted? Was he the one you chose? What about Sango? What the fuck kind of friend are you?”
“I'm doing this because I'm their friend,” she argued weakly, her voice no more than a whisper. “Please understand—”
“Understand? Understand what? That I've protected you, and rescued you over and over, and told you things that I never wanted to talk about to anyone, and you . . . Fuck, Kagome! What are you trying to do to me?”
“I-I'm not—I didn't—”
“Did you fuck him?”
She gasped at his controlled question, his soft hiss; skin paling as she stared at him in complete and utter shock. “No.”
Digging his claws into his palms as he struggled to keep from grabbing and shaking her, he shook his head against her denial. “Did you fuck him?”
“Then how the hell did his pup get inside you?” InuYasha bellowed as Kagome shied away. “I never, ever want to look at your face again, bitch. You're nothing but a fucking whore.”
“I'm sorry,” she choked out. The tears that were already thick in Kagome's voice spilled over. With a sharp gasp, she turned and ran, disappearing into the shrine as InuYasha decimated a small wooden bench. It did little to assuage his rage. Even if his mind assured him that she didn't smell like she'd actually given herself to Miroku, his nose hadn't been wrong about what he had scented. She was carrying his pup, and that . . . It was enough to tear him open in places that Kagome would never, ever see.
`What do you expect, baka? You never told her how you felt. You always pushed her away . . . How long did you expect her to follow you around? She . . . she never was yours . . .'
Turning on his heel and stalking toward the well-house, InuYasha was so lost in his own thoughts, his own recriminations, his own misery and frustration, he didn't heard the shrine doors open, didn't smell the intruder. He knew he had been trying to push her away. He knew the reasons why he couldn't have her. Of all the men she could have chosen, she chose Miroku? Damn it, why? “InuYasha? I thought you were here. Will you talk to me, before you go?”
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Mrs. Higurashi to go to hell. For some reason, he couldn't. With a sigh, he turned his head to stare at her. She offered him a little smile and linked her arm through his, leading the way toward the gate that led into the forest.
She didn't speak right away as they wandered through the trees. As though she were gathering her thoughts together, Mrs. Higurashi sighed and stared up at the trees. “It upsets you, what Kagome is doing. To be honest I was sort of hoping she would decide not to do it, not because I didn't want her to, but I know how hard this is going to be on her, and on you.”
InuYasha didn't answer. Unable to trust himself to keep his emotions in check, he opted for stoic silence instead.
“I told Kagome she needed to tell you about her idea; that she needed to at least warn you about what she was considering.”
InuYasha's ears flattened as he remembered how many times she'd tried to do that, and how he always cut her off short . . . “She should have fucking tried harder,” he snarled, unable to let go of his anger.
“She didn't do this to hurt you,” Mrs. Higurashi pointed out gently. “Even if you can't understand why she wants to do this, please try to understand that she didn't do it to hurt you. She wouldn't.”
InuYasha snorted. “How can she be carrying his pup when she doesn't . . . I can't smell . . .” Trailing off as a hot blush shot up his skin, he made a face and stomped away.
Mrs. Higurashi sighed. “Kagome didn't have sex with Miroku, if that's what you're asking,” she explained gently. “He deposited his semen in a cup, and she brought it back. I helped her because she asked me to. We used medicine droppers. There was no contact whatsoever between Miroku and Kagome.”
Even if InuYasha didn't quite understand the technicalities of what her mother was saying, he didn't have to be brilliant to get the gist of it, which only served to further his embarrassment.
“That don't really help. She's going to have his pup.”
“No,” Mrs. Higurashi argued softly. “She's going to give birth to Sango and Miroku's child. It's not her baby, and she knows that. I just hoped you could at least try to understand it, too. She loves Sango and Miroku. That's why she wanted to do this for them. But she loves you, too. I think you're her best friend, and I know that your relationship means everything to her. That was one of the reasons she struggled so hard with her decision.”
“If our relationship meant that much to her, she'd have found a way to make me listen.”
“InuYasha? Have you ever tried to tell someone you really cared about something as serious as this?”
Jerking his head in answer, InuYasha couldn't bring himself to say the word out loud.
Mrs. Higurashi smiled compassionately. “You know my daughter. You know her heart. Do you honestly think she'd do something just to hurt you?”
InuYasha sighed, unable to meet her gaze. “I thought I knew her.”
“She knew the risk she was taking, InuYasha, and she chose to do this anyway. I know it doesn't make it easier to understand, but if it's any consolation at all, it was a very difficult decision for her to make.”
InuYasha didn't answer. Staring out over the forest without really seeing it, he had to sigh as he tried to make sense of anything at all. He wasn't sure how long he stood there. When he turned back around, Mrs. Higurashi was gone.
Kagome pushed open the well-house doors and furiously blinked back her tears. The moon was high in the sky. She grimaced as she stared at it. She'd done nothing but think about InuYasha's words—those hateful, painful words—and in the end, she knew he was right. She'd known the risk she was taking when she decided to do this. She knew that she was basically disregarding InuYasha's feelings in it, and maybe a small part of her wanted him to know what it felt like, to feel so unimportant, so insignificant . . . the way she always felt when he ran off to see Kikyou . . .
`No!' her mind screamed at her. `That's not true . . . you never wanted to hurt him; you know you didn't.'
It didn't matter what she knew or what she wanted. When you made a choice this big, there were bound to be repercussions. She had known that. She'd just been foolish enough to think that InuYasha could get over it. The look on his face, the consuming sense of betrayal as he stared at her . . . She swallowed back another wash of tears. She couldn't regret her choice. The guilt at the look on InuYasha's face, though . . . she'd never get over that.
She blinked again as she tromped slowly down the stairs to the side of the well. `This was the risk I knew I was taking,' she thought as she sat on the ledge of the well. `I just hoped . . .' She couldn't finish it as she dropped into the well . . .
InuYasha felt the night coming without having to open his eyes. To open them would mean having to stare at the flower garden, the one that Sango had so obviously planted in memory of her lost pups, and that, in turn, only led to more confusion, more anger, more . . . everything. In truth, he didn't know what to feel.
He'd spent hours tearing through his forest, ripping down trees when the frustration got to be too much. The trouble was, everything Kagome's mother had said was true. Kagome wouldn't try to hurt him intentionally. She didn't have it in her to do it, and he knew that. Kagome was too kind, too gentle, too caring to be capable of that level of animosity.
The anger had left him not long after he'd come back to this time leaving behind nothing but a bruised ache, a painful hollow. As hurtful as it was, to think about the idea of Kagome carrying Miroku's pup, the idea of never seeing her again was so much worse, and if he were completely honest with himself, he knew that he really couldn't ever truly hate her, couldn't fault her for doing something for someone she cared about.
No, he had to admit that the thing that had bothered him most had been the thought that Kagome had been with Miroku. After denying himself and making up reasons for so long that it had become second nature, the thought that she would have been with Miroku for any reason had been too much to bear. Shaking his head, he tried not to think about it. To think about it made it all that much more real, and reality was way too painful. Still, hadn't his own senses told him that she hadn't been with Miroku at all? That didn't make it any easier for him to swallow. Didn't that prove, though, that Kagome did care what he thought?
He winced. If that were true, then he really had been an ass, and not just part of an ass; a complete ass, the whole ass, and the things he'd said to her, even in anger . . . `Kagome . . . I didn't mean it . . . I was just mad and a little . . . hurt . . . Oh, hell, a lot hurt . . .'
Her mother's words hurt him, and he uttered a heavy sigh. `I think you're her best friend, and I know that your relationship means everything to her.'
And, he realized, too, she had tried to tell him, many times, and every one of those times, he'd cut her off. `Keh! I didn't know she was planning on doing something so fucking stupid!' he railed then sighed. `I didn't know . . . because I didn't stop to listen . . .'
But the worst realization was the one that drew a low whine from him as his ears drooped, as his shoulders slumped. `The reasons she's doing this for them . . . aren't they the same reasons I . . . I love her?'
Wrapping his arms tighter around Tetsusaiga, InuYasha let his head fall back against Goshinboku as the lure of exhausted sleep tugged at him. `How do I tell her I'm sorry . . . ? How can I stand to know she's carrying Miroku's pup? How . . . ?' So many questions and no real answers . . . All he knew was that the idea of never seeing her again hurt too much, dug too deep. He had to see her. She was necessary to him.
`Maybe,' he mused as he started to drift off, `maybe it'll make more sense in the morning . . .' The blessed arms of sleep welcomed him, the lone figure in the dark forest.
Kagome knelt beside InuYasha, unable to keep her tears from falling as she lifted her hands slowly and carefully, reaching for the kotodama rosary. She'd gone over it in her head. It was the only thing she could do now. Why did it break her heart to do it, though?
Staring at him, sleeping in the darkness, remembering the time when she first found him pinned to the same tree . . . `He looked like this then, didn't he? Like he was sleeping . . .' It wasn't the freedom from the rosary that hurt. It was the idea that she was releasing him from his promise, telling him that he was no longer expected to protect her . . . the protection that she loved.
`Just do it, Kagome . . . you've hurt him enough.'
Kagome closed her eyes, willed back the sharper edges of the pain in her heart. `I'm so sorry, InuYasha . . . I never meant to hurt you, not like this . . . not ever . . .'
Gathering her courage, making her hands work despite the trembling in her fingers, Kagome grasped the beads and gently pulled them over his head, out from under his hair. “I'm sorry, InuYasha . . . you're free now.”
“K'gome . . .” She gasped softly as his eyes slowly opened, gaze locking on hers, glowing in the darkness of the night. “What are you doing?”
Clearing her throat, unable to look him in the eye, she tried to keep her voice from betraying the pain in her heart, tried to lie to herself, to convince herself that he would be happier now, without her. “I'm releasing you . . . from your vow. I don't want to hurt you anymore, and . . . I'm sorry, InuYasha, so sorry . . . Goodbye.”
Before she gave in to the tears that were choking her, Kagome shot to her feet and ran. Stumbling through the forest as she sprinted blindly toward the meadow, toward the well, the sound of her shattering heart blocked out the murmurs, the laughter of the mocking trees.
Flashes of hurtful memories, quiet moments spent just sitting together, staring over the forest, of the few times he'd smiled at something she'd said, the secrets he'd told her that he hadn't meant to say . . . so much worse than the idea of losing her friend was the nagging knowledge that she was also losing the one person who had come to know her best: her soul mate . . . She knew everything about him, and she thought he had known her, too.
Breaking into the clearing, Kagome kept running. As badly as it hurt her to remove the rosary, she'd hurt him so much worse. The pain, the anger in his gaze came back to her, the ugly words that she had deserved. `I never, ever want to look at your face again, bitch. You're nothing but a fucking whore.'
But the pain grew in her chest, worse and worse as she wondered how much longer until it burst. Dropping to her knees beside the well, she broke down in sobs as she held the rosary against her chest. She felt as though a part of her was dying inside, as though the very reason she awoke in the morning was gone, and that thought scared her even as her mind tried to tell her that it was all her fault after all . . .
“Keh. Stupid Kagome. Don't you know you can't just release me from a vow?”
Sniffling as she dared to raise her chin, she gasped to see him standing over her, arms crossed, expression unreadable. She stared at him for what seemed like hours. He stared back at her without saying a word.
She swallowed hard as he hunkered down next to her, not touching her but not avoiding her, either. After a moment, he shrugged off his haori and tossed it over her shoulders even though she wasn't really cold. A small smile surfaced on her lips despite the tears that pooled in her eyes. He wrapped his arms around Tetsusaiga and stared off at the forest.
He was still beside her as the sun rose above the horizon.
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Final Thought from Kagome:
Why do I get the feeling that you're still really mad at Miroku, InuYasha?
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.