InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Lying Eyes ( Chapter 19 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
“Kikyou . . . why are you here? Kagome's coming, and she can't see you right now—”
“There isn't time, InuYasha,” Kikyou cut in as she stepped closer. “I wanted to tell you. The information you sought before—The contemptible presence you felt but could not place—”
Eyes flashing wide, InuYasha closed the distance between them to grab Kikyou's arm. “What are you saying?”
Kikyou winced at the tightness of InuYasha's grip. He relented but didn't let go. “She came looking for me. She wanted me to kill Kagome, to reclaim my soul.”
“She has a vile aura, InuYasha. She is all things foul and despicable.”
InuYasha shook his head. “Are you sure it's her?”
“Yes, and she will come after you. I believe she wants Kagome.”
The growl that escaped him was fierce, low. “Over my dead body.”
Another presence brushed over him, and InuYasha stepped back. Lifting his gaze to stare over Kikyou's shoulder, he stifled a groan that welled up inside him at the sight of her, standing in the path that led from the forest. “Kagome . . .”
The pain in her eyes tore at him, the sadness of her tears that pooled and fell, coursing icy streaks down her cheeks . . . He winced and stepped back again.
“That's not Kagome,” Kikyou murmured, her voice muffled by the sound of his own blood pounding through his body. Kagome's emotions were a palpable thing to him. She stepped forward.
“InuYasha? I trusted you . . .” she rasped out, her voice broken by the welling tears, the choked-back sobs. “How could you do this to me?”
`It's not what you think!' his mind screamed. He couldn't seem to get the words out despite his struggle to do it. Shaking his head to deny what she thought she'd seen, trying in vain to speak through the rising panic, the overwhelming regret that she of all people would come to him now. `Kagome, I didn't . . .'
“You followed me,” Kikyou said as she advanced toward Kagome. “You vile, evil creature . . . you followed me. What have you done to him? Why does he think you're Kagome?”
Kagome's gaze flashed, angry, irrational. “What did I do? You're the one who will not die! You're the one who can't stand that he doesn't love you anymore! He dreams about me! Me! How dare you try to turn him against me? You bitch!” Turning her head to stab InuYasha with her glower, she stepped toward him. “You . . . you half-breed! I trusted you! I trusted you, and you—You're trying to destroy me!”
InuYasha darted forward to intercept Kagome as she stretched out her hand, her fingertips pulsing with a strange reddish light. Kikyou flung him out of the way with a violent shove. The reddish light erupted in a ball of energy that shot through the air and hit Kikyou in the chest, ripping her open as spurts of blood shot out of her body.
Kikyou flew back, landing in a crumpled heap in the snow.
Kagome slowly stalked forward, eyes intent on Kikyou's sprawled body.
“Kagome! It's not—-”
“Shut up!” she shrieked at InuYasha, the light of anger and pain scathing him. “You stay out of this!” Extending her hand toward him, another flash of red light surrounded him. He fought against it. He couldn't move.
“You . . . aren't . . . Kagome . . .” Kikyou breathed out.
“Aren't I?” she countered as she stood over Kikyou. “Stay away from InuYasha! He's mine! He will bow to me, and you shall go to hell where you belong.”
Raising her hands as more of the violent red energy surrounded her, InuYasha clawed at the red barrier that held him too tightly to grab Tetsusaiga. “Kagome! No! Don't do it!” he bellowed.
Bolts of flashing red energy jolted from the tips of her fingers to engulf Kikyou's body. Above the rasping entreaties of the hanyou, the soul collectors suddenly exploded. Kikyou rose in the air, suspended by the strings of light. Kagome stood, hands outstretched. “You've meddled in my life long enough! Die!”
As fast as the energy had appeared, it dispelled, and Kikyou's body crashed into the ground with a sickening thud.
“Kikyou!” InuYasha screamed.
Kagome turned and walked toward the forest. “You . . . you'll never hurt me again, InuYasha. I hate you!”
Her words tore through him with a vicious abandon. Recoiling from the animosity in her voice, in her expression, InuYasha whispered, “Ka . . . Kagome . . .”
As she disappeared into the trees, the red barrier vanished. InuYasha stood for a second as he tried to think of what he should do.
Kikyou's rasping breath jolted him out of his confusion, and he stumbled to her, sinking in the snow, pulling her head onto his lap. “Kikyou . . .”
Kikyou closed her eyes for a moment and managed a weak smile. “She . . . not . . . Kagome . . .”
“Damn it . . . Just like before . . . I couldn't . . . I . . . damn it.”
Managing a smile as she reached out to push the hair out of his face, Kikyou offered him a tiny smile tinged by pain, tempered by sadness. “You couldn't protect me . . . because I've never . . . wanted you to . . .”
“Kikyou . . .”
“Protect Kagome . . . protect . . . the jewel.”
Squeezing his eyes closed against the truth in Kikyou's unspoken words, InuYasha shook his head. “You can't . . . Kagome . . . she can't kill you!”
Kikyou swallowed hard. “She didn't . . . Don't trust your eyes . . . InuYasha . . .”
With a soft gasp, the resurrected miko closed her eyes, and her clay body disintegrated back into earth once more.
InuYasha leaned forward, claws digging into the scarlet-bloody snow. The cry that came from him was borne of confusion, of pain. “Kagome! Damn it, Kagome! How could you do this?”
A soft gasp drew his gaze. Shifting his eyes without moving his head, he saw her, Kagome, standing by the backpack near the Bone Eater's Well. Her fingers pressed to her lips as she slowly backed away at the rage in his eyes, Kagome shook her head slowly.
InuYasha slowly got to his feet, hands balled into tight fists. A wispy blue light rose from the ashen remains of Kikyou's body and flew through the air, slamming straight into Kagome's chest. `The rest of her soul . . .' She staggered back and fell to her knees as InuYasha stalked toward her, dropped to his knees before her. Grabbing her thin arms in his hands, he shook her. “What the fuck were you doing? Why?”
She pulled against his grip but he held her tight. “I . . . I didn't . . .”
“I saw you!”
“But I didn't . . . I wouldn't . . .”
Steeling himself against the scent of her deceptive tears, InuYasha shook her again. “I . . . saw . . . you! Fuck! What the hell! Why?”
“I just . . . I just came back . . . I—”
`Lies!' his mind screamed. `You saw her! You know you did! Kagome killed her! She . . . she . . . And you promised Kikyou long ago . . . you'd avenge her . . . kill the one who killed her!'
He shook his head as Kagome pleaded with him to listen. Eyes squeezed closed as he tried to comprehend what his promise demanded of him. Letting go of her arm to raise his claws, he faltered, hesitated. `I . . . promised . . . I have to . . . keep that promise . . .'
`But . . . I promised . . . Kagome, too, that I'd protect her . . . I can't . . .'
`Kikyou . . .'
`Kagome . . .'
Opening his eyes, glaring into Kagome's face, InuYasha's resolve wavered. Kikyou's voice spoke to him again, a whisper, a breath. `She didn't . . . Don't trust your eyes . . . InuYasha . . .'
Head lowered as she silently sobbed, as though she knew what was going through his head, Kagome's shoulders were slumped in defeat, and she waited without begging him to listen, without asking him to believe her.
The things she'd said . . . couldn't have been Kagome . . . she'd never call him a half-breed . . . she wouldn't say that she hated him . . .
The power had been too deliberate, too controlled . . . did Kagome have such control over her powers? Did she?
Staring at the well as he remembered that Kagome had gone back to her time to get something . . . `She didn't . . . she couldn't have come from the forest . . .'
Hand dropping as a sick realization washed over him, he didn't think as he dragged Kagome forward, into his embrace, and he held her while she cried.
InuYasha made a face as he sat high in the branches of Goshinboku as the silent snow fell around him. Coward, maybe. A coward and a monster. Caught somewhere between the awful guilt that he'd once again failed to save Kikyou and the realization of what he had nearly done to Kagome . . . he winced as he stared out over the forest.
Why had she looked like Kagome? Down to the very scent of her—a scent he knew just a little too well . . . She was Kagome, and yet . . . she couldn't have been.
Kikyou's face flashed though his head, a ghostly image of a face he'd never forget. It didn't matter that she'd never wanted his protection. He'd given his word to her, and his word was the only thing he really had. `I could have done something,' he thought with a tired sigh. `I could have cut through the barrier with Tetsusaiga . . .'
Common logic made him shake his head. `No . . . that barrier was wrapped around me too tightly. I couldn't draw the sword . . . I couldn't even touch it.'
And yet he couldn't help the small voice that taunted him, either. `Keh. Will your fucking excuses make it all go away? Baka . . . Kikyou . . . Kagome . . . they're both too good for the likes of you . . .'
He used to believe that nothing in the world could feel as horrible as his inability to save Kikyou the first time she'd died. He winced. He had been so wrong. It didn't matter how often he reminded himself that he hadn't been able to move because of that barrier. It didn't stop the accusing voice that whispered to him that he should have been able to save her . . .
Kagome's face haunted him. Kagome's hatred, her anger, her tears . . . try as he might, he couldn't get the image of her out of his head. It couldn't have been her. He knew that, knew that she was on the other side of the well. But whoever it was looked like her, exactly like her . . . but the things she'd said . . . It couldn't have been her . . .
He'd heard Kagome's approach. He'd smelled her when she came closer. He could sense her upset, evident in the slight tremor in her voice. He didn't answer her.
She leaned up on her toes, hands against Goshinboku's trunk, face turned up as she stared sadly at him. “Please . . . I'm sorry . . .”
Her soft apology clawed at his heart. She didn't have anything to be sorry for . . . When did she ever? “Leave me alone, Kagome. You can't fix this.”
She sighed, letting her forehead fall against the rough tree bark. “I don't want to fix anything . . . I just . . .”
“ . . . All right . . .”
He closed his eyes as she turned and walked away. `Kagome . . . you're not safe here . . . you're not safe with me . . .' A few minutes later when her presence faded, he whined softly, unable to stand the emptiness, the ache that she left inside him whenever she was gone.
It made no sense. Why would anyone hurt her? Steal the jewel, sure, but Kikyou had said . . . `I believe she wants Kagome.'
But why? When had Kagome ever hurt a living soul? She healed, she comforted . . . she didn't destroy, and she didn't cause harm . . .
InuYasha swallowed hard, staring at the claws he'd nearly used against her, against Kagome. Ears flattening as he squeezed his eyes closed, InuYasha sighed. No, Kagome didn't cause harm. He did that, all by himself.
“InuYasha, are you going to sit up there all night?”
“Thinkin' about it.”
Sango sighed. “You're hurting her, you know.”
“She's better off without me.”
“Don't be foolish. Of course she isn't.”
“Keh! What do you know about it?”
Sango shook her head and picked up a rock to throw at him. She missed him. He had a feeling the miss was intentional. “I know you raised your claws against her. I know you thought she did it. I know she thinks she did something wrong when she didn't do a thing. That's what I know about it.” She stooped to retrieve another rock. InuYasha dropped to the ground before the exterminator could hurl it at his head.
“Stop throwing rocks at me!” he bellowed, slapping the new projectile away before it smacked him in the head.
“Then stop being stubborn! InuYasha, you've already said, yourself, that she is `yours' . . . so what does that mean?”
“It means that I protect her!”
“There's more to it than that, and you know it! She needs you. She needs to know that you don't blame her . . . that you don't hate her.”
InuYasha crossed his arms together and shook his head. “It ain't that simple.”
“It can be.”
She sighed and shook her head. “InuYasha . . . I know you're upset, and no one blames you for that. But Kagome . . . she really, really needs you. Miroku and I . . . we can't help her.”
InuYasha turned away. “Sango . . . the two most important promises I've ever made in my life, I've broken. I promised Kikyou I'd protect her, and I failed, twice. I promised Kagome I'd protect her, too, and I . . .” He swallowed hard and shook his head. “This bitch is after Kagome, and how the hell am I supposed to protect her from something that looks just like her?”
Sango was quiet a moment, as though she were gathering her thoughts. “And you think you're the only person who's ever felt that way? I lost my brother not once, but many times . . . every time Naraku pulled Kohaku away from me, I felt the pain of his loss again and again and again. The first time I saw him fall, I knew he was dead. I mourned him as I mourned the others . . . and the last time? I knew in my heart that I still couldn't save him, despite the promise I made to him, then, too. Don't talk to me about broken promises, InuYasha, not when you can still keep the one you made.”
InuYasha watched in silence as the exterminator turned on her heel and stomped away. He shook his head. `Keh! That's not the same . . . it's not the same at all . . . Or is it . . . ?'
Kagome sat on the bench beneath Goshinboku with her elbows on her knees and her chin cradled in the cup of her palms. As though all the tears had dried up inside her, her eyes burned, hot and aching.
`Why does InuYasha think I'd . . . that I'd . . . I wouldn't . . . especially not Kikyou, not when he still . . .' Squeezing her eyes closed against the words she couldn't say, even in her own head, Kagome sighed. `But . . . he thought I did, even though he knew I'd come back here, and then . . .' The memory of the look on his face, the rage and pain in his eyes . . . He really did think she'd killed Kikyou. He really would have killed her . . . Something had stopped him.
It hurt too much to dwell on. The idea that he could honestly believe that she could do something so horrible . . . it turned her stomach.
He wouldn't tell her anything, wouldn't tell her why he had thought she would do that, wouldn't tell her what had really happened after she went through the well. When she had returned and climbed out of the well, she had sensed that something was terribly wrong before she'd reached the top of the ladder. Something evil, something that left her feeling chilled to the bone had swept over her. When she climbed out of the well, the sight that greeted her . . . She shivered. She'd never forget . . .
InuYasha knelt on the ground cradling Kikyou's head in his lap. That had been painful to see, but then she spoke to him in a voice too quiet for Kagome to hear. She'd heard InuYasha, though . . . she'd never forget his words. Bent over in the snow after Kikyou's body had disintegrated, his words rang in her ears even now, and she blinked quickly as tears stung her eyes. `Kagome! Damn it, Kagome! How could you do this?'
“Kagome? Your mother said you were out here . . . is something wrong?”
Blinking quickly as she sat up and dashed the back of her hand over her eyes, Kagome couldn't manage the smile she tried to conjure as she turned her head to meet Houjou's friendly gaze. Holding a pretty yellow paper gift bag in his hands, his concern was evident in his slight frown. “Houjou . . . hi.”
“I . . . uh . . . ran into the girls a few days ago . . . Ayumi told me that you decided to be a surrogate mother.”
“Yeah . . . the others weren't too impressed,” she admitted ruefully.
Houjou handed the bag to her and shuffled his feet nervously. “Here . . . my mother said that sometimes pregnant women get swollen ankles, so it thought . . . they're therapeutic socks, to keep any swelling down.”
Kagome pulled the light blue socks out of the bag and stared at them as more tears filled her eyes. The simple gesture, the selfless kindness was more than she could bear. Burying her face in the soft fabric, she couldn't control the sobs that racked through her body.
“Kagome? Don't cry . . . I'm sorry . . . I can get a different color, or something else . . . please . . .”
Shaking her head as the sobs grew worse, she'd never felt quite so miserable and helpless, angry and confused in her life. Irritation rose, too, that she couldn't get a handle on her own emotions, and yet the irritation only brought more tears to the fore.
Kneeling before her, Houjou gently pulled her hands away from her face. She couldn't make out his expression through the wash of falling tears. “Is this about what the others said? Yuka and Eri? Don't let them bother you . . . I think what you're doing really shows how wonderful you are.”
Which, of course, only made her cry harder than ever. “No!” she wailed, unable to keep her voice down. “It isn't them . . . it's . . . oh, everything . . .”
Houjou nodded and let go of her hands. “Is it that boyfriend of yours? He doesn't like what you're doing, does he?”
Hiccupping as she tried to stop crying, Kagome blinked and wiped her eyes on the back of her hand again. “InuYasha, you mean? No . . . it's not him, either, exactly.”
“If you don't want to talk about it, I understand,” Houjou said when Kagome fell silent, sniffling and hiccupping as she stared at her hands in her lap.
“I think . . . I think I did something . . . but I don't know what it was . . . No one wants to tell me, and . . .” she trailed off then suddenly shook her head, a determined light igniting behind her gaze as her brows furrowed together in a scowl. “Listen to me . . . babbling about this . . . Thank you, Houjou. You're so nice, and . . .”
Houjou sighed and offered her a timid smile. “I've got to go. I just wanted to drop those off on the way to work. My phone number is in the bag. Call me if you need me, all right?”
Kagome nodded. “Thanks.”
She watched him go with a slight smile on her face. As he disappeared down the shrine steps, she sighed and let her gaze drop to the now-damp socks she held tight in her hands.
“You didn't do a damn thing, Kagome. It was . . . someone else . . . but she looked . . . exactly. . . like you.”
With a soft gasp, Kagome shot to her feet and whirled around. InuYasha leaned against the well-house doors, eyes carefully averted with his arms crossed under his haori sleeves.
“InuYasha . . .”
He shook his head and pushed away from the doors. “You . . . she . . . cast a barrier on me. I couldn't move at all . . . but even if I could have . . . I don't think I could have saved Kikyou because . . . because I couldn't have . . . not when the other one looked like you . . .”
Kagome shook her head slowly as InuYasha stopped before her. “Why didn't you tell me this before?”
InuYasha swallowed hard, staring over her head. “Sango and Miroku thought it'd be better if you didn't know, and I . . . I didn't want to hurt you anymore.”
Kagome wasn't sure what to say. He looked so sad, so tired, so alone . . . the misery in his eyes hurt her far worse than anything else, and she reached out, wrapped her arms around him. For a moment, he resisted, his body unyielding. With a sudden fierceness, he grabbed her, held her close. His voice was choked, no more than a whisper, and she closed her eyes against the raw pain in his tone. “I wouldn't . . . I wasn't thinking, and I . . . I'm sorry.”
“It's all right,” she assured him, unable to do more than hug him back as he squeezed her just a little tighter. “You don't have to be sorry . . . it's all right . . .”
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from InuYasha:
What the hell is this powder on my sleeve . . . ?
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.