InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Perceived Threats ( Chapter 20 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
InuYasha swam through the frigid water with grim determination. Miroku shook his head slowly and heaved a sigh in commiseration for his hanyou friend. “I'll bet that if you just talked to Kagome about your problem that she'd be more than willing to help you out,” he called from the shore, unable to resist teasing InuYasha just a little.
InuYasha muttered some unintelligible curses as he dragged his body toward the shore. “Fucking lecher,” was the only one Miroku could make out. He wisely hid his amusement behind a well-placed cough.
Finally striding out of the small pond, Miroku couldn't help but wince as he watched the hanyou shake himself off. It was well below freezing, and still InuYasha desired a cold dip to curb other . . . desires . . . “InuYasha, there's something very wrong when there is steam rising off you, did you know?”
InuYasha shot Miroku a quelling glance. “Keh. Shut up, will you? I didn't even want you fucking tagging along, anyway, if you remember.”
Miroku nodded. “You're right, you didn't . . . but what sort of friend would I be if I didn't suffer with you?”
InuYasha snorted. “I told you I wanted to be alone.”
“I'm sure, but until we figure out what's causing your . . . discomfort . . . I thought it would be best if we don't leave you to your own devices when Kagome's around.”
InuYasha rolled his eyes. “She was sleeping under a pile of scrawny-assed youkai, Miroku. What did you think I'd do? Grope them all?”
“No, but if you would have shifted Shippou to the side and nudged Ichisaru out of the way—”
“I don't want fucking lessons, damn it!”
Miroku held his hands up in surrender. “All right . . . I'm sorry . . . I won't make light of your trouble any more, I promise.”
InuYasha didn't look like he believed Miroku but he didn't seem like he was ready to rip his head off, either. “There's gotta be a way to make these damn dreams stop,” InuYasha grumbled.
Miroku pondered that as he stared at the sliver of a moon in the sky. “It is hard to say if you have no idea what might have started it. Tell me again, exactly what you were doing the day you first started having these dreams.”
InuYasha didn't look like he was going to comply. Finally he nodded and rubbed his forehead with a clawed hand. “It was the day I found her cave.”
He nodded again. “The same woman I smelled in the dead sage's hut. I smelled her there, too, and . . . others. Like a hundred of them were born in that cave. Her cocoon was different though . . . it smelled different . . .” Thinking back, InuYasha slowly recounted the entire thing, from when he entered the cave until he smashed the evil pedestal.
Miroku held up a hand. “Wait . . . This powder in her cocoon . . . did you get any on your face?”
“Hell, no! Do you think I'm stupid?”
“Of course not . . .”
“Keh. I washed it off.”
Miroku frowned. “I've heard of some youkai . . . shape shifters, mostly butterflies and some moths . . . remember the Forest of Grief?”
InuYasha snorted. “Yes, monk, yes!”
“Then you remember the power of illusion the moth youkai possesses?”
“So . . . you said this woman emerged from a cocoon . . . Could she be a butterfly youkai? I'd have to ask Sango, but I'm sure I've heard that they contain powers of illusion in their dust . . . and . . .”
InuYasha nodded slowly. “And I touched it . . . but I washed it off my hands . . .”
Miroku shook his head. “But did you get it on anything else? Your sleeve, perhaps?”
InuYasha started to scoff at that then sat up straight. “I . . . washed my face . . . and I dried it on my sleeve . . . the same arm I reached into the cocoon with . . . Oh, fuck! Are you saying I did this to my damn self?”
“Let's not jump to any hasty conclusions . . . maybe Kaede knows something, and if it is butterfly powder, maybe she knows of a way to rid you of the toxins.”
InuYasha opened his mouth to say something then stopped, flattening his ears against his head as he let his chin drop, staring at his hands.
Miroku knew that look. He waited a few moments before asking the requisite question. “What's bothering you?”
InuYasha shifted his eyes to the side to stare at Miroku. “I don't want to tell Kagome, if I don't have to.”
For once, Miroku could understand InuYasha's reluctance. He didn't think that he'd want to have to tell Sango if he were having those sorts of dreams, either, especially before he had told Sango how he felt about her . . . The only trouble was, it would make finding some sort of solution even more difficult . . . “If you do have to tell her, it would undoubtedly be best coming from you . . . alone.”
InuYasha looked like he was going to argue it. In the end, he sighed. “I'm going to have to tell her, ain't I?”
Miroku winced. “I, uh . . . yeah . . . I think so.”
“Maybe Sango can tell me more about these butterfly youkai.”
Miroku sighed. Sango might be able to tell them more, but . . . he could also swear that he'd heard before that the toxin, if left in the system, couldn't be cured . . . Of course, he'd bite off his own tongue before he told InuYasha that . . .
Sango shook her head slowly, glancing from Miroku to InuYasha and back again. “This isn't good,” she finally admitted. “Butterfly youkai . . . if that's what it is . . . InuYasha . . .”
He shook his head. “I don't get it . . . if I was subjected to the powder that way; it was only the one time. The fire rat cleans and fixes itself, so—”
“That's what I'm trying to tell you,” the exterminator cut in. You only have to be subjected to it once, and the effects, if you don't get an antidote right away . . . they're irreversible . . .”
“What?” InuYasha bellowed as he shot to his feet.
“Depending on the youkai . . .” Sango trailed off as she shrugged and set aside the tiny kimono she was sewing. “What, exactly, are your side effects?”
To her surprise, InuYasha flushed deep crimson. “Never fucking mind . . . how long until it becomes irreversible?”
Sango shook her head. “The sooner the better . . . how long have you had . . . whatever symptoms you have?”
“Too damn long,” he muttered under his breath. “Over six months.”
Sango's eyebrows shot up in unabashed surprise. “Oh . . . it might be too late then . . . perhaps Kaede can do something . . . the antidote that I learned could only be used within the first week of exposure . . . . Why didn't you tell us before now?”
“Tell you what? I didn't fucking know!” InuYasha flattened his ears against his scalp and almost whined. “There's gotta be something,” he growled as he paced the hut.
“Surely it can't be that bad, InuYasha . . . most butterfly youkai's effects are actually pleasant.”
InuYasha slowly turned to pin the exterminator with a menacing glower. “The fuck they are.”
Miroku coughed. “Well, InuYasha, should we go speak to Kaede?”
Sango got up to follow. InuYasha pointed a finger at her. “Not you.”
She sank back down and frowned. “Is it that bad?”
Miroku flinched as InuYasha stomped out the door. “You have no idea.” With an apologetic nod, he followed InuYasha outside.
“If Sango's right . . .” InuYasha said, his voice weary, full of dread.
Miroku had to agree. As much as InuYasha dreaded the night, the dreams really were taking a toll on him, and as strong as InuYasha was, even Miroku had to wonder just how much more the hanyou could endure before he couldn't stand anymore. “Kagome won't be back until this evening, right? Maybe we can figure something out before then.”
InuYasha looked like he didn't quite believe Miroku. “Maybe.”
Shippou hopped up onto InuYasha's shoulder when he brushed aside the bamboo mat that covered the doorway. Ichisaru monkey'ed his way up to InuYasha's other shoulder while the hanyou glared at each of them in turn. “Do you mind?” he snapped.
“InuYasha!” Shippou greeted happily. “I drew a picture of you and Kagome . . . want to see it?”
“Later, runt,” InuYasha growled as he pulled the children off of him. “Go wait for Kagome, will ya?”
Ichisaru giggled and hopped up and down near InuYasha's feet. “Kagome!” he squealed as he skittered toward the door.
“Attack her for pocky and die!” InuYasha hollered after them. Shippou waved back over his shoulder and kept running. “Those two are menaces,” he grumbled as he sat down by the fire pit.
Miroku bowed to the old miko and knelt beside InuYasha. “Kaede . . . what do you know of butterfly toxin?”
Kaede glanced up from the herbal powder she was smashing around with a mortar and pestle. “Butterfly toxin? Hmm . . . Most of the time, the toxin is harmless enough not to worry about curing . . . in the instances where the affects are worse, however, the remedy must be given within the first few days after the contact.”
InuYasha scraped his claws over the plant floor. “What about if it doesn't get treated right away?”
Kaede set the mortar aside and stared at the hanyou. “The longer it is left untreated, the more irreversible the affliction becomes.”
“How long before it becomes untreatable?” Miroku asked.
“A month? Less?” Her gaze fixed on InuYasha. “Have ye been exposed to the toxin, InuYasha?”
“Are you saying nothing can reverse it?” InuYasha growled, ignoring the miko's question.
“Butterfly youkai are mischievous by nature but are relatively harmless . . . most of the time, the cure is worse than the ailment.”
“But can it be reversed?”
Kaede sat back, folding her arms together as she considered InuYasha's question. “The only way to completely reverse it is to kill the butterfly whose toxin ye've been subjected to. There may be ways to subdue the toxin, if need be . . . what sort of ailment do ye suffer?”
Miroku cleared his throat. “InuYasha . . . I think you may have to tell Kagome. If you'd rather . . . I could explain things to Kaede.”
InuYasha sighed and stood, turning away as his face darkened in color. “Fine,” he snapped. Ears drooping, he stomped back outside.
Miroku turned to Kaede. “We think the reason that InuYasha thought Kagome attacked Kikyou was because of that toxin. For some reason, InuYasha really thought it was her. He said she even smelled like Kagome . . . and there have been other things, as well.”
For once, Miroku wasn't inclined to laugh at his friend. As difficult as it had been for InuYasha to confide in Miroku to start with, the monk only understood too well the absolute desperation that had brought the confession out of InuYasha to start with. “He's been suffering dreams about himself and Kagome. From what he said, it's every night for over six months.”
Miroku nodded. “More like . . . fantasies, I've gathered . . .”
Kaede nodded slowly. “Oh . . .”
“What is it?”
“There's another way to subdue the effects of the toxin. It may remedy the dreams but it will not break the curse.”
Miroku nodded slowly. “What does it involve?”
Kaede took up her pestle and mortar again. “It's a simple process, a mixing of their blood.”
Miroku made a face. Knowing InuYasha and how violently opposed he was to any sort of injury to the young miko, this process might be a little more complex than Kaede thought.
Sitting at the Bone Eater's Well, InuYasha heaved another sigh and shook his head. “InuYasha, is she here yet?”
“Do you see her, brat?” he growled as the monkey youkai hopped onto the side the well.
Leaning over to peer down into the darkness, Ichisaru shook his head. “I don't understand . . . how does she go through here? There's nothing down there, right? Just bones and . . . stuff . . .”
“If you fall in, I ain't going after you,” InuYasha warned as the monkey leaned over even further.
Ichisaru sat up and stared at InuYasha. “InuYasha . . . is Kagome your mate?”
“Shippou says she is but that you just haven't told her yet.”
“Shippou needs to be thumped.”
Ichisaru looked distressed at InuYasha's harsh assessment. “I'm sorry, InuYasha! Don't be mad! Monkey shake!” Hopping around on the ledge, InuYasha's eyes widened as the monkey shook his rear in the hanyou's face. Without a second thought, he reached over and whacked the youngster over the head.
“Ow!” Ichisaru shrieked. “That wasn't nice! Sango said it isn't nice to hit!”
“Yeah? Did Sango tell you it ain't nice to shake your ass in other people's faces?”
Ichisaru stood up and rubbed his sore head. “I was promising not to mention you and Kagome being mates, that's all.”
InuYasha rolled his eyes.
“InuYasha! You're not supposed to hit Ichisaru!” Shippou scolded as he skittered over to them. “Just ignore him. He's only mad because Kagome went back to her time.”
The eruption of light in the bottom of the well interrupted InuYasha's tirade. With an inward flinch, InuYasha waited for Kagome to climb up.
“Kagome!” Shippou hollered down. “Did you bring me pocky?”
Kagome's soft laughter drifted out of the well. Soothing the frayed edges of InuYasha's raw nerves, he drew a deep breath and waited. “I sure did, but you have to share with Ichisaru . . . no hogging it all for yourself.”
“All right,” Shippou agreed.
InuYasha caught Kagome's hands and carefully dragged her out of the well before standing her on her feet in the thick blanket of snow. “Oi, wench . . . took you long enough.”
She wrinkled her nose at him as she dug into the backpack for the pocky. “I missed you, too, InuYasha,” she murmured distractedly. Dragging out two boxes of the chocolate covered treat, she giggled softly as the two children squealed in delight as they grabbed them and ran off, cackling in giddy happiness.
“Doesn't take much to please them,” she commented.
She turned to face him, a timid smile on her face. “You waited for me.”
“Yeah . . . Kagome . . . I need to tell you something . . .”
Frowning at the foreboding in his tone, Kagome cautiously nodded and tried to brush off the feeling that she might not want to hear whatever it was he wanted to say. “All right . . .”
He could feel his face warming under her gentle perusal. The worry evident in her expression only made it that much worse. `Ah, hell . . . how am I supposed to tell her . . . ?' The longer it took him to speak, the more worried Kagome grew. There wasn't a good way, damn it . . . Was it possible to die of flat-out humiliation?
“You're starting to scare me,” she finally said, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had fallen.
InuYasha shook his head, jamming his arms together inside the folds of his haori. `Just say it, baka!'
`Easier said than done,' he thought with a wry grimace as he started walking back toward the village. Kagome followed. “Uh . . . when I went away to look for some answers, I found a cave. I didn't know at the time, but . . . I think she is a butterfly youkai, and I got some of her illusion powder on my sleeve, only I didn't know it.”
“Illusion powder? What does that do?”
He tried to shrug in a nonchalant way. Kagome's frown deepened, and he knew his gesture had failed. “You remember that night in Bokuseno's forest?”
Kagome's skin reddened almost instantly which didn't really help to assuage InuYasha's discomfort at all, especially when the unmistakable change in her scent hit him seconds later. `Yeah . . . she remembers it, too . . .'
Forcing himself to ignore the lure of her body on his, InuYasha cleared his throat and tried to remember that this was important, and he really did have to tell her . . . “That was . . . the toxin . . . I've been having these dreams, and . . .”
“That's why you . . .” trailing off as her hands flew up to cover her mouth, she stepped back in retreat as a veil of pain fell over her eyes. Instinctively, he caught her arms, pulled her against his chest. He wasn't sure how he knew but somehow he could tell that if he let go of her now, if he let her run away, he'd lose her forever . . . and that was something he didn't dare consider.
“No . . . the dreams didn't make me want to . . .” he sighed and shook his head, wishing this was just a little easier than it really was. “The dreams have always been about you . . . that's why she was able to take your form . . . because it was you.”
The dread, the fear that spawned in the depths of her gaze wrenched at him. He grimaced. “It wasn't . . . ?”
He shook his head again, slowly this time, staring into her eyes, trying to make her understand what he still couldn't say.
“But you said—”
“Keh! I know what the fuck I said, wench . . . I don't know why she showed up, but it wasn't . . . I never . . . damn it.”
Kagome sighed softly, shaking her head and closing her eyes just for a moment. “It wasn't that you said her name . . . it was that you never said . . . mine.”
“Kagome . . .”
She sighed and rubbed her temples as she tried to make sense of his half-sentences and unfinished statements. “I know what I heard.”
“And I know what I dreamed, and I promise you it wasn't Kikyou I was—well, it wasn't, that's all.”
He could feel her gaze on him, as if she were trying to read his mind. Finally she sighed and shrugged offhandedly. “Why didn't you tell me before?”
“Keh,” he snorted, as though he believed she should have known the answer to that question. She sighed, and he had the feeling that she did. “Kaede said that there might be a way to suppress the toxin, but I . . . I wanted to tell you, first.”
He let go of her and started walking again. “What?”
She hurried to walk beside him. “Thank you for telling me.”
He winced. He hadn't told her even half of it . . . and if he had his way about it, he wouldn't be telling her any more of it, either . . .
She slipped her hand into his as they walked along. Staring down at her tiny hand, he allowed himself a little smile, and he gently squeezed.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Kagome:
… I just don't know what to do with that information …
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.