InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Aftermath ( Chapter 29 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
The rain splattered against the window pane as Kagome stared at the gray skies, the dull world. Mounds of dingy old snow still stubbornly clung to the street corners, piled from numerous plowings, dirty and sad and depressed. `It's not supposed to rain in February,' she thought with a grimacing twist of the lips. Meant to be a smile, the gesture seemed stunted, false, completely at odds with the melancholy that she just couldn't shake.
With a sigh, she hugged her knees tighter to her now-flat stomach. There weren't any lingering reminders of the child she carried for the last nine months. A bit of loose skin on her stomach that her mother had assured her would tighten back up if she exercised, a trace amount of bleeding, and the fullness in her breasts she still endured, there were no other reminders.
Sango and Miroku's faces flashed through her mind. The happiness in their expressions as they stared down at their newborn daughter had somehow hurt Kagome. Fast on the heels of that was the pang that she was being completely selfish. How could she be anything but happy for her friends, who had wanted this baby for so long? Did that make her a monster? Or worse? How could she feel that way when she had known all along that the baby wasn't really hers? Maybe, somewhere along the way, she'd forgotten . . . or maybe it just hadn't been completely real until Kaede had held up the baby and had given her to her mother—to Sango.
Kagome frowned as she stared out the window, hand pressed against the cold, unforgiving pane of glass. Strange, how she felt so . . . empty, so lost, and so completely alone . . .
Sango's soft question came back to her, the question she hadn't expected—the one she had to force herself to answer.
“Do you want to hold her, Kagome?”
Still lying on the pallet with InuYasha's arms wrapped around her as everyone fussed over the baby, Kagome shook her head quickly, managed a weak smile. `Don't do it, Kagome . . . if you hold her . . .' her thought trailed off, as though she feared finishing it, even in her head. “You should,” she forced herself to say. “I'm . . . really tired.” InuYasha had tightened his arms around her. Maybe he understood.
She watched in silence as the argument over the baby's name had begun. For reasons that Kagome didn't want to think about, it made her angry. “Why are they arguing?” she mumbled quietly, struggling to sit up, wanting to stop them. InuYasha caught her, gently pulled her back, a strangely soothing rumble coming from deep in his chest, a sound she'd never heard before. `She's just born, and you're fighting over her name . . .'
“Do you want me to take you home now?”
Startled out of her reverie, Kagome blinked and turned to stare up into InuYasha's concerned gaze. He did know, didn't he? He understood what she needed, how difficult this was for her. Unable to speak past the growing lump in her throat, Kagome nodded as she fought to blink back tears. `Home,' she thought with an inward grimace. `Mama . . .'
If anyone noticed as InuYasha stood, gathered Kagome up, wrapped in blankets with his haori still draped over her, they didn't comment. Without a word, he strode out of the hut and into the night with Kagome in his arms, the low rumble the only sound that permeated the fog of numbness that was gathering mercifully over Kagome's overwhelmed emotions.
He broke into a sprint as he neared the forest. Kagome sighed. “InuYasha? Will you walk?”
Staring down at her in the semi-darkness, InuYasha nodded once and slowed his gait. He didn't speak as he carried her through the forest. Perhaps he knew that somewhere deep inside, Kagome's heart was breaking. In all the time that she'd carried the baby, she'd tried to convince herself that she would be happy to do this, and she was. It still didn't replace the feeling that she, too, had somehow lost her child, and maybe in that, she could understand Sango's ultimate heartache.
“They're happy, aren't they?” she finally mumbled as InuYasha stepped out of the forest into the meadow near the Bone Eater's Well.
InuYasha sighed. “Yeah, they are.”
“And they'll love her.”
He didn't answer. When Kagome leaned away to look up at him, she was shocked to see that his eyes were abnormally bright. “They'll love her,” he agreed softly.
“InuYasha? What's wrong?”
His smile was pained, tight. Carefully cradling her in one arm almost as though she were no more than a baby, he dug the vial out of his undershirt and held it out to her. Despite her exhaustion, she shook the vial ten times. He did, too, before slipping it back into his haori and readjusting his hold on her. “Nothing. Go to sleep. I know you're tired. I'll put you to bed when we get to the shrine.”
“Kagome? Are you feeling all right?”
Hurriedly dashing the back of her hand across her face, Kagome turned away from the window and smiled at her mother. “Yeah, much better.
Mrs. Higurashi smiled back. “You look better.” She stepped into the small bedroom and closed the door quietly. “You know . . . InuYasha is worried about you.”
Kagome sighed. “I know.”
“Have you talked to him? Since the night he brought you home?”
Kagome swallowed hard, toying with the hem of her blouse. “Not much. I . . . I guess I haven't had that much to say.”
“I knew this would be hard for you. You can't help loving people. It's your strength, Kagome. Sometimes, though, I think maybe it's your weakness, too.” Her mother pushed her bangs out of her eyes and lifted Kagome's chin with her other hand. “Are you going to stay here forever? Don't you want to see the baby at all?”
Kagome couldn't meet her mother's gaze. “I'll go back,” she assured her. “It's just hard.”
“I know. I'll bet your friends miss you, and you know you'll still be a huge part of that baby's life.”
Kagome nodded. “I know. I want to be. I just feel like . . . like I don't have the right to feel this way. I chose this, right?”
“You chose it but you have the right to feel however you need to feel. But I know that if you'd let him, InuYasha wants to help you.” Mrs. Higurashi kissed Kagome's forehead and gave her a quick hug. “Besides that, I think he's driving your grandfather insane.”
“Where is he?”
Mrs. Higurashi sighed as she reached for the doorknob. “Right now? He's taken over the remote control for the television, and he refuses to let Grandpa watch the news.”
Kagome made a face. “Oh . . . that's not good.”
Mrs. Higurashi winced. “Shall I send him up?”
Kagome sighed but nodded as she stood and moved over to her bed before InuYasha started bellowing about `where she belonged' while she `recovered'.
She wasn't surprised moments later when InuYasha strode into her room. “How long are you going to stay in that bed?” he grumbled as he knelt beside her.
“It's only been three days,” she pointed out. “I've been up. I just figured you'd yell at me if you caught me out of bed.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Keh. Think you know me so well, do you?”
She shrugged. “Don't I?”
Staring at her with his narrowed gaze, InuYasha turned serious. “If you want to stay here longer, it's fine.”
“I can't stay here forever.”
He nodded. “Maybe not. You're not one to hide from your problems, wench.”
She reached over, caught one of his ears. For once he didn't try to duck out of her reach. She contented herself by rubbing the fuzzy appendage. “I think . . . I think I made a mistake,” she admitted, her voice barely a whisper in the quiet room. “I knew it'd be hard, but . . .”
InuYasha's eyes rose to lock with hers but he didn't move his head. Gaze probing, searching her own for traces of truth, he shook his head slowly, arguing with her unspoken condemnations. “Kagome . . . don't do this to yourself, okay?”
Her smile faded as she looked away only to stare at him again when he leaned back and uttered a soft growling sound. Not a mean or angry resonance, Kagome fleetingly thought it sounded more like a lament. “I'm not trying to . . .”
“Sango and Miroku said they miss you.”
She nodded. She hadn't realized he'd gone back in the last few days “Are they happy?”
“They'll be happier after they see you.”
“They named her Marisaiko,” he told her.
“You've seen her?” Kagome hesitantly asked.
InuYasha nodded slowly.
Kagome digested that in silence. She wanted to ask about her but almost afraid of his answer. Swallowing hard, she forced herself to speak. “Is she . . . what does she . . . ?”
InuYasha snorted. “Keh. She looks like that damn monk, if that's what you're asking. I mean, she's all wrinkly and red-faced . . . sorta like Miroku after he plays touchy-feely with Sango . . .”
Kagome rolled her eyes but smiled. “Baka . . . babies are supposed to look like that.”
“Keh, I didn't want you to do this, in the first place . . .”
She winced. She couldn't help it. Was he really about to bash her over the head with `I told you so's'? “InuYasha—”
“Just listen . . . this is hard for me,” he interrupted with a shake of his head. “I can't . . . it hurts to see you so sad, and I can't do a fucking thing to make it better . . . Kagome . . .”
She knew what he meant. Didn't it hurt her, too, whenever he was upset? She sighed. “I'm sorry.”
“Don't be sorry. What you did for them . . . I don't know anyone who could do that, and . . .” he trailed off with a heavy sigh as he shook his head, ears drooping just a little. “I know I couldn't have done that, if I were you.”
Her smile was thin, her laugh was sad. “No . . . you just risk your life for me, for us . . .”
He shook his head, gaze challenging, daring. “That's not a big thing,” he argued. “If I don't, then I really am worthless.”
Kagome reached out, brushed his hair out of his face as she stared into his eyes. “Don't say that, okay? Because . . . because you're not worthless to me.”
“I'll go back soon. I just want to deal with a few things, first.”
He stood up and lifted her before settling on her bed and arranging her between his raised knees. Pulling her back against his chest, InuYasha seemed to realize how alone she felt. As though he were trying to reassure her but didn't know quite what to say, he just held her, and it was enough.
“I want to be happy. I want to be proud of myself,” Kagome said quietly. “I think . . . if I see how happy they are . . . I think that'll help.”
She didn't hear him sigh but his breath stirred her hair. “Just think of the stuff you said you couldn't do that you missed.”
“Like . . . seeing your feet?”
She nudged him with her shoulder. “Baka.”
“Traveling for more than five minutes without making me stop.”
She peeked up at him, her expression carefully unimpressed. “You're pushing your luck.”
“Keh. You can ride on my back instead of my having to carry you everywhere.”
“I could have walked,” she complained but giggled despite herself.
“I dunno . . .” he teased. “I was about ready to put you down and roll you around.”
“InuYasha!” she gasped but laughed.
She craned her neck back to stare at up at him. “What is?”
He shook his head. “Hearing you laugh again.”
Kagome relaxed. “Thank you,” she said softly as she wrapped her arms over InuYasha's protective hold.
Shoving the vial into her hand, he wrapped his fingers over hers to shake the bottle together. “Go to sleep, wench. You're tired.”
Kagome fell asleep with a slight smile on her lips.
`I'll kill that damn dog-shit!' Kouga thought as he darted through the canyon. With an angry grimace, he sped up a little bit more.
Against his better judgment, he had let Kagome go back to that bastard. She insisted that she had to hide things until the pup was born. Then, she claimed, she would be free to leave with him.
“You can't go back there . . . that stupid baka won't leave you alone, I know it,” Kouga said, holding onto Kagome's hand.
She placed her free hand gently against his cheek, smiled at him in that quiet yet brave way of hers. “I'll be fine . . . he won't hurt me as long as I'm carrying this baby.”
“I'll protect you . . . we can take the baby to them after it's born,” Kouga insisted.
“Do it my way, Kouga . . . I want him to suffer—truly suffer . . .” Her words trailed off as she pressed her lips against his neck, teasing his skin with her mouth, with her tongue. the scent of her arousal broke over him, thick, heady, as her small hand slipped down his chest, lower and lower until she grasped him through his clothes.
She shushed him with a finger pressed to his lips. “I'm sick of him taking me for granted; I'm tired of being nothing more than his jewel detector. I want to be free of him, and I want you. Please . . .”
How could he resist her entreaties? From the moment he'd laid eyes on her, he had wanted to possess her. Something about her spirit spoke to him. He nodded slowly. “All right, we'll do this your way.”
Now Kouga was going to get his woman. InuYasha was going to regret the day he'd been born, if Kouga had anything to say about it. InuYasha's days were numbered . . .
A grim determination sparked behind Kouga's sapphire gaze. Flashing like jewels in the sunlight, the wolf youkai's eyes scanned his surroundings as he blazed a trail into the forest. `How could I be such a fool? I've left her alone with that miserable dog for far too long! He'd better keep his fucking paws off her . . .'
Forcing himself on her was unforgivable. Leaving his disgusting stench on her was enough to drive Kouga near the brink. If he hadn't been sure before of Kagome's feelings, he was now. She had assured him of that, hadn't she?
The dreams he had of her were nothing in comparison. Her hot body pressed against his was still too fresh in his mind, and the way she'd kissed him . . .
`I'm coming for you, Kagome . . . I'll bring you home after I kill InuYasha . . .'
“Are you sure you're ready to do this?”
Kagome nodded and wrapped her arms tighter around InuYasha's neck as he carefully held her in his arms. Sprinting through the forest, the sound of his haori sleeves flapping in the wind, InuYasha glanced down at her before he pushed off the ground to sail over the trees. “I'm sure . . . I'm okay now.”
He didn't reply as they neared the edge of the forest and headed for the village.
“Thank you for staying with me,” she ventured as he slowed just a little on the outskirts of the village.
“Keh. Like I wouldn't have,” he remarked.
She shrugged. “I know you don't like my time that much,” she answered. “So it means a lot to me that you did.”
InuYasha flushed. “You had to shake the vial, remember?”
She narrowed her gaze but couldn't hide her smile. “Well, you could have just stayed the night and left during the day, and you didn't.”
“Hush, wench. You'll tire yourself out.”
She made a face. “I had a baby, not a near death experience,” she retorted.
“Keh. If that lecher asks, there will be no more pups unless he finds another wench to carry `em.”
Kagome giggled and reached up to catch InuYasha's ear. He tried to duck away. It didn't work. “I love rubbing your ears,” she commented happily.
InuYasha rolled his eyes and set Kagome on her feet outside Sango and Miroku's hut. “You ready?”
Kagome drew a deep breath and nodded.
“Kagome!” Shippou squealed as he shot across the floor and hopped up into her arms.
Kagome giggled at the kitsune and ruffled his hair as InuYasha glowered at the child. Catching the hanyou's disgruntlement, she quickly turned away before InuYasha decided he needed to thump Shippou for his overzealous greeting.
“Kagome!” Sango greeted with a smile as she hurried over to hug her friend. “I was worried! How are you?”
“I'm fine . . . I just needed to recuperate a little.”
The reluctance on Sango's face slowly receded as she squeezed Kagome's shoulders again.
Miroku rose slowly with a small bundle in his arms. Approaching slowly, as though he wasn't sure how Kagome would react, he tried to smile as his eyes brightened suspiciously. “Would you like to hold her?”
Kagome shot InuYasha a quick glance. InuYasha understood and moved in closer as Shippou hopped down and attacked the backpack that InuYasha had set beside the door.
Kagome wasn't sure what she expected as she accepted the warm bundle. Pushing the blanket aside and staring down at the tiny face, the large violet eyes that stared back at her so seriously, she felt tears rising to blind her, and they were tears of happiness. “Oh, she's lovely,” Kagome managed, her voice trembling as she stroked the girl's cheek. “She does look like you, Miroku . . .”
Miroku made a face but grinned as he slipped an arm around Sango.
Marisaiko whined softly, obviously realizing that she was not being held by someone she was familiar with. The idea sent a pang through Kagome. She forced it back as she kissed the girl's forehead and gave her over to Sango. InuYasha squeezed her shoulder gently. Sometimes it amazed her, how well he knew what she needed.
“Wow, Kagome . . . you got skinny fast,” Ichisaru remarked as he swung around his pocky-filled fists.
Kagome laughed. “Maybe not skinny, but thank you, Ichisaru.”
Miroku hugged Kagome. “Thank you,” he murmured. “Every time I look at her, I'm amazed at what you've done for us.”
“Keh. Just don't expect her to bear any more of your pups,” InuYasha snorted. Kagome rolled her eyes as she moved over to kneel down beside Sango.
“Would you like to feed her, Kagome?” Sango asked as she offered her a smile.
Kagome drew back with a soft gasp then shook her head quickly. For some reason, the thought of feeding Marisaiko brought to mind the image of her, cradling the baby against her breast. “Oh, uh, no . . . it says in the books that it's best for the parents to do that, at least at first . . . Bonding . . .”
Sango's smile faded, and she looked like she wanted to say something. In the end she nodded. “Kagome, there's nothing I can do to show you how much Marisaiko means to me, and even more so because you gave her to us. Thank you.”
Kagome nodded and smiled though she was sure that Sango could see through it. Conflicting emotions warred inside her. Most of them were good, warm, positive. She'd be lying, though, if she didn't admit, at least to herself, that it hurt just a little to see Sango holding Marisaiko.
Still, it occurred to her that she'd never seen her friends quite so happy, either, and despite whatever other feelings she had, Kagome couldn't help but feel a sense of well-being that she had been able to help them have the child they so desperately wanted. Maybe it would take awhile before she could get over her misplaced feelings of loss or even twinges of regret that nagged at her now and again. In the end . . . she smiled sadly. `They look good together . . . they look so . . . content.'
InuYasha sank down behind Kagome against the wall, arms wrapped around Tetsusaiga. She could feel his gaze on her. She remained silent as Miroku and Sango filled her in on the first two weeks with their new daughter. Shippou crawled onto Kagome's lap while Ichisaru made himself comfortable on Miroku's shoulder, picking through the monk's hair.
Kagome grinned when the monkey youkai made a disgusted face and hopped down before skittering over to InuYasha, who stopped him with a hand to the monkey's head. “Groom me and die,” he warned. He caught her gaze and slowly, casually stretched out behind her. Lying on his side, he moved closer to her, his proximity a silent reminder that she wasn't alone after all.
Kagome shot him a grateful smile as he drummed his claws against the wooden plank floor.
Sango finished burping the baby then suddenly glanced over at InuYasha. “Do you want to hold her?” she asked with a smile.
Kagome stifled her laughter as the hanyou's ears flattened and he shot into a crouch on her other side. “Hell, no!”
Miroku chuckled. “She doesn't bite, InuYasha.”
Kagome turned to stare at him. “Scared of babies?” she asked quizzically.
He snorted but remained where he was, ducking down behind her as the others laughed. “Keh!” he scoffed though the way he leaned to the side to peek around Kagome said otherwise. “I ain't afraid of her!” He caught her amused look and grimaced. “I'm not!”
Kagome leaned toward him. “Maybe when she gets bigger and doesn't seem so fragile?”
Blinking in surprise, InuYasha nodded slowly. “Something like that,” he agreed.
“They look good together, like a real family,” Kagome commented with a smile.
“You okay, wench?” he asked quietly.
Kagome considered his question as her smile brightened just a little. “Yeah . . . I think I am . . .”
Marisaiko: Infinite beloved.
MARISE: infinite; endless —— AIKO: little love; beloved.
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Final Thought from Kagome:
What do I do now?
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.