InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Discontent ( Chapter 40 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
InuYasha knelt on the branch as Old Seer's words echoed through his head. `What you should believe is that perhaps . . . you are everything, both human and youkai. Your humanity allows you to feel. Your youkai allows you to protect, and that makes you everything.'
Staring over the treetops at the setting sun, he shook his head and scowled. `Keh. Crazy old woman. She don't know what she's talking about . . . I've been told often enough: worthless, nothing, tainted . . . What kind of life could I offer Kagome?'
Peeking down through the branches of the thick tree, InuYasha nearly smiled as Kagome started to hitch herself up on the lower branches.
“You know, you could offer me a hand or something,” she pointed out as she continued to climb.
“You're doing all right,” he remarked.
She grunted as she flopped over a branch and managed to finagle her legs up, too. “Ugh . . . they say chivalry is dead in my time, but I think it died about five hundred years before.”
He did chuckle as she leaned on the tree to steady herself as she stood up and caught the branch he was sitting on. InuYasha gave in and caught her arms to pull her up beside him. “I'd have come down after you if you'd have asked.”
Kagome examined a tiny scratch on her knee. “Look what you made me do,” she accused.
“Keh! You'll live. I told you, if you'd have asked . . .”
She shook her head and let her leg drop again.
InuYasha wrinkled his nose as the trace scent of blood surged in his nostrils. With a sigh, he gathered her up and hopped down. Settling her against the tree, he grabbed her bag and dragged out the first aid kit.
“I don't need that,” she pointed out as he dug through it for the antibacterial ointment, an alcohol swab and a huge bandage. “And I definitely don't need that,” she said, nodding at the oversized patch in his hand.
“Hush, I'm workin' here.”
Kagome grabbed the kit off the ground and dug out a small flex-strip bandage. “Here . . . this is more than enough. I don't even need that.”
He took the tiny bandage and tossed it back into the box. “I'll use this, thanks.”
Kagome rolled her eyes but didn't complain as he dabbed at the barely-there scratch with the wipe before smearing nearly half of the tube of ointment on her and gently positioning the gauze pad. He wrapped the bandaging material around her knee about ten times and used his teeth to tear the bandage. Patting it into place and tilting his head from side to side, he examined his handiwork before quickly leaning forward to kiss the tip of her knee.
“Why'd you do that?” she asked quietly.
He blushed and avoided her questioning gaze. “My mother did that when I fell and scraped my knee once,” he admitted.
“Oh . . .” she said, eyes widening as soft emotion filled her gaze. He looked up, caught the expression, and slowly blinked. “Thank you.”
He swallowed hard and shook his head quickly before dropping the supplies back into the kit and snapping it closed. “I'll, uh . . . I'll find something for you to eat.”
Shooting to his feet, he ran off into the forest as he wondered if she knew—if she had any idea—just how badly she could devastate his senses. A simple look, a timid smile . . . InuYasha felt a tremor run up his spine and back down again. He shook his head as he broke into the clearing near the river. He'd give her anything she could possibly ask for, if he only knew what it was she wanted.
Kagome smiled as she watched InuYasha's hasty retreat. The raw emotion in his eyes set off a tremble in her belly, a suffusion of heat that coursed through her veins. Wild and beautiful, gruff and tender, he was everything to her, wasn't he?
A sudden vision, a fleeting dream of a silvery-haired child with his father's hanyou ears . . .
Kagome's smile widened as something in her heart spoke to her. `You want that, Kagome . . . but you want it all, don't you? Listen to what Old Seer told you . . .'
Those old eyes, staring at her from the wise face of the old woman could still see her, even now. `What you want would please you for a time. It also has the power to destroy that which you hope for in your heart. You know this. You must choose your path. Would you cast aside the one who brings you peace?'
She pushed herself to her feet and wandered over to drop another log on the fire before setting a pan of water to heat and unrolling her bedroll.
`That can't be true, can it? A child can't destroy InuYasha . . . or me . . . I'd never cast InuYasha aside . . .'
Preoccupying herself with stomach crunches, Kagome still had to wonder why Old Seer would warn her against that. `Maybe it's because you know he doesn't want a child, not yet . . . if ever . . . Can you blame him? Look at his life. He's been scorned and cast out . . . Not really the greatest way to convince someone to have children.'
She sat up and hooked her arms around her legs with a disgusted sigh that turned into a tender smile as she remembered the gentle care he'd used when bandaging her knee. Barely a scrape, and he'd overreacted, of course. Then again, wasn't that one of the things she adored, even if he was a little overzealous about it?
Kagome straightened up quickly and slowly got to her feet. The shifting breeze brought with it a familiar aura, youki that she recognized.
Her bow and arrows were nearby but she didn't reach for them. She didn't think she'd need them. Seconds later, Sesshoumaru stepped out of the trees. His cold gaze took in the campsite before flicking over Kagome coolly. “Miko, we meet again.”
InuYasha's arrival was announced by the rustling trees to her left, and he erupted into the clearing in a crimson streak of movement. “What do you want?”
Sesshoumaru's gaze dismissed Kagome completely as he regarded his half-brother in the same icy fashion. “InuYasha, are you not far from the safety of your forest?”
InuYasha snorted and stepped between Sesshoumaru and Kagome. “We came to see an old woman, a seer, not that it's any of your business because it ain't.”
“I care not where you wander, baka.”
InuYasha cracked his knuckles and let his hand casually rest on Tetsusaiga's hilt. “Keep it up, bastard. If you think you can stop me, feel free to try.”
Sesshoumaru's gaze narrowed. Kagome stepped around InuYasha. “We were trying to find out why we haven't been able to purify the Shikon no Tama yet,” she explained.
“That is none of my concern,” Sesshoumaru rebutted. “I have no interest in that tainted artifact.”
“Keh. Whatever,” InuYasha snorted. “Then what the hell do you want?”
“I seek someone, if you must know,” Sesshoumaru admitted as he shifted his gaze around the small clearing.
“Do we know this person?” Kagome asked before InuYasha could tell Sesshoumaru how much he didn't care.
“Forget it, Kagome. Who cares who he's lookin' for?”
Kagome rolled her eyes. “Still, if we know him or her . . .”
InuYasha pursed his lips and dragged Kagome back behind him. Sesshoumaru turned back to stare at the two of them as his gaze narrowed, as his nostrils flared. “Miko . . . you've whelped a pup yet you remain pure . . . how can this be so?”
Kagome grimaced as InuYasha shoved her further behind his back. “None of your business, bastard, now go away before I decide to hack off your other arm.”
Sesshoumaru dismissed InuYasha as though he were nothing more than dirt in the path. “Disgusting. You're beginning to reek of that baka, Miko. I suggest you wash off the stench before it taints you, as well.”
“Taint this, bastard!” InuYasha growled, drawing Tetsusaiga in a flash of light.
Sesshoumaru shook his head. “I have not the time to trifle with you, InuYasha. Why is it that your kind always seeks to meddle in the affairs of others?”
“My kind?” InuYasha echoed. “What the hell does that mean?”
“What, indeed?” Sesshoumaru scoffed as he turned on his heel and strode back into the dense foliage.
InuYasha growled as he watched his brother leave before dropping Tetsusaiga into its sheathe. “I fucking hate him.”
“That seemed stranger than usual, didn't it?” Kagome remarked as she peeked around InuYasha to watch Sesshoumaru's retreat.
“My kind, huh?”
“What do you think he meant by that?”
InuYasha turned to glare at her. “What do you think, wench? Hanyou, of course.”
Kagome shook her head. “Still it was odd.”
InuYasha shrugged and stomped back toward the forest to retrieve the fish he'd dropped there.
Kagome didn't speak as she washed off the fish and skewered them on sticks to cook. `Hanyou . . . has Sesshoumaru met another? There aren't that many around . . . Shiori and Jinenji, and I'm sure there are a few others, but . . . What was he talking about?'
InuYasha knelt down beside her and took one of the skewers to hold over the fire. Their hands brushed, and Kagome hid her smile as his cheeks reddened. Her heart seemed to skip a beat when he slowly, deliberately let his hand brush hers again.
“Did Old Seer tell you anything else about the jewel?” Kagome asked, unable to think of anything else to say.
She sighed. “We're no closer to figuring it out than we ever were . . . at least we know why we haven't been able to purify it yet.” Turning her fish, Kagome shook her head. “It doesn't make sense, though, does it? No one else had the jewel.”
InuYasha scowled. “Keh.”
Kagome nodded and nudged him with her shoulder. “Maybe Miroku or Kaede will have an idea.”
InuYasha didn't look convinced. “Maybe.”
Kagome finished grilling her fish and glanced at InuYasha's. It was burned nearly black on one side and the stench of the burning meat was quickly filling the air. She turned to see why InuYasha hadn't noticed only to find him staring at her, an almost puzzled expression on his face, a mix of confusion and something she couldn't quite place. “InuYasha?”
He didn't reply. He didn't even seem to notice that she was staring right back at him. Kagome felt her cheeks flush but reached over to touch his hand. “Your fish is burning.”
“Uh? Oh . . .” He snapped out of his reverie and jerked his fish out of the flames with a wince.
Kagome tugged the stick out of his hand and stuck hers into it before smiling at him. His hanyou senses were far sharper than hers. She could stand to gnaw on the unburned side of the fish. He couldn't, and she didn't have the heart to watch him head off to catch another fish for himself, either.
He frowned at the skewered fish and reached for the stick she'd traded. Kagome scooted away and quickly bit out of the good side of hers. “Oi, wench! Give me back my fish.”
“You can't eat this one, you know you can't. It's fine. I'm not really very hungry, anyway, and this side is still good.” To illustrate her point, she took another bite.
“I'll go catch another one. It's no big deal,” he grumbled.
“This one is fine. Just eat before yours gets cold, will you?”
She started humming loudly as she slowly stripped off the good meat, ignoring the slightly burnt taste that was still prevalent in the meat.
“You can't ignore me!” InuYasha pointed out, raising his voice to be heard over her humming.
She finished her meal and tossed the stick and the remnants of the fish into the fire. Sitting back and patting her stomach with one hand, she grinned. “Ahh, I'm so full . . . can't eat another bite, even if I wanted to . . .”
InuYasha looked like he wanted to force-feed her the unburned fish.
“If I eat another bite, I think I'll be sick, I'm so-o-o full . . .” Which wasn't exactly a lie, since the taste of the burned fish was turning her stomach at the moment.
“Full of something, but it ain't this,” InuYasha grumbled but finally bit into his fish.
Kagome hid her wan smile as she dug a bottle of water out of her bag. She knew by now that the quickest way to stop InuYasha in his tracks was to threaten physical illness. `All right, so that was a little low of me . . .' she confessed to herself. `He needs it more than I do, though.'
Rooting through the bag for another bottle of water, Kagome found her vitamins and shook one out before recapping the plastic bottle and tossing InuYasha the water. He was busy eating, which was quite amusing since he still had `The Pout' on his face. She slipped the pill into her mouth and swallowed some water to force it down, wincing as the huge pill stuck in her throat.
“What was that?”
Kagome blinked and glanced at InuYasha, who had tossed his stick into the fire, too, and was now eyeing her cautiously. “What was what?”
“What did you just swallow?”
“. . . Water?”
“With the water.”
“With the water?”
He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms stubbornly over his chest as his expression darkened and he leaned forward. “Kagome . . .”
“Oh, that? That was nothing . . . a, um . . . really big swallow.”
His gaze narrowed. “Did I tell you before that you can't lie worth a damn?”
“Hmm, I think I need a bath . . .”
Kagome shot to her feet and grabbed the bag before running toward the stream as she prayed that InuYasha would leave well enough alone.
She should have known better. She did know better. InuYasha jerked the bag out of her arms, and with a last scathing glower at her, he dumped the backpack on the ground and started sifting through the contents.
He ignored her indignation as he tossed things aside. Grabbing the bottle of vitamins, InuYasha read the label slowly before sucking in his breath and slowly turning to pin her with an even more menacing glare. “What the fuck are these?”
Kagome twisted her fingers together. “. . . Vitamins.”
“Are you sick?”
“. . . No.”
“What kind of vitamins?”
“. . . Prenatal vitamins.”
The suspicious light in his gaze grew more menacing as he glared at her, daring her to lie. “Which means . . . ?”
Her fingers wiggled nervously as she pulled them apart and pushed them back together again. “You remember . . . I took those when I was . . . pregnant.”
Very slowly, very deliberately, InuYasha leaned toward her and sniffed—loudly. “I don't smell a pup on you, which is a damn good thing since I'd fucking kill anyone who made one with you . . .”
“I'm not pregnant!” she blurted, cheeks burning as she struggled to find a way out of this conversation.
“Then why do you need these?” he snarled as he shot to his feet to tower over her.
“I . . .”
“Why?” he bellowed.
“Because . . . I . . .”
“Spit it out, wench!”
“Because I want to be!” she shot back, half-sobbing, half-screeching, gaze brightened by angry tears. “I want one of my own! Don't you get it? Can't you understand that? I want—”
Why did he have to look so upset, so hurt, by her confession? “You want a pup because you gave Marisaiko to Miroku and Sango! That's what you want, and you can't do that!”
“Why can't I?”
“Because you can't replace one pup with another, damn it!”
She gasped as the color bleached out of her skin. Hands shaking, lifting to press against her lips, she keened softly as a tearless sob escaped. “Why?” she whispered as she sank slowly to her knees, arms wrapping over her stomach as though she were trying to protect herself. Pain spilled over, an ache so deep that she thought it would kill her. She felt like her heart had been ripped out of her chest as she willed tears to come. Her eyes were hot, dry, burning.
InuYasha knelt before her. “Kagome . . . you can't do it, you know? It's not the right reason.”
“Then what is?”
He winced when she looked at him, as if the pain, the questions in her gaze had the power to hurt him, too. “I don't know . . . but you can't replace someone.” His eyes fell away from hers, and he shook his head. “I know . . . I tried . . . for awhile, after Mother died . . . I tried, and it didn't work then, either.”
“What am I supposed to do?” she implored, a desperation in her voice, her stare begging him to help her. “It hurts, and I . . . I just want to fix it . . .”
InuYasha closed his eyes, slowly reached out to pull her into his arms. “I can't fix it. I'm sorry.”
And his apology, his softly uttered words, the broken sound of his statement . . . it was enough. The tears that throbbed in her throat, that burned her nose and eyes, welled up, spilled over, and InuYasha held her tight.
The emotions she'd tried so hard to bury, tried so hard to forget choked her, shredded her already broken heart. Thick, stifling, repulsive, anger warred with sadness, and sadness bled into confusion. The spiral of sentiment was a bitter thing, an ugly thing, and still it grew and grew inside her, hot and horrible. If she didn't let it out, it would destroy her . . .
He let her yell, let her scream, let her sob. Ranting and raving, weakly pounding her fists against his chest in complete misery, InuYasha held her. It didn't matter that she couldn't say anything that made any sense at all. It didn't matter that she shrieked until her voice was rasping and harsh. It didn't matter that she tried to pull away in pointless rage. He held her firmly, and when she finally relaxed against him, emotions drained to the point of nothing, InuYasha pulled her closer, letting his rumble soothe her until she wound down to sniffles and hiccups.
She straightened up. This time he let her pull away just enough to turn, to look at him. “I'm sorry . . . I didn't mean to . . . I'm sorry I hit you.”
He shook his head, his eyes full of quiet emotion. “Keh. You can't hurt me, wench. Here,” he said, handing her the vial.
She shook it and watched in silence as he did the same.
“Go lay down. I'll pick this up.”
She did as she was instructed, sighing softly as InuYasha jammed everything back into the bag. He started to sit down by the fire. Kagome leaned up on her elbow. “InuYasha?”
He stopped and peeked over at her.
“Would you . . . ? It's safe, right? Since we both shook the talisman?”
He understood her unasked question. Rising slowly, he came to her, stretched out beside her and drew her back into his arms again before pressing a kiss on her forehead.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“Go to sleep, wench.”
She closed her eyes.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Sesshoumaru:
…InuYasha no baka … allowing himself to fall prey to Hisadaicho's toxin …
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.