InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Confronting Madness ( Chapter 49 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
“You're sure this is the place, ape-shit?”
Ichisaru nodded, swallowing hard, as he peeked out from under InuYasha's hair. “Yeah.”
InuYasha pulled Ichisaru off his shoulder and set him on the ground. “Stay here, runt.”
Ichisaru nodded again and scampered behind a rain-collection barrel near the door.
InuYasha pushed aside the tattered bamboo mat that hung over the doorway. “Ugh!” he gasped, lifting his sleeve to cover his nose and mouth as Kagome shrank back. The stench in the hut was enough to choke him, the mix of various human secretions and rotting meat was enough to turn his stomach as his senses rebelled against the odious fumes. Spotting the solid mass of Oro's body in the rancid, reeking hut, InuYasha took a deep breath and held it as he darted inside and dragged the man out.
Oro's muddy gaze was vacant, demented. His clothing was literally rotting away from his body, and InuYasha had to retreat a few steps since the perfidious odor seemed to cling to the man's frame. Kagome uttered a noise, almost a whimper, as she buried her face in the back of InuYasha's haori.
“What the hell happened to him?” InuYasha muttered.
Oro sat up slowly, a strangely demented grin surfacing on his face, a dribble of spit hanging from his lip. “She's dead. I killed her . . . but she isn't dead . . . she lives . . . in my dreams . . .”
Kagome gasped. “He's insane,” she whispered in a hiss.
Ichisaru whimpered, peeking out from behind the barrel. “What's wrong with him?” he squeaked.
InuYasha made a face. He recognized Oro, all right. `He's the human who had attacked us near the well . . .' Oro had wasted away to about half the size he had been . . . if he kept it up, he'd die of starvation . . . or madness . . .
“He ain't gonna give us any answers,” InuYasha snorted. “He don't even know we're here.”
Kagome nodded as the hanyou turned to stare at Ichisaru. “What do you want me to do with him?”
Ichisaru looked confused and shook his head.
“If we leave him like this, he'll die,” InuYasha pointed out. “I don't think he can be saved. I'm asking you, what do you want me to do with him.”
Ichisaru shook his head again. “I . . . I don't know . . .”
“Listen. I could end it for him now. It'd probably be the nicest thing . . . or I could find him some food, clean him up a little. You gotta decide,” InuYasha explained.
Ichisaru frowned as he dashed a quick hand over his eyes. “Well, I . . . I mean, he . . . he was mean to me, but . . .”
“InuYasha . . .” Kagome said softly. “I don't think Ichisaru can choose . . .”
InuYasha shook his head. “He's got to. He's as close to kin as Oro has. It's his choice.”
Ichisaru nodded. “I . . . I don't want you to kill him,” he muttered. “Just . . . I can't . . .”
InuYasha's brow furrowed as he stared at Oro once more. “If you're sure,” he agreed finally as he braced himself before grabbing the man and hefting him over his shoulder. “Ichisaru, keep an eye on Kagome, will you? She's just a human, after all.”
Ichisaru nodded, a determined look coming over his features as he proudly stood up. “All right.”
With that, InuYasha headed for the nearby stream.
Kagome smiled as she tucked a blanket around the sleeping monkey youkai. InuYasha sat in the branches of a nearby tree, idly turning Tetsusaiga as he stared at it in the firelight. She turned to gaze up at him as her smile dimmed but didn't disappear. InuYasha intercepted her expression and hopped down.
“You knew he wouldn't choose to kill Oro, didn't you?”
InuYasha shrugged. “He's just a pup. I didn't figure he would.”
“He's not going to get any better . . . he's too far gone for that.”
“The butterfly's toxin drove him crazy.”
Kagome watched as InuYasha sank down by the fire, an almost sad light behind his gaze. `He's wondering if that would have happened to him, isn't he? If we hadn't been able to stop his dreams . . .'
“He . . . uh . . . killed her . . . you know? The one he dreams about,” InuYasha finally said.
Kagome nodded as she knelt beside him. “Yeah . . . he said something about it.”
InuYasha shook his head. “No, that ain't it. He spoke some, when I was washing him off. He said . . . he said she didn't love him, so he . . . he killed her.”
“He'll die, won't he?” Kagome asked softly. “It can't be helped.”
InuYasha didn't answer right away. Staring into the fire as he slowly shook his head again, the hanyou shrugged as weariness stole over his features. “Yeah, he will.”
“Still . . . I'm glad you didn't kill him.”
“It was up to Ichisaru.”
Kagome shrugged. “Maybe, but you knew what he'd choose.”
InuYasha didn't deny that. “It might have been kinder to have killed him.”
Kagome let her chin drop on her raised knees as she stared at the fire but didn't really see it. “But you didn't want to do it, did you?”
His voice was low when he spoke again, almost a whisper as he sighed. “What if . . . I kept wondering . . . what if I . . . ?”
“Would you have ended up like him, you mean?” she asked when he trailed off. She shook her head as she turned to face him. “You wouldn't have, you know. I wouldn't let you.”
He managed a small smile but his eyes still showed his upset.
Kagome pushed his bangs out of his eyes. “It wasn't an easy choice, was it?”
Shifting this gaze to the sleeping monkey youkai, InuYasha made a disgusted face. “What Oro did to him wasn't forgivable, but what he got . . . I think that was worse.”
Kagome stared at him for several moments, a wan smile touching her lips as she nodded. “You've changed, InuYasha. You've changed a lot.”
“Keh. And what does that mean?”
She grabbed his hand, tangled her fingers with his. “It's not bad . . .”
He turned away as she discerned a hint of a flush rising on his cheeks. “Keh. Whatever.”
Kagome shook her head and stared down at her hand, still nestled in his. She and Ichisaru had cleaned the tiny hut as best as they could while InuYasha took Oro to the stream. The debilitating odors permeated everything, including the walls and the wooden platform around the small fire pit, and in the end, the best she'd been able to do was to gather some fragrant herbs to try to mask some of the smells. At least InuYasha hadn't been as horribly affected by the stench as he had been when they'd arrived.
Kagome frowned, recalling the sadness on Ichisaru's little face as he stared at his former master's wasted body, gaunt face, the vacant eyes that lolled in eye sockets that seemed owlish. She couldn't begin to fathom what the child was thinking. After everything was said and done, perhaps Ichisaru couldn't help but think of the human as a surrogate father. She knew that she was fortunate. Her mother was kind and gentle. Her father had been that way, too. Unfortunately, she'd also seen children whose parents were cruel or uncaring yet it never seemed to matter. In their hearts they still loved their parents, and even if Ichisaru knew he was an orphan, did that really matter?
“He'll be fine,” InuYasha said softly. Kagome blinked away the memory as she turned to stare at him. He was gazing at her in the firelight, his expression serious, almost sad. “He's got a place to belong.”
Kagome smiled. “He does, doesn't he?”
InuYasha snorted as he shifted his gaze back to the fire again. “Keh. Worst that'll happen is that he turns into a fucking lecher.”
Kagome giggled and let her temple fall against his shoulder. “You should be more optimistic. It's not like Miroku's contagious.”
InuYasha snorted again as he put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her a little closer. They sat in companionable silence, listening to the sounds of the forest.
Ichisaru laid on his stomach with his chin propped on his hands, legs crossed at the ankles as he stared at the bird's nest with a thoughtful frown.
“Come on, ape-shit! We've got a long way to go today, so get moving.”
Ichisaru peered down from his perch on the branch and cocked his head to the side. “InuYasha? Why are these babies in eggs? Marisaiko didn't come out of an egg.”
Kagome, who had been rolling up her sleeping bag, suddenly stopped and sucked in a sharp breath.
“Ask Miroku when we get back,” InuYasha snarled, fighting to keep hot color from flooding his face. “He's the pervert. He'll be happy to explain all that.”
Ichisaru scratched his head as his frown turned into a scowl. “I only asked—”
“I know what you asked,” InuYasha broke in. “I also know I ain't answering that.”
A look of sudden understanding surfaced on the youkai's face. “Oh, I get it! You don't know why, right?”
InuYasha snapped his mouth closed on his retort and shrugged. “Keh. Let's go.”
Ichisaru hopped down and ran along in front of the two as InuYasha shouldered the backpack. Kagome walked beside him. Staring ahead at the youngster, she leaned toward InuYasha to whisper, “You don't really know why, do you?”
“Nope,” he answered. “Do you?”
She shrugged. “Not in the least . . .”
“Ah!” Ichisaru shrieked as he ran back as fast as he could. Scampering up InuYasha's leg, pausing only to change to the hanyou's arm, the monkey youkai didn't stop until he was hidden under the mass of silvery hair with his tail wrapped around InuYasha's neck. “It's her!”
InuYasha stopped and grabbed Kagome's arm. “Are you sure?” he asked Ichisaru.
The monkey youkai was shaking so badly that his voice was shaking when he spoke. “Yeah . . . I'm sure . . .”
“InuYasha?” Kagome murmured as she stepped back. Staring ahead at the darkened forest, she sensed the other presence that InuYasha could smell. “Can you—?”
“What's he doing?”
InuYasha shook his head as he pulled her onto his back and ran forward. “I don't know, but I'm going to find out.”
Breaking into the clearing, InuYasha stopped and stared as Kouga stood with a snarl on his face as he glowered at the fake Kagome. “Hisadaicho,” he muttered as anger welled up in him, too. Kagome slid off his back. Ichisaru hopped over to her shoulder as InuYasha dragged out Tetsusaiga with a flourish. “Bitch!” he bellowed as he leveled the sword at Hisadaicho.
“Back off, mutt-face. This is my battle.”
“It's InuYasha!” Hakkaku exclaimed, obviously relieved to see the hanyou.
Hisadaicho threw her head back and laughed. “InuYasha, what a pleasant surprise. Do you wish to have that kiss now?”
“Keh! Shut the fuck up!”
The two lesser-wolf-youkai ran over to Kagome. “Sister! Kouga wants to kill her, but he can't! If he does—”
InuYasha's eyes widened. “Kouga, are you fucking stupid? You can't kill her!”
“I told you to stay out of this, dog-shit!” Kouga snarled.
InuYasha shot forward and slammed Tetsusaiga down in front of Kouga. “Don't be an idiot, Kouga! You can't kill your mate, remember?”
Hisadaicho's laughter escalated. “Ah . . . the ancient youkai laws . . . that's right . . . if you do, then you die, too.”
Kouga growled and shoved InuYasha aside. “This is my business. No one makes a fool of me and lives!”
“I'll kill her,” InuYasha informed him. “Just stand back and watch.”
“You can't kill me, InuYasha,” Hisadaicho assured him. “You can't kill the one you love, now can you?”
“Shut the hell up!” he growled as he shot forward, raising Tetsusaiga as he leapt into the air.
“You promised you'd protect me, InuYasha!” Hisadaicho screamed.
InuYasha abruptly dropped to the ground as Kagome's stricken face stared at him.
“She's trying to fool you, InuYasha!” the real Kagome screamed.
`Damn it! It doesn't matter that I know she's a fake! Fuck! I . . . I can't . . .'
“Your emotions are so simple to manipulate,” Hisadaicho taunted. “Why is that, InuYasha? This human girl . . . she is so precious to you, isn't she? And you dare to believe that she can love a poor little puppy like you?” The taunting smile disappeared as a look of complete revulsion surfaced. “You disgust me, InuYasha. You filthy, tainted hanyou. How can you possibly think that I could ever love someone as repulsive as you?”
“Shut up!” Kagome screamed as she nocked back an arrow. “Shut up now!”
InuYasha slowly stood up, furiously trying to brush aside the venomous words that the fake Kagome had spewed at him. `Kagome . . . she doesn't think that . . . Does she?' He shook his head. `Keh! She's fucking with your mind, baka!' With a menacing growl, InuYasha shot forward again.
Hisadaicho hopped back before he reached her, her laughter filling the air like a toxic fume.
“Talk about hanyous,” Kouga snarled as he shot past InuYasha. “You're one, too! I can smell it on you, bitch!”
Kagome loosened her arrow. The flash of pink split the air like a light from heaven, like a shooting star during the day. Hisadaicho saw the arrow just before it struck, and she fell back to avoid it as Kouga bellowed a curse and sprang back. The arrow grazed Hisadaicho's cheek as a flashback of Kikyou's arrow zipped through Kagome's mind—of the time Kikyou had done the same to her and had stolen the jewel shards she and the others had fought so hard to collect. Why she remembered that, she wasn't sure. Kagome shook her head and pulled out another arrow.
Hisadaicho leapt back, landing on the cliff behind her. “Careful, little human. I still need you. We wouldn't want you to die before I get what I require, would we?”
Kagome pulled back on the arrow and took aim. “Need me? Why?”
“Why, indeed? I grow bored with the lot of you, and so I shall be on my way. Farewell.”
Her eyes widened in understanding, and she gasped softly as her bow lowered just a little. “She's the evil, InuYasha! The one Old Seer warned us about!”
Hisadaicho's paused, hearing Kagome's words. “Old Seer? Perhaps I should pay this woman a visit . . .”
“No!” Kagome screamed as she fired her arrow. Hisadaicho jumped back again, out of view.
“Damn it, dog-shit! I almost had her!” Kouga bellowed as he rounded on InuYasha.
InuYasha glared at Kouga as he stomped past him toward Kagome. “Keh! I should have let you kill her then. One less fucking bastard in the world.”
“What are they talking about?” Kagome asked Ginta and Hakkaku as InuYasha and Kouga continued their argument.
“A youkai cannot kill his mate. It is punishable by death. The tai-youkai would kill him.”
Hakkaku made a face. “InuYasha's half-brother . . . he's tai-youkai.”
Kagome gasped. “Sesshoumaru?”
Ginta grimaced. “He's sort of scary, huh, Hakkaku?”
Hakkaku looked like he agreed but didn't answer.
Kouga stomped away from InuYasha. “Come on, you two! She can't have gotten far, and we're going after her.” He turned to glare back at InuYasha once more. “Stay outta my way, mutt! You can't even fight her! Just take care of Kagome. I'll take care of that conniving bitch.”
“Shut the hell up, you mangy wolf!” InuYasha snarled as Kouga dashed toward the cliff where Hisadaicho had disappeared.
“Kouga!” Kagome called after him. “You can't!”
Kouga waved over his shoulder. “Later, Kagome! I'll take care of her.”
“Save your breath,” InuYasha told her as he put away his sword. “He's made his choice.”
“InuYasha . . .”
He wouldn't look at her, and he shook his head stubbornly. “Come on. We're almost to the village, and we need to get to Old Seer, too.”
Kagome sighed and nodded. She had a feeling he had listened to Hisadaicho's words, and somewhere deep inside, maybe a part of him believed her.
She stared at his back as they walked. Straight, proud, InuYasha didn't look back at her, and she could feel in her heart that he was trying to distance himself from her. `InuYasha . . . it's not true . . .'
“What's wrong with him?” Ichisaru asked quietly.
Kagome forced a smile. “He's got a lot on his mind, is all.”
Ichisaru accepted her answer. “He's sad because of what that woman said, isn't he?”
Kagome swallowed a lump that rose to choke her. “Yeah . . . yeah, he is.”
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Final Thought from Ichisaru
InuYasha can't fight her?
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.