InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Evening Shadows ( Chapter 50 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
The whispering wind brought an unfamiliar resonance to the peaceful field. `So . . . she comes.'
It didn't come as a surprise to her. She had foreseen this.
“Old woman, I hear you've been meddling with things that aren't your affair.”
Old Seer turned slowly, regarded the stranger without fear. The gnarled cane thumped the ground as she hobbled forward, reaching out a gaunt finger as the light of recognition ignited in her faded eyes. “I know you . . . I remember you . . .”
The woman smiled insincerely. “You may remember a ghost, but you have never met me before. Tell me why you seek to interfere in my concerns.”
“Emi . . . but you disappeared years ago . . . what have you become?” Old Seer demanded, voice commanding, chiding, accusing.
“Emi?” she echoed with a condescending flick of her wrist. “That name means nothing to me. I am Hisadaicho. Emi is dead.”
Nodding slowly, Old Seer smiled. “I see now . . . You traded your soul for this vile power, didn't you? And what is it you hope to gain?”
Hisadaicho returned the tight smile. “I will have everything, but you . . . you shouldn't have meddled in my affairs.”
Old Seer shook her head. “How did I meddle? I recall nothing that was a concern of yours.”
“InuYasha and his miko . . . What did you tell them?”
“Are you responsible for the evil aura that taints the Shikon no Tama?” Old Seer countered.
Hisadaicho didn't answer as she deliberately walked toward the old woman's hut. Touching the old structure that hadn't changed, stroking the rough wooden wall, her nimble fingers danced over the edifice. “I am not.”
“But you know who is, don't you, Emi?”
Whirling around, irate fire snapping in her gaze, Hisadaicho demanded, “Stop calling me that! Emi is dead! She died long ago! I'm not the same little girl you used to order around.”
“And what happened to that little girl? What have you done to her?”
“Does it matter?”
Old Seer nodded again. “No . . . I suppose it doesn't.” The woman's eyes clouded over, as though she were looking to the past. The little girl, so shy and sweet, eager to please, more eager to learn . . . How had the sweet child she'd known become this creature?
Hisadaicho turned suddenly, stared at Old Seer with an almost sad expression, an unearthly glow in her lavender eyes. “I don't want to kill you, old woman. For whatever it's worth, I do retain fond memories of that time in my evolution. Take care to keep your information to yourself.”
“I have been blessed with the sight, Emi. I have not the right to be selective about who seeks my council. If they return, if they ask, I cannot withhold what I know. If you mean to kill me, Emi, then do it now, and kami forgive you for what you've become.”
Hisadaicho forced a chuckle. Old Seer pretended not to have seen the spark of indecision in her eyes. “Your heart bleeds, old woman. Don't make me come back again.”
Old Seer watched as Hisadaicho strode back toward the trees. `Emi . . . what have you done, and to what end?'
Something tainted, something vile . . . the girl she used to be and the being she had become . . . who had done this to her?
“He cares for me! Can't you see that?” Emi had told her, tears standing in her eyes as she silently begged Old Seer to understand.
“Your parents brought you here to learn how to use your gift, child. You must stay here!”
“I won't! He bade me come to him, and I . . . I'm going.”
“Emi! If you leave . . . if you go . . .”
“Goodbye, Old Seer. I'm . . . I'm sorry.”
And she watched her walk away, disappearing into the same forest.
As the reverie faded, Old Seer shook her head as a wealth of sadness washed over her faded gaze. Rumors floated on the winds, came with the bitterest of ironies even to her, secluded in this meadow. The same night that Emi had left, Old Seer had awakened from a restless vision in a cold sweat as the cries of countless people rang out, the voice too weak for normal men to discern. Old Seer had heard this, and she knew. It had been the sound of souls leaving this plane for another, and the despair in their spirits had lingered.
And somehow, she'd known that this had something to do with Emi, but she never knew how . . .
Kagome sat on a rock staring at the stars as InuYasha stomped around a thick tree. Stopping now and again to glare up into the empty branches, his scowl darkened each time he looked. By the time Kagome rolled her eyes and cleared her throat to draw his attention, his eyes were narrowed to thin slits, and his mouth was drawn back in a completely harmless-looking grimace since his fangs were gone for the night, along with his silvery hair, his claws, his dog ears, and his glowing eyes.
“You could climb up there,” she ventured in what she hoped was a casual tone.
He snorted. “Keh! And if I fell out, I'd probably break my fucking human back.”
“Or you could sit down and talk to me,” she added, ignoring his tirade.
He didn't respond to that. Kagome stifled a sigh. She knew what was bothering him. She also knew he'd bite off his own tongue before he'd willingly talk about it, too.
`You disgust me, InuYasha. You filthy, tainted hanyou. How can you possibly think that I could ever love someone as repulsive as you?'
He knew she'd been right there, and he knew that she hadn't said that, at all. Still, in his mind, he had seen those words come out of her mouth, even if the one who uttered the baseless lies was just using the toxin to her own advantage. Problem was, Kagome knew—just knew—that InuYasha hadn't been able to brush the words off as the lies they were. How had Hisadaicho known exactly what she could say that would hurt him the worst, and more to the point, how could Kagome convince him she hadn't ever thought that?
He'd been so quiet since the confrontation in the woods. Kagome hadn't said a word when he announced that they were taking Ichisaru back to the village instead of pursuing Hisadaicho. She knew why he chose that. She knew that his main concern was coming true. Even with her beside him, he hadn't been able to fight Hisadaicho because when he looked at her . . .
`He sees me . . . and he can't hurt me, can he?'
She sighed again. As much as she loved that about him, in this case, if he couldn't fight against Hisadaicho, how would they defeat her?
Kaede's words echoed through her mind. `Then ye know . . . the other way to break the toxin would be for the two of ye to act out his . . . dreams.'
`But . . . he won't tell you exactly what he dreams which probably means . . .' she winced as her cheeks shot up in a hot flush. `If he . . . if we . . . would that really be so bad?'
She made a face and straightened her skirt, staring at her lap and thanking her lucky stars that InuYasha was human and wouldn't be able to sense her discomfort quite so easily. `But . . . even if he would tell me . . . is that really a reason to do . . . that?'
Shaking her head quickly, Kagome pushed that question aside for the moment. `First things first. How do I get him to talk? Or at least to listen . . .'
Still glaring up at the tree almost as if he thought that the tree was mocking him, he didn't spare her a glance as he glowered into the darkness. “What?”
Brushing off his brusque tone, Kagome forced a happy tone when she started speaking again. “You can stand my company for one evening, right? I get a little lonely, when you're being so quiet.”
That got his attention. Turning his glare onto her, he blinked a few times before answering. “Oh? I'll do for the night, you mean? Keh!”
“I didn't mean anything like that,” she assured him quickly. “It's just . . . you've been really quiet since—”
“I ain't got nothing to say,” he growled. He made a face and stomped over to her as he dragged the vial out of his undershirt and shoved it under her nose.
She shoved it away as she shot to her feet and grabbed her backpack.
“Oi! You can't ignore this!” he called after her.
“I'm not,” she argued. “I'll shake it in a minute.”
Mumbling under his breath, he clomped over and scowled down at her, arms crossed in the sleeves of his haori as he tried to see what she was digging for.
She dragged out her deck of playing cards and closed the bag before heading over to her bedroll to sit down. “Come on, InuYasha. Since you can't climb the tree, you can humor me for the night.”
“I ain't doing it,” he growled stubbornly.
“Stop being a grouch and come here.”
He wrinkled his nose and didn't move. “We can't play cards, wench. You don't have any pocky.”
She grinned since that was what they normally used when playing poker. “We'll play for something else.”
She didn't look at him as she hid a wider smile. If he had his hanyou ears, she knew they'd be twitching. As it was, he snorted very loudly before he gave in and strode over to her. Grudging curiosity surfaced on his features, and Kagome had to quickly duck her head again before she burst out laughing. Given his current mood, he'd have ended up climbing that tree, she knew it.
“What do you think we're playing for, then?” he finally forced himself to ask.
“Easy. Whoever wins gets to ask a question, and the loser has to answer. Honestly,” she told him.
He considered that. “So . . . you're saying that when I win since you never do, that I get to ask you anything at all, and you have to answer it truthfully?”
She made a face. “Sure . . . and when I win, you have to do the same.”
He snorted to let her know what he thought the odds of that happening were. “Deal the cards, wench.”
`Now . . . if he'd just ask me . . .'
Kagome dealt the cards and picked up her hand, eyes widening in surprise as she realized she had two pairs, twos and tens.
She could feel InuYasha's gaze. He dropped three cards. Kagome handed him three more and narrowed her gaze. He didn't even blink, and she muttered under her breath as she discarded one card and drew another. Another ten. `Wow! A full house!' she thought as she struggled to hold onto a straight expression.
InuYasha shook his head and made an exaggerated show of staring at his cards. “Show your hand, wench.”
Kagome proudly held out hand. “Full house, dog-boy!”
He snorted and lowered his hand, too. “I win.”
She gaped at the royal flush. “I should have known,” she grumbled as she grabbed his cards and started shuffling again.
“Oi! I get to ask my question now, right?”
Kagome shrugged. “All right. Go ahead.”
He pondered a moment, as though he were trying to figure out exactly what he did want to ask. She blinked in surprise when a tell-tale flush crept over his features. He shook his head. “I'll save my question for later,” he finally decided.
“That's not how it's played,” she complained as she dealt the next hand. `What was he thinking? Why did he blush?'
“You didn't specify,” he argued.
“Hmm . . .”
“Come on, wench. You wanted to play this stupid game, not me.”
She shook her head. “You're hopeless.”
“And you're stalling.”
Kagome discarded two and drew two more. `Three queens . . . okay, not bad.'
InuYasha got three cards and stared at them a moment before slowly raising his eyes to meet hers without a change in his scowling expression. “What do you have?”
Kagome shrugged. “I'll bet your question that I'll beat you this time.”
His eyebrows shot up just before his frown grew suspicious. “That sure of yourself, are you?”
“Sure,” she assured him. “Double or nothing, InuYasha. Come on . . . are you in?”
He snorted. “Keh! You never beat me, and you ain't got a thing to offer for my question.”
She grinned. “Hmm . . . I'll owe you another favor?”
He considered that for a moment then nodded. “All right. You'll just have to answer more questions, and you'll owe me another favor, then.”
Again Kagome discarded two cards and drew, remembering just before she shrieked happily that doing so would tip him off, if her expression didn't, as she stared at the fourth queen. Carefully blanking her features, Kagome waited patiently for InuYasha to decide what he wanted to do.
He tossed down two cards and took the ones she handed him without taking his eyes off her. “Show your cards, Kagome.”
With a triumphant giggle, she spread her cards on the bedroll. InuYasha's eyes widened in surprise. “Four queens?” he growled with a consternated frown. “Did you cheat?”
“I don't cheat!” she shot back. “Don't be a sore loser!”
“What did you have?” she asked.
He glanced at his cards again then folded them. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” she echoed. “You were bluffing?”
He snorted. “Keh! No. I didn't have anything to beat that.”
She eyed him suspiciously as he made a face. “All right, already. Ask your questions, will you?” he grumbled.
Kagome sighed, deliberately taking her time as she straightened the stack of cards and set them on the blanket. “Those things Hisadaicho said . . . you don't really think I feel that way, do you?” she asked quietly.
“Hell, no,” he growled. “She was just trying to get to me.”
She winced inwardly at the vehemence in his tone. She recognized it only too well. `He does believe it. I knew it . . .' Clearing her throat, she tried to find a way to tell him that it wasn't true at all. “I . . . I don't think that . . . I never have. You know that, right?”
InuYasha shrugged. “Keh. It don't matter.”
“It does,” she argued. “I don't ever want you to think that, because it isn't true.”
He made a face and started to stand up. Kagome caught his hand. “Wait . . . you have to listen to me.”
Though his look was one of his more stubborn expressions, he sat down slowly and waited for her to continue.
“It's not true. Nothing she said to you was true . . . I just want you to believe it.”
“Can we talk about something else?”
She shook her head. “Not until you believe me.”
“Keh! Fine,” he growled as his ears turned slightly red.
“You said you wanted to take care of me, remember? What did you mean?”
InuYasha scrunched his nose up as he leaned back, jamming his hand up his haori sleeves. “What do you think I meant?”
Kagome smiled. “I know what I wanted you to mean . . . is that . . . is that what you did mean?”
He shot to his feet and rummaged around before dropping another log onto the already-bright fire. “I don't wanna talk about this anymore.”
`He's so stubborn! He says I talk too much, but he . . . he doesn't talk enough . . .' Kagome stood up and followed him as he paced around the fire.
“Knock that off!” he complained after a few minutes of her silent shadowing. “Keh! I ain't leaving! You don't have to follow me around like—”
Garnering all her courage to the sticking point, Kagome twisted her hands together, closed her eyes, and forced herself to say, “Kiss me.”
He stopped dead in his tracks. “Wh-what?”
Steeling her resolve before she gave in to the desire to run and hide, Kagome opened her eyes and stood her ground as he slowly turned to face her. “I said, kiss me.”
She could see the emotions warring in him. They all crested in his gaze. Staring at her, the light of the fire made his eyes darker, more mysterious. Cautious hope, a quiet need, a burning intensity that conflicted with a pleading desperation, and she knew that look. She'd seen it often enough. She couldn't remember the first time she'd noticed it. In his introspective moments that he tried so hard to hide, she'd seen the same expression on his face, the war of the two parts of him that just wanted to belong somewhere, with someone—with her.
“All right,” she gave in with a soft sigh and a shake of her head. “If you won't, then I guess I have to.”
Before he could ask her what she meant, she leaned against him, pushed herself onto her tiptoes, pulled his face down to meet hers as she pressed her lips to his. His gasp was sharp, harsh, echoing around them as it echoed in the snapping blaze of the fire. Her gasp followed his as he wrapped his arms around her, dragged her closer, nearer, flush against him. If she thought that she would have to coax him out of his irritation to get him to comply, she was wrong. His tongue nudged her lips open, flicked into her mouth as shocking waves of molten heat ravaged her body.
Unbridled longing raged through him, culminated in a tremble, a barely repressed aggression. Igniting sparks that roared to life, she could hear the blood pounding through her, as though every part of her wanted to merge into him, to shelter his vulnerability, to protect and harbor the fragile heart that he tried so hard to hide.
She wrapped her hands around fistfuls of his clothing, clinging to him as he left her breathless with his kisses. Struggling to keep up, unable to do more than accept what he gave, Kagome sighed against him, willed him to understand what her soul was trying to say. Mind reeling as emotion flowed like honey, as her quickened heartbeat thundered in her ears.
He was everything to her. The darkness of his youki surrendered to the light of his humanity while the middle ground was the man, her champion. The one who protected her, the one who showed her every day how much he had to offer was the same being, the one she relied on. The brush of his lips against her jaw, the solace of his tongue on her skin . . . the inane whispers that were broken entreaties offered up in her name, in his voice. Somewhere between her soul and his, between the setting sun when shadows fell and his youkai receded, and the stillness of the moonless night, her answers were unvoiced promises, the bond, the pact, the seal was a kiss.
`I love him,' she thought dizzily as his lips nuzzled in the hollows of her throat. Eyes closed, brows drawn together as the intensity of the absolute sensation ripped through her, she managed a little smile at herself. She opened her mouth to tell him, tried to give sound to the words. A strangled cry escaped instead as his hand closed over her breast, and the words fell away.
She vaguely realized as he backed her up, hazily understood the sense of movement, of sinking. Suddenly, she felt the unforgiving ground beneath her, the warmth of the blankets, the heat and weight of InuYasha's body on hers. A welcome pressure surged as he brought his lips to hers once more, a beautiful burgeoning as she held him close. His fingers tangled in her hair as his other hand fumbled with the bottom of her blouse.
A wash of heat, a burst of light, an energy that surrounded them both crackled in the air as Kagome arched her back, pressed against him. He was close but still too far. His hand brushed over her belly, setting off tremors, eliciting moans. She couldn't think, couldn't breathe. The only thing she knew was that she wanted him closer, needed to feel his skin, needed to touch him . . .
Pushing his haori and undershirt away, he hissed as her hands pressed against his chest. Running her hands along the silken vales, the curves of skin over tight muscles, she marveled at the way his body shuddered, delighted in his reactions as he held himself completely still. Whether it was for her or for himself, she didn't know. It was enough that she could touch him, and his stunted breaths, rasping, harsh, were somehow soothing just the same. His heartbeat hammered under her palm as every living, breathing moment culminated in him. Her reason, her sanity, her reality was him, and in that moment, in that space, he was everything, he was the only thing that mattered, and she touched him.
`He's . . . beautiful,' she mused, eyes half-open as she stared at him. His hair dragged against her, tickling her cheeks, his eyes were squeezed closed. Nimble fingers roaming a playground of flesh, across his shoulders, down the vale over his heart, she was relentless, tender, demanding. He looked like he was in pain, and she frowned, reaching up to touch his face, her fingers trembling but gentle. “InuYasha?”
He swallowed hard, opening his eyes to stare at the vial dangling above her. “I . . . we . . . Damn it!”
Rolling off her as he straightened his clothing with unsteady hands, InuYasha dragged in a deep breath, letting his head fall back as he stared at the sky.
She was slower to sit up. Trying to ignore the unbalance in her equilibrium, Kagome tamped down the bitter disappointment that ate at her. “Did I . . . hurt you?”
He couldn't quite manage one of his caustic snorts. “No.”
“Good . . .”
He heaved a sigh and raised his head to look at her for a moment before he held out the talisman.
She shook it the requisite number of times and let it drop from her fingers. “What's wrong?”
He winced. “We can't . . . especially not tonight.”
“Okay,” she agreed with a confused shake of her head. Another thought crossed her mind, and Kagome felt her cheeks heat up. “If this is about . . . what I said before . . . I . . . you were right. I was trying to replace Marisaiko. I don't want to do that. The last time I went to the doctor, I got a Depo-Provera shot . . . so I can't get pregnant.”
He didn't look like he understood what she meant. She made a face as she tried to keep the embarrassment out of her tone. “I took some medicine so I can't get pregnant right now,” she tried to clarify.
That seemed to confuse him even more, and that confusion warred with his own awkwardness as his face took on a deeper red hue. “What do you mean, you can't . . . you can't control that!”
“Nowadays we can,” she explained. “There are certain hormones . . . never mind. I just . . . I can't.”
“Keh. You don't need to,” he grumbled as he glanced around, everywhere but directly at her.
She narrowed her gaze on him. “What do you mean, I don't need to?” she asked, unable to keep the reticence out of her tone.
He sighed and tugged on one of his earlobes. Kagome had a feeling that he was wishing he were hanyou, probably so he could hop into the nearest tree and avoid her questions. “It means . . .” he trailed off with a wince followed by a grunt, like he really didn't want to say whatever it was that he was trying to get out. “I can't . . . we can't . . . only on nights like tonight or full moons . . . you wouldn't . . .” Screwing up his face in a completely exasperated expression, InuYasha took a deep breath before blurting, “Those are the only two times you'd have a pup.”
Kagome blinked in surprise as her eyes widened. “What?”
A hot flush washed over his skin, and he shook his head. “Myouga said . . . on full moon nights, we . . . it'd be a hanyou pup, like me. On new moon nights, it'd be a human pup. That's all.”
Kagome wasn't sure whose blush was worse. InuYasha glared at the talisman and shook it before stuffing it back into his haori. “I see,” she managed to say in a choked tone. “So you're saying that on the other nights . . . it wouldn't be possible?”
She digested that in silence, unsure what to say, as she scooped up the playing cards, no longer in a neat stack since Kagome had been lying on them. Spotting InuYasha's cards that were still separated from the others, she grabbed them, too, and out of curiosity, she fanned them. Eyes narrowing, she frowned at the cards before shifting her gaze to stare at the hanyou. “You let me win,” she said softly, letting her wrist fall back to reveal the cards she held. Four aces and a three. “Why?”
InuYasha finally looked at her, his gaze still guarded though the embarrassment seemed to have lessened. “I didn't have anything to ask,” he grumbled defensively, “and I figured you did. Why else would you want to play?”
A slow smile spread over her face as she scooped the cards together and stuck them in the box. “And here I thought I won.”
He snorted. “Keh! You never win, wench, I told you.”
The sudden crush of lingering memories of his kisses assailed her, and Kagome hid a smile. `I never win, huh? I think . . . I just did . . .'
She crawled under the light blanket and leaned up on her elbow to look at him. A tender smile was turning up the corners of his lips. As he gazed at her, the smile widened, and he shrugged. “You'd better get some sleep. We've got to get moving first thing in the morning. With any luck we'll beat Hisadaicho to the old woman.”
She nodded as she curled up, cradling her cheek on her hands as he scooted closer. “Do you think we'll make it in time?”
InuYasha's smile faded. “I dunno. I hope so.”
Kagome closed her eyes as his fingers tangled in her hair. She hoped so, too . . .
“So you've come to protect me from this evil you seek?”
Kagome nodded. “Yes.”
Old Seer smiled indulgently. “Your fear for my well-being is touching but unnecessary, child. I do not fear her.”
InuYasha shook his head. “Are you saying that I do?”
“No . . . no . . . but I do sense a reluctance on your part, as though you fear something about her. Do you?”
InuYasha snorted, flicking his ears as he closed his eyes. “No way! I don't fear a damn thing,” he scoffed arrogantly.
“She . . . when he sees her, she looks like me,” Kagome admitted quietly.
Old Seer sat back as a knowing look settled over her wrinkled features. “Now I understand. She uses this deception to protect herself . . . So that is what she has become . . .”
“You sound like you know her,” Kagome remarked.
Old Seer sighed and shook her head sadly. “I knew a girl . . . she was my apprentice for nearly ten years.”
“Keh! We ain't got time for a stroll down memory lane,” InuYasha growled as he started to rise.
Old Seer cast him a shrewd look, a penetrating gaze that stopped him. “In this world, one life must give way to offer another one a chance to flourish. Is this not so?”
InuYasha didn't answer but he did sit back down.
“The girl I knew was named Emi. She left me because of a man, and that man changed her, killed the innocent girl and brought something else to bear. She is the evil you seek.”
“Emi became Hisadaicho,” Kagome whispered.
Old Seer nodded. “I know not how or why, but I know this is true.”
InuYasha shook his head, his thoughtful frown bordering on a scowl. “The evil we seek . . . Are you saying she tainted the jewel?”
Old Seer considered InuYasha's question as she closed her eyes, lifted her chin. “It was not her,” she finally said as she opened her eyes. “However, if you find Hisadaicho, you will find your answers.”
“What about her, about Emi? What was she like?” Kagome asked quietly.
With a heavy sigh, Old Seer shook her head as a sad smile turned the corners of her lips. “Emi's parents brought her to me when she was but a child. At eight, she'd already had visions of the future, and they wanted her to be trained in how to use her gift. She was happy, helpful, eager to learn . . . and it was so, for nearly ten years.”
Pausing in the story to gather her thoughts, Old Seer stared into the low-burning fire as her faded eyes brightened. “I knew when she started to change though she never said anything to me. She grew more lax in her duties, disappeared for hours at a time . . . then one day she packed her things and said she was leaving, that she was going to him.”
“Who was he?” Kagome pressed.
Old Seer shook her head. “This, I never knew.”
Emi: blessed with beauty.
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Old Seer:
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.