InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Premeditation ( Chapter 61 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

~~Chapter 61~~
InuYasha shook his head slowly, wondering once more just how the wench had talked him into this. “Hurry it up, Kagome! We're wasting time!” he hollered down from the tree where he sat, back toward her, as she splashed and played in the water below.
“I'm almost finished,” she called back, raising her voice more than normal to be heard over the rush of the waterfall. “I just have to rinse my hair.”
`Keh! Baka, baka, baka . . .'
He had been sniffing around trying to locate Iwazawa's scent again. He'd lost it about an hour ago. While he was searching for it, Kagome had headed off to refill the water jugs, and when she'd seen the waterfall, she'd come back squealing happily and begging to stop so she could take a bath.
`Her obsession with bathing is . . . unnatural,' he thought with a decisive snort.
“You should take a bath, too. The water's great!”
Stifling a moan, InuYasha stubbornly shook his head. “Just move it, wench.”
“InuYasha, is there a youkai law about cheating on your mate?”
“Cheating? No . . . it's not really an issue, I guess . . . most youkai are either too stupid to mate, like Kouga, or too stoic to care, like that bastard of a brother of mine.”
Kagome splashed around. He could tell she was finally coming out of the water. “Kouga's not stupid,” she contradicted, “he was tricked, and okay, you do have a point with Sesshoumaru . . .” The sloshing water stopped, and when she spoke again, her voice was muffled. “Does that mean that youkai don't . . . well, don't feel like that?”
He shrugged. “Dunno . . . anyway, can we talk about something else?”
“Like what?”
“Keh! Anything but that.”
“Are you sure this Iwazawa guy isn't still chasing after you? To get the vial?”
Slowly peeking over his shoulder to make sure Kagome was safely hidden in the confines of proper clothing, InuYasha shrugged before dropping out of the tree. “I dunno. When I tried to hit him, he vanished.”
“Vanished?” Kagome echoed as she brushed out her hair.
“Come on. We've wasted enough time with you and your stupid bath.”
She made a face as she dropped her brush into her bag. “You'll think `stupid bath'. You'd be sorry if I didn't take baths. I'd reek, and it wouldn't bother me at all, since I'm not the one with the super-sensitive sense of smell.” A sudden noise drew her attention as her head whipped to the side. InuYasha dragged her behind his back as he turned to face the disturbance.
Kagome gasped softly as the swan youkai stepped out of the forest. Though she seemed far more interested in the water than she did in the intruders, she spared a glance at InuYasha and Kagome before gilding past them toward the water's edge. She stopped suddenly and turned back, her black eyes darting over Kagome as though she sensed something.
“You . . . I sense its presence, the Shikon no Tama . . .”
InuYasha pulled Kagome back and stepped in front of her. “What of it?”
The swan youkai bowed gracefully, her elongated neck regal, defined, if not a little disconcerting since she had normal skin. Her head was covered in long, white feathers that easily reached the middle of her back. Kagome stood on tiptoe to stare at the beautiful creature. “She's so pretty!” Kagome breathed in awe.
InuYasha snorted but didn't comment.
“You will give it to me,” the swan youkai said quietly, deliberately ignoring InuYasha as she stared over his shoulder at Kagome.
Kagome didn't respond. InuYasha did a double take when he saw the oddly bemused look on Kagome's face. Staring at the swan like she'd never seen a youkai before, she didn't notice that he was watching her at all. InuYasha snorted and waved his hand in front of her face. “Wench! Snap out of it!”
She shook her head and blinked as her gaze focused on him. “I wasn't going to hand it over,” she assured him.
InuYasha snorted again. “She won't, and you'd best back off unless you want to die,” he warned the youkai.
The swan's eyes glided over InuYasha as she lazily nodded. “And you'll give me the jewel or suffer the consequences,” she countered softly.
“Keh! The day I fear a fucking bird is the day I die,” he snarled.
“It can be arranged,” she replied. In a flash of movement, she waved her hand as a wave of light and feathers shot from her.
InuYasha lifted his arm, covering his face with his haori sleeve in time to avoid the explosion. Grabbing Kagome around the waist, he leapt away to deposit her out of immediate danger before he dashed toward the youkai. “Sankon-tetsusou!” he bellowed as he slashed at her with his claws.
Emitting an angry sound, a mottled mix of fowl and human, the swan youkai jumped aside as she waved her arm, sending another flash of light, another barrage of feathers toward InuYasha. He dispelled the attack with a slice of his claws.
Lunging at the swan once more, InuYasha cracked his knuckles. The youkai shot off the ground, straight toward him. Talon-like claws caught his arm, tore through the fire rat hide as InuYasha spun away. “Keh! You missed!” he snarled, “but I won't!” Cleaving an arc with his outstretched hand, he tore through her shoulder, and she fell back.
Staring at the blood dripping down her chest, the swan youkai stood up slowly, glowering at InuYasha through her smoky black eyes. “You cannot stop me, hanyou! I must have the Shikon no Tama.”
InuYasha cracked his knuckles again. “And I said you can't fucking have it,” he growled. “So if you want to live, then back off.”
The swan slowly shook her head. “I cannot. I told you. I must have it.”
Without warning, she darted forward again, a blur of white against the foaming blue waterfall. InuYasha drew Tetsusaiga and swung. The razor-sharp fang sliced through the swan. With a howling screech and a flash of light, the youkai exploded, leaving behind nothing more than glittering dust that was swept away on the breeze.
Allowing himself a small grin at his victory, he dropped Tetsusaiga into the scabbard as he turned to receive his much-deserved praise from Kagome. His smile faltered when he saw her face. Staring at the spot where the swan youkai had been cut down, she seemed almost sad. “Come on,” InuYasha grumbled as he tried not to wince. He didn't remember her ever being so upset by dealing with youkai before. Something about the swan had gotten to her.
Kagome didn't answer as she retrieved her backpack and followed him out of the clearing.
They walked in silence for awhile. As much as InuYasha wanted to know what she was thinking, something about the look in her eyes stopped him. Flattening his ears, he stifled a sigh and kept moving. `Keh! What the hell? I just did what I always do. I protected her and the jewel. She ought to be grateful. She looks like I killed her best friend . . .'
She sighed softly, knotting her fingers together as she frowned at her hands. The silence between them thickened, lengthened, stagnated. InuYasha flattened his ears as his shoulders slumped. “I ain't sorry,” he finally grumbled as his eyebrows drew together. “She would have come after you to get the jewel.”
“I . . . I don't think she wanted to hurt anyone,” Kagome countered.
“Keh! You want I should ask your permission to kill the next youkai that comes after the jewel before or after it tries to kill you?”
She shook her head at his sarcasm. “I know you did what you had to do,” she told him. “It's just . . .”
“You don't honestly think she'd have just asked for the jewel and then left you alone when you didn't hand it over, did you?”
“I know you had to protect the Shikon no Tama,” she said, her tone quiet, little more than a whisper. “I just wonder why she needed it so badly.”
InuYasha snorted. “Keh. Every youkai that wants it says they need it, wench. The swan was no different.”
Kagome was silent another moment, then she sighed. “She really was beautiful, wasn't she?”
Wrinkling his nose, InuYasha shrugged offhandedly. “She was youkai. Youkai can look beautiful. Don't mean they are.”
“But . . . she didn't strike me as evil.”
InuYasha shook his head. “You trust things too easily, Kagome. I've told you that a thousand times. One of these days, you're gonna trust the wrong person, and—” he cut himself off as he reached for her hand and dragged her onto his back. “Just . . . just be more careful, all right?”
“. . . All right.”
Hisadaicho's gaze narrowed as she glared at Iwazawa. Standing before her with his hands clasped behind his back and staring straight ahead, he didn't blink as she scrutinized him, didn't falter at all.
“I trusted you with a very simple task,” she said, “and you tell me that you could not accomplish this one little thing?”
Iwazawa nodded once. “Forgive me, Hisadaicho-sama. I shall not fail you again.”
Hisadaicho turned away, stalked toward the other side of the vast chamber before striding back again. “I should hope not. If you do . . .”
Pressing her hand over the throbbing silvery scar on her wrist, Hisadaicho regarded Iwazawa. “Bring Kagura to me. I have orders for her.”
Iwazawa bowed and turned to leave.
“Do not fail me this time.”
He bowed again and strode out of the chamber.
Only after he was gone did Hisadaicho uncover her arm to stare at the tingling scar. `Kagura . . . so you seek to escape me . . . Don't you realize you cannot?' A humorless smile touched her lips as the scar pulsed with a pink glow. `You will destroy Sesshoumaru . . . you don't have a choice . . .' The smile faded as she tapped her index finger against her lips. `As for InuYasha . . . ? Perhaps I should see to this matter, myself . . .'
She was tired of waiting. Her patience was wearing thin as she grew more restless. The whispering voice grew stronger, the quiet hiss of her koishii's demands more ardent. `It must be done. The miko requires a complete soul, her full potential . . . Only then can the ritual be performed. Perhaps I shall allow InuYasha to witness the end, and the beginning. You shall have your revenge soon, my koishii. Soon . . .'
Kagome wrinkled her nose and huddled closer to the fire, wishing that her skin wasn't all clammy, wishing that she had something completely dry to wear.
The torrential rain had started around four. At the time, InuYasha had been running through a wide-open meadow, and by the time he'd found this cave, the two of them were drenched, and her backpack was waterlogged. At least she was able to find a semi-dry change of clothes in her bag. InuYasha wasn't so fortunate.
He had his haori and undershirt off, both of which were hanging on sticks, drying near the fire. The poor hanyou was huddled next to her, skin engulfed in a violent covering of goosebumps since the temperature had dropped dramatically with the coming of the thunder and the rain. His hair was still wet, and he still wore his soaked hakama. Kagome winced when she saw that he was digging his front teeth into his lower lip to keep from shivering outright. Add to that the serious lack of dry firewood, and she figured that it was one of the most miserable evenings she'd spent in Sengoku Jidai.
Digging into the bag, she tugged out a damp towel and scooted behind him to rub his hair. He straightened his back, startled at her actions but allowed her to continue without comment. “I'm sorry this isn't dry,” she muttered as she worked.
“It's fine,” he managed without letting his voice falter from the chilly air.
“If I hadn't wanted to stop for that bath, we'd have been closer to the cave when the rain started.”
She leaned closer against his back and felt him relax a little as her body heat added to his. She deliberately ignored the little fluttering in her belly as she slowly, methodically dried his hair, taking extra care to be gentle around his ears. The towel slipped, and she grimaced as her fingers brushed over the fuzzy appendages. They were so cold . . .
Standing on her knees, she carefully held her hands around his ears. They twitched against her, tickling her palms just a little, but he didn't pull away. “Are you warmer now?”
“Yeah,” he mumbled. She peeked around his shoulders and smiled. He had his eyes closed, a half-smile on his lips as he let her take care of him.
“I didn't realize your ears get cold, too,” she remarked softly.
He shrugged. “Sure . . . don't yours?”
Kagome grinned. “Yeah, I guess they do, sometimes.”
He sighed as he turned his head to stare at the cave's entrance. “Are you warm enough? I can get more wood . . .”
She leaned against him when he started to get up. “No, it's fine. Besides, you're not going to find anything dry enough to burn.” Grabbing the towel, she draped it over his head. “Let me get your ramen ready, then I'll finish drying your hair.”
He didn't complain as she hurried over to pour boiling water into the two containers. He'd offered to go hunting after he'd finally gotten the fire started. Kagome had insisted she wasn't very hungry. She didn't have the heart to watch him go back out in the rain, not when he had water streaming down his face, dripping from the tip of his nose at the time. Setting the food aside to cook, she turned back to face InuYasha and clapped her hands over her mouth before she did something really, really horrible, like laugh at him.
The towel over his head hid his ears and the way he was looking at her, eyes round, blinking . . . The image of a mischievous puppy peeking out from under a blanket flashed through her mind, and she was hard-pressed not to giggle.
She knelt behind him and tugged the pink towel off his head, gently scrunching the water out of his hair. “I think my blanket is pretty dry . . . you could always wrap up in that, if you want to let your pants dry.”
He snorted. “Keh. No, thanks.”
She rolled her eyes. “You don't have to be shy. I won't peek . . .”
He snorted again. “And if a youkai shows up? You want I should fight him while I'm naked?”
Kagome didn't answer as her cheeks heated up. “Well, I didn't think of that, no . . .”
He made a face. “Somehow I don't think they'd oblige me if I asked them to wait while I put my hakama back on.”
She pointed over his shoulder at the food. “Your ramen's done.”
He peeked back at her with a trace frown. “You gonna eat?”
She shrugged. “I will. I want to make sure you're dry enough, first.”
“You take care of me all the time, InuYasha. Let me do this. I won't starve.”
He frowned his disapproval at her but leaned forward to grab his food. Pulling up a large bite of noodles, he turned and held it out to her. “Eat, wench.”
“That's enough to choke a horse. I'll eat when I'm done.”
He grudgingly dropped about half of the noodles off the chopsticks before stubbornly shoving them at her once more. She sighed and shook her head but leaned in closer to eat the offered food. InuYasha ate a bite, too, and then poked another one at her.
She finished drying his hair and draped her blanket over his shoulders before sitting down beside him. They were half-way through the second cup of ramen, and when InuYasha held out another bite to her, she shook her head. “You finish it,” she told him. “I've had enough.”
He shot her a suspicious look. “You say that all the time, wench, and then your stomach growls about an hour later.”
She waved off his concern. “Not this time,” she assured him as she glanced over at the cave entrance. “Do you think it'll rain all night?”
He shrugged. “Dunno . . . I need to get more wood before it gets too dark.”
Kagome shook her head as she pulled a sweater out of her bag. “I'll do it.”
“I won't go far, and even if I get drenched, I have extra clothes. You don't. I'll take the umbrella.”
“And how are you going to carry the wood when you've got that?”
She shrugged. “It doesn't take two arms to carry this,” she assured him, waving the umbrella at him.
He got up, dropping the blanket in a careless heap as he reached for Tetsusaiga. “Forget it, Kagome. I'll get it.”
He silenced her with the fierce look he shot her. She sighed but didn't try to stop him as he strode toward the cave entrance, jamming Tetsusaiga into his waist band. Scanning the landscape, he stood still for a moment before he darted out into the rain.
Wrinkling her nose at his stubborn display, Kagome snatched up the blanket and held it open as close to the fire as she dared. She didn't care what he said when he got back. He was going to be wet and cold all over again. The least she could do was make sure that the blanket was warm and dry for him. If he wasn't careful, he was going to get sick, and she didn't care that he seemed to believe that he was invincible. She'd rather not test that.
She shook her head and smiled as the image of him with the towel draped over his head came back to her. `Adorable baka but still a baka . . .' Laying the blanket down, Kagome grabbed the towel to warm.
She was watching for him when he darted back into the cave ten minutes later, arms laden with enough wood to last the night and then some. He dropped the wood as Kagome ran toward him with the towel. She stopped when he started shaking his head, squealing and turning her face away as he showered her with droplets of rain. “InuYasha!” she protested with a giggle.
He snorted as he gathered the wood up again and headed over to the fire. Lining the wood around the fire but not close enough for it to catch before he squatted down again, he flashed Kagome a thankful grin when she draped the warmed towel over his shoulders. “The wood's not too wet,” he commented as he discarded the towel. “There was an abandoned hut.”
Kagome nodded as she wrapped the blanket over his shoulders. He held it open for her. She sat beside him and wrapped her arms around his waist as he enclosed her under the blanket, too.
They sat in comfortable silence for a long while. InuYasha's soaked hakama dampened her skirt but she didn't complain. Just being that close to him was enough. He leaned forward far enough to push a couple logs onto the fire. With a soft sigh, he stared down at her, golden eyes bright, steady.
“I think I understand now.”
She cocked her head to the side to meet his gaze. “Understand what?”
He shrugged. “When you said before, that we'd take care of each other.”
She smiled, reaching up to stroke his cheek. “Yeah . . .”
He kissed her forehead as he pulled her closer. “I can live with that.”
She giggled. “Good.”
The quiet fell again, a lethargic comfort surrounding her. With a yawn, she sat up and checked her watch. Nine-thirty? She hadn't realized it was already that late. She started to get up. InuYasha glanced at her. “Where are you going?”
She made a face. “The little girls' room,” she quipped as she stumbled toward the entrance of the cave.
“Don't go far,” he called after her.
She nodded. “I won't. I'll be right back.”
She could hear him stand up, and she rolled her eyes. `I should have known . . .'
The rain had stopped, the skies were clear and bright. The freshness of the clean land was exhilarating, and as Kagome stepped out of the cave, she gasped softly as her eyes lifted to the darkness of the skies above, wide in wonder, in absolute enchantment.
“InuYasha! Come look!”
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Sankon-tetsusou: Iron Reaver, Soul Stealer.
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Final Thought fromInuYasha:
What's she yelling about?
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.