InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ The Exterminators' Village ( Chapter 72 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~The Exterminators' Village~
“So you used to live here?” Ichisaru asked as he shifted his troubled gaze around at the ruins of the exterminators' village.
Sango nodded with a sad smile as her eyes wandered to the neat rows of graves, now covered with fresh green grass. “Yes, I grew up here . . . My father, my brother . . . Kohaku . . . and I . . .”
Kagome stood back near the gates with InuYasha beside her as Shippou and Kirara knelt beside Kohaku's grave. “No matter how much time passes, Sango still misses them all like it was yesterday,” Kagome murmured, unconsciously leaning toward InuYasha as he slipped his arm around her shoulders.
“Keh. Of course she does. Don't matter how much time's passed. When you lose someone, you always miss `em.”
She tilted her head to gaze at him. His eyes swept over the ruins of the village with a sad sort of fierceness, and anger that was deeper than anyone could know. `He's thinking about Naraku, and all the lives he destroyed . . . Is he thinking about Kikyou?' Kagome blinked in surprise. For once, the thought of the dead miko didn't hurt . . .
`Maybe it's because . . . I know InuYasha wants to be with me, even if he still loves her somewhere deep down . . . but I know he loves me, too.'
She smiled as the breeze ruffled her hair. Something was different now. Something had changed in the days that they'd spent sealed into the hut outside the village. As if the toxin had been the one thing standing between InuYasha's ability to show his feelings, he seemed changed now. He still got twitchy when anyone noticed his outward displays of affection. She figured he always would.
Those days inside . . . He'd been so gentle, so caring, as though he hadn't wanted to leave her side at all. Even when she removed the barrier so they could sneak away in the night to bathe in the hot spring, he hadn't wanted to stop touching her. When they got back, it was InuYasha's idea to put the barrier back up so that no one would know, come morning. He'd even ignored Miroku's teasing the second morning. As the ex-monk deliberately stepped into and out of the barrier at will to goad InuYasha, the hanyou had made a decent show of irritated frustration that had disappeared as soon as Miroku was out of sight.
What Kagome found most remarkable was that InuYasha's attention wasn't contingent upon sex, either. He seemed to be content just to know that she was still with him, and even though he had been more than willing to be intimate with her, the tenderness he showed in his own gruff way had brought tears to her eyes more than once. `Maybe,' she thought as she leaned closer to him, `maybe the guilt from his dreams had been deeper than I imagined . . .'
Her smile widened as she remembered his reaction, when they'd finally come out of the hut after three days.
“Ah, so you finally broke,” Miroku commented with a wide grin. Sitting in the grass under a sakura tree, the ex-monk couldn't contain his amusement as InuYasha's face reddened.
“Keh. Shut the hell up, pervert.”
“The toxin?” Miroku asked with a pointed lifting of his eyebrows.
InuYasha wrinkled his nose. “I still owe you a beating, don't I? Give me back my fucking sword.”
With a chuckle, Miroku left to retrieve Tetsusaiga. Sango grinned. “You two look . . . rested.”
Kagome blushed as she knelt on the grass. Deliberately focusing her attention on Marisaiko, she picked up the happy baby and completely ignored Sango's observation.
“Kagome!” Shippou hollered as he darted out of Kaede's hut and ran toward her. “I was starting to think you weren't ever going to get InuYasha to talk!”
“Quiet, runt, or you can stay with the old hag instead,” InuYasha growled.
Shippou blinked innocently. “Are you finally going to build Kagome a hut?”
InuYasha snorted. “Keh! I don't have to.”
Kagome glanced back at him as InuYasha jerked his head toward the hut they'd just come from. “InuYasha?”
He shrugged. “It's mine. I claim it.”
Kagome shook her head. “You have a bad habit of claiming things, InuYasha.”
Sango choked back a laugh as Miroku stopped dead in his tracks, face contorting as he, too, struggled not to laugh. InuYasha shot him a piercing look as he snatched Tetsusaiga out of his hands and jammed it through his waist band.
Realizing a little too late just what she had implied, Kagome studiously avoided the teasing as she concentrated on the giggling girl in her lap. At nearly four months old, Marisaiko was chubby and happy, obviously doted on. The slight pain in Kagome's heart still nagged her, but she knew that it would probably always be there. It wasn't a horrible thing. It meant she loved the little girl, too.
Blinking her violet eyes as she quietly regarded Kagome, Marisaiko suddenly giggled as she grabbed InuYasha's fang.
“We were thinking of visiting the exterminators' village,” Miroku remarked as he stopped beside InuYasha. “Sango wanted to show Mari where she grew up.”
Kagome looked up at InuYasha. “Why don't we all go? It's been awhile since we were there, and I'd like to talk to Old Seer again.”
InuYasha shrugged, as though it didn't matter to him. She didn't miss the amused glint in his eyes or the slight upturn to his lips. “I forgot she lives near there. Whatever, wench.”
Her gaze skittered away as heat infused her cheeks—again. “I should go back, then. I need to get clean clothes.”
Kagome rolled her eyes but grinned as she handed Marisaiko to Sango and stood up. “And ramen,” she agreed. She reached for her backpack but InuYasha was quicker. He grabbed it and swung it over his shoulder. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Come on, Kagome.”
InuYasha's hand tightened on her shoulder, shook her slightly to bring her out of her reverie. “You okay?”
Kagome blinked quickly and smiled at the concern in his gaze. “Yeah, of course.” Turning her attention back to their friends, she frowned thoughtfully. “The village isn't sad anymore.”
InuYasha's hand fell away as he crossed his arms together. “You think so?”
She shook her head slowly. “Yeah . . . the sadness is gone. It's ready to live again. I wonder if Sango senses it, too?”
He shrugged. “Could be. She's perceptive.” Setting her backpack down, InuYasha turned toward the gate.
“Where are you going?” she called after him.
“Hunting. Want to come?”
She made a face. “I'll pass, dog-boy.”
“Then stay here with Sango and Miroku.”
Kagome watched him leave with a smile on her face.
The field was quiet, mellow, full of life that stilled as she wandered through. Ahead she could hear the call of birds, the twittering of small animals. They used to ignore her. She could wander through this same meadow for hours as the sounds embraced her. She had somehow become contemptible to them.
She smiled. Her obsession had grown. Swelling into a driving need, goading her further into the darkness, and yet she welcomed it. The knowledge that it was all coming to fruition was heady, delicious, as necessary as a lover's caress.
Hisadaicho stopped; stared at the grassy knoll where she'd first met him, her koishii. Traveling through with his retainers, he sat straight and proud atop his horse. She had been gathering herbs for Old Seer, but when she gazed up at the young man, she'd felt something she never had before. A fluttering of excitement in her breast, a stirring of emotion that she hadn't understood had nearly overwhelmed her. He hadn't stopped but the little smile he offered her had unleashed something wicked, dark, in her.
She recognized him right away. Identifiable by his raiment, his bearing, she knew he was a lord, perhaps a prince. Something in his eyes spoke to her, and she nodded in understanding.
She waited impatiently for the fall of evening shadows, slipping quietly from Old Seer's hovel to return to this place. As the sun sank over the horizon, as the first stars of the night twinkled to life, she tried to be patient. He was coming. She saw it in his eyes. His promise had been voice with indefinable words, in the lingering gaze they'd shared.
The soft thud of his horse's heels brought her out of her musings. Again her heart quickened, again she felt the stirrings deep inside. He reigned in his horse, dropped to the ground, smiled at her in a shy sort of way. His deep brown eyes seemed fathomless in the night, and he bowed to her. “I hoped I would meet you again.”
“Yes,” she whispered, her heart thundering in her ears.
“Tell me your name?”
She ducked her head, unable to control the tremors in her heart. “Emi, my lord.”
He smiled. “Blessed with beauty . . . how befitting.”
She blushed at his compliment, at his quiet show of respect. “Thank you . . . may I . . . may I ask your name?”
His smile widened as he inclined his head in apology. “I am—”
“Emi . . . why have you returned?”
At the intrusion upon her memory, Hisadaicho pivoted slowly, stared at Old Seer as a trace of a smile broke over her face. “Old woman . . . be easy. I have not come to do you harm . . . this time.”
Old Seer pointed her walking stick at the hanyou. “What is it you seek to do?”
Hisadaicho shrugged. “I was simply passing through.”
“And I say you lie.”
“Think what you will. It should be enough that I do not choose to kill you . . . yet.” She turned on her heel and strode toward the forest. Why had she come here? Was it a simple refreshing of her memories? To reinforce her own resolve? It didn't matter, not in the end. She would have it all. She only needed to be patient just a little while longer.
“He will destroy you,” Old Seer warned. “I have foreseen this!”
Hisadaicho kept walking, ignoring the old woman as she strode toward the forest. `Destroy me? Impossible. I am eternal . . . I will have it all . . .'
“Have you spoken to Old Seer before, Sango?”
Sango worked a stick out of Marisaiko's grasp and glanced at Kagome. “No, I haven't. I remember Father mentioning an old woman with the sight before but I never met her.”
Kagome stirred the pot of mixed spring vegetables and rabbit meat that was stewing over the fire. “Hisadaicho used to be her apprentice.”
“She was a human named Emi. Old Seer said that she left for a man but she has no idea how she became what she is now.”
Sango stared at Kagome thoughtfully. “You think you can get through to her, don't you? You think you can save her.”
Kagome bit her lip and shrugged as she set aside the spoon. “I don't know if she can be saved. InuYasha doesn't think she can. I just think maybe . . . maybe she can. If any of Emi is left inside her . . .” trailing off with a sigh, Kagome stared at Sango, her eyes begging her friend to understand. “Old Seer said that she used to be good and kind. Isn't there anything left of that in her?”
“You like to believe the best of people,” Sango pointed out gently. “Sometimes . . . but maybe you're right.”
Kagome sighed and shook her head. “I just want to try, but InuYasha won't like it.”
Sango smiled. “You and he . . . you're really close now.”
Kagome finally smiled, too. “Yeah.”
“It's about time. Miroku is very happy for you, too.” She rolled her eyes as she shifted Marisaiko on her lap. “He thinks that he can get away with teasing InuYasha more. I told him that wasn't a good idea.” She glanced at the empty doorway. “If they're not back in ten minutes, I'll start digging his grave.”
Kagome stood up and wandered over to the doorway to peek outside at the falling blanket of night. “I wonder what's taking them so long.”
“You know, InuYasha, not that I doubt you in any way, but . . .” Miroku mused as the hanyou sniffed the ground. “Are you sure you aren't . . . smelling things?”
InuYasha glared over his shoulder at the ex-monk and snorted. “Keh! There ain't a damn thing wrong with my sense of smell. I'm telling you, I smell her.”
Miroku frowned. “If you've never seen her before in her true form and during those times, she's smelled like Kagome, how do you know it's her?”
“I remember her stench from the cave, monk. Any more stupid questions?”
Miroku gazed around at the forest, violet eyes troubled, dark. “What would she be doing around here?”
InuYasha stood up, his glower deepened since he hadn't been able to find Hisadaicho's trail. “I don't know, and I don't like it, either.”
“We can keep watch tonight.”
InuYasha shook his head as he turned back toward the village. “She can't be stupid enough to come around. She's got to know that the toxin's broke. Well, she could if she wants to die,” he grumbled as he cracked his knuckles.
Miroku wheeled around and fell into step beside InuYasha. “And you're positive she wants Kagome?”
InuYasha nodded, eyes darkening with the turbulence of his emotions. “Yeah, I am. She'll have to kill me first if she thinks I'll let her anywhere near Kagome.”
“Why does she need her?”
This time InuYasha snorted. “Keh! Hell if I know. What does it matter? She ain't getting her hands on Kagome, and that's that.”
Miroku suddenly grinned as though he just remembered something. He chuckled, shaking his head slowly as the rings of his Shakuju jingled.
“What are you laughing about?”
Miroku cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows innocently. “Nothing . . . nothing . . . I simply found it . . . interesting that you and Kagome were locked into the hut for three days, and no one heard you arguing after . . . that first night . . .”
InuYasha screwed up his face in a scowl as he fought back the rising blush. “Keh.”
Miroku chuckled again but let it drop with a shrug. “I noticed Kagome's necklace. What is that?”
“It's my fang, monk. Totosai made it into a talisman for her.”
“Interesting. I never knew it could be done. Does it protect her?”
“Sorta. It should help me find her, if she's in trouble.”
InuYasha stomped through the village gate, smiling slightly when he saw Kagome standing in the doorway of the small hut. Her face broke into a bright smile as she darted straight toward him. For a moment he thought she was going to throw herself at him. She stopped at the last moment settled for an engaging grin as she whirled around to walk on his other side, hands clasped behind her back. “You're supposed to stay in the hut after dark, wench.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I'm safe. You're here.”
He snorted. “Keh. At least remember your bow and arrows.”
“I don't need them when you're here.”
“Well, I think I'll go find Shippou and Ichisaru, if you two will excuse me,” Miroku cut in, hiding his amusement as he strode away.
Kagome giggled. “Did you find what you were looking for?”
“No . . . it was nothing. Don't worry about it.”
She stared at him for a moment like she was trying to figure out what he was thinking. In the end she sighed and grabbed his hand, tugging until he stopped. “InuYasha, you promised me that you wouldn't keep things from me anymore, remember?”
He grimaced, ears flattening at her gentle reminder. “That promise shouldn't have been made.”
She arched her eyebrows at his surly remark. “What do you mean? You can't go back on your word.”
He snorted. “Keh! You asked me that right after we—Never mind. It wasn't a fair promise.”
Kagome giggled as InuYasha's cheeks reddened. “You still promised.”
“Yeah, yeah, don't remind me,” he grumbled.
She shook her head slowly and crossed her arms over her chest. “So?”
“So are you going to tell me what you were looking for?”
Heaving a defeated sigh, InuYasha's frown narrowed into a suspicious glower. “I smelled her.”
Instant alarm registered on Kagome's features, her eyes widening with her shock. “Hisadaicho?”
InuYasha jerked his head once to confirm her question. “Yeah. I smelled her but I couldn't find her trail.”
Kagome digested that for a moment before gasping softly as she reached out to grab his arm. “You don't think . . . she wouldn't have come after Old Seer, would she?”
He thought that over and shook his head slowly. “I don't know. Go back into the hut while I go check it out.”
Kagome shook her head stubbornly. “No, I'm coming with you.”
He started to argue with her but sighed when he saw the stubborn light in her eyes. “Oi, monk!” he hollered as Miroku and the youkai children headed toward the hut. Miroku stopped, turning his questioning gaze on InuYasha. “Kagome and I are going to go check something.”
Miroku nodded as InuYasha scooped up Kagome and maneuvered her onto his back.
He shot a quick glance over his shoulder and snorted. “You want to do the running, wench? I'm going as fast as I can.”
“I know,” she admitted quietly, the worry in her voice apparent. “I'm just worried, is all.”
InuYasha frowned as he pushed off the ground. “Yeah,” he agreed as they soared over the treetops. `So am I . . .'
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from Hisadaicho:
My koishii …
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.