InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Metamorphosis. ❯ Separation Anxiety ( Chapter 77 )

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

~~Chapter 77~~
InuYasha scowled as he landed on the ground and sniffed. Something was wrong—very wrong. `That fucking mangy wolf . . . he ain't taking her to his tribe . . . but where the hell is he taking her, then?'
The longer he searched, the more frustrated he grew, and the more frustrated he grew, the more irritated he became. He'd been tracking them for the last few hours, and he couldn't figure out where Kouga thought he was taking Kagome. Surely she knew by now that the damn liar wasn't taking her to his tribe. InuYasha would give up ramen forever if the bastard was even telling the truth about one of them being injured . . .
`But why would he take Kagome?' InuYasha's golden eyes darkened with his brewing rage. `Who the fuck cares? I'll kill him, see if I don't . . .'
Locating the trail once more, InuYasha darted off into the forest again. The sun was starting to set burning oranges and reds on the horizon. He knew in his heart that Kagome was safe. That didn't stop him from worrying. `Damn that Kouga . . . if he hurts her . . .'
A sudden jolt of fear shot through him. InuYasha nearly missed a step as he faltered. The fear wasn't his own. More like something he perceived than something he felt, the fear . . .
His voice echoed off the trees, through the air, answered only by the lonely call of evening birds.
Her fear left a bitter taste in his mouth as concern threatened to overwhelm him. She could have been right there beside him. The emotion was unshakable.
Edging aside rational thought as he tore through the forest, only one thought made sense to him, and that was, Kagome was scared. Kagome, who feared nothing . . .
Sprinting faster than he ever had before, InuYasha's lips curled back in a brutal snarl. `Hang on, Kagome . . . I'll find you . . . I promise . . .'
Kagome bit her bottom lip as she intercepted another worried glance from the kitsune. He didn't have to speak for her to know what he was thinking. He was just as scared as she was. She only prayed that Shippou didn't sense hers.
Something strange and subtly frightening was happening. Kagome didn't want to think about it too deeply. Maybe she was scared of what she'd discern if she dug too deep. The rising edges of hysteria were lurking close. Kouga was behaving stranger by the minute but the oddly fevered look in his eyes frightened her more than anything else.
Glancing back over Kouga's shoulder, Kagome stifled a sigh at the empty forest behind them. `InuYasha . . . hurry . . .'
A heartening warmth seeped into her as the fang seemed to pulse. `You know, don't you? And you don't want me to be afraid.'
Blinking as Kouga burst out of the trees, Kagome felt Shippou's little body erupt in tremors as a strong jyaki seeped over them. “K-Kagome?”
She nodded and cleared her throat before swallowing hard and trying to make her voice work. “Kouga? Kouga, where are you taking us?”
Shippou hopped down and planted himself in the wolf youkai's tracks as he waved his arms around. “Kouga!”
To Kagome's relief, he stopped, and she squirmed out of his arms, careful to put more than an arm's length between them. “You know that, right? InuYasha will come after me.”
Kouga's gaze cleared in the thin moonlight, eyes narrowing as his brows drew together as he stared at Kagome's throat. An accusing flash of light entered his glare. He shot forward as Kagome gasped and stumbled back too late. Kouga's fingers brushed against her skin, wrapping around the fang talisman. He jerked as she fell. The chain dug into the back of her neck, wrenching a small cry from her as the chain snapped. Kagome scrambled to her feet and tried to grab the necklace away.
“Give that back!” Shippou hollered. “That's Kagome's! She needs that!”
“Back off!” Kouga snarled, sending the kit flying with a kick to his stomach.
“Shippou!” Kagome screamed as she let go and ran to the fallen child.
Kouga was faster, snatching Shippou off the ground before Kagome could. “Kouga? Why are you doing this?” she whispered, tears spiking in her eyes as she stared helplessly at the kitsune.
Kouga grinned. “It's simple. My mate asked me to bring you here. Cooperate or I'll kill him.”
Shippou whimpered just a little as Kouga's arm tightened around his stomach. Kagome watched as Kouga flung the fang necklace aside. Everything inside her screamed at her to run, to find that necklace. Kouga's arm tightened again as his other hand held Shippou's head, warning clear: obey or Kouga would snap Shippou's neck.
Kagome swallowed hard, and she jerked her head once, giving her agreement. “Don't hurt him,” she pleaded, her voice thick, raw. “Just don't hurt him.”
She didn't want to take her eyes off Shippou. She didn't want to do what Kouga commanded, but Shippou . . . Her feet felt clumsy, her movements stilted. She turned around and stumbled forward.
A distant thunder grew louder in her ears. Kagome frowned into the darkness. The earth seemed to quiver under her feet. Kouga reached out and stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. Out of the darkness, they came. At least fifty men on horseback, samurais all. They surrounded Kagome, the beasts of war snorting in her hair, pawing the ground with their powerful hooves.
Kouga handed Shippou to one of the men then grabbed Kagome around the waist to shove her into another samurai's arms. He stepped back and nodded. The horses shot into motion, their grunts of disapproval bleeding into a shriek of pain as sharp heels spurred them onward. Kagome tried to turn, tried to find Shippou in the fray. The arm around her waist tightened painfully, and she bit her cheek to keep from crying out.
`Kouga said . . . his mate . . . Hisadaicho . . . but . . . what does she want from me?' Another surge of panic hit her hard. So long as they had Shippou . . . `InuYasha . . . hurry . . .'
InuYasha shook his head as he tried to stave back the waves of fear, of panic that shot through him time and again. The feelings were secondary to the impotent anger inspired by the fact that there was nothing he could do to comfort her.
He stopped abruptly, stumbling as he felt a vicious yank, a sudden separation. Something or someone had interfered with the link between them, the fang . . .
`Kouga! He did it! Damn it!'
InuYasha grimaced as he shot forward again. `If he took it off her, then she's definitely in danger. Hell! Kouga, when I get my fucking hands on you, I swear I'll rip you apart . . .'
Twenty minutes later, he burst from the forest into a field bathed in weak moonlight. He could smell Kagome's presence lingering on the breeze. She was here even if she was gone now. The lingering jyaki was thick, too, but Kagome's aura sliced through it with a subtle beauty, a gentle afterthought.
Something else beckoned him. He couldn't see it in the expanse but he could feel it. It took him less than two minutes to find it. Shining in the darkness like a fallen star, the fang lay discarded in the grass, the chain broken, and the trace scent of Kagome's blood stinging his nostrils.
He picked it up slowly, turned it over in his hand. Tying the broken ends of the strand holding it, he slipped it over his neck as his eyes flashed dangerously. `Kagome.'
A snarl erupted from the shadows near the trees as InuYasha slowly turned his head to pin the wolf youkai with an irate glare. Beyond his limits, beyond reason, almost beyond the ability to control his own emotions, the hanyou pivoted, waited, bearing his fangs as the wolf youkai slipped out of the shadows.
“Where is she, Kouga?” InuYasha demanded, cracking his knuckles as Kouga stalked him.
Kouga's answer was an escalating growl. Crouching close to the ground, he snarled dangerously. InuYasha didn't move as he waited for Kouga to attack. `What the . . . ? He smells . . . half-dead . . . ?'
Kouga lunged. InuYasha ripped Tetsusaiga from the scabbard and leveled it at Kouga's chest. “You'd better think again, bastard!”
If Kouga heard him, InuYasha didn't know. The youkai didn't alter his path, and InuYasha raised Tetsusaiga.
The scent of the intruder barely had time to register in InuYasha's head before he was thrown back. A blur of movement sent him stumbling. He righted his footing and glanced up only to see Sesshoumaru holding Kouga by the throat, suspended above the ground.
“Let him go, damn it!” InuYasha snarled. “He's mine.”
Sesshoumaru's gaze shifted to the side for a moment before it moved back to Kouga. With a slight grimace, he shook Kouga. “Be not a fool, InuYasha. He is not worth your trouble.”
InuYasha snorted as he stomped over to them. “Keh! That's what you think. I'll rip him apart.”
Kouga gasped, gurgled as Sesshoumaru's hand tightened on his jugular. Amber eyes cold, all emotion swept away, the tai-youkai could have been staring at nothing. “He is tainted. She has done this.” Sesshoumaru's eyes shifted to the side, still cold despite the slight flicker of recognition in his stare. “She has taken your miko. Will you not save her?”
“Kagome . . .”
Sesshoumaru ignored InuYasha's soft utterance, shook Kouga again as a spark of rage flashed behind his stoic gaze. “Make no mistake, InuYasha, I want Hisadaicho's blood, but she's taken your mate. As much as I despise this, it is your responsibility to save her. The law of the youkai dictates this. Do it.”
Kouga raked Sesshoumaru's hand as his face rapidly melded from crimson to a sickly blue. Sesshoumaru broke into a bitter smile, more of a snarl, calculated and calm. Kouga's vacant eyes were glossed over, glassy. If he knew he was about to die, Kouga didn't show it. The only sign he understood at all was the pathetic fight to loosen Sesshoumaru's hand.
“You disgust me, you pathetic fool,” Sesshoumaru growled, heaving Kouga away. Kouga's body flew back, and he smacked into a tree. The impact shook the ground as InuYasha gritted his teeth, tearing himself away from the two as he and sprinted into the night to find Kagome. As much as he wanted to deal a world of hurt on Kouga, his concern for Kagome was just too important.
Glancing over his shoulder, InuYasha saw Sesshoumaru stride over to the fallen youkai, but he couldn't hear what was said in the quiet.
`Keh! Who the fuck cares? Let the two of them kill each other. I've got other stuff to deal with.'
The scent of horses and the stench of dead flesh infiltrated his mind even as he discerned the underlying smell of Kagome, of Shippou. Increasing his speed as he ran, the only thought that kept running through his mind was that Kagome needed him.
He'd die before he let her down.
Kagome stood alone in the courtyard as the samurai warriors cut off any means of escape. The escort had multiplied; the original fifty mounted samurai were a tiny percentage of the number gathered around her. Kagome groaned inwardly. There were hundreds of them, and they all seemed . . . dead?
The samurai who still held Shippou waited near the castle doors. The kitsune was terrified. His eyes met hers, and she had to fight back the desire to run to him. Nothing made sense. The trip to the castle had been short. The barrier that hid the expansive structure had disappeared long enough to allow the riders to enter before it had been secured once more.
Her shoulders ached, her hands were numb. The samurai who had tied her wrists hadn't left even a little give for her to move her hands at all.
An oppressive aura hung over the courtyard. Akin to the miasma that lingered around Naraku's castle, it clung to Kagome like a stifling blanket. She shook her head quickly, blinking as she tried to clear her mind. `Why did I think about him? It . . . it makes no sense . . .'
Hisadaicho stepped out of the castle followed by the hulking form of a human servant. Kagome's eyes flared as she took in the man. He had an empty look in his shadowy gaze, an emptiness that chilled her to the bone. `Like he doesn't have a soul . . .'
Hisadaicho held a small earthenware urn, caressed it lovingly, her eyes sparking to life as she stared at Kagome. With a jerk of her head, the samurais filed out of the gates. Kagome swallowed hard. `They're expecting InuYasha . . . Please hurry . . .'
Hisadaicho clapped her hands gleefully, her face twisting into a delighted smile as she lifted her robes and hurried down the steps. “At last, Kagome . . . I want to thank you for being so punctual.”
“I wasn't really given a choice, was I?” Kagome challenged as she tried not to peek over at Shippou. The kitsune moaned. Kagome felt the color seep out of her skin at the sound. “What do you want with me?”
Hisadaicho shrugged as she reached out, wrapped her hand around the Shikon no Tama and yanked. “First things first. We must buy some time . . . I'd imagine your puppy is closing in fast. We don't want him to find us, now do we?”
Kagome stared at the Shikon no Tama, still glowing pink in Hisadaicho's open palm. “It won't matter. InuYasha will always come for me.”
“I'm sure he will. If he's lucky, he might even arrive in time to bid you a fond farewell.”
She waved toward the burly servant standing in the castle doorway. He strode over and yanked Shippou away from the samurai. He grabbed Kagome's arm and propelled her toward the castle.
The entire castle was as silent as a grave, eerie, frightening. She didn't look at anything as she was hustled from the room into a long corridor. Shippou whimpered. Kagome bit her lip. The corridor stopped at a dead end. Hisadaicho pressed her palm against the wall. It slid back, and panic surged again as the man shoved Kagome into the darkness.
“What do you want with me?” Kagome asked, proud of the way her voice didn't falter. Echoing off the narrow passageway, it somehow gave her courage, made her feel a little less frightened.
“We'll talk, Kagome. It's only fair, isn't it?”
The wall slid closed again, leaving Kagome in complete darkness. A cloying dread gripped her as she blinked quickly, as she willed her eyes to adjust. It was too dark, too encompassing, too terrifying. InuYasha had told her once, that his senses were dulled on his nights of vulnerability. Had he felt fear like this? Had he ever felt fear before?
A sudden ache welled up in her. She gasped as she forced it away. `InuYasha . . . you're scared now, aren't you?' That thought frightened her even more, and Kagome tried not to think about it anymore. If only she knew how close he was.
She wanted to see his face again.
The man shoved her roughly, and Kagome stumbled. Scuffing her feet on the floor as she walked, Kagome stumbled and careened into the wall. The material covering her shoulder ripped with an obscenely loud sound, and she couldn't stave back the tiny yelp of pain as her skin flamed from the impact.
“Careful, Aki. I need her unharmed,” Hisadaicho warned. The man grunted in reply as they continued in the darkness.
“Why do you need me?”
Hisadaicho's chuckle—an otherwise warm sound—turned Kagome's blood cold in her veins. “Don't you know? I need you to fix something that you destroyed—you and that mongrel mate of yours. I need you to restore my koishii.”
“I didn't . . . I never . . .”
Her chuckle escalated into a harsh, bitter laugh that echoed through the corridor and made Kagome wince. “But you did! It doesn't matter, you see? You're the answer, and the beauty is that in bringing back my koishii, I'll be destroying every last one of your friends, starting with the hanyou.”
Irrational anger rose inside Kagome, black and ugly and thicker than the darkness she blundered through. “You can't touch InuYasha! You don't dare!” Kagome challenged, anger that Hisadaicho would dare threaten the people she loved nudging reason aside.
Aki growled, grabbing a handful of Kagome's hair. She hissed in pain but didn't cry out.
“That's enough, Aki. Her righteous indignation is fine. You can't stop me, miko. I could care less about you or your hanyou . . . but you will help me.”
“I won't,” Kagome insisted when Aki let go with another shove. This time she caught herself before she stumbled.
Hisadaicho snorted. “Hmm . . . you will. I have your kitsune, remember?”
“No, Kagome, you can't—ow!” Shippou wailed. Kagome whipped around only to barrel into Aki's chest. He grabbed Kagome's arm and spun her around once more.
The air thickened as they walked. The jyaki didn't lessen but was mingled with oppressive youki energy instead. Kagome's knees nearly buckled as she moved forward. Almost past the limits of what she could stand, she could sense the presence of too many youkai, the presence of pure evil.
The corridor ended abruptly, opening into a huge cavern. They stood at the top on a high ledge, but at least Kagome could see in here. The rough walls glowed with the strength of the aura, and as she stood, staring down into the void below, she felt a tug between her hands, a sharp pang as the rope that held her hands suddenly fell away.
Before she could stifle the groan from her muscles cramping in protest, Kagome screamed as Aki shoved her once more, and she tumbled off the cliff into the darkness.
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Jyaki: wicked energy.
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Final Thought from InuYasha:
Damn that fucking wolf
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.