InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Midnight Meets Moonlight ❯ Strange Creature ( Chapter 7 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Chapter Seven
Strange Creature
“I can't believe we're stuck with that arrogant---“
“…egotistical, hella nasty---“
“…prickish son of a bitch,” Inuyasha finished in a loud voice while Kagome let out a tired sigh. He'd been going at it all day, trying to goad Sesshoumaru into a fight while Sesshoumaru maintained his stoic silence.
“You insulting him all the time isn't going to help matters,” she hissed at him, sneaking a glance at the TaiYoukai who walked several paces behind the rest of the group.
“Why are you sticking up for him?” Inuyasha demanded, his eyes narrowing. “He's just using you to get information. It's disrespectful to you and dishonorable.”
“Just as dishonorable as using me as a shard detector,” she shot back, and savored the look on his face.
“I'm not….I didn't….It's not the fucking…that's completely diff…..DAMN IT!”
“Give it up, Inuyasha,” she said, ignoring his blustering. “He's helping us get the last shard, and I don't want you screwing that up. It's a blessing in disguise.”
“Yeah, an ugly, disgusting, HELLA nasty…”
“Osuwari,” she said, and stepped over his prostrate body as he thudded to the ground. He sputtered as he spit dirt out of his mouth.
“What the hell was that for? God dammit, you keep forgetting that you said you would only use that word in a life or death situation!”
“I didn't forget,” she said, and snuck a glance at Sesshoumaru. Maybe it was her eyes playing tricks on her, but even though he wasn't looking at them, he had a slight smirk on his face. “Your mouth is going to get you killed if you don't watch it, Inuyasha. If you don't like it so much, don't walk so close to him. Use some common sense!”
“Fine, I will then!” Nursing his bruised pride, he stalked away to the front of the group to walk with Kikyo, with Sango, Miroku, and Shippo behind them. Which left Kagome closest to…
“Doesn't it bother you that he is so quick to go to her after you, miko?”
She grimaced as she glanced over her shoulder. “Not that it's any of your business, but no, it doesn't bother me. Inuyasha is free to be with whomever he wishes.”
He smirked slightly and met her eyes. “Fine, I will accept that. But now my question is if that martyr attitude of yours ever wears you down?”
She frowned. “I'm not a martyr, and I never pretended to be.” Now they were walking side by side. After her answer, he remained silent for several minutes and she didn't feel the need to break it. Let him be with his own thoughts for awhile…it would keep him from bothering her with the questions she was sure were going to come.
But, as soon as that thought had entered her mind, he asked, “Why were you with me last night in the future?”
She hesitated before answering. “I was having dinner with you…again.”
She debated on telling him or not…would the knowledge that she was going to work for him change history? She shrugged. She didn't see much harm in it. “I'm going to work for you,” she said reluctantly. He seemed slightly surprised, and then arrogant.
“I'm going to be your master?”
“No,” she denied hotly, and flushed. “Things are different in my time. There are no masters, just bosses and the people who work for them and get paid for it.”
He pondered that, and then inclined his head to show he understood. “And what are you doing for me?”
“I work in your museum, as a tour guide.”
She paused. Of course he wouldn't know what a museum was…she didn't think anything like that existed in this time. “A museum is a place where artifacts that are very old are kept and people can look at them. It's a way to protect history.”
He was silent for a few more moments as he digested this fact. He didn't know what he had been expecting to hear, but for some reason, he felt strange by her answers. He guessed that he always expected to keep fighting and gaining power, taking power over more lands by force. But from what she was telling him, he almost sounded…domesticated. He grimaced inwardly. What happened to the great and powerful Sesshoumaru in the future? Did the stories of him just fade into time to be forgotten? That didn't sit well with him at all.
He shot a sidelong glance at the small human next to him, content to be silent until his next question, enjoying the scenery around her. Would demons fall to her kind? Humans grew more and more hostile to his kind with every passing day, and they held the same fear of him as before, but they reacted in a different way. Instead of fearing him to the point where they wanted nothing to do with him, content to just let him pass through without trying to engage in any confrontation with him for fear of their lives, they now tried to attack him for that same fear.
His eyes hardened. Would his whole race fade into extinction?
“Girl,” he said, and she jumped, startled by his harsh voice. “What became of youkai in the future?”
She stared at him for a second, and as if she had guessed his thoughts, she gave him a sad smile that disarmed him for a moment. “I don't really know, Sesshoumaru,” she said honestly. “I don't know what happened between here and there to make demons disappear, but to my knowledge, they don't exist in my time.” She frowned. “Well, at least I thought they didn't. Your presence there seemed to have proved me wrong. Who knows? Maybe there are more and they just prefer to live privately. However, your kind are considered just myths now, used in fairytales and fantasies. A lot has happened since now.”
She knew he didn't exactly like her answer, but there was none other she could give and he would have to live with that. After a moment, he nodded. “I suppose I will find out eventually,” he said.
They spent another moment in surprisingly companionable silence before he asked another question, this time with a slight mischievous glint in his eyes. “So, that's why you and I had dinner? We were discussing work details, and nothing else?” For some reason, the fact that she was seeing him for such…boring reasons bothered him. It was much more fun to tease her. He smirked inwardly as he saw a slight flush blossom on her cheeks.
She hated her stupidity for remembering the kiss that he had given her on her hand…she was sure now she looked like a tomato. However, she was able to reply evenly, “It was just business.”
He sincerely doubted that, but he decided to forget questions about him for now and try and find out more about her…and why he was so interested in her. “Tell me then, what do you do in the future? What of your family?”
She seemed surprised by his abrupt change of topic, especially when the topic revolved around her. But then, she grew suspicious and gave him a shrewd stare. “Why do you want to know?”
Just because he found it extremely amusing to see her angry, he replied off-handedly, “I was just wondering why someone like me would spend so much time with someone like you in the future.”
“Someone like me…” she trailed off, and he could smell the spike in her scent that said her temper was about to go off. “Why you little…” she broke off at his amused look and just gave a little growl and stalked off to join Sango.
He blinked at the growl she gave him, but couldn't help but give a silent chuckle at her display of temper.
When Kagome caught up to Sango, she was practically vibrating with anger. Sango, seeing the state she was in, wisely sent Miroku and Shippo to go ahead so that they could talk privately.
“What's wrong, Kagome-chan?”
“The nerve of that demon,” Kagome spat, not knowing that Sesshoumaru could still hear her with his sharp hearing. “He thinks he's so above everyone else and that there's no way in hell that he would want to see me in the future without there being some catch. Well, excuse me for catching his interest! He's the one who is always demanding that I have dinner with him, not giving me a chance to say anything!”
Sesshoumaru's eyebrows rose almost to his hairline. He was the one instigating the visits? Interesting...
He paid closer attention, but he almost missed a step when she said her next words.
“I mean, HE'S the one who kissed ME first!” Her own eyes widened as she realized what she had said, and noticed the shocked look on Sango's face.
“Kagome-chan, Sesshoumaru kissed you?”
She fidgeted. “Not really. I mean, it was just a kiss on the hand but…” she trailed off as she remembered the look in his eyes afterward…a look she had never received from any male before and made her stomach explode with thousands of butterflies.
Sesshoumaru's own mind was in a frenzy. What the hell was he doing kissing her anywhere? He didn't understand any of this, his future self, Kagome, his growing curiosity of her. None of it made any sense.
The taijiya's voice snapped him out of his thoughts as she whispered, “Kagome, aren't you afraid to be alone with him? He's not exactly the most trustworthy being…”
“I don't think he's like that, Sango,” she said, and twisted the hem of her shirt in her fingers as she confessed, “I…I trust him. I don't know why, but I think he's harmless.”
Sango gave a little smile. “I think only you could actually say that about him, Kagome.”
Sesshoumaru sniffed lightly at being thought of as “harmless”. He could tear her scrawny body to shreds in less than a second, yet she trusted him. It gave him an odd filling to gain someone's trust that easily. The miko was naïve. His attention picked up again when Sango mentioned something called “Hojo”.
“I don't really have a lot of contact with him now,” he heard the miko say in reply. “I think he gave up on the idea of ever going out with me. He just stopped asking after a while.”
So the “Hojo” thing was a man, and seemed to want the miko's attention, Sesshoumaru mused.
“I'm surprised you haven't gone out with him, Kagome,” Sango said. “Especially after you realized you and Inuyasha wouldn't…” She froze. “Kagome, I'm sorry.”
Kagome laughed. “Sango, don't worry about me. I've come to terms with everything regarding Inuyasha. As for Hojo…” Kagome never quite understood WHY she didn't go back to Hojo. He would've made a wonderful boyfriend…caring, thoughtful, nice…maybe a little TOO nice. She could just never see herself with someone as nice as him…it would've started to drive her nuts. Plus, at her age, her friends thought it was time she got a lover…but she just didn't think she could bring herself to do…THAT with Hojo. HE didn't make her feel butterflies in her stomach...
She froze. Where had that thought come from? She shook her head. Anyway, she just didn't feel any attraction to Hojo, sexual or otherwise. She knew that a lot of people her age were having sex, and she had thought about it; she was a grown woman with the same hormones as everyone else. She had thought about who would be her first, if she would be able to please him, and if she could love him, but she never imagined that guy could ever be Hojo.
Plus, she had her life here, and she couldn't just drop that for some fling with a random guy. She was more responsible than that. Not paying attention, she bumped into Sango, which jarred her out of her reverie.
“What's wrong?” she asked.
Sango shook her head. “I don't know, but Inuyasha's stopped.”
And indeed he had. He was sniffing the air furiously, and when Kagome turned to look at Sesshoumaru, she realized that he had stopped as well and seemed to tense.
“We're surrounded,” Kikyo said calmly, taking out an arrow from her quiver and notching it in her bow. As Kirara transformed, and everyone got into battle positions, Kagome grabbed onto Shippo and waited. Silence reigned for several moments, but soon, a rumbling filled the air.
“Where's it coming from?” Inuyasha shouted, but no one answered because the ground had started to shake beneath them.
The earth shifted and rolled as their adversaries shot up from the ground: centipede youkai. Kagome shivered as she got a good look at their features…they looked like the Mistress Centipede that had dragged Kagome into the well five years ago.
“The Skikon no Tama,” the leader rumbled. “You have it.”
Inuyasha unsheathed Tetsusaiga and sneered. “Yeah, so?”
“You will give it to us.”
His eyebrow rose. “Oh, yeah? What if I don't?”
The leader's eyes narrowed. “We will take it. Stay out of our way, hanyou. It is the jewel we want.” His gaze turned to Kagome. “Although the girl that possesses it might make a tasty treat for the rest of us.”
“Keh! Over my dead body!”
Beady eyes glinted with malice. “That can be arranged.” As one, the youkai leapt forward, and the battle was on. One of them went straight for Kagome, but since she was holding Shippo, she couldn't draw her bow.
“Kagome-chan, duck!” Sango yelled, and Kagome hit the ground, rolling so that Shippo wouldn't get hurt. “Hiraikotsu!”
The giant boomerang flew across their heads, directly into the middle of the centipede, ripping it in half. Kagome scrambled out of the way again, and set Shippo on the ground, drawing an arrow and notching it before carefully taking aim and letting go. The arrow flared to life with her holy power as it raced towards one of the monsters, exploding in a great burst of light as it purified the centipede and disintegrated it to dust.
Sesshoumaru watched with a slightly bored expression at the whole undertaking, not bothering to draw his sword as he watched the group fight.
“Oi, Sesshoumaru!” Inuyasha yelled across the small clearing. “Are you gonna help or what?”
“I said I would help you get a jewel shard,” Sesshoumaru replied, inspecting his claws leisurely. “Not fight your battles for you, little brother.”
Inuyasha grunted as he dodged another attack from the leader of the centipedes and hollered back, “You're helping us complete the jewel, and to complete the jewel, you have to KEEP THE CURRENT SHARDS PROTECTED, YOU DUMB BASTARD!!!!”
Sesshoumaru glanced at Kagome as she released another holy arrow directly into the forehead of one of the monsters before calmly notching another one. “The miko seems to be doing just fine on her own.”
“God damn it, just kill some of them, will ya?”
Sesshoumaru let out a little sigh and knew he was growing tired of watching the fight. He lifted his arm and extended his youkai whip, killing the youkai one by one without pausing. Even as Inuyasha was about to deal the killing blow to the leader, Sesshoumaru's whip got to him first and turned him into a pile of ash.
“Wow,” Kagome breathed as he retracted the whip. He hadn't even broken a sweat. Hell, he hadn't even moved any other part of his body besides his arm.
“Keh, showoff,” Inuyasha said, putting Tetsusaiga back in its sheath.
“You asked me to kill some,” Sesshoumaru pointed out.
“Yeah, but did you have to kill all of them? You coulda left at least SOME for me to---“
He broke off as Kagome screamed. They had missed one of the centipedes that had been burrowing, hiding in wait for the perfect moment. It had come up through the ground right underneath Kagome, and grabbed her, holding her high off of the ground.
“That's right, pretty, give me the jewel,” it cooed, blasting its rancid breath in her face. She made a disgusted face and tried to get out of its grip, but it was useless.
“Let her go,” Inuyasha said as he raced forward, claws bared, but he was knocked back with a whip of the centipede's slimy body to his chest. He flew back and rammed into Sango and Miroku, leaving them all senseless for precious moments.
Kagome looked down and saw Sesshoumaru standing impassively in front of the youkai, but his eyes had hardened and she knew that he was going to kill the youkai.
Sesshoumaru weighed his options on how best to kill the disgusting monster, but he realized he was only left with two. One was to try and find a way to kill the monster without harming the woman, and the other one…was to just kill through her to get to the monster. He looked at her, and she stared deeply back at him, seeming to guess what he was thinking, and she closed her eyes, knowing her fate was in his hands.
Killing the monster would ensure the safety of the jewel…Kikyo could protect it until they gathered the last shard, so Kagome really wasn't necessary. If he tried to get around her, he might not kill the monster quick enough, and it would get the jewel, and Kagome would die anyway. It was only logical, and he was nothing if but a logical demon. Maybe he would be able to revive her with Tenseiga afterwards, but it didn't really matter much to him either way. Or so he told himself.
Slowly, he drew his sword and lifted it, looking for the best way to make her death as painless as possible. He heard Inuyasha scream, “Sesshoumaru, no!”, but he ignored it. As he was about to unleash his attack, her words seemed to echo in his head, making him freeze.
I…I trust him…”
For the first time in a long time, Sesshoumaru found himself hesitating. He saw her open her eyes once more and lock with his, strong and brave even in the face of death. He knew she didn't want to die, but he also knew her to be honorable to her promises. She was willing to die to protect the Shikon no Tama…but he found himself immobile, even as he was ready to deal the killing blow. The smell of her fear filled his nostrils, and he felt his youki kick up…
An arrow shot through the air, the tip flaring with light, imbedding itself in the youkai's head, right next to Kagome's. The youkai gave an unearthly screech as its evil was purified and it began to crumble into dust. Kagome gave a terrified scream as she began to plummet to the ground below, trying to brace herself for the impact.
Instead, she found herself getting the wind knocked out of her as a strong shoulder landed in her stomach and a strong arm anchoring her around her waist. She felt the softness of Sesshoumaru's Mokomoko-sama and closed her eyes in relief.
They landed lightly on the ground and Kagome felt Sesshoumaru kneeling and gently setting her feet on the ground, allowing her to straighten. He didn't leave her immediately, for which she was glad, because she had to lean on him an extra moment, holding his arm to get her bearings back.
When she looked up at him, he was staring at her steadily, and she gently squeezed his arm in thanks. He gave her a slightly puzzled look, but before she could ask him about it, she found her arm being gripped by a very angry hanyou, and was dragged away from the TaiYoukai.
“Sesshoumaru, are you COMPLETELY insane?” Inuyasha bellowed, putting Kagome behind him protectively. “You were going to kill her!”
“She is safe,” he countered.
Inuyasha growled. “Thanks to Kikyo, not to you. If she hadn't shot her arrow and killed the thing, Kagome would have been dead and we would have lost the jewel!”
Sesshoumaru did not point out that Kikyo could have missed, master archer or not, and Kagome could have been killed that way as well. Instead, he just turned and walked away saying, “It's best to make camp now. We will leave again tomorrow.”
Inuyasha went rigid. “Last time I checked, you weren't in charge! We still have a good hour or two left of daylight. We're not stopping now!”
“Look at your miko,” Sesshoumaru said in a tight voice, and turning to lock cold eyes on his brother. “We will rest.” He walked away without another word into the surrounding woods.
Inuyasha glanced at Kagome, who had a deathly pallor to her face. “Kagome?” he asked, concerned. She smiled a strained smile at him before shaking her head.
“I'm fine, Inuyasha. I think I'm just going to go for a little walk. I guess falling through the air made my stomach a little queasy and I just need to walk it off. I'll be back for dinner, okay?” She hurriedly walked away into the woods as well, leaving the rest of the group to stand here, befuddled.
“Um…should someone go after her?” Sango asked, holding Shippo and Kirara.
“No,” Miroku said slowly after thinking. “I really think that Kagome-sama wants to be alone right now. She should be fine after awhile.”
Kikyo just set down her bow and began to make camp.
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Kagome didn't know how long she walked into the forest before she collapsed on the ground, trembling. She'd had close calls before, but coming close to death was never a fun experience, and she always had to recover in privacy so no one would think she was weak.
Just remembering being so far off of the ground, smelling the youkai's hot breath in her face, knowing she would most likely be killed, the whoosh of Kikyo's arrow so close to her head made her stomach flip over and she let out a little whimper that she tried to stifle with her hand.
“I should be used to it by now,” she said softly with a humorless laugh. She gave herself a few more moments, waiting for the trembling to subside and the nausea to go away. How many times had she gone off by herself in private after a serious battle and willed away the gripping fear? Too many to count. Growing up in a relatively safe environment, she feared that she would never get used to the constant danger of the feudal era. Cope with it, sure, but not get used to it.
She heard a rustling behind her and she whirled with a gasp, only to meet the sharp golden gaze of Sesshoumaru. Putting a hand to her pounding heart, she gave a timid smile. “You startled me.”
He did not answer her, but instead sniffed the air deliberately. “Your fear still hangs thick in the air, miko,” he intoned, but his voice was slightly brusque.
She gazed at him, puzzled. He seemed almost angry by her fear. “I apologize if my scent offends you,” she said tightly. “Forgive me for having emotions.”
Her puzzlement grew when he seemed to accuse her, “I do not smell anger on you.”
For some reason, she knew she had to tread cautiously…something was up with him. “Should I be angry?” she asked carefully, standing up to face him.
She could feel the frustration and tension in him, although his passive face did not change. “I was going to kill you,” he said bluntly and without apology. “Usually humans are smart enough to hate those that want to kill them.”
She ignored the content of his words and focused more on the timbre of his voice. It was very subtle, but she could sense the absolute confusion in him. “I do not blame you, Sesshoumaru.”
Instead of her calming words relaxing him, the coil wound tighter, and she could almost hear the unspoken question in the air.
Why? Why do you not blame me? I was going to take your life without a second thought…
“I'm not angry, Sesshoumaru,” she began to elaborate, “Because I try not to assume anything about you. My assumptions always end up wrong.” She chose her next words very carefully, not wanting to offend him. “While I believe there is more good to you than you seem to let on, I also know that this is a different era than mine where killing is nothing new. Your priority was to protect the jewel, not me, and if that meant killing me….” Her eyes softened on him, which disarmed him for a slight moment. “But the fact is, you hesitated. I saw that you had made your decision, but you didn't follow through. You let me live. I should be thanking you.”
He was silent for several moments, and Kagome knew she didn't completely get rid of his confusion. She had an uncanny ability to see into his mind, a talent that was very rare and one that he wasn't quite sure he liked. She was becoming more of an enigma to him with every passing day he spent in her presence. Finally, he said, “You are a strange creature.”
Her bright smile made him blink. “Thank you,” she said with a laugh. Strangely, talking to him dispelled the last traces of fear within her, and he could smell her clean scent once more.
He found he liked it better that way…
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(Okay everyone, another chapter finished. I was actually honored that I received so many reviews saying that I should never have gone on vacation -I had a great time, by the way-and that I should have kept writing. I do have great news, however. I began an outline for this story and I am almost finished planning out the ending of it, so now that the outline is done, the writing should go much faster. I will try to get the next chapter out soon, but until then, have a great week!)