InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Out of Time ❯ Miasma ( Chapter 14 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

~~Chapter 14~~
“There are no living creatures on this mountain,” Miroku remarked as the group stared at the desolate emptiness of the mountain. “I don't even sense Naraku's presence here . . . like there is just . . . nothing.”
“Feh! He's gotta be here!” InuYasha retorted. “Where else could he be?”
Miroku stared at his covered kazaana hand. He hadn't told the others. It was worse now, so much worse. Slightly bigger than it had been when they'd finally conquered Naraku the first time, he'd been plagued lately with nightmares, of being sucked into his own kazaana. If they didn't find Naraku soon . . .
“We've been all over this mountain,” Kagome said with a sigh. “There's no sign of him.” A sudden movement off to the side caught their attentions. Kagome froze, head slowly turning. InuYasha grabbed Tetsusaiga but didn't unsheathe it. Sango tightened her grip on Hiraikotsu. Yukio stepped out of the blackened trees with an apologetic nod.
“I'm sorry. Did I frighten you?” He swept over to Kagome; took her hand in his.
InuYasha shot over to them, dragging her away from his nephew. “InuYasha!” Kagome protested, more from being manhandled than from being pulled away.
“Keep your fucking hands off her,” InuYasha snarled.
Yukio blinked in surprise. “Pardon me. I didn't realize she belongs to you.”
InuYasha growled. Miroku stepped up, laying a hand on InuYasha's arm. “Remember our goal, InuYasha.”
The hanyou shook off his hand without taking his eyes off of Yukio. “She doesn't belong to me,” he growled, “but she is under my protection, so back off before I have to kill you.”
Yukio grinned in a teasing sort of way. “You'd threaten your own nephew? Really, Uncle InuYasha?”
InuYasha drew Tetsusaiga. The rusty blade disappeared in a flash of yellow light, transforming into the fang. He held it in ready. “Just try me.”
“InuYasha!” Kagome said, complete exasperation in her tone, “Put that away, will you?”
“Stay back, Kagome!”
Sango sighed. Miroku nodded slowly. “I saw that coming,” he remarked.
“Me, too,” Sango agreed.
“What sort of power does she wield over him?” Kisho asked. “Is this some sort of strange miko power that I've not heard of?”
Yukio glanced from InuYasha to Kagome then back again. “Oh, my.”
InuYasha pushed himself up and pinned the miko with a glower. “Do you have to do that, bitch?”
She sighed but retorted in kind, “Do you have to call me a bitch, dog-boy?”
“Well, this is getting ugly,” Miroku interrupted, putting his arm around the slayer's waist to lead her forward. “Come along, Sango. We can find Naraku by ourselves.”
“Sure, we can,” she agreed, letting Miroku whisk her along. InuYasha and Kagome didn't notice that they were being left behind. So busy in their argument, it didn't register to them at all. Sango's gasp was loud, reverberating around them, bouncing off the trees. InuYasha and Kagome stopped bickering long enough to see what had caused Sango's odd reaction only to see the monk's hand where it had no business being. The echo of her palm meeting his skin resonated around them.
Kisho flinched and leaned toward Yukio to mutter, “Don't mess with the exterminator.”
Yukio was still eyeing Kagome and InuYasha. The miko had a handful of silvery hair, and the hanyou was sitting up, yelling in the young woman's irritated face. “Formidable,” he agreed.
“I don't think he's here,” Miroku stated flatly as he sank down next to InuYasha. The day's search had yielded nothing. There were no living creatures on Mt. Sorrow, and not for the first time, Miroku wondered why the miasma didn't seem to affect Sango the way it had before. Even he hadn't felt quite as drained as he should have. They'd been wandering around the mountain for days now, and it was frustrating to say the least, that they had yet to find a trace of Naraku anywhere.
InuYasha didn't turn his head though his gaze shifted to the side as he regarded the monk. “No, I don't think he is, either. I don't get it, though. Where could he be?”
“Unless he knew we'd come looking for him?”
InuYasha's expression stated that he'd wondered the same thing. “He had to know that your kazaana would reopen. Maybe that's what tipped him off, but if that's the case, where the hell would he have run off to?” The hanyou's eyes darkened as he stared across the small circle of firelight at the two women sitting with Yukio and Kisho. “I told her to stay away from that bastard,” InuYasha growled.
Miroku sighed. Sango wasn't looking at Kisho but she was laughing at whatever the hanyou was saying. As though she could feel his eyes on her, Sango suddenly glanced up, catching Miroku's stare. He started to look away but she smiled at him, capturing him. The firelight reflected in her eyes, cast shadows on her skin with a soft, gentle light. Not for the first time he noticed how delicate she was, how fragile. Like a crisp cherry blossom, her smile touched him, even across the distance between them.
“Aww, put your eyes back in your head and concentrate, monk,” InuYasha growled, having noticed Miroku's inattention. “Any ideas where else we could look?”
Slowly, Miroku shook his head. He hated to admit it, but he was fresh out of ideas. “I don't know. We don't know what sort of powers Naraku might have come by or how many of his powers he retained. This was our best lead.”
InuYasha hated to agree. The look on his face said as much. With a frustrated sigh, he nodded. “Damn it all. Why couldn't that bastard just stay dead?”
He couldn't sleep. He couldn't help it. As hard as he'd tried, ever since stepping foot on the island, InuYasha was too uneasy, too alert, too highly strung to rest. `No signs of life don't mean no signs of danger.'
Kagome turned over, restless in her sleep. The miasma of the mountain had affected her this way, too. As though she could sense the underlying menace, her sleeping had been erratic, stilted, light. He wasn't surprised to hear her frustrated sigh as she sat up, rubbing her eyes. Her hands fell away from her face, and she smiled at him before wrapping up in her blanket against the chilly night air. She sat beside him, holding open her blanket in a silent offering. Though he wasn't overly cold himself, the air was damp, and he let her drop the blanket around him, too. “Can't sleep?”
He shook his head. “This mountain bothers me.”
“Naraku's gone.”
“I know, but where?”
She shrugged. He could feel her shiver slightly. Before he could second guess himself, he slipped his arm around her, drawing her closer. “We need to go home,” she finally said, a strange note of hesitation belying her words.
“Is something wrong?”
She shook her head as she leaned against him. Her hair smelled like violets. It was nice. “Not wrong,” she explained, her voice vague, drifting. “I just feel like we need to be there; like something's going to happen.”
A distinct shiver ran up his spine, the same words echoing through his head from before. Kagome had said the same thing, about needing to return to the village only days before their ultimate battle with Naraku. If he trusted nothing else, he trusted the miko blood in her. “Kagome?”
“How did you purify the jewel?”
She sighed, the moment broken. Straightening her back, she hugged her raised knees and drew the blanket closer around her as InuYasha's arm fell away. She wasn't going to tell him. He could see it in her face. `What could be so bad about making a pure wish? Why the hesitation?'
“Sesshoumaru was there. He was looking for you, or so he said. I didn't realize he was watching at the time,” Kagome said slowly, her eyes glazing over as she was remembered the past. “I sat by the pond, watching the sunrise, holding the jewel and thinking that I couldn't believe that it was finally over. It didn't seem real. I remember thinking that I had to figure out a way to purify the jewel before someone else came after it. I was afraid there might be someone, somewhere, more evil and more twisted than Naraku, and I remember . . .”
InuYasha reached out, squeezed her hand when she faltered. As though trying to give her the courage to say what she wanted, he offered her the only thing he knew how, and he gently kissed her cheek.
Kagome smiled almost sadly and shook her head slowly before she continued, “I wasn't trying to purify the jewel, exactly. I mean, I didn't realize what I was doing at the time. I just stared at it, and it shined at me, and it asked me what I really wanted, like it could see into my heart. I kept seeing your face. I kept remembering how upset you were, the one time, when you thought we all died, and I wished . . . I wished for safety, InuYasha. I wished that you and your friends would remain safe forever. That's what I wished for. Now I think I shouldn't have done that, but . . . I didn't know.”
A slow smile spread over his face at the apology in her tone. He reached for her again, settling her back into the comfort of his embrace. “That's not a stupid wish,” he commented quietly. “It just means you'll all be safe, with me.”
She let him hold her close, she shut her eyes against a deeper knowledge. Something terrible grew in her heart; something ominous and cold . . . something inevitable. She didn't dare look into InuYasha's eyes. He'd see the truth, and he'd know. She's wasted the jewel in a moment full of foolish hope. It was up to her to fix it.
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Out of Time): 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.

Chapter 13
Chapter 15
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