InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Possession ❯ Fifteen ( Chapter 15 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Ten Years Earlier
When he awoke, he couldn't remember what had happened to him. Shippou knew that he hurt, he hurt so badly he could hardly stand it, but he was so disoriented that he couldn't remember why. Then with a rush, it all came back to him.
Inuyasha. Kagome. The well.
Did she escape?
Or would he find her lifeless body sprawled next to the well, her pretty eyes staring sightlessly for once last glimpse of the demon she had loved.
Sick and cold, he tried to move, finding new places that ached and hurt as well. His body was so stiff he felt like a puppet that had been cut from its strings. His head hurt the worst of all and when he put his fingers to his face they came away covered in crusted blood. He made himself move anyway, ignoring the pain and the way his stomach churned inside him. Shippou needed to know. He needed to know even if the worst had happened and his Kagome was no more.
The kitsune staggered a bit as he made his way over to the well, wincing with every single step. His eyes kept wandering in and out of focus, his heartbeat sounded unnaturally loud. He wondered how long he'd been unconscious, he had a feeling it had been some time. Inuyasha had damned near killed him with that last blow, had hit him so hard his skull might have shattered.
Shippou supposed that it might not be a bad thing to be so thick skulled that he could survive a killing blow from an enraged dog demon.
He didn't mind at all that he could have been killed. It was enough for him to know that she'd be forever safe from that monster. Kaede had told him about Kagome's plan to seal the well. Kitsune didn't normally pray to gods or spirits, but he'd gotten down on his knees next to the elderly priestess and prayed as hard as he could that this time, Inuyasha wouldn't be able to bring her back.
As he carefully approached the well, Shippou's heart was hammering in his chest. He wanted to believe that the seals would hold, he wanted to believe it with all of his soul. But he had to look; he had to make sure. If he looked into that dark, mysterious well and saw her broken and torn body lying there, he didn't know what he'd do. He'd probably go crazy himself, crazy as Inuyasha and the twisted horror that had become his life.
Shippou could see the paper sutras lying on the edges of the well. He'd been spying when Kagome put them down. Not spying, he told himself firmly, just watching, protecting. Spying meant that he was seeing something he shouldn't see, something like he'd been helpless to stop himself from seeing. He didn't want to remember those times; they made him sick.
Swallowing hard, he reached out a finger towards the well. If it was sealed as Kaede had described, nothing with so much as a hint of youkai blood should even be able to touch it. The prayer spells would raise a barrier that would be reinforced from Kagome's side of the well. The balance between the spells would keep the barrier strong, not even a wild youkai could break it.
Not if he tore the ground out from under the well, not if he burnt the glade where it sat. If the well should be destroyed, those spells would hold and not even Kagome would be able to remove them.
He felt a burning sensation in the tip of his finger. For just a second, he held it there, wondering at the strangeness of the energy. Then something built under his touch and Shippou yanked his hand away before the barrier could throw him across the glade. He didn't need any more bruises. If the barrier was strong, that meant that Kagome had escaped to safety and Inuyasha wasn't going to ever be able to hurt her again.
His two best friends were gone forever. First he'd lost Sango and Miroku, they'd been so much more important to him than he'd realized. After their deaths he'd sworn he wouldn't lose anyone else. But Inuyasha was lost to madness and cruelty; Kagome had run away to save her very life. Kaede promised to let him stay with her, but it wasn't the same. As kind as the old woman was, he didn't feel like he belonged in that village anymore.
He was utterly alone in the world, friendless, homeless and lost like a little fox on the side of the road. It was as if the past two years had never even happened. There had never been a kind girl who fed him candy, a blustering hanyou that whacked him on the head and protected him. No wise but lecherous monk, no beautiful and sad demon slayer. It had just been a dream.
His eyes were drawn to something faded and yellow half buried in the grass. Curious, he had to investigate; even in the depths of his sadness a kitsune's curiosity was still strong. He went to the grimy, tattered lump and lifted it. Kagome's backpack.
Shippou sank back to the ground with a sigh. The yellow canvas had been shredded and he could guess whose claws had left those rents. It was empty of anything that had belonged to her, but it still held her scent. He buried his nose in the material and inhaled deeply, trying to remember happier moments when surprises and sweets had flowed from that bag. How she'd waved happily when she climbed out of that well, this bag slung over her shoulder.
Shippou, I brought you candy! And coloring books and crayons, I even have some of those crisps that you love. Don't you like the garlic ones the best?
"I never got you anything, Kagome," he whispered, wiping his eyes. "I should have got you something. You always shared everything with me, with all of us. Why did this have to happen?"
He decided to take the bag with him, go back to the village and say goodbye to Kaede and the village children. It was time for him to be on his own anyway. Time to put aside memories and regrets. Time to forget about her.
A cool wind blew his hair back with a sudden gust and Shippou flinched involuntarily, sensing something coming in his direction. He braced himself, not knowing what kind of youkai was approaching at such a speed. Dust flew into his eyes when a whirlwind dropped into his midst and Shippou breathed a sigh of relief.
This demon wasn't a threat. At least he didn't think he was.
“Hey, kid,” Kouga said, surveying the area around them. “What's going on? I came to see Kagome but I'm not catching her scent.”
“She went home,” Shippou murmured sadly, pointing to the well. The wolf demon gave him a curious look and it occurred to Shippou that Kagome had never once explained to Kouga where she had come from. Kouga sniffed doubtfully at the mouth of the well and then leaned closer to get a better look.
“Don't,” Shippou cried out as Kouga went to rest his hand on the battered wood. It was too late. A bright light flashed and the wolf was thrown back. The wolf got up immediately and glowered at Shippou.
“Is this some kind of joke?” he snapped, looking irritated beyond words. “She didn't go down any dirty old well. Where's mutt-face? I'm not in the mood for your little fox games, kid!”
Shippou glared right back at him, unafraid. After what he'd already been through, the last thing he was going to do was let Kouga bully him.
“She's not coming back, stupid!” he shouted. As the words echoed in his mind, Shippou felt his eyes start to burn. Of course, Kouga didn't know anything. He'd been badly injured in the last battle with Naraku, the same battle that had taken Sango, Kohaku, and Miroku. If Kagome hadn't been there to stop the bleeding, if Inuyasha hadn't used everything in his power to drive the demons away, Kouga wouldn't be standing here.
“What do you mean, not coming back?” Kouga asked suspiciously. It sounded like some lame plan of dog-breath's, he decided. He couldn't see Kagome going along with it, but you could never tell what went on in that girl's head. He was grateful to her for saving his life, if Inuyasha had a tiny part in that he supposed he could stand it. But he wasn't here to thank the stupid mutt; he was here to thank Kagome. And damn it, he wanted to know where the hell she was.
The little kitsune buried his face in his hands and sobbed. Kouga was taken aback by his emotional outburst and felt slightly guilty for yelling at the dumb kid. Kagome always treated Shippou kindly, protected him, as a matter of honor he should do the same.
“Hey,” he said gently, kneeling down beside the distraught child. “Don't cry about it, kid. Tell me what happened. I know you guys got that bastard Naraku, I'm sorry I wasn't there to see him go down. Tell me what happened to Kagome. Where's the mutt, don't tell me he's…dead?”
To his surprise, Shippou glared at him, hatred seeping from every pore. “No, he's not dead,” the kitsune spat. “But I wish he was. I'd rather have Naraku alive than him, if I was just a little bigger, I'd kill Inuyasha myself!”
Kouga scratched his head and stared as Shippou again fell into angry sobs. What the hell had happened? He had heard about the monk and the exterminator; he'd been deeply unhappy that he'd been so badly hurt himself that he'd never gotten to comfort Kagome. But this didn't make sense.
Kagome gone forever? Shippou left alone and wishing that Inuyasha were dead instead of Naraku? It was more than he could wrap his mind around.
But he wasn't heartless, never had been. He felt sorry for the kit the same way he'd feel sorry for any youngling of his own pack. Damn it, he wasn't good at this sort of thing, he didn't know how to comfort a crying child. Especially when he didn't even know why he was crying. Awkwardly, he patted Shippou's shoulder, trying to soothe him.
“Calm down, get a hold of yourself,” he said softly. “Why don't you tell me what is really going on?”
He'd never been so pissed off in his life. Kouga jumped to his feet, staring down at the young kitsune in utter shock and fury.
“He did WHAT?” the wolf shouted, the entire forest ringing with his voice. “He raped my Kagome? That bastard!”
Shippou looked miserable, sniffling and burying his face in a piece of faded yellow fabric. “He did,” the boy muttered. “I saw it. I…I heard it. He's not Inuyasha anymore; he's some kind of monster. He hurt her so much; I thought he was going to kill her. That's why she left. I thought he'd kill me too, but I had to protect her any way I could.”
“Son of a bitch,” Kouga swore, running his hand over his hair. “That piece of shit, that dirty, miserable bastard. This whole time he was after the goddamn jewel. I fucking knew it!”
Kouga was tempted to run off right now and find that worthless mongrel and make him pay. Jewel or no jewel, he didn't care how powerful the stinking cur thought he was. Kouga was going to tear him into little shreds and burn the pieces. He was going to kill him slowly, make him pay and suffer like poor Kagome had suffered.
Someone had to punish him. He cracked his knuckles. He was glad to be the one to do it.
He glanced down and noticed for the first time that Shippou looked like hell. His face looked like it had been used to break rocks. Kouga snarled to himself, realizing why. He couldn't leave the kid like this. Not after all Kagome had done for him, he owed it to her to make sure that Shippou was safe.
“Let me take you to the village,” he said quietly. “That old priestess, what's her name, Kaede. She was Kagome's friend. She'll look out for you.”
Shippou flinched away from his words. “Are you going after Inuyasha?” he asked.
Kouga nodded sharply. “Bet your ass I am. I'm going to make that dog-shit wish he'd never been born.”
The kitsune jumped to his feet, clinging to Kouga's leg. “Let me go with you,” he begged, his eyes wide and frantic. “I know I'm small, but I'll do whatever you say. I have to do something, I can't just sit back and pretend it didn't happen.”
“Kid,” he said gently, putting his hand on Shippou's bright hair. “I don't think…”
“I'm not a kid!” Shippou shouted, tearing away from Kouga's grip. “Don't talk down to me, she was my friend, she loved me!” Tears were pouring down the young fox's face again and Kouga felt his heart twist in his chest at the next words the boy spoke.
“She loved him, Kouga. She really loved him and he tore her to pieces. He made her…she didn't…” Shippou swallowed hard, trying to erase it from his mind. “I think she was starting to die inside, that's why Kaede helped her escape. I can't just let him get away with it.”
Kouga sighed. He could understand exactly how the runt felt. He had also loved Kagome, and he had also always known deep in his heart where he didn't like to admit it, that she was in love with the half breed. She never would have turned to him, not as long as Inuyasha was there. It was bitter for him to realize that she hadn't turned away from the hanyou even when he'd become a dark and twisted version of himself. No matter what the abuse, the betrayal, she hadn't stopped loving him.
Kagome was like that. It was why he loved her in the first place.
“Okay,” he said, reaching down for Shippou's hand. “You can go with me, but we're going to talk to that priestess first. I don't like taking a kit like you into a fight, but maybe she can help us find him. One way or another, I'll see that you get your revenge too.”
“For Kagome,” Shippou said firmly, nodding his head like it was already happening.
“Yeah,” the wolf muttered, glancing back at the silent well. “For Kagome.”
"Are you all right, priestess?” Jano asked her quietly.
Kagome angrily pulled her arm away, glaring at him. “What do you think?” she said acidly. “Do I look like I'm all right?”
He gave her a placid stare. “Considering the circumstances, yes. He could have hurt you a lot more than he did.”
She turned away from her rescuer, bile rising in her throat as she couldn't shake the feeling that she was dirty. She wanted another bath now, anything to scrub away the memory of Inuyasha's touch. Kagome glanced up at Jano as she tried to hold together the pieces of her torn kosode. Through the rents in the fabric she could see the welts Inuyasha's claws had left on her skin. She felt even more nauseated and covered her face with her hands. Now that it was over, she was starting to shake with reaction.
A strong hand cupped her elbow as she swayed and when she looked up, the youkai seemed concerned. “Perhaps I should call for a healer.”
Kagome's hands balled into fists, irritated by his false solicitude. “I'm fine,” she said, her voice hard and cold. “Don't waste your sympathy on a human like me.”
His expression flickered. “Was I wrong to stop him, then? It looked to me like you were in need of assistance. Would you have preferred that I didn't intervene?”
Shocked, she stared at him. “Sesshomaru didn't send for him? You made that up?”
Jano smiled charmingly as he took her elbow and started to walk her down the hall towards her room. “My orders from him were to protect you from harm while you're in this castle. No one dies here without Sesshomaru-sama's express permission.”
That sounds like the Sesshomaru I remember, Kagome thought wryly. They stopped in front of her door and she turned to look at her unusual rescuer. His expression was dark and thoughtful as he regarded her. She didn't like the way he was looking at her now, a calculating look in his dark eyes.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
“No,” he said quietly. “I am just hoping for your sake that you aren't trying to play a game here. Sesshomaru-sama has decided to take your story at face value for now, but you're putting yourself in danger with your request.”
“You don't think I know that?”
The youkai glanced away, and then turned back with a smile that didn't reach his eyes. “I suppose you do,” he said quietly. “Don't be a fool, human. Don't provoke him. Inuyasha will follow his brother's orders to help you if that is Sesshomaru-sama's decision. Don't expect to live beyond that if you are playing us falsely.”
She glared at him. “Are you threatening me?” she asked, putting steel into her voice. Her fury faded as she met his cool eyes.
He turned and left her standing there in the hallway, unconcerned for whether or not she returned to her room. Glancing down, Kagome noticed again the rips in her clothing and swallowed hard. She knew what a dangerous plan this was, but it seemed her only option. Her only other choice was to stay here in the past, away from her life and the security that she'd built for herself. She could die; Shippou could die from what she was trying to do.
It was a risk she was willing to face.
Smoke. He hated the smell. It was horrible, vile. It disgusted him as much as the sight in front of him did. How could he do it?
His eyes roved over the ruined village, looking away from the scattered bodies, the burning homes. Instead he focused on the sky, still pure and blue as a promise. A heavy hand descended on his shoulder and Shippou turned to look up at Kouga, but Kouga wasn't there. Instead, he saw burning red eyes and a cruel mouth twisted in a sadistic smile. He backed away, knowing what was coming as the demon raised a sharp-clawed hand and laughed.
“What's the matter, Shippou? Aren't you glad to see me?”
He gasped, sitting up and looking around him wildly. The dream had been so real, he hadn't had it in years, but now he felt like he was just a little kid again. Shippou tried to calm his pounding heart, his fingers clenched on the low table where he'd fallen asleep. Damn it.
Nightmares come to life again, he though bitterly as he pushed a clump of matted red hair out of his eyes. Nightmares and dreams, for Kagome had also come back to life. He wanted to be the hell away from here, this damn fortress full of inuyoukai. It made his skin crawl, thinking that Inuyasha was somewhere in this place, stalking the corridors and waiting like death for him to show his face.
Shippou groaned softly as he rested his head in his hands. How had he managed to utterly fail her again like this? He'd sworn to protect her; he'd done his damnedest to fight for her. Even when those two asshole dogs had beaten the crap out of him, he hadn't stopped fighting until they'd knocked him to the ground and sat on him. It hadn't been enough, it had never been enough.
Kagome was at his mercy again. It made Shippou want to be sick on the floor. Why hadn't he and Kouga done what they'd set out to do in the first place? They shouldn't have let Inuyasha live long enough for Kagome to fall back into their lives. He didn't give a damn if Inuyasha couldn't remember what he'd done. He didn't care that he couldn't even remember the girl he'd tried to destroy or the friends he'd betrayed. He wanted him dead just the same.
Inuyasha, he thought bitterly. You still need killing.
But there wasn't shit all he could do about it now. All he could do was sit and wait. A pair of guards had dragged him to this small room and told him to behave himself. Shippou rankled at their condescension. Outnumbered and desperate, he'd sworn he wouldn't sleep until he saw Kagome again. The kitsune gave a snort of disgust. Yet another failure on his part. He didn't like the idea of telling Kouga that he'd practically handed Kagome over to them without a fight.
The hell he wasn't going to fight. Shippou got to his feet, glaring at the closed door. He was getting out of here right now and so was Kagome. It bothered him that Sesshomaru had taken an interest in her. No way, he wasn't ever going to just sit by, passive and afraid, while she was being hurt.
Shippou reckoned he could break down the door, but who knew what was standing on the other side? He had to use his brain now, it was no time to go berserk and start fighting with all these dog demons just waiting for an excuse to kill him. Quietly, he crept to the door and listened hard. Nothing.
All right, the kitsune told himself. To his surprise, it wasn't even locked. Shippou guessed that they didn't consider him brave or stupid enough to leave the room. He wasn't sure which it was either. He knew Kagome's scent as well as he knew his own. Kitsune might not compare to dog or wolf youkai when it came to tracking, but he wasn't nose blind and had learned a few things from Kouga.
The corridor was empty, quiet and still. It felt almost ominous and he decided he didn't care if it was a trap. They were most likely going to kill him anyway. He didn't trust these demons, not for a moment. Sniffing the air hopefully, he turned to hurry silently down the quiet stone hall. It looked like this was the best chance he'd ever have for escape.
“Well, look at that, the boy had balls enough to leave the room.”
Shippou spun around to face a pair of guards that were coming down the hall. There was no place for him to run or hide, so he glared at them hatefully. These were the same two that had been with Inuyasha. Most likely they'd been waiting to see when he made his move. That was fine with Shippou. He didn't have anything to lose.
“Where's Kagome?” he demanded, letting arrogance seep into his voice.
They snickered and one of them even mocked him by pretending to wipe away tears of mirth. “You ain't in a position to be making demands, little rat,” one of them sneered.
So he wasn't. Shippou didn't give a damn. He flexed his claws angrily and stared them down. “Take me to her,” he snarled. “I'm not leaving her alone in this place with a bunch of filthy dogs.”
The taller of the two looked angry but his partner clapped a hand on his shoulder. “What's the matter, brat,” he said, his eyes glittering with malice. “You worried your woman might prefer inuyoukai to kitsune meat?”
Shippou stiffened as they approached him slowly. He thought he might be able to take the heavier one, but the shorter demon already had a hand on his sword. Shippou wasn't armed with anything more than his claws. And maybe a little bit of fox-magic.
Let's see if these two are as dumb as they look, he thought.
He shrugged casually, waving his hand to distract them as he tossed a few acorns on the floor. They rolled away from him quietly, the two guards taking no notice. “I'm not worried about what she prefers,” he said, forcing himself to sound unconcerned. “You idiots forget who you're dealing with. That's the same priestess that destroyed Naraku.”
The guards exchanged glances, smirking. “So what,” one said softly as the other drew his sword. “That name doesn't mean shit to us.”
Shippou grinned fiercely. “And I suppose you've also forgotten that it was a priestess that sealed your Inuyasha-sama to a tree. And he hasn't yet recovered his memory. She's powerful enough on her own. Do you really think we would have let ourselves be brought here so easily if we didn't have a damn good reason?”
That brought an ugly look to both their faces. “I'm getting sick of this brat's mouth, Shiou,” the shorter one murmured. “What do you say we remind our little guest of his place?”
“Sounds good,” Shiou grunted. He went to stand menacingly near the kitsune. “Brat, why don't you take your ass back into that room before we have to put you there unconscious?”
“Try me,” Shippou growled. Just a few more steps.
“Stop right there,” a woman's clear voice rang out. Startled, the guards looked up to see Kagome standing at the end of the corridor with a drawn bow. Her eyes were dark with anger; her hands steady on her weapon. “I will shoot if you take one more step.”
Both guards froze, indecisive in the face of a legendary priestess. They'd both heard the stories about how Inuyasha had been sealed, how he'd lost his mind two years later after being freed and been brought insane and dying to this fortress. The rumor went that even Sesshomaru-sama had barely managed to save his brother's life. The mighty Tenseiga had been unable to fully restore him.
Shippou grinned, turning his back and casually walking towards Kagome. “I'd do what she says, boys,” he said, his voice light and malicious. “You don't want her to fire that arrow. Inuyasha may have been able to survive its power, but a couple of low rank fools like yourselves will probably be purified right out of existence.”
Kagome didn't acknowledge his words, but then he didn't expect her to. They could see her clearly from where they stood, but if they got much closer they'd notice that she had no scent and no substance. This Kagome was all illusion, crafted from a touch of kitsune foxfire and a couple of acorns. By the time they figured out the trick, he would be away from here and on his way to hiding.
Just as he was about to make his escape, a young woman opened a door near the end of the corridor, her arms full of linens. She took one look at the strange confrontation and shrieked, turning and running in the opposite direction.
It wasn't much, but it was enough to make him lose his concentration and Kagome's image flickered like a dying flame would from a strong wind. He held it for one more second and she vanished before their eyes, leaving nothing behind but a thin, green mist that evaporated like his hopes for a clever escape.
The guards glared at him and then snarled as they brandished their weapons. “Get that little son of a bitch!”
Shit, he thought, looking down a blind corridor. Kitsune didn't believe in gods or spirits, but they did depend on luck. And as one of the guards grabbed him and spun him into the wall with a hard kick, Shippou supposed that his luck wasn't going to save him this time.
The more he thought about it, the more disgusted he became with himself.
Inuyasha walked the halls of his father's fortress and tried not to think about what he'd almost done to that woman. If it had been anyone else, he would have happily gutted them for trying that. He supposed he should be grateful to Jano for his timely interruption.
He couldn't remember things very clearly. It had been ten years since he'd come to this fortress and he was still no closer to answers. Every morning he looked at his face in the mirror and a stranger stared back at him. This stranger had a mocking smile sometimes, a bitter enjoyment of his confusion.
Honestly, he didn't know himself anymore. Sesshomaru said that his memory might have been damaged by his use of the jewel; his illness was most likely part of the priestess's curse. He'd believed that, just like he had to believe he'd been pinned to a tree for fifty years by Kikyou's arrow.
Why did you betray me, he asked her in his mind. I was a stupid fool of a hanyou, rude and mean, why did you ever pretend to love me in the first place?
Inuyasha scratched at his ear thoughtfully. He saw the purple stripes of his father's heritage on his face every day; saw it in the respect his brother's people gave him. After ten years, he still didn't feel comfortable here. He didn't imagine the sly smiles they gave him sometimes, the way the youkai children stared at his ears.
He was still a damn hanyou, it didn't matter that his blood smelled pure. He was still the dirty half-breed and he couldn't escape from that. Everything he'd hoped the jewel would buy for him had been a fucking lie.
Kikyou knew what you were, he told himself. That woman had named his every fear with a vindictiveness that surprised him. It was if she knew everything that had happened between him and the long dead priestess.
How does she know me, he demanded of his recalcitrant memory.
As usual, the blankness that existed inside him was mocking him. Inuyasha scowled and raked his claws down the stone of the wall just to hear the way the solid rock gave under his claws. What use was it to be a youkai in blood when your head was so fucked up and you were lost, drowning yourself in memories that never existed.
“Inuyasha,” a voice called out happily.
He stopped, closing his eyes in annoyance. Not right now, he told himself. I can't deal with this.
Warm arms came around his waist and he stiffened, not wanting to pull away but at the same time not wanting to be held. “Rin,” he said coldly. “What have I told you about doing that?”
Her laugh was light and he turned around and met her smiling gaze. “What, nobody's watching,” she teased. “Who's going to know if I put my arms around you?”
“I'll know,” he said gruffly, shrugging out of his embrace. Rin folded her arms and gave him that look that he knew she'd learned from Makiko.
“Something happened,” she said flatly. “Did Sesshomaru-sama say you had to help that woman?”
He grunted and started to walk away. “None of your business, Rin. What he wants to do is his own decision. It's not your problem.”
She ran after him like she'd been doing for the last ten years and caught his arm. Five years ago he wouldn't have cared, five years ago he would have enjoyed her friendship and been fond of her for being a light in his gloomy existence. Now…since she'd grown older, her hugs had a different meaning behind them.
He wasn't sure if Sesshomaru knew that his foster child had fallen in love with his younger brother.
He hoped not, it wasn't as if he didn't have enough things to be humiliated about. He'd rebuffed her as kindly as he could manage, but Rin was used to getting her way and getting what she wanted. And what she wanted was him.
She had decided for herself that she wanted to marry him. Nothing Inuyasha said seemed to have an effect on her determination. Inuyasha had a sneaking suspicion that Sesshomaru did in fact know about it. And was amused by his brother's consternation.
You'd think he'd put his foot down, Inuyasha thought bitterly. Her hand slipped into his and Rin tugged at him.
“Hey, this is Rin, remember? You can talk to me, Inuyasha.”
He sighed. “Okay,” he began. “I have to take her somewhere…”
“I'm going with you,” she said bluntly. “You aren't going anywhere with that human.”
“Rin,” he said, gritting his teeth. “You're human yourself, you shouldn't…”
“I don't care,” she snapped, her eyes flashing at him. “She tried to kill you!”
“And what the fuck are you going to do about it?” he snarled in response. She looked shocked and he instantly regretted speaking to her like that. They had been friends once; somehow something about her had soothed him when he'd first met her. Maybe it was her innocence, her acceptance of him. Something about that just whispered in his mind, left ghosts trailing through the night.
He dreaded the day she discovered that weakness. He dreaded the time when he wouldn't be able to say no anymore.
She could sense that he was troubled and leaned close, slipping her arms around him. Inuyasha stood still, not wanting to look at her face right now. All he could think of was that priestess, that woman who had kicked him and that he'd almost taken her in a violent rage. What kind of a monster was he, couldn't Rin see it?
“I love you,” she whispered into his chest. “One of these days I'm going to tell Sesshomaru-sama that I want to marry you. Then we can be happy together. Why can't I tell him today?”
“Because I don't want to marry you,” he said, wishing that were enough. Her arms only tightened around his waist. “Sessh…you know how he feels about humans and youkai mixing. He would forbid it.”
“Then we'll run away together,” Rin said, pressing her lips to his chest. He could feel the heat of her running through his clothes and his body started to wake up and demand that he answer it. The other human, the priestess, was out of the question. Rin was right here, willing.
Something rose up in his blood and before he realized it, he was tugging her closer. It wasn't Rin's face he was seeing or her body under his hands. It was hers, that woman; she'd haunted him for years without him knowing it. Seeing her in those clothes, so much like Kikyou…
“No,” he growled, pushing her back. That was the reason he couldn't love her, didn't want to use her to answer his needs. Rin wasn't what he wanted. She never had been, even from the beginning he'd been seeing a ghost in front of her face, inside her eyes. He'd tried to make her into what he wanted; he'd tried to convince himself that it was enough. He couldn't do that any more than he could make himself comfortable in this place.
Not while he couldn't remember the truth.
“Inuyasha?” she called after him, her voice full of concern.
“Just leave me alone,” he snapped, waving her away. Stupid little girl. Didn't she know he was a monster who couldn't control himself? Didn't she know that he couldn't, wouldn't ever be able to love her in return? Rin deserved better than a damaged half-breed. Sesshomaru would say the same.
It was, after all, nothing but the truth.
Kagome was grateful they'd left her alone for the rest of the day. She'd needed a chance to get a hold of herself. It bothered her that she hadn't seen Shippou since she'd woken up that morning. Makiko had answered that he was sleeping, as exhausted as she was. Kagome understood that, he'd been pretty banged up and she thought that he probably had some things of his own to think about.
She felt awful about the pressure this must be putting on Shippou. He hated Inuyasha so much, almost as much as she did. Kagome could well sympathize that her kitsune friend didn't want to be here.
Late in the afternoon, Makiko had brought her something to eat. Kagome had been ravenously hungry by then, having slept through the castle's breakfast and then refused to eat at midday. Her stomach had been so upset with what had happened; she'd thought she'd become ill if she even looked at food.
The youkai woman had been expressionless at the damage done to Kagome's clothing. Instead she'd silently brought her a loose robe to sleep in before taking her to the bathing room so that she could wash her hands and face. It had been years since Kagome had felt so much that she was prisoner. Unsettling that they just pushed her to the side while deciding her fate. She was used to being the one in control.
She was just beginning to think of going to bed with her depressing thoughts when a soft knock drew her attention. As Makiko would have just entered without asking, Kagome hesitated a moment before letting out a relieved sigh. Shippou. It had to be him, who else would come to see her?
Kagome went to the door, smiling slightly and getting ready to tell him how happy she was to see him and to apologize for everything she was putting him through. Kagome wasn't used to apologizing for anything, but she dimly remembered that once she'd cared about her friends, cared about them so much that she would have gladly died for them.
It was her fault that they were in this mess, she knew it and swore to herself that this time, she'd make sure they both got away safely.
“Shippou, it's about time,” she said as she opened the door all the way. Kagome froze, staring at him.
“What do you want?” she breathed. He pulse was racing in her ears and Kagome felt dizzy.
Inuyasha scowled at her, looking past her face actually and focusing on the wall. “I don't know if anyone told you,” he said, sounding irritated. “We leave tomorrow at dawn. Sesshomaru decided I should…help you. I don't want to, I don't fucking trust a word you say, but it's not my decision.”
She swallowed hard, not sure if she was happy or not. It would be difficult to deal with. She meant to just nod and slam the door in his face. Kagome didn't want to say a word to him now. Before she could help it, she found herself meeting his gaze and glaring at him.
“As long as you don't touch me,” she said coldly. “You understand that? I don't want you to ever touch me again.”
He flushed. “Yeah, I get it,” he snarled back, his fists clenching. “I got that message loud and clear. Whatever, bitch. You're the one that needs my help.”
He could see her swallowing hard, nauseous at the very site of him. It made him feel even more like an animal, a dirty beast that had dared to almost defile her priestess perfection. Her expression was every bit as cold and condescending as Kikyou's, he decided, hating her suddenly for being there and furious and beautiful. Just like he wanted to remember.
“Just go away,” she whispered, a flicker of true pain crossing her face. He wondered at that, what would make her so angry and sad at the same time. Was it because of earlier, was it because she was forced to endure his company in order to get back to wherever the hell she'd come from?
“I'm sorry,” he said roughly.
Kagome stared at him. “What?” she asked, sure that she'd misheard.
“About today. I'm sorry for…well, I'm just fucking sorry.”
The air in her lungs seemed to have turned to shattered glass. It hurt to breathe and for a long moment, she stared at him as if he were about to sprout wings.
“You're sorry?” she asked, sounding like she was petrified of his answer.
Inuyasha nodded, staring at the floor. Damn it, he couldn't even look at her. If he glanced up and met his eyes, he was sure she'd see every bit of his self-loathing, his hatred for his lack of control.
“Yes,” he whispered.
Her sudden bray of laughter startled him into looking at her. Kagome laughed again, even harsher and his ears flattened on his head. “What's so damn funny?” he snarled.
“You bastard,” she said, hissing the words from between bitter lips. “You think you can apologize to me? You arrogant, disgusting son of a bitch!”
“I said I was sorry,” he growled, his teeth clenched.
“You can't apologize for something like that!” Kagome screamed. He stared wide-eyed as she jumped at him, striking his face hard with the flat of her hand. Inuyasha backed away from her, trying to shield himself from her blows.
“You can't be sorry enough!” she screamed, oblivious to the fact that her words were echoing down the hall. “There's nothing you can ever do to prove to me that you're sorry for what you did to me!”
She spat at him and shoved him hard enough to make him stumble. “Don't you ever apologize to me again,” the woman said, her hands curled into claws of her own. “Don't you EVER say you're sorry, don't ever think that you can take back what happened!”
Kagome turned her back on him, her shoulders shaking. Dumbfounded, he couldn't think of what to say. He'd been a bastard, but Jano had stopped him before he could take her, snapping him out of a blind rage that knew no end. He hadn't…or maybe he had.
“I will never forgive you,” she said, looking down and letting her hair hang over her eyes. The woman looked lost, bereft and he didn't know if she was about to attack him or burst into tears. Maybe neither, he wasn't sure if fury or grief would ever erase the look in her eyes, but it tore at him just the same.
Long after she'd closed the door, he stood alone in the corridor, leaning against the wall with his forehead resting on the cold, hard stone. Whatever else was true or false in his life, he deserved this woman's hatred and deserved whatever revenge fate could give her.