InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Possession ❯ TwentyThree ( Chapter 23 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
She was such an idiot. Once again, she'd let him fool her and Kagome was stinging inside. My god, she had been about ready to sacrifice her life for this two-sided bastard, the same person who had spent years lying to her. If she weren't so pissed, she would have burst into tears with the pain of it. Like a shockwave that had erupted from the center of her heart, she felt shaken to the core.
Again, he'd turned out to be a liar. And she didn't give a damn about the reasons why.
“You were faking it?” she demanded, catching his sleeve and forcing him to look at her outrage. “Do you have any idea what you just put me through, put Rin through? When were you planning on showing us the truth? After they killed Shippou?”
Anger glinted in his eyes, the way they fired gold in the firelight should have made her tremble with fear. She'd already burned through her fear this night, thrown herself into that fire when she'd raced back to him with every intention of defending a helpless youkai from certain death. Inuyasha grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away from him with a rough yank.
“Just stay out of it,” he hissed, a deadly warning in his eyes. “This ain't your fight, priestess.”
“And just whose fight is it?” Kagome exploded; throwing her bow to the ground with a display of anger that surprised even her. Facing the demon, she pushed herself right into his face without so much as a trace of fear. “How dare you play with our lives like that?"
His expression flickered, surprising her as the anger slipped away. If she hadn't known better, she would have thought he looked hurt. “I wasn't playing,” he muttered, dropping her gaze and turning away. “I did what I had to.”
He could understand why she was pissed off, but damn it, he'd never expected the stupid woman to come running back like that. When they'd been ambushed, a knife to her throat, he'd known that he was going to have to play their game. He didn't like it, but what else could he do? If he'd kept fighting, there was a very real possibility that she would have been killed.
And he wasn't going to let that happen, not while he still had questions for her.
“So, the demon shows his true nature at last,” a man's voice sneered.
Inuyasha's eyes narrowed. He'd forced himself to stay quiet when they'd stuck their knives in him, but he had no intention of letting it pass either. Patience didn't come easily to him, it never had. But he'd learned a thing or two about keeping calm from his brother. Sesshomaru might have ice water in his veins, but Inuyasha just knew an opportunity when it put a fist in his face.
These were the same bastards that had been hunting down youkai, murdering without cause or provocation. If he could find out where they were hiding, damn sure he could keep his head for the chance to take them all out at once.
He was going to show them the meaning of the word demon.
“Just stay out of my way, bitch,” he growled over his shoulder. Inuyasha licked his lips and glared back at Natsu with a predatory smile. “These bastards won't last long.”
His ears must be playing tricks on him, he thought that woman just told him no.
“Excuse me?” he asked sarcastically. “These are the same bastards that were just about to kill your precious fox brat. Don't tell me that you…”
“I said no,” Kagome answered sharply, her eyes glittering at him. “I know damn well what they were going to do, but I'm not going to stand here and just let you slaughter these people.”
So that was it, she thought he was going to crazy and rampage through the village like some stinking lower demon. Disgusted, his ears flattened on his head and he glared down at her with pure dislike. As he could have predicted, she saw him as little more than an animal, a beast that had to be controlled. She was just like Kikyou, pretending to care about what happened, but in the end, she saw him just the same. Less than her…always so much less.
“Bitch,” he said softly, “do you think that you can stop me?”
Kagome took a deep breath to steady herself. Her instincts were telling her to grab up that arrow and remind him that she wasn't defenseless anymore, but this Inuyasha didn't even remember that girl. She was a woman, one who had been through hell and back for his sake, and she wasn't going to break her resolve now. This Inuyasha wasn't insane with rage, he was rightfully angry with the humans who had just tried to execute him.
She reached out to him again, noticing the way his eyes glinted suspiciously, but all she did was lay her hand on his arm. As if they weren't being watched, she looked right into his eyes and tried the path of reason. She had sworn to find a better way of dealing with him, a way that didn't mean destruction for them both.
“I understand your anger,” she said quietly. “That's why I'm asking you, please, don't do this. We can just leave now, they can't stop us. You don't have to kill them, Inuyasha.”
“Why?” he asked seriously, some of the rage draining from his expression. “Why should I spare any of them after what they've done?”
Kagome glanced away from him, finding Kaede's face in the crowd. That was why; she wanted them to know what they were doing was so wrong. She wanted Kaede to know that she hadn't lost her mind, that if she could persuade Inuyasha to spare the village and the youkai hunters now, there might be an opportunity for peace later. She could see the women and children huddled behind the men who had taken up their swords and spears.
Vengeance was costly, she'd learned about that the hard way.
“Do it because you can,” she said, meeting his eyes with the kind of honest appeal that had once helped her to befriend a suspicious and angry hanyou boy. “Because if you kill these men, you will be leaving their families without protection. Is that what you want, to leave mothers and children alone in the world? You know how that feels, don't you?”
She was cheating; she was deliberately trying to remind him of his own childhood. He'd never told her very much, but what he hadn't told her had been enough for her to understand how hard his life had been. Inuyasha's hand closed around hers in a tight grip, drawing her close to him.
“How do you know about that?” he whispered.
“Does it matter?”
“Fuck.” He dropped her hand to turn and scowl at the men. They didn't look so tough now; it was one thing to ambush him in the forest. It was another matter entirely, in their home with their families exposed, to take on a youkai at full strength. Now that they knew their stupid ropes wouldn't hold him, he was more than a threat. And he was no longer an easy target.
But he supposed he'd never hear the end of it from this priestess if he did what he'd been planning. The hell…he'd never intended to attack their women and children in the first place. He was not a monster and even when he'd been a wild youth on his own he'd never struck anyone weaker than him. Glancing around, he couldn't help but notice the shabby condition of this village, the scared and dirty faces of the children and his heart softened ever so slightly.
Slaughter fathers right before the eyes of their children? Not fucking likely. His mother would have been ashamed of him. Hell, he'd be ashamed of himself.
“All right,” he said gruffly, glad that she'd been here to point out the obvious to him. “They get lucky today, but just for today.”
There was that look in her eyes again, a softening, a warmth that made him feel easy in spite of the fact he was having to back down. It didn't feel like weakness, no, it felt like something he'd wanted all his life. To have the woman look at him with no fear and no anger, instead pleased that he'd listened to her words.
“Thank you,” Kagome murmured, relieved. She was glad to have avoided bloodshed this one time. She hadn't been able to stop him before, back when she'd been so weak and confused. Kaede had saved her then, at the cost of her own village, and that sacrifice had forced her into a bitter choice between humans and demons. Meeting the old woman's gaze as she turned to follow Inuyasha, she nodded slightly, hoping that Kaede understood.
The elderly priestess didn't smile at her or nod in response, but expression was softer than before. If it hadn't been so dark, with only the flames of the bonfire throwing shadows and light across the faces of the silent villagers, she might have thought she saw tears sparkling in an old woman's eye.
But it was just a trick of the light and the shadow, flickering between the past and the present. The heavy feeling in her heart had lifted and it seemed that the wrong decision, made with the best intentions, had turned out to be the right choice after all.
“Are you running away, demon?”
Inuyasha stopped, one hand on Kagome's shoulder. His eyes promised murder but there was twist of smile on his lips when he looked at her. Kagome sighed and nodded. Some people were just too stupid to know when they'd gotten a break.
Natsu never even saw the demon move. Hours later when he regained consciousness, no one had to tell him who had broken his nose.
Kagome stumbled in the dark and cursed. If they kept going like this she was almost certainly going to fall, maybe sprain her ankle. Inuyasha had set a quick pace through the dark forest, one hand still holding her wrist in a ruthless grip. He kept dragging her forward, barely letting her keep her feet under her and finally, she had enough.
Planting her feet, she twisted her arm out of his grasp. The sky was starting to lighten and in spite of the extra rest she'd gotten in the village, she was exhausted.
“Do we have to go so fast?” she asked, a waspish tone in her voice.
Inuyasha growled softly with annoyance. “I want to catch up to that stupid kitsune,” he answered sullenly, “before he does something like try to go back to that village for you.”
Grimacing, Kagome bent over to dig a pebble out of her sandal. It was the worst kind of footgear to wear when trying to hike over rough ground. But she'd be damned if she was going to ask him to carry her. Since they'd left the village he'd barely spoken three words to her, mainly communicating his hurry by yanking her along as if she were a child that had to be coerced.
“Shippou isn't stupid,” she said, focusing on the comment as if was the real reason behind his strange behavior. “He knows better than to confront them directly. If he did come back this way, he'd be looking for us.”
“Whatever,” he muttered. Kagome looked up, trying to read his expression in spite of the gloom around them. In the shadows, she could catch a glimmer of his hair and eyes, but that was all. Still, she could feel the anger radiating from him, grating along her nerves like an electric current. She wasn't quite sure what the cause of it was anymore. At first, she'd assumed he resented the fact that he'd let her talk him out of taking his revenge on the youkai hunters, but it seemed to be more than that.
“Do you think they're following us?” she asked quietly.
Inuyasha snorted in disgust. “Those cowards? Not likely. They rely on surprise for their attacks; they won't come after us while they know I'm watching for them. Bastards.”
“Then what is it?” she demanded. Kagome planted her hands on her hips and stared at him. “Are you afraid of something else?”
He spat on the ground, narrowly missing her foot. “I ain't afraid of anything,” he said in a low, menacing tone. The hair on the back of her neck stood up at his tone and an uneasy chill went down her back. It was impossible for her to read him like this, his moods were quicksilver, changing by the moment. He'd seemed almost vulnerable when she'd asked him to spare the villagers, now he was seething with fury.
“I thought you were in a hurry to get to this damn well of yours,” he said coldly, turning on her and advancing slowly. She started to back away, wary as ever, but he stopped before she'd moved very far. “You want to go home, right? You want to get the hell away from me. That's been pretty fucking obvious from the start.”
“Of course,” she answered, more than a bit confused. “That's why I'm…”
“Shut up,” he hissed, reaching for her arm again. “The sound of your voice pisses me off, bitch. The sooner I get rid of you, the better.”
He was reaching for her, maybe that's what did it. Maybe she was just stung beyond words by what he'd said, but she didn't even think before she lunged forward and slapped him as hard as she could. The sound echoed in the quiet darkness, startling them both and she saw him raise his hand to his cheek.
“Damn you,” Kagome muttered, tears she couldn't explain gathering behind her eyelids. He was such a bastard, she honestly didn't know what she'd been thinking when she'd gone running like a fool, trying to rescue him when he didn't need it, and apparently didn't want it.
“That's better,” he murmured, almost to himself. “That's what I expected.”
He was doing this deliberately, she decided, folding her arms over her chest. He was trying to confuse her for some reason, trying to goad her into attacking him. Why had she even felt sorry for him back at the village, why had she thought him worthy of saving in the first place? She should have left him to rot on that tree, all those years ago.
Maybe it would have been better for everyone if she'd died then, crushed into nothingness by the centipede demon that had first awoken to the presence of the jewel inside her body. If she'd died, the jewel never would have shattered and all those people, Sango and Kohaku's family, wouldn't have had to suffer so much. Perhaps Kaede and the other villagers would have killed the centipede before it took the jewel…
“Is it true?” he asked suddenly.
“What?” Kagome asked, her voice dull. Deep inside her heart, there was a tight ball of pain, an ache that had never gone away. It was the pain she'd learned to live with since the last time she'd emerged from the well into her own time, with her heart shattered and an unborn child inside her womb.
So much pain, she'd never been able to escape it. She'd only been able to put it off, mask it with ambition, with sex and power. Hadn't she become everything she'd hated in the end, didn't she deserve this pain?
“Is it true what that old bag said in the village?” Inuyasha said quietly. “I heard her say that I betrayed you, that I raped you. I want to know…”
Kagome raked her hand through her tangled hair, shivering without realizing it. Of course he'd heard that, he'd never been unconscious. Her body felt cold, she rubbed her arms as if that would somehow dispel the chill. But the feeling wouldn't go away, the ice was all her own, the clammy, sick cold sensation creeping over her flesh was nothing less than her darkest secret, her most hidden shame.
She'd said so; she'd told her own mother that he'd forced her.
She'd let her brother and grandfather believe it…to the point where they'd wanted to open the well and find the boy that they'd trusted, the one who'd shattered everything she'd ever known about herself. The Inuyasha that they'd known, that she'd loved with all of her open and trusting heart had never even existed.
“No,” she muttered, more to herself than in answer to his question. “It…it wasn't like that.”
I gave myself to you…
“Then why do you hate me so much?”
But you only wanted what you could take…
She felt dizzy suddenly, her head was spinning. She wanted to fall to the ground, curl up in a ball and hide from the truth. It wasn't consensual, but it wasn't exactly rape either. He'd forced her, but she'd given herself over to him, his desires rocking her body, the hot pressure of his touch. And afterwards, she'd loathed herself for being weak, for not refusing him and fighting him with her fists or her teeth.
“Kagome!” His hands were on her shoulders, holding her up. The sky was the palest shade of gray before the dawn, casting them in shadow, defining them both in the muted colors of ambiguity. Her fingers plucked weakly at his sleeves, she was so tired of fighting now.
Inuyasha shifted his hold on her, embracing her almost tenderly as he rested his forehead against hers. “I just need to know,” he whispered. “If I hurt you so badly, why did you come back to the village for me?”
I promised I'd stay by your side…
He pushed her away so he could look into her eyes. If there was any truth, he was sure he'd see it. Somehow this woman was the key, was the answer, and was the missing piece to his puzzle and the only one that could give him back the vanished years that haunted him. Her scent was intoxicating, so familiar and so desirable, but he couldn't stand the thought of why.
Another victim of his unremembered madness and another crime lost and forgotten by his addled brain.
“Why did you defend me?” He had to know. “Was it just because you need me to get you back to where you belong?”
“No,” she murmured, shaking her head and trembling under his hands. “That's not true, that's not what happened…”
His eyes widened and he caught his breath. “No?” Inuyasha whispered, reaching out to brush the hair away from her face. “You never even thought of that, did you?”
Suddenly furious, Kagome shoved him away. “So that's why you were angry?” she demanded. “Because you thought I only came back because I needed you to get me home? Well I don't need you, Inuyasha! I don't need anything from you!”
He caught her wrist as she tried to flee away from him, pulling her back and capturing her like his prey. Inuyasha nuzzled her hair and she damned herself because her knees felt weak at the sensation of his hot breath against her skin.
“That's not why I was angry,” he whispered.
Kagome stared up at him, mesmerized as the light of dawn streaked his silver hair with pink and gold.
“I was angry with myself,” Inuyasha murmured. “Because I liked the way it felt to hear you defending me.”
Whatever she wanted to answer him was lost, his mouth descended and his lips brushed softly over hers. His hold eased, almost as if he expected her to run away now, to reject him. As she should have…as she should have from the very beginning.
In the beginning…once upon a time…where fairy tales began…
Kagome was abandoned, floating inside her own body as the tide rose within her. She closed her eyes and sagged against him, helpless as the touch of his lips on her throat made her like she was drifting. It wasn't right; it didn't make sense how she wasn't able to push him away.
It didn't make sense that she didn't want to push him away.
Hands slid down to her waist, one palm flattening against the small of her back as Inuyasha leaned forward. His mouth moved slowly up the column of her neck, whispering along the side of her jaw until he brushed the corner of her lips. Then he stopped, hesitating just a moment before kissing her carefully, as if he were as wary of her as she should be of him.
Kagome's lips parted under his, shivering slightly as she felt the tip of his tongue find her own tentatively. Then his touch slid away, almost teasing her with a quick lick to her lower lip. Her eyes opened to see him grinning shyly at her and then she gasped when his kiss surged forward, drawing her tightly into his arms as if he were afraid someone would take her away from him.
His hand traveled up her spine until his fingers buried themselves in the hair at the nape of her neck. Delicious warmth filled her body as his kiss deepened, his tongue caressing hers in a soft dance of seduction. She wanted so much to forget where she was, what she was, and drown in the escape his embrace was offering her.
Here she would forget her name, fall into him like the sea.
Kagome barely noticed as Inuyasha knelt, pulling her down beside him, his hands never leaving her body. She let him hold her, his breath warming her ear, nonsensical murmurs falling from his lips. He sucked lightly at the delicate skin of her throat, his teeth just barely grazing her collarbone. Somehow he remembered how she loved to be touched, where she needed to feel him. How could he have forgotten everything, but still know that? Across the years and the incalculable miles, he still knew her intimately even as her body still craved his touch.
She felt his palm slide over her bare shoulder, opening the front of her clothes for his warm exploration. Kagome shivered and reached her arms around his back, agreeing with a soft murmur as his tongue stroked between her breasts. She held her breath, biting her lip in anticipation when he blew softly across the sensitive flesh. Her spine curved to yearn willingly against him, her breasts tipping upwards as she let her head fall back, opening herself to him with every shaking breath.
His tongue felt like fire against her chilled skin, her nipples erect and aching for his attention. She cried out, her voice fading to a gasp when his mouth closed over her breast, the velvet-rough touch of his tongue gliding across the rigid tip. Her fingers contracted on the hard muscles of his shoulders, digging at him in response and all she wanted was to cling to him…
With a low growl that sounded more like a whimper, Inuyasha pushed Kagome back, easing her to the ground without breaking contact with her skin. She whispered his name, so rough he almost couldn't understand what she was saying. Somehow the world was full of her, he supported his weight on his elbows as his hips rested between her legs, their clothing rustling as he moved against her. Her small hands raked down the back of his haori and for a wild moment, he thought that if she were youkai she would have shredded the tough fabric with her claws.
“Gods,” he muttered, overwhelmed by the power of his desire for her. He'd never felt anything like it, a heady mix of lust and need that made his head spin. Unable to think past the red mist of desire pooling in his groin, his hand eased between them to find the ties of her hakama. He wanted to make her sigh, make her sob with want, and he wanted to hear her beautiful voice lifting his name when she asked for him.
Warm fingers, sliding next to her skin, reaching lower as she shivered but didn't pull away, the silk of her belly, the tips of his claws teasing at the soft down cresting her pubic bone, he was so close…
Her eyes flew open, one hand knotted in his thick hair, hearing her name called out in the distance. Her heart thumped hard, startled, and suddenly her body pulsed with the fear of discovery. Shippou's voice.
“Fuck,” Inuyasha hissed, bringing his head up from between her naked breasts. She felt his body twist in frustration as his hand pulled his hand from her clothes. She stared at him in perplexed disappointment as he sat back and glared like he wished he could set the forest afire with his gaze.
“Every time, every fucking time,” she heard him mutter.
She was yanked swiftly to her feet, her head rocking back suddenly as he pulled her along with him when he stood. Dumbfounded, she stood like a child as he pulled her clothes to rights, tying her hakama with hurried hands. His fingers brushed over her body, lingering across her breasts and hips as he brushed away the few leaves and traces of dirt that had clung to her. Her face went hot when he turned her around with a brusque push, and her embarrassment grew intolerable when he steadied her with one possessive hand on her rear as Shippou and Rin came bounding out of the forest.
The kitsune stopped short, confusion mapping his flushed face as he nervously sniffed the air. Something seemed out of sorts, but he shook off the feeling, too relieved to see Kagome alive and unharmed. That Inuyasha was with her, seemingly uninjured, didn't diminish his relief either. He started to move forward but was almost knocked over by an excited Rin who shoved her way past him to fling her arms around the startled Inuyasha's neck.
“I thought you were going to die!” the girl cried, her eyes red with tears that had already been shed. “We were scared we'd never see either of you again.”
“Uh, yeah,” he muttered, reaching up to pull her arms away from him before she could bury herself against him. “It's okay, Rin, don't get so worked up. You know I'm too much of a stubborn bastard to get killed that easy.”
She looked hurt that he wanted to keep her at arm's length, her full lower lip pushing out in childlike distress. “I was still worried,” she insisted. “How did you get away from them? Did you have to kill them?”
“Do you think I want to be a murderer?” he demanded abruptly, fixing Rin with an irritated yellow gaze.
Taken aback, Rin dropped her hands and hid them behind her back. “Of course not,” she murmured, embarrassed. “It's just that they had it coming, you should have heard what they were saying, what they almost did to Shippou…”
“He didn't hear it,” Kagome said softly, “he was unconscious, remember?” She watched Shippou's face carefully. The look he'd given her when he'd come out of forest made her nervous. She couldn't tell if he guessed what had happened, if he'd somehow guessed that Inuyasha had never helpless. No, she didn't see any anger hiding in his eyes. Only a baffled confusion and stark relief to see her alive that made her feel even more guilty about covering up the truth.
“I don't understand,” Rin said, looking back at Kagome with a perplexed frown. “How did you get him away, did you have to fight them?”
“She just talked them out of it,” Inuyasha said, not looking at anyone. His hands were curled into tight fists. “They listened to reason.”
He needed to get away from them, and soon, before he burst from trying to hold back the fire that was still heating his blood. With a quick stare at Kagome, he turned and rushed away from them, swearing to himself in frustration.
“What's the matter with him?” Rin asked, eyes wide. Concerned, she looked to Kagome for answers. “Did they do something to Inuyasha?”
Biting back a bitter smile, Kagome shook her head. “I think he just needs some time to himself.”
Groaning, Inuyasha leaned against a tree and closed his eyes. He rubbed his hands over his face and tried to quell the rising frustration that was threatening to drive him to distraction. Of all the fucking…what did he think he was doing with her? Everything he'd ever told himself about staying away from human women, particularly priestesses, had flown out of his head when he'd gotten a taste of her arousal. Then he'd been burning for her more intensely than he'd ever wanted any other female and reason, as well as good sense, had disappeared.
Around him the forest was quiet with the early morning, a few birds making sleepy calls to each other and a light breeze just barely lifting his hair. His ears twitched, listening to the sounds the wild forest made, his senses becoming alive with it. Better to focus on something other than the way the woman's scent was clinging to his body. Inuyasha licked his lips and grimaced. He could still taste her, the salty sweetness of her skin, the soft but firm swell of her breasts, the way her lips had parted under his with that little gasp of pleasure…
Damn it! Inuyasha spun around and punched the tree hard enough to crack the gnarled wood. His knuckles split open but he couldn't feel the pain and only raised his hand to his mouth, licking at the blood with absentminded distraction. Why did it have to be her, why did it have to be this woman who set his blood burning like a wildfire? Wasn't it enough that she reminded him of the bitch who'd betrayed him?
Inuyasha sighed heavily, leaning his forehead against the rough bark. No, it wasn't just that. He'd stopping thinking of her in terms of Kikyou already. He believed that he'd honestly loved her, but Kikyou hadn't sent him into spirals of desire. She'd been lovely and sweet, serious and oh, far too good for the likes of him. He'd been swept up in the ideals she proposed, the way she didn't seem to judge him like everyone else. It was still hard for him to believe so much time had passed.
He closed his eyes again, pressing his face against the rough sleeve of his haori as he rested his arm on the tree. He should be damn happy that the kitsune and Rin had come back when they did, instead of maybe five minutes later. He was sure he would have had her by then, he could almost feel the velvety curve of her hips pressing against his…
“Damn you,” he whispered, reaching for himself. He wasn't embarrassed about having to use his hand, far better that than to go back there and do what was running through his mind. It was taking much of his self-control to not go to her and throw her over his shoulder like some kind of trophy so he could run off and fuck her senseless.
Her mouth…yeah, that was what got to him. The softness of those full lips, he wanted to bite down on them, suck on them like a sweet. Inuyasha hissed as his fingers tightened, he was already so hard and needful that it wasn't going to take long.
Gods above, should he want her this much? Especially after what that one-eyed hag had said about him. His mouth twisted as if he were in pain, for some reason he could see how she'd look, splayed out beneath him, tears of passion streaking her flushed face. The thought made him angry and disgusted with himself, even as he felt his groin surging with undeniable heat.
She'd be warm and wet sliding into her, he'd ride her hard and then surprise her with gentleness, make her whimper his name like a lost woman. Gods, yes, he wanted to hear her. He wanted to hear her screaming his name as her fingernails dug into the skin on his back, clawing at him as she was desperately matching him. Then she'd peak and go limp in his arms, winding those soft hands into his hair as he gave her what she'd asked him for.
Inuyasha shuddered hard, growling low in his chest as he released. Then he felt his knees trembling and it took nearly all his strength just to remain on his feet. Damn it, if he'd really hurt her somewhere back in his unremembered past, why the hell had she responded to him? Why had she clung to him as tightly as he held her? It didn't make any sense and he leaned back to wipe the sweaty hair away from his forehead.
This couldn't go on, he wouldn't let it happen. His brother had been right, the woman was too dangerous. She would cost him his self-control and his mind if he gave in to the darkness of his lust. And there might be no turning back. Wherever she had come from, for whatever reason, he could not fuck her. Not if she could do this much to him and he couldn't explain the reasons why.
He couldn't touch her, not even once. He was scared that he'd never be able to let her go.
“So this is it.”
It was late afternoon when they finally reached the old well. The sun was low in the sky, casting long golden streaks across the quiet forest, tinting the air with a hint of scarlet and fire. Kagome stared at the well as if it were her doom, rather than her salvation. She knew that she was an emotional mess, hanging on by a shred of the person that she used to be. She'd refused to even think of this moment, knowing that she'd gambled hard that this would work in the first place.
“Kagome?” Shippou asked softly. “Are you okay?”
“I'm fine,” she murmured, looking up to meet his concerned eyes. “This is going to work, Shippou. Don't worry about me.”
The kitsune's smile was half-hearted and before she could stop him, he moved forward to give her a rough hug, letting her go before he even saw the flash of anger in Inuyasha's eyes. That was reason enough for her to go, if Shippou started to suspect her weakness, he would become so disgusted with her that he'd hate her for it. She already hated herself enough for them both.
Inuyasha held his tongue when the fox gave her a quick embrace, telling himself again that she wasn't his, wasn't ever gonna be his, and damned if this didn't have to work. He still didn't understand what the hell was supposed to happen.
A well that went into the future, the future?
He scoffed silently to himself, mystics and magic be damned.
And he had to admit that he was more than a little pissed off. You'd think that the bitch would have mentioned that this was Kikyou's village, damn her to hell. At least it wouldn't have been such a shock to him, striding out of the forest and realizing with cold recognition that he knew this place. Not far from here, too close for his ease, there was a certain tree. He could almost feel the arrow piercing his skin, the fury of betrayal overwhelming him and despair gnawing at his heart that she'd never really loved him.
He noticed a slip of paper clinging to the edge of the well and reached for it, not thinking much other than curiosity about its origin. It came away easily, almost crumbling between his fingers as he turned it over and noticed the faded symbols that were almost illegible. Some kind of spell? He knew a warding sutra when he saw one; he wasn't a complete idiot after all.
Glancing up, he saw the woman looking in his direction, an indefinable expression on her face. Her mouth twisted just slightly, as if she was holding back something she wanted to say to him. Inuyasha rubbed the piece of paper between his thumb and forefinger, unsurprised when it crumbled to ash and flakes with just the lightest touch. Kagome looked away from him and he found himself more annoyed than ever.
Something about the way her eyes dropped, the way her chin turned away from him, made him inexpressibly sad.
“I guess this is it,” Kagome murmured, reaching for Shippou's hand. She gave him a quick squeeze to know that she understood everything he'd done for her. “I'm going to miss you, please take care of yourself.”
His eyes lit up and the young man's grin became steadier as he covered her hand with his own. “I will,” he answered with a mischievous grin. “You just be happy, whatever it takes. And I'll be happy for you.”
She turned, startled by the hesitant tone in Rin's voice. The girl was blushing, looking down at her feet in obvious embarrassment. Kagome raised her eyebrows and glanced over at Inuyasha, but he simply shrugged and looked away. No help there. “Yes, Rin?”
The girl took a deep breath, her cheeks fairly flaming. Her dark eyes were serious though and she met Kagome's gaze steadily. “I need to apologize,” she said quietly. “I was wrong about you.”
At Kagome's confused frown, Rin sighed heavily and pushed her hair out of her eyes. “I mean, I apologize for shooting at you, and I apologize for the things I said to you,” she said, lifting her chin with resolve. “I'm sorry I thought you were only saving your own skin. You went back for Inuyasha, even though it was dangerous and all those people would have tried to stop you.”
Rin made a short, jerky bow and smiled up at Kagome, her eyes dancing impishly. “Thank you for rescuing him.”
“Bah,” Inuyasha muttered, shaking his head.
Kagome ignored Inuyasha as best she could and smiled back at Rin. “Thank you,” she said softly. “It means a lot to me that you said so.”
It did, she had to admit it. Maybe this was what had brought her back to the warring states era. She had discovered the truth at last. Shippou had survived and grown into a fine young man. And she herself had survived her greatest fear, that of seeing Inuyasha again. She'd proved herself to be stronger and even rediscovered a piece of that compassionate heart she'd been born with. Not everything was about power or ambition, not every problem could be solved by manipulation or masked by sex.
Maybe, once she returned to the world where she truly belonged, she could restart her life. Let a little more of the girl she had been into the woman she had become. She could let go of the nightmares. Slowly, she raised her eyes to Inuyasha's and sighed.
He wasn't the same anymore.
Neither was she.
It wasn't an ideal solution, but under the circumstances, she'd take what she could get.
“Quit stalling, woman,” Inuyasha grumbled, coming over to stand near her. “We gonna do this or not?”
So maybe some things didn't change. He was still the same rude and pushy bastard she remembered. Brushing a lock of hair away from her forehead, Kagome gave him an arch smile that been known to make grown men quiver.
“I'm ready,” she said, “all you have to do is jump down the well.”
“Great, long goodbyes piss me off,” he muttered. Kagome squeaked when he suddenly seized her around the waist, hoisting her into the air as he sprang lightly to the lip of the well. She heard Shippou cursing at Inuyasha's rough handling of her, but she really couldn't focus. Her heart was beating too hard, her pulse was thundering in her ears. Unaccountably, she struggled in his arms, suddenly terrified.
She twisted in his embrace, her fingers clutching at his shoulders as he swung her over the side. “Scared?” he whispered, his voice sensuous in her ear.
Kagome forced herself to calm down, let her body go limp. “Not anymore,” she answered, staring right into his eyes. Inuyasha smiled faintly, as if he'd expected her to say that, and let them fall over the side.
Falling through light spangled darkness, eternity stretching before her, she felt the universe collide within itself, shatter, and become reborn…
Inuyasha's feet touched the ground; she felt his body shift as he held her even closer. Kagome couldn't open her eyes; she concentrated on breathing even as the warm arms around her tightened. For just a moment, she wanted the world to end, just as long as he held her. But that was impossible.
She heard her name being called from the top of the well and forced herself to open her eyes. Craning her head back, she looked up into eternity.
“Shit,” she heard Shippou mutter. “It didn't work.”
Inuyasha couldn't think of anything to say as the woman threw her arms around his neck and sobbed like a lost soul. Feeling helpless, he stroked her back, her hair and cradled her to his chest like a child.
When she awoke, her head was aching and her mouth felt like it had been filled with sand. Slowly, Kagome raised herself up on her elbow and rubbed at her sleep-crusted eyes. She felt horribly disoriented and for a long, dreamlike moment, she couldn't remember where she was. But the confusion didn't last and was quickly replaced by overwhelming despair.
She was here, she was here forever…
Kagome choked back a bitter sob. Her life was gone, the life she'd known, that she'd worked so hard for, gone forever on the other side of that accursed well. It was possible she'd never see her family again…
And how much did you see them anyway?
The thought writhed in her mind like a striking snake, burning her with the venom of its truth. How could she mourn the loss of her family when she'd only seen her mother and brother a handful of times since she'd left Japan? She'd been too busy, too driven to waste her time with keeping in contact. Certainly there'd been phone calls, less and less as the years went by, and she salved the guilt of neglecting her mother by sending expensive gifts.
Her younger brother had become a man without her being home and all she'd done was continue to write checks for birthdays and holidays, and a tuition that Souta didn't want. And her grandfather…
The tears came then and Kagome closed her eyes, her shoulders shaking as she thought about jii-chan. How many times had he asked her to come home for a visit in those last few years? What had she done with her spare time then? Treated herself to expensive vacations where she could mix and mingle with her client base, be seen with the celebrities and powerbrokers who had become the focus of her life.
But she'd had no time for an old man who wanted to bore her with his stories, his long and rambling tales about spirits and demons, oh God no, she hadn't wanted to fucking hear about it ever again!
She caught her breath, horrified. It wasn't that she had been too wrapped up in her selfish life. Home had meant a past she worked hard to forget and the memories of the innocent girl she'd been. Home meant facing the past, it meant blood on a high school bathroom floor and shame pouring from between her legs like a crimson wave of self-loathing and fear…
She struggled to her feet and forced herself to move, convinced that her only salvation lie in facing what she had come to hate within herself. It was full dark now and she could see the stars outside the gaps in the roof. She realized that they must have carried her back to the village; this was Kaede's old hut.
Her lips twisted with bitterness, the irony of the situation not escaping her.
Pushing aside the old mat that covered the doorway, Kagome stepped outside. A small campfire had been built near the hut, the dying embers of it still glowing against the dark ground. She smiled faintly; Shippou and Rin were both asleep.
The young girl was sprawled on her back with her arms cast out at her sides like sleep had somehow taken her by surprise. In contrast, Shippou was frowning slightly, one arm under his head and the other hand curled into a fist. She wondered if he'd gone to sleep angry or upset and had to stop herself from touching his hair.
Predictably, Inuyasha was nowhere to be seen. She wondered if he was out in the forest, keeping a watchful eye over the village that no longer needed protection. Her face hardened at the thought, irony was in no short supply tonight as it was by Inuyasha's actions that the village needed no protection and was no longer home to anyone.
The ground was cool under her bare feet, the hems of her hakama rustled against the overgrown grass. But Kagome didn't need any path to guide her way; even in the dark she could find the well. As she came out of the forest she was struck by a sense of déjà vu that was so strong, it took her breath away.
It was on a moonlit night, not unlike this one, that she'd made her escape down that very well. That night she'd finally been convinced that Inuyasha was lost to her forever and she'd thrown herself into the well like a suicide…
Kagome put her hands on the lip of the well and stared into the darkness that no longer held escape. And maybe this was how it was meant to be. If the well hadn't opened for her, if a fifteen year-old girl had simply fallen to her death down an old well that should have been filled in years ago…
It was entirely possible that she, Kagome Higurashi, had never been meant to exist in the world that she'd been born to. Fascinated by her own dark musings, Kagome leaned over the side of the well, her weight falling forward, the heels of her feet leaving the ground…
A rough hand caught her arm and startled her, dragging her back from the edge. “What the hell are you trying to do? Get yourself killed?”
Angry, she yanked her arm away from him as if she loathed his very touch. “What's it to you?” she demanded. “Get away from me, Inuyasha!”
“Stupid woman.” Inuyasha growled softly to himself and folded his arms over his chest. “You don't really wanna die,” he said coldly, watching her with careful eyes. “You should go back to the village and get some sleep.”
Kagome laughed harshly and shook her head. The last thing in the world she needed right now was for him to think he could make decisions for her. Maybe she didn't want to die; it had been a fleeting urge. But the loss still ached inside her, the reality of the fact that she was trapped here again…with him.
“Since when are you so concerned with what I'm feeling?” she asked, tossing her hair out of her eyes with a defiant edge to her voice. “You've done what you promised, I'm not holding you to anything else. Take Rin and go home, Inuyasha. I'm not your problem.”
She watched as his jaw clenched, the muscles of his shoulders jerked a little in angry reaction to her words. “Yeah, you ain't my problem,” he sneered, “but you're still a pain in the ass, bitch.”
“If I'm a pain in the ass, then I'd be doing you a favor if I did throw myself down that well and die,” she answered, her eyes still snapping a little. She wasn't sure why she was so angry with him. Why had he followed her, what was his reason for keeping watch over her now?
Was he feeling sorry for her? Was pity the reason he'd followed her from the village? It was much more likely that he was just suspicious of her even now.
Kagome's mouth thinned into a hard line as she stared at him. He wasn't half human anymore, how could he sympathize or care about what she must be feeling? It pissed her off that he'd even try.
“You don't have to pretend that you give a damn,” she said softly, raising her chin. “I already know you better than that.”
Inuyasha snorted in annoyance. “You about done feeling sorry for yourself, priestess? I'm sick of hearing about how you know everything. Looks like you don't know as much as you thought, doesn't it?”
Kagome stiffened, realizing what he meant. The well hadn't opened for her and she'd dragged him here only to find out that it had been pointless. Her hands curled into tight fists, but she found she didn't have the energy to fight with him anymore. She was too raw, too hurt, and the last thing she wanted was for him to see her vulnerable.
“Just leave me alone,” she muttered, her tone heavy with the despair that was filling her heart. She wasn't sure how much she could endure and she'd already been broken once before. She heard him shift uneasily; she could tell that her grief was unsettling for him. Not that she wanted his sympathy, or his pity, it was the last thing she needed.
She was surprised when she felt his hand on her shoulder, turning her around to face him. Kagome opened her mouth to blister him for daring to touch her when she was suddenly pulled into a warm embrace. Her nose was buried the front of his haori and she felt his hand linger on her hair as he held her. She closed her eyes, wanting to relax into the warmth and forget everything else.
Yes, she was crazy, but so was the world around her.
“Is this why you followed me?” she murmured into the rough fabric of his haori. “You thought I'd be vulnerable now, easy for you to take advantage of? Isn't that the way of things, you being a demon and me just a human woman?”
She felt his back stiffen as she put her arms around him, smiling bitterly against his chest. “You don't have to pretend to be nice, I won't be fooled by it anyway. Maybe you can convince others that you've changed, that you aren't a bastard, Inuyasha. I can always see right through you and that's what makes you want me.”
Inuyasha shoved her back, so angry that he was shaking. “You fucking bitch,” he snarled. “Is that what you think I'm after, that I'm so desperate to fuck I'll try to take advantage of your situation? That's twisted, I'm not trying to…”
She smiled at him, her eyes so dark and fatal that they made his heart thud heavily in his chest. The smile she was giving him now was tinged with despair, but her hands felt warm as they lazily explored his body. Kagome leaned forward, pulling his clothing open and deliberately kissed the faint scar on his chest where she knew Kikyou's arrow had pierced his heart.
“Haven't you been listening?” she whispered, letting her hands roam sensuously. Inuyasha gasped when her fingers found him half hard already and squeezed. Like it or not, his body was responding to what she was now blatantly offering him. “I said you didn't have to pretend.”
“Crazy,” he muttered, trying to shake off his desire. He glared down at her, trying to fathom the sudden change in her demeanor. She accused him and compelled him, twisted up his mind but he wasn't going to be drawn into her trap this time. Kagome just smiled up at him with half-lidded eyes, her hand working him expertly through the fabric of his hakama.
He needed to stop this before it went any further, before he couldn't stop it. Forcing himself to be gentle, he pushed her away. “This isn't what you want, Kagome,” he said, his voice already rough. “You're not thinking right…”
“Don't tell me what I'm thinking,” she hissed back, her eyes glinting in anger as she buried her fists in the front of his haori. “You don't understand a damn thing, Inuyasha.”
Inuyasha growled softly when she pulled him down to meet her lips, snaring him with a kiss so raw and urgent that their teeth scraped. He was losing his resolve, his hands finding her without meaning to, the soft curves of her body pressed into him with reckless intent. His senses were rocked as her tongue slid into his mouth, probing for his and demanding that he answer.
Lost and falling now, he was clinging to her, his hands reached down to cup her bottom, squeezing and lifting her against him. One of her legs snaked around his, holding him to her as if he even wanted to escape. All of his earlier resolve was fading fast, blotted out by the helpless desire that was overwhelming him.
He staggered when she suddenly shoved him away. Inuyasha had barely a moment to draw a confused breath to ask what the hell was going on before Kagome careened into him, using the entire weight of her body to knock him to the ground. Stunned, unsure of what was the meaning behind her attack, he stared up as the woman planted her small hands on his shoulders and stared down at him.
“My way,” she said harshly, glaring at him as if he'd dare to argue. Her hips rocked against his and Inuyasha hissed, feeling the muscles of her thighs contract. Kagome leaned back, smiling wickedly as she shrugged her shoulders out of her loosened top. The white fabric fell away to pool around her waist, leaving him staring at her naked breasts as she stood up and pulled at the ties of her own hakama.
Lying flat on his back, he couldn't help but just stare at her, longing and desire making his eyes darken as she kicked the discarded clothing away from them. Her smile was gloating, triumphant. His hands came up to caress her bare hips wonderingly, her smooth flesh enticing him to reach for more. Kagome hissed as his palms slid over her waist, reaching upwards to hesitantly explore her.
This was what she'd wanted, secretly in the hidden places of her heart, to have him under her control.
“Do you want me now?” she whispered, her hands finding the ties of his clothing and pulling.
Inuyasha was breathing heavily, panting really, his arms shaking as his claws dug lightly into her skin. His eyes were tightly closed; sweat dripping from his temples and his face flushed dark red with passion.
“Yeah,” he answered, swearing that she was going to make him come before he even got inside her.
Kagome's fingers contracted until he cried out. Her eyes were lit from within, her expression nearly as feral as his as she leaned over his body, her lips only inches from his. “I didn't hear you,” she murmured, her hands keeping him a prisoner of want. “Tell me again that you want me.”
“Fuck, yeah,” he gasped out, his hands clenching on her bare arms. No woman, youkai or human, had ever been able to do this to him. She made him helpless, ready to beg her for it, and while his pride was outraged, his flesh was welcoming her rough seduction.
A soft moan escaped her lips as she leaned back, raising her body to slide him inside. She forced herself to take him slowly, letting her weight fall on him as he plunged inside her. When she was ready, nearly frantic for her own release, she rocked forward harshly and slammed her hips against his. Sure of herself now, she moved faster as she dug her fingernails into his chest. Part of her wished that she had claws of her own; it would have felt amazing to tear into him at this moment.
Once upon a time…
Their bodies moving in tandem, the sound of flesh striking flesh echoed in the still night.
A little girl fell down a well…
She rode him harder, their bodies moving in tandem, the sound of flesh striking flesh. God, she'd been craving this, needing this. Of her many lovers, none had ever made her come so hard she'd lose her mind.
She was lost…
Impossibly hard and hot, sliding inside her as she ground her body on top of his, it was enough to make him crazy. Inuyasha growled savagely, reaching up to pull her into his embrace, his arms tightening across the small of her back. One hand pressed her face against his throat, his fingers knotted in the tangled, sweaty hair at nape of her neck.
The little girl was never seen again.
Kagome wailed suddenly, her back arching as she peaked in a crash of pleasure, her body shuddering on top of his as he moved faster beneath her. His hands went to her hips, his fingers painful as he grasped the soft flesh, thrusting up into her and almost bucking her off him in a furious wave of desire.
He shouted her name, Kagome felt him tremble beneath her as his body surged. Whispering now, he wiped her hair away from her face; his palms cupping her flushed cheeks and drew her mouth to his own for an exhausted kiss. She fell into him, unsure even as she fainted if it was her own tears or his that tasted like salt on her lips.