InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Possession ❯ TwentyFive ( Chapter 25 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
In retrospect, she thought it was possibly the worst thing she could have said.
They were tearing each other apart, moving so fast she could hardly see them and she held her breath, expecting bloodshed any moment. Kagome winced and covered her eyes when Inuyasha landed a particularly nasty uppercut to Kouga's jaw. The wolf recovered as if he'd barely felt the blow, but she didn't miss the thin trickle of blood on his chin or the way his eyes glinted in anger.
“You damn mutt,” Kouga growled, circling around the angry inuyoukai. “I shoulda known you were somewhere around here. Come back to visit your old territory? Since when are you that sentimental?”
“Fuck you,” Inuyasha answered softly, his expression dark and deadly. “What's a mangy wolf like you doing this far south? You're way outside your borders, Kouga. I'm thinking it's no coincidence that we're both here at the same time.”
Kouga dodged a fist and managed to land a hard punch to the back of Inuyasha's head. Snarling, the inuyoukai recovered quickly and raked his claws down the back of the wolf's leg. They both backed off, glaring and breathing hard.
“Stop it, you idiots!” Kagome cried, afraid that this would be the time she'd see them really hurt each other.
“I'll ask you again,” Inuyasha hissed softly. “Why were you after her?”
Kouga threw the woman a startled look and then folded his arms over his chest. “I didn't even know Kagome was here,” he said, his tone quiet. “I was looking for Shippou. We started tracking that swarm a few miles back and followed them here.”
“You expect me to believe you just happened to be here looking for your brat?” Inuyasha sneered. He glanced over his shoulder and gave Shippou an ugly look. Then he smiled and showed sharp fangs. “Shoulda known that little punk was here under your orders.”
Shippou growled angrily. “That's not true!” He surged forward, aching to defend his foster father and show Inuyasha that he wasn't just a brat anymore. Rin dove for his arm just as he moved, wrenching him back as the slight girl dug her feet into the soft ground.
“Don't,” she whispered, her expression more frightened than he'd seen it even in the youkai hunters' village. “It's what he wants you to do.”
Silently, Kagome agreed with Rin's assessment. There was a mean look in Inuyasha's eyes, a decided dislike of Kouga that was probably so ingrained it didn't matter that he couldn't remember his history with the wolf. She'd known back then that these two wouldn't ever be friends. They had barely been able to tolerate each other's company even for the mutual purpose of destroying Naraku. She watched as the two adversaries circled warily, like pit hounds set against each other in a fight.
This wouldn't end until one of them was dead, or so close to death it was irrelevant.
She couldn't let it happen, she would not again stay passive while Inuyasha hurt someone. Angry now, she rushed forward until she stood between them, and narrowly missed getting a fist in her own face when Inuyasha swung at Kouga. The wolf was just fast enough that he grabbed her and spun her out of way, catching the full force of the blow that had been intended for him. Kouga staggered back and fell to his knees, stunned and bleeding.
“Damn it, bitch! Get out of the way!”
Kagome crouched protectively over Kouga, preventing Inuyasha from moving in for an easy kill. “Leave him alone!” she shouted, her eyes glinting with fury. “He hasn't done anything wrong.”
Seething, he pulled back, glaring at her with pure hatred. “Why are you protecting him?” he asked, his voice hardly more than a hiss. “Don't tell me that mangy piece of shit means something to you!”
Her jaw tightened and she glowered back at him without a trace of fear. “He's my friend,” she said coldly. “Of course he means something to me!”
“Kagome, don't,” Kouga muttered, putting his hand on her arm and slowly getting to his feet. Stupid mutt had a punch all right, but he wasn't such a weakling that he needed to hide behind a woman. He met Inuyasha's furious glare with bitter amusement. “This fight's been a long time coming.”
She tensed and shook her head. “No, I'm sorry,” she said quietly. “Not this time, Kouga. I can't just watch you two tear each other apart. Not again.”
Inuyasha spat on the ground, pacing around like he could barely control himself. Kouga was an annoyance, always had been in his opinion. He didn't know why Sesshomaru had ever agreed to any kind of alliance with a useless pack of wolves. As much as he disliked the stupid ass, he'd never felt so angry as he had when he'd seen Kouga's hands on that woman. It set off a burning rage in his heart and a sick, hurt feeling that he'd come to associate with jealousy.
But he wasn't going to admit that, oh hell no. Grinning nastily, he folded his arms and gave her a disgusted look. She'd rejected him, hadn't she? But she claimed to care about this fool who had no business being here in the first place. If she weren't involved, he'd have been satisfied to let the wolf off with a beating or maybe just trading insults before going their separate ways. Now, it was serious and he was going to make sure she knew what she was doing in siding with such a useless bastard.
“Just a friend, eh?” he sneered contemptuously. “Hell, if I'd known you were some wolf cub's whore, I wouldn't have bothered saving your ass in the forest that day.”
The color drained from Kagome's face and her hands curled into fists. He'd called her a whore, but after last night, what else could she be? She saw anger and jealousy glittering in his golden eyes, the hard twist of his lips, and she shuddered inwardly. She'd hurt him this morning, rejected him, and now she stood between him and an enemy.
Unwittingly, she'd just proved to him everything she'd told him.
“Inuyasha,” she murmured, her hands uncurling and her arms limp at her side as she turned away.
“Save it,” he snarled, his face lighting again in fury.
Kagome gasped as she suddenly thrown to the side by a furious Kouga. Without a trace of fear, he grabbed a fistful of Inuyasha's haori. “Mutt,” the wolf growled dangerously, “you haven't earned the right to insult Kagome. Not after what you've done to her!”
To his surprise, Inuyasha paled slightly. Then he flushed…it looked like shame. Roughly, he shoved Kouga's hands away and refused to meet his eyes. “I don't remember anything about it,” he muttered.
“And that makes it okay?” Kouga hissed. He'd been waiting years to confront Inuyasha, years of anger and guilt that he hadn't been there to stop it. To hell with Sesshomaru's order that his brother be told nothing, to hell with letting the miserable bastard live in ignorance, unaware and unpunished for the crimes he had committed in the past.
Inuyasha turned his back on the angry wolf, already lost in regret for what he couldn't remember. Maybe somewhere in his dark past, the wolf had been her friend, wouldn't that make his anger justified? He should leave now, get the fuck out of here where he didn't belong, wasn't needed. Wasn't wanted.
“No, it doesn't make it okay,” the white-haired demon said quietly. “And there's nothing I can do about it either. So just fucking drop it.”
Drop it? The hell. Kouga's face darkened, his hands tightening into fists. The mutt had destroyed the lives of everyone around him for his own selfish power and now he wanted to drop it? Years of anger built up in his muscles, fueled his hatred and banished the good sense that time and necessity had created.
“You…fucking…bastard!” he shouted, launching himself at Inuyasha. He dragged his enemy to the ground, pounding him with both fists as he spent his anger.
“Kouga, no!” Kagome shrieked, ready to throw herself at the wolf to stop him. She dove forward and was yanked back, both of her arms clamped to her sides. Angrily, she struggled and fought, tearing at Shippou's hands as he tried to restrain her. Then she sagged, useless tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes.
Inuyasha moved quickly, hooking his legs around Kouga, blood covering his face from the wolf's savage blows. Twisting, quicksilver and crimson, he felt the rage consuming him again. Revenge, yes, at last revenge. Make him pay, make him hurt, make him wish that he'd never set eyes on that lying bitch.
He flung the wolf down; barely using his strength in this heightened state and slammed Kouga's head into the dirt repeatedly. Yes, this was what he was made for, anger and vengeance. Her panicked voice set off a maelstrom of fury that ate at his soul, fired his blood with incandescent power. Inuyasha licked his lips, tasting his own blood and found himself reveling in it.
Your enemy's blood will taste even sweeter…
Kouga was barely conscious now; he could feel the fight leaving his opponent's muscles, slackened and weak. So much weaker than me, he exulted silently.
“Do something!” Kagome frantically appealed to Kouga's youkai companions, until now standing silently. She could almost feel their fury, it was like a palpable wave, coating the air and swirling around them to mix with Inuyasha's bloodlust. This had to stop, she couldn't…she couldn't live with it if she had to watch Inuyasha slaughter her friend.
“They can't,” Shippou murmured, still holding her tight. “He'll kill them all.”
One of the wolf demons heard his soft words and shook his head, coming to stand near the kitsune and the two human women. “No,” he said quietly. “We aren't afraid, but Kouga has forbidden it.”
“Where's your loyalty?” she raged, unable to look away as Inuyasha continued to ram Kouga's bloody face into the earth. The grass was splattered with red, obscenely vivid against the lush grass.
“Loyalty from wolves?” Kagome met Inuyasha's gaze with horrified eyes. He grinned at her, wiping his fingers on Kouga's back. He looked down at his defeated enemy; the stupid bastard wouldn't dare attack him from behind again. But it wasn't going to be enough. An honorable youkai would have left it at that, left the humiliation of defeat to be the final blow, but it wasn't enough for him.
No, he wasn't honorable, deep in his heart he wanted to hear her beg him for this bastard's life.
Watching her face, he dug his fingers into Kouga's long hair and pulled the wolf's face up. He touched his tongue to the tips of his own sharp claws before putting them to Kouga's throat. “I've been waiting a long time to let this piece of shit have it,” he said coldly.
“Don't do it,” Kagome said pleadingly. “Inuyasha, he's…”
“Your friend?” he snarled, his eyes glittering like sun-stained glass. “A former lover? Did you fuck him too?”
Her eyes went wide in disbelief. That was what it was about? He was jealous, he didn't even remember Kouga, but he was still jealous that she might have…
“You got it wrong,” she said in hard voice, shoving Shippou's hands from her arms. Her fear evaporated and she met him head on with her anger. “You stupid prick, even if I had slept with him it's not your goddamn business!”
“Then you won't care if I tear his throat out, will you?” he growled. He leaned over Kouga's prone form, digging in with his claws. “Let's see how long I can make it last before you start telling me the truth.”
The words tore from her throat and fell like shards of glass into the silence. All she could hear was her blood pulsing in her ears, the faint stir of the wind in the trees. The moment was etched in ice, glazed with a hundred memories that all crashed through her mind.
The first time she'd said it, with him hot on her heels and threatening her.
The last time she'd said it, several weeks before Miroku and Sango had died.
Angry moments, bitter ones. Sometimes funny when the hanyou she'd fallen in love with again acted like an ass, impulsively chasing Shippou for the last package of ramen. Sometimes she'd said it when his big mouth had gotten ahead of him by saying something so stupid or thoughtless that she'd use the rosary just to shut him up.
The first time his youkai blood had overwhelmed him and she'd sat him to break the spell, knowing that it wouldn't work a second time…
Oh god…what have I done?
His muscles had tensed, turning to stone under his skin. He wasn't sure what he was bracing himself for, something that wasn't coming. It was as if an invisible line had been drawn tight around his body, expectant that he was about to surrender control of his limbs and go crashing down. He found he was breathing hard, darkness swimming in his mind, a thick fog that just cleared briefly, just enough to show him a tantalizing piece of his past, undated and out of context.
A girl stood before him, fear in her eyes as a glowing string wound tight about his throat. Rough beads under his fingers, trying to pull it off, feeling the power, her power, pulsing in his hand before she spoke the word…
Inuyasha stood up slowly, his limbs still not quite believing that he was the one who controlled them. The memory faded away and darkened, leaving him mystified once again. The woman raised her hands to her mouth, her eyes wide and horrified as she stared at him, expecting the monster to surge from his skin and devour her.
I did that, he thought miserably. I made her afraid of me.
So afraid that she'd screamed out a command, a desperate grab for control. He glanced down as Kouga coughed, slowly pulling himself up and wiping at the blood and dirt on his face. Inuyasha felt his heart contract into a tight ball, realizing that he'd been about to torture the wolf to death. Just to hear that woman cry and beg for his life. Just to push back the feeling of being rejected, of feeling unwanted, filthy…like a hanyou.
“Inuyasha,” she whispered. “I didn't mean to…”
“Shut up!” he shouted, hating himself more than the sight of her, than the sight on his loss of control. He felt like he'd shamed himself. She'd shamed him too, called to him like a dog, a miserable, homeless cur that had been kicked away from the back doors and gates of his youth. He was shaking. He looked around and saw hatred in the wolves' eyes, disgust in Shippou's. Rin's face was pale as a ghost, her expression still charred with horror.
Kagome took a step forward, cautious of the emotions moving rapidly across his face. What was he thinking? Worse, what was he remembering? She held her breath, strangely eager to know. Would Inuyasha's mind dissolve into blistering madness if he remembered his past? Would he recall his viciousness, his cruelty? The long, wild nights when he'd claimed her body and her soul…
Or would he remember only that she'd left him?
Inuyasha shook his head; it felt like it was going to split in two. Angry with himself for being weak enough to lose it like that, and yes, angry with her too, he knew he had to get away from her. Something was in his head, something that didn't want him to remember, it only wanted control. It wanted him to kill the wolf and his comrades, that bratty kitsune and even the young girl who thought that he was her friend.
Then it wanted him to take that priestess, rape her in front of their corpses until she was as dead as his once half-human soul.
“I gotta go,” he muttered, turning away. He needed to get a fucking grip on himself or he'd go crazy from this pain.
“Inuyasha!” Rin started to run after him but he threw up his hands as if he was warding off evil instead of help.
“Just stay away,” he barked, harsher than he needed, but he was scared it wouldn't be safe even for her to stay at his side. His expression softened slightly at her stricken look, the fear and worry in her eyes. “I'll come back for you,” he said quietly, remembering he did have an obligation to take her home. “Just stay with them for now, Rin. Don't follow me.”
Shivering, she nodded once and her shoulders slumped. He didn't look back to see Kagome put her arms around the girl and hold her tightly. He didn't see the way she closed her eyes, her expression as taut and worn as the ghosts that held sway over his damaged mind.
They hadn't seen Inuyasha for two days and Kagome tried not to let it bother her. Having no other options, she and Rin had decided to follow Kouga and Shippou back to the wolf youkai camp. As Kouga explained along the way, marauding demons had been a real problem lately. Shippou had offered to stay with them if Kagome really didn't want to leave the old village, but she'd shrugged and looked around for a moment, remembering happier days.
“I've had enough of ghosts,” she said quietly. “Let's keep moving.”
It was probably safer for them to stay with Kouga and the wolves, she reflected as they walked back. The wolves ran ahead, scouting, Kouga told them. Twice they'd had to take a different route because the wolves were uneasy, thinking that something might be tracking them in the wilderness.
“Better safe than sorry,” he said with a wry grin.
“Since when are you cautious?” Kagome asked, grinning herself in spite of her glum mood. “That's not the Kouga I remember.”
The wolf demon laughed at that. “Well,” he said ruefully, rubbing the back of his neck. “I've got responsibilities now. Like raising that damn runt of yours.”
“I'm not a runt anymore,” Shippou growled playfully. They had to stop as the kitsune launched himself at his adoptive parent, both of them falling to the ground and tussling briefly before Shippou got up, bouncing almost, and taunted him.
“Getting slow, old man?”
Hardly old in youkai terms, Kouga just snorted. “I didn't want to embarrass you in front of Kagome and Rin.”
“Don't hold back on our account,” Rin said merrily. Shippou turned to smile at her and Kagome started a bit, seeing his pleasure in Rin's easy tone. She'd been scared half to death when she'd first seen the wolves, but now she was watching them less warily. Then again, Kagome reflected, demons wouldn't frighten the girl as she'd been raised among inuyoukai.
It wasn't the youkai that bothered Rin; it was their animal companions. One of them, an older male, came over to sniff at the young woman's feet and she cautiously reached out to touch his ears, smiling when the wolf growled softly in pleasure.
“He likes you,” Shippou commented with a smile. “They don't normally take to humans.”
He was surprised when she pulled her hand back and tucked it behind her. “I know,” she said softly. “They don't like us at all.”
“They don't have much reason to,” Kouga answered. Kagome glanced over at him and he shrugged. “Humans chase wolves away from their farms, kill them on sight. But it's been a long time since I've allowed any of mine to hurt humans.”
“And before that?” Rin asked, suddenly fierce. “You let them eat humans, adults and children!”
“Of course.” Kouga seemed entirely unrepentant. “It used to be our way. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. If you were raised by the dogs, you should know that.”
Shippou shuddered; the idea of eating humans was disgusting to him. Not just because he had human friends, but because other youkai that would eat human flesh, also would have hunted small demons like kitsune for sport.
And eaten their flesh as well.
He started when Rin's hand tucked into his. “I wasn't saying you'd do anything like that,” she murmured. He grinned and pushed his hair out of his eyes. Without Inuyasha around, he'd found that he enjoyed Rin's company.
“I know that,” he said.
Kagome watched them, feeling a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. It was nice to see them like this, untainted by anger or jealousy. It made her wistful for the days when she could laugh like Rin, or joke like Shippou. Her eyes clouded over, remembering the girl she had been and the innocence that she had always taken for granted.
“Such a sad look.” She glanced up and saw Kouga watching her. Grimly, she smiled and shook off her ghosts.
“Just thinking,” she answered, “about the past.”
Kouga chuckled. “I haven't got time to live in the past,” he said with a grin. “I'm still trying to figure out why you're here.”
Kagome opened her mouth to explain, but Kouga waved her silent. “Already heard about it from Shippou,” he said in his usual blunt way. Kouga shrugged and gave her sideways glance. “I didn't believe him at first, about this future of yours. But there was always something about you, Kagome. Something I couldn't figure out.”
“I never told you about it because I didn't know how,” she murmured. A girl falling through a well into the past, into the future, and back again? She wouldn't have blamed him for not believing her. There were times she'd hardly believed it herself, expecting one day the final fall would be the last. And then it had been, for more than ten years, and she'd put the past behind her like a woman who had never believed in fairy tales.
“And now you're back, Kagome. And so is he.” Kouga planted his hands on his hips and looked out over the rolling green land, hollows and dells that he knew better than he knew the back of his own hand. They had entered what he thought of as his home territory, following the river back to its source. It was this place they'd chosen to make their home, a small network of caves hidden behind a waterfall.
“There,” Kouga said, pointing towards the falls. “After Naraku was defeated, a lot of wolves came out of hiding. Some had gone into the mountains, others had just scattered. For some reason, they came looking for me.”
“He pretending to be modest,” Shippou called out, coming up behind them as they left the bend of the river to walk across the grassy plain. “They needed someone to lead them, they didn't have anyone else who could have done it.”
Kouga flushed. “It was just that we still had some fighters left,” he said grumpily, not quite looking Kagome in the eye. “It wasn't like I asked for all the women and children to come here. I got better things to do than look after a bunch of brats like you!”
Rin giggled as Shippou raced around them, keeping just out of Kouga's reach. “That's not the way I remember it, I remember it being more like you wanted to protect them. Isn't that why you had them come here?”
His face even redder under their scrutiny, Kouga walked faster, brushing Shippou to the side. “I couldn't just turn them away, women with pups too young to fight, old geezers that didn't even have fangs. Couldn't just let `em all starve…”
Kagome hid a smile and Shippou winked, nudging her with his elbow. “He sent men out to find them,” he said in a loud whisper. “Told them if they came to him, he'd protect them. All the wolf demons came, they'd heard about Kouga the hero and…”
“Shut up, I ain't no hero!”
Shippou let a wicked smile cross his face before carefully schooling his features into a thoughtful expression. “That's true,” he said soberly. “You were always best at running.”
“You little punk!”
Kagome grinned helplessly, amused at Kouga's denial of being a hero. He had been very fast at running away, but he'd never been a coward either. Retreat and live to fight another day had been his motto, but he'd always come to their aid when they'd needed him. Particularly at the end, when he'd thrown himself against Naraku's minions in a desperate battle, losing his shards and nearly his life.
Laughing, Shippou raced ahead of them, heading for the caves and the youkai that were starting to come out to greet them. “You're right, Kouga!” he shouted happily. “They came to follow Ayame, not you!”
Kagome stopped, seeing a red-haired woman coming out of the cave. With a faint smile, she turned and looked at Kouga. “Ayame?” she asked, a teasing note in her voice.
The wolf grinned back at her. “Yeah, it's Ayame. My wife.”
Natsu was tired; he'd been following the priestess and her companions since they'd left the ruined village. He wasn't at all happy about it either. If anyone other than the boss himself had asked him to do this, he'd have told them right where they could go. But there'd been no mistaking his boss in his anger over what had happened. Gingerly, he reached up and felt the bridge of his cracked nose.
Wasn't his humiliation enough of a punishment?
He guessed not. Sighing, he sat down and fumbled in his pack for a piece of dried fish and some water. Somehow the boss had known what was going to happen, known that the women would be attacked by that horde, just like he'd predicted that there'd be a pack of wolves hot on their trail. He grunted to himself, wishing his orders had been more along the lines of putting a few arrows into the mangy bastards.
The boss had been explicit. He was not to exceed his orders ever again. Natsu shuddered a bit, thinking of the man's fury when he'd found out that they'd actually captured Inuyasha and let him get away. The brother of the Western lord, leader of the inuyoukai, and he'd let him slip through his fingers.
Of course, the boss hadn't been too happy when he'd found out the whole story either.
Damn that old woman, the boss listened to her like he didn't listen to anyone else. It wasn't just because she was a priestess either; she said she'd known that Inuyasha before he'd become a full demon. Personally, Natsu thought that was worse. Hanyou shouldn't be tolerated and he'd pretty much said so in front of the boss.
He rubbed his jaw, not understanding why he'd been hit, but he knew better than to say anything else. The boss had an unpredictable temper and that was when he'd been ordered to track the demon in the forest, find them, and keep watch until he was told otherwise. He wondered if the boss had known the inuyoukai would leave his women behind, or that they'd take off with the wolf demon and the kitsune instead of waiting for his return.
“Damn bastards,” he grumbled to himself, chewing carefully. His nose was still swollen and his jaw ached from the boss' punch. It seemed like a man couldn't win these days.
He started and got to his feet, looking around the woods. “Boss?” he asked carefully. “I was just resting, I wasn't going to leave or nothing.”
“I know.” A slim figure stepped out of the forest, dark against the shadows and moving as quietly as a ghost. “We followed the trail you left. I expected they'd come here.”
A few other men followed the boss, looking around them suspiciously as if Natsu might be concealing a stray demon or two. He stiffened, realizing these men were more than just youkai hunters from another village, they were the boss' elite guard, highly trained and dedicated to the ultimate goal of slaughtering every youkai alive. These were the men the boss would send out when he wanted something done right…and no witnesses to tell the tale.
As for the boss himself, well, Natsu was happier when they didn't have to meet. He followed the man, believed in his ideas, but there was something…different about him. He had five and thirty summers and he'd worked long hours on his father's farm before the youkai had come. He wasn't a man to take orders from someone more than ten years younger than him.
Even though he was the deadliest hunter of them all. They said that his face was scarred from a terrible battle with a hundred demons; they said that battle was where the young man had lost his left eye. A black patch covered that eye socket…Natsu had no idea what was under it, but the scars on the young man's face were reason enough to not want to know. And know better than ask.
“We will wait,” the boss said quietly, sinking down to the ground. Behind the scars that distorted the side of his face, his expression was stoic, placid. “When they move, so will we.”
Natsu only hoped it would be soon.
Okay, so he was an idiot. What else was new?
Inuyasha grunted to himself, annoyed with his own stupidity. What an ass he'd made of himself this time, totally out of control and acting like a beast. No, lower than a beast, he had been acting like a monster, a foul demon that humans had every right to fear and to hunt.
He went off into the forest and looked for the tallest tree he could find. Ever since his childhood, he'd always sought out some high place of solitude to think. Not that he was thinking now, he was brooding and he knew it. He scowled to himself, remembering the instant fury he'd felt when he'd seen that damn wolf touching her.
Bastard, this was all Kouga's fault. Miserable, stinking…
He's my friend! Of course he means something to me!
Inuyasha shrank into himself when he remembered her words, pulling his haori tight about his body and wrapping his arms around the pain in his middle. Why did she have such power to hurt him? Was it because he'd been the one to hurt her first? He couldn't argue with the fairness of that, if it was true.
The hell it wasn't true, he snorted to himself. Even the damn wolf had known about it, hated him for it before he'd even known why. And, he realized uncomfortably, that meant Sesshomaru had known about it too. And still sent him out with that woman, knowing what it might mean. Knowing what his half-crazy younger brother was capable of.
I'm a rapist, I'm a murderer, and I don't fucking remember it!
And yet, just last night, she'd let him touch her. She'd touched him too, shoving him to the ground and riding him like a woman consumed. He felt himself stir just thinking about it and brutally pushed the desire away. She'd had her own reasons for what she'd done, maybe just to prove to him that whatever he'd done to her in the past, she wouldn't let him do it again.
Maybe to make him feel small…used…worthless…
Sitting in his tree, hiding from his past, he felt the wind stir his hair. The sun was setting and over the horizon, the golden-red sky was fading into deep violet shadows. Across the forest, he could see the trees rustling, speaking to each other perhaps about this strange, tormented creature in their midst. Did they pity him? Or were they more like his brother, aloof and unconcerned, never to be touched by regret or remorse, only the cold, analytical logic of natural selection.
Your hanyou blood was too weak to hold our father's power…
Inuyasha snarled and launched himself from the branch. For a moment, he let himself fall, surrendering to the laws of gravity. Then, without thinking, his feet touched the next branch and he was flying across the treetops, a crimson blur against the dying sunset.
I am not weak!
The bastards wouldn't stop him, his own past wouldn't hold him, whatever crimes he had committed…if he couldn't atone for them, he could still die fighting.
Whatever they had!
By the time he was able to stop himself, he realized he was heading into the wolves' territory. No surprise there, he was drawn to her. Like a spider on a single thread, it was pulling him in. He was compelled…not like a beast, not like a common monster…
Like a youkai, like what he had always aspired to become.
Panting, he dropped to the forest floor, forcing himself to slow down. Damn it all, why did he let himself lose control like that? It wasn't about that fucking wolf, it was about her, and it was about him. He'd been jealous at first, but once the door had opened, he'd been unable to see beyond his fury. Then…he'd wanted to hurt her. More than anything, he'd wanted to hear her crying, make the arrogant priestess pay…
For what? Inuyasha raged silently to himself, daring the voices in his mind to speak up and answer. What did she do to bring out that kind of hatred inside him, hatred that didn't even seem to belong to him? Not for the first time, he questioned himself, the presence in the back of his mind that seemed to both protect him and drive him into ruin.
He closed his eyes, leaning against the rough bark of a tree and concentrated. Usually when he'd try to remember, it only brought him pain. He wasn't trying to remember now; he was trying to find…them. He was sure there was more than one, too many voices, too many separate pieces of anger. Shivering, suddenly cold in the darkened forest, he pursued.
Whirling vortexes of power, clashing and uniting. Many became as one, one made up of many. The warrior-priestess forced them into the darkness, made her own body the trap, her pure soul the seal that held them…
He gasped, sudden pain shooting outwards from his heart to his fingertips. Without realizing it, he clung to the tree, his claws rending the gnarled bark and shredding it like a woman's skin.
Trapped, they screamed in pain, they screamed in fury. She had trapped them, lying bitch, she had made herself the bait they couldn't resist. So easy to move in for the kill, to combine and unite into one. She fought like a madwoman, but then…
Inuyasha fell to his knees, trembling and eyes wide now, seeing the memory that didn't belong to him still vivid in his mind. The priestess wasn't the same woman, but he knew, he knew that they didn't care. They still wanted revenge.
He should put as much distance between himself and that woman as possible. Hope the bastard wolf and brat kitsune could protect her, he sure as hell couldn't trust himself. Grimly, Inuyasha swore to himself that he wouldn't let it happen again. He was no fit protector or lover for that woman.
Not for any woman…
Then the wind died and stillness reigned, passing over him like a deathly shroud. Instincts that he'd been born with trembled, his heartbeat accelerating until it became a frantic rhythm against his ribcage, straining for escape. Panic rooted him to where he stood, cold fear trickled down his back and pooled in his armpits.
Shit! Not again, not now!
Unable to move, he stared up at the sky. Against violet-darkness of dusk, something was growing. The overwhelming fear, the grief, held him frozen in place, unchecked tears streaking his face. A glowing mass coalesced just beyond the forest, rising slowly, like an unwilling phantom dragged from the grave. He watched, hardly breathing as it gathered into a bright ball and then shot across the sky with an unearthly cry.
Inuyasha stood quite still, not sure if he believed what he'd seen. It was stronger now, in pain, and more desperate than before. When they'd felt in the forest, it had been so oppressive that he hadn't been able to think. This time, it was sharper, fighting for escape.
A human soul…trapped within a seething mass of demons…
And it was heading towards where Kagome and Rin were, with the wolf youkai that lived beside waterfall were, out there beyond his reach.
Inuyasha broke into a run. He had to try and stop it.