InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Torrent ❯ Sealed ( Chapter 16 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
“How could he?”
Crystalline tears flowed, cascading down, raining on Tajiko's blankets like a bitter waterfall. Since Kaede's death, things had been different somehow. InuYasha had been gentler, kinder, harsh at times when he didn't know what to say or do yet always showing her the greatest of care. She'd started to think, to hope . . . How could she have been so wrong?
“Does this girl mean more to you than I do, InuYasha?”
Closing her eyes against that question, Kagome felt a sharp jab at her heart. He never answered Kikyou back then.
The miasma, Kikyou's arrow that grazed Kagome's cheek . . . the hurtful words of the dead priestess as she took the Shikon no Kakera from Kagome . . . and later . . .
Kagome stared at InuYasha, who stared sadly at the skies---as Kikyou rose above, swathed in her Shini-dama-chuu. “You still love Kikyou don't you?”
InuYasha had been angry. She remembered his words. “Wha---? What are you saying at a time like this?”
Kagome's bitterness, confusion, as she asked, “What are you upset about?”
InuYasha's frustration cut into her, memories hurtful, poignant, unending. “St-stupid idiot! It's because I remembered about you that I came rushing here like this . . .”
By the well . . . he'd made his choice . . . and his choice had been Kikyou then, too . . . “Kikyou came after me, died for me . . . It's only right that I repay her with my own life.”
Angrily, Kagome dashed away her tears. They were easily replaced by more as her heart swelled, throbbed, but wouldn't break. `He's making due with you because he can't have her.'
`No . . . !'
`Baka, Kagome . . . How could you even think---`
`InuYasha . . .'
`Kikyou. Kikyou! It always comes back to Kikyou!'
The implication that she would fail the villagers was bad enough. He honestly thought she couldn't handle the responsibilities of taking care of Tajiko and the people she'd come to love? Had he thought so little of her that he'd had to bring in Kikyou? Stifling a sob, she knew it was true. He'd always underestimated her, all along. Maybe in the beginning it had been true enough. She hadn't known anything about protecting herself, the first time she'd fallen through the well, but over time, she'd learned so much . . . Another sob welled up to choke her. This one escaped, echoing off the well surrounding her, filling her head with her own sounds of grief. Yet he still believed that she couldn't do it, that she was helpless, unable to fend on her own. She could. She knew she could. She had simply never wanted to.
`He'll come after you. He'll come after you because you took his daughter---his pup.'
Biting her bottom lip as she lit at the bottom of the well, Kagome tried to think. Ofudas never worked. Grandpa had tried those numerous times, and they did little to seal the well. `No! I can't see him . . . I don't want to see him . . . not now, not ever . . . not yet . . . .'
“Tajiko . . . what should I do?” she whispered to the baby. “Your papa will come, and . . .” she choked back a sob, “he'll find us, find you, even if we hide.” She sighed, cuddling the baby closer. `Stupid InuYasha . . . It doesn't matter where I go, he'd be able to track us. It was a God-send in the past. It's a hindrance now. Stupid dog senses . . .'
She stopped suddenly, an odd thought forming in her mind. `Dog senses . . .' Kagome stormed into the shrine with a stifled sob. Without a word, she handed Tajiko to her mother who gasped in surprise before she ran into the kitchen and began pillaging the cupboards. `Curry powder . . . red pepper flakes . . . ground black pepper . . . cumin . . . chili powder . . . garlic salt . . . This ought to do it.'
Her conscience clucked at her as she closed the cupboards. `Is this necessary, Kagome? It does seem a little underhanded . . . or a lot underhanded, really . . .'
With a stubborn shake of her head, Kagome gathered up the herbs, a newspaper, and a box of matches and ran back out of the shrine toward the well-house. `Underhanded or not, I just can't see him yet, and this . . . this has to work!'
With shaking hands, she ripped open the seals, glad that her mother always bought the huge economy-sized bottles of everything. Then she dumped all of the herbs straight into the well. “That ought to stop him, if he really thinks he's coming after us,” she told herself then sighed. Slowly, methodically, she rolled the newspaper and shoved it into one of the empty bottles and lit the end. Satisfied that it would continue to burn, Kagome dropped the makeshift torch into the well. The flame shined up at her like a beacon in the darkness.
Seconds later, the well gave off a spicy scent so strong that Kagome had to put a hand over her face to keep from succumbing to a bout of coughing. `That should hold him off,' she thought with a grimace. Picking up the trash and sparing one last look at the empty well, Kagome turned and trudged back toward the shrine again.
“Kagome? What happened? What did you do with all of those?” Mrs. Higurashi asked, following Kagome into the kitchen as Kagome dropped the empty plastic containers into the recycling bin.
“I sealed it. If InuYasha thinks he's getting through, then he's mistaken,” she said stiffly as she washed her hands. Tajiko whimpered.
Kagome took Tajiko and sat down at the table to nurse her daughter. Mrs. Higurashi remained silent, waiting patiently for Kagome to tell her exactly what was going on. After realizing that Kagome really wasn't going to tell her anything more, her mother sighed and sank down in an empty chair at the table. “Well?”
“It's blocked, for now,” Kagome muttered.
Mrs. Higurashi shook her head slowly. “No, dear, I mean, `Well, I assume this is your little one, and she's lovely.' Does she have a name?”
Kagome made a face at the gentle censure in her mother's voice. “Tajiko,” she replied. “I wanted to come home to have her here but InuYasha . . .”
“You two had a disagreement?”
Kagome shook her head, concentrating on staring that the tiny bundle in her arms. “No . . . not exactly.”
“It's fine, you know, if you don't want to tell me what happened.”
She didn't speak for awhile. Tajiko finished nursing, and Kagome let her mother take her while she adjusted her clothing again. The front door opened and closed. Seconds later Souta sauntered into the kitchen. When he saw the bundle in their mother's arms, his eyes lit up, and he rushed over to greet the newest member of the family.
“Be careful with her,” Mrs. Higurashi admonished the youth as he slowly took the baby. “You have to support her head.”
“She looks just like InuYasha!” Souta exclaimed softly.
Kagome blinked back some tears and nodded.
“Can I show her to Gramps?”
Kagome nodded again and watched as her brother exited the room with Tajiko.
“She's just beautiful, Kagome. Do you want me to make an appointment so she can be checked by the doctor?”
“Yeah . . .”
Mrs. Higurashi took Kagome's hesitant answer as a sign that she was worried about Tajiko's home birth. She smiled encouragingly at Kagome. “I'm sure it will be fine. She looks very healthy. Did Sango help you? You two did very well, it seems.”
“Kagome . . . whatever is troubling you, just remember: I trust in you to trust your own judgment.”
Leaning her elbow on the table, Kagome rubbed her forehead with a shaking hand. “I don't. I don't think I trust my judgment any more, at all.”
Mrs. Higurashi leaned forward to push Kagome's bangs out of her face. Kagome still wouldn't meet her mother's gaze. “Do you want to tell me what happened?”
She shook her head slowly, unsure where to start. It wasn't that she didn't want to tell her mother. She really just didn't know where to begin. “He . . . he brought her back, Mama, to the village. He wasn't there when Tajiko was born, and I was---” cutting herself off, Kagome shot to her feet and wiped her eyes as she drew a shaky breath. “I want to go lay down. Tajiko's probably tired, too.”
Mrs. Higurashi watched in silence as Kagome slipped out of the kitchen. From what Kagome had said, she had a feeling that it wasn't some sort of small misunderstanding that had brought her daughter running back home. She sighed and stood, staring out the window at the shrine courtyard as something else occurred to her. Knowing InuYasha and his stubborn streak, the hanyou was likely trying to get through whatever seal Kagome had managed to put on the well.
Grabbing her coat off the rack by the door, Mrs. Higurashi stepped outside into the brisk winter air. Even if she wasn't sure exactly what had happened between her daughter and InuYasha, she was sure that InuYasha confronting Kagome now would only lead to more misunderstandings.
She had to step back as she pulled open the sliding doors on the well house. The mixture of spices that Kagome had used was enough to choke a human. With her arm over her nose and mouth, Mrs. Higurashi waved her free arm to expel some of the fumes. The curry powder and black pepper burned her eyes, and she could only hope that InuYasha wasn't quite foolish enough to try to follow Kagome so soon.
A muffled whine broke through her musings, though, and Mrs. Higurashi forgot her concerns as she ran down the steps to the dry well. “InuYasha?”
Another moaning whine drifted up to her. Mrs. Higurashi sighed. “Hang on, I'll be right back.”
InuYasha struggled to remain conscious in the bottom of the hell-trap. The mixture of whatever it was that Kagome had obviously used to keep him back was killing him. `Fucking stubborn bitch!' he thought with a growl that came out more of a whine. Trying not to breathe too deeply didn't help. Her stricken face flashed through his mind again, and InuYasha sighed. `Kagome . . .'
InuYasha hadn't heard Mrs. Higurashi's reemergence. He couldn't even reply to her, though, couldn't stop her from slipping the odd paper mask over his face, covering his nose and mouth to block out the vapors. It stopped the rising cloud of powders. It didn't stop the burning stench.
“Can you move, InuYasha?”
He tried. He really tried. Struggling to his hands and knees, InuYasha couldn't hang on to the stance and certainly couldn't push himself to his feet, either. “Ungh,” he gasped as he collapsed again.
Mrs. Higurashi sighed. “You can't stay down here, InuYasha. Kagome dumped spices in here to keep you back. I'll help you but you've got to help me, too. I can't get you out of here alone.”
Gradually the haze enveloping InuYasha's mind subsided though he doubted he could move. He could barely open his eyes. The fumes were so thick that they stung him. The glimpse he got of Kagome's mother, however, made him groan again. Mrs. Higurashi was in as much discomfort as he was though she, too, wore one of the masks that she'd put on him. “I knew she did . . . something,” he gasped, shaking his head to clear the fume-induced stupor. It wouldn't let up. “I smelled it over there . . .”
“She didn't want you to follow her, InuYasha, at least, not yet. Can you stand?”
He tried again, pushing himself against the wall and shoving. He swayed for a few seconds before crashing back into the dirt. “What . . . she . . . use?”
He didn't see Mrs. Higurashi's grimace. “Spices.”
“Let me get you some water. Maybe that will help.”
He didn't argue as she scurried up the ladder beside him. He tried pulling himself up on that a few times. His balance was off, probably because of the spices still clinging in his nose, and he couldn't manage to do it.
It was true enough. When he'd finally managed to shake off the remnants of the `osuwari' she used on him before hopping into the well, he hadn't missed the odd scent drifting out to him. Like that nasty food he'd eaten before---curry, they'd called it---it burned his nostrils on the other side of the well. Common sense had warned him not to go after her until she'd calmed down and until that smell was gone. Common sense, however, hadn't held much sway in his mind at the time.
Trouble was, now he was stuck here, at the bottom of the well on Kagome's side of it, and he couldn't get out because he couldn't even stand. When she dumped whatever spices into the well to hold him off, she'd apparently been serious. The spices felt as though they were trapped in his nose, and it made simple breathing hurt.
“Try this,” Mrs. Higurashi said, handing InuYasha a damp towel. He stared at it blankly, his arm feeling leaden, heavy. “Put it over your nose and mouth, InuYasha. It may help to filter out more of the spices.”
He couldn't. He couldn't lift his arm enough to make it do what he wanted. Mrs. Higurashi ended up doing it for him. “Is that better?”
Managing a nod, InuYasha opened his eyes slightly. “Is she okay?”
“Kagome, you mean?”
He nodded again.
“Maybe not completely okay. But she will be. Kagome's strong. You know that.”
“I want her to come home with me.”
Mrs. Higurashi sighed. InuYasha managed to bring his hand up to hold the cloth himself. “Maybe you should give her some time. She's got a lot to deal with right now. She's a new mother with new responsibilities, and she's struggling.”
“Keh! She ran off with my pup!”
“InuYasha? Would you mind telling me what happened that made my daughter want to run off with the baby?”
He felt his face grow hot, and he couldn't look Mrs. Higurashi in the eye. “I wasn't there when Tajiko was born,” he admitted softly. “She was so tired lately, and the villagers . . . I went to find Kikyou, to ask her to help Kagome, until Kagome was feeling better, that I could bring Kagome back here so she could take it easy for awhile . . . I didn't think she'd be so upset with me.”
Mrs. Higurashi shook her head slowly but she smiled, and InuYasha took heart from that. “Did you intend on staying here with her during all this?”
He nodded, a confused frown drawing his eyebrows together. “Yeah . . . I wouldn't have let her just leave with the pup, would I? There'd be no one to protect them.”
“Did you tell my daughter that?”
His flush darkened. “No. She didn't give me a chance. She said `it' and ran off.”
“InuYasha, perhaps it would be best if you gave Kagome a few days to calm down before you try talking to her again. She's too upset to listen to you, and I think you might be, too.”
He sighed and forced himself to his feet. The cloth did much better to intercept the spices than the mask had. He felt a little stronger now. “She and the pup belong with me,” he maintained stubbornly. “She's my mate, damn it, and---”
“And do you love her?”
He stopped, blinking in surprise as he stared at Mrs. Higurashi with a marked frown. “What kind of stupid question is that? What do you---?”
“If you love her, InuYasha, then maybe you will consider what Kagome needs before you drag her back to the past again? Give her time to calm down, to adjust. Give her time to miss you.” She patted his arm before turning and clamoring back up the ladder. “I'll let you think about it,” she called down to him. When he looked back up moments later, she was gone.
`Do you love her, InuYasha?'
He snorted. “What the fuck kind of question is that?” he growled, wishing he had strength enough to tear something to shreds.
`If you love her, give her time.'
An almost indiscernible sadness stole into his eyes. He slowly dragged himself up the ladder and stared back down into the empty well. How much time did she need? Would she even listen to him?
Digging his claws into the side of the well, one question kept filtering through his mind: `How had everything gone so wrong?'
Tajiko: "Child of silver and yellow color."
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Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Torrent): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.