InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Torrent ❯ Contrition ( Chapter 17 )
[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
`Has it been long enough?'
InuYasha heaved a long-suffering sigh as he stared down into the well. The smell of Kagome's seal had diminished. He could catch faint traces of the kami-damned spices, which mean that they were probably still fairly strong on the other side of the well, too, but as long as he was ready for it, as long as he didn't stay in the well too long before getting out of there, it ought to be fine.
Still he hesitated. Six long days had passed since Kagome had taken Tajiko and fled. Every day he sat beside the well, unwilling to leave, unable to do more than worry and wonder and hope. It didn't make any more sense to him now than it had before. He didn't know when everything had changed.
Unable to remain angry with Kagome for her rash decisions, InuYasha had taken her mother's advice. As much as it chafed him to sit idly by, waiting for some sort of signal from Kagome, he also understood that something had shifted in her, something different, something that he couldn't fix or save her from.
Sango had told him what she knew, what she'd gathered from bits of conversations here and there with Kagome. As much as the woman encouraged others to talk, it seemed that Kagome, herself, rarely did. Unwilling to burden others with her own concerns, Kagome had kept a lot inside---things that InuYasha hadn't realized were there.
“She thinks you still wish to be with Kikyou. She thinks she's nothing more than a substitute,” Sango explained quietly. Sitting on the side of the well as the sun was sinking behind her, the slayer had seemed sad.
Incredulity manifested in anger as InuYasha stalked back and forth like a caged animal. “Keh! She can't be that stupid! Kagome's not a fool!”
“Maybe not, but, InuYasha . . . you know as well as I do that you've never been very clear about your feelings for Kikyou, at least not in words.”
“But that's just plain stupid! If I wanted to be with Kikyou, then I wouldn't have taken Kagome as my mate.”
“Did you ever tell Kagome that?”
InuYasha crouched down, unable to look Sango in the eye as late realization washed over him. “I have to tell her? How could she not realize that?”
“How long did it take you to realize how much Kagome cared for you?”
InuYasha sighed. Point taken.
Still, if it bothered her so much, why hadn't she just told him? The times he'd tried to explain it to Kagome, she always cut him off. She never wanted to hear his reasons.
He also had to admit that bringing Kikyou back to the village was probably not the wisest of decisions he'd ever made. Knowing that Kagome didn't like to be compared to Kikyou, he'd done the one thing that was guaranteed to upset her, even if his intentions had been good. Then to find out that he'd missed the birth of their child in the doing . . . well, maybe that was what really kept his temper in check. He'd been wrong, dead wrong. Now if he could just get Kagome to listen to him, maybe . . .
`Maybe if you started off by telling her how you feel she'd be more likely to listen to the rest of your reasons, baka! Kagome can't read your mind. She doesn't know how you feel because you've never told her.'
He shook his head stubbornly. `I've told her how I feel every single day!' he argued. `I tell her when I hold her, when I kiss her . . . all the time! She's just not listening!'
`And maybe she needs to hear it, in words, out loud. Some things aren't as plain to her as they are to you or else you wouldn't be sitting here beside the well with five hundred years separating you and your mate and your pup . . . baka.'
InuYasha raked his claws against the wood. Enough was enough. Standing slowly, InuYasha hopped onto the side of the well. Surely she'd listen to him now, wouldn't she? “Keh!” he snorted. She'd listen to him or else . . .
Before he could jump, a new scent invaded his senses. InuYasha glanced over his shoulder in time to see Sesshoumaru light on the ground. Expression blank, eyes inscrutable, InuYasha had a feeling he wasn't going to welcome his brother's visit as he dropped back onto the ground and turned to face his sibling. “This had better be good. I've got no time to waste on a bastard like you,” he asked slowly.
Sesshoumaru blinked but otherwise didn't show any change in his stoic expression. “Where's your mate?”
“None of your fucking business,” InuYasha bit out, hand resting on the hilt of Tetsusaiga. He was itching for a good fight. Just let Sesshoumaru say one thing, and InuYasha swore he'd rip his brother to pieces. “Why do you care?”
Sesshoumaru shrugged. The gesture was almost imperceptible other than a marked shifting of his scent. “I need her aide.”
InuYasha blinked in surprise. Sesshoumaru never admitted to needing anyone's aide. Why Kagome's? “You need her?” he repeated incredulously. “Why's that?”
Surprisingly, Sesshoumaru turned away, as though he was embarrassed to be asking for assistance from anyone. “Rin is ill,” he said finally, “very ill . . . Your miko . . . I thought perhaps she can help her.”
InuYasha sighed. If it had been anything other than that . . . “I'll get her,” InuYasha grumbled as he leapt onto the side of the well once more. “Wait here.”
Steeling himself for the fumes on the other side by covering his nose and mouth with his haori, InuYasha sighed. Would Kagome listen to him, at least long enough to aide the human child?
`The fumes are surprisingly light,' he thought as he landed in the bottom of the well. Still not wishing to linger in the nauseous gasses, InuYasha lunged for the top, cleanly landing outside the well at the base of the steps. The reason the fumes weren't quite so bad, he realized, was because someone had brought an electric fan out, and the fan was carrying the fumes out of the well-house, away from him. He stopped abruptly though, arm dropping away from his face. He swallowed hard, willing words to rise before it was too late.
Kagome stared at him warily, hurt masked but not gone from her expression. Tajiko was nestled in her arms, wrapped in a fuzzy pink blanket. Kagome had a huge bag slung over her shoulder, and she stared at InuYasha as though she wanted to turn and run. She didn't.
“I was going to come back,” she finally said, breaking the silence that had fallen. “I'm sorry about the well.”
“You should be sorry,” he growled with a snort. `Knock that off, baka! What the fuck is wrong with you?' He reached out to take the bag. Kagome let him. “Sesshoumaru needs you. He says Rin is sick.”
Instant concern filtered over her expression. Kagome hurried forward toward the well without hesitation. InuYasha followed her. “What's wrong with her? Did he say?”
Lifting her easily, cradling her in his arms, InuYasha stifled a groan as he hopped back into the well. Kagome was too close, smelled too nice . . . and it was almost more than his senses could take. Tajiko cooed softly from the folds of the blanket. “He, um, just said she was sick,” InuYasha said, trying hard not to think about the heat of the woman in his arms. The welcoming aura of her surrounded him. He stifled a sigh. Damn, it really wasn't fair . . .
“Tajiko's night of vulnerability is the new moon, like you,” Kagome said quietly.
InuYasha blinked in surprise. “It is?”
“Yeah. It happened a couple of nights ago.” She laughed suddenly though the sound of it was missing something, a bit of the warmth that Kagome's emotions normally possessed. “It was surprising. I laid her down for a nap, and when I went back in an hour later to check on her, she was human---and she cried . . .”
A fleeting glimmer of something passed over her features. Almost pain? Sadness? What could cause her to look so lost? Afraid of what her answer might be, InuYasha didn't ask.
As they lit in the bottom of the well again, he tightened his grip on them and bounded out of the well.
Kagome struggled out of his grasp as soon as he landed and hurried over to Sesshoumaru, who was sitting on a rock near the place where he had first appeared. “InuYasha tells me Rin is sick. What's wrong with her?”
Sesshoumaru stood, a faint flicker behind his amber gaze, recognition of someone who could help. “I know not. She is fevered yet covered with odd spots.”
Kagome frowned. “Can you take me to her?”
Sesshoumaru nodded and held out his hand. “This way, Miko.”
“Back off, bastard,” InuYasha growled. “You're not taking her anywhere. Just lead the way.”
Sesshoumaru stared at InuYasha for a moment then nodded. “Have it your way.”
Sweeping Kagome and Tajiko back into his arms, InuYasha sprinted after his brother through the forest.
Kagome frowned as she concentrated on soothing Tajiko without nursing her. It was too cold to expose herself or the baby to the frosty air. But Tajiko's fussing grew louder, more insistent, and finally Kagome looked up at InuYasha with an apologetic frown. “We've got to stop. She's hungry, and it's too cold to feed her out here.”
“Oi! Bastard!” InuYasha called out after letting Kagome and the baby down. Without waiting to see if Sesshoumaru heard him or not, InuYasha stripped off his haori and slung it over Kagome and Tajiko. “This should keep you warm enough,” he remarked. “Are you okay?”
She nodded and sat down on a boulder. InuYasha turned his back on her, arms crossed over his chest, obviously standing guard over them while she took care of their child. `Tell him, Kagome! Tell him the reason you wanted to come back! Tell him how badly he hurt you, and give him a chance to explain . . . and tell him how much you missed him, too . . .'
She sighed as she stared down at her nursing child. `I can't tell him yet. I've got to help Rin first. Then . . .'
Kagome made a tent of sorts out of the haori while she changed Tajiko's diaper and wrapped her up again. When she finished, she held out the fire rat to InuYasha. He slowly took it and slipped it back on. He didn't show signs of being cold. Then again, when did he ever show signs of weakness? She sighed.
Sesshoumaru stopped pacing when he finally saw that they were ready to continue. He didn't complain and instead waited until InuYasha nodded before setting out again. Once more wrapped securely in InuYasha's arms, Kagome dared a peek at him. He was staring down at her and Tajiko with a slight smile on his face, his eyes filled with more emotion than Kagome could remember ever having seen there before. He caught her troubled gaze and sighed, his eyes lifting to watch where he was taking them.
“I'm sorry. I really wanted to be there when Tajiko was born.”
His tone of voice was soft, pleading. Kagome let her head fall against his chest, against his beating heart, taking comfort from him, even if only for a short time. Too tired to fight, too sad to raise a defense, InuYasha overwhelmed her and for the moment, she wanted it that way. “It's okay, InuYasha.”
“I let you down, didn't I?”
“You didn't. I understand.”
For some reason, her answer seemed to upset him more. “Kagome?”
“Don't leave me like that again?”
A single tear fell from her eye before she could blink it back. Didn't he know how much it had cost her to leave him? Couldn't he see that all she ever wanted was for him to love her, just her?
“ . . . I won't.”
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.