InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Torrent ❯ Confrontations ( Chapter 25 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

~~Chapter 25~~
InuYasha crashed through the trees, intent on finding the miko he trailed. “Kikyou!”
The miko stopped short, turning in response to InuYasha's heated voice. Her smile faded as she noticed the unmistakable anger in the hanyou's face. “InuYasha? What has happened?”
Not trusting himself within reach of the woman, he stopped short and settled for a scathing, “You fucking tell me, Kikyou! What the hell did you do to those beads?”
Kikyou frowned. “Beads?”
He growled, frustration edging out the will to discuss things nicely. “The prayer beads! The ones you said would protect Kagome! They burned the hell out of her hands! What did you do to them?”
“Burned her? Did she try to remove them?”
InuYasha stomped over to a tree, raking his claws against the wood that crumbled away under the force of his fury. “Did you curse them?”
Kikyou drew back, genuine shock filtering over her features as she stared at InuYasha as though she couldn't believe he might think she would do such a thing. “What? No!”
“Then why---”
“They aren't made to be removed, InuYasha, by anyone, not even her. They're your bond, the manifestation of your promise . . . you did not know this?”
InuYasha stopped flexing his claws and stood stock-still, staring at the miko. “What, exactly, do you mean?”
Kikyou's smile was pained. “No one can break that bond, InuYasha. So long as you and she have promised, the beads will not be broken.”
“So long as . . . ? How long is that?” he asked quietly, a strange sense of hope welling up inside. He understood what Kikyou was saying. But he had to be sure . . . .
Her laughter was gentle, kind, warm, soothing the edges of his upset, calming him with a reassurance that maybe things would be fine, after all. “So long as you live, InuYasha, then Kagome will be with you.”
It took a moment to absorb Kikyou's words. “And you're saying that Kagome will always be with me? That's why she can't even remove the beads?”
Kikyou sank down on the ground under a canapé of cherry blossoms. “That's exactly what I meant, InuYasha. Surely you didn't wish for Kagome to die a mortal death and leave you to go on alone?” Her smile faded, and she sat up straighter, eyes narrowing as she continued to stare at him. “InuYasha?”
Lost in his inept struggle to understand the magnitude of Kikyou's words, InuYasha's voice was distracted when he answered. “Hmm?”
“You're human.”
“Wha---?” With a grimace as he looked down, he realized that she was right. Sinking onto the ground, he sighed. He'd forgotten it was the night of the new moon. “Damn.”
Human. He used to hide himself in this form. He used to worry that others would discover what it meant, would use it against him. He didn't really care anymore. Sure it was hard on his ego, to have to admit to being weaker on this night, but what he lost in physical power, he'd come to realize he'd gained in being able to come to terms with emotions.
He stifled a yawn. He'd been traveling much of the day in his compulsion to find Kikyou. He was exhausted, and his human form didn't help. A soft hum caught his attention, and he glanced up. Kikyou was standing, walking in a slow circle, and the humming sound was coming from her. Slowly she circled around, her hands raised, emitting a bluish light, erecting a barrier around them.
She didn't look at him until she was finished. “Rest easy, InuYasha. You shall be safe this night.”
He shook his head stubbornly as he stood. “I've got to get back. I've got to talk to Kagome . . . I've got to make her understand.”
“You are human, InuYasha, and there are dangers in the forest. You know this. Kagome's beads protect her for you when you are apart. No others can harm her so long as you live. They protect her. They do not protect you.”
“Thanks, but I'll be fine. Youkai don't frighten me. I can take them.”
Catching his arm, Kikyou scowled at the stubborn hanyou. “InuYasha! Do you really care so little for your family? If not for yourself, then think about Kagome, about your daughter. Do they mean so little that you'd waste your life for your foolish pride?”
Rubbing his eyes, InuYasha finally nodded. He pulled away and sank down with his back against a tree. Kikyou sat next to him. “Why are you still here?” he asked as quiet fell over the forest.
Kikyou sighed. “You.”
“Yes. I wanted to make sure you were taken care of before I leave.” She stared up through the trees, through the barrier, into the night sky. “Tell me why you love her?”
Sleepiness curled around the edges of InuYasha's vision, and he blinked to stave it back. “She makes me laugh,” he said, his voice soft, and he chuckled. “She gave me the will to dream again.”
Kikyou nodded. “She changed you . . . healed you. I wanted to do that, for you . . . .” Turning to face him, she smiled as her eyes misted with tears. “It's better this way. She and I share the same soul yet she has powers that I cannot match. I think she was the one who was meant to be with you.”
“Kikyou . . . .”
She shushed him, her fingers coming to rest against his lips as his eyes drifted closed. She swallowed the thick lump that welled in her throat. “Sleep well, InuYasha . . . .” Brushing away a single tear that trailed down her cheek, shining blue in the starlight, the light of the barrier, she smiled gently. `When you awaken, I'll be gone . . . .'
Moaning softly in the still quiet of the forest, untouched by the wild things that lurked in the dark, Kagome awoke. Tajiko giggled from the distance. With a smothered gasp, she sat up, eyes opening wide, searching the unrelenting dark for her daughter. “Tajiko? Tajiko!”
“Be easy, miko. Your pup is safe.”
Instant relief warred with the shock of hearing that voice in the night. Kagome scrambled to her feet and stumbled forward, toward the man in white, toward his voice. “Where is she?”
“She is here. She woke before you, and I didn't want her to wake you.”
Taking the child from Sesshoumaru's arm, Kagome held Tajiko close as she willed her heart to slow. “What are you doing here?” she asked, her tone wary, distrustful.
“I happened upon you. You were sleeping, and since I did not detect InuYasha's presence, I merely thought to watch over you until you awoke.” He slowly wandered over to retrieve Mokomoko-sama then turned back to face her again. Eyes glowing in the dim light, he stared at her and Tajiko. “Shall I see you home safely, miko?”
Kagome nodded as her gaze fell away. “Thank you.”
He started away. She walked beside him. The forest recognized Sesshoumaru. The sounds of the night creatures faded at their approach, unwilling or unable to give threats. Kagome offered not words of her own, and Sesshoumaru seemed content to continue on in silence.
“You'd do well to hide your pup's night from prying eyes,” Sesshoumaru finally commented, glancing down at Tajiko's midnight head.
“I didn't mean to fall asleep in the woods,” Kagome remarked, bristling at his perceived censure.
“I do not mean to offend. I seek to protect your pup from those who would do her ill.”
“I can protect her,” Kagome shot back.
“What of her sire?”
Kagome couldn't answer that. Deliberately trying not to think about InuYasha, she concentrated instead on where Sesshoumaru was leading her.
He stopped suddenly, a strange look coming over his features as he stared off into the distance, as though he could sense something. He turned the opposite way and strode forward. “Come, miko.”
Kagome narrowed her eyes as she stared at the youkai's back. “What was it?” she asked, unwilling to move until he answered her.
Sesshoumaru stopped and shook his head. “Nothing you need to see.”
Something belying his tone sent a shuddering sense of foreboding through her. “What?” she asked again. She turned to stare back in the direction that Sesshoumaru was trying to lead her away from. A throbbing pulse, and angry heartbeat . . . she gasped in surprise, her eyes flaring as understanding dawned on her. “Kikyou,” she whispered. “Kikyou's there.”
Without looking back, Kagome headed off, toward the call of the barrier, toward the darkness and unknown. Sesshoumaru fell in beside her. She hadn't heard him move. He reached out, grabbed her arm to stop her. Kagome wrenched it away and stomped off into the night.
She didn't need to see where she was going. As though drawing her in on invisible leads, Kagome followed the aura, the one she'd never forget.
She saw it from a distance, the shimmering blue barrier. Steeling her resolve, she stepped toward it. Tajiko gurgled softly in her arms.
“Do not do this,” Sesshoumaru hissed in her ear.
Kagome ignored his statement to ask, “I thought I left you behind.”
“A human is still in danger, whether you are a miko or not.”
She stopped for a moment, turning to gaze up at the youkai. She couldn't make out his features in the darkness. She could see a glimmer in his eyes. “You can call me Kagome,” she said softly.
He nodded slowly but didn't comment on that. Instead he sighed and said, “Why do you insist upon seeing what you need not see?”
“Why do you seek to stop me?” she countered quietly.
“I wouldn't see you hurt any longer.”
“I thought youkai don't feel human emotions.”
Sesshoumaru's smile was enigmatic, vaguely discernable. “But you do.”
She looked back at the barrier. Whatever it was, she had to see it.
Stepping closer to the barrier, she saw him. Slumped against the trunk of a cherry tree, petals of the blossoms falling like snow, InuYasha slept. His black human hair fanned out around him, twining with Kikyou's. His head on her shoulder, eyes closed, relaxed, Kagome felt her heart lurch and plummet, falling helplessly as pieces of it broke away, scattered on the invisible fingers of the winds. She stepped back and gasped. Sesshoumaru steadied her. She glanced over her shoulder, as though to verify what she had seen before she turned on her heel and ran. She couldn't forget what she'd seen. The image danced before her eyes, the bright glow in the dark. No matter which way she tried to run, it stopped her, mocked her, ripped at her and left her to bleed.
A strong arm caught her, pulled her back into a sheltering embrace. She choked back a sob, arms tightening around Tajiko, and buried her face in the child's hair.
“Let me go,” she rasped out, fighting to get away from the youkai.
“Miko, calm yourself,” he commanded sternly but wouldn't let go. As though the fight was suddenly lost, Kagome felt her body weaken, her resolve to run crumbling as the image intensified before her.
A strangled cry escaped her as Kagome sank to her knees. Sesshoumaru knelt before her, unspeaking, as though he hadn't the words to say that would mend her shattered heart.
Kagome closed her eyes, willing back the tears, willing away the hurt, the pain. They wouldn't leave her alone. Always there, ready to rip into her, she cried out again and again in the depths of the forest, called out to the one who had broken her heart. She wanted to rail at him, wanted to scream, wanted to curse him, wanted to hate him. In the end, she could do none of those things.
Time passed with little notice as a strange sense of numbness settled over her. As though she couldn't cry, as though there was nothing she could do to save herself from anything, she opened her eyes again. The blackness of night was receding. A dull gray world emerged. She lifted her gaze to the youkai who had remained motionless the entire time. He stared at her now with a strangely sad expression lighting the depths of his amber gaze.
She drew a deep breath, willing her voice to be strong. She nodded once at Sesshoumaru. “Take me home, please.”
His eyes narrowed as he scanned her face, looking for signs of her upset. No change in his expression, no glimpse into whatever he believed. He nodded once and stood, offering his hand to help her rise.
`InuYasha,' she wondered as she walked beside Sesshoumaru, `what have you done to me?'
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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.