- A TALE OF TWO HANYOUS CHAPTER FIVE - PART TWO
By Sandrock (email@example.com)
Inuyasha do be the property of one Rumiko Takahashi
PG, mild violence
Summary: What appears to initially be a simple case of theft involving a few shikon shards and an impostor in the modern world embroils Kagome and Inuyasha in an epic struggle that has spanned five hundred years... one that's unfortunately all too close to home.
Good news: I've managed to write enough to warrant making another 'part' of the final chapter.
Bad news (of sorts): I'm still not done yet. ^^;
Author's Note II: I never got around to mentioning this before (everyone deserves a shameless plug once in a while, ne? ^_^), but A Tale of Two Hanyous won in the Best Action/Adventure category in the Inuyasha Fanguild's Spring 2003 fan fiction competition. Results here -
Japanese Word Guide
'cute' complex - a character in this chapter will make a reference to the 'kawaii', or cute, culture that is so ingrained into the mainstream of Japanese society - things that would be considered childish by most adults in most Western societies are accepted as everyday norms, which explain the popularity of anime memorabilia and other merchandise, among other things. ^_^
ano - Japanese equivalent of 'um...'
goshinboku - the tree to which Inuyasha had been pinned
gakuran - the traditional Japanese boy's school uniform worn by Houjou
kendo - literally, "the way of the sword". Traditional form of Japanese fencing.
suikan - the upper-half of Inuyasha's fire-rat armour
youki - youkai energy
hanyou - Half-human, half-youkai. What Inuyasha is.
youkai - Japanese mythological creature, sometimes translated as 'demon'
The bright afternoon sun was directly above, blazing down on the elder hanyou who stood silently in the courtyard in front of the Higurashi house, staring out into the distance.
The wind picked up, and with it came the scent of his younger self.
The meal had ended a few hours ago, shortly after Houjou had returned to the room, informing everyone that he had some people working for his father checking with the local authorities about any suspicious activity that had been observed or reported. They were still checking, but nothing much had surfaced, apart from what some were calling a freak accident the day before, involving three cars not too far away.
The two hanyous had exchanged a silent look, but nothing was said. Shortly after, the younger Inuyasha left the room.
Looking up, the elder hanyou leapt up gracefully, landing deftly on the roof of the house, inches away from his younger self, who was lying prostrate on the roof, staring up at the sky, as he often did when he wanted to get away from it all.
"Mind a little company?"
One golden eye moved to look at the newcomer, then wordlessly shifted back to gaze at the heavens.
Sitting down next to his younger self, Inuyasha leaned back on his hands, joining the other as he watched the clouds shift in the wind.
"I still don't understand why we couldn't go down the well. It's never done that before at least not to me."
Violet eyes turned in his direction, "I don't have all the answers, you know."
"I wasn't expecting one."
The elder hanyou smiled wryly, "Hmph."
Looking up again, he continued, "But if I had to guess it has to do with what's happened to us, how we've been pulled out of the normal timeline. Something tells me you won't be able to go back down that well until we've broken the spell and restored ourselves to the normal time stream."
He turned to gaze at the one beside him, his braided black hair whipping in the wind, "Which makes it all the more important that we resolve the situation soon. If the well can't work under these conditions, you can't go back. If you can't go back, then Naraku wins. We can't have that. He has to be dealt with."
The younger Inuyasha closed his eyes, "And Kagome has to die."
The elder hanyou was silent.
Standing up, he turned away, "Try to get some rest. Houjou said he's not likely to hear back from his people for a few more hours, and after your running around Tokyo last night, you should sleep a bit."
Violet eyes turned around to look at the younger Inuyasha as he cut off the protest that was already forming, "Don't give me the 'I'm stronger than that' speech. I know you can take a lot more than that, but with the way things are turning out, this isn't going to be easy. You're going to need every bit of that strength of yours. So, don't argue. Just rest."
With that, the elder hanyou turned, sliding to the edge of the roof, and dropping down.
Shutting the door behind him, the elder Inuyasha slowly made his way back into the house, lost in thought.
What on earth was there for her to gain by abducting her younger self? Did she really think that she needed to give us some sort of incentive to come find her? She couldn't possibly be thinking of killing her, or using her as some sort of hostage, could she? After all if anything happens to the younger Kagome, the hanyou Kagome will cease to exist as well
Turning the corner into the television room, so lost in thought was he that he failed to notice the boy coming from the other direction, running headfirst into him and knocking the human to the ground.
His train of thought broken, he blinked in surprise, looking down at Houjou sprawled on the floor, immediately reaching out to give the boy a hand.
The hanyou smiled sheepishly, as he helped the boy off the ground, "Sorry about that. You all right?"
Houjou winced slightly, rubbing the shoulder that had born the brunt of the impact, "Yeah, but I should've been watching where I was going too."
The hanyou nodded, "Well, then. I don't suppose there's any news yet?"
Shaking his head, the boy responded, "Not yet, I'm afraid. But you know I'll let you know as soon as anything happens."
"Yeah, I know."
Awkward moment over, Inuyasha turned away, beginning to leave.
He glanced over his shoulder at the boy, standing behind him, now looking very uncomfortable. The hanyou sighed, knowing the look only too well.
He wants answers, but he doesn't know how to ask. Where have I seen this before?
"Um I didn't hear the whole story regarding Higurashi's disappearance, but are you are you really the same person as that um"
The hanyou smiled, "As that violent guy with the dog ears? Yeah, you could say that."
The boy paused, as though uncertain, "But you don't look like him at all. I mean there's a certain resemblance, but you"
Houjou took a step back, his sentence interrupted as the boy with the dark braided hair and violet eyes standing in front of him started to shimmer, like rippling water in a pond, his form shifting and changing, his hair turning silver-white, with a pair of furry puppy ears crowning his head, even as claws appeared where fingernails should've been. Opening eyes that shimmered golden amber, the one who had looked so human just moments ago smiled at the boy, prominently displaying a pair of sharp-looking fangs.
The human boy swallowed, startled by the uncanny resemblance. If not for the fact that the one in front of him was still decked out in a crimson t-shirt and jeans
"Any better? I use that illusion quite a bit these days. Makes it a little easier to get around unnoticed."
Houjou found himself speechless for a moment.
"But what how I mean, are you twins?"
The hanyou smiled, "It's a little more complicated than that, but I can fill you in on it later, if you want."
Nodding, the boy just stared, "I can't imagine I mean, you're nothing like him"
"Age tends to have a calming effect on a person."
The boy raised a hand to the front of his gakuran, lightly fingering the area where just hours ago, a steely hanyou hand had clamped down, "Well at least you didn't try to crush me to death against a wall."
Closing the distance between them, the elder hanyou put a hand on the boy's shoulder, "You caught him at a bad time. But he's really not as nasty as he seems. Believe me, if he wanted you dead, you would be. But he's not like that I know it. If you ask him, he'll scoff and say something about there being no challenge in killing humans, but that's got nothing to do with it. The problem with Inuyasha the problem that was mine at one time as well"
He smiled at the boy, " is that his heart is more human than he'd ever want to admit."
The girl winced as she stretched her body, working out the kinks from having been rendered immobile for so long. Keeping her captor in view out of the corner of her eye, she remained silent, considering her options.
Before she even realised what was happening, she heard herself ask.
The shrouded form of her future self turned around at her remark, her expression a measure of curiosity mixed with condescension and a touch of humour.
"We always did have a habit of asking too many questions."
Her eyes seemed to glow a deep red as she swung about fully, gazing at her younger self. Her voice was emotionless as she responded, "You already know why you're here."
The human girl matched her gaze, refusing to back down, "That's not what I mean."
She paused, "Why did you turn against him? You we love him."
For a moment, the hanyou just looked at her.
Her voice still refused to give anything away, "I might have loved him once. Maybe. But that was five hundred years ago. Unfortunately, love is the one emotion I've discovered doesn't quite stand up too well against time."
She turned away.
"Especially when it's unrequited."
Kagome stood up, her gaze fixed on the back of her future self, "You know he loved you, as much as you love him. You know that."
She paused, hesitating.
"He still loves you."
The hanyou laughed.
Turning around, she had a wry smile on her face, "All that means is that it's going to be a lot easier for me to kill him than for him to kill me."
"We had a second chance."
The hanyou Kagome blinked, her smile gone.
Taking a step forward, the human girl continued, "We had a second chance, here in this whatever it is you've done. He he told me. He said he loved me."
She took another step forward, the hanyou Kagome stepping back.
"You don't have to do this. You don't have to kill him, don't you see? We have a second chance, a chance to do things differently. My Inuyasha knows what happened to you it doesn't have to happen that way."
Taking another step forward, the girl stifled a scream as she felt herself picked up like a rag doll by some unseen force, her hands and legs once again bound as they were just moments ago to some invisible wall. She looked back at her future self.
Her captor's eyes were dark, "If you thought a few words would be able to undo five centuries of hate you're either a lot stupider than I remember ever being, or you've underestimated just how stubborn I we always were."
With that, the hanyou turned as though to leave, her form shimmering, fading into nothingness moments later.
The girl looked down.
Your stubbornness isn't the only thing I've underestimated.
"So Kagome is in love with him."
Houjou stared down at the cola can sitting quietly on the kitchen table in front of him, as though trying to take refuge within its confines, trying not to look at the silver-haired hanyou sitting next to him.
The wind picked up, wafting in through the kitchen window. Raising a hand to brush his fringe out of his eyes, the hanyou nodded, his other hand idly toying with a can of juice.
"I don't know when it happened, or when she realised it herself. All I can say is that the moment she unsealed me from that tree five hundred years ago I knew she was special."
The hanyou paused, smiling, "Of course, at the time, I thought she was special for a very different reason, and my mind was clouded with anger. But over time, she helped heal all that, and before I knew it I was in love with her."
He cut off a sad laugh abruptly, "Not that I ever managed to tell her so."
The human boy looked down, "It appears, Inuyasha-san, that we are very alike in that respect. I have liked Higurashi for a long time, but I have never been able to come out and say it to her directly. I kept dropping all these hints, hoping she would pick up on them, wondering why she didn't. Now I understand why."
He smiled wryly, "I never stood a chance, did I?"
"There was another as well a wolf youkai called Kouga who was madly infatuated with her he and I used to get into fights all the time because of that rivalry. Even if I wasn't able to express it outright to her, on some instinctive level, I guess I knew she was mine, and I hated the way Kouga would take every opportunity to touch her or smooth-talk her. But I never had to worry. I was too blind to see it before, but for some reason, she never once fell prey to his charms. She remained with me, though I just couldn't understand what she saw in me."
The boy shot back dryly, with just a hint of a smile, "Maybe it's those dog ears of yours. Higurashi's always had a far more developed 'cute' complex, which is saying a lot."
Inuyasha blinked, uncertain how to respond. The human boy was being rather difficult to read. What was he feeling? Did he want an explanation? To be consoled? He continued.
"Kagome saw a lot of good in you, Houjou. You were the sweet, boy-next-door, a great friend. At times, I suspect she wished I'd been a bit more like you, and less the rude, obnoxious, violent hanyou I used to be. Over time, as I realised how much she meant to me, I slowly started to mellow down a little, appreciating her for being able to bring out so much of the part of me that was human, yet never wanting me to change."
Looking up at the boy, his eyes took on an almost wistful gleam, "She accepted me for what I was. Yet, I never really managed to thank her, or do anything for her in return nothing worthy of what she had given to me, at least."
Golden eyes met brown.
"But my younger self has been given a second chance, of sorts. Unlike what I went through, he and Kagome have expressed their love for each other."
The human boy broke eye contact.
"I'm sorry, Houjou."
The boy was silent for a long moment.
"You know, I've always thought these love triangles only existed in movies and soaps I don't even know what to think right now. Should I just calmly accept it? Should I be sad? Angry? Should I go up to him and punch him in the face for taking her away from me?"
He stifled a small, dry laugh, "He'd probably break my arm before I could touch him."
Eyeing the boy, still trying to assess his emotional state, the elder hanyou replied dryly, "If it'll make you feel better, you can hit me as hard as you want."
The boy paused.
"No, thank you, Inuyasha-san. That's just not the way I am."
Houjou closed his eyes.
"But I would like to be alone for a while, if you don't mind."
The hanyou nodded.
Sitting beneath the sacred Goshinboku tree, enveloped in the shade provided by its ancient branches from the intense afternoon heat, the elder hanyou found himself surveying the sprawling compound of the Higurashi shrine.
A serene quiet had settled over the immediate vicinity, marred only by the sounds of the bustling city in the distance. Letting his mind take him back to countless memories of the times he had spent with Kagome underneath or inside the branches of this tree all those years ago, Inuyasha folded his arms, kicking off his black, high-cut sneakers as he stretched out his legs. He leaned back, resting his head against the wooden trunk.
It was already well into the afternoon, but as was usual for this time of the year, there was still at least a good five hours of daylight left. He looked down.
The human boy, Houjou, had left a couple of hours ago, presumably to go check on the people he had trying to dig up whatever clues would present themselves, his expression fairly unreadable from the time they'd had their talk in the kitchen, right until he left. Souta had gone off for soccer practice moments later, and Kagome's grandfather was taking an afternoon nap, while Mrs. Higurashi set about her usual routine. Even his younger self wasn't up to much, the muted snores coming from the rooftop a clear indication that he'd apparently decided to take the advice offered him and sleep for a bit.
For a moment, the elder hanyou toyed fleetingly with the idea of resting himself, to conserve his strength, but immediately quashed it as his ears picked up the sound of a car stopping at the foot of the hill, moments before Houjou's distinct scent came wafting up in the breeze.
Leaping to his feet, he barely acknowledged the dull thump and the billowing cloud of dust that marked the spot where his younger self, apparently also having noted Houjou's scent, had landed after jumping off the roof.
Reaching the human boy as he made it to the top of the flight of stairs leading up to the Higurashi shrine, the elder Inuyasha's expression was that of a silent question, even as he studied the boy for any hint of his emotional state. Meanwhile, the younger hanyou, barely restraining himself from tackling the boy in his zeal, stated the obvious, demanding answers.
Houjou nodded, setting down the things he'd been carrying as a small smile appeared on his face, "We have a lead."
"We managed to pull a few strings with the local police and there's been one report that fits with what you've told me. Yesterday, the Tokyo Bay police division was called in to investigate a newly completed building in that area that was meant to be the new offices for one of the larger banking corporations. A construction crew had gone in that morning to inspect the area and put in some final touches, but when they didn't report back, the company sent a supervisor to check, and he found the body of one of the members of the crew sprawled on the plaza in front of the building he recognised the uniform and the nametag, but that was about it, as the guy's body appeared to have been decomposed beyond recognition, but in a strange way as though it'd been dried up or something."
The younger Inuyasha's eyes widened.
As the hanyou set her down again, Kagome turned cautiously, looking inside the brightly lit room only to stifle a gasp. It was, indeed, a guard post, and it presumably did once act as a base for security personnel guarding the warehouse.
Now, it was simply a morgue. Four bodies, withered and shrivelled, but otherwise intact and still in their uniforms, sat slumped in their seats in front of a large, damaged surveillance console.
The human boy nodded, "That reminded me of what Inuyasha-san told me that the two of you had encountered at the warehouse a few days ago. Anyway, the police sent in a team to investigate and they, too, failed to come out of the building. It's been cordoned off now and declared out-of-bounds until they can sort it out, but there's no one there."
The elder hanyou nodded, reaching out to pat Houjou on the shoulder, "Good work. We'll take it from here. Just give us the add-"
"I'm coming along, Inuyasha-san."
The elder hanyou blinked. He opened his mouth as though to say something, but not before the younger Inuyasha cut in with a loud growl, taking a step towards the boy.
"Stop joking around! You heard what happens to any human who goes inside there! You don't know what you're going up against, you stupid-"
The boy refused to back down, meeting the hanyou's hard gaze, "I -do- know what I'm going up against. Though I didn't know what they were at the time, I came face-to-face with two of those creatures when they came looking for Higurashi at school. I wasn't able to do anything to help her then, but I'm not going to give up. I'm willing to take that risk, for her sake."
He looked away, adding quickly, "As a friend."
The younger hanyou eyed him for a moment, his expression still one of steely aggression. His voice was rough, "And what makes you think you'll do any better this time?"
Houjou reached down, picking up one of the items he'd set down just moments ago, a long shaft, wrapped in cloth. Deftly untying the knots, the cloth fell away, revealing an ancient sword, its scabbard polished, and its hilt ornate in design.
"This sword has been in my family for generations. The family history says it was last used by my ancestor, Houjou Akitoki, who lived around the time that you say you come from. He brought great honour to our house in that difficult time, and his sword is a family treasure."
He looked up, drawing the blade from its scabbard partially, revealing a glint of metal, "I'm not very skilled, but I do have some experience with kendo. And I am willing to do everything I can to help rescue Higurashi."
The hanyou didn't even blink, "We're not dealing with humans. I punched one of those creatures across the face with enough force to have ripped -your- head right off your shoulders, and it didn't even feel it. I had to hit it a lot harder to take it down. A sword like that's not going to even be able to break skin. You're not-"
The younger hanyou's head whipped around, turning to face his elder, watching.
"Every moment we spend here arguing only delays us that much longer. If Houjou wants to help, why should we stop him?"
Placing his hand on the boy's shoulder again, the elder hanyou nodded as he looked into Houjou's eyes, a certain understanding passing between them.
He needs to do this. As a form of closure for what might have been.
Reaching out to grasp the blade of Houjou's sword with his other hand, the elder Inuyasha gently took it from the boy, shifting his grip with one swift motion from blade to hilt, holding it up, inspecting it in the sunlight.
Silently, the hand that had been on the boy's shoulder moved, stretching forward to meet the blade. The cutting edge of the sword made contact with the hanyou's claws, the fingers of his hand angling to line them up perfectly, as Inuyasha swiftly began the process of sharpening the boy's weapon with his hands.
Ignoring Houjou's wide-eyed stare, he gave the metal a few more quick strokes, holding it up to the light again, studying it momentarily before lowering it, bringing the hand that had moments ago acted as a sharpening stone up to grip the base of the blade, the metal squeaking slightly as he displayed precision control, bending it a fraction of an inch. Turning to the boy, the elder Inuyasha flipped the sword around hilt-first, offering it back to him.
"The sword was a little warped, which would've lowered its effectiveness, but I've straightened it. I've also sharpened the blade for you and I've imbued it with some of my youki."
He paused, "Depending on your own skill, you should be able to cleave right through any of those creatures with this now."
Reaching out tentatively, the boy looked at the sword in his hands, as though unsure of what to do or say. The elder hanyou nodded, more to himself than to anyone, turning to glance at his younger self, who was pointedly ignoring the entire exchange.
"I'll do my best."
His gaze returned to the human boy who was now facing the ground in a deep bow, holding the sword aloft with both his hands, high above his head. A sign of acceptance.
The hanyou smiled, "I know you will."
Houjou straightened, returning the sword to its scabbard, his brown eyes gleaming with enthusiasm, "Shall we go, then? I have a car waiting for us downstairs we can leave immed-"
"Keh! You can come along and get killed for all I care, but we're NOT taking one of those stupid metal carts again!"
Having said his piece, the younger Inuyasha folded his arms and glared at his would-be companions, as though challenging them to oppose him on this as well, his expression clearing insinuating that he'd sooner leap down the hill and smash both cars than sit inside one a second time.
Ignoring the nervous glance the human boy shot in his direction, the elder hanyou smiled.
"Fine. Let's go."
TO BE CONTINUED