Grey Eyes And Golden Nightmares
The first sound that penetrated Inuyasha's consciousness was the most annoying buzzing sound somewhere above his head, his ears twitching in agitated response as his mind swam up through layer upon layer of heavy grey haze.
The second was Shippou's shaky voice, "He's moving!"
Inuyasha's brows scrunched up, growling low in his throat and baring his fangs instinctively at the ache that started behind his eyes and rapidly spread to the rest of his body with every bit of clarity that returned to his disoriented mind. His arms twitched, claws pressing hard to the cool grass at his sides as he forced his protesting body to lift, "The fuck-?!"
"You shouldn't be moving," Miroku's voice entered his awareness next, joined by the light hand pressing gently to his chest that he imagined was supposed to keep him down on his back.
Inuyasha smacked the hand away impatiently, forcing his heavy eyelids to open despite the gritty, almost burning sensation holding them closed. For a moment everything was blurred, hazy and stragely greyed, but he blinked furiously and ground the heels of his hands against his eyelids in an effort to correct his vision. When he pulled his hands away and tried again, the monk's concerned, pale face finally came into view and he muttered in a subdued voice, "I'm fine. Back off."
Shippou was in his face next, his eyes huge and demanding reassurance as his little claws circled Inuyasha's wrists and bit deeply, "What happened? Inuyasha, what happened?! Where's Kagome?!"
Inuyasha's eyes snapped open, headache and pains forgotten as his thoughts worked furiously to catch up with everything that had happened. He straighted, instinctively lifting his face as he scented the air and repeated dumbly, "Kagome… Kagome!!"
"She's gone," Miroku's caught his arms in a shockingly strong grip before he could do more than shoot to his feet, the hanyou already turned in the direction where she had last been with every intention of tearing off after her scent. "Inuyasha, don't! She's… We already looked."
Inuyasha shook him off violently, snarling as he turned and leapt across the hideously disrupted earth. He could hear his own heart thundering in his ears, chest tight with ominous foreboding as the blackened rubble raced past in a blur. How fucking far did you throw us, Kagome? he wondered with a distant sort of emptiness, eyes stinging suspiciously.
To his surprise, he jumped the lip of the newly formed crater only to find Sango kneeling at the very center, her head bowed and hands fisted against her thighs. He came skidding to a halt beside the taijiya, swallowing hard before he could trust his voice to sound halfway normal, "Sango?"
She jumped slightly as the sound of his voice snapped her out of her silent reverie, brushing the back of her forearm over her face to wipe away the evidence of her sorrow before she stood and turned to face him, "You're awake?"
He blinked, studying her face silently, the signs and scents of crying obvious and painful all on their own as he fought down his rising fear at her behavior and answered in an even more subdued tone, "Just… just a moment ago."
Sango nodded, folding her arms over her stomach and looking back at the center of the crater, her eyes filling with tears that she couldn't contain all over again. She shook her head, gaze unfocused and filled with pained, apologetic misery when she choked out her thoughts aloud, "We keep… we keep looking… but I can't… we can't-"
Inuyasha reached out awkwardly and grabbed her shoulder in an effort to comfort the taijiya, his ears flattening back as he cut off that lost rambling, like a child… like Kagome had been when her grandfather was killed. He couldn't take the sound of her voice like that, her words only digging deeper into his heart and filling him with dread, "Go to Miroku. He needs you."
Sango gripped his hand, squeezing hard in silent gratitude before she turned and walking with slow, shaky steps to scale the steep edges of the deep crater. She paused at the top, turning to look back at the hanyou standing so still where she'd left him, his face hidden by the thick curtain of dirty silver hair as he stared at the same point that had held her transfixed earlier, "She was… like a sister to me, Inuyasha… I never thought it would end this way."
Inuyasha nodded silently, keeping his face averted to hide his own empty eyes from Sango. He couldn't look at her when he answered, nearly silent, "It wasn't supposed to end this way."
He heard her footsteps moving away from the crater, his eyes clenching shut as his knees gave out and he slowly sunk to the ground. His claws dug deep into the scorched soil, biting down hard on his lip to keep from howling out his rage, his desolation. He wasn't even aware the rebellious tears had started to fall until he felt the tiny wet splash against the backs of his hand.
Kagome's scent was faint at the center, but there was no path… no direction left to indicate she'd been anywhere but here. Right at the heart of the Bakuryuuha's deadly power…
"It shouldn't have worked for you, Kagome," he gritted out, hands clenching into hard fists. He twisted, slamming his fist against the ground so hard he heard his own knuckles crack from the force of it, but he felt nothing. Nothing but the unbearable squeeze around his heart, the chill that swept through his soul, "You should never have been able to do that! To control my own fucking moves!"
Inuyasha shook his head violently, reaching up to grab at the rosary around his neck, panicking for a moment when his fingers met nothing but cloth. Nearly frantic, he tore at the collar of his kimono, claws mindlessly cutting shallow wounds into his own skin in his haste to get it out of the way and search beneath for that one tangible connection to the young miko. His fingers touched the warm beads against his skin and he felt the desperate fear ease… only to change to complete and utter shock as his fingers trailed down to the lowest point.
He gripped the rosary and dragged it forward, his eyes dropping in disbelief to gape at the perfect little sphere that had replaced several of the rosary beads.
Inuyasha stood as still as a statue at the edge of the crater, his arms folded deep in his sleeves as he kept watch over the little ravaged valley. He had acknowledged the monk walking forward to stand at his side only long enough to assure that he wasn't a threat before he'd re-attuned his senses to the world around him, trying to find some measure of peace in the mild summer afternoon.
Miroku watched Inuyasha's impassive face out of the corner of his eye, waiting for any sign from his friend, some vocal greeting or even insult that would open their meeting, but the hanyou didn't stir, didn't even blink. Turning his dark, somber gaze away from Inuyasha's face, he finally let his eyes drift to the black crater in front of them, lifting his hand in prayer for a moment, silently, respectfully… regretfully.
Sighing softly, he closed the prayer when he felt the warm breeze trace across his cheek like a caress, encouraging him to finally be the one to break the despondent atmosphere that clung to the once peaceful valley, "Kouga probably won't recover his vision in his right eye."
Inuyasha stirred enough to shrug, showing how unconcerned he was with the news. He'd known the youkai had received grave injuries fighting Naraku before he'd lost his own shards, but nothing in his soul felt emotion hearing about the recovery of the injured wolf he'd once feared to be his greatest rival for Kagome's affections.
Miroku had been expecting that, but it still almost brought a smile to his face to see a response that was almost stereotypical of what the hanyou's feelings towards the wolf prince had always been. They had all known Inuyasha's heart where Kouga was concerned, and at least he knew now that even though he wasn't speaking, he was listening. His next offer of news was more positive, happy, "Sango's pregnant."
Miroku nodded with a soft smile at finally gaining words from Inuyasha, his hand flexing on his staff to fill the quiet with the gentle jingle of rings, "We're hoping for a girl."
The tightening across the hanyou's shoulders was the only sign of his inner turmoil at the softly spoken desire.
"Kagome would have gone crazy if she could hear this," Miroku's smile turned melancholy, but affectionate and tender at the same time. "She'd have been so happy."
"Why did you come, bouzu?" Inuyasha demanded quietly, no real heat in the insult.
He turned to look at Inuyasha's tense profile, sighing again as his eyes filled with genuine concern, "They worry about you, Inuyasha. We worry about you. This isn't what Kagome would have wanted you to do with your life… staring at her grave and hoarding that stupid jewel. She wanted you to have it and use your wish to be happy."
"Save it," Inuyasha's voice was tired, so very different from how he'd always been, devoid of emotion while his eyes narrowed an lifted from the center of the crater to focus on some distant point across the landscape. "I heard it from all of you before, Miroku, and my answer hasn't changed. She left the jewel to me, and I'll decide to do whatever the fuck I want with it."
Miroku shook his head, reaching over to lightly touch the hanyou's shoulder before he turned to look back where Kirara waited patiently for him to complete his visit, "We'd like you to come to the village when the baby's going to be born, Inuyasha. It would mean a lot to Sango and Shippou if you came."
"I can't leave."
The monk frowned in mild exasperation, wishing not for the first time that things were different, and he could give into his urge to smack him over the head with his staff, "You can't live out the rest of your life staring at this hole in the ground. Kagome would have grabbed you by the ear and dragged you away long before now."
"She's dead, Miroku, she isn't going to be dragging me anywhere," Inuyasha's brows drew low, warning him away from the subject.
"I loved her too, Inuyasha. I know you hate hearing me say that, but it is true. Had things..." he cut himself off before his thoughts could take him down that familiar, sorrowful path and shook his head to recenter himself. "It makes no difference. What could have been... but I know that she gave up her life to save us, to ensure that our lives would be happy," Miroku's voice lowered. "Don't disrespect her sacrifice by wasting your wish… or your life."
"Go back to your mate, Miroku," Inuyasha dropped his chin to his chest, the growl rising low in his throat his only vocalization of the pain those words brought him as he clenched his hand on the hilt of the Tetsusaiga.
Miroku continued to stare at him for a long, silent moment before his eyes softened with melancholy understanding. He finally sighed and nodded, his voice steady and clear as he turned away to return to Kirara, "You know where to find us when you're ready to start living again, Inuyasha."
Inuyasha's ears flipped back, the only indication that he was still listening, and following the quiet sound of the rings on Miroku's staff until he heard Kirara give a soft growl and bound off in the direction of Kaede's village. When their scents had faded away completely, he let the rigidity leave his frame, slumping in defeat as his eyes clenched shut with the pain he refused to let anyone see, "Sango's breeding… pregnant, I guess humans call it, Kagome. Their pups won't be as beautiful as yours would have been, but-"
He swallowed hard when his voice failed him, setting his jaw so hard he nearly shattered the bones to keep from giving into the renewed tears that closed his throat and made his eyes sting.
Inuyasha had no idea how long he stood, nearly choking on the desolate emotions rolling through him in waves when he felt slim arms wrap around his waist from behind, holding him close as though they would keep him from breaking into a thousand pieces with that light touch alone.
His spine snapped straight in an instant, his heart suddenly slamming in his chest when the familiar, light scent touched his senses. His hands clenched again at his side, gripping so hard the knuckles went stark white under the strain, but he made no effort to turn as he gritted out harshly, "Why?"
"Because it would have killed me to see you die," Kagome's voice came soft and gentle in his ear before he felt her forehead press against his shoulder, the arms around his waist squeezing him in a silent show of loving comfort. "If Naraku had used the Shikon-no-Tama it would have absorbed everyone, and I couldn't bear to watch that happen."
"You stupid bitch," Inuyasha let out a choked, painful laugh, desperately trying to hide the real emotions tangling violently just below the surface. "It was my place to die here if it was anyone's."
"Baka," her own response held only peaceful affection as she reached up to tweak one ear before sliding her arm back around his waist. "Didn't you ever listen to a word I said? You were never meant to die, or even be sealed for that matter."
Inuyasha flinched, ears flattened back in abject misery, "Kagome…"
She sighed, tugging on him lightly to urge him to sit down with her, her fingers gliding through his hair when he followed her direction and sat between her outstreched legs with his back lightly resting on her chest, "There were so many things I wished I could have told you before this happened."
He leaned his head back, turning slowly to look at her as though terrified that if he looked she would slip through his fingers all over again. Something deep inside him twisted all the way to his soul when his eyes locked onto her, hungrily taking in her gentle smile, her face once again flawless and unscarred. He stayed silent as his eyes moved over her face, devouring every line, every last feature as he memorized it over and over again, still desperately afraid that doing or saying the wrong thing would rip her away from him.
"I should have given you the jewel when I first came through the well," she broke the pregnant silence, shaking her head and giving him an apologetic smile. "That's what I was supposed to do."
That quiet confession was confusing enough that he couldn't prevent himself from voicing the hollow echo, "Supposed to…?"
Kagome's hands moved to his ears, lightly stroking as she tried to explain, her words measured and brows slightly furrowed as though she was speaking them for the first time herself, trying to understand the words that moved from her mind to her lips, "Naraku interrupted what was meant to happen. We… I mean, the jewel… felt your soul when you were with Kikyou. I… it wanted to belong to you."
Inuyasha's eyes slowly widened, his senses letting out a pang of warning at the way she was wording her halting explanation. He twisted his body around, forcing her to adjust her position so he could face her, stare directly into her luminous eyes as he demanded, "We? Kagome… what…? What are you talking about?"
She reached out and lightly pressed her hand over his heart, "Four souls, Inuyasha. But in all the stories, they forgot to mention that those souls are held in by a core… a heart." She took a deep breath and met his eyes as she admitted, "I am the Shikon-no-Tama… I was the heart that held the souls together."
Inuyasha shot up to his knees, rearing up to look down at her face as he shook his head in violent disbelief, "That's impossible! You're… you're fucking alive, Kagome, you aren't a jewel!"
Kagome reached out and lightly cupped his cheek in her palm, stroking her thumb along the curve of his cheek, "When Kikyou burned us, we thought we were lost. We were trapped in a void, and it took us five hundred years to figure out how to get free. The only way to do that was to be born… Born to a human body."
He was blinking, his eyes filled with his confusion and denial as he reached up and caught her hand tight in his own, some irrational part of his soul thinking that if he just held her she would stay even as he stubbornly insisted, "Then you're human."
"Something went wrong," she continued as though he hadn't made that rebuttal. "When I was born, I couldn't remember what I was supposed to do... Who I was supposed to find… but I knew I needed you. I didn't feel whole in the future, never... not completely.
"The jewel was in me, and it woke the youkai in the well, opened the path to return me to the past," she held his hand where he'd taken hold of her, her other hand lifting to again stroke his face, trying to tenderly erase the lines of tension and strain. "It woke you, but I… I broke it before it could make me remember what I was there to do. I'd been human too long, and I fought it. I wanted to be human. I wanted to be alive."
Inuyasha's eyes searched hers, piercing deep into her soul as he whispered quietly, "Why?"
Kagome's own gaze was warm, shimmering and heavy with emotion as she leaned up on her knees and brushed a light kiss to his forehead, "Because of you. Don't you get it, Inuyasha? Everything... It was always because of you."
His eyes had closed again, unable to bear is own feelings echoed in her eyes, the muscles in his jaw clenching and jumping with those suppressed emotions, "Because of me?"
"I was born for you," she finally released his hand, shifting closer to be able to cup his face softly between her palms. "I was born to return to you and give you the jewel, your wish. The Shikon-no-Tama picks who it wants to grant wishes for, and if we don't approve of who holds us, the wish gets twisted… We wanted, I wanted to be a part of you."
Inuyasha let out a shuddering sigh, his entire body crumpling forward until his cheek was pressed to her heart, wrapping his arms tight around her waist as her arms lifted to gently cradle him to her, "Kagome…"
"I made things worse when I shattered the jewel," she admitted guiltily, dropping her chin to rest on the top of his head. "It was even harder to remember, but I did something that I shouldn't have. I was too human, Inuyasha, and I fell in love with you."
His arms became almost bruisingly tight around her, clenching his eyes shut even harder and trying to take comfort in the scent of her all around again after so very long. After feeling so empty without her at his side, "I… wanted you to love me…"
"I know," Kagome kissed the top of his head, rocking him like a mother would a young child after a cruel nightmare. "I didn't know it with my head, that was always confused… But I loved you from the start, Inuyasha, even when you were driving me crazy, I loved you."
His claws bit deeply into her skin, "Then don't go."
Her eyes saddened where he couldn't see, "Inuyasha…"
"Don't!" Inuyasha sat up abruptly, gripping her shoulders and yanking her up face to face with him. "You fucking said you were born for me, Kagome, that you were mine. You were alive! You were human! You were mine… you are MINE!"
"Inuyasha, I'm not alive anymore," Kagome shook her head, her hands circling his forearms, still trying to bring him a measure of comfort with her touch while she denied his demand. "I returned to the jewel…"
"And you gave it to me," he growled out, his eyes stark his own emotions, releasing one hand to rip the jewel off the rosary and hold it out to her. "I want you out of it, do you fucking hear me, Kagome?! I want you out!"
Her hand gently closed his fingers over the jewel, voice whisper quiet as her eyes lowered to watch the jewel disappear from her sight in his shaking fist, "It doesn't work that way."
"Why not?!" Inuyasha snarled furiously. "It's my wish, I can wish for whatever the fuck I want and you have to give it to me!"
"Inuyasha, you saw what happened to me without the jewel," Kagome shook her head again, her eyes pleading with him to understand. "When Naraku held the pieces and corrupted them I was dying from the inside. I never knew why until it was over, but there's...so much I never understood. I can't survive without it."
"If I make a wish, the jewel is gone," he reasoned out, fighting the urge to shake her, to make her understand. "If you're the heart of it, then I can make my wish, and you won't have to need it anymore!"
She pressed her hand back down to his heart gently, willing him to comprehend her position as she chided him with another faint smile, "You're supposed to wish to be a youkai, Inuyasha. Then you're supposed to live out your life… find Kikyou when she's reincarnated or a nice youkai girl and make so many pups that you go insane."
"I don't want any of that, you stubborn thick-headed bitch!" Inuyasha did shake her this time, his expression wavering between rage and absolute anguish. "I want it the way it was! I want you here, happy, arguing with me, sitting me, fuck, I don't care what you do, but do it where I can have you close!"
"When you make your wish, the Shikon-no-Tama will absorb into you," Kagome offered, hoping that knowledge would bring him some measure of peace. "I'll be in a part of your soul, your heart… the way I always wanted to be."
"Not like that," he hissed out painfully, barely able to form the words with the way his throat tightened so severely. "We were supposed to defeat Naraku and find some fucking hut or somewhere to live. You were supposed to love me, we were supposed to have a normal life with normal fights, and more pups than Miroku and Sango could ever hope to make in three lifetimes!"
Kagome's eyes closed, a tremble rippling along her body so faint that he might have missed it if he hadn't been holding her as she ducked her head and whispered, "Don't… please, don't…"
Inuyasha's eyes filled with nearly frantic hope and he reached out, yanking her face up and forcing her to look at him, look into his eyes, "You haven't changed. No matter what happened, with Naraku or inside that fucking jewel, your soul was always your own and you still want that life, Kagome. You still want to be alive."
"I'm not-" her eyes turned liquid with unshed tears, the earlier peace of her expression starting to crumble back into the open, candid emotions she had always so easily displayed.
"Bullshit, Kagome!" his eyes blazed with anger. "You're more alive than any of us ever were. You were what made us live, when all of us would have lost our minds, or given up and died, we lived because you forced us to! Just by being there."
The tears were starting to spill down her cheeks, the trembling growing until it was nearly visible, "Inuyasha, I can't…"
"Why?! The Shikon-no-Tama is supposed to grant a wish, any wish for a youkai and now you're telling me you can't?" he clenched his fist around the jewel, glaring at it with as much hatred as he'd ever shown for Naraku before holding his fist out towards her again. His eyes and voice filled with fierce determination, when her own eyes closed, unwilling or unable to look at either him or the jewel, "I'll break it again. I'll fucking shatter it into a million goddamn pieces, but I'm bringing you back!"
"You can't break it again," she opened her eyes, blinking rapidly as she tried to clear away the tears blurring her vision, fighting to regain control of herself and her emotions. "I'm the only one who can do that… Inuyasha, please think about what you're saying? You only get one wish… And I only wanted you to be happy. All I ever wanted was that. Wish for what you always wanted, Inuyasha… wish to become a youkai."
Inuyasha gripped her shoulders and hauled her up against him, wrapping his arms around her back and crushing her to his chest. His chin dropped to her shoulder, eyes closed and his mouth beside her ear as he growled out, "It's my wish, Kagome."
"And we're trusting you," she wrapped her arms around him to return the embrace just as fiercely, turning to press her face into his hair and block out everything else but him... "We waited centuries for you, Inuyasha. To be with you."
"Then don't fight me, Kagome," he whispered intensely, nearly swallowing her small frame into his own with how tightly he held her while his mind worked furiously to think of how to word his wish to the Shikon-no-Tama… to Kagome. "What good is a jewel that doesn't give you what you really wish for?"
Kagome smiled gently, sadly, running her fingers through his hair again as she reiterated, "I want to give you your dreams. I want you to be happy. It's all I ever wanted."
Inuyasha's eyes opened, a shrewd gleam creeping into the golden depths, "But you won't let me wish you back to life…"
"I'm sorry… I told you that it doesn't work that way," her voice was softly apologetic, full of regret for everything that could have been. "I'm not alive, Inuyasha. I was never really alive. I was just a soul made for you… to give you what you had earned. I was made to give you everything you suffered for that was stolen from you."
"But you want what I want," his ears perked forward, heart starting to race. "You said it yourself, Kagome. All those years ago, and it hasn't changed. You want to be by my side forever, you want to be alive to love me, you want-"
"We're talking about your wish, Inuyasha," she interrupted to remind him, but her fluttering pulse betrayed the feelings his words were stirring inside her.
"Can't you admit it?" Inuyasha growled the challenge in her ear, his claws again biting into her skin with the strength of his hold on her, his need to feel her in his arms, to feel that she was really here in his arms... Really real.
Say it… I need you.
"You've always known how I felt," Kagome's forehead was pressed to his shoulder again, hiding from the intensity of knowledge in his eyes. Eyes that saw straight through to her own heart and made her shudder as she tried to banish the forbidden images from her mind. I can't want, Inuyasha… I'm sorry.
"You owe it to me, Kagome."
She let out a tired sigh, suddenly exhausted by everything. He did deserve her honesty, after everything he had endured, she-they owed him that, and she didn't want to hide from him. Her arms coming around his neck and her face pressing to his throat as she tried to memorize everything about him right at that moment, unwittingly doing the same thing he had done when she first reappeared, "What do you want to hear, Inuyasha? That I wish things could be different? That I didn't have to be the core and I really could be alive? That I could be with you the way I always dreamed? That I could be with you forever? …I can't have that. It's enough for me to know I'll always be a part of you."
Inuyasha's took a shaking breath at her words, drawing them jealously into his soul, and slowly opening his fingers one by one to stare at the jewel starting to flare up in his palm, "I think… I'm ready to wish."
Kagome nodded against his neck, her embrace tightening for a moment as she whispered hesitantly, "Kiss me good-bye?"
His mouth was on hers before she'd finished the question, moving over hers with consuming desperation; a pleading kiss that poured every last one of his hopes and dreams into her mouth, baring his soul the way he'd never had the chance to before. The hand with the Shikon-no-Tama slowly moved around, lifting to press the glowing jewel over her heart as he reluctantly pulled away and stared into her heart-broken eyes, "I love you."
I need you.
The tears were sliding down her cheeks again, her hand lovingly cupping his face and lips quivering with the regret she tried to keep inside, "I was always yours, Inuyasha." She slid that hand down his body to his own heart, trying to smile and failing as she breathed out almost silently, "I'll be here the whole time. I'll always be part of your soul. Don't forget that," her body started to fade, the clear lines blurring as though he was looking at her through tears when she began to return to the jewel.
Every muscle in Inuyasha's body went tense, pressing the jewel harder against her chest before she could fade away from his sight completely as he clenched his eyes shut, gritting his teeth and letting his every hope, every dream flow freely into the Shikon-no-Tama.