Firstly – to people who reviewed "Where do I belong?" – thank you!! Hugs all round.
Disclaimer: Ok people, you know the drill…..obviously, I don't own Inuyasha, or his enemies, friends, acquaintances, etc (you get the idea). He belongs to Rumiko Takahashi.
" " for speaking
' ' for thinking
Italics for flashbacks (not too many of those, hopefully)
Anyway, enough from me! On with the story. Read and review, please!!!! Chapters will get written much quicker that way….
Choice and Consequence.
Chapter 1: A Question of Priorities.
"Inuyasha, get out of my way!"
"You know perfectly well WHY, so MOVE!!"
A mouthful of dirt mercifully muffled whatever the hanyou said next – most likely it would have blistered Kagome's ears. She walked quickly past the temporarily subdued Inuyasha and then made a dash for the well. Two years of fighting (and running from) youkai had left her in very good shape, and she was grateful for it now. She reached her target and hopped up onto the rim. Cautiously she glanced over to where she had left her fuming companion. To her surprise, he was still lying there. In fact, he hadn't even raised his head.
'The spell would have worn off by now…I didn't 'sit' him that hard,' she thought. She made as if to launch herself into the well, then stopped. Looking over at Inuyasha, still motionless on the ground, she shook her head disgustedly. She just couldn't leave him like that. Sighing to herself about inconvenient guilty consciences, she made her way back over to where he was lying. A thought struck her –
'What if he's out cold? Hit a rock when he landed, or something? He's easy prey like this – guess I'll have to check…'
Slightly worried now, she dumped her pack on the ground and knelt down beside the hanyou. As she reached out to turn him over, a clawed hand flashed out of nowhere and pinned her wrist to the ground.
Looking around in shock, she saw two amber eyes in a grinning face. If anything, he looked…smug. Not for the first time in her life, Kagome wanted to slug him in the face, just to get rid of that annoying, gloating, oh-so-self-satisfied expression.
"I knew you'd come back…."
"You were pretending?!" she shrieked furiously, interrupting him. His ears flattened from the noise, but he kept her wrist captive. "You – you bastard!" He was anything but apologetic.
"It worked, didn't it?"
Apparently that was the wrong thing to say.
"Let_me_go!" Kagome hissed. With each word she pulled at his hold on her, but to no avail. "Ooh, I'm gonna KILL you! And to think I was actually worried about you! You lowdown, arrogant, foul-mouthed –."
He cut off her tirade by flipping her arm away, making her lose her already precarious balance. Before she could slip away, he put one hand on each of her shoulders and pushed her flat against the ground, effectively knocking the breath out of her. She stared up at him, not a little intimidated by the position he had put her in. He wasn't smiling anymore; he was growling at her, glaring at her like she was a pest he wanted to squash.
'Ooh, I'm in for it now,' Kagome thought, instinctively trying to shield herself from the oncoming blast.
Her prediction was correct.
"What the hell are you doing, leaving now? What's so important that you HAVE to be there for, huh?"
When she didn't reply, he ground his teeth in anger and shook her by the shoulders. "I said – WHY?!"
"I have tests to do, Inuyasha!" she yelled. "I DO have a life over there, you know!"
"Feh!" he snorted in contempt. "Some life – all you do is those stinking tests! You leave right in the middle of a shard hunt, right when you're actually NEEDED for once, and you just read those stupid books while you're here! It's a damn distraction that we DON'T NEED!" he roared. "Every day Naraku gets closer to the shards that are left! Sango's brother is still possessed, Miroku could die anytime from the hole in his hand - that never changes! Just because you leave doesn't mean it all goes away!" As he continued ranting at the cowering girl, an all-too familiar scent reached him.
'Argh, not again….'
Then another scent became distinguishable. Thick and heavy, with a coppery tang.
'What the - ? Oh, no. Oh, crap.'
It was blood. Kagome's blood.
He hadn't realised how tightly he was gripping her shoulders in his rage. Horrified, he pulled one hand up to look at it more closely. There was blood under his claws – he'd actually hurt her, badly. He numbly sat back on his haunches, allowing her to scramble out from under him. Kagome lunged for her bag, putting as much distance between herself and the hanyou as possible. Her eyes cut him to the quick – they were full of disbelief…and pain.
"Monster!" she flung at him, before disappearing down the well. He made no move to stop her. Shivering, Inuyasha buried his face in his hands, the smell of her blood reminding him sharply of just what he'd done. She had called him a monster…and he couldn't really disagree, this time. One thought echoed over and over in his mind.
'Kagome, I'm sorry…so sorry…I'm sorry.'
Night fell, and still he sat there, unable and unwilling to move.
'I didn't mean to…you'll hate me now…you're scared of me….I'm sorry!'
As the blue glow faded from around her, Kagome sat at the bottom of the well. She couldn't quite make herself believe what had just happened. Shakily, she reached one hand up to her shoulder. When she pulled it away, sticky blood coated the tips of her fingers.
'He actually ATTACKED me!'
She couldn't have 'sat' him, as he had been, well, on top of her at the time. He would have crushed her if she had used the 'word', she reasoned. 'But still, he's never lost control like that before. He's a bit rough, yeah, but he never hurt me like this….' Her thoughts trailed off as a new worry dawned on her.
'How on earth am I going to explain THIS to Mama?'
As luck would have it, no one was home. Breathing a sigh of relief at her good fortune, Kagome raced to her room to get rid of her torn and bloody uniform. 'How many of these darn things have I gone through in the last two years?' she mused. 'Well, it doesn't matter, because there is NO way I can go back there again!' The more she thought about that day's events, the angrier she became. She patched herself up as best she could. Then, after quickly changing into some clean clothes, Kagome stomped into the kitchen. Seething with fury, she opened cupboard doors with enough force to nearly rip them off their hinges, ignoring the pain the motion caused.
"Grrr! And where is something to eat when you want it?!" she yelled.
Finally settling on some ramen (man, she was getting sick of that stuff!) she put it on to cook and continued ranting about the absent Inuyasha. "How DARE he? And after all we've done, all we've gone through together…I – I trusted him!" She stopped abruptly as she felt the familiar pricking behind her eyes. "Dammit…" She tried angrily to brush them away, but they just kept coming. So that was how her family found her – sobbing her heart out at the kitchen table.
Later on that night, lying warm in her bed, Kagome tossed and turned – trying to get to sleep. But every time she closed her eyes, all she could see was Inuyasha. She remembered the way he had glared at her when she tried to run away, how he'd growled at her, the furious look in his eyes. She hated that look, it made her want to run and hide. But slowly those images faded, to be replaced by his face at the moment that he saw that he'd injured her. A look of horror, shock, and…sorrow. He hadn't meant to do it, she realised. And…she'd called him a monster. Oh, gods, she'd called him a monster. The one thing that was sure to hurt him, to wound him terribly.
Now she wrestled with the sure-fire sleep-killer. Guilt.
Thinking back over what he'd said in his fit of temper, she had to admit that his words had some merit to them. Their enemies didn't just cease to exist when she left – her friends lived under the constant threat of attack. She had an avenue of escape, but they didn't. And what were maths tests compared to losing your entire family, like Sango? Or being consumed by your own hand? Or being branded as half-demon, half-human, belonging to both kinds and yet neither at the same time?
'Is it really fair of me to keep doing this?' she wondered. Then she realised that there was no choice at all, if she was perfectly honest.
She had already made her decision.
Inuyasha sat alone, perched in the branches of the Goshinboku. He stared at the Bone Eater's Well with a curious mixture of apprehension and hope.
'What if she doesn't come back this time? She's threatened to do it before…Would she really leave us?' He broke off that train of thought impatiently. But it was persistent.
'At least then…I wouldn't have to face her again, after yesterday.'
He flinched, partially disgusted with himself at the relief that the suggestion produced. 'Am I really that much of a coward?'
After a while the thoughts began again. 'If she does come back, what'll I do? What can I say?' A list of possibilities ran through his mind.
"Where have you been?!"
"What took you so long, woman?"
"Are you okay?"
"Why are you here?…"
"Feh!" He shook his head angrily. No, he'd really gone and done it this time. Blown it good and proper. Lost his shard detector. His friend. His…what? What was she, exactly? He didn't know – all he knew was that, more than anything, he wanted the impossible.
He wanted Kagome back.
A sudden movement at the well caught his attention. "Wha - ?" He dropped to the ground and raced over to the well. It couldn't be…
It was. She was here!
Puffing, she scrambled over the rim of the well. He inwardly grimaced as he noticed how she favoured her arms, trying to avoid further damage. Finally she straightened her clothing – not the usual school uniform, he noticed – and stood up to look him in the eye.
What he saw turned his heart to ice.
Nothing. Not a flicker of emotion, not even anger – which he certainly deserved, he knew. She just appraised him with a cool expression, a humourless smile fixed upon her lips. Then she pushed past him towards the village, leaving him standing in shock. Eventually she turned, cocked her head slightly, and asked, "Well, are we hunting shards or not?" Gulping, he started off after her.
'Alright, who are you and what have you done with Kagome?' he wondered desperately.
Kagome breathed a silent sigh of relief. Well, she hadn't blown up at him, and hadn't run away from him in fear – so far, so good. Her ruminations were interrupted by a fast-moving bundle of red fur.
Laughing, she gathered the little kitsune into her arms. "And how are you, Shippo-chan? Having fun?"
"Oh, yeah! I found a rabbit, and I chased it into the forest, and…."
She smiled as he babbled on about what he'd been doing. Such a cute little boy…er, youkai. What she wouldn't give right now to have a simple child's life instead of her own. And with what she had to live with now…She let her mind wander back to the conversation she had had with her mother that morning.
"Ahh – Mama, I need to talk to you about something…"
"Yes, dear?" Her mother continued making breakfast. Screwing up her courage, Kagome blurted out,
"I have to drop out of school!" She held her breath anxiously. Her mother's hands slowed, but didn't stop their work. "Why?"
"Well, it's like this. I can't keep coming back all the time, 'cos, um, it's not really fair on the others, and they need me there for whatever happens now." She paused. "I've decided – I'm staying there until all the shards are collected…I owe it to them, Mama! But I don't know how long it will take, it could be weeks, or months even…Mama?"
When her mother finally spoke, her voice was halting and unsure. "Are you…certain? That's really what you want?" Kagome closed her eyes.
"It's not a question of what I want anymore…it's just what I have to do. I don't see any other way!"
Sighing, her mother came over to where Kagome stood, helpless. Tears stood out bright in her eyes, but she forced a smile onto her face. "You know, I thought something like this would happen eventually. I can't say I like it, but…I'm proud of you. I couldn't do what you do. So – I suppose I can't really stop you." She hugged her daughter tightly, then laughed softly. "I guess Inuyasha will be very pleased about this, won't he?" Kagome frowned.
"I'm not going to tell him."
She was brought back to reality by a stinging pain across her shoulders. Shippo, sensing that he'd lost her attention, was patting her lightly to get her to notice him. Hissing in agony, she released him, falling to the ground. He panicked. "Ahh, Kagome, I'm sorry! What did I do?"
Wordlessly she tried to reassure him, but then two other voices broke in.
Sango and Miroku rushed over to her, concern written all over their faces. "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"
Cautiously, Kagome peeked over at a somewhat stunned and fearful Inuyasha. This would get him in trouble, she wasn't sure she wanted that…Then she shrugged. 'It's not like they won't find out anyway, I can't stop them.' She slowly pulled down a corner of her shirt, exposing the evenly spaced claw marks on her shoulder. Sango drew in her breath sharply as the deep, angry welts became visible. Miroku reluctantly reached out a hand, mirroring the position of the scars to check that they were, in fact, from someone's hand. Suddenly they both put two and two together. Their heads snapped around to find the guilty-looking hanyou.
"INUYASHA!!" they cried in unison. The anger in their eyes didn't bode well for him. He ran.
"Get back here!" Sango yelled. Furious, she and the houshi raced off after him – this would not be forgotten soon. Kagome sighed. Well, he did have it coming, she supposed. Better to have the demon exterminator and the houshi to defend her than do it herself and make things worse than they already were. Resigning herself to the inevitable, she waited for her friends to return. It would be a long day, and judging by the force with which the hiraikotsu and shakujou were being used, Inuyasha would be in no fit condition to travel. Ultimately, the group would stay put for the time being.
Justice served, a much calmer pair returned to Kaede's hut and went about helping the old miko with her duties. Inuyasha, to no one's surprise, stayed out in the forest. Much safer that way. That night they all settled down to sleep, worn out from their busy day. Kagome dropped off to sleep almost immediately.
The dreams started that night.
What did she dream? I promise, I'll tell you soon! Reviews will make the chapters come much faster – suggestions are welcome too. Next chapter: Advice From a Houshi. Up soon!