Some of you had some very interesting impressions of the poor hanyou I wrote into the story last chapter. I must say that I really enjoyed the reviews and that a few of you were very close to understanding the role the child is going to play. She is NOT Kurama and Kagome's child, though I did think about doing that. In the end I chose not to, for reasons that you will understand later in this chapter. As a matter of fact, she is not related to any of the established characters. But she does have a important but short part to play in the story. I will get back to the Kag Kur romance part in the next chapter. Sorry about that!
This next chapter is a bit less complicated then that last few, but that is to be expected. I don't think that any of the upcoming chapters will be anywhere near as confusing as 58 was. Thank you all for staying with me and reading. I have put all my other stories on hold until this one is completed. Come August, a year will have passed since I began posting. My goal is to have this completed before the end of next month. Well, here's to hoping!
The Rule Of Hanyou
Koenma hurried through the long halls of the central office until he managed to skid into the door frame of his own large room where his desk was currently being used as a table to feed and seat several of his long away detectives and their new friends. His official robs tangled around his ankles so he was forced to slow his steps into a hopping shuffle that did nothing to increase the dignified image that he had been hoping to use to impress the large group. In his teenage form, he found that others managed to respond in a more respectful manner than his child form, and there were supposed to be strangers with the tentai this time. At least that was the garbled message George had managed to give him out.
He shambled into the room with a slight trip before righting himself and glancing around at the various occupants. His original four detectives, their ferry girl assistant, his new miko, and the hanyou from the past were all familiar faces. But the other two were new.
The red and white robed Miko he recognized from Kagome's silent meeting on his screen, before it had crashed, as the incarnate walking dead girl Kikyo. The other was a dirty faced child complete with wide grey eyes and curly lavender hair. He gave a slight nod to the two and acknowledged their presence in his office. He saw the miko nod once in return and the young child tugging on Kagome's leg waved energetically at him from her place sandwiched between Kagome and Kurama.
Yusuke and Kuwabara had seemed to come to some sort of understanding and were quietly keeping one another company against the back wall. The two of them in close proximity without throwing punches was an odd sight, but Koenma did not comment on it. Hiei and Botan were closer to the hanyou from the past while Kurama was predictably inches behind Kagome. The older miko was the only one left standing alone.
Koenma seated himself at his desk and propped his elbows on the worn wooden surface. "Welcome back," he began and took a deep breath to begin the speech he had prepared on his way over.
"Koenma," Yusuke interrupted and pointed rudely at Kikyo. "You have some explaining to do."
"Huh?" So much for speeches. Koenma furrowed his brow and looked between that condemning finger and the calm priestess several times before admitting to his ignorance. "Explain what?"
"Why the hell she is still here, for one. How the hell you manage to govern souls without knowing what they are, for another. The whole time thing if that is even possible, and what the hell happened back there!" Yusuke finished and waved his hand about angrily.
Koenma blinked at the irate detective before clenching his spirit infused pacifier between his teeth to yell back. "How the hell should I know?!" His body suddenly shrank back down to toddler size as his tantrum began. "I've been stuck here trying to hold the last remaining ties to the barrier together. Surrounded by incompetent ogres and baka oni while you guys are off on a nature hike through the three worlds! You not only manage to discover the dead incarnate of our Kagome picnicking out in the middle of nowhere, but also go and adopt a child on your way here! Did you guys ever find that damn dog demon playing hopscotch across the very broken barriers? Or find that damn shard yet?!"
The others all stared at the screaming Jr leader of Reikai in shock. Koenma had yelled at them many times over, but he had never been so serious about it before. It was easy to see that the little ruler was stressed. The frustration was rolling off of him in waves. The tired circles under his eyes told of the long hours that he must have pulled and the sleepless nights that followed. He was visibly shaking from exhaustion and seemed tight with tension.
The older Miko was surprisingly enough the first to speak. She said quietly. "You very much remind me of your father, Koenma-sama."
"M-My father?!" he sputtered in surprise. Koenma sank back into the seat of his chair and stared at the unaffected priestess. "Hmm, You are Kikyo?" he asked and ignored the reference to his slight loss of temper.
She inclined her head to the child sized ruler in acknowledgment.
"I don't suppose you could tell me why you were holding up a tree in Reikai?" he sighed without much hope for an answer.
"I was waiting." she responded calmly.
"Waiting for what?" he eyed her suspiciously. "What do you know about all this?"
"Koenma-sama," Botan interrupted. "Its just that Kikyo-sama can't pass over and be reborn until her soul is reunited," the ferry girl explained.
"That is not possible," Koenma said and shuffled through a few worn files until he found what he was looking for and waved it under the ferry girl's nose. "It says quite clearly that the priestess Kikyo died and was reincarnated... Several times in fact." He then pointed to the sad eyed Kagome. "There is the proof."
"That is the other part we want you to explain," Yusuke huffed. "All that time crap and multiple pieces of souls and jewels and stuff..." he trailed off at a loss as to how to explain what he did not understand.
Koenma pursed his lips into a thin line and thought hard about what Yusuke was attempting to say. Botan did a fast summary of what had gone on and the Miko occasionally corrected her until Koenma was drumming his fingers on the table top and thinking hard to himself. "The flow of time was disrupted over five hundred years ago. It seems strange that all the effects of that would all be in this time period..."
"That is not an explanation!" Inuyasha spat out, obviously agreeing with Yusuke on this.
"It wasn't meant to be," Koenma glared at him. "If I tried to explain something as complex as time and time travel to you guys I would be here until you died of old age and longer. It will have to suffice that you know that certain things can be duplicated or linked, depending on what theory you follow."
Kagome listened halfheartedly to the loud conversation and kept a hand on the shoulders of the little girl slowly nodding off in her lap. Kurama was a silent pillar of strength at her back and she was very appreciative of his unspoken support at the moment.
Her head shot up when the spirit world Jr ruler demanded an answer to his own questions without giving them the satisfaction of answers to their own first.
"Did you find the shard or not?"
All heads swivelled to Kagome and she tightened her grip in the child resting against her. She debated lying to them for a few precious moments before sighing in defeat. "It's here."
"Where?" Inuyasha demanded abruptly. "We have to finish this up and get that bastard in the past," he reminded them all.
Kagome winced and plucked uncertainly at the ragged clothes of the child's shoulders. "I..." she began and shook her head when the words failed her. Instead, she rubbed a soothing hand over the dozing child's back before lifting the hem of her shirt to show a long jagged scar running up her spine and ending at the base of her neck where the light glinted off of a small pink sliver of crystal.
"Oh, no!" Botan gasped and covered her mouth with her hands.
Kagome let her hand hover over the small piece of shikon before she lightly ran the tip of one finger over its glassy surface. When she looked up again, the others could see the twin trails of tears falling silently to the point of her chin before trembling and dropping to the floor. Her stricken expression shared her apprehension and her sorrow about this turn of events.
Kagome let the shirt drop again and clenched her fingers into fists. "If we take it now, she will die," she told the silent group quietly.
Koenma sat back down with a plop of dismay. Was it possible for anything to get worse?! He noticed that the others were dealing with this news in much the same fashion as he was. "So," he muttered. "It was here the entire time. And we never knew it."
"Koenma-sama," Kagome said with several questions vying for importance on her lips. "Why?" she asked him, her apparent confusion obvious. "Why would I have done such a thing? Why would I have brought her here to the Reikai?"
Koenma considered his words carefully before answering her. "Well, Hanyou's are special cases. You see, they are neither human nor demon. They are both. And the barrier recognizes that and they are granted easy access and movement between worlds in a way that any full blooded person can not. There is a certain amount of resistance to moving that is determined by the strength of the one attempting to cross. When that resistance is cancelled by her mixed blood, she would have been in danger from both demons and humans. Reikai would have been the only place that was free from both that she would have been insured safety."
"Safety from what?" Kuwabara asked for clarification.
"From everyone." Inuyasha answered bitterly. "Hanyou's are accepted by nobody, Humans or Demons. Humans only see a demon threat and demons can only see the human weaknesses. That scar," he gestured to the child with a gleam of compassion in his golden eyes, "was probably from one of the few creatures she ever learned to trust and let close enough. Probably someone who shares the same blood as she does...family."
"He's right," Koenma agreed. "That is why you don't see that many hanyou's around. They are usually killed off when young by one or both of their parents or by the other demons or humans in the community that they are born into."
"That's awful," Botan gulped. "So what do we do now?" she asked in a very subdued murmur.
Kikyo again spoke up and forced them to face the reality of the situation that none of them were willing to face. "You must take it," she answered tonelessly.
"WHAT!?" Kuwabara yelled loudest amidst the denials and gasps of horror the others managed to strangle out.
Everyone grew quiet and still when Kuwabara's voice proved loud enough to wake the child back up. They watched her yawn and stretch before giving them all a sleepy smile. Her grey eyes crinkled sweetly at the corners at her wide smile and she shoved at the long curls hanging in her eyes with one dirty hand. She looked upward at her savior with that smile firmly in place and grabbed Kagome's hand in her own clawed grasp.
"I-I couldn't!" Kagome whispered as she looked at that contented grin.
"You have to." Kikyo said and raised her chin. "It must be done."
Kagome stared at her in horror. "How could I?!" she demanded harshly. "Could you do it?!"
Kikyo stared at her, the first flickers of pain in her own eyes. "No," she answered. "But then, it is not for me to do."
Kagome shook her head violently at her incarnate while the others remained silent and watchful. "I will not." she finally said with a firmness that could not be broken. "I WILL NOT!"
Kurama swiftly growled a warning at the other miko and wrapped his arms around Kagome's shoulders. He offered her no words, since there were none that would suffice. Instead, he gave her all of his backing and support. There was no way that he would let anyone force her to do such a thing. And as much as he knew that they needed that shard, there had to be another way. "It's okay, Love," he whispered to her. "We'll find a way, even if it takes us a lifetime of looking..."
"Unfortunately we don't have a life time," Koenma told the spirit fox in a hard voice. "The miko is right. It must be done."
"Koenma-sama!" Botan whimpered through her fingers. Her widened pink eyes pleaded with her employer to take back those harsh words. "You can't mean that!" She shook her head slowly when he returned her look with a fierce glare of his own.
"I do," the Jr ruler answered just as forcefully. "What choice do we have?" he demanded of the cringing ferry girl who was taking the brunt of his anger. "If you can think of any alternative, it must be done now because we DO NOT have the time to waste if we want to finish this."
"Kagome-sama?" a soft childish voice interrupted them. "What are they talking about? What do they have to take?"
Kagome stared down at the child looking up at her so trustingly. Her youthful features were soft and innocent but her eyes held a wisdom far beyond her years. Kagome couldn't force any words past her lip to either explain or pass off the question and shook her head silently. A small rosebud mouth pursed in thought and she scrutinized the quiet miko with a long look.
When she finally released Kagome from that intense look, she faced the yelling toddler with a firmness unusual for one her age. "He wants to take my crystal, doesn't he?" she asked of no one in particular. "Daddy said that if I lose it, I'd die. He said that it would keep me alive so that my mommy couldn't hurt me anymore," she stated, confirming Inuyasha's words. "You told me that bad people would want to take it away from me. Is he a bad person? Why does he want me to die?" she asked pointing to Koenma, and looking back at the speechless Kagome.
Koenma felt a great weight of shame and guilt fill him. He knew that he was going to have to take the shard, but he had never had to play the bad guy before. It hurt to do something so terrible to an innocent. "I'm not a bad person," he replied to the child who swung her head around to give him a dubious glare. "But it is my job to stop bad people from doing bad things."
"But I'm not a bad person!" the child exclaimed and let go of Kagome's hand to cross her little arms over her chest.
"I know," Koenma told her gently. "But there is a very very bad person out there who is after that stone, and we have to stop him."
The little girl blinked several times and thought about this. "A bad man?" she questioned and saw several heads nod. "Is he hurting people too?" she asked. "Like my mommy did?"
"He has hurt many people," Kikyo informed the hanyou with a far away sad look of her own. "And he will hurt many more if he isn't stopped."
The hanyou frowned and stared at the dead miko with curiosity. "He hurt you?" she asked with a perceptivity that seemed out of place with one so young.
Kikyo met the child's lonely gaze with one of her own to match it. "Yes," she answered simply.
The little girl abandoned her post beside Kagome's protective aura and took a position directly in front of the other miko. "What did he do?" she asked the girl that looked so much like Kagome.
"He tricked me, and I did some very bad things of my own because of it," the other miko answered truthfully. "And then he killed me."
The little girl's large grey eyes grew impossibly bigger. "You're dead?!" she squeaked and leaned forward in morbid curiosity. "Wow..."
Kikyo felt the beginning traces of humor tilt her lips into a smile. "I am," she confirmed with a nod and allowed the child to poke at her hands for a few moments.
"Does it hurt?" the child asked.
"Only when I think about the people that I hurt because of him," Kikyo answered softly. "Then it hurts."
The child traced little circles in the floor with her feet and kept her eyes downcast while she thought. Her little fingers moved up to play with the beads gracing her slim neck. "I'm not dead," she finally stated the obvious and met Kikyo's compassionate eyes once more. "But I still hurt sometimes when I remember too," she finished. "It hurts to be all alone."
Kagome gasped and alternated between leaning on Kurama for support and tensing in painful realization. The child had spent so long confined in a small bubble of energy that she had experienced a level of loneliness that only Kikyo could understand. The two stood together, facing one another with identical expressions of understanding. Kagome bit back a sob and turned in Kurama's arms so that she could hide her face from the scene. "Kurama..." she whispered and felt him respond by holding her close to him while she trembled. She leaned into his embrace and felt the stirring of his breath at her ear.
"It's okay, Kagome..." he assured her in a whisper. "It's okay."
"No," she whispered back. "No, it's not..." Kagome hid her face from the tragic couple still staring at one another until the child spoke again.
"If I were dead," she asked in a subdued manner, "could I stay with you?" she asked. "I don't wanna be alone anymore..."
Everyone contained their surprise at the child's words, and felt the tugging in their chest for the emptiness and unhappiness that clung to her hunched frame while she waited for a denial to her request. Kikyo was the most surprised by the child's soft question and shot a questioning glance at Kagome but the other girl was still crying silent tears while she looked with sadness on the child.
"I don't think that I could make that decision," Kikyo answered and placed her hand on one slumped shoulder in hopes of comforting the child.
"Wouldn't you want to be reborn?" Koenma asked her when the silence began to strain everyone's nerves worse then they already were. "You could live again..." he told her compassionately.
The little hanyou shook her head firmly. "I don't wanna go back there," she stated. "Not yet."
"I think..." Koenma hesitated and shoved some files around on his desk top. "Hmmm..." He picked his rubber stamper up and set it back down several times before he faced them all again. A determined light in his eyes a small smirk made the silent occupants of the room narrow their eyes in anticipation. The little ruler had an idea. "I may be able to do something..." he told them flatly.
Several of the tentai's frowned at the hesitancy of those words, but waited for Koenma to elaborate on his thoughts.
"Kikyo-sama," the spirit ruler addressed the dead miko. "Your presence in spirit world in the form you are now in, is not particularly common. In order for a spirit to remain in residence here, they must give up all ties to the living realms. Since this is an impossibility for you at the moment, as is the alternative reincarnation, I have a solution that may prove beneficial to both you and me." Koenma jumped up onto his desk top and linked his hands behind his back. "How would you like a job?"
Everyone exchanged confused glances and turned back to the insistent toddler and the miko he had pinned under his gaze. Kikyo opened her mouth several times before she got past her confusion and asked him, "Doing what?"
Koenma grinned then, a wide smile that seemed so out of place in the depressed and tense atmosphere clouding the room. "Why, protecting me, of course!" he exclaimed. "Reikai does not have the defenses that it used to," he explained, "and headquarters," he gestured around them with a vague wave, "has need of some measure of security. Especially at a time like this when the barrier is failing. Your miko powers would be perfect for such a job."
A long pause followed this explanation before Yusuke growled out, "How the hell does that solve anything for us!?"
Koenma ignored the tentai and waited for Kikyo to answer. She seemed deep in thought as she considered his offer before she gave a slight nod in answer. He smiled happily and then turned to the hanyou watching them all silently beside the dead woman. "And you-" he stopped and frowned. "What is your name anyway, child?" he asked her.
A dirty finger was pulled from her mouth where she had been gnawing on it for a moment before she smiled brightly at the toddler. "My name is Kisa."
Koenma returned that smile, "Well, Kisa, how would you like to train with Kikyo-sama to become strong?" he asked her and chuckled at her enthusiastic nod and did not miss the way she reached up and clung to the stunned miko's hand. "You see, when you get stronger, and grow up a little more," he told her, "then you can help Kikyo-sama with her job. That barrier you were under stopped time from effecting you to some extent and now that you are free from it, you will age like any other spirit in Reikai. Kikyo-sama can easily take out any threats dealing with demonic energy and you can handle any other problems that may arrive here that require the strength of a demon to defeat it. You can be my Junior Security Officer."
Kisa eye's sparkled and she glanced excitedly between Kikyo and Koenma. It was obvious that she was more than okay with this plan and she skipped in happy circles around the red clad legs of the newest reikai employee.
"Good!" Koenma stated happily and clapped his hands together to mark the completion of some strenuous task. "Now all that is left to do is to finish what we started. Botan?" he requested and gestured to where Kisa was dancing in place. "I believe that you still have a job to do..."
Botan clung to Inuyasha's hand and stared in shock at her boss. Of all things, this in not what she had been expecting. "I..." she hesitated and couldn't get over the feeling that this was too close to murder for her heart to handle. She worried her lower lip between her teeth and flinched when Koenma glared at her. "Right away sir," she whispered and shuffled forward to collect the child cheerfully chattering to her new miko supervisor and trainer.
"Kagome," Koenma reminded the other miko and gave her a sympathetic glance. "She'll need your help."
"I can't!" Kagome wailed. "I just can't!"
The child stopped her rejoicing and ran over to the other girl. Kisa took Kagome's limp hand in her clawed one and stroked the top of it. "It's okay," she assured her. "I want you to take it."
"I- I can't," Kagome pleaded to the little girl and sank to a crouch so that she meet her eyes levelly.
Kisa looked stricken for a moment and her big grey eyes filled with tears. "Please?" she asked, afraid that this chance might fade if she waited to long. "Please, Kagome-sama? I don't wanna be by myself anymore."
Kagome choked on her silent tears and crushed the trembling child to her in a strong hug. They clung together for several moments when Kisa gave a surprised cry and slumped in Kagome's arms.
"I'll take care of it now," Botan quietly informed them.
To the surprise of the others, the hanyou's body faded to nothing as well as Botan's when she approached the embracing couple until Kagome was left kneeling on the floor with a single jewel shard between her fingers while her great wracking sobs broke the stillness.
Kurama hastily joined her on the floor and gathered her into his own tight embrace and soothed her hair back with his own hand. The unnatural silences that seemed to be waiting on the sidelines since this journey began settled over them again. After all, what was there that anyone could say?