I am rewriting 'All Of Me' from the beginning. It needed some work anyway. Hopefully this will spark some inspiration so I can actually finish the story. Many thanks to my Beta, EmeraldDragon.
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
ALL OF ME
Tokyo: Early 1950s
The shout that rang through the quiet streets sounded frantic and more than a little bit angry. It was a late enough that good citizens had long since retreated to their homes and their beds. A few curious looks were directed to the source of the commotion. People shrugged, not really concerned, and went about their business.
A woman marched down the street, ignoring the voice behind her. The hand not holding fast to her little sister clenched into a fist. Light shone from the windows of the houses, glittering in the streaks of wetness running down her cheeks and the smooth curve of the jewel nestled against her throat. Someone grabbed her, startling her into dropping the child's hand.
"Will you let me explain, Kikyo?" A dark-haired man held her elbow in a firm grip, his golden eyes pleading. She glared at the hand on her arm and he hastily released her.
"What is there to explain, Inuyasha?" Kikyo glared at him. "I know what I saw!" Kikyo angrily scrubbed the tears away. "You said you loved me! But then I find you in the arms of another woman! Onigumo was right!"
"Please, Kikyo, it's not what it looked like. Just listen to me." Inuyasha reached out to touch her. She jerked away and he let his arm fall.
"You lied to me!" Kikyo shouted. "You're nothing more than an animal, chasing after any cute tail you see!" She fumbled in her purse and brought out a drawstring pouch.
Why won't she listen? Anger began to override any last vestiges of guilt over what had happened. It hadn't even been his fault. "I didn't lie! God, you are so paranoid! Why won't you believe me?"
Kikyo opened the pouch and took out a pinch of some kind of powder. Even in the near darkness of the moonless night, Inuyasha could see a sort of glow around her hand. He stole a glance at Kikyo's little sister, watching the argument with worried eyes.
Miko, witches, and monks with actual spiritual powers weren't common, but they did exist. And Kikyo was a true miko. She had the spiritual power to defend herself or others. Her power was greater than any in living memory. It was even rumored that she might someday rival the legendary Midoriko in strength. But while a miko relied on power from within, a witch used incantations and ingredients to affect others.
Kikyo looked up, her eyes hard. "I know people in this city, Inuyasha--people with power. And they agree that you need to be taught a lesson." Chanting strange words, she threw the powder in his face. He sneezed. The powder clung to his face, burning as it came into contact with his skin. Some blew into his eyes and he shut them quickly, but they immediately began to sting. Fiery tears tracked their way down his cheeks. Pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes to ease the pain, he barely heard Kikyo's next words. But they were something he would never forget.
"You're an animal, Inuyasha!" Kikyo shouted. "I curse you to be the beast you are until you learn to love someone else more than you love yourself. And earn that person's unconditional love in return." Inuyasha fell to his knees as a harsh stench of decay filled his nostrils. He tried to speak, but his voice wouldn't work.
"I hate you!" His heart lurched painfully at Kikyo's declaration. "Let's go, Kaede." He rubbed his face, trying to see through blurring, watery eyes. A wavery image of Kikyo and Kaede turned into the alley that connected this street to the next one. Inuyasha scrambled to his feet. If he hurried he could catch them. Maybe Kikyo would calm down enough to listen.
His knees trembled and refused to hold him. Rough hands caught him before he hit the ground. His head began to pound. He focused his uncooperative vision on the one holding him upright.
"Mushin." He coughed and licked dry lips. "What are you doing here?" The monk-in-training supported Inuyasha's weight, giving his friend a measuring look.
"I heard that Kikyo found you in a compromising position," he said. "Haven't you learned anything from me? The important thing is not to get caught by the girlfriend."
Inuyasha pushed Mushin away and stood on his own feet. "I wasn't doing anything, you idiot. Why won't anyone believe me?" Mushin made a skeptical sound in the back of his throat.
Inuyasha staggered and Mushin grabbed his arm to steady him. "What happened to you? You look like hell."
"Thanks," Inuyasha responded hoarsely. He coughed again, fighting against a wave of vertigo that threatened to send him to his knees. "Kikyo acquired some sort of powder from those witch friends of hers. Stupid, interfering bitches. She threw it at me. I think it's some sort of curse, but nothing's happened yet."
Inuyasha swayed, only Mushin's supporting grip keeping him upright. The monk-in-training snorted. "I wouldn't call stumbling around like a drunk man 'nothing.' I told you to be polite when speaking to witches. They're known to hold grudges."
Scowling, Inuyasha jerked his arm away from his friend and tried to quell his queasy stomach. "I--"
A scream tore the night air. "Kikyo!" Inuyasha shouted. He took off running toward the source of the screams. Mushin followed, but was unable to keep pace. Inuyasha's feet flew even faster when the cries abruptly ceased. Skidding around the corner, he almost tripped over the small body lying crumpled on the ground.
"Kaede!" Inuyasha knelt and turned the child over. The right side of her face was covered in blood; her eye a mangled ruin. His fingers felt frantically for a pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief at the steady throbbing. Mushin came panting up to them.
"Oh, God," he said when he caught sight of the bloody form. "I think I'm going to be sick." He stumbled to the wall. Inuyasha ignored the sounds of Mushin retching in the shadows. Where is Kikyo? Whoever had done this would pay dearly if she were harmed.
"Take care of the kid," he called to Mushin. Mushin nodded, wiping his mouth with a shaky hand. He knelt by the motionless child and tried to clean some of the blood off her face. Screams in this part of town would not be long ignored. Shouting and pounding feet told him that help would soon arrive.
The alley was dark. A cat hissed at Inuyasha and sped away, knocking over a garbage can. He jumped at the loud crash. Peering anxiously into the gloom, his nerves wound tighter with every step. There was something ahead. A dark figure crouched over another one sprawled on the ground.
"I'm so sorry, Kikyo," the crouching figure whispered. "I didn't mean to do it. You shouldn't have forced me." He reached for something that glittered even in the blackness. "But I will have what is mine."
"Stop!" Inuyasha shouted. The figure started. Something round slipped from his fingers and rolled behind a bag of refuse. Seeing Inuyasha approaching, he swore and scrambled to his feet. His eyes darted between the approaching man and the part of the alley where his prize had landed. Swearing again, he raised the knife held in one hand and threw it. A sharp pain pierced Inuyasha's arm. The knife sliced through cloth and skin to clatter against the stone wall of the alley. He stumbled, clutching his bleeding arm, as the figure turned and ran.
Inuyasha put the stranger out of his mind and knelt beside the body lying on the pavement. He brushed a strand of hair out of her face and sucked in his breath. "Kikyo." He fumbled for a pulse, but already knew that it was too late. A sticky, red liquid soaked the front of her blouse. Inuyasha took her still faintly warm hand in his.
"Please get up," he begged, unashamed of the break in his voice. "I'm sorry, Kikyo. This is all my fault. If only we hadn't had that stupid argument." Kikyo's hand grew colder in his, but his eyes remained dry. He felt numb inside. The night took on an eerie unreal quality. At any moment he would awaken, and this would be a nightmare. That was his fervent hope--slowly becoming a desperate plea as the hours passed.
The sun peeked over the horizon, though the alley remained in shadow. Inuyasha was too sunk in misery to notice when his body first began to glow a sullen red. Starting to feel dizzy, he blinked as his vision wavered in and out of focus. Sweat poured down his face and dampened his shirt. Opening his mouth, he panted in short breaths. It felt like his entire body was on fire. One hand reached up to claw at the neckline of his shirt, but already he was too weak to tear the cloth.
Sharp bursts of pain crackled along his joints. It felt like his bones were shifting, changing shape. And that someone had reached in and grabbed his organs, then put them back in different places. Scents intensified, overwhelming his nose and nearly making him pass out. Considering that he crouched in an alley where many people tossed unwanted garbage, the reek was enough to send him into a fit of instinctive retching.
His head pounded with the same rhythm as the roaring of the blood in his veins. Dropping Kikyo's hand, he pressed his palms to his temples, feeling like he was going mad. The magic lashed through his body and he screamed at the pain.
Mushin staggered around a pile of rags, having stayed with Kaede until the ambulance arrived. Inuyasha moaned, doubled over next to the lifeless body of Kikyo. A red glow still surrounded him. He raised his face to the heavens and screamed; a scream that turned into a howl. When the light faded, a large white dog crouched on the ground where there had once been a human.
Mushin approached cautiously. "Inuyasha?"
The dog spun around and growled. Mushin almost tripped in his haste to back away. Dawn's light trickled into the narrow alley. The dog's golden eyes regarded Mushin, intelligence in his gaze. People were approaching, talking loudly about all the commotion, their courage restored with the light of day.
"Come on, Inuyasha," Mushin urged. "There is nothing more we can do."
The dog looked at the fallen form of his beloved. He nudged the body once in farewell. Trotting past Mushin, he ignored his friend's efforts to get him to hurry. Oddly resembling any number of stray dogs on the streets, he rooted around in the garbage before emerging with something that looked like a large marble in his mouth. Limping on his wounded leg, he followed Mushin from the alley without looking back.
Mushin got his transformed friend as far as his apartment. Sneaking him past the animal-hating landlord had been a minor miracle in itself. His stomach rumbled, but he ignored it. Inuyasha couldn't be left by himself; there was no telling what he might do. He might run into traffic or impale himself on some sharp object. The way he sat and stared at the marble between his paws hinted at madness... or worse.
Mushin woke from the light doze he had fallen into at the clicking of toenails on the wooden floor. The dog stood at the window. He had pushed the curtain aside and braced his feet on the sill.
"Night already?" Mushin rubbed a hand over his face. Food sounded seriously tempting, but he knew that his cupboards were distressingly bare. With all that had gone on recently, he hadn't had time to go shopping. Visions of tender steaks and succulent fish filled his head. Even the damn dog was starting to look appetizing. A whine brought his attention back to Inuyasha.
Inuyasha backed away from the window as the sun sank from view. He growled and the hair stood up along his spine. Golden eyes wide, he snapped repeatedly at the air.
Has he gone mad? Mushin wondered.
A red mist surrounded the agitated dog. When it cleared, a human Inuyasha crouched where the animal had been.
"Inuyasha?" Mushin reached out a hand, but didn't touch his friend. Can this be an illusion? Or is it a nightmare?
"Where's Kikyo?" Inuyasha gasped out.
"Kikyo's dead," Mushin gently reminded him.
Inuyasha's eyes flashed red for an instant. "Then we'll have to settle for finding the bastard who killed her."
Inuyasha grabbed the jewel that he had protected all day. With his other hand he hauled Mushin to his feet. "The kid… Kaede. She must have seen. We'll find out who, and then we'll figure out how to break this damn curse."
Inuyasha growled to himself, sounding more like a dog than he wanted to admit. Mushin was practically useless. He couldn't remember which hospital the kid had been taken to. Luckily, there weren't that many hospitals to choose from. It still took a lot of fast talking to convince the nurses that they were concerned relatives. And the only reason it worked was because he knew that Kikyo hadn't had any living relatives besides her sister. No one would interfere.
Kaede had a room to herself. They found her sitting up in bed, staring out the window. Bandages wrapped around her head and covered where her eye used to be. Inuyasha walked in without knocking, dragging a reluctant Mushin with him.
"Hello, Inuyasha," Kaede said not bothering to turn around. "I was wondering when you would get here."
"Then you know what I want." He didn't waste time on formalities. She looked like shit. She probably felt like shit. He didn't need to ask about it. She didn't need to tell him. They understood one another perfectly. Mushin made a choked sound at Inuyasha's lack of bedside manner.
"I don't know who killed my sister." She sighed and shifted around to face them. "But I do know what he was after. The Shikon Jewel."
"You mean this thing?" Inuyasha held up the marble. "I knew it was important to her, but I didn't think it was worth dying over."
"The Shikon Jewel is a very powerful item. It is worth a lot to certain people. Without it I don't think my sister would have had the strength to place that curse on you."
That snagged Inuyasha's attention. He forgot all about the Shikon Jewel. "You know about the curse? Do you know how to break it?"
"You hurt Kikyo very much. I don't think I should tell you anything." Kaede crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. For the first time she looked like the ten-year-old child she was.
"How many times do I have to say this?" Inuyasha shouted. "I didn't cheat on Kikyo! I was set up!"
Kaede smiled. "Calm down, Inuyasha. I believe you." All the anger flowed out of Inuyasha and he swayed with exhaustion. She patted the bed beside her. Numb, he sat on the rough hospital-issue blanket.
Mushin spoke up for the first time. "You do know how to break the curse?"
The child nodded. "I was with Kikyo when she acquired the spell ingredients. Since it is night again, you already know part of the curse." She paused until Inuyasha grunted assent. "By day you turn into a dog. Only at night will you regain your human form. The curse will be broken when you find someone with spiritual powers who can love both the man and the beast."
"So I just have to make some girl fall in love with me?" Inuyasha looked thoughtful.
"I didn't say it had to be a girl. Anyone with spiritual powers, even a monk." She pointed at Mushin. "And he or she has to kiss you on the night of the new moon because that was when the curse was cast."
Inuyasha gagged. "I am not kissing a man!"
Mushin looked offended. "Well I don't want to kiss you either."
"One more thing." Kaede held up a finger. "While you are under the curse, you will remain the age you are now. For the next fifty years you will not grow one day older."
"Why fifty years?" Mushin asked curiously.
"The curse has a fifty-year time limit." She leaned back into the pillows and closed her eye.
"If I don't find someone to fall in love with me and give this kiss before time runs out, then the curse is broken anyway." Inuyasha snorted. "Hardly seems worth it."
"No," Kaede said without opening her eye. "When the fifty years are up, if the curse isn't broken before then, you die."
Mushin paled and turned to look at his friend. Inuyasha seemed unconcerned.
"Big deal." Inuyasha stood up and stretched. "I'll have this curse beaten inside of a week. Besides, that will give me more time to track down Kikyo's killer."
"Don't be so arrogant, Inuyasha." Mushin clutched at his sleeve.
Inuyasha shook him off. "Grow a backbone, Mushin." He waved to Kaede as he walked out of the room. "See you around, kid. Don't stock up on chew toys yet."
"Kikyo was right about one thing," Kaede said out loud after the two had left. "You do have a lot to learn."
And so our story begins.
What do you think? Any and all thoughts are welcome. Now I'm starting to remember why I liked this story.
Food for thought: If croutons are stale bread, why do they come in airtight packages?