Author's Notes- This story goes a bit of a new direction for me. I'm usually a very "light hearted" writer, but this story is a bit more dark and dramatic. For those who are twitchy about reading angst (I'm the same) I'll assure you that this story has a happy ending. Well actually it's more bittersweet, but it is a romance and InuYasha and Kagome do end up together so it's happy in that regard. :)
There are several mentions of the barrier at Hakurei-san in this chapter. If you're unfamiliar with it Hakurei-san (Mt. Hakurei) is the mountain the entire Shichinin-tai arc (Manga volumes 24-28 and Anime episodes 102-122) is based around. The mountain has a purifying barrier that I won't go into all the reasons and mechanics of but… basically it "purifies" youkai as well as even impure thoughts. When InuYasha went through the barrier it turned him human because it purified his youkai half. He returned back to his Hanyou state when Miroku and Sango destroyed the barrier by attacking the one who had cast it (The living Buddha Hakushin.) So that's what they're talking about.
Anyway, read, review, and enjoy.
UPDATE 4-05- This fic is a year old now. Wow. Several months ago I had a lovely beta job done by Kitsunenohikage on the fic. However, until recently I didn't have the time to make the revisions. I do now. They aren't very heavy, and the plots still the same. Still, it's smoother and there are some extra bits here and there. (As well as grammatical fixes.)
Jiji- rude term for "old man" or "grandpa"
Hakama- The kind of pants Inuyasha wears.
"In Order to Break Me"
By Kelly O'Connor
"I did it!" Kagome grinned in joy and satisfaction as she adjusted the quiver of arrows on her back to a more comfortable position. She glanced in front of herself, taking in with a small amount of pride the feat she had just performed. Ever since the modern day schoolgirl had begun her trips to the Sengoku Jidai she had been reminded over and over of her extraordinary, but fairly untapped miko abilities that came with being the carrier of the Shikon no Tama and the reincarnation of the great miko, Kikyou. However, although her powers came naturally when they were most needed, Kagome found that her and her companions' constant battle with Naraku left little time for her to train and tap into those supposed abilities.
What she had just performed was truly a step in the right direction in regards to utilizing those powers. A barrier, similar to those she had seen Kikyou cast a few times. Kagome had channeled the power through one of her signature arrows and with the correct concentration of her spirit the arrow had created a barrier encompassing the field she stood in upon hitting its mark- the bark of a tree on the far edge of the field. If it were done correctly, the barrier would allow her control over whom she wished to enter and exit it as long as it was in place. It was a protection spell, essentially.
A test as to if the barrier worked properly came only a few moments later, in the form of an approaching figure- Kagome's constant companion, the hanyou Inuyasha. The silver haired boy gave the barrier a puzzled look, as it appeared to him to be a blue-ish white light encircling the field. After a moment though, he registered the spiritual aura used to create the barrier as the one he was most familiar with… Kagome. He smiled lightly to himself, deep down proud of her accomplishments in developing her miko powers as of late, even if he didn't feel like admitting it to her face.
Inside the barrier, Kagome concentrated her powers when she noticed Inuyasha's attendance on the exterior. Willing the boundary to recognize Inuyasha's presence and allow him entrance, she beamed when the hanyou entered the barrier and approached her. "Hey, Inuyasha," Kagome smiled once he'd reached her side. Inuyasha "Keh-ed" lightly and averted his eyes, taking in his surroundings.
"This is a pretty big barrier Kagome," he said after a moment, complimenting her in his own fashion. "It would have been good had you learned these things back when we were fighting Naraku." Kagome looked mildly offended, and Inuyasha bit his lip. "I mean… well you're doing good and… keh," He cut himself off and blushed lightly.
"Thanks Inuyasha," She concentrated and released the barrier, content in it's success. "I wish I could have learned these things while we were still fighting Naraku as well." The modern miko paused to reflect on their recent defeat of Naraku.
It had only been a few months ago, and, as such the images were still fresh in her mind. She was happy to say that she had contributed a great deal to his defeat. Twin arrows fired by her and Kikyou; combined with a Bakuryuuha from Inuyasha on the already weakened Naraku had taken him down once and for all.
The battle had been long and difficult, and every single participant had come away with his or her share of injuries, both mental and physical. However, there had been no casualties on the side of those who fought against Naraku… except one; Kikyou, Kagome thought to herself. The stoic Miko had given her life during the battle, exhausting her spiritual powers to the point where even her shinidamachuu could do her no good.
Kagome knew though - and this brought her happiness - that in her death, Kikyou had finally found what she desired- peace. Her soul was now at peace after getting her vengeance on Naraku. It seemed that Inuyasha realized this as well, for he did not display sadness over her death. In fact, he had given her a somber smile as she passed on, as if realizing that this was where Kikyou could find the closest thing to happiness.
"But, even though I didn't then, I have to learn them now," Kagome glanced down to her neck, where the completed Shikon no Tama lay, the pink jewel hidden under the sailor collar of her school uniform. "Because I've gotta guard this." She smiled good-naturedly. After Naraku had been defeated, they had taken his portion of the Shikon jewel and then gathered the remaining shards to complete it: the two in Kouga's legs and the one in Kohaku, who had been revived with Sesshoumaru's Tenseiga due to the boy's friendship with Rin.
Now she'd openly accepted the duty of protecting it, although she and even Inuyasha spent most of their time in her era. When she was back in the Sengoku Jidai she knew that she had a duty and even though Inuyasha was continually by her side to help her, the desire to increase her miko ability was something she truly wanted to explore.
"Hmph, I know Kagome," Inuyasha looked away for a moment, "Kaede-baba wants you back at the village for something."
"For what?" Kagome inquired, slinging her bow over her shoulder and turning to her companion. Inuyasha shrugged.
"Keh, I don't know. Some people in a nearby village need your help with something." Kagome blinked in slight surprise.
"They need me for it?" the dark haired girl questioned for clarification. Inuyasha and her had been called to nearby towns to get rid of youkai who were after the jewel. However, the majority of the time not only did they call for both the miko and the hanyou but Inuyasha more often than not made it sound like they were asking for only him. Kagome would always go nevertheless, they always worked together. Inuyasha knew that.
"Yes, you Kagome," he reiterated, "Something about a barrier and how the guardian of the Shikon no Tama is the only one who can assist them or some stupid stuff like that." The teenage boy finished with a mumble. Kagome almost smirked.
"You're upset because they didn't ask for you, aren't you?" She poked his chest teasingly.
"Oi, what makes you think that?" he retorted lamely.
"Because you're a guy," she laughed, "And you're always looking for an excuse to wave that big sword around." Inuyasha put his hand on the hilt of his precious Tessaiga in reaction.
"Keh," was his only reply as he turned around and crossed his arms. "I'm coming anyway," Inuyasha finished. She nodded.
"Yes I know Inuyasha, I would have asked you to anyway." Kagome walked over to him and quickly linked his arm with hers, pulling him along on the road back to Kaede's village.
Kagome pushed the flap door to Kaede's hut open, Inuyasha following behind. Both of them gave a curious look to the occupant of the hut- for Kaede was not in there but someone else was. An elderly man was sitting in her place. When Kagome entered his eyes brightened and he smiled in hopeful anticipation.
"You are Kagome-sama, great miko and protector of the Shikon no Tama, are you not?" The man, who appeared to be even older than Kaede, questioned. Kagome nodded.
"Well, yes… I'm Kagome," She scratched the back of her head sheepishly, not exactly used to the accolade filled title she'd just been given. The schoolgirl sat down, and Inuyasha moved to sit down directly next to her.
"Good," the man nodded, "I am Shokubai, elder of a small village not too far from here. Your village miko Kaede-sama has gone off to tend to some matters and has left me to speak with you alone. May I be permitted to request something from you Kagome-sama?"
"Umm, of course," Kagome replied. Shokubai nodded and creased his wrinkled brows.
"Very well, I am forever grateful then," He paused, "Let me tell you what I'm needing." Kagome motioned him forward. "A little bit over fifty summers ago when I was but a boy, there was a spurt of attacks by youkai on our quaint village. A few lives were lost, and the villagers had no idea why the attacks were occurring. After it was all said and done, we found out it was because a group of youkai had been told our village was the one where the Shikon no Tama was being kept and guarded. In sorrow for what had come across our village due to the jewel, the current protector of it- the great miko, Kikyou-sama came and placed a barrier around our village."
Inuyasha visually flinched at the mention of the deceased miko and Kagome creased her brows in concentration. "Kikyou-sama was at the peak of her powers at that time and the barrier she cast was stronger than any she'd ever cast before. If a youkai came across it they were instantly obliterated upon contact- no trace of their bodies was to be found afterwards. This was Kikyou-sama's true strength, as the protector of the Shikon no Tama. Time has seen few miko more powerful than her." A small smile of admiration crossed the old man's lips. "As you know," he directed his gaze to the pair, "Kikyou-sama died fairly soon after this was done… however." Shokubai let out a breath. "The barrier did not."
"But don't barriers usually disappear if the caster of them dies?" Kagome questioned.
"Yes, usually. However Kikyou-sama's power was so great that even though she was gone, the work she had done as a miko remained. If one has enough ability, the spells they cast can continue, even after death." Inuyasha's eyes widened in slight realization and he placed his hand over his heart. When Kikyou sealed me, it remained… even in death. The only person who was able to break it was Kagome… who has her powers.
"Bah, well this barrier sounds pretty useful, why are you complaining?" Inuyasha questioned. The old man shot the hanyou a bit of a glare.
"Because I am not sure how strong it still is," He began again. "With the Shikon no Tama once again complete and accessible, the occupants of the village can't help but be afraid. The threat of youkai is all too real. We've seen them around our village. It frightens us."
"Well, Shokubai-sama… do you want us to exterminate the youkai?" Kagome inquired.
"No," The village elder sighed, "Kagome-sama, you are known to many as the reincarnation of the miko Kikyou-sama." Kagome winced and gritted her teeth. She didn't need this again after all this time. The old man noticed her expression. "I know you are your own person Kagome-sama but as her reincarnation, your powers are similar to that of Kikyou-sama."
"Okay, that I understand," Kagome nodded in reply.
"So we want you to check the barrier Kagome-sama, and if it is weakened we are hoping you can strengthen it once more. You are the only one who could potentially have the power to do this." He closed his eyes. "Our village is not well. We are small, and there are more elders and children than grown adults. We are afraid." Shokubai gave Kagome a desperate look. "Please Kagome-sama."
"I can't deny such a request," Kagome gave the man a warm smile, "I am not as powerful as you have heard though, I'm just learning barriers myself. Before I began guarding the Shikon no Tama, we were fighting an enemy that left me no time to learn to use my miko powers." She laughed lightly, "I mean I didn't even know I had them until my last birthday!" The old man seemed slightly surprised by her casual and warm-hearted attitude, no doubt remembering the stoic and firm concern that her past incarnation had displayed. "However, I would be more than happy to try and help you, okay?" The old man nodded in gratitude.
"Thank you Kagome-sama," He stood up and bowed to her. Kagome waved her hands.
"Oh no, no need for formalities! I assume that since you came here today you want us to go back and help now?"
"If you could, that would be so wonderful!" Shokubai exclaimed.
"All right then," Inuyasha brushed off his hakama and stood up. "Let's get this over with." The elder shot the silver haired boy a surprised look.
"Hanyou, it is Kagome-sama I requested, not you," He shot a glare at Inuyasha, who growled in irritation.
"Keh, jiji! I go wherever Kagome goes and if you have a problem with that then maybe you don't deserve Kagome's help anyway!" he snapped. Shokubai stepped back, intimidated.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome gave him a dangerous look and he crossed his arms in resignation. "Shokubai-sama, Inuyasha is right. We go everywhere together and he is more than welcome to accompany me on this trip. In fact… I'd like him to." Inuyasha cocked a smile of appreciation towards Kagome. Shokubai sighed.
"Kagome-sama that is not what I meant," he clarified, "I am aware of your relationship with this hanyou." Kagome and Inuyasha both blushed at his slight implications. "However, this barrier was set up to keep out youkai. If it destroys them upon impact, it would surely affect one who is only half youkai as well." He glanced from the hanyou to the miko, "And Kagome-sama, I am quite sure that losing him is a risk you would not wish to take." Kagome flinched.
"Inuyasha can come along," she decided after a moment's thought. "If he comes then we can get there quicker and also if there are any youkai, he can help defeat them." Kagome paused, "As long as he doesn't enter the barrier, it will be fine." She smiled. Shokubai nodded.
"Very well, Kagome-sama, shall we depart?" Kagome shook her head and grabbed her bow and arrows, adjusting them to a comfortable position and glancing outside. The mid-afternoon sun shone across the sky.
"How far is the village?" Kagome inquired.
"It took me just only since late morning to get here on my old feet, it's fairly close." he replied.
"Hmph, and how is it in all our travels we never came across this village if it's so close?" Inuyasha questioned.
"It is small, and there would be no reason for you to even desire stopping there. The fact that our village has this barrier is also fairly well known. If you were traveling with others they could have kept your group away from it due to the barrier." Kagome nodded.
"Especially Sango-chan, being a Taijiya she would most definitely know about it." The schoolgirl tapped her chin. Miroku, Sango, Kohaku, and Shippou were all currently in the process of rebuilding the old Taijiya village. Shippou had been reluctant to go with them but due to the fact that Kagome, and even Inuyasha, weren't in the past most of the time, he'd agreed in the end.
"Guess that makes sense." Inuyasha shrugged, "So let's get this thing over with." Shokubai sighed and grabbed his pack, leading the way out of the hut.
It was close to sunset when the trio reached the village. Traveling with an elderly man had slowed them down more than they anticipated, much to a certain hanyou's annoyance. The walk had been fairly silent, Inuyasha was more than a bit aggravated with the village elder and Kagome sensed the tension.
Upon reaching the village though, they quickly thought to set out on their mission. Inuyasha surveyed the village from their vantage point outside of it. He couldn't deny that he was aggravated he would have to stay behind. Shokubai wasn't joking though, Kagome and Inuyasha simultaneously thought. The village was small. A few huts lined each side of a small dirt path and there was a larger hut at the end where Shokubai presumably resided.
"So umm," Kagome ventured, "Let's get started." She shrugged. Shokubai nodded and led Kagome to the barrier. The modern miko exhaled. I really don't know what I'm doing here, she thought to herself as she walked into the barrier. Although it was invisible, the barrier gave off a warm peaceful feeling that made her know she'd entered it. Kagome wondered if those without miko abilities were able to feel that. The dark haired girl glanced back to Inuyasha outside the barrier and smiled assuredly. "I'll go as fast as I can Inuyasha!" she yelled to him, noticing that he was already tapping his foot in impatience.
"Kagome-sama, can you tell how strong it is?" Shokubai inquired. Kagome shook her head.
"I'm working on it," she answered as she placed her hands on where she knew the barrier had been cast. Concentrating her spirit as best as she knew how, Kagome searched for the threads that made up the spell Kikyou had cast to create this barrier. Breathing deeply, Kagome continued- trying to utilize what little training she had gained to figure this out. The spell felt cold, as if it had been cast with a heavy heart. If Kikyou was sorrowful about the village upon placing it, perhaps that's why it seems so… chilly. It was exhausting, utilizing her powers in this way and she wasn't at all sure what she was doing.
Concentrating deeper Kagome hissed in pain as she received a slight shock, there was something about this spell that even she couldn't touch at all. Is it that strong? Biting her lip, she continued. Okay now… Another, this time incredibly strong shock interrupted her thoughts "Aaaah!" Kagome screamed out loud, her body searing. She winced at the sudden extreme pain that had abruptly coursed through her body, pulled away from the barrier and fell away in a dead faint. Shokubai gasped in shock and immediately ran off to get another village for help, seemingly forgetting about the overprotective hanyou that was sitting outside the barrier.
From the outside of the barrier, the sight was even more unpleasant than Kagome could have imagined. Upon receiving the shock as the barrier rejected her powers, she'd been enveloped in what looked painfully like lightning.
A crackling blue light had snaked around her form as she screamed in pain and before Kagome had even hit the ground- Inuyasha was on his feet, barrier forgotten.
"KAGOME!" he yelled, worry evident in his hoarse scream as he ran towards her. But the barrier did not part ways for him and upon hitting it he felt his body tense up and pain strike through him in a way he'd never felt before. "SHIT!" he screamed as loud as he could, severely limited in that by the unimaginable agony that was lacing through his veins. Like he was being struck with arrows in every part of his body, ironically enough. Inuyasha tried to squirm, tried to pull back but he was like a spider caught in a web, he could not move. The barrier held him in place, lightning wrapping around his form as it gave him the feeling that he was literally being ripped apart.
"INUYASHA!" Kagome's voice entered his ears. She had clearly woken up from her fainting spell and although she was obviously screaming the pain and throbbing in his ears muted it to only a dull whisper. He tried to focus on her but he could make out nothing but the blue light that wrapped around him, in a cocoon of horrendous agony. Shit, this is nothing like Hakurei-san; there… his thoughts were a blur. I could pull back; I continued to go in by choice. This is different. What the fuck is it doing to me?
"Inuyasha!" Kagome yelled again, this time sobs filling her voice. Her voice was a dull echo, until he felt her arms snaking around his wrists. Kagome ignored the pain coursing through her body as she pulled the hanyou through the barrier. She would survive this but if she didn't pull him through, he may not. The raw miko power wrapped around both of them as Kagome continued to put all her will and strength into pulling her dearest companion to safety and finally, with one last agonizing scream of pain, she landed on her back with a thump, an unconscious Inuyasha on top of her.
Breathing heavily, Kagome opened her eyes. The pain didn't have any lasting effects once she was out of the barrier, although the memory of it was another thing entirely. "Inuyasha!" she croaked, her voice husky. Looking down to the unconscious teenager on her chest, she gasped in shock. Human, Kagome took in Inuyasha's now black hair. The barrier purified like he told me happened at Hakurei-san, and if so… if I destroy the barrier. A slight mumble cut off Kagome's thoughts. She looked down and noticed that Inuyasha was slowly opening his eyes. So the pain stopped for him once he was out of range of the barrier too?
"Kagome…" He whispered and cautiously pushed himself up, promptly noticing that he was in his human form as a forelock of hair fell within his view. "Shit!" Inuyasha snapped, "I guess you'll have to destroy the barrier like Miroku and Sango did when this happened." Inuyasha sighed, neither of them noticing the small crowd of villagers that had gathered about them. Kagome's eyes welled up once more and she threw her arms around the now human boy.
"Inuyasha!" she exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around her to return the embrace, "Oh, I was so worried about you!" She buried her face into his shoulder to reassure herself that he was okay.
"Kagome… I'm okay," Inuyasha rubbed her back gently and the two of them continued to sit there, wrapped in each other's comforting embrace, just reassuring each other that all was well.
A scream of terror interrupted their moment though, and Inuyasha and Kagome darted their heads up to see a horrified looking middle-aged woman glancing at something outside the barrier.
"You…youkai… and…" The woman cut herself off and Inuyasha and Kagome both quickly turned their heads to look outside the barrier.
There was indeed, a rather bizarre looking youkai emerging from the forest. It was about a third of the height of the tall trees it appeared out of and was brown and boar-like in appearance. "Keh- Kagome, destroy this barrier now and let me at that…" Inuyasha cut off his statement as, before his very eyes, the boar was obliterated in one swipe by a pair of sharp claws coming from behind the creature.
As the pieces of the dismembered and shredded youkai spread to the ground they revealed a figure that Kagome never in her entire life wanted to have to face again and one that Inuyasha had never actually seen. Eyes flashing blood red, fangs long and ferocious- body position firm and savage.
She'd brought him back by subduing him, by embracing him and offering him support. He'd brought himself back through the strength of his will but both of them knew that this time they wouldn't be able to do that. Because the heart and the mind that'd they'd both managed to save when Inuyasha found himself unable to hold back that instinct to survive, when that blood lustful form had taken over, that heart and mind was currently in another body. That of the human boy that was currently holding onto the miko for dear life.
"That barrier was nothing like Hakurei-san…" Kagome whispered in horror. Inuyasha gulped and tried to form his own thoughts.
"Kagome… when I went through that barrier I felt like I was being ripped apart, and…"
"That's because that's exactly what it did," Kagome finished in a hoarse voice and leaned over to cling to Inuyasha once more- him returning the favor.
Next chapter- Explanations, battles, and a true test of Kagome's miko powers. Will Inuyasha be able to save them… from himself?