A/N: This is my first Inuyasha fic. I do not think it's something special at all, but I merely wrote it to get it out of my thoughts. Seeing that there are very many ways of spelling the names, I've decided on the ones I liked most. And a thing about Sesshoumaru's severed arm. Which one? This question is solved now, thanks to RyokoYuy!! Thank you so much for explaining the page-turning-thing! I wouldn't have guessed!! This fic isn't beta-ed yet.
In too deep
Chapter I: Underestimated
As the bloodred sun sank down under the horizon, the wind picked up speed, blowing the fallen leaves up and around. The twilight gave the forest a golden hue, making the autumn colours of the trees even more beautiful. Winter was approaching fast.
Kagome lent back against a large tree, and just took the scene in. It soothed her worn-out emotions somewhat, making her forget her problems temporarily. The forest always had given her some peace; even as a child, she loved playing in a forest. So many things to discover, so many plants and animals to see. Even now, she often stopped, to admire a very old tree, or to point Shippo at some rare flowers. Her mother had done to the same things with her, thus making her aware of the beauty of nature.
She shivered, and pulled her jacket closer around her. It was actually too thin, and gave her almost no extra warmth. And her uniform underneath it was no better. She should go back home, and get some clothes more fitting to the changing seasons, but she was afraid that she, once home, couldn't bring up the courage and determination to come back and to expose herself to the problems of her life in the Sengoku Jidai
Of course, racing a homicidal, insane and sadistic hanyou for the last remaining shards was exhausting, and at times very dangerous and unrewarding, but that was not the reason why she was currently at the end of her rope. No, that was the blame of another hanyou.
Inuyasha... She sighed deeply, while she absent-mindedly played with the hem of her skirt. She stared down at it, but saw nothing. Instead, many memories were played out in front of her eyes, making her relive them, time after time.
It brought her back to times, when Inuyasha had lied to her, by going after Kikyo, and not telling her. That was what hurt the most; his obvious carelessness to inform her about major decisions in his life; decisions which effected her as well! His painful dismissal of her feelings, the contempt towards her loyalty and friendship she offered him. Even love... She had learned quickly to strengthen her heart against his stinging and cruel remarks and insults. Her crush had already faded, and her love was wasting away, out of neglect and due to too many humiliations. But the most painful thing of all was the continuing rejection of her friendship and loyalty. Like he was almost afraid to get close to her, like it was a betrayal to his old love- now revived. He had to be a masochist; Kikyo hated him, and tried to hurt him at every opportunity, and yet, he kept meeting her, loving her. And when he looked at her, Kagome, he saw something that resembled his loved one, but came short in many, many ways,... if you'd believe him.
She always had her up and downs in her relationship with Inuyasha, but the past few months, it had only deteriorated... She had tried everything she could come up with, to strengthen their shaky friendship, but he wouldn't co-operate. It only seemed to annoy him. She had become very frustrated, and had begun to doubt herself even more than before. What was wrong with her, that she couldn't even keep a friendship with the man she loved?
But maybe things weren't her fault. Maybe, she had done the best she could, and now should better forget him? Find somebody else, someone who would give a damn about her feelings? She had been told several times, that she wasn't unworthy of the hanyou, no it was the other way around! She smiled ruefully; she didn't care; she wanted no-one else... Right? It seemed that some people claimed otherwise...
One person in particular; he seemed to know her so well; he saw through her defences and masks. She was as an open book to him. However the greatest mystery he had ever encountered. She buried herself into her jacket, like she was hiding from painful memories. He scared her, in more ways than one. She was weak to admit it, but only to herself! For him, she stood proud, never to back down. Never to avoid his piercing gaze. Unwillingly, her thought were yet again centred around him. He was a... problem, yes. He doubled her anxiety, her worries, and her fatigue. She didn't know how much longer she could take the stress. Maybe she should go home...
Her memories drifted back to the day when her life got a whole lot more complicated...
It was just three weeks ago, on a beautiful day in early autumn. They were on their way back to Kaede's village, after having successfully found and retrieved a Shikon shard. The battle had been a hard one, injuring Inuyasha quite badly, and bringing minor injuries to the rest of the group. Kagome hoped that once they'd arrive in the village, Inuyasha would allow them some time to rest and heal, even if it was only for his own wounds. Still, they had been quite happy, and even Inuyasha let up on his constant grumbling.
The peace was not meant to be; suddenly, Inuyasha sniffed the air curiously. Demon, was the first thing that came to Kagome's mind and she was soon proved right when Inuyasha growled and drew the Tetsusaiga. Everyone was immediately on edge, but before anyone had the time to ask what was wrong, Inuyasha sprang into action; he swung the sword at a couple of trees.
It was blocked.
Swords were pulsing with power, but behind the owner stood; the stoic and cold presence of the Great Demon Lord of the West, Sesshoumaru. As Inuyasha was straining with his blade against the Toukijin, the taiyoukai was having no troubles at all at keeping Inuyasha at bay; he almost looked bored. Then, with a casual fleck of his wrist, Sesshoumaru threw Inuyasha backwards.
All the while, Kagome, Sango and Miroku stood at the side, all bracing their weapons. Shippou had hidden himself half behind Kagome, snarling at the Demon Lord. Kagome frowned; Sesshoumaru seemed even more confident than usual. And strong, very strong. They hadn't heard nor seen him in a couple of months. Kagome wondered where he had been up to. She shuddered; he always succeeded in frightening her, just with his presence alone. The memories of all their previous encounters were still fresh on her mind. Still, she refused to give into that fear. She notched an arrow on her bow, and watched nervously.
Inuyasha jumped to his feet, ready for the fight. He growled at his brother: "What do you want now? Doesn't it get through that thick skull of yours that you just can't get Tetsusaiga?! You can't even touch it," taunted Inuyasha. "Or maybe you just want to have your ass kicked again? By the way, how's the left arm?"
Sesshoumaru didn't react to Inuyasha's baiting, which wasn't unexpected, but instead, he smiled a very cold and cruel smile.
"Now that you ask, hanyou, it's quite fine, thank you."
Kagome frowned; what did he mean by that?
"Ha! Got yourself another replacement? We'll see what you've come up with this time!" Inuyasha was full of confidence.
"Replacement? No." Still that cold, satisfied smile adorned his lips, giving Kagome shivers. What was he up to?
Suddenly, the left sleeve of Sesshoumaru's kimono, which appeared to be empty, was lifted, and a hand appeared. Long, gracious fingers with the feared claws, and the magenta stripes adorned the wrist.
Oh... Oh no. This is not good! Kagome gasped and the feeling of approaching disaster deep in her stomach grew stronger.
"What!" Exclaimed Miroku. "How?!"
"He got his arm back!" Sango's voice sounded intimidated.
"Maybe he 'borrowed' another one?!" Miroku suggested.
"No, it's his own! Look at the claws, and the stripes! They're identical to the ones on his other wrist! This arm is definitely his own..." Kagome bit her lip.
"How is this possible? Can he regenerate lost body parts? Or is this the cause of magic?" Sango wondered aloud.
The others didn't answer; how could they, if they didn't have a clue themselves?
Inuyasha stared at his brother, dumbfounded. "How?" Was the only thing that came out of him.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Sesshoumaru gave him a mocking smirk, and proudly twisted his left wrist, as like testing it's flexibility.
Inuyasha seemed to recompose himself, and lowered himself in a fighting stance. "New arm or not, if you think you can take the sword from me, you're delirious."
"We'll see about that, won't we?" And suddenly he was gone; he moved to fast for human eyes to see. The next thing Kagome saw was Inuyasha desperately blocking the Toukijin's swings directed at him.
Seeing Sesshoumaru fight was like watching a very graceful, powerful and most of all deadly dance. A dance which seemed to cost him no effort at all. Kagome had to admit that in some strange way, it thrilled her; she knew that if it hadn't been aimed to kill them , she could have enjoyed watching him with awe and respect. Now, she was franticly trying to figure out a way to stop him from killing Inuyasha. Because this time, he was more serious than ever in achieving his goal.
After they had survived this attack, she would deal with this strange feeling she got from looking at the fighting Youkai. Inuyasha would not be pleased if he found out that somehow his precious sharddetector was having feelings like a grudging respect and admiration for his hated half-brother.
However, as she watched on, the surviving part could turn out to be very difficult; she could clearly tell that Inuyasha was using all his strength and speed to avoid the Demon Lord's attacks, while Sesshoumaru only seemed to be warming up. He's playing with him, came the sudden realisation. She could tell, by the coldly amused smirk and the cruel look in his eyes.
Kagome saw the frustrated and angered look on the face of Inuyasha. Inuyasha wounds were clearly bothering him, but still, not at much as Kagome had feared. Luckily, he healed fast. However, she knew what this did to Inuyasha; it was making him feel even more insecure about his own strengths. Only Sesshoumaru succeeded in making him doubt his own capabilities. It made Inuyasha even more determined in completing the Shikon no Tama, and make his wish to become a full demon. Everything, to become worthy in his brother's eyes. It would be of no use, Kagome thought miserably; Sesshoumaru would never look at Inuyasha with anything else but hatred and disgust. She knew that Inuyasha didn't recognise his own desire to be considered as an equal in his brother's eyes. Instead, it manifested itself as a need for revenge.
There was no time to be contemplating Inuyasha's traumas from his youth, nor his brother's part in them. Inuyasha only just avoided a killing blow to the chest. Worry and fatigue was etched on his face, but still he fought on, not wanting to admit a defeat. Because admitting defeat here, would mean his death. Suddenly, Sesshoumaru struck with his left hand, poison glistening on his claws, sinking deep in Inuyasha's right shoulder. Inuyasha staggered from the blow, and fell to his knees. He was panting as he clutched his wounded shoulder with one hand. The other brought the Tetsusaiga up, and just in time; the Toukijin was stopped from his deadly descent towards Inuyasha's head. But he was visibly struggling to keep it up, and soon, his last bit of strength would leave him too.
I've got to help him! Was Kagome's last rational thought before she let loose her arrow, which was glowing with her mysterious powers. Powers, of which she was still unsure how to use them; they came from somewhere deep inside her, but she lacked total control over him.
The arrow hit true; it shattered the taiyoukai's armour. Well, I sure cost him some armour! Was her completely irrational thought. But at the same time, she had fired two more arrows. One missed, another clashed with the Toukijin, making showers of energy erupting from the evil sword. Sesshoumaru ducked from another arrow, but was shocked when one nicked his shoulder, leaving a shallow wound, which was however hurting like hell. Miko powers.
She had succeeded from diverting Sesshoumaru's attention from Inuyasha, only to have it directed at her instead. She didn't hesitate, nor falter under his heavy stare, but kept shooting her arrows. Where her speed, or her accuracy came from, she did not know, but it enabled her to keep the Lord occupied.
He narrowed his eyes at her, and she felt cold dread tingle up her spine. She heard the shouts of her friends, but they were vague, muffled. She was solely concentrating on her bow and arrows, filling them with her power.
All of a sudden, one pierced his right hand. Both shocked, Kagome and Sesshoumaru looked at the arrow, pulsating with her purifying energy. With a fierce growl, he wrenched it through his hand, and dropped it to the ground. When he looked up again, at the little Miko, he saw her aiming one right at his heart. Usually, he would have laughed at her, and dared to shoot it, knowing he could easily snatch it from the air. However, how did one actually pierce his hand? How could they be this fast? He felt her power wreck through his blood, making him even more wary of her powers. Where did those come from? How did she got them? Last time he saw her, she was not even close to possessing something like this...
Would he take his chances and still charge at her? Maybe it was wiser to first completely understand the source and nature of the little creature's power. Then, he would attack.
"This, little Miko, is not over."
And with that said, he was gone.
Kagome leaned her head back against the rough bark and stared at the cloudless sky, which was quickly darkening. Venus was starting to appear, signalling the beginning of the night. Everything around her seemed so peaceful, almost mocking the turmoil of her mind and heart.
She still didn't know why or how her power had manifested itself so strongly that day. And even though she felt quite happy about her accomplishment, it had been the cause of her problems. However, she felt more valuable to the group now; she had a way to defend herself, even fight! No longer was she a bystander, a weakness that had to be protected. Inuyasha had told her many times before how useless she was, a liability and a nuisance when they fought; he had made her feel very guilty and very insecure about herself. Kagome frowned. He did still; he only had to make a off-handed remark about Kikyou, and her self-esteem was gone. It was true; she didn't have a perfect control over them, and Inuyasha sure rubbed that in. The burning question in her mind since a long time was: did he know how much it hurt her, or was it just his mood that made him say those things, and he wasn't even aware of their venom?
She closed her eyes; she was so very tired of it all. She now wished that day had never come to pass. It caused another major fight to happen between her and Inuyasha. There had been some pretty harsh things said, and even now she could still feel the disbelief, the hurt and the outrage at his words. All this because she dared to interfere in a fight which, he said, he could have easily won...
Kagome fell to the ground, gasping for breath, and all the while thanking the fates for bringing her this much good luck. She looked at her hands in disbelief and awe; they were still glowing. How had she managed to do this?
Miroku sat down beside her, a very relieved look on his face. "Kagome... That was... unbelievable. I am impressed." Admiration shone in his eyes, making Kagome blush.
"Ehh, well, I don't know how I did it... Or if I can do this again..."
"Don't worry," Sango said happily, "I think things will be a lot easier from now on."
"You were really... cool!" Shippou exclaimed, having remembered that word from her. "And you really kicked his butt!"
"Language, Shippou," Kagome said sternly, but grinned at the energetic little fox.
"But... Inuyasha says much worse things!"
"Oh. You want to sound like Inuyasha, then?" Kagome asked innocently.
"No!" He said disgusted. Kagome laughed; at his antics, at the relief that she felt and at the tingling feeling of her awoken power. Laughing just seemed the way to let it out.
It was soon over when she looked up an saw a wounded, but irate hanyou standing before her.
She jumped up. "Sorry! I forgot- Are you all right? He didn't hurt you really bad? Did he? Come on, sit down and-"
"Shut up!" He yelled, and snarled at her.
Kagome took a step back, confused and shocked. What was wrong?
"What's wrong?" She voiced her confusion.
"You stupid wench! Always so eager to get into the middle of a fight, aren't you?" He threw those words at her, making her even more confused.
"Always thinking you can get away with anything! Always assuming everything will be all right, that I come along and save you!"
Aha. He was worried, she thought, and a warm feeling washed over her. However that feeling was crushed when Inuyasha continued:
"You always want to be the centre of everything! You had no fucking right to- to... to steal this fight from me! I could have handled that idiot myself! But no; you had to came and get all glowy! And you think you've achieved something! Ha! It's nothing compared to Kikyou! You're nothing! How could you even think that my half-brother would have thought you a worthy opponent?! Now, he's gone again, and so is my chance to finally kill that son of a bitch!"
She did understand it, she really did: He had failed to protect them, failed in defeating his brother. Instead, a girl had scared the taiyoukai away. It must be blow to his self-confidence and pride. And who was the most suitable person to take it out on? Well, here you have the reincarnation of his former love. Why not pick her? Kagome felt a bitter feeling wash over her at hearing his words. Why must he always drag Kikyou into this?
"Stop it!" Came it suddenly. Sango marched right up to Inuyasha and pushed the startled hanyou back.
"You ungrateful..." Sango was fuming, but couldn't find a good word to describe him.
"Dork? Bastard?" Offered Shippou helpfully. He bared his teeth at Inuyasha; so very angry with him for yelling all these things to Kagome.
"Yes! You are an ungrateful bastard! She saved you, and probably all of us, and you have such a large ego that you can't even acknowledge that! No; now that ego is hurt you got to take it out on someone. Well, go to that stupid Kikyou and use her as an outlet for your anger! I bet she can appreciate it! Then, you can both grumble about hate, and unfairness! But leave Kagome alone! You got that!?" By now, she was dangerously swinging her Hiraikotsu at him.
"I completely agree with Sango. You are acting like a child. Now, sit down and shut up, and let us take care of those wounds." Miroku glared at Inuyasha.
"You can go to hell, all of you!" And suddenly he bolted, and had disappeared in the forest.
"Inuyasha!" Kagome yelled after him. "Come back!" Then, softly: "You're hurt..."
Miroku sighed deeply at seeing the worried look in Kagome's eyes. "He's not worthy of your feelings. All he does is hurting you. I don't know how you can put up with it... And why does he do it?"
"Maybe because he thinks that I... I think he's so very confused... He still doesn't really know how to handle his hurt or anger. The only way he knows to blow off steam, is to take his anger or pain out on somebody else... I think that I'm just convenient for it." Miroku looked at her sympathetically
"Come on, let's go. There's no use in staying here. He'll catch up with us." Sango started to walk again, followed by the others. Shippou walked beside Kagome, grasping her hand tightly.
"Yeah," she asked absent-mindedly.
"Don't listen to him, Kagome. He's a real dork. He's so stupid."
"It isn't easy for him, you know; all these fights, and than his brother too."
"So what? He should be a lot nicer."
"I was really worried there, you know. I thought that Sesshoumaru was going to kill you."
"Me too. I guess we were lucky."
They had made camp that evening, but still Inuyasha was nowhere to be found. She was getting sick with worry, and sick with the images she conjured for herself. Maybe he was out there, dying, or being attacked by something, and couldn't escape, and... Or, maybe... She really didn't want to think about it...
She had worked herself into a frenzy, unable to sit down, or to read or sleep. Instead, she had taken a short walk through the forest, within screaming range of the camp of course, to seek some peace and quiet. She wanted to sort the events and feelings out, and try to forget the hurtful words of Inuyasha. It had proven to be her biggest mistake yet.
She let herself fall down with a very deep sigh, and looked at the faint glow of the campfire. She bit her lip; she was upset, but she didn't want to cry. Not now. She was so tired already. If she was to cry now, she wouldn't be able to stop, and only succeeded in wearing herself out. So, she fought back the tears, even if the thought of letting it all out for once was so appealing. She hugged herself; it was getting a bit chilly now, and she was only wearing her uniform. She had forgotten her jacket; it was probably lying somewhere in her sleeping bag.
Once more she sighed, then stood up, and dusted herself off. It was better to get back at the camp anyway; it was getting very silent, and it was freaking her out! Like something was approaching... Or about to happen, or- Once again, she had successfully managed to scare the wits out of herself. Really, that had to stop sometime soon.
Kagome took a step towards the camp, when she suddenly heard a twig snap. She whirled around, ready for anything... Or so she thought. Suddenly she was up close and personal with someone's... armour? Oh Gods, no! Her mind screamed. Run!
However, before she could even so much as move, she was up in the air, dangling from a single clawed hand that was locked around her throat, making it very difficult to breath. It was just one thing that registered in her mind:
She was clutching his hand with both of hers, trying to lift the pressure of her throat, but to no avail. She looked at him; he stood there, face hard and cold, staring at her. No emotions were seen on his deceptively angelic face. How could someone so beautiful be so... cruel? And cold. And homicidal. The only thing that was betraying somewhat of what he was feeling was his mouth. It stood grim, lips pressed tightly together. I'm going to die! Kagome thought franticly. His claws were pressing in the soft skin, drawing blood in some places.
Suddenly he raised his other hand, and Kagome gasped, if that was so much as possible. His right hand it was, and it had a large, festering wound in it. A wound caused by her arrow. She still didn't have a clue how it had actually got in his hand.
"You see this? How did you do this to me? How, Miko! What kind of power is it, that it almost doesn't heal? Speak up, wench!" He all but growled at her.
Kagome whimpered; even though he seemed calm and composed, he was bordering on rage!
"I-I don't know!" She managed to bring out.
"Don't lie to this Sesshoumaru!"
"I'm not!! I d-don't know how I did it... I don't know what it does! It just... was there suddenly!" She had no idea how to explain the sudden rush of power had felt; she didn't even know if she could do it again!
He snarled at her, baring his sharp fangs, and suddenly pulled her closer, until their faces were only a breath apart. She stared helplessly, frightened into his golden eyes, now speckled with red.
"I will find out. I will know what your power is. And then, after you have served your purpose, I'll kill you." He then dropped her to the ground, and when she looked up, he was gone...
She climbed on her wobbly feet, and carefully touched her throat. That was sure going to bruise, and there was some little puncture wounds. How was she going to hide this from her friends? Because she was going to do that. Why? Because she didn't want to get her friends involved... In whatever the Demon Lord wanted... Was he really going to kill her? What was it that he wanted from her? She didn't understand how the Inuyoukai worked... Maybe, he would just forget about her. Right, maybe. And as long as he wasn't going to do anything more than roughen her up a bit, she had no desire to bring Inuyasha into this... There was just no telling what could happen...
Kagome shoved the red tie of her uniform somewhat higher over her throat. Though it hurt, she hoped that it, together with the darkness, would hide the skin. Tomorrow, she would think of something better.