Chapter 2

Grudges and Grief

"InuYasha . . ." Kagome whispered, stepping back and stumbling with a wince as she missed the next step and came down hard on her already injured leg.

Crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back to glare down at her; he snorted loudly and drew a deep breath while Kagome cringed and waited for the verbal onslaught that she knew was brewing. It never came. Lifting his chin as he sniffed the air, he frowned as he stared at her, as his eyebrows drew together in a marked scowl. "You're hurt," he stated, his tone accusing, as though she had injured herself on purpose just to thwart his tirade. "Where?"

It took Kagome's overstressed mind a few seconds to comprehend what he was asking. Apparently tired of being kept waiting, he bent down and, locating the scent through her pants, he ripped the side of the leg from bottom to mid-thigh in his search for the hidden injury.

"InuYasha!" she gasped, jerking her leg away from his tearing claws. The movement threw off her balance, and she swung her arms as she tried to steady herself before she fell. He caught her, bringing her flush against his chest as he steadied her on her feet. She gasped again as her stomach turned inside out, as her breath caught in her throat. Being so close to him was like being too close to the edge of a cliff---the lurch in her stomach plummeting a thousand feet while her body struggled to catch up. Heart pounding in her chest, a delicious sense of giddy sensation washed over her even as her cheeks blossomed in a significant flush, Kagome tried to remember to breathe.

A strange light glowed behind his gaze, the intensity wrapped around her, making her knees weak, making her light-headed. Glaring, sure, but something else brewed just below the surface, a strange glow that she'd seen in his eyes once before, so long ago that she thought maybe she had dreamed it all in her head. 'That time he looked through me and saw Kikyou . . . when he tried to kiss me . . .' she thought wildly, her pulse tattooing an unsteady rhythm through her body. "Let go," she whispered in a last-ditch effort to keep herself from dissolving in a puddle at his feet.

Her words seemed to bring him back to reality, too, and as quickly as he had wrapped his arms around her, they dropped away. "Keh! Fucking clumsy bitch," he growled.

Kagome flushed. "Did you come here just to insult me?" she asked tightly.

He sighed. She peeked up at him. Not given to sighs and other 'weak' human sounds, whatever it was that had compelled him to come after her must have been important. Kagome swallowed hard as a suspicious sense of foreboding welled up inside her.

"Sango needs you," he grumbled.

Shaking her head in denial as she started to back up, InuYasha caught her before she tumbled back down the shrine steps, but he let go of her just as quickly as she steadied her footing. Something about the darkness shrouding his gaze . . . Kagome choked out a little whimper. "Oh, no . . ."

She hurried up the shrine steps. InuYasha didn't follow. "Kagome . . ."

"Come on, InuYasha!" she called as she kept moving.

"I think it's different this time. I think . . . she's acting weird."

.Ready to yell at him for being an insensitive jerk, Kagome turned her incredulous stare on the hanyou only to find him standing where she'd left him, staring off into the shadows of the night. There was a strange sense of weariness in his eyes, a disturbingly defeated air in the way his shoulders slumped just a little. As though he were carrying the weight of the world on his back---as though he were genuinely worried for a friend. "What's she doing?" Kagome asked quietly.

InuYasha shook his head. "She won't let them take it. Miroku, Kaede . . . hell, even I tried. I don't think she understands that it's dead."

Kagome sighed, her heart aching for her friend. "Maybe she just needs a little time to say goodbye to the baby," she said quietly. "Maybe trying to take it from her is only making it worse."

"But it's . . . it never . . . fuck! That don't make any sense!"

"Maybe not to you, you emotionally stunted baka. Sango's more sensitive. Come on; let's go."

"There ain't a damn thing wrong with my emotions, bitch!" InuYasha shot back though he did start climbing the steps. "Let me go hunt down that miserable little bastard, and I'll prove it."

"What miserable little---"

"The one you had your damn lips all over!"

Kagome stopped mid-step and turned to glare at InuYasha. "Why do you care who I kiss?"

"I don't care who you kiss, but until we get rid of the jewel, you're not allowed to kiss anyone!"


"Because I fucking said so!" he bellowed as he snatched her off the ground and sprinted back toward the well-house.

"That's the stupidest bit of reasoning I've ever heard!" she yelled, not even bothering to try to struggle. It wouldn't do her any good, anyway. "If you're going to make a stupid rule like that then at least come up with a decent reason!"

"Keh! Shut the hell up! You're making my head hurt!"

"Good, baka!"

Leaping into the well, InuYasha shot her a sulking glower. Kagome barely noticed as the time slip opened up to accept them. "And another thing! You still owe me an apology for being so mean before I came back!"

"All right! I'm sorry you didn't go back when you said you would."

"Ooh!" Clamping her mouth closed and resolved to ignore the hanyou even if it killed her; Kagome crossed her arms over her chest and wrinkled her nose in disgust. 'The nerve of him sometimes! So maybe he's irritated that Houjou kissed me, and maybe he is worried about Sango . . . still, why does he have to be so . . . so . . . mean?'

Landing lightly on the ground on the other side of the well, Kagome had to hold onto him as he leapt out. She let go of his neck as soon as his feet met the grass, whereupon he promptly dropped her then calmly stepped over her prone body as he stomped off toward the forest. Staring at him in drop-mouthed indignation, Kagome rolled to her feet and ran after the hanyou as best as she could. It was a good thing he was walking because she couldn't move very quickly.

"That hurt, you know," she pointed out as she stepped in his path.

"Did it? Why don't you go find your human and have him kiss it?"

She narrowed her eyes as her face shot up in embarrassed color since the part that hurt was her bruised rear---and her pride. "Maybe I should," she huffed as she turned on her heel to stalk away with as much dignity as she could muster. Unfortunately it wasn't much since her sore knee and now sore bottom weren't willing to cooperate.

"Can't you move any faster than that?" InuYasha growled.

"No, I can't. I hurt my knee, remember? Then you dropped me on my---Then you dropped me."

"Keh!" Sweeping her up once more, Kagome wrapped her arms around his neck since she didn't feel like being dropped again.

'If it weren't for my being injured, I'd make him put me down,' she assured herself. 'Besides, I can put up with his temper. Sango needs me.' She sighed, her gaze falling to the path that InuYasha's sped over. 'Who am I kidding? I love it when he carries me around. I just wish he wasn't in such a bad mood . . . and it was his fault I ended up kissing Houjou. If I hadn't heard him growling . . .' She sighed again.

"Do you . . . do you like that guy?"

Kagome blinked in surprise at InuYasha's soft tone more than at his question. "Houjou, you mean?"

He was staring straight ahead with a discernable frown and a slight tinge of pink dusting his cheeks. Kagome's heart sped up, hammering wildly against her ribcage. "Sure . . . he's nice enough," she replied, trying to keep the slight tremor out of her voice.

"Oh." Dropping to a fast walk as he entered the outskirts of the village, he stopped long enough to let Kagome down before he started striding away.

"InuYasha?" she called after him, brow furrowing in confusion at his strange behavior.

"I ain't apologizing," he tossed back over his shoulder, "because I ain't sorry!"

With yet another sigh, Kagome shook her head as she turned to stare at Sango and Miroku's hut and hurried inside.

Miroku sat by the fire staring into the flames without seeing. Kaede sat beside him. Even Shippou was silent, his tiny hands folded together in his lap, shoulders slumped, chin lowered in quiet respect. Kagome hugged Miroku's shoulders. He didn't acknowledge her action. "How is she?"

Kaede shook her head. "Why don't ye check on her? Perhaps ye will have more luck convincing her to let go of the babe."

Kagome nodded and headed toward the small back room. "Sango?" she called softly as she stepped inside. "Sango, I'm so sorry . . ."

The room was bathed in a desolate glow from a single candle sitting in the middle of the floor. Casting the room in severe studies of shadow and light, Kagome bit back a sob at the sorrow defined on Sango's ashen face.

"He's so tiny," Sango said softly, her voice barely a whisper. "He's got ten fingers and the littlest feet . . . He looks so perfect, so why . . .?"

Approaching her friend slowly, Kagome knelt beside the pallet and leaned her head to the side to stare at the blanket-wrapped baby. "Can I see him?" A sudden wariness blazed to life in Sango's eyes as she instinctively jerked the baby out of Kagome's reach. Kagome forced a smile. "I just meant to ask if you could uncover his face? I'll bet he's beautiful."

Blinking back tears, Sango nodded and carefully uncovered the infant's head. "They all tried to take him," Sango explained, her voice tinged with a territorial fierceness: a mother protecting her child. "They all wanted to take him, and I know . . . but I can't . . ."

"It's all right, Sango," Kagome said softly. "I won't let them take your baby, until you're ready."

Two fat tears slid down the youkai exterminator's face. "I want to give him a name," she rasped out. "He deserves a name, doesn't he?"

Kagome nodded. "Do you have a name you want to give him?"

Sango smiled sadly. "Hideaki."

"That's a perfect name."

Sango sighed. "Kagome, do you think . . . do you think I could bathe him? No one bathed him, and . . ."


She got up slowly and headed back out to the others. This time, everyone looked up at her expectantly, as though they all thought she'd be able to take the baby from Sango. "I need water and towels," she finally said. Miroku's expression darkened as he opened his mouth to protest. Kaede interrupted. "She must not be left with the soulless child."

"Soulless?" Kagome echoed angrily. "He's a baby!"

"The rites have been performed," Miroku said quietly. Kagome knew that he had to be in just as much pain as Sango, but Sango . . . Sango deserved time to mourn in her own way, much like Miroku did. The difference was the way in which they expressed their grief. "His soul has passed on."

"Sango needs this," she insisted quietly. "Can't you let her have this time? She's not hurting anyone; she just wants to mourn her child."

"Aw, leave her alone, will you?" InuYasha grumbled as he pushed through the bamboo door covering. "If I ain't damned for being what I am, then she ain't gonna be damned for holding her pup."

Kagome blinked in surprise as InuYasha plopped down, leaning against the wall beside the door as he wrapped his arms around Tetsusaiga. "Thank you, InuYasha," she murmured, still staring at him in unabashed wonder.

He caught her gaze and blushed. "Keh. I can be sensitive," he muttered.

Hiding her little smile, she grabbed the water bucket and a few towels before returning to Sango.

"Would you like me to help you?" Kagome offered as she set the thing down beside her friend's pallet.

"No, I can, but . . . I sewed a small kimono . . ." she trailed off as she inclined her head toward the small chest against the wall. Kagome nodded and stepped over to retrieve the tiny outfit. It never ceased to amaze her, the things Sango could do. If it wasn't enough that she was fearless on the battlefield, the exterminator could cook circles around Kagome, could sew faster than a machine, tended her garden with love and precision . . .

The unfairness of the entire situation hit Kagome again. Watching her friend so lovingly bathe her stillborn son was like a knife in Kagome's heart. 'Oh, Sango . . .'

"Kagome . . . Miroku said we can try again . . . but I don't know if I can try again . . ." Shaking her head, she sniffled as Kagome knelt down beside her. "What's wrong with me? Why can't I have a baby?"

"Sango . . ." Kagome murmured as she reached out and hugged her friend. Had she ever felt so powerless in her life? Closing her eyes, she wished once more that she could take away Sango's pain, wished she could make her understand that it wasn't her fault. "I'm sorry," she whispered as Sango sobbed silently against her shoulder. 'It seems so stupid . . . all I can say is that I'm sorry, and that doesn't really help . . .' She sighed, rubbing Sango's back. Sango was normally so strong, so able to control her emotions. She didn't often give into grief like this, and seeing her suffering was breaking Kagome's heart. 'If she could only get through the well . . . doctors in my time make miracles happen every day . . .'

Sitting up and wiping her eyes, Sango hiccupped and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Kagome . . . I didn't mean to fall apart on you."

"No! It's fine! Let's see how Hideaki looks in his kimono."

With a soft sob, Sango smiled through her tears. "All right."


The night was unseasonably cold. She could see her breath solidify in a fog before her face. Wrapping her arms around herself as she broke into a light jog and ignoring the slight throbbing in her knee, she felt her heart speed up in time with her plodding feet. She told herself that she didn't want to disturb anyone. The idea had come to her as she lay on her pallet, unable to sleep. She had a hunch that her real reason for not telling anyone was because she didn't want to get anyone's hopes raised only to be dashed, and, in worst-case, she didn't want a certain irritable hanyou nixing her plan before she even had a chance to try.

Luck was with her. The chilly night air was welcome against her lightly perspiring skin as she broke into a faster run when she reached the meadow. Warmed from inside by the exercise, Kagome slowed to a purposeful stride as she closed in on the Bone Eater's Well. Reaching up to unhook the delicate chain, she held the sparkling jewel in her hands and stared at it. 'A pure wish, right?' she mused as she let the orb roll around her palm. The iridescent shades of pink flecked with purple and even white glowed in the moonlight.

'It's not a wish for me,' she reasoned. Sure, she'd be able to use the well, too, but she could do that already, and true, she had tried to use the jewel to keep the well open before, but this time was different. It was for Sango, so Sango could see modern doctors and maybe have a baby of her own.

Clearing her mind of everything, intent on the warmth that emanated from the Shikon no Tama, Kagome closed her eyes, held the jewel against her heart, focused on the one thing that would make Sango happy. 'She's lost so much . . . Please, hear my wish . . .' Waiting, holding her breath, hoping for a sign that the wish had been heard, Kagome squeezed her eyes closed a little tighter, eyebrows drawing together as she frowned in concentration.

And . . . Nothing happened.

Kagome's sigh was startlingly loud. Hands dropping to stomach-level, she stared at the jewel in her palms.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

Stifling a groan, she turned to face InuYasha. Arms folded together under the cover of his fire rat haori, he glowered at her in the moonlight, eyes glowing, head cocked to the side.

Lifting her chin defiantly despite the flush that crept up her cheeks, Kagome mustered all her bravado, projecting it into her voice. "I was trying to open the well so Sango could go to my time to see a doctor. They could help her . . ."

"Keh! I could have told you that wouldn't work, bitch. Besides that, you've already tried that wish once. If it didn't work then, it wouldn't work now."

Trying to hide the hurt his words and caustic tone caused her, Kagome looked away but didn't let her chin drop. "I had to try."

"Oh, and while we're at it, why don't you tell me why the hell you're out running around in the middle of the night alone?" InuYasha went on as though he hadn't heard her at all.

"'We' weren't 'at' anything," Kagome remarked, careful to keep her tone even, "and I didn't want to disturb anyone."

"Then you really are stupid if you don't know by now that I always know every single fucking move you make."

"I didn't ask you to be my keeper, dog-boy!" she informed him as her voice raised an octave.

"Keh! If you weren't so damn pathetic, you wouldn't need a fucking keeper, bitch!"

Mouth dropping open in moral outrage, Kagome glared at the irritating hanyou. "You take that back!"

"Take what back? I ain't taking back the truth!"

"You take it back or else!"

"'Or else' what? You'll run home and kiss your fucking Houjou-thing again? Fine by me!"

Kagome gasped, face flaming at the reminder, painfully so. "Osuwari!" she bellowed.

"Ungh!" he growled as his face, followed by the rest of his body, hit the ground hard. "Damn it, bitch!"

"Do you really want another, baka?"

"Oh, what the hell? The more the merrier---bitch!" he snarled as he pushed himself off the ground.

"Stop calling me that!"

"Then stop saying that!"




"Oof!" Growling low in his throat, InuYasha's voice was muffled as he bellowed, "You'd better be so fucking far away from me when this wears off, or you'll be sorry!"

Kagome didn't wait to hear more. Instead of running back toward the village, she hopped into the well.


"Stupid Kagome," InuYasha mumbled into the grass. "It'd serve her right if I never go after her . . . saying that to me when I'm just trying to tell her that she can't go running off alone in the middle of the night . . ."

Pushing himself off of the ground as the last remnants of the subjugation curse wore off; he winced slightly as he checked for damage. 'Nothing permanent, not that she'd care . . .' he grumbled to himself. 'What the hell's gotten into her? I'm the one who should be mad. I'm the one who caught her kissing that little bastard . . .'

Just the memory of that was enough to elicit a very low, very menacing snarl which would have been far more effective had his ears not had blades of grass hanging off them, and had Kagome been anywhere around to hear it.

He sank down beside the well, arms crossed on the ledge as he stared into the empty blackness below. Ears flattening against his skull, InuYasha sighed. 'All right, so maybe I did deserve those . . . What does that Houjou got that I ain't got? I'm the one that protects her ungrateful neck. I always make sure she's got food and shelter when she needs it . . . What does he do for her?' He sighed again. 'He kisses her, that's what . . .'

Truth was, it had frightened him when he woke up where he sat, dozing beside the fire, only to find her gone. There had been too many close calls over the years, too many times when she had been nearly killed because he hadn't protected her well enough. The panic that had gripped him was like a dousing of cold water. It hadn't taken him long to figure out that she was alone. To realize she'd left on her own had infuriated him, and to sense her very real despair when the jewel refused her wish . . .

The third sigh in nearly as many minutes solidified before his face in a fog of condensation. If he went after her right now, they'd just fight all over again. That's all they ever seemed to do lately, anyway. He knew she hated it when he left for his hunting trips. He could read the fear, the doubt in her gaze, the unasked questions that only served to make him angrier. 'Are you really going hunting? Are you going to see Kikyou?'

He snorted. "Keh!" She, better than anyone, ought to know that he wasn't looking for Kikyou. He hadn't tried to hide the handful of times he'd seen the resurrected miko since they'd defeated Naraku. Still she doubted him. It was the only time Kagome ever did doubt him, but if she was too stubborn to ask, then he wasn't about to volunteer it. That'd just make him look guilty, anyway. Yet another sigh escaped him. 'Damned if I do, and damned if I don't,' he thought with a grimace.

Turning away from the well, he pulled Tetsusaiga up against his chest and wrapped his arms around it. Dawn was hours away. It was going to be a long night.


Hideaki: Means "excellent and bright"

Final Thought from Kagome :

InuYasha no baka . . . :sigh: Poor Sango . . .

Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Metamorphosis): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.