Title: Scale and Feather
Rating: PG-13 for lang. and implications
Summary: He got to come back to life not once, but twice, how lucky is that. Unfortunately, life isn't all fun and games if you want to grow old.
…Suddenly, the world was unpleasantly frigid.
"Why do these things happen to me?" Jakotsu pouted to himself. There really wasn't anyone else around to complain to, not that it stopped him. Still, what had he done to deserve this? Okay, besides those things… and that… and there was the one (or fifty) young soldier(s). But did that mean he deserved his current state?
It was so boring!
"I'm soooooooo bored!" He continued, ignoring the tree he just passed through. Not that he had paid that much attention to them when he was alive. They weren't any more of an obstacle then, just splinters. "Aren't there other dead people around here?"
Being by yourself was pitiful. Being by himself wasn't something he wanted to experience again. He had his fill of that when he was alive.
"Helloooooooo!" Part of him expected Renkotsu's voice to snap at him and tell him to shut up, he was being obnoxious. Of course, he wasn't trying to be annoying, it was just his way of expressing himself.
Yes, this was very boring. No one to talk to or play with and no young, cute men. This was even worse than before.
A few villagers passed, muttering in low, awed voices. Jakotsu didn't really pay much attention to them. He'd figured out that most of them couldn't even sense him, let alone hear or see him. Usually the ones who could see him were generally withered old monks or some wretched village filth. Then there were the surprised shouts and the unpleasant attempts at exorcizing him.
"…That half-demon. Did you see those dog ears on his head?"
"And you can't forget his magical sword. It was amazing!"
"So long as it isn't turned on us." The third man muttered sourly, "If it ain't those damn youkai then it's bandits. And if it ain't bandits then it's some high 'n' mighy lord comin' to take over."
"Inuyasha!" Jakotsu squealed with excitement. He never did get to finish his fun with the dog hanyou.
This could be much more interesting that floating around.
"Tell me where!" He ordered the villagers, momentarily forgetting they couldn't hear him.
"Well, the village to the east is still just rubble. I guess that guy and his group will be moving on, now that they saved us."
"Typical hero behavior." The cynical one snored, "Fight the good fight, destroy the place, and leave before you have to pay for the damages."
One of his companions cast a doubtful look at him, "They saved little Hana."
"After her parents were kill. Who wants to feed a little orphan brat? Especially when we're all starving as it is!"
Jakotsu smirked… well, it felt like he was smirking anyway.
"Well, that's the way it goes." He commented over his shoulder, knowing they couldn't hear him.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn't that hard to find Inuyasha. The huge gashes in the ground, body parts, and trashed buildings were quite easy to follow. From the edge of the village the bright red robe was delightfully easy to spot against the semi-green fields (some parts were looking rather black unfortunately).
The hanyou's pretty silver head jerked up suddenly and he stopped dead. Jakotsu could see his nostrils flaring and his gorgeous golden eyes narrowed.
"How DARE you, you impudent CUR!"
Everyone in the vicinity cringed as the broom handle cracked over Inuyasha's head. Before he could move there was another painful smack to his rear end.
"You young whippersnapper. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"Excuse me! What the fuck--?" Inuyasha didn't get to complete his outraged sentence. He was cut off by some rather prickly broom fibers being stuck in his open, protesting mouth.
"Don't you talk to me like that!" The crone retorted, her wrinkled, old face a maze of furious lines. "Especially after what you did!"
Jakotsu didn't know whether to be extremely amused by the abuse to his intended victim or feel jipped because he was getting seconds.
Deciding there wasn't much he could do about it, he wandered over to Inuyasha's friends, who were clustered to the side. He noticed with distaste that both filths were still in presence, not that he much expected them to leave. Still, one could hope that a stray sword swing would have mercy on the world and take them out.
Then they could be ghosts too.
"Listen, I don't know what the hell—ouch! That hurt you damn hag!" Inuyasha sputtered furiously, his heels dragging in the dirt as he retreated. "What's that thing made of anyway?"
"Youkai boar bristles and bone." The old crone retorted, "Excellent for beating young, deserving whelps, who willfully destroy an old woman's one and only happiness in this tired world!"
"Kagome!" The hanyou begged, tripping over a rock and earning another smack to the head.
Jakotsu felt a momentary pang of homicide. A man such as Inuyasha shouldn't be crying to such filth. Lucky for her, Jakotsu couldn't act on his urges. In fact, despite her miko powers, she really seemed to suck in detecting spirits. A lot.
"Oh you're doing fine!" The filth named Kagome tittered with a little wave. Traitor. She wasn't even going to help her comrade.
"He doesn't look fine." The other filth observed.
"Do you want to be beaten with a broom by an old lady?" The Kagome-filth asked, still watching the scene.
"Oh, keep going Inuyasha! You're doing great." The second filth encouraged, waving her hand.
The monk, unable to keep from shouting out a smart remark at his friend's expense, quipped, "Ask her if she has any pretty granddaughters!"
That earned him a bone-crunching hit of his very own.
"Why do they put up with such filth?" Jakotsu mused out loud. "I know exactly how I'd stop that disgusting nonsense."
"Next time watch where you're swinging your sword." The old woman commanded, huffing and leaning on her broom. Her black, shrewd eyes flicked over them and stopped right on Jakotsu.
He stared back curiously.
"Can you see me?" He figured calling her filth probably wasn't the best thing going for him.
The crone didn't blink, but shuffled forward, "Heh, you're an odd one." She shook her head making the gray wisp flick against her crinkly temples, "The youth nowadays, can't stay dead, can you? No siree, you've got to stay in the mortal world and clutter up the senses of the old."
Jakotsu looked surprised.
"Oh-ho, I can see you quite well my young friend. Being old brings you closer to death; being closer to death affords you quite a number of advantages. If you ever get tired of floating around come to my cottage." She jerked her hand in the southeast direction. "It's the one with the flower bed that was crushed by this big oaf!"
"You shut up."
The monk looked between his surly friend and the broom-wielding old woman. Making a slight face he asked, "Who are you talking to?"
"Why the young man standing off to the side. Have you lost any friends or acquaintances lately?"
"Just stupid enemies." Inuyasha growled.
"Can you really see ghosts?" Kagome-filth asked curiously. Jakotsu sneered. What did the dumbo think?
"Of course. Your ghost is quite the young man with some peculiar tastes. I suppose you would recognize him if you saw him. Well, standing here and jawing to you won't replant my lovely flowers." Giving Inuyasha a death glare, she shuffled back towards where she indicated her house was.
Jakotsu wondered about her offer. He might take it. Then again, if being around Renkotsu had taught him anything, it was that you did look the gift horse in the mouth. After all, you could be getting a broken-down nag.
"Ooooo, Inuyashaaaaaaaaa!" He pounced.
Inuyasha started quivering violently and brushed at his clothing. The long, perfect nails flicked over the red cloth lightly, Jakotsu couldn't help fantasizing about putting them to better use. They were easily as good as any knife or sword. He would also bet that they would cut through tender skin precisely, with minimum damage for lasting pleasure. Blood would be so much easier to control if let out in a concise, tidy manner too. Oh yes, he could think of much better things to do with those claws.
"What is it Inuyasha?" The other filth asked quizzically. The fire cat demon on her shoulder hissed, staring directly at Jakotsu. The ghost flicked out his tongue and pulled down an eyelid. There wasn't a thing the stupid fuzzball could do to him!
Jakotsu leaned into Inuyasha further, thrilled that his prey couldn't escape, but had no idea of what was going on. The hanyou was so cute, looking all baffled like that!
The monk clattered his staff and suggested with a deceptively mild interest, "Ghost problems Inuyasha?"
"N-n-no!" The silver haired boy yelped, "Just cold!"
"Ha! It's like eighty degrees out. How can you be cold?"
"You look like you have fleas." The fox kit observed, climbing down the monk's shoulder to get a better look.
"It's certainly a pest." Inuyasha growled under his breath. Jakotsu couldn't resist. And there was another very satisfying yelp. Now if only it would turn into a heartfelt scream… "Dammit, cut it out you perverted ghost!"
"Do you sense anything?" The filth asked the monk, skeptically raising her eyebrow.
The monk rubbed his jaw thoughtfully and ventured, "Well, Inuyasha has killed a lot of demons…"
"This isn't—." Yelp "For revenge!" Squeak "I swear the fucking thing is—." Gasp.
"—Trying to get in your pants?" Kagome-filth suggested.
The monk nodded in appreciation of the queer phrase, "Doesn't that sound delightful?"
"I—er—a—I didn't mean it that way!"
By that time Jakotsu had found out that Inuyasha was wonderfully ticklish on the wrists and sides. This had the hanyou flailing away at what must have looked like thin air to his companions.
"Would you stop? You look ridiculous!"
Jakotsu, pleased by his quasi-success, decided to take it a bit further. If pawing meant tickling…
He wrapped his arms around Inuyasha's neck and whispered breathily.
The monk nodded, "I wonder if she's pretty?"
"Thinking of dead people now Hoshi?"
"Doesn't that make him a necro--." The miko stuttered over the little used word, "Necrophiliac?"
"Ladies!" The monk protested, holding his hands up, "I was merely speculating. After all, what sort of woman would haunt Inuyasha?"
"He's got a point."
Inuyasha yipped again, trying to protect himself; run, yet look like he wasn't running; and hide at the same time. Being a not-so coordinated, or organized for that matter, he wasn't succeeding. Multi-tasking apparently wasn't his thing. Not that Jakotsu was protesting.
"We should get an exorcist."
"Yes, the spirits of the dead must pass on." The monk seconded.
Uh-huuuuuuuh—not a chance! Not when Jakotsu just figured out how to have some fun!
"Perhaps that old woman knows something we do not. Perhaps I should go speak to her?"
"You did not make the most favorable impression." The monk pointed out diplomatically. "I will just say I am inquiring for a friend."
"Oh no you don't!" Jakotsu shouted, "I'm not ready to go yet!"
Of course, all shouting did was make Inuyasha flatten his ears in the most adorable way, and it didn't deter the monk from his self-imposed mission in the slightest. He just strode in the direction she had point out (for HIM, Jakotsu added in his mind, not those people).
Jakotsu had no choice but to back off his tormenting of Inuyasha in favor of telling his side of the story.
As they drew up to a leaning old shack, Jakotsu noticed the flattened flowerbed. Crushed remnants of many bright, colorful petals littered the ground as if someone had taken several scythes and just mowed it all down. Other than that, the door was hanging crooked and there were parts of the roof that were caved in.
The monk was also assessing the damage with a pensive look, and muttered to himself, "My, my, quite an impressive amount of damage."
"Damn right it is! And your hooligan friend was the one who caused this!" The old woman accused, coming around the corner with some pathetic looking plants. Tossing the plants in a pile, she glared, "Well, I don't suppose you're here to pay for it, so what do you want?" She peered past the monk and chuckled, "I see your friend decided to tag along."
"Friend… so the ghost is with me? I thought she was with Inuyasha."
Bastard. If that monk called him filth one more time…!
"I see." Jakotsu snickered. It was very obvious that he was really confused. "But why would a guy be stalking Inuyasha… oh. I don't suppose he's dressed… uh, oddly? With lipstick?"
"So he is a friend of yours?"
"Um, how do I explain this?" The monk said nervously. Oh god, this was taking forever. Couldn't he hurry it up some?
"He wants to know how to exorcise me because I think Inuyasha is soooooooo cute!" Jakotsu explained with a whimsical expression. He didn't mention the other things he was thinking, like, say, that Inuyasha would look good in red. Mmm…
The old woman looked up, "So you want him gone. An old enemy?"
"You see, it was like this…" The monk started off smoothly. Jakotsu supposed it would be polite to learn his name, but what was the point in that? Even if he did look a bit sexy, he would never stand up to Inuyasha's cute doggie ears!
"Stop the gibberish. I don't see why I should help you. Your friend ruined my priceless garden. The ghost hasn't done anything. Why, he hasn't even been impolite. This is more than I can say for your party. I see that you think you're a smooth talker. I'm sure it's gotten you your way many, many times, along with your good looks, but young man, may I inform you neither will work on me."
"I wasn't implying…"
"But you were hoping. Enough. Go back and deal with your problem yourself! Leave this old creature in peace!" She snapped, reaching for the broom she had been beating Inuyasha with earlier. It was just about in reach by the time the monk caught on. He muttered some hasty, polite words and backed out slowly. Once he was out of reach of her wicked swing, he picked up his walk to a brisk pace, glancing over his shoulder every so often.
"That was interesting." Jakotsu commented.
She didn't even look at him, "I'm sure it was. I probably should help you on, but you seem so young. It makes me wonder what you did to deserve such a fate. I'm not naïve with youth, I know that despite your age, you must be responsible for some fairly horrendous things."
Jakotsu made a face as he thought about that. In the end he had to agree. He had done some fairly terrible things, according to society. You could start with the people he had slaughtered.
"I was a mercenary. A group of seven men, an army unto ourselves." He smirked fondly, "There was big brother Bankotsu, our leader. He was a great guy. And brother Renkotsu, he was a jerk, but really smart. Bossy."
The smell of crushed herbs filled the air and he looked up.
"You sound like you had a place to belong. You should be at rest."
"But that's so boring!" He protested, fiddling with his hair. Seriously, he could outrun an old woman, right? "I've already done that! Twice!"
"Hmm, you are an odd one. I believe I've heard rumors about you and your band of mercenaries. If I recall correctly, you would be Jakotsu, hmm? Well, I have a deal for you, if you'll accept it."
Jakotsu warily sat down and stared at her.
"You wish for a material body, I can tell. However, if you were to receive one, you would most likely revert back to your old habits. I cannot have that sort of stain on my soul, letting someone like you loose on the populace. So, if you accept, I would like to give you a trial. I want you to attempt to learn morals and ethics."
Jakotsu was very, very glad he hadn't had anything in his mouth when she said that. For a second he could only choke in stupefied surprise, but then he laughed. Laughed hard. That was ridiculous! What would he do with those things? Help people? In his experience, the only help people needed was in getting to the afterlife, ending their miserable lives.
He glanced up and sobered slightly.
"You can't be serious, can you?" He asked eyes wide with disbelief.
"I am very serious."
He leaned forward, thinking. He was pretty sure if he declined then any chances for fun would end right then and there. She would exorcise him and he'd be dead. AGAIN. Very dead. Really, what were the odds of coming back not just once, but twice?
Leaning forward, he met her eyes, questioning.
"As I said: a trial. Two weeks in a borrowed body. If you can display some humanity by then you may get an extended review."
It sounded… tempting. Oh so tempting.
"What's the catch?"
"The soul you transpose will still be around for that week. You will be able to see and speak with it. Perhaps it will help teach you about being human."
He flamboyantly stuck his hand out and proclaimed, "Deal."
A/N: Jakotsu was a lot harder than I thought he would be! Hopefully he'll get easier (probably not). Mmm, new to Inuyasha fiction, but I promised my friend I'd do a IY fic, so here I am. Support appreciated, comments and criticism always welcome, flames are funny.