Chapter 5 – Nightmare
Kagome bolted upright, a strangled cry issuing from her lips. It sounded tinny and distant to her sleep-deafened ears, as if it was coming from somewhere else instead of her own throat. Her fingers clenched weakly over the covers, most of which were balled up in her hands. A sheen of icy cold sweat soaked her nightgown, and she shivered as a shiny droplet ran down the side of her face to drip onto the sheets. Still half-asleep, her eyes slid traitorously shut, and she sank into a light doze. Instantly she found herself back in her dream.
She stood still, gazing into the distance of a smoke-filled, autumnal forest. She was rooted to the spot, really no more than a pair of eyes fixated on one point ahead of her. A dark figure soon distinguished itself from the intertwined branches, heading in her direction with great speed. Tall with lanky long legs and arms pumping furiously, he closed the distance between them. She knew who it was even before he ran through a clearing in the forest.
"Kouga!" she shouted, but not even the slightest sound could be heard. The wolf prince's face was contorted with a deep, consuming anger, his lips drawn back from his teeth in a feral grimace and his eyebrows nearly converging on his forehead. From behind him, something rose up from the darkness, something blacker and deeper and infinitely more menacing than the night-shrouded, primal forest.
She yelled at him to be careful and this time her voice rang out with bell-like clarity. Kouga craned his neck around, the rage melting from his face to be replaced by an emotion so uncharacteristic of the proud wolf youkai that it was frightening all on its own. Blue eyes filled with desperate terror, Kouga tried to accelerate only to be caught up in the blackness that bore down on him with a relentless speed. One high-pitched screech of terror pierced the air before being cut off as he disappeared into the pitch-black substance.
Her eyes shot open as she sat back up, panting loudly. Disoriented and still in the grip of the nightmare, she swept her surroundings but all was swathed in darkness. For a moment, Kouga's pale, horror-struck features swam before her eyes and she feared that she was still asleep; however, the feel of the sweat trickling down her face and the fierce pound of her heart against her ribcage were too real to be figments of a dream. Just to make sure, she pinched her cheek, wincing at the sharp pain it caused. These small proofs of consciousness did little to erase the abject terror of the nightmare that pervaded her every sense.
She stared blankly around her, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness. The familiar shapes of her dresser and vanity swam into view, and she gave a ragged sigh of relief. A muffled reply rose from beside her and she looked over, heart hitching in her chest as another wave of fear passed over her. She relaxed as she realized it had come from Inuyasha, who was sprawled out on his belly beside her, his grease-strained coveralls pulled down past his waist and his silky black hair fanned out over his back.
Her terror quickly melted away as she caught sight of the few spots of grime that marred the bed sheets. She shot her sleeping husband an irritated look. Was it too much to ask for him to change out of his work clothes when he came home? She glanced at the clock on the bed-stand. The digital read-out displayed 3:47am in bright green print. Guilt knotted in her chest and her expression softened. He'd stayed late again at the garage, probably working a rush job on some rich kid's crotch rocket.
Moving carefully so as not to wake him, she slid out from under the covers and rose to her feet. Shutting the door behind her, she walked down the hallway towards the bathroom, squinting under the harsh glare of the light as she flicked the switch. She filled a small cup next to the sink with cold water and drank it slowly, then splashed a few handfuls on her face. Slowly, the fear inside her melted away, and she gave a shaky sigh of relief and looked up at the mirror. Her reflection was pale and drawn, her thick black hair falling to her shoulders in silky, slightly rumpled waves. The glimmer of her young teens had faded somewhat, replaced by the more mature expression of a young woman who had suffered her share of worries and fears.
She toweled off her face gently, frowning as she spotted a few shallow wrinkles beginning to crease the corners of her eyes. A full-length mirror was attached to the inside of the bathroom door and she now turned her attention to this, fingers smoothing over her rumpled satin nightgown. She twisted slightly, taking in each curve of her body. Her hips were slightly wider and a bulge perceptible only to her own eyes projected from her lower belly. She shot her reflection a lopsided grin. Well, at least her breasts had grown larger as a result of becoming a mother—something that both she and Inuyasha took pleasure in.
She paused in her trip back to her bedroom to sneak a peak on their son. He lay sound asleep on his bed in a position very similar to his father's, his blankets lying in a heap on the floor. She entered the room on tiptoe and pulled them back over his sleeping form. She ruffled his short, tousled black hair and placed a light kiss on one of his temples before heading back to her room.
She was not at all surprised to see that during the short time she had spent in the bathroom, Inuyasha had managed to take over the entire bed. Even her pillow hadn't been spared, bulging around his tight grip almost as if it were desperately attempting to free itself. With a tired grin and a rueful shake of her head, she kneeled beside him and tugged gently on the captive pillow. He groaned in his sleep and abruptly turned away from her, breaking her grip. She moved to the other side of the bed and repeated her action, only to yield the same result. She stood upright, hands on hips and a slight scowl on her face, which was quickly replaced by a devilish grin as inspiration struck her.
"Osuwari!" she hissed.
Though the spell no longer worked, the command alone had the desired effect. Inuyasha's eyes immediately shot open and he jumped up from the bed. Kagome stifled a laugh as his head whipped from side to side. His eyes narrowed and he snorted in annoyance as he caught sight of her and this time she couldn't help but giggle.
"Oi, that's not funny," he grumbled, scratching his head and yawning.
"Is that so?" Kagome replied. "Well neither are those," she shot back, one finger pointing at the dark smears of grease on the sheets. Inuyasha looked from the bed to his clothes, and then glanced at her with a sheepish look on his face.
"I didn't realize I had still had these on," he muttered and tugged at his coveralls.
"That's okay, Inuyasha," she said evenly. "You can wash them tomorrow morning."
"Ummm….about tomorrow, Kagome," his eyes darted away from her uncomfortably. "Well you see, Daisuke hasn't been feeling too well lately so I told him I would cover his shift tomorrow."
"Nani!" Kagome stared at him incredulously. "But we're going to spend the day with Mama and Ji-chan tomorrow! How could you do this?"
He opened his mouth to retort then stopped himself as he caught sight of the time. "Look, Kagome, I need to be back at the garage in another few hours. Can we talk about this later?"
Realizing that arguing with him now wasn't going to change anything, Kagome took a deep breath and willed herself to calm down. Inuyasha grabbed her hand and pulled her into his arms.
"Gomen, Kagome," he whispered quietly, one hand smoothing gently over her back in a comforting motion.
She sighed in frustration, shoulders drooping in resignation. Tears stung at the corners of her eyes and she leaned into him, palms splayed over his chest. She felt a light pressure on the crown of her head as he rested his chin on it.
They remained silent for some time, both realizing that they shared the same frustrations and worries, but unable and unwilling to waste the precious little time they had together now rehashing them. The economy was bad and money tight right now, and the salaries of a mechanic and a history teacher stretched only so far in Tokyo. When Inuyasha had chosen to take on more hours, she had agreed, even though it meant that they would see even less of each other each day. It was a painful choice, though given how quickly their son was growing, a necessary one. They were both exhausted, and giving into the stress and lashing out of each other would only make things worse.
Distantly, the ghostly whirr of the fan on the refrigerator suddenly kicked in, and as if it was some sort of signal, Inuyasha dropped his head to her ear. His warm breath rustled gently against the side of her face as he lightly pressed his lips to her skin. He placed a trail of soft kisses down her jaw line then paused, waiting quietly for her to respond. Kagome looked away from him, eyes unfocused, the corners of her mouth turning down in a small frown that would be invisible in the darkness shrouding their bedroom.
Just when had Inuyasha become the peacemaker? Using reason and simple logic to diffuse her argument—valid though it may be—then tormenting her with kisses. She felt impotent and frustrated beyond all words. Part of her wanted to push him away and start yelling out how unbelievably upset she was with him and their whole situation. Another part, one that was quickly taking over with each warm breath that caressed her cheek, wanted to gladly return his kiss. There was a painful throb between her thighs at the thought and she suddenly found herself unable to remember the last time that they had made love. Her eyelids slid shut, lips pursing in silent resignation as she realized that even though he had been stripped of his demonic powers, Inuyasha was still a force to be reckoned with.
She shivered as he ran his fingers lightly down her spine, resting them in the small of her back and using the grip to pull her more firmly against him. His other hand weaved its way through her hair to cup the back of her skull. She didn't resist him when he turned her head so that they were face to face, lips centimeters apart and growing closer as he leaned forward. She opened her mouth to his, returning the kiss hungrily. Her arms wrapped around his neck, pressing her entire body against his.
Inuyasha moaned and arched his hips against her, exciting her even more. He began to slowly maneuver them towards the waiting bed, pausing to kick off his coveralls and underwear when she pushed them off of his hips. Her calves suddenly met with firm resistance and she let herself fall backwards onto the bunched up covers, scooting backwards so that she lay more comfortably on the bed. Inuyasha followed on hands and knees. He positioned himself directly above her, his arms planted firmly on either side of her then slowly lowered himself onto her body. She wrapped her arms around his neck, fingers stroking lightly over the thickly bunched muscles of his shoulders. His fingers hooked around the lacy hem of her nightgown and at his insistent tug on the garment, she compliantly lifted her hips as high as she could. He suddenly paused, the nightgown pushed up onto her waist, and collapsed onto her. Mumbling something inaudible, he buried his face into the hollow of her neck.
"Mmmmm, Inuyasha," she murmured quietly, drawing light circles over his back as she waited for him to continue. When he remained motionless, she nudged his shoulder and called his name again. She stiffened as a loud snore punctuated the air.
"Inuyasha!" she reprimanded and gave him a light slap on the back. Another, harder slap followed with still no response from her husband.
He twitched as she uttered the word, but didn't wake. Frustrated and short of breath due to his weight, she began to squirm furiously beneath him in an attempt to make him roll off of her. Inuyasha murmured her name and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pinning them to her sides and rendering her completely immobile. He nuzzled closer to her ear and gave another thunderous snore.
Realizing that any chance of love-making had now flown out the window as Inuyasha would probably only respond to the alarm clock, Kagome tried to situate herself as comfortably as possible beneath him. She stared blankly at the ceiling for some time, listening to her husband breath and trying to focus her thoughts on something other than the roiling disappointment that permeated her being.
Soon her eyelids began to grow heavy and she fell into a fitful sleep.
She was running along a simple dirt path, very similar to the ones she had traveled down during her journeys in the feudal era with Inuyasha, Miroku, Sango, and the others. However, none of them were in sight, and with the fuzzy clairvoyant nature that so many dreams seem to possess, she knew that they were in great danger.
She began to run faster only to find that her legs weren't cooperating and she was moving at a snail's pace. Finally, her stubborn limbs began to move faster, and she hurtled down the path, which began to snake back on itself in a never-ending series of dangerous hairpin curves that rose steeply up the rocky face of a mountain. Frustrated, she slowed down even more so that she could manage the turns, which grew even more treacherous as the path narrowed into a thin ledge barely large enough for her to rest her feet on.
The wind carried the tortured cries of her friends to her ears and she called out to them to hold on, only to find herself standing firmly on the flat, solid ground at the mountain's peak. Confused, she saw Inuyasha materialize out of the thick mist before her, Tetsusaiga drawn. Completely ignoring her calls to him, he gave a blood curdling battle cry and charged back into the fog. She ran after him, calling his name. Something suddenly crashed into the ground mere feet in front of her and she fell back onto her rear to avoid it. Sango's Hiraikotsu sank into the ground with a solid 'chunk', and though Kagome strained to catch sight of the young taijiya but couldn't see beyond the dank gray wall of fog.
She screamed out each of their names, but got no reply. Frightened but determined, she rose to her feet and ran towards the place she had last seen Inuyasha. The fog dissipated as rapidly as it had appeared, and she gasped at the sight it revealed.
Instead of the expected, rigid shapes of rocks and the tall, green outlines of pine and other trees, the mountain peak was covered with some sort of black lake. Instead of water, however, it was filled with some sort of viscous, tar-like substance that seemed to swallow all of the light into a flat, opaque blackness. Hundreds of finger-shaped projections twitched and writhed on the roiling surface, moving with a horrid intelligence towards a cluster of figures near the edge. Kagome gaped in horror as she recognized her companions. Sango and Miroku were back to back as they desperately tried to ward off the army of tentacles that were quickly closing in around them. Nearby, Kirara was thrashing about, Shippo clinging tightly to her neck and throwing out weak bursts of fox fire at the encroaching darkness. Sango suddenly screamed as a tentacle snaked around her legs and waist. Miroku turned to help her, only to have his staff knocked from his hands by another. Soon, both of them were chest-deep in the dark mass, clinging to each other in despair as it slowly swallowed them up. Kirara roared miserably as the tentacles swarmed up around her neck. From atop Kirara's shaggy head, Shippo shrieked and batted at the inky black arms that reached out with deadly intention toward his body.
Bow in hand, Kagome reached back to pull an arrow from her quiver only to have her fingers connect with empty space—she had nothing to help them. With a frustrated cry, she ventured a few steps towards them, only to jump back as a massive tentacle whipped around in her direction. She heard her name being called from her right and turned in that direction. Inuyasha's head was just barely visible above the roiling mass of black tendrils that were wrapped around him. With a pained growl, he managed to free one of his arms and he extended it towards her, clawed fingers grasping at the air. She screamed his name and delved blindly into the substance and grabbed his hand. A dozen, icy-cold tentacles instantly wrapped themselves around her legs, and more were quickly swarming towards them. She was jerked roughly backwards, her grip on Inuyasha's hand broken. Through the cluster of waving tentacles that quickly enveloped her, she could just barely see the top of Inuyasha's head and his ears disappearing into the black muck…..
Arg! Now why this chapter was such a pain to write, I haven't the slightest clue. The first draft didn't contain the actual details of the nightmare so I added those in, which turned out to be an even bigger pain in the neck because I wanted to strike a balance between something slightly coherent and a dream-like state. The part about the tentacles nagged at me too, because I know that inevitably, someone is going to read the word "tentacles" and start thinking of hentai, or at least the first Evil Dead movie where one of the chicks gets raped by a tree (yeah, one of my fav movies, but that's just weird).
And I have to know: are you about ready to strangle me for starting to write a lemony sequence and then dropping it? Well, all I can say is that exposition can be a bitch.
Hanyways, I hope you're enjoying the story so far (I left the cliffie out of this chapter since I've been so cruel with them in the others;P), and give me a couple of weeks or so to turn out the next chapter. School is turning into a real bitch, and this being my last semester, I really need to work hard.
P.S.-And just what is that thing on the refrigerator that makes noise every now and then? Is it a fan? Is it a small gnome trapped in a hamster ball? The world may never know...Well, I don't know what it is anyway.