It was night when Shippo made it back to the castle. Everyone was asleep, and as the little kitsune made his way through the corridors, he found himself jumping at every little shadow. He was petrified and was praying that he wasn't too late.
He reached Inuyasha's room and scurried inside, making his way to the bed. Seeing Inuyasha there, asleep, made him so relieved that he fell over. He lay on the floor for a few minutes, breathing, and then tried to wake his friend. It took him a moment of jumping on the hanyou's chest to get him to wake up.
"Shippo!" Inuyasha snarled, grabbing him by his tail. "What are you doing? You should be sleeping and leaving me to get mine! What do you want?"
"I have to tell you something!" Shippo whispered. "I followed Inutaisho today when he went out this afternoon."
Inuyasha blinked. "Oh, really?"
"Yes! You'll never believe what I saw!"
"What did you see?" Inuyasha asked, sleep forgotten. Whatever it was, it had the little fox demon scared. Just about everything scared the kid, but this was big. He could tell by how hard Shippo was trembling.
"He flew to a rock out in the forest. It looked kind of like a shrine rock. He bowed in front of it, and it started glowing. Slowly, a spirit came out of it, and it stood there with him. It was Kimi!"
"Kimi? Are you serious?"
"Dead serious!" Shippo insisted. "I think she has him under some sort of love spell, because they kissed!"
Inuyasha winced. It was, as Kagome often said, too much information. "Let's go get the others and meet in Kagome's room," he said. "This could be bad. You wake Sango, Miroku, and Kagome. I'll get Sesshomaru."
"Now, what did you have to wake us all up for, Inuyasha?" Sesshomaru wanted to know. "Make it fast."
Inuyasha glared at him, but instead of fighting, he told everyone what Shippo had seen. Silence met this remark.
"Ridiculous," was all the Sesshomaru would say. "I would know if he were under a spell of any sort, especially by that ridiculous woman."
Shippo looked as if he were getting angry. "It's the truth!" he insisted. "If you don't believe me, you follow him tomorrow! See if I'm not telling the truth!"
Sesshomaru just looked at him and left, taking Rin and Jaken with him.
"Do you think he believed me?" Shippo asked Inuyasha, sounding forlorn.
Inuyasha looked after his brother, looking thoughtful. "I don't even know what he thinks. How am I supposed to know what he believes?"
"So what do we do now?" Sango asked, looking her usually calm self. "Do we talk to Inutaisho about it?"
Inuyasha shook his head. "How can we know how he'll react to our knowing this? Is he even aware what he's doing? Does he know who or whatKimi is? Is he Inutaisho,or is he an unfortunate demon under a spell who only thinks he's my father? What ifhe'sa demon who's a cohort of Kimi's?I don't know. I'd like to go ask him, but something is telling me not to."
Everyone looked thoughtful.
"What if we dropped hints?" Kagome said, making everyone look at her. "We could say, 'So, Inutaisho, do you know anyone named Kimi?' Do you think it would work?"
"I don't know, Kagome, we'd have to be a lot more subtle than that if he's not going to get suspicious," Miroku pointed out. "I mean, that's a pretty impossible thing to explain."
"That's right," Sango said, petting Kirara. "I can't imagine us saying, 'Well, we thought you might be an imposter, so we decided to ask you in a very roundabout way if you've ever seen a mad sorceress with an appetite for demons running around, and we would bejudging your answer to see if you were really you or just a spell from that sorceress.'"
This was very complicated, and the others spent several moments working it out. Inuyasha shook his head to clear it.
"This is a nightmare. I know I can't travel very far on my own, but I think it would be good for all of us if we got out of here," he said, getting to his feet. "Tonight, if possible. It's too unclear of a situation to take the chance of staying. With the way I am now, I'd be no match for Kimi, and frankly, none of us are."
"If you get tired, we'll help you," Miroku said firmly. "Now, what about Sesshomaru and his two friends?"
Inuyasha glared at him. "I'm not going to bother. He can stay or not as he pleases."
"What about Rin?" Shippo asked. "If Kimi gets involved, what happens to Rin?"
"She's Sesshomaru's problem, not mine!" Inuyasha insisted.
Kagome glared at him, her eyes promising death and doom if he didn't stop and think about his next answer. "Would you really want to have her death on your conscience if things get ugly?"
"Ah...no," Inuyasha said, acquiescing once more to Kagome's wishes. "All right, we'll tell Sesshomaru what we're planning and offer to take the girl with us if he wants, but I'm not going to try insisting he come with us! After all, there are some things we can't get him to do!"
Inuyasha went on his own to find Sesshomaru, and he found his older brother not in his room, but on his way to find Inuyasha.
"We have to get out of here," Sesshomaru said before Inuyasha could even open his mouth.
"That's what I was coming to tell you," Inuyasha said, surprised. "What happened to make you change your mind about listening to me?"
Sesshomaru gave him a withering glance. "I came to that conclusion on my own," he snapped. "I went and spied on him as he came back. He reeked of Kimi."
"We'll meet outside of your room in the garden," Sesshomaru said quietly. "We'll leave from there."
Inuyasha nodded and headed back to his friends.
Sesshomaru arrived with Jaken and Rin, leading Ah and Un. Kirara changed to her larger form, and Sango, Miroku, Kagome, and Shippo climbed on. There was no roomforInuyasha, and they all knew that Kirara couldn't carry him as well. At least, not comfortably for any distance. Since Inuyasha usually provided his own way of traveling, it never occured to them that he wouldn't be able to speed himself from place to place. Sesshomaru got into Ah and Un's saddle, settled Rin in front of him, Jaken in front of Rin, and then looked at his younger brother.
"Get on, Inuyasha," he said, sounding impatient. "Ah and Un will be able to carry all of us."
Inuyasha glared at him. "I'm fine!"
"Don't fool yourself," Sesshomaru snarled. "You're human, stupid. What are you going to do to follow us? Flap your weak little arms?"
Inuyasha looked ready to sock him or bite him, whichever came first.
"Besides, be sensible. Even if you had your half-demon abilities, you've been ill. We're going a long way, and I doubt even then you'd be able to keep up since that illness has left you so weak," Sesshomaru pointed out, softening his tone. "You're stronger than you were, but I know that you're capable of more. You're not completely recovered yet, so get on before I come over there to get you to lash you to the saddle."
Still glaring, Inuyasha climbed on behind his brother, holding onto Sesshomaru's sash so he wouldn't fall off. As a human, a fall could kill him. "Let's go," he muttered, not sounding happy.
As a group, they took off into the night, heading to Kaede's village.
Sesshomaru had not told Inuyasha the entire truth when he'd admitted to spying on Inutaisho. He'd said that the old man had reeked of Kimi, but the truth had been that Kimi was with Inutaisho when he came back from wherever it was that he had been. That had been all that was needed to convince Sesshomaru that the child kitsune had been telling the truth and that they needed to get out of there.
He looked at Inuyasha's human friends and fought down a smile. Sango leaned on Kirara's head, Miroku leaned on Sango, and Kagome leaned on Miroku. All of them were asleep. The little kitsune was asleep in Sango's lap while the demon cat carried them through the air. On Ah and Un,Rin was deeply asleep while Jaken muttered about having to be her pillow. But the thing that afforded Sesshomaru real amusement was Inuyasha: His little brotherhad his arms wrapped around hiswaist and had leaned againsthis shoulder, and now, he was sleeping. Hearing whatInuyasha talked about in his sleep, he smiled. He reallyadored that Kagome girl, but what on earth was ninja food? He decidedtofind out later. For the moment, he was the only capable guardian of this sorry pack of humans, and he would have to keep his eyes and ears open.