Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha, its characters or storyline- they belong to Rumiko Takahashi. I am imposing my own story over the anime.
Chapter 43: Ever Watching Eyes and the Poisoned Hearts
Kagura's hands clenched spasmodically as she watched the touching scene through Kanna's mirror. But the pain reflected in her eyes showed that the clenching of her heart was far greater.
The pain she was feeling in the region of her chest was excruciating. How could he love her? Love.
How could he?
How could the Sesshoumaru fall for a measly human girl? - A defenseless little sentimental foolish girl who loved his brother?
How could he not have fallen for her- when she had literally offered herself to him on a platter? The rejection had cut deep- but now the cut burned. He had loved her for a while now….. long before Naraku had ever cast his spell. And the burn of jealousy was sharper in attack than the toothed bite attack of any shark. She felt her nonexistent heart twist wickedly, her very soul wretched in the swirls of hate that took hold. And just like a shark's attack, the bite of jealousy released only to tear into her and bite again and again. Kagura's eyes never left the mirror's images. They burned into her mind, and her whole body shook with the emotions that coursed through her being at the sight.
Naraku's red red eyes withdrew from the mirror- where he too had witnessed the touching scene between Kagome and Sesshoumaru, and flicked his red cruel gaze to where Kagura stood. That hated half smile half smirk found its way onto his handsome face, as he nonchalantly looked away.
"It appears that you are not half as beautiful, or loveable as you thought Kagura." He softly spoke his poisoned words. "If Kagome won him where you could not?"
Kagura's infuriated face jerked away from the vision Kanna showed to face off with Naraku. "No. He hates you so much that there was never a chance for me- Naraku." Her chest heaved. "And you knew I wanted him. Damn your all seeing eyes! You knew- and yet you did that!" Trembling fingers pointed accusingly at the mirror image of one white haired dog demon and one black haired priestess as they tangled again in love.
Naraku silently watched Kagura's wretched suffering. "Yet he hates InuYasha as well…." Sighing, "The spell does not just work without some prior attraction, Kagura." He turned to face her more fully. Kanna's mirror phased out to show only mists as she silently left.
"The spell only worked for that first night Kagura." He sat down facing her, watching her emotions at the realization. "You do not have the determination to have Sesshoumaru. You have done nothing to stop the relationship- this emotion from growing….when you very well can."
He watched her process that little tidbit of information. Kagura was so simple to read. Naraku wanted to laugh. This pain in his own chest was worth this. The Taiyoukai had fallen in love. Hah! Naraku knew first hand how destructive and vindictive that emotion could be….. and he was going to make sure that that was the form of love Sesshoumaru felt. All he needed was to inject a little poison into the Taiyoukai's relationship. And poisons where Naraku's speciality.
Naraku's red eyes narrowed, as simmering hatred burned. The dog had become more troublesome than he had ever thought he would. Sesshoumaru was actually more troubling and threatening than his fool of a brother. He and the priestess. She was always the cause of those more recent failures. Sesshoumaru was right to realize that she was InuYasha's greatest strength. She was what gave him his power. Even his ability to wield the Tetseiga stemmed from his emotions tied to this girl. It had been logical after Mt. Hakurai and the failed attempt of Hakudoshi, to eliminate these two from the game. And what better way than this….. where their love tore apart their very friends and lives? It did not get much better. And the taint this whole thing would bring to the jewel was phenomenal. Naraku could hardly wait.
Kagura stared at him for a second. This was Naraku. He would not waste a breath unless he was to gain from the consequences. What was he inciting her for? But after a second she realized she didn't care. Her whole being yearned to destroy Kagome- bit by bit. No swift death for that girl. Not anymore.
"What do you exactly mean Naraku?"
He smiled a bit at her question, and she realized he had known she would take his bait. It irked her that she was so readable, but Naraku no longer mattered. No longer did she care what he did to her- as long as she could bring Kagome torment and torture, she did not care. The recently restored heart within her chest darkened. Though Kagura could not see it, it turned an ugly shade of black, twisting within her chest cavity in agony as it sustained her very life. Darkening the jewel shard that was embedded within it. Its agonizing dance poisoning the demoness with its very pain. Naraku smiled. Perfect. She was ready. His Kagura was finally complete, and Sesshoumaru was about to learn a well known truth (cliche as it was)- that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Shippo was trying to be brave. It just wasn't working. It was hard to understand why any of this had happened. The adults all seemed too full of their own troubled thoughts to comprehend the extent to which Kagome's defection affected him.
Unlike InuYasha, Shippo didn't care that Kagome had done whatever with Sesshoumaru. It was actually understandable. Shippo had always had a very keen understanding of life. He had insight and understanding, and he was able to see how Sesshoumaru would be someone Kagome would fall for. The only thing that had prevented it before was Sesshoumaru himself…… So if the demon in question had finally gotten over his tendency to kill and feel superior, he completely understood how his Kagome would finally find him attractive enough to fall for him.
What he was however having trouble accepting was how easily she had forgotten to take him with her. What sort of person did that? Not the sort of person he had thought Kagome to be.
The thoughts of her abandonment and the questions of why wound round his head daily. He kept mum about them, as each of this friends seemed to be grappling with their own inner turmoil and had not the patience to ask him how all this was affecting him. Well, they had asked, but not with the ability to ease any of his suffering.
Though- now that he thought of it, he often felt InuYasha's now cold cold gaze upon him, almost contemplative and terrifying in the way they studied his misery. He looked at the half demon, whom he had always run from, but never actually been frightened of…until now. He almost wondered if InuYasha suspected the pain he felt, and relished it. If so, then it made Shippo even more nervous around his half demon friend.
While InuYasha sounded and behaved to some extent just as he was- there was something tangibly different now about him. All Shippo could say was that he was very very scary. Shippo actually went out of his way to never be alone with InuYasha of recent. Especially after that one night when Sango and Miroku and Kilala had left to go hunting, and InuYasha had turned and just watched him like a hunter did its prey. Just when he was sure InuYasha was going to lunge and do something dreadful to him, his friends returned and the frightening feeling dissipated. But Shippo knew something was wrong, and never put himself in that position again. He had mentioned it to Miroku, who had shrugged it off, that InuYasha was suffering from emotions Kagome's leaving had incited. But Shippo knew. He knew that was not what had frightened him. InuYasha had been planning to kill him, and he was sure of it. When he had insisted this to Miroku, the monk had stayed silent and made no comment either way. Though Shippo was astute enough to note that Miroku now never left anyone other than himself alone in InuYasha's company.
The Hanyou seemed to almost read his mind, as he watched the fox kit. Shippou shuddered. Was he imagining things?
"Do you think she cares Shippo? Keh! If she had, she would have taken you….. it was not only me she left behind, and forgot." InuYasha had turned away from watching him, as he said this. Some sort of cruelty laced his words.
Shippo's eyes filled wretchedly with moisture. This answered the question he had been wondering. InuYasha had known. He had realized his suffering and just watched it with that new coldness to his gaze. He had done nothing to alleviate it, like he would have in the past. Instead he now plunged the kunai deeper. Who was this InuYasha?- Shippo wondered, as he turned away from the hanyou and his tears overflowed.
Miroku rarely let things like depression and despair take him. After all, a lecherous monk with an ever increasing diameter to his wind tunnel would never climb out of such depths of depression if he let himself fall victim to such emotions. But of recent, ever since Kagome had left with Sesshoumaru, nothing was the same. Everything was falling apart, and given the extent of damage to their group, Kagome's importance, once not so very visible, stood out obvious for all to finally acknowledge. She was the thread that had woven them all together and held them there. Without her, they were all unraveling and fast.
The monk glanced at the back of InuYasha. It was likely in the past that their friend would have said such a thing to Shippo, but never with the intentional cruelty Miroku had just witnessed.
For a while now, Miroku had started to notice that there was something off about InuYasha. But exactly what was hard to tell. At first Miroku had thought it was merely the expected emotions that losing kagome to his brother would cause. But of recent Miroku found himself watching the hanyou more closely. Often he felt like the hairs on his neck stood out when InuYasha seemed more indrawn. There was something in those once open golden eyes that seemed opaque now. As if something ominous was hiding beneath them. Their friend no longer showed emotions freely, and the degree of control and the sudden change in thought process from direct and tactless to insincere and plotting were scary. It was as if there was another person was impersonating the hanyou they once knew. But who knew? Wouldn't something like losing Kagome change InuYasha for the worse? Yes- but this change was not fully explained by such emotional loss- unless the very essence of the hanyou himself was lost. If that was the case, this was a lot more concerning in what the ultimate consequences would be. What would InuYasha turn into?
"Monk- trust your instincts…" he heard that ominous demon's voice once again.
He had not done so the first time- and they had literally walked Kagome kicking and screaming for help to this fate. And now they were all blaming her in some way for their own mistake then, and their innate personal weaknesses that tore them apart now. Miroku just hated this. This was such a terrible way for their group and friendships to end. They had to make amends with Kagome and find a way to overcome this.
The fact though, that of all the people in this world, Kagome had chosen to leave InuYasha for Sesshoumaru complicated issues. Not only with the sibling rivalry and hatred that had been ongoing – but even if they were to make amends with Kagome, they then had to find any sort of relationship other than enemy with Sesshoumaru, - A demon who did not even believe in the word Ally or friend. He would not tolerate the like of them easily. In fact, Sesshoumaru's relationship with Kagome (and his therefore ability to dictate her other relationships) was probably a larger mountain to climb, considering that Kagome's heart would never allow her to say no to them.
His eyes hardened as he thought- Naraku certainly excelled at finding weaknesses and using them against his enemies. This particular plot of his excelled. Miroku was loathed to admit it, but the foul hanyou was a brilliant tactician.
And Mikoku hated the feeling that they were all still puppets being led by that particular monster to their fates.
Rinji, Hanji, Kanji – Three of the most illustrious assassin/spies of the Western court stood before Lady Hakyouki.
"Lady Hakyouki, we have no doubts that this is where Lord Sesshoumaru is heading." Ranji affirmed, bowing down in respect as he spoke.
A regal pale face, very similar to their lord's regarded him with cold cold eyes. "So he thinks that he can bring her here? Why would he assume any safe haven here?" A silver eyebrow arched.
Hanji answered, "I think he is astute enough to realize my Lady that there is no safe haven for her anywhere. The Western court is no exception, except that he may be by her. He has learned from his father's mistakes." Though not enough to avoid repeating them obviously Hanji thought, though he kept that obvious observation to himself. Lady Hakyouki did not suffer fools easily.
Lady Hakyouki's face twisted into something ugly at the mention of the late InuTashio. Rinji and Hanji quickly bowed lower. Knowing the loathing she held for her former husband, they knew she could kill them for their mention of his affair with the mortal Izaiyoi that had resulted in his death.
Kanji, having not added much to this discussion, stayed back in the shadows observing the dangerous glint in Lady Hakyouki's eyes. This did not bode well. Why had Lord Sesshoumaru brought the past back into this home? Because it had never been laid to rest, his mind answered back.
"And the old fools, Miyoga and Totosai?" her soft cold voice astutely asked. "Where are they now?"
Kanji sighed. He was not going to get caught up in her tangled web of treason, but right now there was no proof she had anything else planned. "They are headed towards Lord Sesshoumaru as we speak. Rayou is already there awaiting them."
Her laser gaze slashed through him as he reported. Then stopped to probe deeper, as if to see his soul. Kanji fought to urge to shuffle under her eyes. Their Lady was most astute and she was also deadly. There was a reason she still sat at the throne of the western court when Sesshoumaru was away. Which was more often these days.
Despite the InuTashio taking two others to wive, and breeding upon them- it was his first and childless wife who had survived. She had survived his infidelity, him, his other wives and had entrenched herself so deeply into the InuYoukai world, that even Sesshoumaru had been unable to rid the Western court of her control when he had initially battled for control after Lord Tashio's death. Better men than Kanji had fallen to their deaths attempting to take her down or avoid her political web- and Kanji had no plans to die in vain.
Her thin lips stretched into the thinnest of smiles. It was obvious she was barely tolerating Sesshoumaru's actions at this point. The poor girl. To have to go against her… Kanji pitied the human, and hoped his Lord finally took hold of his senses. It would be kinder to let her go, or kill her himself than toss her to this old dog bitch. But that was Lord Seshoumaru's call, for the boy was no fool. Kanji decided to just watch how this played out for now.
"Good." She said. And then she twisted her lips into a smirk, her eyes coldly shining. "It is about time the boy learnt a few lessons, don't you think? The ones his father taught to me, Kanji. You must recall. You were in his service when we first married." Her lips thinned in anger, till they were almost not visible. Her face contorted with hatred. "Such as those lessons to never love blindly, never trust wholly, and never let your weakness be known by those who can harm you. I think the boy has forgot." She rose, a russel of fine silk and the gentle clinks of gold. Regal and beautiful, she stood before them, almost forgetting their presence as she murmured to herself, "I think its time I remind him," as she glided out.
Kanji watched as his silent comrades left, like the shadows they were. He remained a moment longer, reminiscing memories of the past. Indeed, he had been there, when Lord Tashio had first brought his first bride home. She had been so beautiful, so in love and so gentle a soul then. They had all loved her wholly. He remembered the agony and heartbreak when she had lost her ability to bear children, in the action of defending her lord.
And he remembered Lady Akara. Lady Hakyouki's sister…… and how she had sent the whole Western court and Lord Tashio's happiness tumbling down….with her seduction of her sister's husband.
Kanji remembered the past. One he didn't want to remember. It was happening again. And Lady Hakyouki had never forgotten nor forgiven. Kanji silently left, a shadow that had seen too much of the ugliness that happened in the western courts, with the feeling he was going to see much more, much too soon.