-1A/N- This is a sequel or continuation of "The Child Within," so if at any point the plot or anything seems confusing, go back and read my other story on this same site. This has a been a bit harder to write and I don't have a beta reader so any problems or inconsistencies, just let me know. Now enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha and the gang. They are the creations of Rumiko Takahashi.
The ground fell from beneath his running feet leaving him hanging for a terrifying second in mid-air before his body rushed down to join it. Icy water caught him, grasping at his clothing as it eagerly pulled him downward while he frantically struggled to free himself. Gasping for air only invited a flood of the water into his lungs and prompted a fit of coughing that started the cycle all over again.
Just as he feared the water would claim his life, a pair of warm arms wrapped themselves around his waist and pulled him up and out. Her smell was the first thing he noticed, a pleasant fragrance that mingled fresh flowers and spring breezes.
Her voice comforted him like a song, "Don't worry. I've got ya."
He sought out the warmth of this angel, curling his sopping, shivering body into her embrace. He never wanted her to let go.
Sesshomaru sat up suddenly, his eyes burning red and his senses aching. Haunting warmth of a phantom embrace still clung to him, and he noticed a lack of the dream angel's scent in the air. He ran his fingers through his long, white hair as he firmly checked the emotions roused by that dream.
Why did these images haunt him?
"And just where do you think you two are sneaking off to?" Inuyasha barked angrily. He had his arms crossed with his hands tucked into the sleeves of his kimono while his ears flicked back and forth in agitation.
Miroku paused and turned to look back at the moody hanyou. Sango, already atop a full-sized Kirara, let out an exasperated sigh.
"Now, Inuyasha," the monk responded in a voice that revealed the speaker's waning patience. "We told you three days ago that I had to speak with the monk Mushin and that Sango and Kirara had agreed to accompany me since it is on the way to her village where she needs to restock her slayer supplies. We told you again the next day, then again last night, and now we're saying it again. I think that hardly qualifies as sneaking off."
Inuyasha sniffed at the sarcasm of the monk's last words and retorted, "And just how are we supposed to hunt for jewel shards with half our team missing? Huh?"
"Well, since I'll be going home for a few days myself, I don't see anything wrong with them having some personal time," Kagome interjected as she walked her bike towards her friends. "And don't you pretend you didn't know, because I've been telling you for days that I have an important test."
Inuyasha sank to his haunches and growled his frustration. He glared at each of them in turn then snapped, "Fine, abandon our quest. See if I care. Shippo and I'll find loads of jewel shards on our own without you weakling humans to slow us down."
"Uh, actually, Inuyasha," Shippo said. "I'm going to go with Miroku and Sango. She'll need protection from that lecherous monk."
The crisp sound of a palm on a face echoed through the air. They all turned to see Miroku wearing a guilty grin and rubbing a bright red handprint on his cheek
Kagome let out a loud sigh and Inuyasha grumbled, "You know, I believed Shippo, you didn't have to go and prove him honest."
Miroku's grin only grew broader and he scratched his head like an innocent boy. "It's not me, it's my hand! It's possessed, I tell you!" he hurriedly explained.
"Idiot," Shippo pronounced under his breath.
As though he wished to remove some of the recently incurred wrath, Miroku suddenly asked, "We've gone off like this before, Inuyasha. Why the sudden foul temper?" He thought a moment then added, "Well, worse than usual that is."
"Hmph!" Inuyasha answered. "I ain't in no bad mood, I just seem to be the only one around here who is focused on our job of collecting jewel shards."
"So this has nothing to do with the fact that your brother hasn't quit tailing us since the incident with that cursed mirror?" Sango teased.
The sudden twitching of fuzzy white ears and a low growl told them that she had hit the mark. Taking advantage of his silence, Miroku and Shippo sprang up onto Kirara's back and the great cat demon launched herself into the sky.
"Bye, Kagome! Good luck on your test!" Shippo cried out. He waved excitedly at her from his perch on Miroku's shoulder.
"See you two in a few days. And, Inuyasha, be nice to Kaede while we're gone," Sango added. Miroku said nothing. He found himself already staring at Sango's womanly curves. Shippo dutifully popped the monk on the head as he let out a sigh.
"This is gonna be a long trip," the young demon remarked.
Kagome waved goodbye to her friends then slowly walked her bike toward the well knowing Inuyasha would catch up. A few minutes later the sulking hanyou appeared beside her with his arms crossed and nose in the air. Kagome stifled a grin. He was always so cute when he pouted.
"Why are you so upset about Sesshomaru?" she finally asked. "It's not like he's been attacking us or anything. In fact, we haven't even seen him since he was restored to his right form almost three days ago. Maybe you only smell traces of him on your kimono."
"Don't remind me," Inuyasha groaned. "I had to wash this thing for hours with that flowery stinking stuff you call 'cham- chinpoo'-"
"Shampoo," Kagome corrected automatically, then stopped in her tracks when she realized what he had said.
"What do you mean you used my shampoo to wash your kimono!" she shrieked. "And here I was thinking the bottle had leaked. Do realize how much that stuff costs!"
Kagome stormed away from the confused half-demon dragging her bike. They passed through the village, Kagome muttering about washing a stupid kimono with top quality shampoo, and Inuyasha running after her complaining, "It's just smelly soap. What's the big deal? You can just pick up some more when you get more Ramen."
"You know, maybe I shouldn't bring you any more Ramen until you learn to ask before you just take something," Kagome threatened.
Inuyasha's ears wavered and a look of true fright came over him. "You- you don't mean that, Kagome."
Kagome turned around to look at him and had to stifle a laugh. Only Inuyasha would fight fearlessly with gaping holes in his body, but be terrified by the thought of no Ramen. He must have noticed because a smug smile appeared.
Kagome rolled her eyes, and started into the forest. She called over her shoulder at him, "Well, play nice with Sesshomaru while I'm gone."
"Oh, alright, I'm sorry. Are you happy now?" Inuyasha told her.
Kagome just smiled at him. Both continued in silence for a moment enjoying the pleasant sounds of the afternoon. Finally, Inuyasha spoke.
"Why do you think he's hangin' around for? He didn't believe our story, and he hasn't tried to kill us yet."
Kagome looked up into the clouds as though they might hold some answer, but she could only think of one reason.
"I think on some level he does remember, or at least knows we were kind to him, and now he feels a little guilty for treating us so badly and is trying to work up the nerve to apologize."
"Feh!" Inuyasha snorted. "Fat chance. Don't you remember this is Sesshomaru we're talking about?"
"Well...," Kagome began, but Inuyasha cut her off with a low growl.
His ears were alert and his eyes scanned the trees around them. He flicked Tetsusaiga loose from its sheath as he placed himself in front of Kagome. Frightened by his defensive stance, Kagome shrank behind him and reached for her bow and arrow.
"What is it? Is it your brother?" Kagome asked in a whisper.
Inuyasha shook his head. "Nope, some other demons. A whole bunch of 'em. You sense any jewel shards nearby?"
"Uhn-uh," Kagome answered as she shook her head.
"Then they must be here to get yours," the half-demon reasoned. Tetsusaiga blazed from its sheath and waited tensely in Inuyasha's hands. "Stay back, Kagome. We're close to the well, so let's make our way there. Then you can escape into your own time."
"What? And leave you to face demons by yourself?" Kagome retorted angrily. "I'll go back once we've kicked their demon butts!"
However neither Kagome nor Inuyasha would get their way very easily. Nearly fifty demons chased them as they raced toward the well. Inuyasha tried to get his Wind Scar to form, but their assailants were quick and most were able to dodge before it reached them.
Kagome managed to slay a few with her sacred arrows, but the hideous, insect-like creatures still swarmed thickly around them.
"Ew, what kind of demons are they? They look like cockroaches someone's already stepped on!" Kagome squealed as one lunged at her only to be shredded by Inuyasha's claws just inches from her face.
"I don't know, but they aren't going to be around long enough to worry," Inuyasha boasted. He whirled, slashing through a good number of the monsters with Tetsusaiga giving them both a moment to recover their breath.
He launched another Wind Scar that hit a group of them this time, but more advanced causing them to back closer to the well. Suddenly, they were attacked from the sides. Scythe-like appendages sliced Inuyasha from all sides as he vainly tried to shield Kagome.
Kagome felt a blinding pain across her stomach and back. Fleeing her agony, she felt herself move against something hard. Her balance failed and she felt herself falling backwards down into the well. Consciousness wavered as she weakly reached toward the half demon's outstretched hand.
"Inuyasha," she cried weakly. The light carried her to the other end of the well and out of his reach. Terror filled her as she lay in the dark feeling blood pour out of her body. No one was expecting her back and she was too weak to climb out on her own or shout for help. All she could think was, "Inuyasha, please, help me!"