A/N: Boo-friggin'-yah, I finally rewrote all six chapters. Now I can set to work on writing new, fresh material. Can I get a internet hug, please? :)
This chapter has been rewritten as of: 7/6/2014
Set to Sleep
Dilated argent eyes latched onto her. The dragon's teeth remained clamped around Shige's scaly neck, pierced through the ruddy plating of his scales.
Kikyou stood her ground as the limp corpse was released. The demon of Kagome never allowed its eyes to stray from the priestess. Lips curled backwards to intimidate her. The serrated teeth gleamed viciously. Kikyou remained unmoved, not in the least frightened: only wary.
Thrown by Kikyou's refusal to submit, the proud beast flared her wings, shadowing the corpse of Shige as she snorted, rearing up and roaring. A fork tongue snaked out as the magnificent wings fanned the air. When the dragon caught a whiff of her scent the beast's jaws clamped shut. She snorted dismissively when the soul catcher's deigned to float around her, at ease in her presence. Her head turned to the frail, tiny body that laid still near Kikyou.
A keening whine escaped the beast as she crawled slowly towards Kusano, belly low to the ground in hesitance. Kikyou stepped back, opting not to get in the distraught demon's way. She growled lowly at Kikyou when she passed, snout crinkling as if daring her to impede her path. The message was clear; stay away or else. The beast slunk passed her, tail dragging along the grass as opposed to swaying gracefully above the earth.
The demon reached Kusano and laid near the child, close as she curled around her protectively. All the dragon did for a moment was stare.
A scaled snout snuffled on the girl's head when it lowered. Three fingered hands gently clutched the girl, tipped with vicious talons but not so much as tracing a line on Kusano's skin.
The girl was nudged softly with a large head; softly, sweetly. Kusano did not stir. Unsatisfied and distressed by the lack of response, the demon whined quietly and pawed at the small face, talons curled inwards so as to rub the scaled knuckles lightly across Kusano's cheeks. Eventually the beast stilled, neck curling to lay her head near the child, whimpering. The silver eyes glistened wetly.
Kikyou lowered her head at the painful sight. It wrenched at her heart. She was not normally affected by such events, accustomed to tragedy in this violent world, but this was close. In the short time she'd known her, Kusano had slithered into both her and Kagome's hearts. She laughed coarsely, bitter.
That was her mistake.
In reaction to the priestess's unexpected laugh, Kagome's demon misinterpreted it and took it as an offense. Kikyou snapped her head up to the dragon rising, careful to not jostle Kusano, and then poised herself to lunge.
The priestess stumbled backwards, avoiding the giant bullet of white that sprung at her. The unexpected turn of events left her bewildered and off kilter. She scrambled to the side to avoid another pounce when the tip of Kagome's tail snagged her.
She was flung towards the ground, jarring her knees and elbows and leaving her limbs with the feeling of pins and needles pricking her. Kikyou flitted through her brain for the cause of this attack from Kagome when she realized her folly.
The demon thought she had mocked her, or Kusano, with her bitter, mirthless laughter. In such a form, young and fueled by instinct, Kagome's demon couldn't possibly interpret emotions through human tones efficiently, leading to this mess.
She didn't have long to reflect further on her thoughts when the dragon once more vaulted off the ground, screeching shrilly. Kikyou had the breath squeezed out of her shortly after, red pinpricks blossoming along her top as talons dug into the flesh of her shoulder. A soft noise of discomfort escaped her, little more than a moan as she winced at the sharp bite of the demon's nails. Very quickly she began fidgeting, wheezing as Kagome's demon pressed down on her with its full weight, hissing.
Her lungs burned. The ridiculous of the situation made her want to laugh again, but she could barely manage a smile. She clenched her jaw—if Kagome wasn't off of her soon her ribcage would give way. She could almost hear the creaking of her bones passed the fast pounding of her heart, quivering for life. She gasped sharply, choked.
Abruptly, everything stilled.
The rushing of blood in her veins resounded through her ears, nearly making her rabbiting, throbbing organ inaudible. She raised her soft doelike brown orbs to meet argent silver.
Not a circle, not thick.
Horrified, not angry. Frightened, not predatory.
In a flash, Kagome was off of her.
Kikyou rolled over instantly, sucking in breaths and curling inwards. Her entire torso was likely bruised. The stinging in her shoulders didn't stop her from eventually rising, sitting up.
Large eyes stared at her—no. They peered through her, unseeing. Kagome's face was twisted into an odd expression, fixed on the six red specks growing larger on Kikyou's clothed shoulders.
Hesitantly, she stood and approached the trembling young woman immersed in the flesh of a dragon. "Kagome?" she called quietly.
Kagome remained bunched up. In fact, she lowered herself more; she tried to appear smaller. Her wide, quivering silver orbs flicked down shamefully and she whimpered.
The sight made Kikyou almost fist a hand at her chest, unusually pained at Kagome's reaction. Rubbing at the internal ache momentarily, she slowly placed her hand on the other's head. Kikyou sunk to her knees. "Look at me," she said softly. When it became apparent that her request was refused, she ordered more firmly. "Look at me Kagome." Both of her pale hands settled on the slender, strong jaw and raised it. A torrential flow of emotions slipped from Kagome's eyes as the met Kikyou's.
Blood dripped from Kagome's wounds, the teeth mark in her neck allowing it to crawl sluggishly out. Kikyou furrowed her brows worriedly. "It's alright," Kikyou murmured gently, before pausing. Biting her lip and releasing it, she corrected herself. "It will be okay."
Not quite taking the priestess's words to heart, Kagome managed to shake her head mournfully. "I hurt you," she stated brokenly. "Kusano, Kusano's dead because of me. He was after me and used her to get to me! It's my fault."
"Did you know?"
Kagome blinked, unsure of what she was asking. Kikyou tugged her snout up sharply, and reiterated, "Did you know? Did you know he was going to go after Kusano? Did you even know anyone was after you?"
Mutely, Kagome swung her head in a negative, wide eyed at Kikyou's sudden aggression, the firmness in her voice. The demon wanted to avert her gaze, but the other woman had her pinioned. The grip on Kagome's jaw loosened, no longer binding, but soft and soothing. Kikyou's warmth melted into her, bypassing her thick armor of scales.
"Then it is not your fault." Kikyou declared. "You had no warning. No reason to wonder if you would be attack using someone you care for. Do not blame yourself for something that you had no hand in. Do not blame yourself for things you could not control." The sheer, underlying meaning in Kikyou's voice had Kagome nodding her head obediently.
Kikyou rubbed Kagome's jaw gently, knowing that she would still blame herself. But hopefully she would also take her words into consideration and eventually relieve herself of unwarranted guilt on her own. Seeing the doubtful glimmer in the other's eyes, Kikyou did something that caught even herself off guard.
Soft lips pressed against Kagome's nose. The dragon's pupils shrunk, as thin as a hair in bafflement. Heat coursed to the point of contact, blood flushing beneath her thankfully scaled skin.
As sudden as it was, it was also over in the same amount of time it took to execute. Kagome's eyelids flapped open and closed relentlessly. Had she imagined it?
No. The action also had Kikyou struck by confusion, standing and averting her head to the side while grabbing her arm, remarkably. . . timid? She's shy. The obvious, lovely pink tinged cheeks also told Kagome something else. She's embarrassed!
Kagome honestly wanted to laugh, thrown off by the ridiculousness of everything. Her shoulders shuddered despite her efforts and she squeezed her eyes shut and she lowered to the ground. Her tail beat the ground excitedly as Kikyou reddened further. Oh my God, I never thought I'd ever see her embarrassed like this! Priceless! It was too much, Kagome burst.
The wheezing laughter that thrummed through her throat made her wounds ache, but she didn't resist the urge. She rolled onto her bag, wiggling like a worm with terrifying giggles that were more like coughs and gurgling. Unbidden, water sprayed into the air from her maw and came down like rain.
Kikyou glared at her hotly. "Quiet, you!" she demanded fruitlessly; the dragon was too far gone into her rumbling laughter, which only increased and had the woman soaked for her efforts.
"I'm—I'm sorry," Kagome wheezed out, finally submitting to the throbbing pain in her body that demanded she stop her childish display. "But whew, that felt good." she admitted shamelessly.
"Well I'm glad you're having fun," retorted Kikyou dryly. She peered at the dragon, willing her cheeks to cool. "We need to get your wounds taken care of." They had stopped bleeding, miraculously, to which Kikyou attributed to Kagome's newly gained demonic attributes. That didn't mean they couldn't get infected.
The agonizing process of getting the dragon to settle down long enough for her to disinfect her wounds via herbs and wrap her wounds was complete after several minutes. Kagome had whined pitiably even though she gained no mercy. Kikyou's expression told her to "suck it up".
"You're cruel," Kagome whimpered, hissing at the audible sting of herbs working in her many cuts and scratches.
Kikyou managed not to roll her eyes. "Quiet."
Kagome harrumphed. Both sat still for a few comforting moments. Kagome soon sighed, rising to her feet. Her body rippled with the motion. The sky was darkening, speckled with growing lights that flickered and twinkled above the world. She skulked about, silent beneath Kikyou's questioning stare. Kagome circled the immediate area, only moving further away when she gave a dissatisfied growl. She scraped and thumped in the quickening dark, and Kikyou finally had to ask when the dragon crooned softly beyond her sight.
"May I ask what you're looking for Kagome?" She could see the fluttering of large wings, a mere outline to the shadowed beast. Silver gleamed brightly in the gloom and Kikyou suppressed an odd urge to shiver.
"I'm looking for a good spot, which I've found." Kikyou raised a brow, letting her silence show that she was not content with such an answer. "A grave," Kagome added, much more quiet. "for Kusano." I hadn't thought I would be digging another so soon, the dragon mentally continued.
Kusano lay on a sleeping roll they received from the village along with a spare pack. Kikyou had closed Kusano's eyes to give the illusion of peace and set her neck back in place while cringing. Still, the sight of the excitable girl so stiff and unmoving made them both unable to bear the sight of her long before the shame got to them. The sound of dirt being uprooted tore Kikyou's thoughts from the deceased child. She turned her head to where Kagome was digging. The dragon curtained by night would be a frightening image to anyone weak of heart.
Kikyou set to the task of starting a fire after deciding it would be good to simply rest rather than continue in the dark after the physical and emotional harm her companion endured. Gathering tinder and dead stems and branches for kindling, she placed it to the pile to build a nest and used stones to circle it. Once that was done, she kneeled down and gathered the materials set aside together before her, placing most in the makeshift nest. Grabbing a straight stick and a fragment of flat wood, she used friction to spark the flame. After the fire had birthed she set the pieces in it carefully and sat back, weary.
Her hair brushed something that wasn't behind her before, and she blinked and turned her head up to see a dirt dusted snout resting on her head, an amusing attempt at a smile curling at Kagome's lips. Eventually the dragon's smile dimmed, and Kikyou shifted to stand wordless at the unspoken message, holding Kusano close. "I'll help." Kagome nodded solemnly before her face scrunched up. She snuffled, sucking in breath and pulling her head up. The subsequent, quiet sneezes made Kikyou snicker. Whoever seen a "majestic" creature fall prey to a bout of sneezes?
The moment of humor gone, Kagome led her to the hole she dug up. It was deep and wide, easily large enough for a girl's corpse to fit. Kikyou gingerly set Kusano down, kneeling. She arranged the child's cold limbs in an adequately comfortable position, before leaning back. Kagome bowed her head quietly along with her, before shifting the mountain of dirt beside the grave into it. Kusano's lax face disappeared beneath the waves of dirt. Kagome shut her eyes to it. I'm sorry; if only I had been quicker.
Once the soil was settled and patted down, Kagome threw a glance at the large corpse hidden in shadows. Her excellent eyesight could see him clearly, while Kikyou could not. She had heard the vulture's that had flown over him, onto him, but they couldn't be bothered to peck through his armor, only dipping their beaks into the large grooves she had made with her claws along his body. Turning her head, she concluded that she would not trouble herself with creating such a grave for him.
"More might come," Kikyou said.
Kagome looked at her, wondering what she meant. Her answer to her confusion found her quickly; the demon, his clan, her kin. If Shige came after her for her human origins, that meant their was a likelihood of more seeking to kill her. Morosely, Kagome mumbled a "Yep," in response. Kagome fidgeted, a thought striking her. She breathed out wearily and pressed her belly to the ground, resting her massive, horned head on her forearms. She was oddly comfy in this form. "Y'know, that means you'll be in danger too. Are you sure it's okay to be around me right now? Maybe you should just g—"
The end of Kikyou's bow whapped her on the head. She flinched, fixing her wincing gaze on Kikyou who had her eyes shut, a rare expression on annoyance and exasperation on her face. "Quiet."
"W-what?" Kagome stuttered, taken aback by the ominous tone the priestess had adopted. All of a sudden Kikyou seemed to have a dangerous aura visibly wafting off of her. "Nevermind!" she yelped.
Kikyou frowned deeply. "It's sad that you think so lowly of me as to abandon you when you are at risk of danger. Did you think I would just leave you due to the possibility of also becoming a target?" She opened one eye to peer at Kagome, who shrank submissively on instinct. The meaning of the action went unnoticed by the two.
Mutely, the dragon shook her head, abashed and feeling very much scolded. Not looking at Kikyou, she jumped subtly when one of the priestess's hands began playing with her soft mane. Silver eyes found soft chocolate, both alight with the flickering reflection of flames. Beneath her scales, Kagome could feel herself blushing. Kikyou looked away quickly and mumbled under her breath with an unseen upturn of her lips, knowing Kagome would catch it with her ears. "You really are a child, aren't you?"
"Hey! That was uncalled for," Kagome grunted, mentally cringing at the designation Kikyou placed on her. Crocodile tears were being wept by a chibi version of her inside her head, waving a white flag that signaled surrender. Crushes hurt. Kikyou shrugged easily, allowing her menacing presence to dissipate not that she got her point across. Her hand continue to card through Kagome's silky mane, occasionally grazing the dragon's horns.
"I won't abandon a friend in the face of danger, or the likely chance that I'm included in the conflict because I am affiliated with you." Kikyou stated firmly, just to hammer the last nail in place to convey her conviction to her companion. Even though Kagome would rather not have the priestess included in the danger, that was not her decision. The dragon wisely did not protest, because honestly, if the situation was reversed she could easily see herself doing the same. But Kikyou. . . for her to do it was quite the surprise despite their bonding under the noses of Kagome's friends. Kagome was warmed by Kikyou's care for her.
The heat of the fire was not as overwhelming to Kagome as the village of flames she had previously encountered, but perhaps Kikyou toying with the dragon's fine hair had something to do with that too. Relaxing beneath the tender warmth of that hand parting her hair like a current, she only opened perked up when she heard the older woman's voice ask, "How come you have yet to change back?" Good question. Kagome rolled her scaly shoulders to convey her own ignorance on the matter.
"I could try to," Kagome could still recall the first sensation of her return to human skin. The squeezing of her entirety, condensing, all the extra bones and mass sifting and melting and boiling away to who knows wear, perhaps leaving her body like invisible steam. The extreme force pushing her in at all sides with no escape or reprieve. The unbridled fear of helplessness enveloping her as she was made vulnerable by her transition from dragon to woman, weakened beyond what she thought possible. Quite frankly, she dreaded returning to her human form. "But I sort of want to get used to being in this body. It's no good if I can't use it right." And she wanted to fly. How she wanted to try, to split the air with her wings. Ironic, because she was also terrified. There would be no nets to halt her descent should she suddenly lose her resolve to fly due to anxiety.
Kikyou nodded in understanding and they both settled, comfortable with the other. Kikyou eventually sidled close to Kagome, leaning into her side tiredly. Kagome tensed in response at the unexpected action, but did nothing further. Kikyou took that correctly as Kagome's consent to be used as a pillow and covered herself with the thin blankets of a bedroll and relaxed against her former reincarnation's hide. She was out soon after.
Kagome didn't have the strength to blush and simply relaxed, curling around the woman who was so small to her in this form. She never thought that she'd ever have Kikyou sleeping against her, and she figured it wasn't bad, not at all. Kikyou's warmth seeped into her. Chasing away any improper thoughts that came unbidden at Kikyou's tender, sleeping expression, Kagome closed her eyes and inhaled, catching the pleasant aroma of her priestess drifting into her nose and carrying off into the state of slumber Kikyou was in.
Kagome awoke before the sun had risen. The plains were still and dark as the horizon had the smallest stains of dawn coloring the sky. She blinked blearily, silver eyes glazed with sleep as she opened her maw, yawning widely. The fire was dying.
Movement at her side, brushing her scales made her turn her head wobblylike. A head of raven hair, undone from its ribbon, met her. She froze, trying to remember why in the world Kikyou, the one Inuyasha adored and loved and the one who returned the dog hanyou's affection, was flush against her. Kagome blushed heatedly before recalling the events of yesterday.
Withholding the urge to glimpse Kusano's grave, Kagome carefully maneuvered herself so that Kikyou wouldn't wake, hopefully. While the priestess actually mumbled something quietly, she remained nestled in the blankets. Kagome stood and glanced in awe at the ridiculous sight of Kikyou bundled up and hidden within the sheets. She looked like a lump. The dragon shook her head mirthfully before stoking the fire, ensuring it would keep Kikyou warm despite the discomfort the increasing heat caused her.
Kagome slipped away from the campsite. The darkness did not diminish her catlike vision. Her eyes of molten mercury gleamed like poised blades in the dark as she slithered further away, eventually deeming the distance adequate enough that she wouldn't disturb her sleeping companion.
"So. . ." she thought aloud, "how am I gonna do this?" Her forked tongue tasted the cool air and she sat tensely among long grass that swallowed her legs and tail. Perhaps a running start? Or was it as easy as one flap and two flap and then viola, you're flying? She doubted it. Let's just start with getting my wings open. Which actually wasn't as simple as she expected it to be. When she tried to fan one out, the other seemed to pull tighter towards herself. She had no experience with the extra limbs capable of holding her entire body up in the air. With great frustration and much fidgeting, both her wings eventually spanned out fully. And then she folded them once more, rinsing and repeating.
When she could successfully get them to open and close in one go smoothly, without much concentration, she decided that now was the time to test how good she was with heights.
She lowered, underbelly being tickled by the blades of grass. She took in a breath and stilled, hearing her heart thump in her breast. Okay, okay Kagome. You can do this. You're a dragon and these wings aren't just for show; you're not a chicken. You can do this! She burst into a sprint, easily surpassing the speed of a leopard and overcoming meters in single bounds, before leaping. Her wings spread outwards. And she fell. Oh, this was a bad idea! Kagome shrieked inside her mind as her wings flapped desperately, flailing in the air. For one miserable moment, she expected to plummet to the ground, eating a mouthful of dirt for her failure.
And then one powerful wind nearly snuffed out the glow of fire in the corner of her vision. Her body jerked sharply and wobbled in the air. She was carried upwards, gliding upon the updraft of an unexpected air current. Her jaw dropped and then closed, imitating fishes gulping water. Hesitantly, she tilted, a wing dipping and the other rising while her bow-finned tail shifted to help further her on her way. She circled in the air smoothly, the softest of winds sounding after her. "This is so amazing," she rumbled lowly to the ears of no one but herself. Her wings beat into a steady rhythm, matching her calmed heart.
She flapped swiftly, rising. Eventually the shrubbery of the plains became mere specks and the low-lying clouds were moist on her wings. Kagome grew nervous.
How do I get down?
She banked, and then with much dread, pulled her wings in tight and fell into a steep dive. She sailed towards land as gravity prevailed. The loud rush of oxygen whipping in her ears drowned out all noise as she stamped out the completely rational urge to panic at the sight of the earth closing in. With fright beginning to worm its way into her mind, she outstretched her forelegs, three-fingered hands splayed out like a falcon, and coiled her legs. Her wings unfurled in the last possible moments, allowing her to glide shallowly and land in a small, stumbling run.
She took a moment to stand completely still, before hopping about like a rabid bunny. Woo, that wasn't that bad at all! I can't believe I just did that! She totally had the right to bask in her success, she reasoned with herself. A cheesy grin awkwardly settled on her draconic face as she rolled about in the grass. Eventually the extra energy gained from her nervousness was expelled and she relaxed, going up to take air again.
She began attempting simple maneuvers in the air, rolls and spins, sudden U-turns and dives. She flew above the camp, keeping an eye on Kikyou.
Kikyou. . . Her talons could have sunk right through her. She wouldn't have been able to do a damn thing in that state of mind to stop herself either. She shuddered at the thought, disgusted with herself for even marring Kikyou's skin. In her eagerness to distract herself from such thoughts she pushed herself further. Her wings strained against the elevated level of exercise whereas they were previously unused. She didn't let up, taking the growing aches of exertion as a form of punishment. For all of an hour, she beat her wings furiously. She adapted in the sky and joined with it, riding along with the wind caressing her like a lost friend.
When she was satisfied, exhausted and weak, she dived towards the ground without the fear of collision. She pulled up meters from the campsite, snapping her wings shut and brushing the ground with her talons. Her flight ended with a graceful trot.
Kagome examined the lump that was Kikyou. The priestess did not appear to have stirred. Shutting her eyes, Kagome concentrated.
Her scales melted away, wings dissipating like mist, and her large serpentine body contorted, pulling in on itself. Her horns shrunk and several cracking sounds sounded out internally within the confines of her flesh. With a quest groan and the fell of pins and needles tingling all about, Kagome collapsed in a heap, not caring that she was basically kissing the ground. She lied there, deeming it to troublesome to move, and eventually drifted off.
The soft eyes of another, exasperated, observed her in hopes she would get back up. Finding their subject of interest unmoving and out, they rolled as the bearer stood, going to grab a spare bed roll and pushing the dead weight of Kagome into it when she refused to wake. Once the girl was tucked in, Kikyou returned to her resting place, swallowing a yawn. A murmur from her lips followed the rustling of sheets as she slipped beneath her blankets.
"You really are such a child."
The dying fire crackled, thin wisps of smoke trailing into the sky.
Two days later had found the two companions going at a brisk pace. Kagome was coping with Kusano's death as expected, still with remnants of guilt tugging at her. But she was overcoming that, ignoring it more like, with the thoughts of her next flight. She hadn't transformed again since that day, but she was hoping for it. It was simply beyond her current reach though. Each time she stretched for that sensation, delving deep within her mind, incomprehensible whispers and hisses threatened to pull her under if she attempted to bypass the mental barrier. It seemed like she wouldn't be able to access that part of her for a while, but that didn't stop her from trying. Perhaps with enough mental force, that wall would crumble.
Other than that, she was fiddling around with her ability to draw water out from her pores and from the oxygen in the air, or plants around her. She still wasn't all that skilled, but the fact that she could even summon a whip of it to slice a few inches into a tree was enough to make her giddy. She played around, forming liquid sculptures and attempting to boil or freeze it, depending on whatever she fancied at the time.
In actuality, all of this served as an attempt to distract herself from the inevitable reunion with her friends, and the likelihood that she was being hunted. She was wary; using her fooling around as a fun way to test her control over water in the case she would ever actually need to use it. She couldn't count on instinct overtaking her each time—in fact she didn't want to. The feeling of being out of control troubled her more than the idea of being stuck in the body of a giant, winged lizard for the rest of her life, however long it was now. Another thought that rankled at her.
And her friends. She was getting worked up, stressing over their reactions to her transformation. Despite her fear being unreasonable, Kagome herself would admit, logic did not dictate her emotions, which seriously messed with her head and drew up horrible thoughts of being abandoned or hated. The creeping fear of being rejected battled head on with the anticipation of seeing them again after going so long without. Over a week, over two—her family might be stressing too. . .
Kagome pushed back the paranoia.
Inuyasha sniffed. "No, I can't find her scent anywhere." His ears pinned back in his frustration and concern. "Where is she!"
Sango sighed in response atop Kirara, accompanied by a sullen Shippo and a somber monk. Shippo's lips pulled down further, increasingly downtrodden with another bust.
Miroku frowned contemplatively. "Perhaps her scent changed if the demon is to be believed and Kagome has been transformed."
Inuyasha glanced at him, taking his words into consideration. "Even so, she couldn't change so much as to fool my nose. A person's scent sticks with them for a while—it doesn't change right off the bat like that—hopefully. If it has, it shouldn't be as much as to have me not look into it." Inuyasha glared ahead. This entire situation pissed him off. Kagome be hurt for all they know, or dying, or starving—or whatever! She was his damn friend and here he was unable to find her! He growled, only for his ears to perk up at the next few unexpected words.
"I bet Kikyou found her," Shippo mumbled. She always found his mama before, with those floating snakes of hers. Kagome always thought he was asleep then, or preoccupied, but he was keen enough to notice the white lines slithering around in the dead of night—unlike Inuyasha. Ha! One for Shippo, zero for Inuyasha.
The fox boy gained surprised looks from all. Miroku took it upon himself to ask, "Why is that, Shippo?"
Shippo stubbornly kept quiet. He didn't think Kagome would want him to tell, 'specially since she never told them.
Catching on to the fact Shippo refused to answer, Miroku shook his head bemusedly and instead said, "It's about time to circle back and regroup with Lady Kikyou. Right? Besides, we're not getting any clue in this area." The monk frowned tiredly. "Let us hope Kikyou has had more luck."
Inuyasha debated it. He worried for his friend, far more than he was concerned for the jewel shards, but his affection for the formerly dead priestess won him over; who knows? Maybe Shippo bet right and Kikyou did find Kagome. He jerked a nod in consent. "Yeah, fine."
And they turned in the direction of Kaede's village.
Breaking through the tree line, Kikyou contemplated staying right here and waiting. Seeing her younger sister so old and frail was immensely painful and disturbing. It left her empty inside of her at times. She wasn't meant to see Kaede that way, not while Kikyou still held the body of a young maiden. And Inuyasha would be there too, now or later, bearing those beseeching gold eyes. Gold eyes that would then turn to Kagome.
Just like that, for some inexplicable reason, made Kikyou change her mind and keep marching straight on. Kagome looked at her in befuddlement when she increased her speed, but decided not to question it.
Very soon, Kagome found herself on the end of some conflicting gazes from the villagers. Both fascination, curiosity, awe, and fear was directed towards her. Eventually they recognized her, surprisingly, or perhaps it was because of Kikyou's presence; they did not scorn her, but their tension in them along with the cautious gazes showed they were still quite uncertain. They didn't seem to know what to think when they landed on the pair.
Kagome paid them no attention; her eyes were on everything, everyone. The village seemed so familiar but not, the sights more detailed, the scents stronger, the sounds louder. Villagers toiled in the field of crops and even the roofs of the houses look different.
Kaede was just outside her hut, speaking to a pale young man and handing him some herbs. Her lone eye widened when she caught sight of Kagome and Kikyou coming towards her. She waved off the man after a few instructions.
"Kikyou," she spoke, before catching Kagome in the peripherals of her limited vision. "Kagome?"
The dragon demon fidgeted, wrapping her arms around her stomach self-consciously. "It's nice to see you again, Kaede." Kagome greeted nervously.
Kaede looked to the both of them, back and forth, obviously not expecting the two to be able to be comfortable in such proximity with each other. With a heavy stare she ushered them into her home. Kaede motioned for them to sit down, doing so herself.
"The monk and the demon slayer have informed me of your dilemma—they requested that I keep an eye out for ye should you come here—but," she intoned dryly. "I wasn't aware of all the details. Or the fact that my older sister would be aiding him in their search of ye." Kaede sent an odd look to Kikyou, who stared back almost defiantly.
Kagome twiddled with her fingers uncomfortably while the two siblings seemed to communicate something silently, or were just purposefully keeping quiet and tense to make her nervous.
"Kagome wasn't aware of it either," Kikyou stated wryly, obviously. Kaede's eyes widened at the way her sister spoke. She wasn't blind to the fact her sister grew bitter after her rebirth, empty, but this was simply strange—Kikyou wasn't giving off a blank gaze, or giving off the impression of being cold. She seemed almost lively.
Tucking that information near, Kaede asked, " And just why," she wondered, "did you search for her in the first place?"
She narrowed her eyes when Kikyou actually seemed to fidget, averting her gaze. "I. . . am not exactly sure. It just felt like something I had to do." Kaede appraised her thoughtfully as Kikyou continued to shift her eyes elsewhere, away from Kaede's own. Strange, she's acting so unusual. Is she up to something concerning Kagome? Kaede glimpsed the sight of poor Kagome, biting her lip and seeming put off by Kikyou's answer. I wonder why. . .
Eventually Kaede's face stretched out in amusement. Something was between the two, in the air. Something that was difficult to discern, but she could still sense it. It was strong, subtle. But Kaede didn't have all these wrinkles for nothing—an old woman like her had certainly seen something like this before. When, she couldn't exactly recall, but she knew what it meant. Well, we'll just have to wait to see if actually turns out the same way. If this what she thought, something taboo and foreign, she wondered if their was any home for such an attachment. The happiness she had witnessed before had stayed her tongue and made her reconsider her opinion on the matter. . . but her older sister growing close in such a way to practically a mere child? To Kagome? She resisted the urge to rub her forehead.
Kagome twitched when the old crone fixed on her in a way that made the fine hairs on the back of her neck raise. "What?" she asked gruffly, not liking the glint in Kaede's eyes.
"Now, Kagome, ye don't want to take after Inuyasha do ye?" Kaede let out a rasping laugh while Kagome flushed, embarrassed as Kaede subtly reprimanded her tone. Kagome managed to not spit out a protest in the very same manner that Inuyasha would.
"Yeah, yeah," Kagome turned her head stiffly. "Laugh it up."
Kikyou smiled this time. Kaede glimpsed it and figured perhaps the idea wasn't as farfetched as she believed.
Mirth abating, Kaede questioned the demon. "How are ye handling all that had transpired Kagome?"
Kagome shrugged. "I'm disoriented at times; I expect to wake up and all of this to be a dream sometimes. I just never imagined such a thing could happen." All of this was beginning to give Kagome a migraine. "I traveled with Sesshomaru; the stubborn bastard refused to give me any directions since he wanted me to look after Rin." she muttered under her breath.
"Ye sure ye're not taking after that rude hanyou?"
Kagome groaned in exasperation.
Following the next two days, Kagome spent them seeking counsel with Kaede or practicing her abilities. Beyond that, Kagome stuck close to Kikyou. She felt weird when the priestess wasn't directly nearby, within sight. It made her antsy. Being around her was great and she berated herself for just worsening her feelings for the older woman. She knew that what she wanted was also what she was afraid of, because she'd never been with someone and it was very unlikely Kikyou would ever consider her that way. Kagome embraced the friendship the two found with one another and left it at that.
She hunted whenever she felt the need growing enough to bother her and gave the scraps of her kills to the villagers, not wanting for the bodies to go to waste. She was impartial in her prey, being more of one who takes whatever opportunity that springs up. She even preyed upon a few meager demons, weak enough to go down with just her talons alone.
As it was at the current moment, she bobbed her head to an unheard tune and seated herself inside of Kaede's hut. She refused to visit the well; she was too afraid of being rejected. She resolved to only attempt to return to her time when she reunited with her friends. Her family was on the other side, out of reach due to time itself, and she was too afraid of finding herself bound to this side. Admittedly, she could survive in this era, but her family was too dearly precious to her to simply give up like that.
It was the second night that Kikyou approached her, posing a question.
"What will you do when they return?"
Kagome smiled humorlessly in response and flipped her hair over her shoulder. "Not sure. I guess all there is for me to do is hope for the best."
Kikyou arched her brow at Kagome. "Hope for the best? For what?" The priestess kneeled down opposite of the horned demoness, patient.
"Well, I guess I hope to still be of some use; I can't exactly sense jewel shards anymore—the main reason Inuyasha kept around." Kagome stretched before leaning against the wall of the hut, staring at the ceiling. "He's going to ask you to play my role now, doubtlessly." She glanced at Kikyou.
Kikyou's face drew a blank; Kagome's lips nearly twitched into a frown as she recognized it. It was the same the woman newly resurrected, a shell kept functioning by the souls departed women. Then the priestess pressed her hands together.
"I won't do it."
Kagome blinked, startled. "Why?" There was a fierceness in Kikyou's expression now. But any emotion on Kikyou's face was beautiful to Kagome, who mentally smacked herself for straying into such thoughts.
"If he is willing to abandon you for such a reason then what is to say he will not do the same to me?"
Because he loves you. "He's a good guy," Kagome stated sincerely. "He's just hard to deal with. I don't think he'll honestly do that to me, but it won't change the fact that there's not much use for me anymore. I'll just get in the way."
Kikyou was unamused with Kagome's low opinion of herself. It showed in the way she narrowed her eyes, pursed her lips. She didn't understand why her reincarnation would put herself down. Perhaps she could, but she didn't want to. She didn't like it. "Stop. Stop speaking about yourself in such a way." she ordered aggressively. "You are my reincarnation and my friend. So stop. It," she searched for the word, "upsets me."
Kagome gaped at her, but fortunately did as told and shut her mouth.
"There is no reason for you to think that." Kikyou continued. "You've grown stronger, especially since your transformation. You yourself saved me, remember? And you've done it quite a bit before with your other friends I'm certain. You don't need the ability to detect the sacred jewel shards to do that." she stated matter-of-factly, annoyed.
Kagome fidgeted in place as Kikyou stared her down. "I didn't think, sorry." She didn't know why it had Kikyou so upset, honestly, but the best thing to do was apologize, right? "I'm sorry." she reiterated, wondering why she had to in the first place.
Kikyou nodded at her after a moment, apparently satisfied. She stayed until she felt the need to move about and decided to go speak to her sister, leaving Kagome to stare after her in confusion.
Morning was a simple affair as Kagome followed the same routine as she had the past two days. She knocked on the barrier inside of her mind continuously as she ate a brew Kaede fixed up, savoring the flavor. Afterwards, she waited until Kikyou herself roused from slumber as she played with the remnants of the liquid inside her bowl, finding it a little bit difficult to pick up the water sprinkled with different herbs and such.
Her nose twitched, tilting her head as unusual noise became apparent outside. A couple of people, new to her enhanced sense of smell, were striding towards the hut with purpose. One was running with bare feet slapping the ground, so she poked Kikyou awake quickly, to the priestess's disgruntlement. Kagome had a guess as to who they were.
And it seems she was right.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kikyou straighten, mildly agitated from being woken up. Her hair was ruffled and an actual yawn slipped out of her jaws without the priestess's consent, much to the older woman's embarrassment and Kagome's amusement. Kagome caught Kaede's eye, sitting near her as the noise increased. She glared in response to that off putting shine in it.
Kagome stared at the doorway when a red blur blocked it from view.
Inuyasha stood, in all his glory, staring at Kagome's crush. "Kiky—" He then frozen, inhaling and turning to bear down on Kagome. "Who the hell're you?"
Kagome smiled mischievously, hiding her hurt, and knew of a wonderful way to spark his memory.