NOTE - This is a WRAP UP to a series that hasn't ended yet, rather than a story in itself. Rumiko Takahashi has done a wonderful job in telling her tale so far, and I have no desire to retell what she's already done. HENCE, here's a 7-chapter ending for ya. It's continued in Soledad and Venganza (which, unlike this fic, ARE actual self-contained stories...)
Chapter 1 The Necromancer's Aphrodisiac
Snarling, Inuyasha sniffed at the air again as Sango and Miroku came to a panting halt behind him.
The monk leaned heavily on his staff as he tried to catch his breath, looking exhaustedly up at the hanyou through sweat-drenched bangs. "Inuyasha…did you…lose the trail?"
The dog boy spun on him. "There is no trail!" he barked, swiping angrily at a nearby tree, severing its trunk. The others winced as the lumber came crashing down through the shrubbery in a deep foresty boom. Inuyasha began to pace, flinging his arms furiously. "Kagome's scent disappears here!"
Sango watched him with unease. If they couldn't find the necromancer soon, she shuddered to think of what the foul wizard would do to Kagome. The demon exterminator was no fool. She'd seen the lusty look in the villain's yellowed eyes as he raced off with their friend slung over that animated carcass of a steed. The creature was deceptively fast. They had barely seen it coming before it showed up in Kaede's village, snatching Kagome before any of them could even react.
She held her breath, relieved that Inuyasha was still coherent - that the panic and rage at having Kagome abducted hadn't caused him to blitz out and go on a rampage.
"If that decrepit, seedy bastard even touches her, I'll rip his balls off, and gouge his eyes!" the hanyou seethed.
Sango bit her lower lip, reconsidering her earlier thoughts. At least not yet…
"There's no barrier," Miroku stood upright, frowning. "And if the trail just disappears, then that means he must have transported somewhere-"
"Lecherous, conniving, lunatic dungspawn…" Inuyasha's invective interspersed Miroku's dialogue in short staccato bursts.
"But why did he take Kagome?" Sango asked.
Inuyasha flicked her a frenzied glance and continued to pace. Miroku bowed his head, and answered.
"The Shikon shard has tweaked the dark nature of the necromancer's magic, pushing the wizard beyond reason," Miroku said, recalling the moment Kagome sensed the approach of the Shikon shard, and the maniacal rantings of her kidnapper before he turned and fled...something about his destiny...and claiming a miko for his own. "He's drawn to the miko power in Kagome-"
"What miko power?" Inuyasha snapped, as though the insane wizard would be bound by any rationale. "She hasn't developed even a fourth of it!"
Miroku paused, acknowledging Inuyasha's outburst with a nod. He knew it was just a cover for the crazed anxiety the hanyou felt. The axiety they all felt. One of the worst places in the world to be was in the hands of a maddened wizard. "It's dormant, but there, my friend. And he wants it... He wants her."
Inuyasha grimaced, and Miroku mentally thwacked himself, wishing he hadn't said those last words out loud. They had painted a nasty visual in not only his mind, but apparently in his comrade's as well.
"I'll…kill him…" Trembling, the dog boy dropped to his knees and slammed his claws in the dirt, as though to sunder the very planet apart with his bare hands. His jaw muscles spasmed and he threw his silver mane back and roared at the eventide sky. "KAGOME!"
It hurt Sango's heart to see him like this. Inuyasha's feelings for Kagome were unprofessed, but obvious. Obvious to everyone but him. And it was at times like these when the girl was in danger, that the hanyou's love for her was so profoundly manifest. Pained, she looked away…
…and that's when she saw it. Hovering a few feet off the ground. It was feint, but there. "Look!" she pointed, drawing their attention immediately. "A distortion in the atmosphere. It wavered..."
Inuyasha and Miroku perked. The illusion had disappeared, so they waited breathlessly for a few seconds until the ripple flashed again…like an elusive mirage, warbling the view as subtly as steam. Acting on impulse, Inuyasha charged it only to go straight through. Swearing he spun around. "What the hell is it?"
"A portal," Miroku answered, peeling out one of his scrolls. The portal flicked again, and he tossed his sanctified paper at it, but it floated uselessly to the ground. The monk scowled his frustration. "But I can't hold its shape."
"We have to get through it. She's on the other side!" Sango cried in growing alarm. She neared it only to step back as the magical crackle of an unsheathing Tetsusaiga filled her ears.
Inuyasha stood there, on the ready with sword in hand. His shoulders rose and fell with each heated pant…his knees bent, ready to spring. Sango caught Miroku's eye knowingly, and could tell the monk was thinking the same thing. A sword vs. a portal? It wouldn't work. There was no way, but neither of them were about to tell the hysterical hanyou otherwise.
The illusion wavered into sight again, and Inuyasha dove at it, sword first…
Sango blinked. In a knee-jerk reaction, Miroku tried to follow, but to no avail.
"Unbelievable," he breathed, staring at the displacement of air as though it were the largest puzzle in the world. "The sword…its magic yanked him through."
"So what do we do now?" she asked, hoping against hope that they could somehow follow.
Miroku dusted off and stood to his feet. His expression was solemn. "We wait, and pray that Inuyasha gets to Kagome before it's too late."
Inuyasha rolled when he hit, stopping in a crouch. In less than a half second, he took in his surroundings. Bamboo walls, boarded floor, spacious, dimly lit room.
And Kagome's scent.
He sprung forward, and raced through the necromancer's residence, following it. He peeled down long hallways and through a deadened courtyard, batting aside a handful of the wizard's acolytes - gray cloaked zombies as he passed. It only angered him further, to think the despicable, warped magic user would dare to bring someone as innocent and full of life as Kagome to such a disgusting place, littered with the walking undead.
I'll gut him, he reaffirmed venomously. Bash his brains, and break his wrists!
He skidded around a corner, and saw his victim, one of his first thoughts being that the necromancer's attire was disturbing. The wrinkled, pale-skinned wizard was bare to the waist, looking for all the world like a roasted chicken. What few hairs left on his head were hanging in unorthodox scrags down his scrawny back, and his narrowed, beaked face was fixed in a snaggle-toothed grin on something in front of him. A smattering of his acolytes were shuffling lifelessly along the floor, puppets strung along by his commands.
"Where is she?" Inuyasha screamed, startling the necromancer. The old fossil spun around, his red-veined eyes saucer-wide, the words, 'oh shit' formed on his spittled lips. He gulped, a nervous glance flicking at the end of the room. Inuyasha instinctively followed his gaze, and choked.
Curled up on an assortment of pillowy cushions was Kagome, swaddled in silken, opalescent material that left her more naked than covered. And she wasn't moving. The visual elicited several reactions in him, not the least of which was the realization that the necromancer wasn't in the custom of walking around without his robes. He'd been in the process of getting undressed.
Oh, HELL no...
A growl crescendoed deep in Inuyasha's throat, and his vision turned crimson. He would have ranted his usual mantra right before he killed the guy. But the thought of what the decrepit old pervert had planned to do to his Kagome pushed the hanyou beyond coherence. He exploded in a blind fury, the sounds of his own blood thirsty screams filling his ears.
The next time he saw straight, the Shikon shard was in his hand and the necromancer was dead - splattered in bloody clumps along the wall, having fallen victim to an unforgiving Tetsusaiga. And with his death, the animated corpses had fallen to the floor in great heaps of dust.
Inuyasha's entire body was oscillating, and it took several seconds for him to come back to his senses. But when he did, he went immediately to Kagome's side.
He knelt on the cushions next to her and scooped her limp form up in his arms. Her bare skin was slightly fevered, and her head lolled against his bicep. Her cheeks were flushed pink, her lips half parted as though to say something, but her long-lashed eyes were undeniably closed.
He shook her. "Kagome!"
She moaned softly, and he sighed relief. Consciousness wasn't that far away. He scanned her form for any wounds, and felt himself break out into a sweat as he did so.
Her hair had been wrapped up with a decorative clip atop her scalp, with several loose raven wisps dancing about her neck and face. Her attire wasn't much - a couple straps of shimmering, translucent material wrapped around the curves of her body. Small delicate anklets hung in a 'V' atop her feet, and a glittering, jeweled necklace hung low against her chest.
Agh... Too low. He bit his lower lip and looked away, shifting one arm to remove his shirt and covered her in it. The whole ensemble made him - amongst other things - want to commit suicide just so he could go to hell and slaughter the necromancer a second time over.
Twisted, old, corrupt-
She moaned again, and he looked up to see that her heavy-lidded eyes had fluttered open. It wasn't much, but her shadowy, irises were locked on his face, her brow creased in…something. He assumed it was recognition.
"Kagome," he circled his arms around her again, staring intently into her doll-like visage. "Did he-"
She brought a hand up to his face.
"…hurt you? Are you-"
And curled it gently around the back of his head.
"…you okay? Did h-he…" he speech slurred as her nails lightly scratched the nape of his neck, leaving burning trails of sensation that he felt all the way to his toes. "…t-touch you…?"
With an uncharacterically eager smirk, she pulled his face down and closed her mouth on his. His eyes flung wide and he squeaked surprise, but the sound was swallowed by the warmth and the wetness of her lips.
Kagome? His blood raced, and his heart thumped wildly in his ears as every fiber of his being seemed to catch on fire. He nearly choked, being the recipient of so much of her affection, because, knowing Kagome, it could only mean that…that…
You love me… The notion made his eyes sting. Oh, Kagome… Before he realized it, he was kissing her back. She cupped his face with her other hand, moving against him as much as she was capable in his tight embrace. Spontaneous though it was, Inuyasha thought he'd never felt so alive.
Everything aligned in him. Everything. His soul-hunger, his heart, his mind…his desire… All testifying that holding her, kissing her, being with her…was indisputably right. That Kagome was right. For him. He'd been a fool not to see it sooner, and after all he'd put her through with Kikyo…
Agh, I've been such an ass…
He wanted to apologize, and leaned back enough to free his lips. "Kagome," he muffled against her mouth. "I'm sorry-"
She made a small noise of protest, and kissed him again, pulling him back on the cushions atop her in a tangling of limbs. It was unexpectedly aggressive…forward… And somewhere inside of him, a subliminal alarm went off. He felt the tickle of her pulsing fingertips on the bare skin of his back as she tried to remove his shirt. The alarm sounded again, suggesting, insinuating, demanding that Kagome...would never be so bold. With a muttered curse, and great reluctance, he lifted himself off her, and stared hard at her passioned face.
"Say my name, Kagome," his demanded in a strangled tone.
She blinked lazily, and arched against him, trying to tug him back down. A rising panic surged in him and he wanted to scream.
Dammit, Kagome, please tell me you mean all this… "Say my name!"
In response, she purred and caught his lower lip gently between her teeth, running her tongue across it. Inuyasha involuntarily shuddered before he broke away and moved his head to the side, burying his face against her ivory shoulder as he tried to get his bearings. The hanyou wasn't one to whimper, but in this moment he came damn close. "The bastard drugged you," he panted against the soft curve of her chest, trying to retract all those sentiments he'd admitted to himself earlier. "You don't want me. You just want..." she bumped against him, and he gasped. "...that."
With a frustrated growl, Inuyasha forced himself to roll off. He averted his eyes, trying to calm his body down. Then, using his peripheral vision, he methodically tied the arm sleeves of his shirt around her in a knot. Her pretty features creased in a perplexed frown, and she began to struggle.
Coupled with an acute frustration, a vortex of disappointment welled up inside him. He didn't care to identify why, and shifting gears, he flung Kagome's protesting form over his shoulder and made for the portal. His teeth were clenched, and his eyes nearly closed.
"Dammit, Kagome," he hissed, disgusted with how quickly he'd taken advantage of her in that state. He'd been a fool to assume she'd felt so strongly for him to begin with. "I thought it was you. I thought you meant it."
Inuyasha didn't voice the next conclusion of his self-analysis - the one that started and ended with the fact that he wanted her to mean it. That this little encounter made him realize that she meant more to him now than Kikyo ever did.
He instinctively tried to deny it, but the truth of the declaration clung to that void in his soul like a tenacious weed. He couldn't ignore it anymore. Kagome had his heart. Kagome made him whole.
"GAH!" he took out half the doorframe as he passed through one of the rooms. He thought she loved him back, but it was the necromancer's aphrodisiac that had kissed him. Not her.
She squirmed in his grasp, and he tried in vain to ignore how warm her hips were against his shoulder, or how smooth the back of her knees were against his forearm. He bit the inside of his cheek until it bled.
He had to get them back. Fast. Get her to Kaede to undo the spell, somehow. So he trudged on, struggling with the torrent of emotions that raged in his awareness like a tempest, wondering in vain about his future with Kagome, and pondering pointlessly on their past.
He was so confused, he could hardly see straight. Would she remember? If she didn't, should he tell her what happened? Would she hate him for kissing her back?
The last question made him grimace. He couldn't bear it if she shut him out. Especially not after he realized how much she meant to him. Perhaps for now, he would just wait it out and see what happened.
Right, he thought, feeling none-too-confident about the decision. Wait it out...
Kouga craned his neck as he sped onward, noticing the giant white cat of Kagome's comrades. Whatever had snatched the girl up had sped by his boundaries, leaving a trail of her scent blazing through his domain like a string of fire. He could have been noseless and sightless and still been able to follow it.
His anxiety spurred him onward, declaring to heaven and hell and all in between that his woman had better be alright.
The cat must have been scouting separately, because it descended up ahead. He whirled on, coming to an abrupt halt when he saw the feline touch down by the monk and the exterminator. They rose to their feet when he burst into the clearing, wide-eyed.
"Kouga…" the woman said.
"Where is Kagome?" he blurted out, noticing as he did so that the hanyou had also been there. That was a stench he'd never forget. "Where did that cur carry her off to?"
"A necromancer abducted her," the monk began, "and Inuyasha went after them. It was through a portal that-"
The human stopped abruptly as a rusty sword suddenly materialized in the air by his shoulder. Kouga blinked. The familiar weapon seemed to drag that loathsome hanyou out of thin air, and he landed solidly on the ground.
With the wolf prince's woman slumped heavily over his shoulder.
"Kagome!" Kouga took a step towards them only to nearly impale his throat on the tip of Tetsusaiga.
"Touch her, and die," Inuyasha said calmly. Too calmly. The hanyou's golden eyes were narrowed to slits, but aside from that, there was no snarl, no twitching jaw muscles, no offensive insults… Just four words. And they carried more foreboding than any ranting or mayhem combined.
Kouga's sixth sense enflamed, whispering danger. He swallowed his pride and stepped back, not taking his gaze off of his girl. Kagome moved sluggishly, her face hidden by the loose strands of black hair. Seeing her so weakened almost caused Kouga to ignore his intuition and charge the crazed hanyou regardless. "What did you do to her, you filthy mut?"
Inuyasha's lip twitched, and something pained crossed his face right then. He looked away and marched up to the white firecat, draping Kagome across it's back. She moaned in response, kicking at the air groggily.
Inuyasha turned and faced the exterminator. "Sango."
Sango stepped towards him, her brows raised with concern.
"She's under a spell, isn't she," the monk interrupted as he raised a hand to lift the strands away from Kagome's face. To Kouga's surprise, Inuyasha collared him back. Hard. "Stay away from her, Miroku!" he hissed. "No male is to come near her until Kaede can counter the spell, understand?"
The monk's eyes widened dramatically, his mouth making a small 'O' as he caught on to whatever it was Inuyasha wasn't saying. "Did you reach her in time, Inuyasha?"
Kouga watched as the hanyou dropped his gaze, obviously troubled. He nodded his head once. Then the monk went up to him and draped an arm across his shoulder, his eyes crinkling in projected contemplation. "Do you think you could go back and get me the scroll for that spell, my friend?"
The look that Inuyasha gave him right then sent a chill down Kouga's spine, and he wasn't even the recipient. The monk backed away immediately, his eyes disappearing in his smile. "Hai. Just kidding, Inuyasha. Just kidding," he said, waving his hands placatingly between them.
The exterminator neutralized the situation quickly by hopping on the firecat behind Kagome. She nodded firmly at the hanyou. "She'll be fine, Inuyasha. I'll keep her isolated until she's back to herself."
Kouga studied them, and it seemed suspicious to him that the dog boy was avoiding eye contact with his friends. Whatever spell had plagued Kagome had been a bad one. Something severe had happened. He looked again at her slumped form to assess any visual damage, but there was none.
The exterminator clicked her tongue. "Up, Kirara!"
The firecat levitated and shot off through the branches, and Kouga turned and pegged his rival with a glare. "What did you do to her, dog turd?"
Inuyasha locked stares with him, his lip twitching up in a nasty snarl. "Go home, you mangy whelp. It's none of your concern."
"What concerns Kagome concerns me!" Kouga retorted. "You're too quick to forget that she's mine!"
Inuyasha began to tremble. "Why...you..."
"Gentlemen," the monk interrupted, ever the politician. They both snapped their heads in his direction. "Wouldn't it be wise to return to the village with them? After all, Kagome still needs protection."
Kouga bit off the latest list of invective he had prepared for his rival. The human was right. And Kagome's well-being was at the forefront of his mind.
Wasting no more time with the lesser creatures, the wolf prince whizzed out of there, smirking to himself as Inuyasha screamed his name in frustration, inevitably left behind.