Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 28 of 60

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"Faith, indeed, has up to the present not been able to move real mountains...But it can put mountains where there are none."
~Friedrich Nietzche

InuYasha pulled his face from the snowy gravel. Even though he was annoyed with Kagome for sending him head first into the ground, a small part rejoiced at the familiarity. It had been weeks, and though this wasn't the reunion he envisioned. Kagome's behavior filled him with hope that she had come through the ordeal with little to no lasting effects.

With a loud grunt, he hauled himself to stand before her. The first thing he noticed was the worn and tired expression that clouded her features. Dark smudges under her eyes gave the already dark orbs a hollowness that stood in stark contrast with sunken cheekbones. Her severely altered features bore testament to the hellish experience of her time with Naraku. He was surprised to feel that her weak aura was almost indistinguishable in the face of the powerful youkai surrounding them. For the first time since she was taken from him, InuYasha had the opportunity to see firsthand how Kagome had been changed. Melancholy seeped along the surface of her aura, permeating the air. It broke InuYasha's heart even as anger shot to the fore.

"How're ya feelin' Kagome?" InuYasha's soft question caught her attention as she turned.

"I'm fine InuYasha. Really…I am," her own expression softened as she saw the concern on his face.

They stared at each other in silence, one making an assessment just as the other tried to reassure.

"I've come to take you home," he said stepping toward her. Instantly Sesshomaru was at her side, glaring down at his brother.

"The miko stays."

InuYasha stiffened as he returned Sesshomaru's glare.

"She can leave if she damn well chooses and there's nothin' you can do to stop us!" he yelled as his hands clenched into fists.

Sesshomaru grabbed InuYasha's collar and hauled him up so they were face to face. He spoke with a deadly calm that sent a chill through those present in the courtyard. "I can stop her. I can stop you. Don't test my patience, you filthy little half breed." Sesshomaru dropped InuYasha and grabbed Kagome's elbow, ready to usher her back into the castle.

InuYasha scrambled to his feet and rushed to get Tessaiga a few feet away but Kagome's soft voice stilled his movement before making it half way.

"Sesshomaru-sama? I'd like to have a moment with InuYasha. I haven't seen him since…" her voice broke off and she took a breath. "I'd like to be able to say a few things before I return to the castle," her last word was barely more than a whisper as she looked up at him with watery eyes, "Please."

It was such a simple request, yet Sesshomaru's youki aura raged against the thought. Something that could only be described as primitive wanted to keep her as far away from InuYasha as possible, though he couldn't understand why. He knew his half-brother would never harm her, but that didn't seem to matter. He was half way through his internal argument when he focused on her large brown eyes and saw the innocent plea that shined from deep within. If only he hadn't bothered to look closer, to see how important this small request was to her. If he hadn't looked, then he could have refused without a second thought.

In that moment he knew he would not deny her such a simple request. He must have looked like he was going to refuse because her next words were full of anxiety.

"Please Sesshomaru. This will be my only request."

Something resembling a grin pulled dangerously at his lips. That might be worth remembering.

Kagome and InuYasha walked a few feet from the group still hovering around the gate. It was clear that the guards were hoping for another altercation between the two brothers.

"Kagome, tell me the truth. Are you really okay?" InuYasha asked as they paced to the wall at the far end of the courtyard.

Kagome stopped and turned to face her friend and protector. As much as she missed her life before, there was something anchoring her firmly to the House of the Moon. The passage of time held a growing sense of loyalty to both the house and the friendships she had forged, as though she were being bound to the very mountain the house sat upon.

"I'm fine InuYasha. I feel better all the time and everyone is nice. They're treating me like a guest, not a hostage."

InuYasha sighed and placed his hands on her shoulders. "Did Sesshomaru tell you to say this? Are you afraid to tell me the truth?"

"If I wanted to leave I would. He doesn't make decisions for me. It just so happens that we agree on this one issue. I'm not scared of your brother, InuYasha."

A loud grumble and the words half-brother filtered across the courtyard, signaling that Sesshomaru was listening to every word. Kagome ignored it and placed her hands on top of InuYasha's.

"InuYasha, please try and understand that I need to stay here. I don't really understand it myself, but one day I know I will. For now, trust that this is what I need to do."

"I don't understand Kagome. I don't want you here. Let me take you back with us. I can keep you just as safe as Sesshomaru."

It was then that Kagome realized this wasn't as much about her as it was about InuYasha's own insecurity. He had never gotten over his inability to protect Kikyo, and was determined history would not repeat itself by losing yet another woman that was important to him. This realization made it harder for the next words to pass her lips. She didn't want to hurt him, but there didn't seem to be any other way. He'd never leave her here willingly.

"This has nothing to do with who'll better protect me. I need to start taking care of myself." Kagome swallowed the lump in her throat. "I think in order to do that, I have to stay here. I'm sorry if you can't understand."

InuYasha's grip tightened on her shoulders, his cheeks red with rising anger.

"I don't understand, and you are being idiotic. I should just take you home to your own time and not bother with a stupid girl like you anymore. You've never been anything but a pain in the ass!" his shout echoed off the walls and the silence that followed was deafening.

Tears sprung to her eyes, but she blinked them away quickly. Stepping back, she pulled against InuYasha's increasingly painful grip. His mounting anger seemed to burn her as much as his words.

"InuYasha please. I don't want to part with these angry words between us."

"Why does it matter? It's obvious that the past four years mean nothing to you!" he shouted as he finally let go of her. She stumbled back, away from his hurtful words.

Her hand flung out in a wide arc just as her aura blasted through the courtyard. A red handprint bloomed on InuYasha's cheek as they both stared at each other.

Emotion colored Kagome's voice as the courtyard remained utterly silent. Her words dropped like stones in a pond. "You have no idea what those years mean to me. Memories of the last four years were all I had to hold onto after he took me. It was the only thing that kept me alive!"

Tears were streaming as Kagome turned and ran back to the castle, leaving InuYasha in stunned silence. Her despair cut him like a knife as regret crested inside him like a tidal wave. The sight of her retreating figure snapped him back into action as he realized that this might be the last he would see her until his brother decided to give her up.

"Kagome!" he shouted, trying to stop her before it was too late. Sesshomaru materialized in front of him before he made it three steps. The Taiyoukai's thunderous expression slowed him down, but it was the large clawed hand slamming against the smaller hanyou's shoulder that stopped him cold.

"You've caused quite enough damage today InuYasha. I suggest you leave my house before I return the favor." With that, Sesshomaru released his hand with a shove.

InuYasha stepped around the large Taiyoukai only to see that Kagome was long gone. He waited a few moments, hoping that she might reappear. A battle was raging inside to just go after her regardless of the consequences, while the other side was pushing him to remember her words. Her wishes to remain in the House of the Moon were almost too hard to take. Why would she choose her brother's house over being with him?

Her words replayed in his head. "I need to start taking care of myself. I think in order to do that, I have to stay here. I'm sorry if you can't understand…." Her sad eyes haunted him. "Memories of the last four years were all I had to hold onto after he took me." Her tears burned him. "It was the only thing that kept me alive!" Those words clawed at his soul.

His shoulders slumped in defeat. He had no other choice because he would do anything for her.

InuYasha walked to the gate where Sango, Miroku and Shippo waited patiently. He grabbed Tessaiga along the way, the mighty sword dragged along the gravel of the courtyard. Before reaching the entrance he stopped but didn't bother turning around while he sheathed the mighty sword. He knew Sesshomaru was waiting to make sure he left.

"I'm leaving because she asked me to. Keep her safe Sesshomaru or I swear you'll pay."

With that he walked into the woods and disappeared into the growing darkness of evening, not interested in the various reactions he left behind.

Kagome ran through the hallways of the House of the Moon, her vision blinded by tears of anger and sadness. She rounded a corner and found herself in a part of the house she had never been before. Realizing she was lost, the fragile hold on her composure broke, dragging her to her knees. Weeks of pent up emotion pouring from her body in waves of heart-rending sobs. She leaned her forehead against the cool wood paneling of the hallway and let everything pour out like a river in the mountain.

Slow measured steps came down the hall behind Kagome as she felt Sesshomaru's strong aura envelop her. She pulled her back against the wall and quickly wiped the tears from her eyes before looking up at him. He stood motionless a few feet away with his customary blank expression.

"Did his reaction come as such a great surprise to you? We all know that InuYasha is about as intelligent as my left boot."

Mirth bubbled up in Kagome's chest even as the shock of his humorous remarks brought color to her cheeks. The air instantly lightened and for that Kagome was grateful. It gave her the strength she was momentarily lacking.

"He isn't that bad," Kagome rose shakily and turned to Sesshomaru.

"Humans are far too soft-hearted. I would have cut his head off."

Sesshomaru's dry humor was such a surprise to Kagome. She would never have guessed that he was capable of any emotion beside anger or boredom. Something about his mood pulled at Kagome, easing the tension she held.

"You're probably right. Next time, can I borrow Tokijin for a few minutes?" her soft answer almost had him smiling.

Sesshomaru took a shallow breath to ease the tightness he had been holding since following her into the castle. Every wrenching sob from her had clawed at his stomach. Every step toward her was a fight against the desire to turn around and drive his fist through InuYasha's face. Every heartbeat in his chest increased the frustration that he even cared.

He needed to keep the mood light, more for himself than the little miko.

"Is there a reason you were sitting outside of my personal quarters?"

Kagome stiffened instantly and turned to look at the door behind her. The ornately gilded surface was exquisite and elegantly showed the Inu Youkai family legacy.

"I had no idea." She turned back around and looked slightly embarrassed. Sesshomaru liked the slight blush that tinged her cheeks. It gave her a healthy glow that she had been lacking.

"Perhaps," with that he turned and began walking down the hall.

"Hey!" Kagome's indignant response followed behind as she stumbled to catch up.

"I've never even been in this part of the house," Kagome scrambled to walk next to him as they made their way back to the guest quarters.

Sesshomaru said nothing as they continued walking, driving Kagome crazy.

She glanced up through her lashes at the powerful lord pacing quietly beside her. 'How can he think that I knew that was his room? What does he think I am?' she thought angrily and she marched along next to him. She followed him around a corner and recognized the hallway that led to her room. He stopped quickly and she almost bumped into him. Servants roamed the house, lighting torches as night fell.

Sesshomaru looked down at Kagome, his eyes glowing in the nearby firelight.

"Go and rest miko. I require you to regain all of your former strength."

With that, he was back to the haughty Sesshomaru she recognized.

The night carried forth her most terrifying enemy. It rose to torment Kagome with dark memories and shadowed thoughts. Dreams no longer brought wealth and happiness as they did in her youth; instead they forced her to relive certain gruesome events at the hands of Naraku and his minions over and over again. Hoshi's presence did much for her peace of mind once awake, but that was little comfort when stuck battling the demons that plagued her exhausted slumber.

She tossed as the increasingly familiar darkness drew her down into its crushing depth. Her mind fought against the upcoming dream and subsequent fear, but as always it was no use.

Her dreaming mind settled as the ground became solid beneath her feet. She opened her eyes and blinked away the last of the fuzzy darkness.

She was standing in the garden, the shadowed form once again hovering directly in front of her. A quick glance around showed there was no one else. She called out to Hoshi and Sesshomaru, expecting they would come at an instant, but her voice seemed to fall to silence the moment it left her lips. The quiet of the garden was deafening. Again she looked for help, panic rising like the last time she found herself alone in the garden facing down an unknown enemy.

Nothing. Silence.

The smoky figure moved forward, ready to engulf her again in its freezing pain. A bright light sparked and shot through the ominous figure, dissipating it in an instant. The lone figure standing at the other side of the garden came as a shock.

"Kikyo? What are you doing here?"

Her voice floated across the distance, familiar yet different. The tone was edged with an urgency that warred against the usually placid demeanor.

"Kagome, you must become stronger in order to make the choice."

Kikyo's cryptic words were not quite the voice of the woman she had come to know during their odd connection through the Crown. This voice held the promise of solemn strength and the wisdom that comes from the long passage of time.

"Choice? What choice?" there was no answer from the Miko and Kagome took a step toward her, "I don't know what you mean, what am I supposed to do?" No answer. "Please, is this the reason I feel that I need to stay here?"

Kikyo closed the distance before answering. Her eyes reflected the snow as it fell to Earth in its slow, graceful waltz.

"The reason will become clear when your fate chooses to reveal itself. If it feels like the right path, that is the direction you should take."

Kagome crossed her arms, shivering not from the cold but from the intensity of her frustrating confusion.

"Kikyo, how do I trust in something that I don't understand? InuYasha is angry with me because I couldn't explain it to him. But how can I explain something I don't even understand myself? I'm trying to trust myself and follow what my heart is saying, but how can I do it alone, without any help?"

Kikyo merely sighed and shook her head at the young woman's frenetic cascade of jumbled thoughts and questions. Kagome was never very good at slowing down long enough to think things through.

"There are some roads in life that must be traveled alone. Your friends will always be waiting for you on the other side and you need to trust in them like you ask that they trust in you. In doing this, you will find your own inner strength."

"How will I know if I'm doing the right thing?"

"When your heart tells you so."

"That's not very reassuring."

"Move beyond this lack of confidence, Kagome. It prevents you from succeeding. You have many supporters that can help you find your strength."

"What if I'm not strong enough to do…whatever it is I'm supposed to do?"

"If you believe that to be an option, you will fail. When doubt reveals itself to you, remember that your fate is tied to those you love. If you fail, then those you love will have to suffer the consequences."

Kagome wanted to scream in frustration as the other woman's words stirred up even more confusion. The words were like riddles that turned what little sanity Kagome was grasping upside down. The garden began to blur as a soft humming surrounded Kagome. Kikyo smiled softly at her as the remnants of her dream faded into darkness.

"Wait, Kikyo!" Kagome cried as she bolted upright in her bed. Her hand was stretched out trying to grasp the woman who until that moment stood within reach. Hoshi stopped humming and turned away from the window.

"Is everything alright Kagome-sama? Another nightmare?" Her concerned expression was comforting.

Kagome blinked rapidly, taking in the new surroundings and sorting out dream from reality. After a few moments, she answered the housekeeper's question, still unsure of what the dream was about. "No, not a nightmare for once. Just a really weird dream." Kagome pulled the blanket up and hugged it to her as she quietly pondered Kikyo's words.

Hoshi waited patiently, twirling the necklace around her neck quietly. Over the past month, she had learned to recognize when Kagome would remain silent and when she would say more.

Several minutes passed before Kagome's soft voice broke through the night air, "Hoshi, can I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"Have you ever been in a situation where you know you need to do something, but have no idea what that thing is?"

Hoshi didn't answer right away. Instead she got up and grabbed a kimono and brought it over to the bed. "Put this on. Let's go for a short stroll."

"Now?" Kagome looked at the kimono as if she had never seen one before.

Hoshi chuckled softly as she pulled her out of bed. "Yes, now."

A short while later they were pacing down the hall toward the sunroom, the blue moonlight illuminating their path. They entered the sun room and Kagome went directly to the window. The stars twinkled brightly over the valley.

"Wow, they're so beautiful. It's as if I can touch the stars from here."

Hoshi nodded but remained quiet for several minutes as they both stared across the dark and shadowed valley.

"Kagome-sama, what is it that you feel you must do?" Hoshi was standing next to her, choosing her words with care.

"I don't know. I'm so confused Hoshi-sama." Kagome's grip tightened on the window as she bowed her head. "I feel like I need to stay here right now, like there is something I need to do, but I have no idea why."

"Is it so important to know why? Perhaps knowing why will prevent you from succeeding. Sometimes in life there are things that you must do, trusting only in your own strength and ability."

Hoshi turned and put an arm around Kagome.

"Explain to me where this is coming from so I can help you."

Kagome told Hoshi about her dream and Kikyo's message. Hoshi listened in silence until Kagome finished.

"Well then, there is only one thing left to do."

Hope flared in Kagome's heart. "Well I'm glad you understand what's going on because I sure as hell don't! What are we going to do?"

Hoshi smiled and guided Kagome back toward her room.

"We are going to go back to bed and get plenty of rest. Tomorrow we begin your training."

Kagome's heels dragged to a halt, "Training? For what?" her voice squeaked.

"For whatever is to come. We may not know what is coming or what you have to do, but we can prepare so that when that time comes, you're ready." They began walking again and Hoshi added, "Considering recent events, I think this is a wise choice."

Kagome's response was less than enthusiastic.

"Great. Just great…"

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 28 of 60

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