Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 44 of 60

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"I think there is choice possible to us at any moment, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away." ~ Muriel Rukeyser

Kagome stayed close to InuYasha, her mind numb to the sight before her. A steely grip hinted at the turmoil vibrating through him as he stared through the doorway of the dimly lit room. Hoshi had led them there shortly after the shocking question in the courtyard had caused a deathly stillness to fall over the tense confrontation. Peeking up at InuYasha's pale face, she felt his rigid body as hard as stone pressed into her side. She squeezed his arm anxiously when he failed to move after several moments, hoping to draw his attention. Looking briefly at Hoshi, she noted the woman's guarded expression from deep within the heart of the room.

Lying on a bed, small and frail, was Kikyo's body. Her features were peaceful and beautiful, even in death. InuYasha seemed frozen beside her; the mix of shock, hope and longing coloring his normally boyish features tore at Kagome's heart. She couldn't look away from the nightmare unfolding in front of her as she swallowed hard against the bile rising in her throat. The desperate hold she had on her emotions threatened to break in an instant. A rustle of silk drew her attention away to Sesshomaru standing at the end of the hall, his eyes veiled in the shadows as he took in the arm looped tightly around her waist. His angry expression shot a fissure of fear through her limbs and she unconsciously stepped closer to InuYasha.

Sesshomaru watched her intently, agitation flowing freely through his body. She was pressed against InuYasha, fear and sorrow permeating the air. It made him uneasy. When she stepped closer to his brother after their eyes met, it felt like a slap in the face. Hands fisted at his sides, he watched curiously as his brother pulled away from her and into the room, leaving her behind. She gripped the doorframe tightly, head bowed as the sadness grew thick enough to choke on it.

InuYasha approached the bed slowly, his heart heavy at the sight of the woman that haunted his dreams, waking and sleeping. Pausing a foot away, he knelt with hands gripped tightly in his hakama, afraid that what lay before him might vanish in an instant. Hoshi's voice drifted over the room quietly, "Do you want her back?"

"Yes." There was no hesitation in the whispered answer. He looked at the housekeeper warily, "But how?"

Hoshi's gaze slid from him to Kagome, "With a pure wish."

InuYasha turned slightly to find Kagome lingering in the doorway. Long black hair shadowed her face as she stood with eyes tightly closed. "Do you mean, the Jewel?"

"Yes." Hoshi answered solemnly, her hands tucked in her kimono sleeves.

He reached out with a shaky hand to brush gently across Kikyo's porcelain cheek. The thought of her alive again was almost more than he could bear. His heart thudded painfully in his chest as the housekeeper drew near the low bed. He nearly choked on the words as they tumbled out in a garbled flow of gravelly notes, "I thought Kikyo fused the last shard inside Kagome so it can't be used?"

"She did. Which is why Kagome, and only Kagome, must make the final wish."

InuYasha shot to his feet and turned to face Kagome. Their eyes met and the hopeful spike of energy that radiated from his body nearly pulled Kagome offs her feet. He stood tall and proud, ever the man she had come to love and trust. Kikyo lay behind him, ever the specter that hovered at the edge of their lives like a dark shadow.

"Kagome?" his gruff voice broke the stillness.

She blinked, stepping back at the weight that single word carried. A wall of solid muscle stopped her cold. Sesshomaru's steady hand came to rest against her elbow, supporting her weight effortlessly. He held her upright as InuYasha approached, golden eyes never leaving her forlorn brown gaze. Stopping directly in front of her, he reached out and carefully pulled the Jewel from beneath her collar, the chain hooked under a bent finger. Holding the pink orb between two fingers, he stared at it intently. The whispered words hit Kagome like a physical blow, "Please Kagome." His eyes crashed into hers; the pure yearning she saw crushed her heart with every laborious beat.

"Bring her back for me."

Emi paced the room, anger raging alongside her racing thoughts. Sora leaned against the wall watching her with apparent indifference.

"You should have killed her when you had the chance." She stopped and stared at him, fire shooting from her eyes, "How can you just stand there like that?!"

Sora shrugged, the movement rolling along his shoulders fluidly reminding her of how dangerous he could be if provoked. Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm herself. "How are we going to get rid of her now? Sesshomaru's going to be even more protective of the worthless little slut after this."

"He's of little concern." Sora snorted, "Getting to her is easy enough."

Emi considered his words carefully. "You speak as if you've already done it?" Cautiously she moved around him, her lips pouty in a seductive way.

He smiled, a taunting expression on his handsome face, "Perhaps I have."

Eyes narrowing to slits, she felt a burning jealously in her chest. Sometimes she hated the games they played with each other, though it never stopped her from being equally conniving. Drawing herself up to her full height, she crossed her arms over her chest and raked him with a gimlet stare, "Fine. Do whatever you want, but get rid of that little bitch before I find someone else to do the job."

Sora pushed himself from the wall and sauntered toward her. His movements like a deadly panther, graceful and full of intent. Her heart started racing, knowing that threatening him was literally like playing with fire.

He circled her slowly until he came to stand at her back. Sweeping the collar of her kimono down with a steady hand, he placed a scorching kiss on the nape of her neck. The rumble of his deep voice coupled with the heat of his fiery breath sent ripples of excitement along her flesh, "I dare you to try."

Kagome was ushered back into the chamber a short time later by Hiraiku. She had been taken outside to compose herself while the room was carefully prepared. His gentleness was the only thing that had kept Kagome from crying. As her eyes adjusted, she glanced around the dimly lit room. Hoshi stood near the bed, an odd box sat on a high table nearby. InuYasha hadn't moved from the bed, now sitting on the floor next to it with his eyes fastened to the dead woman that he had surrendered his heart to so many years before. A presence to her right drew her eyes. Sesshomaru sat along the wall, his head leaning back against the smooth surface. Golden eyes pierced through her, forcing her to look away and hurry to join Hoshi.

"Are you ready Kagome?" her soft expression was full of concern and kindness.

Her heart cried out but she kept her face as indifferent as she could possibly manage. "I guess so. What do I have to do?"

Hoshi nodded curtly and brushed past her to the door. "Hiraiku, I suggest you wait outside. This may become uncomfortable for you."

The captain first looked at the housekeeper, then at Sesshomaru. The taiyoukai nodded once and he looked one last time at Kagome, eyes worried for the young woman that he had grown fond of over the past year. Reluctantly, he left after murmuring a word of encouragement.

Hoshi sealed the room with a powerful spell that had Sesshomaru and InuYasha shifting uneasily. At that, Sesshomaru stood and joined Kagome in the middle of the room. She shied away from his approach, frustrating him enough to growl softly, which only made her nervous energy increase. As soon as Hoshi returned, Kagome inched closer to the woman to put as much distance between her and the powerful taiyoukai as possible.

Hoshi took Kagome's hand, "This might be something you find hard, but I know you can do it." Smiling encouragingly, she turned and flipped open the box that Kagome had noticed earlier. The Crown of Chikara winked up ominously at her.

Kagome drew a quick breath and stumbled back, dropping Hoshi's hand as if it burned her skin. Her mind was screaming for escape as her body physically reacted to the proximity of the weapon that almost destroyed her sanity. Visions of Naraku and Katsuro whirled through her mind as the panic of buried memories swelled to engulf her like a firestorm. Gasping for breath, she turned to run from the room but was scooped up into strong arms and held firmly. Struggling, she recognized Sesshomaru's scent and aura as he held her against his rock hard frame.

"Let go!" she cried, twisting frantically against his hands. Desperate for escape, she fought wildly against the iron hold. She felt herself being lifted until his breath warmed her ear.

She stilled as his velvety voice seemed gentle and commanding all at once. "Calm down little one, he isn't here."

Breathing heavily, she kept her eyes pressed tightly closed. She should be afraid of him, but something inside found his touch and voice oddly soothing. Willing herself to relax, she let out a shaky breath. Gently, she felt him set her down and turn her around to face Hoshi, keeping his hands on her upper arms in a light grasp.

"Kagome, you must wear the Crown one last time to release this miko's soul so that it can be returned to her body. If not, it is a useless wish."

Shaking her head, Kagome pressed back into Sesshomaru. His hands tightened slightly in response. "There has to be another way? I don't want to wear it. Please don't make me wear it again."

Sesshomaru spoke this time, his voice held a note of warning. "If she doesn't want to do it, then that's the end of it."

InuYasha shot to his feet, seeming to be pulled out of the trance that had held steady since first seeing Kikyo's body. "She has to!" He rushed forward and grabbed Kagome's free hand, "Kagome, you have to do this." His expression was a mix of resolve and desperation that seized Kagome's already splintered heart. "Please Kagome," he squeezed her hand tightly as he pleaded with his eyes, "Please."

Looking past him to the crown that Hoshi now held, a single tear slipped down her face to drip onto the smooth floor. "How long?"

Hoshi smiled knowingly. "Only a few minutes. Long enough for you to single her soul out and for Sesshomaru to release it."

"Sesshomaru?" InuYasha and Kagome's surprised question rang out at the same time. They both turned to look at the stoic lord.

"Yes, you have to be bonded with Sesshomaru using the Crown," her tone was apologetic, "Like you were with Katsuro."

Kagome flinched at the mention of the youkai that controlled her all those months ago. He had known things about her through their connection that she had never shared with another, except perhaps Sango. It had been such an invasion of privacy, made worse when he used the information to torment and embarrass her into submission on more than one occasion. The thought of Sesshomaru knowing her private thoughts and having the same power over her caused the bile to again rise in her throat. "Can't it be InuYasha, or you?" Sesshomaru stiffened behind her, but she was beyond caring about his wounded ego at the moment.

Hoshi shook her head, "No, it has to be a full youkai or the power of the Crown will kill you. The light and dark must balance each other."

Kagome looked back at InuYasha and the pleading expression on his face confirmed the doubt in her mind. Though she would lose her place in his life, and possibly the small and insignificant place in this world that had become everything to her, she knew she could not be the reason he was denied a second chance at a happy future. Naraku had taken it away the first time, and if she didn't do this, he would never truly forgive her. It was better to lose him to an act of kindness than from an act of selfishness brought on by fear.

Resolutely, she dug deep for the courage she needed to go through with such a draining task. Nodding, she approached Hoshi with her eyes glued to the ground between them. She followed Hoshi's instructions and bore the pain that bonded Sesshomaru to the Crown and her to the amulet that hung from his neck in wincing silence.

With an ease that Katsuro could only dream about, Sesshomaru suppressed the cascading Miko powers that rose to nearly choke Kagome with their voracity. She sorted through the different entities that crashed through the Crown like a violent ocean and only after some searching, finally singled out Kikyo who also fought to grab hold of the familiar aura. Grasping her firmly, she pulled the two of them to the surface where she could feel him waiting.

With precision, she felt the soul plucked from her tight grasp and watched in wonder as it exited the crown and into an odd white stone in Hoshi's hand.

'Are you okay?' Sesshomaru's voice drifted through her head. His eyes were fastened to her face, an odd expression darkening his features.

'Yeah.' She answered back silently.

The room dimmed dramatically as she felt like she was upended and dumped into another place. Images of Sesshomaru in the north flitted through her mind. Conversations with Hiraiku, the sighting of the baboon and Kanna in the woods and then an uneasy suspicion of a new enemy hit her in an instant, flashing like a fast forward movie and finally returning to the House of the Moon to find her gone. The fear he felt at what had happened to her nearly stole her breath and left her wondering at the odd feelings that seemed so uncharacteristic of the powerful taiyoukai. The breath rushed from her lungs as she seemed to be sucked out of that world and placed back on her feet. Staggering slightly, she met Sesshomaru's golden gaze and in that instant they both knew what had happened to the other when he had left for the north.

His eyes moved down to her broken wrist. A tingling sensation started in her hand and traveled up into her shoulders and head. It grew to almost unbearable levels until stopping suddenly. Looking down, she saw that the bruise on her wrist was gone along with the pain. Reaching up, she felt her head and the stitches had disappeared along with the headache that she had been struggling with for the past two days.

A whisper went through her head and she realized that it was what filtered through his own mind and not really meant for her ears, 'I'll kill whoever did this.'

'I'm sorry I doubted you.' She thought openly.

'I shouldn't have left.' He answered steadily.

It was the closest she would ever get to regret from the proud taiyoukai, but she knew that it was sincere, which meant a great deal to her fragile heart.

Hoshi drew a dagger and chanted a melodic incantation. With a deft swoop of the blade, the connection was lost and Kagome was alone once again. The feeling was overwhelming when she turned back to InuYasha and saw him sitting on the edge of the bed, Kikyo's pale hand held in his own. The scene before her reinforced that she would soon know what it was really like to be alone.

Before she lost the nerve, she clasped the Jewel in her hand and closed her eyes. She wished for the one thing that her heart never desired. A burning sensation had her drawing a painful breath a moment before it disappeared.

Still as stone, she waited for the dreaded words to come, unable to leave before they ripped her heart further apart as the jewel disintegrated in her hand to a shimmering dust.

"InuYasha?" Kikyo's voice was full of confusion and wonder.

"Kikyo," InuYasha's words held a softness that she had never heard before.

The tears welled and Kagome felt the life being choked out of her. She turned and silently went to the door, tearing down the barrier with a touch and ran through the house until she found the back door that led to the garden. Winding her way precisely through the walkways, she ended at the lake to stare out onto the expanse of water sparkling in the afternoon sun. Sinking to her knees, she let out the heartrending sob that had been threatening since the moment she learned what she was going to have to do. When the tears finally slowed, she pulled herself up to wipe at her wet cheeks. A movement out of the corner of her eye made her jump, not realizing that Sesshomaru had followed and been waiting patiently.

Clearing her throat, she wiped at the remaining tears and gathered her emotions, hating the feeling of being ragged and exposed, especially to him. Without a word, he moved to sit in the grass next to her, his regal bearing seemed at odds with the casual pose in the grass and dirt.

They sat in silence, neither finding the energy to fill the space with useless chatter. Kagome pulled the Crown off her head and held it in her hands, no longer afraid of the cool band of gold that seemed so delicate and beautiful. Sesshomaru had proved that it was not the Crown that should be feared, but evil that would use borrowed power against the innocent. Turning it slowly in her hands she glanced over at him and noticed that he still wore the stone around his neck.

"Why did you agree to do something so nice for InuYasha?"

His brow rose and a sparkle of humor played in the afternoon sun, deepening the golden hue of his mesmerizing eyes, "I helped bring back a woman that nailed my worthless half-brother to a tree for 50 years. I should think my motives rather obvious."

She wanted to smile at his blatant attempt to lighten the mood. But the smile wouldn't come no matter how much they both might wish for it. "That isn't likely to happen a second time, now is it?"

He didn't want to admit the real reason he did it, not to himself or to her. "Why did you agree?" his deflective question took her by surprise.

"Because he's my friend and I want him to be happy." Her answer seemed like the right words, but she had a hard time convincing herself that it was how she really felt.

Sesshomaru plucked a blade of grass from the ground in front of him. "Didn't you want him for yourself?" the words seemed innocuous, but in truth Sesshomaru held his breath for her response.

She blinked, not sure how to answer the question. Turning away with a slight blush, she spoke quickly, "Maybe when I was younger, but it's been a long time since I thought of InuYasha that way."

He exhaled, surprised at the relief her response evoked. He pushed on, "Then why are you so unhappy?"

Kagome placed the Crown on the grass before her and stood. Walking to the edge of the water she wrapped her arms around her chest, the cast sticking out awkwardly.

He followed suit, standing just behind and to the left. Her ebony hair blew in the late summer breeze, the soft tendrils spanning the short distance between them to caress his chest. Lifting a hand, he surreptitiously let the silky strands filter through his fingers. The scent of lotus flower teased his senses, lulling him into a quiet contentedness that he chose not to fight. His inner beast sighed serenely with every breath that filled his lungs.

Her melodic voice broke the spell their proximity had been unconsciously weaving around him. "What do you do when you no longer have a place in the world?"

Her question confused him for a moment, but he quickly realized what she meant. His answer was simple, but full of unspoken intent. "You find a new place."

Choking back another sob, she gasped when she felt Sesshomaru pull on her arm. Dropping the heavy cast to her side, he lifted it carefully out in front of him. With a precision that she envied, he slit the cast up the center with a sharp claw until it fell away to the grass below. Flexing her hand, she stretched the stiff muscles.

The sadness of her decision overwhelmed her and the need for comfort was greater than she had ever known. She wished she were home with her mother, or with Sango, or even with Hoshi. They would know the best method of finding solace for a broken heart. Instead, she was standing with an emotionally stunted noble youkai with the habit of brooding silence and a general dislike of all things human. None of which helped a girl feel better.

Their eyes met and held for a long moment. The squeezing pulse of her battered heart brought a sense of insignificance and lack of control, making Kagome wish that she was any other person in any other place. The overwhelming rush of emotions pushed her over the edge. Not caring what he thought, she dropped her head and crashed into him, wrapping her arms around his waist tightly. Silently, she let the tears fall, soaking his fine silk kimono and letting his warmth seep into her body. After a few moments his arms circled and held her, hands buried in her long locks to rub the back of her scalp and neck gently.

The sun set before they finally made their way back to the castle and toward the eyes that had been watching from a distance, some curious, some wary, and some with a loathing anger that could combust with a mere glance.

A pair of red eyes found the scene particularly interesting until word spread that the miko had just used the Jewel to bring back a certain dead priestess. The broken door found later that evening in the south wing of the castle went unexplained but not unnoticed.

Kagome awoke later that night to arguing outside her room. The deep tones of Sesshomaru sent a thrill up Kagome's spine, whereas InuYasha's brash voice brought a pang of heartache. Sitting up in bed, she strained to hear what the brothers were saying to each other. When she couldn't make it out, she crept to the door and pressed an ear to the smooth panels.

"I told you, she is sleeping. Do not even think of waking her," Sesshomaru's icy voice told her just how he felt about having his half-brother in his house.

"I just need to know that she's okay." InuYasha seemed barely able to contain his own anger.

"You didn't seem to have a problem turning your back on her this afternoon in favor of the other miko. Do you think you can continue slinking back and forth between the two like you have all these years?"

"What would you know about it?" he nearly shouted a moment before a loud thump shook the wall at Kagome's ear and she stepped back, wrenching the door open as panic gripped her heart. Sesshomaru had InuYasha pinned up against the opposite wall by the throat, his feet thrashing the air between them.

Kagome rushed forward, pulling at Sesshomaru's arm. "Please Sesshomaru. Don't hurt him."

He looked down at Kagome, eyes softening immediately. Turning hate filled eyes back at InuYasha he sneered, "She saves you again," and released his hold. InuYasha slid down the wall gasping.

Kagome did not rush forward, but instead stayed at Sesshomaru's side. Staring reservedly at her friend, she asked coolly, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." He answered with a raspy voice and pulled himself up. Standing, he reached for her. Sesshomaru could not help but notice that they both stiffened at the same time. InuYasha stilled at her reaction, a questioning look crossing his boyish features. "Kagome, what's wrong?"

She shook her head and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Nothing. I'm fine." She looked up at Sesshomaru, her brown eyes pleading, "Please stop fighting with each other."

Sesshomaru nodded and stepped back, giving the two some room though he remained close by out of a protective instinct that he could no longer completely ignore.

"Kagome, I was worried about you. You disappeared after you brought Kikyo back and…" he trailed off, noting the pained look that crossed her beautiful face at the mention of the other miko.

"As you can see, I'm fine. Sesshomaru is taking good care of me."

His golden gaze slid to his brother and narrowed. "Is that so?" Sesshomaru crossed his arms and stared down at his brother with a haughty expression. InuYasha bristled, "Is that all he's doing?"

Kagome's mouth dropped open at the words but she didn't have time to respond before Sesshomaru shot across the space between them and slammed him with such force that the whole castle shook. His eyes bled crimson as he ground out, "Don't you dare insult her or me like that ever again."

Kagome stepped forward, her face chilly as she fought for control of her emotions. Placing a hand on Sesshomaru's chest and ducking under his arm, she looked up at him with a quiet integrity that both calmed and made him proud. "Let him go, Sesshomaru."

For the second time, he dropped his brother and stepped back at her request. She stood between them, her eyes never leaving the taiyoukai. Sadness flowed through her and into Sesshomaru like a river. His palms itched to reach out and bring comfort. He was beginning to acclimate to the primal need to see to her comfort, no longer wishing to agonize over the reason or meaning behind it. Putting the reasoning somewhere in the vicinity of her being a female and a member of his household had been good enough. A silent tear slipped down her face as she spoke in a low tone and he wanted to kill his father's bastard.

"For years I watched in silence as you would sneak off to be with Kikyo. It didn't take long for me to realize that I would never be quite as important to you. Though, it did take me longer to come to terms with that fact." She moved to the space directly in front of Sesshomaru and faced InuYasha, her long hair brushing against the taiyoukai's hand when she turned. She didn't feel his fingers brush through the ends a second time. He stayed quiet and strong behind her, and she drew from that powerful composure to continue. "I never complained about being your second choice because I didn't know any better. But I've decided that isn't good enough for me anymore."

With a weak smile she held up a hand to stop the words that were on the tip of his tongue. "I gave you back the one thing you wanted most. More than revenge against Naraku. Even more than becoming a full demon. I gave you back the love that was unfairly taken from you."

"Why?" his confused wonder almost made Kagome laugh at the irony. For years she had wanted him to see the sacrifices she made to stay by his side. Even now, after she had given up everything he still seemed to lack wholehearted understanding.

Approaching slowly, she held herself upright by sheer force as exhaustion threatened. Reaching out, she grasped the beads of subjugation and lifted them gently off his neck. They slipped from her fingers and fell to the wood floor at her feet. "Because loving someone means that you do what must be done," the last words fell from her lips introspectively, "even if it's scary or hurts."

Without another word she turned and walked back to her room, leaving the brothers to stare at each other.

"Kagome," InuYasha whispered as he started after her.

Sesshomaru planted a palm against his chest firmly, "She doesn't owe you anything."

His earlier words were thrown back in his face. With a heavy heart, he watched Sesshomaru follow Kagome and shut the door with a finality that echoed through his soul. Glancing down, the beads winked up at him in the moonlight. Stooping, he clutched them in a tight fist. "No, but I owe her everything."

With his heart divided between his true love and the woman that he was just now realizing had truly loved him in a way that he failed to see until this moment, he returned to Kikyo's sleeping form and the wonder that came with the prospect of second chances. Now it was InuYasha's turn to feel the division that guilt and happiness could bring when they lived side by side in a heart.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 44 of 60

<< Previous     Home     Next >>