"You stupid girl! How in the hell did you manage to break the jewel!" Inuyasha was furious. For years he'd waited patiently for the jewel's return and now it was gone, completely out of his reach.
"It was an accident!" Kagome said, trying to defend herself. Looking at the small shard in her hand the young girl was at a lost for what to do. There could be an infinite amount of shards in an infinite amount of places. How could she possibly hope to find them all before they got into the wrong hands?
"Inuyasha can I talk to you for a moment?" Miroku gently led his hostile companion over to a tree where they could talk without the young priestess hearing them. "I think we should stick with the girl."
"Are you out of your mind? Do I need to remind you that she tried to kill me a few days ago? No way I'm teaming up with that bitch!"
"Okay let's say, hypothetically, that we go along with your plan and go our separate ways. How do you expect us to find the shards on our own? We can't even sense the fragments. Our best bet is to stay with her, let her collect most of the shards, and then when we've found most of them, we take them from her."
Inuyasha racked his brain for any half-ass excuse he could throw at Miroku for why traveling with Kagome was a bad idea, but of course the bastard was always right. It'd be next to impossible for them to hunt the shards alone, but the thought of traveling with that girl made his stomach turn.
"No one says you have to like her, or even talk to her! She's just a means to an end for now." Miroku said.
"Fine, but good luck on trying to convince her to travel with us."
Kagome watched the two hanyous intensely as they whispered back and forth. She clutched the shard tighter in her hand, and for the thousandth time contemplated what she should do about the jewel?
'Will I be able to find all the shards on my own before Naraku does? Something tells me that just because the jewel is broken, doesn't mean that he will cease his pursuit of it.'
She thought about reaching out to other priestesses and asking for their help, but most of the ones she knew weren't trained in the art of battle as she was. She looked again towards the two boys and thought that maybe she could put her pride aside and travel with them. She could hunt down the shards and they could do the actual fighting. Plus it was obvious that Inuyasha and Naraku had history, and that info could prove useful to her.
'And what of his ties to Lady Kikyou?' Kagome thought to herself. 'Something about him not being able to protect her, what priestess, especially one of Kikyou's caliber, needs protection from a demon?'
"Look we're heading out, are you coming or not?" Inuyasha's gruff voice brought Kagome out of her thoughts, as she stared at him confused by his question.
"What tact you have Inuyasha." Miroku said, rolling his eyes.
"Well?" Inuyasha said impatiently as the stupid girl still continued to stare at him.
"Um, yeah sure, I'm coming!"
"Inuyasha I need to take a break!" Kagome yelled to the snowy haired demon in front of her. They'd already been traveling for four days, following rumors of shard locations and so far all they'd found were dead ends. They traveled all day and well into the evening before setting up a fire somewhere. Kagome, not used to sleeping under the stars, would toss and turn on the cold hard ground for hours before Inuyasha woke her at dawn to start the cycle over again. Her feet were aching and she was tired dammit!
"A break? We've barely gone anywhere!" Inuyasha said impatiently. He knew traveling with the girl would be a bad idea. Not only had every shard rumor they followed been a bust, but the lazy bitch was slowing them down! She always wanted to rest, or eat, or sleep! Didn't she know they had to get to the shards before Naraku did? They didn't have any time to waste.
"She's only a human Inuyasha, stopping for an hour or so won't hurt anything." Miroku said calmly. While he too was slightly frustrated by their slow pace, he also understood that Kagome, being a human woman, didn't have the stamina their blood demon blood provided them, thus resulting in Inuyasha glaring at him for defending the girl.
"Fine we'll stop, but when Naraku completes the jewel and slaughters us all, just remember that it was Kagome who wanted to stop for an hour cause her feet hurt!"
Kagome sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose in annoyance. Sometimes she wondered if putting up with Inuyasha's attitude day in and day out was worth it. Clearly she was capable of finding the jewel shards on her own, but something inside of her told her that sticking with her two hanyou companions would be better in the long run.
"Whatever Inuyasha, I remember seeing a spring around here somewhere so I'm going to bathe. I highly suggest you do the same." Kagome said giving him a disgusted look before turning and walking away.
"Did she just tell me I stink?!"
"I feel inclined to agree with her on this one Inuyasha."
Kagura was quickly becoming bored with her task. She'd been watching the odd group of three for the last few days and she was becoming positively stir crazy, lurking in the shadows as they went about their monotonous adventure.
Did Naraku take her for a fool? Clearly he was up to something and just wanted her out of the way. 'Doesn't want the disloyal rat sticking her nose where it doesn't belong I suppose.' Kagura continued to soar through the sky on her giant feather as she noticed the young priestess separate herself from the group.
She observed the girl as she walked towards a small spring and began to bathe. Dropping from her feather Kagura landed gracefully on a branch in a nearby tree and almost fell from her perch when the power from a sacred arrow scorched her cheek and almost took off her head.
"I know you've been following us around. What do you want? I suggest to you answer me truthfully because my next arrow won't miss."
"Ah you noticed me? I must be losing my touch."
Pulling her bow string taut Kagome glared at the demoness in front her. "Are you after the shards? Is that why you've been following us?"
"I have no need for any of those pathetic jewel shards. I'm simply following orders."
"Orders from whom?"
"Wouldn't you like to know." Kagura said with a sly smirk. Inwardly the wind sorceress grimaced as the slight sounds of buzzing off in the distance told her that her master was watching. If it hadn't been for those slimey bugs she would've cursed his name to the seventh layer of hell and told this young priestess everything she knew about the bastard.
"Listen little girl and listen good because I'll only tell you this once. Watch your back around those two hanyou. They have their own agenda when it comes to the jewel and getting close to them will only bring about your own destruction, I guarantee you that."
Kagome's eyes widened with surprise at the warning and before she could question Kagura further she was gone, soaring through the sky on what appeared to be a giant feather.
Inuyasha was unnerved to say the least. Since Kagome had returned from the spring yesterday she'd barely said two words to anyone. Not that he was complaining or anything, he'd been wishing for the few days that they'd been traveling together that she'd learn to shut her trap, but this was...different. Clearly there was something wrong and it was creeping him the hell out.
And if her silence hadn't been enough, her scent was bothering him too. It'd been at least ten years since he'd caught a whiff of the scent that even haunted him in his dreams. He'd been a runt when he first smelled it, underneath the smell of dirt, sweat, and fear Inuyasha could detect something much sweeter, fresh, and dewy. Kind of like a rose after it'd just rained. Unable to help himself he'd followed the scent and that's when he'd found her. A little girl running for her life from a low life demon that wasn't worth the time it'd taken him to cut it down with his claws.
The scent had matured over the last few years and was now heavily coated with the scent of demon blood and sadness, but even under all of that the smell of roses still filtered its way to his nostrils and brought him back to a time where the prettiest girl he'd ever seen thanked him for saving her.
'I wonder if she'd remember me if I told her?' Inuyasha quickly shook his head of that thought. It was nearing dusk and soon the sun would be setting, he yelled to Miroku that it was his turn to hunt and that he'd go grab some firewood. Inuyasha watched as Kagome quietly began to set up camp for herself and Inuyasha tried to smash down the overwhelming urge to ask her what was wrong, but in the end the sad gleam in her eyes compelled him to question her.
"What's your problem wench?" Startled Kagome looked up as Inuyasha towered over her from her position on the ground. Looking away from his golden gaze Kagome wasn't entirely sure how to answer that question. Did she tell him truth about Kagura and her warning? Did she question him about his past and his relationship with Lady Kikyou? Though there wasn't much trust between the girl and the hanyou she couldn't help but feel a little hurt at the insinuation that he was planning on using her to get to the jewel.
"Inuyasha, do I know you?" The widening of his eyes eluded to the fact that he was clearly caught off guard by her random question.
"Does it matter?"
'No. If you intend to betray me then I guess it doesn't.' She thought solemnly. Somehow she wanted to believe Inuyasha was still that same little boy who'd save her in the woods when she'd tried to run away from her duties. When he'd first come to the castle demanding the jewel she'd recognized the same silver hair that haunted her dreams for years. Then when he'd rescued her from Naraku and told him to 'pick on someone his own size' he'd unconsciously confirmed her suspicions.
"What do you want with the jewel? If we complete it...will you try to take it from me?" The sadness in her tone struck something deep inside him. An angry Kagome he could handle, the Kagome who passed their time by talking and making jokes with Miroku, was annoying, but also something he could handle. This vulnerable girl sitting in front of him was enigma and he wasn't sure what the right course of action would be. She must have felt him watching her because slowly she lifted her head and made eye contact with him. He could see it in her chocolate eyes that her pain ran deep and for some reason the thought of using her to find the shards made his stomach turn.
"To be a full demon. That's what I want."
He stood up and jumped high into a tree next to the camp. He could smell Miroku and the fish that would soon be roasted on the fire he'd started. Inuyasha pondered for awhile longer why he had decided to answer her questions. He didn't owe this girl anything, he didn't want or need to be her friend. She had one job.
'She's our own personal jewel detector that's it!' If that was the case, then why did the memory of the sadness in her eyes keep him awake that night?
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InuYasha © Rumiko Takahashi.
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