"Why did you do that?! You scared him off!" Kagome yelled spinning around to face Inuyasha. She knew her anger was irrational and misguided, but she couldn't help it. She was hurting and she needed someone to take it out on.
"Excuse the fuck outta me for trying to protect you! The next time a demon attacks us in the middle of the night, I'll just let him kill you!" He yelled back. Of all the times he deserved her anger and criticism, this wasn't one of them. They'd been attacked and had all of their hard earned jewel shards stolen in a matter of minutes. If anyone deserved to be angry it was him.
"Hojo wasn't going to kill me, he's not like that! He could never even hurt a fly."
"Oh yeah? Keep tellin' yourself that while you patch up the hole he put in your chest!" Kagome's hands immediately flew to her person, and she gasped when they came away sticky with blood. The tears pooled in her eyes, and her throat stung with the effort to keep them at bay, but it was no use. The salty trails of her sadness flowed down her cheeks without her permission and no matter how many times she wiped at them, more would only flow in their place.
It was times like this where she wished she could be more like her silver haired companion. He never allowed himself to be emotionally vulnerable. He masked his emotions, only allowing the world to see what he wanted. Her emotions had always controlled her, making her weak.
Her emotions had been what ended Hojo's life.
"Kagome-Sama. It seemed that this demon, Akumu, knows you personally. May I ask how?"
"You may not." Her cold tone shocked Miroku into silence. He hadn't heard heard her speak in that manner since the day Inuyasha and him had traveled to her village seeking the jewel. He had gotten used to her cheery demeanor over the course of their travels, and to see her revert back to the person she was before...unnerved him.
"Oh no you don't! You don't get to pull that bullshit with us. Tell us what you know about him!" Inuyasha said, his ire steadily rising. Who did she think she was to keep secrets from them?
"It's none of your business!" Kagome seethed. She wasn't ready to open up old wounds, the fresh ones on her heart were still bleeding. She was sad, and angry, and guilty, and ashamed, and she wasn't in the mood to bear her soul to anyone right now.
"None of my business? That fucker, who smelled too much like Naraku to be a coincidence, just made off with all our shards! Shards that we've risked our lives to get! Unless that's what you wanted? To use us to collect the shards, so you could hand them over to Naraku at your convenience. It all makes sense now, how you two looked at each other as if you were lovers."
He spit out the last word as if it were acid burning his tongue. Inuyasha knew he'd taken it too far, but he didn't have it in him to feel guilty about it. He watched the emotions filter through her cocoa orbs, from sadness, to shock, and finally to rage.
"How dare you? How dare you, of all people, accuse me of betraying you! If anyone is getting used around here it's me, and still I've never questioned where you're loyalties lie!" She screamed at him, all the while moving closer. By the time she finished her tirade she was breathing heavy and they were nose to nose.
"Then you're an even bigger fool than I thought." He inwardly cringed as she took a step back from him. A single tear slid down her left cheek and before he could regret his words, Kagome did a quick about-face and sprinted from camp.
Inuyasha sat quietly, his back resting against a nearby tree. He rubbed his temples to relieve the headache his fight with Kagome had caused. He'd said some awful things to her in the heat of the moment and he knew he'd over stepped his bounds in accusing her of working with Naraku, but how else was he supposed to feel?
He was angry dammit and he had every right to be! Though that didn't stop a small part of him from wanting to run into the forest to find her, but the larger part, the part that still felt betrayed, kept him planted to the ground.
"Are you really gonna let her wonder around in the forest alone?" Miroku, said stepping closer to his friend. The fight had escalated quickly and harsh words had been said, but he was sure that a sincere apology would be enough to bring Kagome back. One from Inuyasha and himself. The thought of Kagome knowing about their inevitable betrayal left a sour taste in his mouth. Somewhere along the way the miko had stopped being a means to an end for them. She'd risked her life on several occasions during their hunt to save him, and in return he'd done the same. He and Inuyasha both had begun to see her as a friend, which is why he shared and could understand Inuyasha's anger.
"Keh! I don't give a fuck what she does." Inuyasha said defiantly, placing his hands behind his head in a gesture of nonchalance.
"Bullshit. If she gets hurt, we both know you'll feel ten times more guilty than you already do."
Inuyasha stood to his feet at that, his anger reigniting. "I don't feel guilty about shit! I'm not the one who betrayed us, or did you forget? I'm not the one fucking our greatest enemy!"
"We don't know her relationship with Akumu. Kagome has secrets she's not ready to tell, and I don't think we should condemn her for that. I don't see her interrogating you about Kikyou." Miroku then found himself pinned to the tree behind them, Inuyasha's hands resting dangerously around his throat.
"Watch your step Miroku, 'cause I'm not in the mood." Inuyasha's eyes flashed in the darkness and Miroku knew he had his friend right where he wanted him.
"Inuyasha you know as well as I that in these last few months, the three of us have formed some strange sense of attachment to one another. What you said hurt her tonight because Kagome-sama considers you a friend. So pull your head out of your ass and go fucking get her!"
Miroku watched with baited breath as a plethora of emotion skirted across Inuyasha's face. Soon the grip on his neck was released and his ass made hard contact with ground. He saw his companion dart into the forest from the corner of his eye, and rubbed the soreness from his throat.
'Those two are gonna be the death of me.'
Kagome wasn't sure how long she'd been wondering in the woods, or how far she was away from camp. All she could think about were Inuyasha's harsh words and how she'd stupidly let her pride escalate the situation.
"They both probably hate me." Kagome said looking to the stars. Tears pooled in her eyes but she didn't let them fall. The shock of seeing Hojo, alive, had clouded her judgement. She'd allowed him to take the shards right from under her nose and instead of fighting him she'd let him run off. But what was she really expected to do? She sat down in the cold grass, lost in her own thoughts.
She hugged her legs and let her head fall to her knees, her body shaking with the force of her cries. 'They'd be better off without me.' She thought sadly. It wasn't the first time she'd thought about running off and leaving Inuyasha and Miroku to hunt the shards on their own, but in the end the thought of losing their companionship scared her. Being alone, was the one thing she feared most.
She'd come to rely on them so much over these past couple months, though she knew she could survive on her own if need be. Most villages would provide food and lodging for a wondering priestess, something she rarely got to enjoy now with her hanyou escorts. Most people's fear of them outweighed their trust of her. But it never really made a difference to her. She'd become accustomed to sleeping under the stars, knowing her friends were watching over her.
If she left she'd miss being woken up by Inuyasha and Miroku's bickering about whose turn it was to hunt for food. She would miss soaking in the hot springs she would force Inuyasha to find. She'd miss going into battle knowing that there were people who had her back. She would miss everything about them.
A rustling of the trees brought her back to reality and she stood ready to run. In her haste she'd hadn't grabbed her bow and arrows, and was practically defenseless. But before she could take off a familiar face stepped from behind the trees and walked meekly into the clearing, having followed her scent all the way here. The only emotion he could read from Kagome was the look of surprise, that clearly stemmed from his sudden appearance. She didn't make any outward signs that she was glad or relieved to see him and it was making him increasingly insecure about his rash decision to come find her.
"These are yours." He held out her bow and quiver and he watched as the surprise in her gaze slowly shifted to sorrow. She stepped closer to him slowly taking her belongings from him.
"Is this your way of telling me we're going our separate ways?" She softly, adjusting the quiver on her back. She'd been prepared for this to happen, yet it didn't make it hurt any less.
"No! Why? Do you...wanna go separate ways?" Inuyasha was nervous for her answer. She looked up at him and the conflict in her eyes scared him. He wasn't sure what he wanted her to do or say, but leaving definitely wasn't one of them.
"No," Inuyasha let a small smile tug at the corner of his lips, so she wanted to stay with him after all. "But I can't come back. Not until I know what you want from me. Are we friends? Are we less? Will you kill me and steal the jewel once it's complete?" Or maybe not.
"It was apart of the plan at first. To...use you to finish the jewel, but everything changed." He said honestly. "I could never harm you, Kagome. I want the jewel, but if hurting you is the only way to get it...I'd find another way."
Kagome smiled at him, her eyes misting over from his sincerity. She grabbed his hand and led him over to a nice spot for them to sit. He had been honest with her and she would be the same way. How else were they supposed to learn to trust each other?
"First I want to apologize, for defending Hojo. I was wrong to let him steal our shards without a fight, but seeing him...I didn't know how to react." Kagome said thoughtfully. "Tonight you accused Akumu and I of being lovers, and at one point we were. But that was before all of this."
"Kagome you don't have to tell me about him." Inuyasha said more out of guilt than anything. The path of conversation they were headed down reminded him of the mean things he'd said to her, things he still needed to apologize for.
"Yes I do, you deserve to know." He nodded, a sign she interpreted as 'if you're ready to talk I'm ready to listen'. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves, and began the long tale of her relationship with Hojo.
"Akumu wasn't always this way. When we first met he was a human delivery boy who lived in my village. I'd seen him around but we never spoke. The first time we had a conversation he'd snuck up on me during archery practice, and I almost shot his head off." Kagome said chuckling at the memory. "One moment I was apologizing and the next I was arguing about him calling me 'Kagome-san'. I told him not to be so formal with me, but he wouldn't relent. He told me he didn't want to be disrespectful."
Kagome smiled and Inuyasha could see her love for this boy shining brightly in her eyes. There was an indiscernible churning in his belly, but he ignored it in favor of listening to her story.
"That day he asked me to walk with him and we spent everyday together after that. It was the first time a boy, or anyone my age for that matter, had wanted to talk to me. Most people were too frightened of me, of my powers. They didn't understand that I was still just like them. I loved Hojo simply because he saw the real me, but sometimes I wish he would've been smart like the others and avoided me." She said sadly, her head hanging low.
"Then one day he didn't show for our walk. I waited for him and when he didn't come I'd figured he realized that, I could never be what he wanted me to be. I could never give him what he wanted. I was sad all day, but he came to my window that night and asked to see me. I didn't even think twice about it and I snuck off into the night to be with him. Yet I could tell there was something off about him that night, and when he attacked me I knew the boy who lured me away from the castle wasn't Hojo."
Her voice became weary and Inuyasha felt himself becoming nervous. Something horrible had happened to the both of them, and he felt bad for making her relive the tale.
"He'd been possessed by a demon. I fought...so hard, but in the end there wasn't much I could do. I killed him." The tears that had gathered in her eyes fell down her cheeks unhindered, she made no move to wipe them away because she knew more would just come in their place.
"It killed me that I couldn't save Hojo. It's been four years since his death and I've carried that guilt around with me for just as long. My whole life I've been told that the fate of the world depended on me and the strength of my powers. I have the weight of everyone's fate resting on my shoulders, but how am I supposed to save the world if I couldn't even save one boy?"
She was sobbing and this point, and the pain rolled off her in waves. It was evident to Inuyasha that though Kagome was strong, in the end she was just a girl who'd been given too much responsibility too early. She'd had to deal with things that were incomprehensible to the average person, to take the life of the one you loved most? No one should ever how that feels.
He grabbed her hands and slowly helped her to her feet. She went to take one of her hands back, probably to wipe her face, but he held steady. "I don't want you to feel guilty anymore." He started. "What happened to Hojo was not you're fault and you know that."
Inuyasha simply shook his head to cut her off. "You don't need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders any longer, give some of that burden to me. Let me help you Kagome."
She looked at him and not even Kagome could comprehend what she was feeling. So she simply wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face in his shoulder. His arms came around her shoulders and in that moment all she could feel was grateful, gladly taking the comfort Inuyasha's embrace provided.
"Thank you, Inuyasha."
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InuYasha © Rumiko Takahashi.
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