“InuYasha!” she yelled, running across the field.
He stumbled to one knee, then, sheathing his sword, he pressed it into the ground like a walking stick and leaned on Tessaiga’s hilt, catching his breath. Around him lay the remnants of the youkai he had killed, a white and scaly snake youkai. The carcass smoked lightly in the afternoon light. InuYasha had blood spatters on his cheek, and streaking his hair, but they weren’t his blood. That’s not where he was injured. Taking a deep breath, he looked at Kagome, and tried to crack a wry grin, but couldn’t. Instead, he gritted his teeth and, leaning on his sword, pulled himself up with his left arm.
His right arm felt like fire. He could feel the trickle of blood seep down his wrist where the youkai had bit him. The world around him began spinning. Kagome’s arms went around him.
“Lean on me, InuYasha,” she said. “We need to get out of here.”
“Everything’s spinning,” he said, as he let her put his shoulder under his arm.
“You got bit,” she said, blinking her eyes hard to keep them clear. “Let’s get you somewhere safe.”
“Good idea. My arm burns.” He looked her in the eyes for a minute as she looked up at him. “I don’t think I can move it much. Hard to feel my fingers. Gonna be a rough night, huh?”
“Yeah,” she replied, focusing on the ground instead of her husband’s face. “A rough night.”
They walked a little while in silence. But with each step Kagome could tell it was getting harder and harder for InuYasha to continue walking. He almost stumbled, but was able to catch himself with his scabbard.
“You need to take a break?” she asked.
“Don’t wanna stop,” he said, his voice thickening. He made an effort to swallow. “Might not be able to start.”
Kagome took a deep breath. “We’re almost where we camped last night. That’ll work,” she said.
“Yeah,” the hanyou replied. His breathing grew ragged as they trudged down the path as InuYasha fought to stay coherent enough to get to safety. Time seemed to stretch out forever, as his sense of reality grew shaky. He concentrated on his feet, walking one step at a time. Soon his world was nothing but move the left foot. Feel Kagome step with him. Move the right foot. Repeat.
Finally, he took a step, but Kagome didn’t move with him. He looked up her, gazed into her beautiful, blue-gray, worried eyes. They seemed a great distance away. He swallowed hard.
“You can sit down, InuYasha, we’re here,” she said. It seemed that not only did she look like she was a long way away, her voice sounded distant, too. He reached up a hand, and brushed her cheek with the back of his hand.
“Love you, Koibito,” he whispered. Even his own voice sounded far away.
Closing his eyes, he slipped down to his knees. Awash in something that felt like soft fuzz, he let himself sink into darkness.
His inner darkness let go while it was still dark outside. InuYasha lay there, noting how he ached, ached everywhere. His ears twitched as he made out the various noises, the sound of the stream they were near, the crackle of a fire, the simmer of water, the soft humming voice of his wife as she pushed the fire around.
She spoke very softly, but still he could make out the poem she was humming:
“Do not fly away
this night before the moonrise
touches your soft hair,
spread out there behind your head,
a cascade of soft silver.
“Do not fly away
this night before the dawning,
and I get to see
the sunrise of your bright eyes
amber gold in the daylight.
“Do not fly away
this night before returning
to hold me closely,
wrapping me in your warm arms
where I may find rest at last.”
She poured some liquid. “Ouch!” she said as she splattered it a bit. He heard the rustle of fabric, and then she made her way back to where he lay down. A cool arm slid behind his head, lifted him up a little bit. “You need to drink this, InuYasha.”
He fluttered his eyes open and wrinkled his nose. “Wha . . . what is it?” he whispered.
Her face lit up at the sound of his voice. “Something that’ll help you feel better faster,” she said. She brought it to his lips. It tasted nasty.
“Does. . .does medicine always taste so bad?” he asked, falling back to the bedding after he had drunk the tea.
“Usually. Especially for husbands who let themselves get wounded by snake youkai.” She smiled, and brushed an unruly bit of hair out of his face. “I’m glad we left Atae back at home.”
“Yeah,” he said. He took a deep breath, searched out her hand with his uninjured left hand. “You know I’ll never fly away without you, Koibito.”
She bent over and kissed his brow. “Promise?”
“Promise,” he replied, and brought the fingers of her hand to his lips.
“Good,” she replied. And before she could finish smoothing his covers out, he was fast asleep, still holding her hand.