Chapter 11: Night
As the moon rose,
We put away our sorrow
In our time alone.
Miroku walked through the darkened village until he found Sango with a group of young women sitting around a lantern in front of Kaede’s house.
The light glowed, highlighting a group of animated faces, Eriko and her sister Tama, Sango, and a couple of other girls he didn’t recognize immediately.
“And then I heard her father tell him if . . . ” Eriko’s voice trailed off as she heard him walk up, and her eyes dropped demurely. “Oh, hello, Houshi-sama.”
He laid a hand on Sango’s shoulder. “It must have been an interesting story, ladies. It wouldn’t happen to be how a certain young man got caught two days ago standing outside of his sweetheart’s house, now would it?”
Eriko and her sister giggled.
Miroku gave a deep, theatrical sigh. “I’m sorry to break this up, ladies, but I must speak to the Taijiya for a moment. Sango, if I might have the pleasure of your company?”
Sango nodded, standing gracefully, and allowed him to walk her away from the group as they headed back to Tomeo’s house. Seeing that Miroku had dropped his playful look and slipped into a serious mode, Sango asked, “What is it, Miroku?”
“Something’s happened. I just ran into Shippou, who was running through the village in a panic. He told me something about blood on the ground in front of InuYasha’s house,” he told her. “I think we better join the others.”
Sango stopped him, and grabbed his arm. “You think someone got hurt? Shippou’s seen an awful lot to get panicked easily.”
“Not really,” Miroku said. “I suspect someone was voicing their unhappiness about our newly wedded couple. But if we’re not careful, someone may end up that way. If it bothered Shippou, I expect it will really bother InuYasha.”
They returned to Tomeo’s to find Kagome holding the young Kitsune. A small knot of people had gathered around InuYasha and Kagome, while others were picking things up or leaving.
“I see the party is over,” Sango said.
Kagome looked at InuYasha, who was crouching next to Kagome and the small Kitsune. Miroku moved behind his friend. Sango knelt next to Kagome.
“I heard something had happened,” Miroku said. InuYasha nodded.
"Why would someone do that?" the boy cried.
"What did they do, Shippou-chan?" Sango asked, ruffing her fingers through his hair.
"I...I went up to the house to leave Kagome a present,” he sniffled. “I know I wasn’t supposed to go there tonight, but I wanted to leave something special there for them. I...I drew you a picture, Kagome,” he said, holding up a rolled piece of paper in his hand, crumpled a little, and Kagome took it from him.
She unrolled it slowly, to find a crayon drawing of a man in red with white hair and dog ears holding hands with someone dressed in something like her old school uniform.
“That’s so sweet, Shippou-chan. Look, InuYasha,” she said, handing it to him.
“That’s...nice, Runt,” InuYasha said. His arm went out to wrap around the two of them.
“But when I got there...I found it,” Shippou continued. “There was a dead dog. It looked like the dog Hana feeds sometimes. Someone had killed it. It was a white dog. There was blood everywhere. They . . . they had cut its head off and put it right in front of the door."
“A white dog,” muttered InuYasha. “Not very damn subtle, are they?” Kagome looked up at InuYasha, whose eyes met hers, angry. She reached over and rested her hand on his as he lay his cheek against the top of her head. She could feel his youki flaring, wrapping around her as if it could keep her safe. He would need to do something soon, even if it was just run.
“This is not good. We’re going to need to purify the site,” Kaede said. “Someone was mocking the making of an Inugami. Miroku, will you come with me? The dog’s spirit is going to have to be put to rest.” The old miko slowly stood up.
Tomeo rose as she did and motioned to two of his sons. “This is an insult to me and to our village. We will find out who did this, InuYasha.”
"Sango, will you stay here with Shippou?" Kagome asked. "And be sure to have another mochi cake, Shippou. We'll take care of it. Everything will be ok."
"You’re sure you want to see?" InuYasha whispered. She nodded, and gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
"I need to," she replied.
The youkai moved, here then gone, hard to find and harder to see as she flitted across the countryside. Content in her wandering, she was never alone, for in her mind, came the whispered voices of her sisters, the touch of the Mother bonding her essence as plots were spun, and deeds were woven, and hungers fed. Moving through the shadows, at times she seemed like a fluttering rag caught up by the wind, at times like a spider drifting on a windblown strand of fine silk. Sometimes she would come to earth and walk, a small, old, and bent woman dressed in rags that fluttered as she moved. No matter which way she went, though, the wind was her friend, taking her along the road she wished to travel, bringing her news of grief and hunger, blood and despair. It was a rich time to be wandering - so much despair and hurt and anger in the world at this time. There was so much for her to feed on, so much to pass on to her sisters.
Tonight, it was the smell of blood and dog, miko magic and youkai glamour that drew her, spiced with petty vindictiveness and human envy. Blood and vindictiveness hung heavily in the air while she sat in a tree, breathing in its rich scent.
She watched as a small Kitsune walked up to the house, and saw the dog’s head, bloodstained and upright, looking into the netherworld. She saw his eyes grow wide, and how he turned and ran.
“Now, my sisters,” she thought to the voices in her mind, “what is there about a dead dog that would frighten a Kitsune so? Do not foxes and dogs despise each other?”
“It smells interesting,” said the voices. “Wait hidden and watch,” they suggested. Her form shifted, and spider like, she moved within the tree until she had the best vantage point.
She felt them coming before she arrived, bright spiritual auras, priest and priestess, filled with human ki that could burn and purify and seal. She wrapped the night around her tightly, not wishing for them to find her traces, not willing to miss what they would do. Surprising to her was the sudden rush of youki, strong and angry that walked with them, side by side.
“Most interesting,” said the voices.
The first she saw was the priest with his jingling staff.
“What a mess. The poor thing,” he said.
Two young men followed close behind, carrying supplies. The monk quickly gave them orders, and they laid a piece of cloth on the ground, away from the entrance.
Not long after that, three more walked up. Two were priestesses, although only one wore the garments of a miko. She retreated a bit further into the tree at the taste of the other miko, who contained a strong power, radiantly pink. But with them was the source of the youki she felt - silver of hair, smelling of dog.
“Hanyou, sisters,” she whispered. “See the hanyou?”
“He is strong,” the voices whispered. “Inu hanyou. He smells of the Great Dog.”
“Enemy,” she said. “But who?”
The young priestess saw the dog’s body, how its head was setting in a pool of blood in front of the house. “Oh, InuYasha,” she said, turning to the hanyou who put his arms around her.
“InuYasha,” the youkai said. “We have heard of him.”
“Son of the Great Dog,” said the voices. “Brother of Sesshoumaru.”
There was a great babel amongst the voices in her head as they took in this information. She remained frozen in place while the noise continued, and the people below her lifted the dog’s body onto the cloth, sopped up blood, chanted sutra and prayers, and burned herbs. The young priestess retreated in tears into the house.
Suddenly, a stronger voice spoke in her head. “Move away, little Sister. Be safe. We know where he is at. He will help us, one way or another. We will have our vengeance. You have done well.”
“As you say, Mother,” said the youkai. Scurrying into the night, she let the wind catch her, and sailed away under the moonlight.
InuYasha heard the sliding of the door behind him, the rustle of silk and soft footsteps. The air, still smelling of blood and vinegar and salt, grew scented with something sweet and soothing to him.
"Are they gone yet?" Kagome asked. She stepped out of the house and passed the stained, wet ground to where InuYasha was standing. He stood there motionless, staring into the distance, his aura restless and angry, his body shadow-wrapped and touched by the moonlight, like a wraith longing to pounce. Light from an almost full moon lit up the village below them, making it look cold and alien and remote.
Suddenly he moved, turning towards her. "Yeah, everybody's finally gone. They took off that poor dog's carcass. I think Miroku's going off to bless it, and then burn it." He crouched down and punched the ground in his frustration. "Those fuckers couldn't wait to cause trouble. Not even one day."
He looked back up at her, still crouching, his face hidden by his bangs. "Why are you still here, Kagome? Don't you know that I pollute you just being near you? If you had any sense, you’d run. They're never gonna let me forget that."
She reached out and rested a hand on his shoulder. "This is where I belong," she said simply.
InuYasha sighed and covered her hand with his own, giving it a gentle squeeze, and stood up. “Let’s go inside,” he said.
He led her back into the house, then slid the door behind him. A fire was burning in the fire pit, giving the room its only light. InuYasha stepped up to the wood floor of the living area and shrugged off the wedding jacket.
"Give me a moment," Kagome said, walking past him as she headed to the back into the nando, their sleeping room.
Theirs. The thought gave him a shiver.
He rolled his shoulders, releasing the tension that had built up there. Kneeling down, he banked the fire for the night. While he was still bent over, the door to the nando slid open. Turning his head, he saw Kagome standing there in the doorway, her long blue-black hair hanging loose. She had changed out of the silk kosode she had worn earlier into a soft cotton one in a pale pink color, decorated with darker pink flowers. The color reminded him of her room lost to them on the other side of the well and all she had given up and done for him, and he felt a strange tightness in his throat.
Taking a deep breath first, he managed to swallow finally and said, “Kami, you’re beautiful.”
Blushing, she chewed on her bottom lip, watching as he stood up, picked up his jacket and moved towards her. He stopped in front of her, and looked into her eyes, trying to read them. Her scent wrapped itself around him, tinged with nervousness and excitement and some sadness. Brushing her cheek with the back of his finger, he said, “Are you all right?”
She nodded, then looked down, and moved back into the nando. A lamp flickered against one wall. Kagome, still not looking at him, kneeled next to the futon she had rolled out, head bowed. The lamp cast warm highlights over the blue-black of hair, tumbling freely down her back, but her eyes were hidden in the shadows beneath her bangs. His heart wrenched as he saw her kneeling there, looking small and delicate and unsure. The scent of her wrapped around him and goaded him on to do something, anything. He draped the jacket over the clothes chest against the wall, then pulled off the black silk kosode he wore, and laid it on top of it. Dressed only in his white under kosode and hakama, he walked over and knelt down in front of her.
"Kagome," he said, softly. “Kagome, I’m sorry –“
She opened her eyes as he said her name, but didn't look up, but instead looked at his knees front of her, and how the dark silk fabric draped around them. "Don't say it," she whispered. "Don't tell me today was a mistake and I shouldn’t be here."
He felt his ears flattening as he reacted to her distress. “Hell, no,” he said. "We both knew that shit like this was going to happen. I've always known it. I’ve always had to fight for the right to have a place in the world," he said, taking her hands in his, letting the calloused pads of his thumbs brush gently against her wrists. “You are the one good thing that’s happened in my life."
He put a finger under her chin, lifting up her face. “I’m sorry this happened. I want to kick the asses of those who did it until they get the idea that hurting those I hold dear is a bad thing. But I will never think today was a mistake.”
Kagome met InuYasha’s gaze. His eyes, amber and warm, threatened to swallow her in the intensity of his look filled with hope and need and longing, and her breath caught in her throat. Hesitantly, shyly, she lifted up a hand and cupped his cheek. "InuYasha - "
"I wanted today to be perfect for you," he said softly, bending closer to her.
She could feel the heat of his breath. The taint on their evening faded in his closeness. "It has been an amazing day," she said.
He raised himself from where he had been kneeling until he was standing on his knees. With a gentle tug, Kagome’s body lifted up as well. His hands drifted up to cup her face. She leaned into his warmth, overcome by the feel of his hands, the closeness of his body, the heady, woodsy scent that was only InuYasha’s.
"Kagome-chan," he whispered. His lips brushed across hers, tender, gentle, lingering. Her hands, desperate for something to hold onto, fisted the soft linen of his kosode. His hands threaded through her hair, cradling her head. "Wife," he said. His mouth found hers once again, this time hungry in his need. Her own heat built inside of her as she was wrapped in the warmth of his arms and pressed against the hardness of his body, and she found herself matching his kiss hunger for hunger, need for need, melting into his touch, his taste.
His mouth trailed down her neck, igniting something that coursed through to the center of her, as her head arched back, baring her throat, her body pressing closer to his.
"Kami," he breathed, nuzzling her neck, discovering the shape of her ear, "I've wanted you so damn long."
Four people set near the pathway up towards InuYasha’s house, keeping watch about halfway between the village and the rise where the house sat.
“This day has been so long,” Miroku said, yawning, leaning up against a tree.
The campfire sparked as Keitaro, Tomeo’s youngest son, put another piece of wood on the flames. He was young, only about seventeen, and restlessly snapped a dead branch into pieces to throw into the watch fire.
“You could go home,” suggested Toshiro, his brother. “We can keep watch for you.” He had a small hand drum with him, and beat out a simple but interesting rhythm to pass the time.
“No, “ said the monk. “I’ve camped out and kept watch many nights. This is something I need to do for my friends.”
Sango knelt next to Miroku, petting Kirara who was curled up in her lap. She had changed out of her wedding finery and was back into her everyday dress of pink and green, but under it, she wore her dragonskin armor, and had Hiraikotsu at hand.
“But you, Sango, you could go home if you’d like,” Miroku added. “I am sure Kaede wouldn’t mind someone besides Kohaku and Shippou to talk to.”
She shook her head no. “They are my friends, too. Do you really think anybody will try to do something else tonight?” she asked.
“No. I think they’ve made their point, but keeping watch helps make sure of that.” Looking up the slope, he said, “I wonder how they’re doing up there.”
“Miroku!” Sango said.
“No, my dearest Sango, you misunderstand me. InuYasha was quite angry about what they did. I know he won’t take it out on Kagome, but it was a hard day for him all day. You weren’t there with him waiting with him. And you know how hard it was to get them together in the first place. I hope he doesn’t try to do something foolish, like send her back to Kaede’s.”
“No sign of trouble yet,” said Keitaro, looking up the hill.
“I don’t think Kagome will actually let him do that,” said Sango.
“They both can be incredibly stubborn, though,” Miroku said.
The conversation drifted off.
“I wonder who did it,” Sango said.
“I suspect my father has some idea,” said Keitaro. “Not sure what he’ll do next, though. But he was really angry.”
“I hope we can get this settled soon,” said Miroku. “I really need to go visit old Mushin.” He gave Sango a meaningful look. She dropped her eyes and smiled prettily, but let him reach out for her hand.
Toshiro let out a particularly loud bang with his drum.
For so long they had been so careful around each other, afraid to do more than the smallest of touches, and even this last month, there had not been a lot of time or privacy to do more than just gently explore the space behind the barriers they had constructed. But now, something that had been restraining Kagome gave way, and she gracefully stood up. Without breaking eye contact, she reached behind her and pulled on the knot to her obi. It slowly released and drifted down to the floor. With a shrug of her shoulders, she let the smooth fabric of the garment slide down her body until it crumpled on the floor by her feet.
"You are the only one I've ever wanted," she said, "I've loved you so long."
InuYasha's eyes widened as the cloth rustled to the floor, watching as her body was revealed to him - the rosebuds on each of her breasts, the softness of her tummy, the dark nest of her curls. Overwhelmed by the sight and smell of her, for a moment, he forgot to breathe. Her hands reached out for his shoulders, flowed upward into his hair, touched an ear. “O woman, what you do to me,” he breathed as he leaned his head against her.
His lips brushed the dimple of her navel as his arms reached around her, She threw back her head and gasped at the feeling it produced. His hands traced the softness of her curves as he arose in front of her, memorizing the texture of her skin, the outline of her shape, the weight of her breasts in his hand.
Kagome's arms slid up the linen of his kosode, finding new anchor points around his neck, buried in the white silk of his hair, then sliding back down to push the fabric of the cloth aside, her hands hungry for the touch of his skin. Cradling the back of her head, he pulled her into a devouring kiss, his tongue hungry for the taste of her. A hand traced the long arch of her spine, cupped her bottom, pressing her against his hardness.
He eased her onto the futon only to withdraw his touch as he removed his hakama and lay them aside. Shrugging off his kosode, he revealed at last the hard chiseled lines of chest and arm, the power of thigh and leg, the strength of his arousal. Her breath caught at the sight of him revealed, and she lay there, nervous and excited, anxious and wanting. Sliding onto the futon, and into her waiting arms, he covered her with his body, his face hovering above hers, nose to nose, amber eyes burning into stormy blue gray. "I love you," he said. “I want you so badly.”
He let his mouth and hands explore her, listening as she moaned and made needy sounds as his tongue and fingers and lips learned her mysteries, how she arched up as he tugged and suckled at her breasts, discovered the wonderful wetness between the folds hidden beneath her curls and how touching her there made her buck into his hand from the pleasure it gave her, and how absolutely incredible it was when he entered her and they became one for the first time.
Later, as they lay spooned together in the darkness, he listened to her breathing and the soft sound of her heartbeat and considered the way his life had become transformed by this small and delicate woman. She was too stubborn to back off, his Kagome, the woman who had freed him from the darkness not just once when he was pinned to the Goshinboku, but time after time, teaching him so much about love and living and hope. And he knew most certainly that no matter where they lived, or what fate had in store for them, wherever she was, was his true home.