I looked back over my shoulder and saw Tanaka staring at her feet with a sad look on her face. I sighed and stopped walking when we reached goshinboku. Tanaka looked up at the tree with child-like awe.
"Goshinboku... huh?" Tanaka said quietly and held a hand to her head. "Are you alright?" I asked, holding her steady. "Yes..." Tanaka said weakly, trembled and collapsed onto my arm. I heard a soft rustle of clothing and turned my head. Inu-Yasha...
Inu-Yasha looked at me and then frowned when he saw Tanaka's unconscious form in my arms. "Why did you bring her?" Inu-Yasha asked. I looked from Inu-Yasha to Tanaka and closed my eyes. Why did I bring her..? I opened my eyes and looked up at the sky. "I brought Tanaka so that she could begin to learn what she's forgotten," I said and turned to look at him, waiting for his reaction. "Forgotten? You said that last night... What did she forget?" Inu-Yasha asked with a curious look on his face. "She repressed all of her memories. She doesn't remember much of anything and her speech was affected as well," I answered.
"You have to teach her from scratch?" Inu-Yasha asked. "She remembers basic things, and talks the way a child would, so she hasn't forgotten everything, but.. she doesn't know how to act around other people..." I answered. "Do you want me to take her back to the village?" I nodded. "Alright," he said picking up Tanaka and looking down at me, "I'll be back soon, so don't go anywhere." I watched him leave and closed my eyes again.
Inu-Yasha... whenever I think of you.. there's pain inside my heart.... is it... some kind of omen..? I don't understand... why is there this pain...? This sadness... it's overwhelming... I felt my eyes fill with tears and I shook them out. "I won't cry like this... over nothing," I said to myself, drying my eyes.
I heard the same rustle of clothing and quickly put on my gentle smile. Inu-Yasha.... I won't let you see me like this... I stood and turned to face Inu-Yasha and he looked at me with a curious expression.
"H-hey," he said awkwardly, "Were you crying..?" I shook my head. "Of course not. What reason would I have to cry?" I asked and he shrugged off-handedly. "How should I know? You're the one who was crying." My eyes narrowed slightly. "I wasn't crying," I said a little arrogantly and Inu-Yasha simply shrugged again. "Keh, whatever. Doesn't make any difference to me," he said nonchalantly. I blinked and the tears threatened to force their way out again. Why... why does that hurt...?
"I'm sorry, Inu-Yasha," I said with a small smile, "Now, where are we going?" He looked at me with a serious expression and mumbled, "You'll see." Inu-Yasha crouched. "Ready?" I nodded, slung my quiver of arrows over my shoulder and with my bow in hand climbed onto his back.
The wind felt cold against my face as Inu-Yasha ran and jumped from place to place, not once allowing me to fall from his back. Being with Inu-Yasha like this... it's a good feeling... I rested my head against his shoulder and closed my eyes. Could it ever be possible... to stay just like this...?
I lifted my head and opened my eyes when Inu-Yasha slowed to a stop. I stood and looked around at the destroyed village, bodies everywhere and the glowing red eyes of demons just beyond it. This place... it can't be...
The stench of blood was thick in the air and Inu-Yasha covered his face to protect his nose from it. "Is this what you wanted to show me?" I asked, looking around at the bloody, mangled bodies. He shook his head. "What I wanted to show you is further into this village," Inu-Yasha said and started walking, "Follow me." I followed a little behind him, an arrow already notched. I can sense... the energy of this place.... it's dangerous...
We passed the dead bodies in silence and the cold wind wrapped around us. It's a warning.... "Inu-Yasha." He turned to look at me. "What?" "Don't go any further," I said looking around and sensing the demons already closing in on us. "Keh, I can handle these youkai," Inu-Yasha said, cracking his wrist, "Soul Scattering Iron Claw!" Pieces of demons darkened the sky everywhere around us.
I placed my hands together, closed my eyes and erected a spiritual barrier. "What in the hells!?" Inu-Yasha snarled when the barrier threw him back towards me. "Stay where you are or the barrier will purify you," I said, implacable. The demons cried out when they touched the barrier and fell back, dead.
Once the cries of the demons stopped, I dissolved the barrier and opened my eyes only to find Inu-Yasha staring at me. He blushed slightly and looked away. I smiled softly and shook my head. Always the same... I turned and looked again at the scene of death that surrounded us. What could possibly have happened here..?
"In all my life... I don't think I've ever seen this kind of a slaughter," Inu-Yasha said, breaking the silence, he looked at his blood-covered hands and his eyes darkened, "All over one life..." I blinked in comprehension. Tanaka... is she the reason why all this happened?
I placed my hand on Inu-Yasha's shoulder and he looked at me. "Are you sure it was over hers?" I asked, looking into his eyes, the golden eyes that warmed me. He broke away from my gaze and said, "I don't know. When I got here... the only person that was still alive was that girl. Tanaka." I nodded. "But then, what do you think happened here? Why would it have taken so long for youkai to come after her? As far as I can sense, she's had extensive training.." I said half to myself. Inu-Yasha shrugged. "There must have been a barrier around this village that shielded her from being found," he said off-handedly, "I've been around here before and never sensed her spiritual powers."
"You've been around here before?" I asked. "Yeah.." he scratched his nose, "I tend not to stay in the same place for very long." If he were cornered... he wouldn't have survived.. My vision blurred slightly and I blinked to clear it again.
"Ne, Inu-Yasha," I said softly. "What is it?" he asked and looked at me with slight concern. "Would you help me dig graves for them?" He nodded. I took a step forward and stumbled over a body. I looked down and my eyes widened a fraction. The samurai from my dream... I shook off my surprise. Then... that's why she repressed her memories...
I placed the last flowers on the grave Inu-Yasha had just filled. I knelt and closed my eyes in prayer; Inu-Yasha sighed tiredly. I looked at him questioningly. "Why is it that lately all we do is dig graves? Can't people bury themselves?!" Inu-Yasha grumbled in frustration. I sighed and shook my head. "Be respectful of the dead, Inu-Yasha," I said. "Keh! I'm respectful enough of the dead! It's not my fault they decided to go off and die!" he said with a frown. "Inu-Yasha! Enough!" I said, losing my temper, and I looked at him coldly. He bristled. "Look, you don't have any idea where I've been, so don't tell me I don't have respect for the dead!" he snapped back at me.
I felt my blood begin to boil. "That's only because you refused to tell me," I said coolly, holding my anger inside of myself. Why are we arguing like this..? I exhaled a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding and my anger seeped out of my bones. "It won't do any good... to keep things like that to yourself, Inu-Yasha," I said, regaining my calm. His scowl deepened and he looked away from me. "I'm sorry, Inu-Yasha. I shouldn't have lost my temper with you." "Keh," he muttered.
"Will you tell me... where you went?" I asked hesitantly. He breathed in sharply and his bangs covered his eyes. The wind rose around us like a cry. "When I left..." Inu-Yasha said quietly, "I went to visit my mother's grave..."
His mother... I touched my hand to the rouge hidden in my sleeve. "And... that's why.." he said. Inu-Yasha... I wanted to hold him, wanted to know his feelings and ease his pain. THose golden eyes that felt so much and revealed so little.
I nodded and tried to speak, but I couldn't find the words that I wanted to say. "I see,' I said, staring at the horizon where the orange-pink sky met the dark earth. Inu-Yasha and I were silent for a while and listened to a nightingale in the distance beginning to sing as the sky grew dark.
"It's getting late," Inu-Yasha said, matter-of-factly, "We should get back." I nodded, despite wanting with all my soul to spend more time with him. He crouched and I climbed onto his back, bow and quiver of arrows already hung on my shoulder. My hands held tightly to his haori. "Don't let go, okay?" Inu-Yasha asked. "Alright."
The sound of clothing rustling in the wind during the journey back to my village kept me comfortable. I saw Inu-Yasha's silver hair and mine join, the silver and black clashing like the moon and the night sky. I sighed silently and breathed the familiar scent of Inu-Yasha's haori. I want to stay here with Inu-Yasha... close to him... like this... I felt the wind stop when Inu-Yasha landed a short distance from my home and I climbed off of his back. Inu-Yasha turned and looked at me.
"Inu-Yasha," I said and he flicked his ear. "What is it?" he asked, looking a little irritated. I smiled slightly and shook my head. "Thank you for today." "Keh," Inu-Yasha said, turning away. I heard Kaede and Tanaka's voices speaking quietly about something I couldn't understand. Before I go back... I have to know...
"Inu-Yasha..." I said quietly. He looked at me. "What?" he asked impatiently. My pulse quickened with uncertainty, but my expression remained the same. Should I ask him..? I held his eyes with my own. "I want to know... why did you help her?" I asked, "Before... it's not something you would have done back then." His eyes became serious and he looked at my home, where Kaede and Tanaka's voices could be heard. He was silent, his gold eyes dark in thought. "When I saw her... for a second, she reminded me of myself... a long time ago. That was why I stopped." Inu-Yasha paused and folded his arms, staring at the ground. "And once I saw how badly she'd been hurt and needed my help... I couldn't turn my back on her. So, I brought her here... to you..." he trailed off and looked at me as if to say he couldn't explain it any further and I nodded. "I understand," I said with a small smile, "I'm sure she's grateful for your help, Inu-Yasha." He nodded slightly and moved to leave. "Wait," I said and he turned to me. "What is it, Kikyou?" Inu-Yasha asked, no longer annoyed. "I just... want to know... if you're planning on leaving again?" "Not anytime soon," he said with a smirk. "Then I'll see you tomorrow," I said quietly. "Yeah." I started to walk towards my home. "Goodnight then, Inu--" I stopped short when Inu-Yasha embraced me tightly. Inu-Yasha... As I raised my arms to embrace him back, Inu-Yasha let go. "Goodnight, Kikyou."
"I'm home." I entered my home and saw Kaede and Tanaka lying in their cots next to each other whispering about something. "And then..." Kaede whispered and Tanaka looked up at me. "Kikyou-o-nee-sama," Kaede said and jumped up and ran to hug me. "Hello Kaede, Tanaka," I said, hugging Kaede and watching Tanaka struggle to her feet. "Welcome back," Tanaka said, bowing and then toppled back down. Kaede rushed to help Tanaka sit up and I smiled. Kaede and Tanaka... they'll get along well... "Tanaka-san hasn't been feeling well ever since Inu-Yasha brought her home, o-nee-sama," Kaede explained quickly, straightening Tanaka's clothing and patting down her hair, "So I decided it'd be easier for Tanaka-san to rest lying down today." Tanaka nodded and smiled sheepishly. "You don't have to... call me -san, Kaede-chan," Tanaka said slowly.
"I've made a decision regarding Tanaka and us, Kaede. From now on, she is our sister," I said, sitting down next to Tanaka and smoothing her hair, "And you can call me sensei, Tanaka. I will be training both you and Kaede to become miko." Tanaka gave me a questioning look. "A priestess..?" Tanaka asked. I nodded. "I am... going to be... a priestess?" "Yes, you are. But don't worry about that right now. You need to focus on recovering your strength," I said laying Tanaka back down on her cot. I am going to help you remember your past, Tanaka... I promise... I won't let it harm you...
Kaede looked at me with surprise. "O-nee-sama, you mean that now, Tanaka-san is my o-nee-san?" Kaede asked. "Yes." Kaede smiled and her eyes lit up. "Thank you o-nee-sama!" Kaede said, hugging me. I smiled. "You're welcome."
There are times when I wonder...
Could things have been different?
If they could, would it be worth it?
All of our sufferings would be for nothing...