~Wishing and Hoping~
Kagome shivered and scooted closer to the fire, holding up her hands to warm as she stifled a sigh and slowly shook her head.
‘Oh, boy . . . How did this happen? I didn’t want to go with Kouga . . . Why on earth did I agree?‘
An owl in a nearby tree hooted in answer to her thoughts.
‘Even worse, I didn’t get a chance to tell Sango and Miroku . . . I hope they aren’t worried . . .’
Gasping out a little squeak as a freshly killed rabbit thumped on the ground in front of her, Kagome jerked back, bumping into Kouga’s legs. She hadn’t heard him return, though she vaguely recalled him saying that he was going to hunt down some dinner. Staring at it, unable to mask her distaste, she swallowed hard and tried to force a smile since the wolf-youkai looked entirely too pleased with himself. “What’s the matter, Kagome? Not hungry?” he asked.
“Uhh,” she hedged, trying not to think about the idea that InuYasha always—always—skinned and cleaned whatever he caught before he handed it over for her to cook. Of course, he said it was because he didn’t like getting mouthfuls of fur, but . . . but she rather thought more than once that maybe there was more to it than that; that maybe he had just understood that staring at a carcass like the one that Kouga had just tossed down before her just might be a little more than she could take . . .
To her horror, Kouga reached over her shoulder and tore off the rabbit’s left rear haunch before handing the mutilated thing back to her. “Uhh,” she said again, pinching a front leg between her thumb and index finger before very quickly setting it aside.
Kouga didn’t seem to notice her reluctance, though, and he stretched out on his side, casually munching on the raw haunch, though he did pause to spit tufts of fur aside. Kagome quickly looked away.
“So, if this Banai guy claims to be a priest, why is he raiding your clan?” Kagome asked, mostly to sidetrack her own thoughts before she did something completely shameful, like vomit.
“Says he’s taking up donations or something.” Clicking his tongue against his teeth before gnawing on one of the rabbit’s leg bones, Kouga shrugged one shoulder carelessly. “He’s a damn fool,” the wolf-youkai insisted airily. “He also says that youkai are evil and that they ought to be destroyed. I’m pretty sure that he’s forgotten that he is one himself. He’s usually pretty harmless, but to hear tale of it, something’s got him all stirred up.”
“Like what?” she couldn’t help asking. The story was starting to get stranger and stranger. “More importantly, just how could he forget that he’s youkai?”
Kouga snorted and thumped his feet on the ground. “Well, he’s always been a little crazy. Guess it just got worse,” he said. “Anyway, it’s no big deal. I’ll just give him a friendly warning, and we’ll be on our way.”
“Yeah,” she allowed slowly, lifting her gaze skyward, staring at the empty tree branches so high above, wishing in vain to see that flash of crimson, the streak of silver, and knowing in her heart that he was nothing but a memory.
“So, uh . . . Tell me, Kagome. Where is that mongrel, anyway?” Kouga asked as he pushed himself up and chucked the bones over his shoulder. There was something in his tone, though, a hint of reluctance, as though he realized that there was something seriously wrong—or maybe he simply realized that she . . .
Letting out a deep breath, Kagome winced. It was going to become common knowledge soon enough, wasn’t it? “InuYasha . . .” Swallowing hard, she tried to find the words, but they wouldn’t come. Clearing her throat a few times, she shook her head, unsure where she could begin; unsure what she really wanted to say. “We . . . We purified the Shikon no Tama, and . . . and Midoriko asked us what we wanted. He . . . he chose my . . . my home, and I . . .” The bitter stab of cruel irony hit her hard, and she couldn’t contain the harsh, humorless laugh that slipped from her. “I chose his.”
Kouga said nothing for a minute. Kagome didn’t notice. Too busy, trying to cover up the fresh surge of pain brought on by the explanation that she’d given, she didn’t notice anything—until Kouga barked out a guffaw of laughter, anyway . . .
“Is that right?” he finally choked out, wiping laughter-induced tears out of his eyes. “I always knew he was stupid, but damn! That’s pretty retarded, even for him!”
That earned him a formidable glower from the miko that would have been much more effective had he actually been paying attention to her. He was still too busy laughing, which only served to further Kagome’s rapidly escalating irritation with him.
“Oi! Where are you going?” he called after her when she shot to her feet, grabbed her backpack along with her bow and arrows, and started to stomp away from the campsite.
“Goodbye, Kouga,” she said stiffly. “I think agreeing to come along with you was a mistake.”
Heaving a sigh, Kouga pushed himself off the ground and caught Kagome’s hand. “Okay, I’m sorry,” he said, though he didn’t sound particularly apologetic. “The subject of dog-face is touchy for you. I get it.”
Kagome opened her mouth to retort, yanking her arm away from the wolf-youkai, but the sudden rustle in the nearby foliage stopped her. Blinking in surprise as she watched five youkai step out of the trees, she couldn’t miss the low grunt from Kouga—or the dour priest’s robes worn by the middle youkai—a huge boar-youkai with thick tusks , thick fingers, a thick belly, and a very pronounced pig snout.
“Banai . . . how nice of you to save me the trouble of hunting you down,” Kouga remarked.
‘Banai,’ Kagome thought as she stared at the boar-youkai. ‘That’s him . . .?‘
“Kouga, leader of the wolf-youkai tribe,” Banai remarked, slowly nodding as he took a step closer. His men spread out, stepped into place surrounding Kouga and Kagome, and while they didn’t seem particularly hostile at the moment, Kagome couldn’t help the unbidden surge of nerves, either. “What do you here? Know you that you’re standing upon sacred ground?”
“Sacred ground?” Kouga repeated, shaking his head as a look of feigned surprise surfaced since they had made camp beside a small stream basically in the middle of nowhere. “Nothing sacred about this place, Banai.”
“That’s High Priest Banai to you, you lowly wolf . . . and you’ve been poaching our sacred rabbits, too,” one of Banai’s followers accused. Kagome squeaked and inadvertently moved in a little closer to Kouga’s side when he thrust the mutilated carcass from Kouga’s dinner over her shoulder to present the evidence to the ‘high priest’.
“The poaching of a sacred rabbit is a crime, punishable by law,” Banai proclaimed. “Bring them along. We’ll decide their punishment at the shrine.”
“Wait! This is just ridiculous—” Cutting herself off as she yanked her arm away from Banai’s henchman, she stomped over to the ‘priest’ and planted her hands on her hips, glowering up at the youkai stubbornly. “And there are no such things as ‘sacred rabbits’!”
To her surprise—and irritation—Kouga rolled his eyes and slung an arm around her shoulders to propel her around the high priest and toward the forest while the boar-youkai and his men fell in behind them. “Come on, Kagome. Just humor them. I did mention that he’s crazy, right?” he murmured in her ear.
Heaving a heavy sigh, Kagome didn’t argue. Considering there were five of them and one of her? Well, two if one counted Kouga, but he seemed to be way too amused by it all to bother trying to dissuade them from taking any rash actions. She should have known better than to make such a stupid, impetuous choice as going with Kouga in the first place. Why, oh why did she have the feeling that it just wasn’t going to end well . . .?
“Wh . . . What . . .?”
Kouga blinked as his grin widened, thoroughly enjoying the shocked disbelief that InuYasha couldn’t hide. Fast on the heels of that, however, was the anger that InuYasha knew better, and it was that emotion that spoke for him. “You’re lying,” he stated flatly, straightening his back, glowering murderously at the wolf-youkai. “You’re fucking lying!”
“Am I?” Kouga taunted. “What the hell would you know? You got any idea just how lonely she was after you disappeared? Did you think she’d stay alone forever? And why not me? At least I’m not dumb enough to wish for something that could hurt her—unlike some people I know.”
Erupting in a low growl, InuYasha grabbed the front of Kouga’s shirt and shoved him back against the wall without letting go. “You don’t know shit about it, wolf, so don’t pretend that you do. As for Kagome, she’d never marry someone like you.”
“Shows you what you think you know, baka,” Kouga shot back.
“I know Kagome!” InuYasha shot back, giving Kouga yet another rough shake.
Sparing a moment to glance down at InuYasha’s hand pointedly before shifting his gaze back to his face once more, Kouga broke into a grin that was closer to a snarl than a show of amusement. “You know, Kagome, huh . . .? It doesn’t really matter because you weren’t there, were you?”
That barb struck home. “Shut the fuck up, you scrawny wolf,” InuYasha growled. “Just tell me the damned truth!”
“I am telling you the damned truth,” Kouga retorted although his tone was mild, almost bored. “Anyway, I should probably tell you that I’m a detective, and you could be arrested right now—easily.”
InuYasha snorted and dealt Kouga another sound thump against the wall. He wasn’t sure what this ‘arrested’ meant, but he couldn’t quite work up the need to care at the moment, either. “Like I give a damn.”
“Will you calm down already?” Kouga asked, rolling his eyes as though InuYasha should know enough on his own. “You’re wrinkling my shirt.”
“Don’t give a damn about that, either,” InuYasha ground out. “Now tell me the truth about Kagome!”
Kouga rolled his eyes. “I am,” he stated once more. “We were married—not long after you ended up here, I think . . .”
InuYasha erupted in a low growl, eyes brightening, his pulse thundering in his ears as he realized a moment too late that he’d forgotten Tetsusaiga back at the shrine. Too bad he didn’t much care if he lost control or not, given the circumstances. Tearing Kouga limb from limb was sounding better and better by the second . . .
“Ookami-san . . .?”
Kouga’s gaze flicked over InuYasha’s shoulder as Katsuragi stepped back out of the building. Then he sighed and knocked InuYasha’s hands away, looking far more irritated than he had before. Whether it was due to the interruption or something else entirely, InuYasha didn’t know—and really didn’t care. “Had to do this the hard way, didn’t you, mutt-face?” he muttered under his breath.
“What the fuck are you—?”
The snick of something cold on his wrist cut him off, and before InuYasha could get a good look at whatever it was, the damn wolf grabbed his other arm, giving a good yank that spun him around seconds before another ‘snick’ resounded in his ears. Tugging on his hands did nothing to regain his freedom, and InuYasha growled. “What the hell are these?” he demanded, jerking hard enough on the chain behind his back that held his hands together to draw blood. “Kouga, damn it—”
“Calm down, baka,” Kouga insisted, grabbing InuYasha’s arm and propelling him forward as he leaned in just enough to be heard, speaking in a tone so low that an ordinary human wouldn’t hear him at all. “Always gotta do things the hard way, don’t you?” Heaving a sigh, Kouga shook his head, grip tightening on InuYasha’s arm when the hanyou tried again to jerk away. “Can’t say your brother’s going to be pleased about this one . . .”
InuYasha snorted, glowering at Kouga as the latter smashed a hand against his head to force InuYasha into the nondescript black sedan. “If you’re talking about Sesshoumaru, he can go straight to hell—along with you.”
“I’m going to take him down to the station. Continue the investigation until I get back,” Kouga called over his shoulder at his partner.
Just what the hell was going on? Yanking again on the restraints, InuYasha couldn’t stop the growl that rose inside him. They were just stupid metal cuffs, right? So why couldn’t he break them?
“They’ve got ofuda in them,” Kouga remarked, peering into the rearview mirror as he closed the door and started the engine.
The sound of the engine was enough to set off another round of growling and yanking against the handcuffs. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was in for, but judging from the sound and smell of the beast he’d been forced into, he was certain that it wasn’t good. “What the fuck, Kouga? Let me the hell outta here!”
“Can’t do that, dog-shit,” Kouga remarked calmly as the beast started to move. “Now be a good boy and just shut the hell up, will you?”
InuYasha gritted his teeth, thoughts preoccupied at least for the moment by the monstrosity that seemed to be moving of its own accord. Sure, he’d seen these things before, and yes, he had realized that people in the modern era used them to travel from here to there. He had just not seen the need to have or be in one before—and he couldn’t rightfully say that he liked it now, anyway. Mrs. Higurashi didn’t have anything like this—a small compensation, he figured—but as the thing pulled onto the street, InuYasha had to wonder just how the hell it managed to move. “Where are you taking me?” he demanded, gritting his teeth as the smell of his blood grew stronger with his struggling. The pain was a minor thing in comparison. Ofuda? Didn’t that just fucking figure . . .?
What was it that Kagome had called them? Wracking his brain, he grimaced. Oh, yes, a car, wasn’t it? That’s what she’d said these damn things were. Just how the hell would he ever be able to get used to something as unnatural as this? ‘No fucking way,’ he grumbled.
Unfortunately, though, that brought his mind right back to square one. Kagome.
‘She . . . she wouldn’t have married that damn bastard,’ he told himself as his ears flicked nervously. ‘She wouldn’t have, right? She didn’t . . . didn’t love him! Why the fuck would she . . .?‘
“What the hell do you know? You got any idea just how lonely she was after you disappeared? Did you think she’d stay alone forever? And why not me? At least I’m not dumb enough to wish for something that could hurt her—unlike some people I know.”
Lonely? Okay, he’d buy that, and he didn’t need Kouga to tell him just how dumb his wish really was. Still . . . even if she was lonely, to have married Kouga . . .? There just wasn’t any way, was there . . .?
‘Keh! Don’t be fucking stupid! Of course she wouldn’t have married Kouga!‘
That was true, wasn’t it? No matter how lonely she might have been, there was just no way . . .
Unfortunately, too, there was no way he was going to get a straight answer out of Kouga, either. Damned wolf loved to heckle InuYasha, and what better way than to dangle such an abhorrent idea in front of him to see how badly he’d unravel, right?
Still . . . Still there was just a kernel of a doubt still lodged in his brain. What if . . . What if she had really married him . . .? That question hurt him more than he could credit, but it was that question that stilled his tongue, that kept him from saying another word as he stared out the window, wondering for the millionth time, just how things had gone so horribly awry.
Kouga sighed but didn’t speak during the fifteen minute trip through the congested streets of Tokyo. InuYasha was having distinct problems trying to tell himself that he really didn’t need to panic—something else to add to his growing list of grievances against Kagome’s time. There was an underlying feeling of complete helplessness that he just couldn’t abide, and whether it was caused by the moving monstrosity he was being forced to endure or the idea that he just couldn’t get his hands freed, he couldn’t stand it; not at all.
Pulling the car to a stop in front of a very large building, Kouga came around and roughly yanked InuYasha out of the car but said nothing as he escorted him inside. “I can fucking walk,” InuYasha snarled, jerking away from Kouga. Kouga sighed and grabbed InuYasha’s arm once more.
“Shut up and move, will you?”
He opened his mouth to let Kouga know just what he thought of all of this, but he didn’t get a chance as the wolf-youkai pushed open the doors and dragged InuYasha through the busy station and into a very small, very plain gray-walled box of a room—no windows, no nothing but a small metal table and two opposing chairs.
“Listen, InuYasha. I could nail your balls to the wall right now on any number of charges: obstruction of justice, attempted assault of a police officer, verbal battery . . . and I might, just for spite . . . Care to spend some time in jail?” Kouga stated flatly after letting go of the angry hanyou and stuffing his hands into his pockets.
InuYasha snorted. “Go to hell, Kouga,” he ground out, yanking on the handcuffs yet again—and again getting absolutely nowhere.
“Ookami-san,” a very smooth, very feminine voice interrupted. “Katsuragi-san called and said you were bringing in someone who was trying to interfere with your investigation . . . The break-in case downtown? Anyway, Katsuragi-san said that he needed your help with a couple of leads down there, so if you’ll be so kind as to give me a brief overview, I’ll take it from here.”
InuYasha blinked, his eyes widening as he slowly turned his head to see the woman who had spoken. Mouth falling open in surprise, he couldn’t quite grasp what he saw. It was impossible, wasn’t it . . .? Impossible and . . . but . . . “Y . . . You . . . How . . .?”
Stomping into the familiar miko’s hut in the village she knew as well as she knew her own home, Kagome’s temper was well past boiling and rapidly approaching total melt down as she dropped her backpack and bow and arrows onto the floor in a huff.
“Kagome-chan! Where on earth did you go?” Sango was the first to ask as she recovered from her initial shock. “Why did you leave with Kouga?”
Just the mention of that name was enough to send her temper soaring higher, and before she could stop herself she turned her formidable glower on the taijya. “Don’t even mention him to me, ever again,” she bit out, balling her hands into fists so tightly that her fingers turned white.
Sango blinked and shot Miroku a quick glance, like he’d know just what was bothering Kagome, and for some reason, that only served to irritate her more.
“Something vexes ye, child?” Kaede asked mildly and without looking up from the bowl of herbs she was pulverizing.
Face contorting in a marked scowl, she stooped down to dig around in her backpack for small, white cloth bag that she kept her dirty clothes in as well as the plastic container that held the bar soap she’d originally bought for InuYasha since it was about as close to unscented as she could find, but had been using for laundry. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she replied in a clipped tone as she stood up and headed for the door once more, leaving behind some very confused friends.
‘That stupid Kouga!‘ she fumed as she pushed aside the bamboo mat that covered the doorway. ‘If I see him again in the next hundred years or so, it’ll be way too soon!‘
Wincing as her teeth ground together at the very sound of that particular voice, Kagome shook her head and started stomping down the path that led to the river, determined to ignore the one person she’d rather kill than talk to at the moment. She should have known that her bad luck of late was still holding . . . Kouga dashed forward, skidding to a stop before her as she heaved a longsuffering sigh. “Got your things together?” he asked in lieu of a proper greeting.
Kagome didn’t answer right away, spending precious seconds trying to get a grip on her rapidly rising ire. Her cause wasn’t helped in the least when the ignorant wolf broke into a very cocky grin. “I told you once, Kouga-kun,” she managed to say without screaming, “I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“You have to,” he pointed out calmly—too calmly. “You’re my wife now, after all.”
Jamming a finger under his nose, Kagome issued a very savage growl—proof of her inability to deal with much more—if he were willing to listen to her, that was. She wasn’t at all sure that he wanted to, given that they’d already had this very same conversation at least a dozen times on the way back to the village. “I’m not your wife!” she hollered.
Rolling his eyes, Kouga grasped her forearms and leaned down to look into her face. “You say that now, but once you get used to the idea, you’ll like it; I promise! Not just anyone can say that her husband’s the leader of the wolf-youkai tribe.”
Grinding her teeth together since he’d said that like he truly believed that it was a great honor, she knocked his hands away and spun around to stomp back into Kaede’s hut once more. “One question,” she called out, interrupting whatever discussion they were having, and since she figured it was about her, anyway, she didn’t feel very bad about her perceived rudeness. “How does one go about getting a divorce these days?”
Five faces completely blanked at her question, though she figured that the children probably didn’t really understand what she was asking, anyway. ‘Stunned’ was a good word for it, she figured. Miroku was the first to recover, but he had to clear his throat a few times before answering. “Divorce?” he echoed. “Uh . . . is . . . is one . . . necessary . . .?”
Making a face, Kagome scowled at the monk and tried her best not to blush. “Well, I guess an annulment would do. It’s not like anything like that happened—or will happen,” she grumbled.
Judging from the look on Miroku’s face, he wasn’t entirely sure what an annulment was, but he certainly did understand the concept of divorce. “Why . . . Why don’t you tell us how you ended up . . . married . . .?” he asked, carefully measuring his words.
Heaving a sigh, Kagome shuffled into the hut and plopped down on the edge of the platform around the fire pit, completely and utterly ignoring Kouga as he followed her inside.
Kagome wasn’t exactly inclined to answer, but apparently, Kouga didn’t mind filling the rest of them in. “We went to go talk to this old crackpot, Banai, and when we stopped for the night, he shows up, declaring that we’re desecrating sacred grounds and killing sacred rabbits—” Holding up his hand to stop Miroku’s question—probably something to do with the idea of ‘sacred rabbits’—before he went on. “So he hauls us back to his shrine, said that the fine for poaching one sacred rabbit is fifty head of cattle—like anyone has fifty head of cattle, just laying around to give to the old lunatic—and then when he figures out that we’re not married, he says that he’ll waive the fee if we agreed to let him marry us since traveling together alone is a sin, blah blah blah—You get where I’m going here, right?”
Miroku and Sango exchanged looks. Kagome heaved a sigh since she’d have to be blind not to see the amusement awash in their gazes. That just figured, didn’t it? She rolled her eyes, wishing that she could see the humor of the situation when she really just could not.
“Who is this ‘Banai’?” Miroku went on, scratching his chin thoughtfully.
Stifling a growl of abject frustration, Kagome began, “He’s some crazy pig—”
“Boar,” Kouga corrected calmly.
Tamping down the urge to kick the maddening wolf, Kagome nodded. “—Boar-youkai who thinks he’s a priest and has been forcibly taking up ‘donations’ from Kouga’s clansmen,” she grumbled.
Miroku’s smile widened. “A youkai that thinks he’s a priest?” He laughed. Sango smacked him with the back of her hand to make him stop since Kagome still didn’t think any part of this whole situation was funny. Too bad the taijya looked way too amused, too . . .
“Aww, don’t worry about it, Kagome,” Kouga drawled. “Once you get used to the pack, you’ll love it.”
“I’m not getting used to anything, Kouga!” she growled, slowly rising to her feet. “For the last time, I—”
“Well, unless this Banai is really an ordained priest, then you’re not really married, Kagome,” Miroku cut in before Kagome could give in to the urge to have a nervous breakdown.
“Kouga! Kouga! Congratulations are in order, right?”
“Welcome to the family, nee-chan!”
“We’re not married,” Kagome said, raising her voice to be heard over the din.
An epidemic of coughing broke out behind her as Ginta and Hakkaku burst into the already crowded hut.
Kouga’s smug grin widened. “How’d you two find out?”
Ginta squatted down on his haunches to catch his breath. “High Priest Banai sent word earlier today. We gave his messenger a few stacks of deer pelts for his trouble.”
Kouga snorted though the smile on his face had yet to diminish. “Probably what he wanted all along,” he mused.
Kagome narrowed her eyes on the wolf-youkai. “You knew, didn’t you? That we weren’t really married?”
He didn’t deny it, and, in fact, winked at her, which very nearly sent her careening right over the proverbial edge.
“The others wanted us to tell you to hurry home because they’re planning a feast,” Hakkaku informed them happily.
“Yeah! It’s not every day our leader gets married!” Ginta added.
“For the last time, we’re not married!” Kagome bellowed.
The three wolf-youkai squeaked and retreated to the far corner, cowering together as Kagome loomed over them. At least Kouga tried not to look terrified, which was more than could be said for the two clansmen.
“That reminds me of someone else,” Miroku muttered, leaning toward Sango. “Don’t you agree?”
“It does,” Sango agreed.
“So . . . does that mean the feast is off?” Ginta asked Kouga.
Kouga, at least, was trying to act like he wasn’t affected by Kagome’s tirade. “Maybe not a wedding feast,” he muttered, cheeks pinking as he tried to pass himself off as unconcerned.
“Is . . . is she finished yelling at us?” Hakkaku asked, pushing himself further behind the other two.
“Scary,” Bunta muttered, peeking out from behind Miroku.
“InuYasha used to cower like that, too,” Shippou pointed out indelicately.
Kouga grinned and slowly pushed himself to his feet, but he didn’t come closer to Kagome. “Well . . . think of it this way, Kagome. At least you got that damned mutt off your mind for a couple days.”
Heaving a sigh, Kagome retrieved her laundry and headed for the door again. If they wanted to laugh at her, then they were more than welcome to do so, but she didn’t have to sit around and take it. As for getting her mind off InuYasha? ‘Like that would ever happen,’ she thought with an inward sigh. ‘InuYasha . . . I . . . I miss you . . .’
The Japanese justice system is vastly different from ours. As such, InuYasha has not been formally informed of the charges that he’s facing, They can hold suspects for up to 48 hours without charging them formally, and if they want more time to build a case, they can get a request to hold a person for up to 20 days without charging them. Let’s hope for his sake that they don’t decide to toss him in jail, too, because ninety-nine percent of those charged in Japan are found guilty …
== == == == == == == == == ==
Final Thought from InuYasha:
I shoulda killed him long ago …
Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Desideratum): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.