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Fragments by Beautifully Wicked

Closer

Closer  

Shajukō: Miroku’s staff

Suigyoku: Emerald, Jade

*~*

An explosion burst nearby in a forest.  Inu-Yasha cursed as his ears rang, but he stubbornly ignored it. He turned on his heel as he heaved Tessaiga up once again to unleash the wind scar on the newest demon puppet Naraku unleashed on them. To his left Sango, who threw hiraikotsu at the damned saimyōshō, and Miroku behind her cutting through the bugs with his shajukō. Kikyō was on his right with her bow, and shooting arrows as fast as possible. The battle was finally coming to a close as the puppet was destroyed. The saimyōshō were dwindling down as everyone worked together to rid them of their horrible existence.

No one noticed a saimyōshō wandering behind Kikyō until she screamed and fell; a venomous stinger left in the back of her shoulder blade. Inu-Yasha turned towards her, his face drained of all color.

“Kikyō!” he screamed as he ran towards her. Miroku and Sango hurried behind Inu-Yasha to assist the unconscious miko laying on the ground.

Miroku and Sango exchanged worried glances knowing from experience just how potent the venom circulating through her system was. Miroku had made the critical mistake of drawing in numerous saimyosho several times while using the kazaana. “Miroku do you have any more of the antidote?” Inu-Yasha haphazardly grabbed the monk by his robes nearly shaking Miroku out of his wits.

“I’m sorry, my friend, but I don’t have enough left to help her. I know where to get it, though. Mushin gave me instructions on where to acquire more when I ran out; a man that lives in the southern wetlands. I’m sure he will have more on hand.” Inu-Yasha’s face twisted in agony as he tossed Miroku away from him and lifted Kikyō from the ground. Upon hearing her labored breathing he knew he had to hurry towards the wetlands, or she would surely die. Sango looked on worriedly and helped Miroku to his feet as Inu-Yasha held Kikyō protectively against him.

“Kirara, we need to get to the southern wetlands as fast as possible,” Sango instructed as the fire cat yōkai transformed into her larger self before lowering herself to the ground to let her mistress and Miroku climb on her back. Inu-Yasha took off as soon as he saw Kirara airborne, and she closely followed the inu-hanyō as he desperately ran throughout the wooded terrain. It would take them hours to arrive regardless of how fast they were going.

“Kikyō is not going to like this,” Miroku whispered in Sango’s ear, his arms wrapped around her waist to keep from falling off of the flying nekomata.

“That may be true, but she’ll be thankful she’s not dead,” Sango said as Miroku held her closer.

“I know you and she don't see eye to eye-”

“She’s ridiculous! She never wants help! She is so stubborn. I try to put my feelings aside, but Inu-Yasha and I were friends before he met her, and she’s so mean to me! I try-” Frustration grew from Sango’s words and she huffed in annoyance. She had only ever been kind to the now unconscious woman, but Kikyo refused Sango’s kindness and friendship.

“Sango, Sango! I see the effort you’re making,” Miroku said as he tried calming her down. “Kikyō sees you as a threat, and while Kikyō knows you and I are together your relationship with Inu-Yasha puts hers in danger,” he rubbed her arms and shoulders with one hand as another drifted lower. Sango laughed as she caught his hand from creeping over her rear.

“He loves her, but just because she’s a powerful miko doesn’t mean I can’t hurt her,” Sango grumbled under her breath, and Miroku smiled.

“We will get there in time. She will be alright, and then you and Kikyō will become great friends,” he reassured Sango.  The rest of the journey was spent in worried silence.

*~*

The village headman saw the flying yōkai before he saw the hanyō. He immediately began to panic and fearfully sprinted for the safety of the healer's hut. “Hotaru-sama! Hotaru-sama! We need help! There are yōkai intruders!” he screamed as he ran towards the hill where a small hut sat atop it.

A man with silver hair and dog ears sitting on his head holding an unconscious woman landed in front of him before he ran too far. “Where is the healer?” the half man snarled at him.

The headman screamed in terror. “YŌKAI!  HELP HOTARU-SAMA!” Inu-Yasha snarled as he repositioned Kikyō only for an arrow to graze his left cheek.

“I would advise against hurting the headman of this village,” A sweet, but cool voice called out from atop the hill. Inu-Yasha turned to see a beautiful woman with cerulean eyes and wavy raven locks holding a bow with an arrow notched towards him. Her eyes pierced through him, in those blue depths he saw recognition reflect back on him, but it was just for a moment before her face became guarded.

“Who’er you?” he shouted at her.

“It seems the woman you hold is ill? Bring her to me, and I will help if you promise to leave afterward,” she replied. There was no room for argument in the beautiful woman’s protective tone, they would do as she instructed or Kikyo would remain untreated and lose her life.

“Oh, you must be the healer,” Miroku said as Kirara landed between Inu-Yasha and the woman standing outside her hut.

“Kikyō is really going to hate this,” Sango whispered into Miroku’s ear, and he couldn’t help except nod in agreement.  

“Keh! I thought the healer was a man, not some husbandless woman,” Inu-Yasha retorted.

Sango and Miroku both climbed off of Kirara and shook their heads disapprovingly, but it was clear Inu-Yasha’s brash attitude was not unexpected. Sango headed towards the woman, “Excuse this idiot. Our miko friend, Kikyō, has been infected with saimyōshō venom. It’s been in her system for a few hours. Please, will you help us,” Sango asked as she bowed to the woman waiting for her to accept or deny them.

Instead of bowing back the woman simply lowered her weapon, “Come in,” she said as she turned and walked into her hut. Miroku hurried to Sango’s side, and Inu-Yasha huffed before bounding towards the hut, hurrying inside. Miroku and Sango shook their heads once again as they headed inside as well.

“Lay her on the futon,” they heard the woman command Inu-Yasha. He growled at her, but did as he was told. The hut was small and modest as it consisted of only a fire pit and the futon beside it. The two moderate windows brought in light, and the tamani in front did little to keep the heat out.

“Saimyōshō are not normally so aggressive, did you wander into a nest?” the woman asked as she began to check Kikyō’s injury and vitals. “We were in a battle. There is an evil hanyō named Naraku who is targeting powerful miko throughout the lands. We are unsure why, but he uses the insects to incapacitate those who oppose him with their venom,” Miroku explained as he looked at the woman inspecting their friend. Her spine had noticeably stiffened when he mentioned Naraku’s name.

“Naraku is not to be trifled with. He has a very wealthy cousin who reigns over the North. Hanyō or not, he has many powerful allies, and he is ruthless,” she commented sharply as she checked Kikyō’s eyes from underneath her lids.

Inu-Yasha stood over her snarling, his jaw clenched as he spoke through barred teeth, “You know Naraku!”

The woman paused and looked at the half-breed. To Sango’s and Miroku’s surprise, the healer was unaffected by the intimidating way Inu-Yasha spoke to her. The woman calmly answered the hanyou before resuming her assessment of Kikyou’s predicament, “Naraku is pitiful scum that hails from the mainland. I am fairly versed in travel and have come across him once before.”

As the healer examined the severity of Kikyou’s injury, she realized her normal means of treatment would not be sufficient. She would have to use alternative methods, but that meant the visitors would have to stay longer than she cared for. The village headman, who had come screaming to her for help just moments before, would be even more displeased at their extended stay. The healer looked up at her visitors with a serious face and said, “I am sorry to say the antidote I have will not be enough to heal her fully, but there is another method I know. Unfortunately, this method takes time, and so you will have to stay the night. Tell the headman you will be staying until I have completely healed your friend. He won’t enjoy yokai in his home, but he will respectfully accommodate your needs. The hanyō will have to behave himself if you are to stay. Agreed?” she turned towards Sango and Miroku looking for affirmation.

“Ah! I’m Sango and the monk is Miroku. The hanyō is Inu-Yasha. He will not be a problem; I promise,” Sango said while punching Inu-Yasha in the arm until he grunted his agreement.

“The villagers call me Hotaru,” she told them with a wave of her hand to shoo them out of the hut.

“But that ain’t your name, woman,” Inu-Yasha grumbled, not trusting the healer.

She turned towards him, a knowing gleam entered her eyes and a smug expression came upon her face, “I will make a wager with you, Inu-Yasha; I will tell you my name if you can behave yourself until your mate is healed,” red dusted the hanyō’s cheeks at her assumption of his relationship with Kikyou.

“Sh… She’s not my mate!” he sputtered at her.

“Could’ve fooled me. Do you agree with my wager or not?” she asked waiting for his reply.

He looked at her and thought for a moment, “Keh, I’ll behave, but I won’t take any lies either,” he said finally and walked out.  Sango and Miroku glanced at each other in quiet communication but followed the inu out of the hut.

Hotaru whispered to Kikyō as she began to gather ingredients together for a brew. The woman set a fire in her fireplace to begin the painful process of making sure Kikyo’s power would not lash out at her own as she healed the younger girl with her own powers. “It seems that I will have to heal you by myself. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you too much, but it will hurt and for that I am sorry.”

*~*

“Inu-Yasha you can’t just act like that! She was trying to help us!” Sango yelled as she ran to catch up with the inu who was making his way towards the village headman’s home.

“I couldn’t get a scent from her, she was hiding something. I don’t trust her,” he told Sango sternly as she appeared at his side. He looked back to see Miroku still running to catch up with them.  

“What do you mean you couldn’t get a scent from her?” Sango asked as Miroku wheezed beside her, finally catching up to them.  Miroku paused to look between Sango and Inu-Yasha and then glanced back at the hut where the woman was.

“Hmm, Inu-Yasha might be right, but she seems trusting enough. The fact that she knew Naraku is alarming. Most do not know of him. However, I noticed something, do you know this woman, Inu-Yasha?” Miroku interrupted as he looked the hanyō over.

“No, but it was obvious she knew me, but I’m centuries older than her. I would know if I ever met her. She’s hiding something, I don’t like it,” Inu-Yasha grumbled as he looked back at the hut. “If Kikyo dies I will rip her to pieces,” Inu-Yasha let the threat hang in the air as they continued to walk towards the headman’s home. “Her missing scent, her youth, everything is wrong with that woman,” he complained.

“You may be coming to a conclusion too soon, Inu-Yasha, you are not always the best judge of character. You hated Miroku when you first met him,” Sango said reminding Inu-Yasha of the past.

“Keh, he’s still a lecher,” Inu-Yasha responded. Sango rolled her eyes as Miroku protested beside her grumbling about annoying hanyōs.

“I felt no animosity coming from her. I get the feeling we can trust her,” Sango told Inu-Yasha and Miroku.

“Well if she has won over Sango she can’t be all bad!” Miroku commented happily. “She was quite beautiful, did you notice Inu-Yasha?” Miroku wagged his eyebrows at Sango and Inu-Yasha. A blush spread across both of their faces, though one was from anger and the other from embarrassment.

Sango’s fists clenched at her sides, but she was shocked into silence when Inu-Yasha spoke first, “She is beautiful, but my instincts are screaming at me to get the fuck away from her and fast,” Inu-Yasha commented. He stopped to look at the shocked faces of his two companions. “What?!” he screamed as they looked at him, mystified at his confession.

“It took you months to admit Kikyō was beautiful, but you openly admit this stranger is beautiful?” Miroku chuckled at Inu-Yasha, and then thought on the hanyō’s previous statements. “What do you mean about your instincts?” he asked.

The hanyō hardly ever spoke about his feeling or thoughts, so an insight into what Inu-Yasha was feeling was refreshing and the opportunity presented itself nicely to take advantage of his openness. “My instincts are just telling me to be careful and to not get too close. She’s dangerous is what they are saying, but I don’t know how dangerous. It would be easier if I had a scent to work out,” he told them. “My instincts have never been this muddled, because there is a hint of something familiar about her, that I can trust her, but I cannot get too close. It doesn’t make sense!” he yelled while holding his head. Something about the healer was driving him crazy.

“We will see if she can heal Kikyō then we know her skill. Kikyou is powerful, but if what she was implying what she has to do to in order to heal Kikyō it is going to be painful for the both of them. Kikyō will have to let this woman humble her,” Miroku commented and Inu-Yasha looked at Miroku.

“What do you mean?” Inuyasha’s eyes narrowed suspiciously at the monk’s vague explanation.

Miroku looked nervously at Inu-Yasha and wrung his hands together. “Kikyō will not like that there is another powerful miko who may be able to best her in skill and power. Kikyō must admit that she is not the most powerful miko of this time or generation it seems,” Miroku thought as he tread carefully. Inu-Yasha was prone to tantrums when Kikyō’s perfection was questioned.

“You mean to tell me that woman is more powerful than Kikyō?” Inu-Yasha yelled directly into Miroku’s face.  Miroku took a few steps back and put his hands up in an attempt to placate the irate inu hanyō.

“I mean to say, my friend, that if the woman in that hut heals Kikyō and restores her to her perfect self she is a most powerful healer. I’m just commenting that I think she will heal her with her own power to give the antidote the help it needs to help clear the poison from Kikyō’s system,” Miroku said as he moved to hide behind Sango.

“But Kikyō can’t even do that! She told me reiki is different! Yōki heals injuries in the pack and can be used to heal others like mates and pups if there is a need.” Inu-Yasha insisted.

“There was a time when the miko guilds were training miko to the utmost of their abilities, but the guilds have been forced underground and most were destroyed. Countless teachings have been lost. This woman implies that she has studied abroad which would mean she would know techniques even Kikyō does not. A technique that I have come across in my travels is a brew that will subdue Kikyō’s powers so that the woman can use her own powers to cleanse her body of the poison. It is told that it is painful to both the healer and the one needing healing. If she is planning on using this method, which I’m sure she will, Kikyō will undoubtedly live,” Miroku explained.

Inu-Yasha thought about everything Miroku had said and found the monk’s logic to be flawless. However, he ultimately could not care how Kikyou was healed as long as Kikyō lived. If she did heal Kikyou that would mean the woman had done what Miroku was explaining and was indeed powerful which further intensified the mystery surrounding her.

They grew quiet as they finally reached the Headman’s hut where Sango and Miroku apologized to the headman and told him what this Hotaru person said. “Ah! Well, your friend is ill, and Hotaru-sama is an unparalleled healer! We have had many miraculous healings from her these last few months!” he heard the man chuckle and Inu-Yasha growled.

“Months? She has only been here a few months?” he heard Sango ask. Sango could get information out of anyone, it was one of her stronger suits.

“Oh yes! She appeared when the fireflies came out to play. She has a way with nature, you know, the fireflies surrounded her and began to play with her it was quite an amazing view. We never pressed for her name and we called her Hotaru because of the way the insects treated her that night. She surely was a sight for sore eyes. A horrible plague ran through our village devastating the elderly and the children. We had lost five little ones and eight of our elders before she showed up.  She began treating the sick after a meal and some rest. They were healed before two weeks were up. She will take care of your friend no problem!” he reassured them as he led them through his home. Sango glanced at both Miroku and Inu-Yasha surprise lighting her features. Both males nodded and seemed it odd as well.

“Well it seems you have been in a scruff recently,” he noted leering at Sango his eyes running up and down her form while she was in her battle gear.

Miroku stilled and Inu-Yasha growled lowly, “Yes, my betrothed is a taijiya and the battle was very long and tiring. If we may know where our rooms are we would greatly appreciate your hospitality kind, sir,” Miroku said with an edge to voice.

He discreetly directed Sango to stand in front of him while Inu-Yasha shielded her from the front. “Oh silly me, of course, this way please!” the Headman said as he began to show them their rooms. “One for the men and one for the lady am I correct?” he asked.

“Yes, if it’s not too much trouble,” Miroku said keeping an eye on the headman.

*~*

Sweat dripped from Hotaru’s brow as she slowly pushed her reiki through Kikyō’s system purifying the poison on contact. She would give Kikyō another brew after this, but it was both tedious and energy draining as she directed her concentration on healing, trying not to be sidetracked by the hanyō that had barged through her door. Who knew she would see him now, of all times? She certainly would not have guessed that he had made an enemy of Naraku. Oh, if only his brother could see this! His own enemy, the enemy of his brother it was far too comical. It was good Kikyō’s powers were subdued by the brew in addition to being unconscious. If she hadn’t been there would be flailing and screaming and kami knew Hotaru didn’t need that.  

Something golden and glossy entered her hut and she smiled looking at the dragon. “No worries, this will be done with soon. Was your hunt rewarding?” she asked the creature as its scaled head began to nuzzle her. His whiskers tickling her. “I see you got that attitude fixed,” she murmured as she drew back her reiki and began again to make sure all traces of poison were gone. She heard the dragon snort as he settled into his favorite spot near the fire, she smiled.

Taking a deep breath and making her reiki recede back into herself as all traces of the poison were gone she began to ready herself for bed. She would only get a few hours, but it was better than what Kikyō was going to feel tomorrow. Wiping the sweat from her brow Hotaru made sure Kikyō was fine. She was sure everything went well, and no permanent damage was done to the younger miko. However, she would check her again after some rest, and again once more after Kikyō awoke.

Looking to Kikyō, Hotaru knew that there would be no more hiding after this incident. Naraku was too close. She looked towards the dragon who watched her with glowing emerald eyes a sense of foreboding overcame her.  “Suigyoku, go to Sesshōmaru. He needs to know that Naraku is looking again,” she commanded the dragon. He would want to know. “Tell him to meet me as soon as he is able,” she added as the dragon huffed at her, but clambered up onto his rear legs.

“Of course, is there anything else to tell the cold lord?” the deep rasping of his voice filtered through her thoughts as he waited for her to pet him goodbye. He was always so demanding of her affection.

“No. Be cautious,” she warned as she scratched under the dragon’s chin. Suigyoku proceeded to wrap himself around her and nuzzle her once more before he flew through the window and back into the night. She looked towards Kikyō, and then settled against the wall and tried to get to sleep.

*~*

Kikyō woke to bustle around her, and a subtle growling every time the bustling would start again. Her body felt weighed down with rocks and she groaned as she tried to move, “Oi, woman! Kikyou’s awake!” She heard the gruff voice of her hanyō filter through her senses. Suddenly, his amber eyes were roaming over her face.

“Move,” a gentle but firm, feminine voice said and pulled Inu-Yasha from her. Kikyō’s eyes narrowed when clear blue eyes came into focus. “Why do I hurt all over?” she asked looking at Inu-Yasha and ignoring the woman in front of him.

A smirk filtered across the woman’s face and answered before the hanyō could, “You were brought to me because I make the antidote for the saimyōshō poison. I healed you using my reiki and yours. It was a long and difficult process, but you are all healed.”

Inu-Yasha pushed the blue-eyed0 woman out of the way to get to Kikyō. “She healed you. We can leave as soon as you can move,” he smiled as he said it taking her hand in his, threading their fingers together. “Why can’t I move?” Kikyo asked as she looked at Inu-Yasha refusing to look at the other woman.

“You can move, but your limbs will feel heavy. The brew I gave you made sure you would not move as I treated you with reiki and the antidote. The heaviness should leave you around tomorrow, so just rest for now. The hanyō was adamant about leaving you in my care, but I persuaded him otherwise. You may call me Hotaru,” the woman said as she busied herself behind Inu-Yasha.

“Well, Inu-Yasha I don’t want to intrude any longer so could you please take me-”

“I would advise against moving just yet, you may feel dizzy and your head might be cloudy. I would not want you to get hurt again,” the woman interrupted Kikyō before she could finish and Kikyō grimaced as she looked at Inu-Yasha, silently pleading for him to get her out of this woman’s hut. Inu-Yasha shook his head negatively and she pouted before clearing her face of emotion. She would not show weakness in this woman’s presence.

Inu-Yasha slowly pulled his hand from Kikyō’s and turned towards Hotaru. “Oi! Our deal,” he murmured to the woman, and Kikyō was left alone as the woman lead Inu-Yasha out of the hut. Kikyō scowled and huffed in annoyance. She could hardly wait until her limbs no longer felt like rocks, and they could get out of wherever they were.

*~*

Inu-Yasha stared at the woman and growled as she led him outside her hut. He looked back towards the hut and took a sniff and smirked when the irritation from Kikyō filtered through his senses. “I will tell you my name, but I also have something to ask you before I do. Well, two things,” Inu-Yasha looked into her blue eyes and quickly looked away.

“As long as I get your name, I don’t care what you ask,” he said as he looked off into the distance avoiding her eyes altogether.

“I will ask that you never repeat my name to anyone, not even your friends and lover,” surprise filtered through him, his golden eyes locked onto hers, clear blue eyes begging for secrecy and his silence on the matter. He thought before nodding his agreement. She motioned for him to bend down and with skepticism written on his face, he bent to her level. She cupped his ear and spoke more softly than a whisper, “My name is Kagome. Remember, never repeat it to anyone.”  

The name sounded oddly familiar, but he couldn’t place it. As he straightened he watched the woman fidget, “Keh, just an ordinary name. I don’t know why you want to hide it,” Inu-Yasha grumbled the familiarity away and gruffly looked away towards the waterways and the village around them.

“The other thing I would like to ask is; may I travel with you?” Inu-Yasha’s head spun so fast that he felt dizzy.

Clearly, he had heard her wrong, “What?”

“Silly hanyō, I would like to travel with you, and help you rid the world of Naraku,” she responded with a giggle and laughing eyes.

Inu-Yasha couldn’t think of a reason to deny her, and if he was being honest, they really could use another person. Kikyō is going to be pissed, he thought. “Sure, a healer as good as you is just what we need, but Kikyō ain’t gonna like it,” he said as he watched her expression turn back to her neutral face.

She turned to go back to her hut and he began to follow. “No worries, while you’re quite handsome you are definitely not to my inclination. You’re coloring reminds me of another dog. Do you have a sibling?” she asked and Inu-Yasha stopped as they entered the hut and answered her inquiry. “Hell no, just me.” Inu-Yasha was usually adverse to lies, but none of the others knew about his half-brother and he wasn’t about to fess up about him now.

He watched as Kagome tended to a confused and wary Kikyō, a smile crossing her face at his answer. She turned towards him and winked; she knew he was lying. 

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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