Zettai Yabureru Nai - Never Tear Us Apart
The sequel to Shinjite Ai No Tsuzuki
An Inuyasha Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
The forest path wove steadily upwards. As they ascended, the flora changed with the elevation. Just as the trees thinned the village came into view. On the hill was a fort-like enclosure made of tree trunks with pointed ends. The gates were slightly open and a few people came and went with bundles and carts full of firewood and jars and boxes with unknown contents. One cart being pulled by three men was laden with huge bones, still freshly coated in blood and sinew.
The men called to Nanaka as she led her friends in. To Yousuke’s surprise, they encountered no opposition, despite both young men being obviously inhuman. As they neared the village temple, a child’s voice rang out from across the way.
Soon, a small army of children swarmed out from the shade of nearby building and surrounded the girl. She held her chin up high and offered them a satisfied smirk. “Yosh’ yosh’,” she waved and they backed off.
“Did you get it, Oneesan? Did you get the Tengu’s claw!?”
“Does a bear shit in the woods?” she flashed a toothy grin and pulled a large claw from the folds of her costume. Her siblings ogled it and all demanded she tell them the story of her hunt.
“Nanaka-chan, you ought not to curse in front of your younger siblings,” a smooth, pleasant male voice made her spin in place. Her grin had turned to a large pout.
“Nioumaru…” she hissed.
“Aniisan!” the group of children chimed and clustered around Nioumaru. Yousuke blinked repeatedly. Shippou merely waited.
Nanaka’s older brother Nioumaru was tall, graceful and charming. The younger siblings bustled around him. He picked one of the little ones up and put him on his shoulders. They asked him to play with them and he agreed. When they had gone Nanaka made an exasperated sound and stormed off towards the temple.
Yousuke blinked some more. “What was that all about?”
“Sibling rivalry,” Shippou replied and rolled his eyes. “Nothing changes.”
They caught up with Nanaka and entered the temple. A man in Buddhist robes was praying at the altar with his back to them. They too kneeled and bowed. From a door on the left a woman entered carrying a vase of fresh spring flowers.
“Ah, Nanaka, welcome home. And Shippou…” She smiled, but suddenly the look changed to one of utter disbelief. The vase fell to the floor.
The priest leapt up and spun around. “What’s the matter?!” Then he gawked at them as well. “Can it be…?”
“Okaasan? Otousan? Daijoubu? You ok?” Nanaka asked in a half-panic.
Shippou smirked. “No guys. It’s not him. This is Yousuke: Inuyasha’s son.
Yousuke cocked his head to the side and was suddenly overtaken with wave of nausea. He backed up and leaned against the wall.
All the while he had been in this time, everything had been so foreign, so other. Now, standing in the Buddhist shrine (reminiscent of his family’s Shinto shrine) in front of these people, he felt lost and lonely. The couple approached him. “Yousuke?” they asked.
“Honda-san?” he whispered and slid down the wall.
“Thank you so much for coming, guys,” Inuyasha let the Hondas in to his house. Kagome was in the next room.
“How are you?” Miroku asked very seriously.
“I’m ok, sort of.” He smiled a little.
Sango handed him a bottle of wine. “I really hope this is ok, I mean…”
“Nee-san,” Miroku took his sister’s coat and whispered to her. “Remember when Tousan died and Kaasan didn’t go out or talk to any of her friends for a long time? That’s not healthy. We’re here to help.”
They had a pleasant dinner, but avoided any reference to the children. Their pictures hung silently on the wall, watching over them. Finally, as the adults sipped their coffee, the tension broke.
“I’m so sorry,” Sango reached out and took her friend’s hand. Kagome pursed her lips, but said nothing. “I wish there was something we could do.”
“There’s really no getting through the well?” Miroku asked Inuyasha. He shook his head. “It seems so hopeless…”
Kagome lifted her head up, the beginnings of tears forming in her eyes. “I don’t even know if they’re alive.”
Sango gave her brother a scathing look for upsetting their hostess, which he ignored. He was too busy staring at the tablecloth. “I don’t know what I would do if MY kids vanished.”
Sango gritted her teeth. “Well,” she chimed. “If they find Sango and Miroku from the Sengoku Jidai, maybe they’ll write about them in the book!”
Everyone’s attention snapped to the woman. She looked surprised that those words had come from her mouth. “Well, assuming that they would…”
“The book!!” Kagome and Inuyasha shouted and ran from the room. Their surprised guests followed them.
The storage shed was cold, and lit by a few bare bulbs. Here, the shrine keepers kept spiritual items not always used in daily ritual. In an engraved box in the center of the room lay the book. Inuyasha fumbled with it, flipping the pages right to left to the back where almost one third of the book was blank.
Every year at midnight on New Years Eve the Kawano family would gather and watch as the book delivered its annual message to them. Through the years they had read about Sango and Miroku’s large family and their efforts to revitalize the Taijiya Village that Sango and her father and brother had called home. They turned to the last entry and sighed. The entry was four months and nearly 500 years old.
“It was worth a shot,” Inuyasha gave a sad sort of laugh.
“Let’s take it into the house. Like Sango-san said, maybe they WILL write in it. The Taijiya Village is a long way from here. Maybe the children haven’t gotten there yet.” Kagome’s eyes sparkled. As Inuyasha locked the door behind them he knew that they hadn’t been given an answer, but they had been given hope. He whispered to his friends.
“Yousuke!?” Shippou’s voice sounded half concerned and half amused. The boy opened his eyes. All four of them were staring at him from above. He clamored to his feet.
“Are you all right?” Miroku asked.
“I guess I’m hungrier than I thought,” he muttered, trying to conceal his shaking hands. “You’re Miroku… the REAL Miroku? And Sango?” he asked.
“In our time, I know Honda Miroku and Honda Sango. They’re your descendents.”
Husband and wife exchanged gleeful glances. “That means you received the book all right.”
“Oh yeah, we read it every New Years…” As Shippou and the family went on about how glad they were that the Sengoku O Togi Zoushi book had arrived safely 500 years later, Yousuke appeared to swoon again. “That means…”
“Perhaps you should sit down,” Sango advised.
Yousuke grasped her arm. “Where is it? I can write to them!”
Miroku jogged across the room and waved him to follow. “It’s in here.” Inside a plain wooden box was the book looking significantly newer than he had last seen it. “What do you mean, you can write to them?”
Quickly, Yousuke explained his plight, of his sister’s disappearance and his transformation and begged them to write a message to his parents.
“Oh! Poor boy! Of course!” Sango took the quill and inkwell out of the same box and made to begin writing.
“Wait!” Everyone looked at Yousuke. “Please, don’t tell them about my sister. I’ll get her back. I don’t want them to worry.”
Sango nodded. “Kagome, Inuyasha. Your children are here. I will write again later, signed Sango,” she spoke as she wrote the words. “That should do without outwardly lying.”
Miroku had yet to take his eyes from his friend’s son. “Now, tell me more about your sister’s disappearance.”
After he had told them all he knew about Misora’s disappearance and gotten more than enough food to stave off his hunger, Yousuke listened to the adults’ advice.
“Since your parents left this world,” Miroku began, “A lot has changed; suffice to say that a world without Naraku is a much better place to live in.”
“However,” his wife added, “that doesn’t mean it’s been peaceful. Times are changing. We settled back in this village many years ago, and although the demon extermination business is still our priority, these walls around the town serve as a barrier against other humans too. There have been more wars recently than I can count. And the youkai…” She rolled her eyes.
“What’s wrong with them?” Yousuke asked. “We don’t exactly have that many left to worry about in our time. Until I met Shippou, I hadn’t even met one.”
“It’s not the individual youkai that are the problem, Yousuke.” Miroku took a sip of tea. “Like the humans, they’ve been forming crude armies. Whole masses of youkai have been grouping together. Some even join their bodies together forming huge behemoths.”
Yousuke made a face as he pictured a beast with lots of mish-mashed limbs and eyes.
“We believe that…” Sango looked to her husband for approval. “It might be because the Shikon no Tama is gone. The balance of power is off. It won’t be long now before the really violent, power-hungry youkai are totally exterminated either by us, themselves or the human armies.”
“Wow.” Yousuke hugged his knees. “So, do you think this vine monster is one of those bow-he-muth things?”
“It could just be a regular youkai. It does seem strange that it was able to reach through the well like that. Perhaps…” Sango looked to Miroku again who finished her thought.
“Perhaps the Shikon no Tama has returned… Perhaps that’s what this thing was after.”
Shippou slapped his hand on the floor. “You don’t mean?!...”
“Perhaps…” Sango frowned. “Perhaps your little sister carries it now.”
“The Shikon no Tama…” Yousuke paled. “In Misora?”
Nanaka gasped involuntarily. “Ah!” Shippou shouted. “Too bad we don’t have a Miko in the house. I bet that’s why you changed, Yousuke. Maybe your sister has half of it and so do you. That’s why you could get through the well!”
Yousuke put his hand to his chest and grit his teeth. “I gotta save my sister.”
To their surprise Nanaka leapt to her feet. “Don’t worry, kid. We’ll help!” she beamed a self-assured smile at him.
Sango got up and cleared the tea dishes away. “You’ll stay the night. In the morning we’ll all go and find this vine monster of yours.”
“Kaaaasaaaannnn!” Nanaka whirled and moaned. “You guys aren’t coming!”
“Nanaka, don’t be ridiculous…”
“I’m not!” She stomped her foot. Yousuke blinked and scooted back a few feet. “You got to go on adventures when you were my age. I never get to do anything without one of you trying to ‘help’ me!”
“That’s not true, you just went to get that Tengu claw all by yourself.” Miroku folded his arms and frowned back.
“Feh! Your son thinks he’s so clever, as if I couldn’t tell he was tagging along and spying on me the whole time!”
“Which son is this? I have six, you know.” Miroku’s frown grew steadily deeper. Sango closed her eyes and clutched the tray full of mugs.
“NIOUMARU! That’s why I jumped Yousuke and Shippou. I thought they were him again. I was going to teach him a thing or three with a throwing knife right between the…”
Sango had heard enough. “Nanaka!” The tone of her voice and the slight clank of the crockery she was holding made Yousuke jump. He noticed Shippou was staring off at a distant wall as if waiting for it to be over. “How dare you?! You can be so ungrateful. Your father and I went on a very dangerous and important adventure because we had to. And we went alone because our parents were dead. We would have done anything for them to be by our side! How can you treat us so when all we want to do is protect you?”
“I am ungrateful.” Nanaka clenched her fists. “I don’t know what it’s like to fight for myself… and if you never let me go I will never know!” Rather than storm out, Nanaka waited. She stared into her mother’s eyes.
Sango turned around and took the tray out of the room. “Fine. Go. Now.”
When Sango disappeared into the next room, Yousuke finally took a breath. Miroku hadn’t taken his eyes from his daughter yet. “You better be gone before she comes back. Take some supplies from the community chest.”
“Tousan…” Nanaka blinked at him for a moment as if she had come out of a trance.
“And take Kirara.”
She turned and led the boys out of the house.
“Nanaka,” her father called after her. She turned and looked into his softened eyes. “May Buddha be with you.”
The girl marched in the direction of the communal supply shed. Yousuke took the opportunity to come out of his own trance. “Ok. Are we totally screwed now?”
“Huh?” Shippou seemed to still be lost in one as well.
“We coulda had THEE Sango and Miroku helping us out, and now we get their bratty daughter instead?” he sneered.
“She’s a better fighter than her mother ever was. Don’t sell Nanaka short just yet.” Shippou laughed a little. “Besides, those two have been sitting on their laurels for a decade or so. Miroku is just a priest, Sango had ten kids. We’d just be waiting for them to catch their breath all the time, probably. With Kirara to transport Nanaka, we won’t be slowed down.”
Yousuke shrugged. “If you say so...” He turned as Shippou nodded.
“Speaking of Kirara…” The small, cat youkai was bouncing along towards them, mewing in greeting. She leapt up into Shippou’s arms. “This is Inuyasha and Kagome’s son, Yousuke. Yousuke, meet Kirara.”
He slowly stuck out his hand for her to sniff. “I didn’t think cats liked dogs…”
“She liked your father well enough.”
Sure enough, she leapt up onto his shoulder and purred contentedly. “Cute,” he said and scratched her under the chin. When they caught up with Nanaka she had already filled a small pack with some supplies and was heading back towards them. She huffed as she saw the cat youkai perched on Yousuke’s shoulder.
“Well, which direction are we headed in, anyway?”
“West. The rumors of the vine monster come mostly from the Western Lands.”
Yousuke secured his own backpack. “Hey, that’s where Sesshoumaru’s from, right?”
They walked through the town’s gates. “Yeah, but I think Sesshoumaru hasn’t been taking very good care of them. Everyone’s at war these days. When your grandfather was alive they say it was a really stable time for demons and humans. He had a really tight hold on his lands.”
Yousuke became lost for a moment, thinking about how close he was to the heritage he had only dreamt of. “Misora…” he whispered, as if reminding himself. “Here, Nanaka, you take Kirara and follow us as we run.” He handed her the tiny cat. Nanaka folded her arms. Kirara hissed and spit.
“Come on, you two,” Shippou groaned. “We have an important mission, here. Yousuke’s sister is lost. Kirara, you must carry Nanaka. Nanaka, be nice.”
Grudgingly, the cat flared up and transformed into a massive, saber toothed youkai and let Nanaka mount her. The four set out towards the rumors of the vine monster’s origin.