Zettai Yabureru Nai - Never Tear Us Apart
The sequel to Shinjite Ai No Tsuzuki
An Inuyasha Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
The house was tiny, only had perhaps two rooms and was sparsely decorated. There were herbs hanging from the rafters and a thin, earthy layer of dust covering everything, giving the place a dry, yet warm and homey feel. Shippou, Nanaka and Yousuke knelt on the floor. Kirara sat in Yousuke’s lap and growled lightly.
“It’s ok, Kirara,” he reassured her and himself. The kitsune woman made tea and asked Shippou about his family. When the tea was finally poured, they had established that they were cousins.
“It was a shame to hear about your parents. The thunder brothers were killed shortly after that, weren’t they?”
“Yeah, this kid’s father took them out.” Shippou bowed his head and stared into his tea, remembering the past.
Yousuke looked up from his own tea and noticed that their hostess was staring at him.
“Could I ask, if your father would be Inuyasha?” When Yousuke nodded, Hideko leaned forward and gripped his clawed hands with her own. “Please, have you heard any news of his brother, Lord Sesshoumaru?”
“Sesshoumaru?” Nanaka asked.
“My dad hasn’t been in...” Yousuke corrected himself. “We live very, very far away. I’ve never met the guy.”
“I see...” The hopeful look faded from Hideko’s face.
“You know him?” Shippou asked.
“I had the honor for over two centuries of being a servant of his house.”
Shippou fidgeted. “And no longer? I heard his empire’s fallen into disarray. Has he really abandoned his rule over the western lands?”
“I’m afraid that is true...” Just behind Hideko at the door to the other room, a figured appeared. Shippou recognized the little girl as the one who had hidden from him in town earlier. She was clutching a blanket and sleepily rubbing her eye.
“Hideko-san,” she yawned, “I’m done with my nap...”
Everyone stared at the child. She had, long white hair and two small dog’s ears on the top of her head. She couldn’t be more than five or six years old. She also bore a five centimeter long red stripe down the middle of her forehead.
Hideko turned around. “Oujosama!” she cried.
Yousuke dumped Kirara out of his lap as he jumped to his feet. Shippou and Nanaka were speechless. “Hanyou...” Yousuke whispered. The girl took a step back, automatically throwing the blanket over her head. Yousuke knew he had frightened her. “It’s ok...” He went to his knees again and smiled. “Come here. It’s ok. See.” He tugged on his own ears.
“It’s all right, Oujosama. This is your Lord Cousin, Yousuke.”
The girl tentatively stepped forward and rubbed his ears with her tiny hands. She giggled with delight.
“Cousin? Then she’s not yours?” Nanaka asked.
“I escaped with My Lord’s daughter before the chaos that followed his departure. She is the child of My Lord and his human wife, Rin.”
Shippou’s jaw fell. He withheld his comments till Hideko had ushered the little girl back into her room.
“I can’t believe he married Rin. When I knew him, he didn’t think very highly of Inuyasha’s heritage.”
“Love changes everything,” Hideko said with a sad smile.
“Hideko, is Sesshoumaru dead?” Shippou asked in a grave whisper.
The kitsune woman’s tears welled up. “I fear it is so, but my heart does not want to dwell on it.”
Shippou folded his arms. “I’m sorry but after today, I think he’s gone.”
Nanaka pursed her lips. “You mean that girl...?”
“No, the sword. That Sorako person had Toukijin.”
Hideko gasped. The tears rolled down her face. “Then he is dead. He would never have parted with that sword.” She got up and fetched something from a chest on the opposite side of the room. “Nor would he have done this...” She unwrapped a katana which had been snapped in two. The hilt was still encrusted with dried blood.
“That’s not...!” Shippou cried.
The afternoon wore on and Hideko told the tragic story. “It was only six years ago that I left the palace of My Lord with his newborn daughter. A few years before that, the Lady Rin came to live with us. The poor girl was dead. He revived her before mine own eyes with this sword, Tenseiga. T’was a miracle of which I’d only heard, never seen before. When she awoke, I was her handmaid. It was the happiest day when Sesshoumaru-sama declared to all under his rule that he would follow his father and wed a human woman. So in love was he with the Lady Rin.
“It was hard for her, living in that house. Most others of the court, youkai all, were less than friendly to her. The three of us led somewhat of a lonely life. But they had love and were seldom aware of much else than each other. Rin would paint her pictures and he would govern his territory and when they were together there was naught else in the world that mattered. Those were good times.
“Soon the Lady Rin found herself with child. She was fearful of the court’s reaction, but My Lord was her support. He was afraid, himself, but would not let her know it. He knew what had happened to his brother, your father, Yousuke, and did not want such a tragic childhood to repeat itself.
“When the time came for the child to be born, Rin fell ill. As the child was given life, Rin’s was taken away. We were shocked, of course, but My Lord simply unsheathed Tenseiga and bid it give her life again. Nothing happened. In retrospect, I believe Tenseiga to have power over life taken unnaturally but not by a natural cause.
“Grief-stricken, my Lord exclaimed that he refused to live without her and plunged the sword into his abdomen. He twisted till it snapped in twain.” Hideko touched the dirty remainder of the life-giving sword as she spoke. “He then beckoned me to bring his child to him. His eyes were almost red and his voice was unholy as he uttered a curse upon the child who had taken his love’s life.
“‘May such grief follow you through the ages. May you find love like no other. May you bear him a girl child and may you die in its birthing. May he then be driven mad with the loss for now and for always.’ Those words are burned into my soul forever. He wiped a finger coated in blood down her forehead. The mark has stayed with her to this day.
“Sesshoumaru-sama then turned and walked away. I cried out for him to return but knew that he would not. Knowing that without him, the court would surely kill the child, I did what I could. Using my kitsune power, I transformed My Lady’s body into a plum tree and fled with her baby to this place.
“Now that you have seen another using Toukijin, I am sure Sesshoumaru-sama is gone from this world.” Hideko wept into her hands. Nanaka comforted her and Shippou replaced the half of the Tenseiga. He stood with it in his hands for a moment before putting it in the chest.
They left the poor woman before dark, promising to find Toukijin and discover how it had changed hands. Shippou and Nanaka talked at length about the history of the two swords that belonged to Sesshoumaru, Tenseiga and Toukijin, and Tetsusaiga, Tenseiga’s mate which Inuyasha had taken with him when he and Kagome left 20 years ago. Yousuke stopped walking.
“I’ve been thinking,” he started. The others stopped and listened. “We need to find the vine monster soon because we need to find Misora, but if this Sorako and Kagura are standing in the way, We’re gonna get slaughtered before we even get there.” He clenched his fists in frustration.
“Wow. You’re really nothing like your father,” Shippou stated.
“I’m not?” Yousuke asked, sadly.
“No. He would have rushed into this without thinking. But that’s how he was when he was young. I’m sure he’s not so hot-headed anymore.”
Yousuke remembered several occasions where his father did just that and nodded. “He’s still like that.” He put his hands on his hips. “I need to go home.”
“What?!” Nanaka shouted.
“I need to get Tetsusaiga.”
“You mean, you still have it!?” Shippou asked, excitedly.
“Yeah, it’s hanging on the wall in our living room. And if what Sorako says is true, I’ve got half the Shikon no Tama in me. That means I can go back through the well.”
“And because you’re a hanyou, you can use Tetsusaiga.” Shippou slapped his fist into his palm. “This is great!”
“Will you guys stay here and wait for me? It shouldn’t be long if I take Kirara.”
They agreed and Yousuke set off for Kaede’s village.
The sun was setting behind the old shrine on top of the hill. Kagome was finishing up her duties and was about to close the doors when her husband’s shadow crept across the floor.
“Dinner’s almost ready,” he said and leaned in the doorframe.
She sighed and removed her ceremonial hat. “Good, I’m starving.”
For a moment, they both thought, things were almost normal, almost, until Kagome straightened up and walked quickly to Inuyasha’s side. “Do you feel that?” she whispered, clutching his sleeve.
Inuyasha sniffed the air. “Two of them, close by.”
“Take it easy. I don’t feel jaki, just youki. They don’t mean us harm… at least not outwardly. Besides...” Kagome tapped a bow mounted on the wall as ‘decoration’. “I’m always prepared.”
Two people ascended the steps and approached the shrine complex. As they drew closer, they could see they were an older woman and a young girl. They were both dressed in traditional Japanese kimono and the girl wore an unseasonable shawl wrapped over her head.
“Good evening,” the woman hailed them. “We come to you as friends.” Inuyasha stepped in front of his wife and folded his arms.
“Good evening,” Kagome began. “I’m afraid the shrine is closing for the day.”
“That is why we are here so late. Please excuse our rudeness. We would like to speak with the famed miko, Higurashi Kagome.”
“Fa-med?” Kagome repeated the older woman’s old-fashioned way of speaking, “I don’t think so.”
The woman smiled and her rather long incisors glinted in the fading sunlight. “Perhaps not anymore, but five hundred years ago you were quite well known.”
Inuyasha looked to his wife and they silently agreed to go along with it for now.
“Please, come in.” Kagome stepped aside and let the youkai pass.
Inuyasha and Kagome stared at the girl as she removed her shawl. Her hair was short, but bright white. Her eyes were amber and sitting on top of her head were two fur-covered ears.
The youkai woman held two fingers up and removed her disguise. A long bushy brown tail and two pointed ears told them she was a kitsune. “I have been searching for some time for the cure for this poor child’s curse.”
“Is she a hanyou?” Kagome asked for her husband, not wanting to give away his identity.
“I’m so sorry, I haven’t introduced us. Forgive me I am very excited to have found you after so many years. My name is Hideko, and this girl is Rin, the 20th descendant of Lord Sesshoumaru.”
Both humans present stared unblinkingly at the young girl. She blushed and hung her head even lower. “Yoroshiku…” she whispered. “Pleased to meet you…”
“What’s the curse…?” Inuyasha asked cautiously.
Hideko recited her story for them as she had for so many gurus, wizards and healers through the ages. Kagome went about getting the necessary items for an exorcism.
“Ne, Kagome. Is a curse something that can just be exorcised?”
She anointed the red birthmark on the girl’s forehead with holy water. “I’m going to do more than that. When I perform exorcisms, I don’t use usually use my powers.” She smiled reassuringly at the worried girl. “It won’t hurt, promise.”
“I don’t care. I just want to live. My mother died when I was born. And her mother before her…”
“I’ll do my best,” Kagome whispered and began to chant unintelligibly. Soon, both of them were glowing with power. Suddenly, a small bolt of reddish current arched from Rin the 20th’s forehead and struck Kagome with enough spiritual energy to knock her over backwards.
“Kagome!” Inuyasha rushed to her side.
“I’m… ok, I think…”
“I’m so sorry!” the girl wept.
Hideko clenched her fists. “Not again. Damn you, Sesshoumaru-sama!”
Inuyasha barked at her, “Why do you call that bastard -sama?! He should never have gotten respect from anyone, ever! He never even treated his own kin with any form of respect!”
“How dare you!” Hideko shouted back. “Lord Sesshoumaru-sama loved the Lady Rin more than his own life. He was lost in grief when he cursed her child! He would never have done such a thing had he but known…”
Inuyasha sat down again and stared at the kitsune woman. “‘Loved’… My brother’s dead, isn’t he?”
“Brother… Then it’s true. You are Inuyasha.” Hideko took Rin into her lap and stroked her hair. “I see. You are right to think so ill of him. The man you knew was such a man. He was different after you left our world, very different. Surely you must know how love can change a person.”
Inuyasha nodded and lowered his head in thought. ‘He’s dead… All these years… for 20 generations…he’s been dead. ‘
“We’re sorry for troubling you. We will take our leave.”
“Matte kudasai.” Kagome blinked as if remembering something. “Please, wait. You wouldn’t have happened to run into my son and daughter about 20 years after we left your world, would you?”
Hideko looked startled. “Yes!”
“Yes?!” both parents shouted back.
“Yes, he and my cousin Shippou and a human girl had tea one afternoon. They were looking for the boy’s sister. Yousuke was his name, yes?”
“YES!” Kagome shouted. Tears of joy ran down her cheeks.
Inuyasha slapped the hard wood floor. “They were looking for Misora?! Did they find her?!”
“I don’t know… they went along on their quest…” Hideko pursed her lips. They had seen Toukijin. She remembered now. Had they found the girl? Should she tell the worried parents that the most evil sword known to Japan was involved in their young son’s quest? “Ah! I remember now!” she shouted in relief. “Some time later, perhaps even twenty years afterwards, my cousin Shippou paid us a visit again. I asked about the quest and he said that it had ended. The boy found his sister and went home.”
Mr. and Mrs. Kawano sat in stunned silence for a moment then looked at each other. “They’re coming home,” Inuyasha whispered to his wife.
“They’re coming home!” she echoed.
That evening, a few yards from the bone-eater’s well in the Sengoku Jidai, Kirara touched down and let Yousuke off. He stared at the shadowy opening with his hanyou’s eyes. “Well. Wish me luck,” he said to the giant youkai-cat. “I’m going to steal from my own house.” He jumped down the well and crossed his fingers. When he was little, Inuyasha had told him that Tetsusaiga was booby trapped up the wazoo. It looked to Yousuke like it was just sitting on two nails above the couch. “I’ll find out soon enough…” he said and disappeared into the future.
Shippou flopped down in the tall grass and put his hands behind his head. The stars were just beginning to pop in darkening sky. He breathed a sigh and squinted up into the heavens. Nanaka flopped down with her head close to his and did the same.
“Do you think Yousuke can defeat this Sorako person with Tetsusaiga, Shippou-kun?”
He took a moment to answer. “I should hope so. His dad could just point it at stuff and attack with it, but it took time to master.”
“How much time?”
“Oh.” Shippou made a face. “About a half a year.”
“Mataku…” she groaned.
“What?” Shippou spat the piece of grass he’d been chewing on out of his mouth. “What’d you think this would be a pleasure jaunt? The last time we had to do this it took 3 years!”
Nanaka furrowed her brows. “What do you mean, ‘last time’?”
Shippou swallowed deep. “I just mean that quests, like the one I was on with Yousuke’s dad, Inuyasha. Quests take a long time… is all…” When she looked back up at the heavens he relaxed and cast his own gaze back up. ‘That was too close. No need to worry her with my suspicions.’
“Shippou-kun… you ever feel really small looking up like this?”
“No, why?” he asked and looked over at the girl.
She laughed a little. “Che, what am I asking you for, Mister Big Powerful Youkai?”
“Nanaka! I’m not like that!”
“I know!” she giggled, having succeeded in getting a rise out of him. She looked back up, but he continued to watch her in the flickering light of their campfire.
‘I may not be the most powerful youkai that ever lived,’ he thought, ‘but I’m a thousand times stronger than I was when we fought Naraku.” Shippou turned his eyes back to the stars and squinted again, making their light seem to radiate and twinkle. ‘It may take a while, if my suspicions are correct. No matter what, I’ll protect you guys. It’s my turn to protect the ones I love. I won’t let me friends’ kids get hurt.’