Monster, man and metal.
Pure evil. With sprinkles.
"We have to go see Indis." Noi insisted, heading back towards the door, clapping one hand over his eyes, "Of all the things for her to be right about!"
What was the big fucking deal? His name was Inuyasha, not "Shay," and-don't-you-forget-it-have-a-nice-day-asshole.
"We're not going anywhere," he growled. "For all we know you could be a-"
"These are shoes, right?"
He turned to see Kagome smiling brightly, holding up a pair of dark brown, roughly boot-shaped ...things.
Noi stared at her for a moment, "Yeah," he said at last. "You might want to grab your coat too."
"Is this it over here?"
"Kagome?" Inuyasha asked. How was he supposed to cow the runty intruder into submission if she kept asking him for fashion advice?
"Inuyasha," she said with a sigh, "maybe Noi is an enemy and maybe he's not, but do you really think that someone who can help us is going to show up wearing a sign?"
"She's got a point."
"Shut up, you!"
"Inuyasha, you should be more polite."
The red-haired man cringed. "Would you do me a big favor and stop calling him that?"
"No," the two of them answered at once.
"It's my name, asshole," he growled in addition. "Now where the fuck are we going?"
He blinked in the pale sunlight. From the outside, Kagome's tiny 'house' looked like so many hulking scraps of twisted metal. Inuyasha shaded his eyes with one smooth hand. He could see between twelve and twenty of the hillocks, reaching many times a man's height, laid out like patternless burial mounds or a dead giant's scattered armor. The ex-dog demon craned his neck at chunks of steel, plastic, gravel and glass. Some of the pieces had more shreds of the tick-language scrawled on their hulls. He could almost make out a-
"So I just say 'doors,' and they open?"
Noi's answer was cut off as the metal-the plastic-the what/ever/ the fuck that stuff was parted behind them for the third time. Kagome clapped her hands.
"Don't do that too much," the freckled boy held out both arms, as if to shield the shrunken archway from view as it closed. "We don't want to attract any extra attention." Inuyasha half-winced in agreement. That tearing-bending noise wasn't loud, but it would carry.
"Attention? From who?" Kagome cast her head back toward the sky, "There's no one here."
Noi gave her a look that was halfway between fear and pity, as if she'd just tied a bow around a dead puppy's neck. Inuyasha felt the skin along his spine go cold.
So we have enemies.
Inuyasha looked around. His hearing was still pretty good, and there wasn't anything except the breeze and an odd rodent or bird. Kagome's "doorway," had opened up near the edge of one of the humble mountains of broken metal demons, entrance well-hidden from any casual view, and from the angle...
We were ...underground? Inuyasha let the thought settle, and his eyes run free around the mechanical graveyard. The paths between the scrap mounds twisted and broke, some ending in spiky tightness that looked just a little too nasty to be accidental. This den could be defensible, he mused. ...to someone who knows all the ways in and out.
Noi had chosen not to answer Kagome's question, tugging her toward one pathway by her coatsleeve. Inuyasha shot him a growl - or tried to; the sound was disappointingly wussy - and he let go. The smaller man coughed and pointed the way instead.
Inuyasha fell into step behind Kagome, trying to keep one eye on Noi and the other on their surroundings. The rust-edged burial mounds were giving way to scrubs and runty trees, as if something in the ground were regaining its life. He paused and tasted the air.
"There was a battle near here," he breathed again, "a lot of them."
"Monster, man and metal," Noi answered without turning around.
Kagome was smiling, "Your nose?"
He nodded. "Shay" might have no claws, wuss-for-fangs and god-awful taste in clothes, but at least he could get a scent. "Kagome," he placed one blunted hand on her wrist, "come here a second."
He tugged her close, stuck his nose against her neck and sniffed.
"Well I have to get in closer than normal!"
Kagome... Yes! That was it; that was...
He let his eyes sink shut.
Almost. The way Kagome's scent had almost been Kikyo's.
She didn't smell bad; she just didn't smell how she was supposed to. It only took a moment to know the difference; it was slight but real. Her shampoo was gone, and there was some new thread, some organic change that he couldn't place, but other than that... He shook his head and sniffed again. Almost... If he closed his eyes and pushed the difference away from his mind, he could believe that this was Kagome's neck, her hair, her skin-
-Her hands slapping at his shoulders.
"Inuyasha! Ask me before you do that!"
"What are you gonna do?" he smirked. "Sit me?"
That was it! That was better! This girl's eyes might not be exactly the right shade; her hair might not puff out the way it was supposed to, but no one could throw a tantrum like Kagome!
That pathetic lost ooky-stomach feeling was evaporating with every atom of blood that rushed to throb in that vein on her forehead.
Wha-what am I thinking? I WANT the bitch to mess with me? I don't need her to-
She stamped her foot!
"Guys!" Noi interrupted. "Se, you can make Ema blush on your own time."
"Ema?" he folded his arms.
"And I'm not blushing!" Kagome clapped her hands on her cheeks.
Noi rubbed his forehead with one hand. "Not even your own names..."
"My name is Inuyasha, for the last time!"
"No it's not!" a touch of red crept in between the freckles as Noi's pale eyes flashed. "You're not Inuyasha; you're Se. Maybe it would be nice for you to be this Inuyasha, but you're not. You're my friend and I need you back to normal!"
"Well that's nice, 'cause all I've got on you is a name."
"Inuyasha!" Kagome grabbed his wrist and tugged hard. "Don't hurt his feelings; he's the only person who can tell us what's going on!"
"Only if you believe his little story."
"He isn't lying, Inuyasha."
"And how would you know?" he demanded.
"I-" she closed her mouth. "I just do."
Aw... he knew the steel in those unfamiliar eyes. Fuck.
It was one of those things again. He looked up at Noi, whose jaw gave a hint of a rippled before he turned back to picking their path. Kagome's instincts were telling her what to do, and if there was one thing he'd learned to trust...
"Come on," he took hold of her wrist and began to follow.