The sun goes down on this new world. Watch well the house.
This post is brought to you by Chaos Baked Goods. If it doesn't make you go blind, you get a refund.
The world was still dim. Kagome wasn't sure if it was the knock on the head or the sun - gray as a witchlight - beading its way toward the treeline. She could remember the vivid blues and purples hovering like ragged jewels on the cracked shelf near where she'd woken, bright green of the moss at her feet, the pulsing red of their eyelike lamps.
Her feet hurt. Noi hadn't let up yet and Inuyasha wouldn't either.
The russet on Noi's hair had faded to freckle-brown. Even Inuyasha's eyes seemed to have leeched pale. He kept twisting his neck to turn them back at her, dull pink mouth opening without a sound.
There was a stitch in her side and she was panting. She knew why he wouldn't lift her.
It was as if she could see his bones and muscles through the snug black cloth-leather that hid Inuyasha's skin neck-to-ankle. His arms and legs swung like a metronome, marred only by the slim wrist clamped between the fingers of his right hand. His posture was more upright. His arms were straighter in proportion with his legs.
He wasn't hooked up the same way. He couldn't carry her. It would have been like a grownup riding horseback on a dog. Even if he'd been strong enough, he couldn't have.
A rainwashed yellow eye looked back at her again. The lid closed and opened. She tried to smile wanly, but he'd already looked away.
It was eating him alive.
The woods were giving way. How long had they been following the road? Pebbles snagged the sides of her boots as her feet slipped sideways in the dust. Inuyasha jerked her arm painfully and she righted.
He stopped, he actually stopped for half a heartbeat. Kagome couldn't even suck in a breath, but it allowed her to get her bearings long enough for a thought to gleam through her mind:
What had this woman allowed to become of her body? For a girl who lived so far from anything resembling civilization, Ema seemed to have no tolerance for traveling on foot. Even Ema's arms felt like overcooked ...hell, anything limp and wiggly and-
They'd started moving again. Noi hadn't so much as turned around. The woods were thinning out into what almost looked like farmland except for the fact that there were no-
Kagome's heart went still. She could almost hear the whirring blades. "There's another one over there," she whispered before she even realized that she knew.
Inuyasha stopped so hard that she staggered full into him. Noi flipped his dust-colored head over one shoulder. "How many?" he asked with no real weight. "Only one?"
"Then it's nothing," he told her. "Just a patrol."
"Yeah, moron," Inuyasha pointed one clawless finger at the boy. "And do you know what patrols do? They look for shit. Shit like us!"
"Then patrol isn't the right word." Noi answered. "I don't have time to explain. That search demon isn't after us. It's just there to be seen."
"Seen by who?"
"/Not now!/" Noi hissed. Inuyasha didn't move. Noi's glass-gray eyes shut. "Slaves, watch well the house, for you know not when the whip will return. It's just there to be seen," he repeated. "Now come on. It's barely another mile before we reach the walls."
Kagome opened her mouth to ask what he meant, but found she didn't have any breath to spare. Hadn't Ema ever heard of gym class?
Inuyasha seemed to be something like satisfied with Noi's answer and hooked his arm around her elbow to pull her along, but she put her free hand on his wrist. The skin was cool against the smooth sides of her fingers.
"What's wrong with you today, bitch?" he grumbled.
"I think I'm sick..." she whispered back.
"Hell, bitch, not here!" Inuyasha snarled out with only half his usual vehemence. His anger was as washed out as her eyesight, but at least she knew where his Kagome-blindness was coming from. "You can throw up in the bushes. Just lemme make that fluff-brained coward hold still for a-"
"Not that kind of sick!" she said immediately. "I mean-" His palm cupped her forehead. "-I feel funny. My legs shouldn't hurt this much and-" He tipped her head back to look in her eye. "-my lungs are burning. I don't think-" He leaned in, all the way in, to sniff the skin right next to her neck. "-this can be normal-eeee!" Against her will, her neck cricked down, squishing his cheek against her jaw. "That tickles!"
"Ease off. I'm only trying to-"
"What's the holdup now?" Noi asked. Kagome's could clearly see the nerves twitch in his throat. ...really clearly. In fact, she could see every slate-colored hair on his head.
"I'm just tired." She smiled. "I'm all right." She wasn't going blind at any rate.
"No she's not," Inuyasha growled back.
Kagome put her hands on her hips. "How would you know, anyway? I said I'm-"
"Something's fucked up in your scent," he said. "It was only there a little before, but now it's there a lot."
"Inuyasha, that could be anything. I just feel a little too-"
"Did you go color-blind?" Noi demanded.
Kagome stared at him. The freckles still stood out against the pale. "How did you know?"
"Dammit!" Noi swore. "Couldn't have found a better time for a flareup. Can a blow to the head mess with someone's immune system?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" snarled Inuyasha, brighter against the fading sky.
"Immune system?" Kagome sat up sharply.
"Get her on her feet, Se. We have a way to go yet."
"Not until you explain," Inuyasha planted both feet on the dusty ground, something softer hidden deep in eyes too pale to be gold. "What the fuck do you mean, 'flareup'? Is she sick?"
Noi was giving them both that look again. The dead puppy with a bow look. He opened his mouth and closed it again. "No more than anybody else."