Chapter Sixteen: A Fitting End

Notes: I think I'm improving my turnaround. It's been less than a year since my last update! I tried to make this chapter as long as possible for all of you wonderful readers out there. In my word processor, it's eight pages long! Please enjoy!

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Naraku had not expected Inuyasha to lay still while he initiated his plan. Inuyasha did not disappoint him as he struggled like a rabid animal against the chains that bound him. Naraku had also not expected Inuyasha to escape, but on that count he was wrong. As Inuyasha struggled, Naraku noticed a change in the nature of his struggles. He went from evasive twisting and turning, punctuated with labored grunts, to aggressive jerks against the chains accompanied by a fierce snarl. He looked at Inuyasha's face and was caught up in demonic red eyes. Jagged purple marks ran under his eyes and sharp fangs protruded from his mouth.

"What an interesting development," Naraku said, reaching towards Inuyasha's face.

Inuyasha snapped at him and pulled hard against the chains.

"That's not going to work, these chains were made to hold half-demons such as yourself." Naraku chuckled.

Ignoring his words, Inuyasha pulled against the chains.

Naraku could see the perspiration glowing on his skin. He felt the urge to lick it off but he was distracted by a high whine in the air. "Impossible!"

No sooner had the word left his lips than the whine turned into a shrill shriek as the chains holding Inuyasha to the table snapped. Freed from the table, Inuyasha immediately leapt at Naraku with his fangs bared.

Naraku raised a group of tentacles to stop Inuyasha, but the half-demon was only slowed as he began to hack at them with his claws. The room was too confined for a fight. Naraku sent a tentacle through the ceiling and escaped out onto the roof. Inuyasha burst out of the hole seconds after, snarling menacingly.

Naraku sent a group of sharp tentacles speeding towards Inuyasha. The half-demon surprised him by landing lightly on the tip of one tentacle and running down towards him. Naraku made the base of the tentacle burst with spikes, but Inuyasha launched himself in the air, flipping nimbly as he sent a slash of energy towards him.

Naraku was able to slide out of the way of the attack, but the wooden tentacles he'd left behind splintered under the onslaught. "Very impressive," he called out to Inuyasha.

Inuyasha's only response was a snarl as he landed on the roof and launched towards him with stunning speed. This was not the Inuyasha he was used to fighting. He might have enjoyed this fight at any other time, but now it was ruining his plans. He needed to impregnate Inuyasha quickly and hide him away where Sesshomaru couldn't find him until the child was born. By fighting, he was merely wasting the short time he had until Sesshomaru arrived. He knew that the other demon would come. After all, Naraku had kidnapped his mate. It wasn't as though Sesshomaru would let it lie. Dogs were such stupid creatures, caught up in their faulty loyalty. Sesshomaru's loyalty and pride would make him come to reek vengeance on the one who took his mate.

"If you're trying to buy time for your beloved to come rescue you, it's useless. This game will be over long before he finds you." He laughed as he sent out a swarm of wasps.

Inuyasha dove straight at the swarm insects and batting them out of the way as he aimed for Naraku. He raced for Naraku with claws extended, but here merely passed through him and crashed through the castle roof.

On a nearby roof, Naraku chuckled as he sent another swarm of wasps into the castle. Only a few needed to sting him to slow Inuyasha down. Once Naraku had him in his grasp again, there would be no more escaping.

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Sesshomaru was frustrated with the pace of his allies. Even at the great speed at which they traveled, he felt that they were not reaching their destination fast enough. "I'm going ahead," he called as he increased his pace, leaving them swiftly as he began to cross the land without his feet ever making contact. Unburdened, he could soon smell the strong sweet scent of his mate up ahead mingled with the overwhelming stench of Naraku.

The thick poisonous miasma that Naraku was so fond of hung heavy in the air as Sesshomaru approached the castle. The poison had no effect on him as he strode through, using his nose to locate his mate. Through the haze, he could make out a dark figure.

"You're too late."

The haze cleared giving Sesshomaru a clear view of the situation. Naraku was floating over the ruins of a castle, holding his shoulder, which dripped with black blood. Below him, Inuyasha was suspended from his wrists by Naraku's wooden tentacles. Angry purple marks sliced across his cheeks and his half open eyes were glowing an angry red. Inuyasha had turned into a full demon without his sword around. Most disturbing was the black blood that dripped from his lips. It looks like he'd managed to get close enough to bite Naraku. While it was an impressive feat, it was also a stupid one since Naraku's blood was a poison that Inuyasha couldn't withstand even in his current form.

Sesshomaru wanted to go with his first instinct and rescue Inuyasha, but he knew that it was expected of him. The moment he tried, he would either be ambushed or Naraku would take the opportunity to disappear. Sesshomaru was determined to end Naraku's games today. He didn't want to constantly be on guard because the half-demon had slipped away once again. He didn't need that threat hanging over his family. He would end this today.

Sesshomaru leapt at Naraku. He was intercepted by a swarm of wasps. Their stings had no effect on him, but their numbers did obscure his vision enough to let Naraku move from the path of his attack. Sesshomaru swept his paw at the annoying insects. He caught movement off to his left, but the scent of Naraku came from ahead. He was not about to fall for Naraku's tricks. He was not there to play games. He was intent on seeing Naraku's black blood flow from his body along with his life.

He darted forward, slashing at the place where the scent of blood was strongest. Naraku's body appeared suddenly as he tried to dodge, but he was not quick enough. Sesshomaru's claws clipped him, spilling more of his caustic black blood on the ground.

Naraku hissed and flung his blood at Sesshomaru.

Sesshomaru moved his head to avoid getting the dark blood in his eyes, but he didn't retreat. "I'm going to kill you," he snarled.

Naraku laughed. "While you're busy with me, your precious mate is dying. He's tasted my blood and now he will die. You should go hold his hand while his life slips away."

Sesshomaru snapped at Naraku, just missing him as he threw himself out of the way of Sesshomaru's sharp fangs. He continued to chase the demon down as they traded blows. Naraku never stayed still, constantly trying to evade Sesshomaru and escape, but Sesshomaru was determined not to let him leave alive.

Frustrated, and sensing the arrival of Sesshomaru's allies, Naraku began to move back towards Inuyasha, hoping to use the half-demon against his mate.

As soon as Sesshomaru realized what Naraku was attempting, he moved back towards Inuyasha. He was determined to defend his mate. He didn't want that vile creature to touch him again.

"Look at the fierce demon lord defending his mate," Naraku said, floating above him. "If only I had realized his potential sooner, I'd never let him slip from my grasp. That cur of yours would not exist. Inuyasha would only bear my perfect children."

"You're an abomination," Sesshomaru said. "Inuyasha would sooner die than carry your accursed spawn."

"Isn't it ironic? That is exactly what he is doing while you stand over him. What good is protecting him now when he is already dying from your failure to keep him safe." Naraku laughed.

Naraku's words struck him hard. It was true. For a second time, Naraku had managed to infiltrate his household and hurt his mate. First, he'd managed to fatally wound him on his night of weakness. Then he'd managed to abduct him while Sesshomaru was oblivious. Now Inuyasha was again suffering the consequences of his own failure. But if he went to him now and Naraku got away again, he knew that Inuyasha would be even angrier. He had to let his mate suffer in order to finish off Naraku. He hated it, but he knew it had to be this way.

"Inuyasha would rather suffer a few minutes more while I kill you than have me go to him while you escape," Sesshomaru said as he stood his ground.

Naraku snorted. "So now you know his heart?"

"I am his heart!" Sesshomaru snarled, surprised by his own vehement response.

Naraku also seemed to be shocked by Sesshomaru's words. His moment of hesitation cost him as he was hit with a wave of light. Sesshomaru's allies had finally arrived.

As his allies attacked Naraku, Sesshomaru fell back. He freed Inuyasha from the tentacles that held him aloft. He shifted forms and amid the rubble of Naraku's castle, cradling his injured mate. Inuyasha's eyes were glazed but still red as his demon blood ran rampant through his body. His skin was cold and clammy as Naraku's poison took its toll. Sesshomaru immediately slit his wrist open with his fangs and held it to Inuyasha's mouth. "Drink," he ordered.

Inuyasha's nose flared at the scent of blood. He licked his lips as the first drops fell onto them. Weakly, he opened his mouth and began to drink the blood that was offered to him. The more he drank, the more color returned to his pale skin and the red faded from his eyes. Inuyasha reached up and clamped his hands around Sesshomaru's wrist, holding it to his mouth as he began to greedily suck his blood.

Sesshomaru tugged on his wrist and Inuyasha whined. Sesshomaru ran his free hand through Inuyasha's hair. "That's enough. You are healed. Any more and your human blood may be overwhelmed again."

Reluctantly, Inuyasha let Sesshomaru reclaim his arm. He watched as the wound slowly closed, letting a few precious drops of blood drip to the ground. He licked the last of the blood from his lips and sighed. "You're wrong," he said, leaning into his brother.

"About what?" Sesshomaru asked, his eyebrows raised.

"Your blood didn't overwhelm me. It's soothing. Like it's putting the demon inside me at peace." Inuyasha smiled.

Sesshomaru stroked his hair. "I am glad that I can comfort you."

"Of course you can, you're my mate." He paused. "My heart."

Sesshomaru froze. Inuyasha had heard him. He hasn't expected him too, but he was glad that he did. Sesshomaru smiled gently and inclined his head, acknowledging his words.

Inuyasha rolled his eyes and pulled Sesshomaru down into a kiss. His tongue slid into Sesshomaru's mouth and tangled with his own.

Unfortunately, they were drawn from their kiss by an explosion. The battle against Naraku was still raging. Even with the sheer numbers the allies, they were having trouble against the power of Naraku. Having so many different demons making up his body and powers made him a complicated and dangerous foe.

"I must go help them," Sesshomaru said, rising to his feet.

Inuyasha jumped up. "I'm going too." Sesshomaru turned to look at him and Inuyasha growled. "Don't even think of telling me not to. That guy's given me too much trouble for me to just stand aside and let you take care of things."

"I wasn't going to," Sesshomaru replied, a grin twitching at his lips. Inuyasha was not a delicate princess that needed rescuing. He was not going to stand by while a battle was being fought. "I was merely going to remind you not to forget your sword." He pulled Inuyasha's Tetsusaiga from his belt and handed it to him.

Inuyasha gave him an excited grin as he unsheathed his sword. "Let's go!"

Sesshomaru nodded as they leapt in to re-join the fight.

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The battle was not easy. While numbers were on their side, Naraku still possessed pieces of the Shikon Jewel. He used every trick at his disposal. He called forth his "children", he used illusions, puppets, wasps, poison. But in the end, it simply wasn't enough against the power and determination of Sesshomaru and his allies.

The ground was dark with splashes of blood from both ally and enemy. Naraku was leaning against a large stone glaring at the demons surrounding him. He wasn't the only one that had taken losses. He'd killed quite a few of them, but it was never enough and never who he truly wanted to kill. While he had managed to wound Sesshomaru, he'd been unable to kill him. He glared darkly at the dog demon that towered over him. Even with the gash on his chest that he'd delivered, the demon was still standing, glaring back at him while Inuyasha stood defiantly on his head with his sword hefted over his shoulder.

This was not how things were supposed to turn out. He should have been able to impregnate Inuyasha and keep him locked away for his own pleasure, but he had underestimated the half-demon and he had underestimated the determination of his mate. Somehow, their loathing for each other had turned to love. While it was easier to use that love against them, it was also stronger and the consequences of interfering were severe.

Now, he found himself cornered in the ruins of his own castle, bleeding and weak as he stared up at Inuyasha. Inuyasha who had turned his own love into hate when he stole Kikyo. Inuyasha who always managed to elude his grasp. Inuyasha who never gave him what he truly wanted most. And what was that? What did he want most? It seemed that Inuyasha was the answer. He had wanted the fiery half-demon. Somewhere along the way, he'd come to desire him. Inuyasha was never far from his mind. He constantly dreamed up ways to provoke him, to torture him, just to watch him.

"It's over," Sesshomaru said, watching Naraku carefully. He didn't want him to pull a last minute trick out of his sleeve and disappear. They'd worked too hard to bring him down to let him escape now.

"It's not over until I'm dead," Naraku replied.

"We're working on that part," Inuyasha called. "Just sit still."

Naraku looked up at him. "Only if it's you."

"What?" Inuyasha stared.

"I'll sit still and let you kill me, but only you kill me. If it's anybody else, I'll go down fighting and take as many of you with me as I can."

"We're not playing your games anymore Naraku," Sesshomaru snapped.

Naraku smiled. "No games. If I'm to die here, shouldn't I leave by way of my choosing?"

Sesshomaru snorted. "You've done nothing to earn such a privilege."

"Think of your allies Sesshomaru. How many more must die before you're satisfied?" Naraku taunted.

"This isn't about my satisfaction! This is about getting rid of you once and for all. We're not going to play your games anymore," Sesshomaru stepped forward.

Naraku straightened up. Some wooden tentacles sprouted sluggishly from the ground beneath him.

"Sesshomaru, stop," Inuyasha said.

Sesshomaru paused. "You're not thinking of doing what he asks, are you?"

Inuyasha stayed silent. Below, Naraku smiled.

"Inuyasha! He kidnapped our son! He nearly killed you many times over. You can't show him any mercy."

"It's not mercy," Inuyasha said as he jumped to the ground before Naraku.

"Then what is it?" Sesshomaru growled, frustrated with Inuyasha's decision.

"It's how it has to end," Inuyasha said, raising his sword.

"Inuyasha," Naraku said, walking towards him. "How do you know this isn't another trap?"

Inuyasha shook his head. "Because it's over. You lost."

Naraku chuckled. "You are so naïve. I want to drag you down to hell with me," he said, reaching out to touch Inuyasha's hair.

Inuyasha avoided his touch. "But you can't. You can barely stand. There's no way you can take me with you. There's no way I would go."

"The innocence in you is so refreshing," Naraku said, smiling. "I wish I could drink from your lips."

Inuyasha snorted. "I'd kill you."

"So you've said. But since I'm destined to die..." Naraku moved forward so quickly, Inuyasha didn't have time to react. Naraku's lips crashed into his. "You should have been mine Inuyasha," he hissed, staring into the half-demon's eyes. "My beautiful Inuyasha."

Inuyasha snapped out of his shock. His eyes narrowed as he thrust his claws into Naraku's chest.

Naraku coughed. "My heart," he said as blood dribbled from his lip. "You need to destroy my human heart."

Inuyasha looked at him in surprise and a smile crossed Naraku's face.

"Do it."

Inuyasha pushed his hand into his chest, digging out Naraku's heart. He pulled out the heart and Naraku dropped to his knees.

Naraku stared up at Inuyasha holding his black heart in his hand. This felt right. Inuyasha looked down at him again and Naraku's smile grew. There was a confused light in Inuyasha's golden eyes. Naraku knew that he had made a mark on Inuyasha's heart. The half-demon would always remember this day and that was enough for him. Thought it wasn't the way he desired, he would still be in Inuyasha's heart forever. Even on the verge of death, he felt victorious as Inuyasha's fist closed around his heart.

Inuyasha stood with the crushed heart in his hand, looking down at the crumpled form of Naraku. Finally, it was over. The cycle of pain that the evil half-demon had set in motion over fifty years ago had finally come to an end. Naraku was dead. Now, he was rotting in hell where he belonged. Inuyasha dropped the crushed heart and kicked the corpse before him. "Stupid bastard," he muttered. He hissed as his arm started to throb with pain.

"You are so reckless."

Inuyasha turned and watched his brother walk up to him in human form.

Sesshomaru took Inuyasha's arm and sighed. "You know he is dangerous and can't be trusted. You know he is poison. Still you dash forward and put yourself in harm's way."

Inuyasha looked away guiltily. "I just wanted to end it."

Sesshomaru nodded. "I understand, but it could have been another trap. He could have killed you as well. You were lucky."

"Sorry." Inuyasha winced as the poisonous blood on his arm reminded him of its presence.

"Come, we need to clean the blood away."

"Wait, the jewel shards." Inuyasha tugged his arm from his brother's grasp.

"Do not touch that filthy corpse. I will retrieve them." He stepped over Naraku's fallen form and suppressed the urge to further disfigure his body. He retrieved the large chunk of the shard that Naraku carried and frowned. He did not want to leave Naraku's body lying here, nor did he want to give it a burial. He turned to the remaining allies and paused as he spotted a fire demon. He called out to her.

"Yes Lord Sesshomaru?" She asked as she limped over.

"I would like to burn the corpse. I do not feel that this mission is complete as it is. We will use your fire to purify what remains of Naraku," Sesshomaru said.

"Yes Lord Sesshomaru." She bowed to him and stepped towards the corpse. With a hand held out, she sent a stream of fire towards Naraku's body. It quickly caught fire and burned with a bright blue intensity that made even the fire demon step back.

Only when a pile of smoldering ash remained did Sesshomaru feel satisfied. He turned to his mate. Inuyasha was watching the pile of ash as well, though he turned when he felt Sesshomaru's eyes on him. "Come," Sesshomaru said, holding out his hand. "You need to be cleansed of his blood before it does any more damage."

Inuyasha nodded as he walked to his brother and took the offered hand.

Sesshomaru lead him to a small pond in the shattered remains of the courtyard. There, he washed the poisonous black blood from his mate. The damage wasn't as bad as he'd anticipated. It seems the blood he'd given his brother before had helped to protect him. He looked down as Inuyasha touched the gash on his chest.

"Do not worry about that. It has already begun to heal," Sesshomaru said, brushing off his own injury. In the heat of battle, he'd hardly felt it and it would soon fade.

Inuyasha nodded. "I just hate that he hurt you."

"Not nearly as much as he's hurt you," Sesshomaru said, wrapping his arms around his mate. "But now he is gone and you can live your life free of his games."

Inuyasha closed his eyes and nodded again.

Sesshomaru leaned down to claim his lips. He gave him a gentle kiss as he carded his fingers through his mate's hair.

Inuyasha relaxed in his arms. When he finally opened his eyes, he smiled. "Let's go home," he said.

Sesshomaru nodded and together they left the cursed castle behind.

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Note: We're winding down people! Naraku is gone! Everybody party! For this special occasion, I've gone back and edited all of the previous chapters of this story. I've made a few small changes here and there, nothing too major. I hope it adds a bit more to the quality of the story since I've learned so much over the years. I still love to receive all of the comments you send me. It's very encouraging. YOU are the only reason that this story has not died a sad and only death ten chapters ago. Pat yourself on the back readers! I've set up a little forum for discussing this story. The link is in my author info. Feel free to come and talk to me.