Alright, last chapter of "Before there was You".I got so much done today! Uh anyway, there will be more fics in this arc. So don't be mad at me for ending it where I did! *sticks out tongue* R&R. . .dorks. *grins*

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"Before There Was You"

by: Banshee Puppet

Chapter Seven: Discovery and Despair

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Ajika could hardly believe her luck. It seemed she wouldn't need Haioh's aid after all. The little kitten was walking right up to her. She didn't need the Kunukanai to see it, she was standing right there, before the steps, and with some unknown wolf youkai beside her.

"Are you her?" the girl called up to her as she stood at the top of the stairs, smiling sweetly to hide her amusement. "Are you the witch of Kunukanai?" Kuma asked.

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It was raining. She didn't like the rain one bit. Her only consolation was that Kouga was as miserable as she was.

'That day. It was raining that day too,' she recalls, but she isn't certain what day she is remembering, or why the fact that it was raining is important.

She sees the woman under the canopy of the porch, smiling easily and wearing a kimono of a deep blue shade, her markings pastel, her hair. . . 'the same shade as my own.'

"Are you her?" she demands. "Are you the witch of Kunukanai?"

"I am," Ajika answers. "To what do I owe the pleasure, little girl."

'Little girl?! Like Hell!' the words anger Kuma, though she can't place why that is so.

"I hear you want me dead. I came to tell me, you can come on and kill me if you want, but first, I want you to honestly answer my questions."

She was an interesting one, brave, for someone who was about to die either way. 'I suppose I'll humor her. I'm going to kill her anyway, so it's not as if it matters.' "What do you wish to know?" she asks.

"Who am I?" Kuma all but demanded, and pleaded. "That is to say. . .where do I come from, this world, or the future, and my parentage."

"You are of this world," Ajika answered. "Your father," she smirked, telling her this truth would likely destroy the girl, knowing who her parents were. Never before had honesty felt so. . .wicked. "was the hanyou, Naraku, and your mother," she paused for dramatic effect as the name Naraku hit Kuma like a physical blow, but one she believed to be true, "is me," she chuckled. "Surely you can see the resemblance, can you not, poppet? Naraku was supposed to kill you a long time ago. Oh well," she shrugged. "I've answered your questions, now DIE!" Ajika sent a sonic wave towards the two.

Kouga for his part, could only stare slack-jawed between the two women. 'Naraku and. . . Ajika. . . Kuma is. . .No. NO! I won't believe it!' The truth is, cougar hanyou or otherwise, Kuma and he had become friends these past few days. Even if she was the daughter of. . .did that really affect anything, did it change. . .who she was?'

Her words came back to him. 'I want to know who I am, Kouga. I need to know, really. It's a fool's errand, this, and I know it. But for that knowledge. . .I would die, to know the truth.' And also, 'if what I suspect is true, even the one I love most might never forgive me. . .for being born.'

Before he knew what was happening, she was pushing him out of the way. He blinked up to find she'd just barely deflected a powerful blast with her sword. 'Kuma is Kuma.' That's when he realized it. Nothing had changed. 'I don't want my friend to die,' he decided, getting up, even knowing he had little if any chance of being at all useful to her.

"Kouga, what are you doing, get the hell out of here! Use the shards you have, and run! If you don't, you'll. . ."

"You're still Kuma. You're just you. None of that other stuff matters at all. If it did, I'd run, I'd leave you do die. So I'm going to prove to you that nothing's changed, by fighting by your side. I'll die for that, if I have to."

"Kouga-ahh-ow..aaahhh!" Kuma fell to her knees, clutching her skull, just vaguely registering Ajika's voice saying, "oh, isn't that sweet! The little puppy wants to die with her. Well, happy to oblige," as memory flooded her brain.

The blood, all that blood. 'It was raining that day too. The day. . .they died.' It was important, because the rain washed the blood away, the blood that was on her hands, from the day, she killed her parents. Well, no, not her parents, but. . .the people who she thought were her parents. The woman with the dark hair, and the man. . .that man with the silver eyes. He touched her face and smiled sweetly. 'Shh, Kuma, it's alright. Daddy loves you. . .this will only hurt for a moment.' And then she remembers, standing in the rain, walking down the street aimlessly, her mind, totally blank. Had he. . .made her forget? The man with the silver eyes. . .but there WAS love in those eyes, she could tell. Whoever he was, at that time, even as she killed him for no apparent reason, he DID love her. He DID. As if convincing herself of that would change anything, make anything any better. But Naraku had not lied to her. He was. . .her father. She suspected, but she had hoped it wasn't true. The man who pushed her through the well, was him. But also, she knew, she couldn't go back. Those days, days with Naraku, days with her "parents", the day she, suddenly, blinded by animal instinct, fear, killed them, and then suddenly, realized what she had done, looking at the blood on her hands, the blood of. . . the people she killed. . .for no reason. The people she killed in cold blood.

Her ears only vaguely registered sounds as she tried to fight back the dreams that were becoming far too real for her liking. Voices, calling her name, and someone, in front of her, falling.

Her eyes widened as she suddenly returned to the present as a body tumbled limply into her own. Dark waves of hair falling into her line of vision. "Na-Naraku!" she gasped. "Wh-what? Why?"

She took in the scene and realized that he had jumped in the way of a blow to protect her. He was badly injured. No, that was an understatement. He was dying.

"Because," he whispered, coughing up blood. "Before there was you, I was heartless. Before there was you, I was free, my beautiful Kuma. . . my little girl." And his eyes rolled back, shutting with his last breath.

Kuma, suddenly realized, she was angry. She laid Naraku down gently, not taking time to think about the irony of this all, the way things unfolded to make things true that never would have been true otherwise, never should have been true.

She stood, drew the Kagura, tears in her eyes, and whispered, "you. . .bitch. That's totally. . .unforgiveable."

"Oh, found a sudden love for our dear father, have we, Kuma?" Ajika mocked.

"Bitch!" Kuma hollered. "He. . . he may have been an evil, sadistic bastard who wanted nothing more than to see my best friends killed, but. . .damnit! At least he cared! I'll. . . I'll destroy you!" And she charged.

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Her friends. Her friends were all there, had actually just arrived when Naraku jumped in front of the blow. Sesshomaru was shocked, but a little relieved. He wouldn't have been able to make it in time. And Inuyasha? Inuyasha felt betrayed. Naraku was Kuma's father?!? When was she planning on telling them that little tidbit. Had she known, that day, the day she told him to back off and ran away? Had she known then? He knew he'd forgive her eventually, but right now, he was a little pissed, he couldn't see Kuma at all, he could only see Naraku's daughter.

And Miroku, a tear rolled down his cheek as he looked at his hand. 'Finally.' Naraku. . .was dead. He looked up at Kuma and frowned. Somehow, he thought this would be a happier day.

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And blood filled Kuma's vision once again. Killing her own mother, it had almost been. . .too easy. But then again, she'd done it before, hadn't she, and she realized suddenly, she was glad she did it. Glad that she killed Ajika, and that knowledge sent a shadow over her heart.

'I can never go back. Things can never be the way things were. I can't guarantee that I won't hurt them. I can't guarantee. . .that some part of me, doesn't want to.'

So, she sheathed the sword and began to walk away.

'No! She's leaving! She's not coming back! NO!!!'

"KUMA!" he blurted out, running a few steps towards her and, embarrassingly enough, tripping over an injured Kouga.

"Ow," Kouga grumbled, propping himself up on his elbows.

Kuma turned sad eyes onto the man she loved and whispered his name. "Sesshomaru," she said softly. "I'm so sorry. But. . .I can't. Goodbye."

'Goodbye.' The word echoed through his mind long after she had gone. It felt like his heart had been ripped from his chest. He'd never felt like this, never been in this much pain. 'Her business is my business?' he thought, remembering Miroku's words. 'Yeah, right. But, monk, what if she gives up on us. What am I supposed to do then? What am I supposed to do, when she leaves?'

Inuyasha bit his lower lip. Sesshomaru was in pain. It was obvious, not just to him, but to all of them, the way his clawed hand clutched at his chest and he just kneeled there in the wreckage, staring off in the direction Kuma had gone in.

"Leave him alone," Miroku whispered to the hanyou. "There's nothing you can do for him."

But that didn't stop Rin, who ran up to him, sniffling, and embraced him, burying her face in his long white tail. He wrapped his arms around her, and, unable to do anything else, unable to hold it back any longer, Sesshomaru cried.

~The End~

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Awwww! That was waayyy to sad!!! But I'm determined to make the arc have a happy ending, so I guess I've just got to keep writing until I've got one! There will be at least two more fics in this arc. A sidefic to this story, "love like water" which will talk about the time that Naraku was with baby Kuma before he pushed her into the well, and the next, time-wise will be "in cold blood", though I'm not sure when I'm going to write that. Probably not for a while yet. So anyway, R&R.the next fic on my, finish current fics I'm working on stitch will probably be my ff8 fic, "until the end of eternity, and longer"...so, hope you enjoyed this story. Until Next Time, Happy Haunting,

~Banshee Puppet~