AN: I felt compelled to update. I love updating. I think I am in a good mood because I have a study party planned, I get all of Saturday off, which I normally don't get, I am done chapter five of a textbook, and I have to reread all of Ovid's Metamorphoses for an essay. Sadly, yes, that's a reason to be excited. I have a real excuse to read myths now!
And Kazaa is working! Now I can get some theme songs for my characters!! I love making those kinds of cds!
This also marks the start of my… what? 32nd story? It just goes to prove I have no life! So, bottom's up, and in the words of Canada's own Bare Naked Ladies, "thanks that was fun!"
Lily Thorne: Pep rally, eh? I'll be sure to watch out for people like you. -- Anyway, I gave you my two cents for the diseases. What do I know? I'm only a history major… I mean… aw, damn, that will only incriminate me!!
Demon Exterminator Barbie: You managed to get it printed out? ::drools:: lucky!! But I'm lucky too. My back drop (currently it's FY for some reason) is normally the reincarnation one. But nonetheless, I go there constantly and drool.
Aamalie: I decided to take your advice! Update for the hell of it! In fact, do a lot of things for the hell of it! Like… having a fox named Raccoon on my head. He keeps my head warm.
Ritsuki-chan: Nooooo! Not teen girl squad! I'm sorry, Strongbad is great and all, but there are only so many times I can stand Teen Girl Squad in one party. But I am glad that you enjoyed it.
Ninalee-chan: I'm glad you found it as comedic to read as I did to write. I distrust my own ability to make comedy. My idea of humor is dark and understated.
Jade Goddess: Part of me thinks he sees Kagome as a half-demon in her own right, at times. He certainly doesn't pick on her as much as he used to when he starts seeing how strong she is.
Siren: I enjoyed how Kagome and Inuyasha just distracted each other into losing.
NefCanuck: Wow. 18 chapters. Okay, you get a cookie for sitting so long. I can't even stand sitting through a three hour lecture. Kudos!
Queenizzay: Shippo has the right idea… now if only they would do it. Last chapter only proved that Inuyasha has no shame.
Thank you to everyone else who reviewed!
Enjoy the final chapter of 'Dressing Wounds'.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Completion
The screams cut through the thick air. Miroku and I kept on running, trying to ignore the screams of pain from Kagome and the helpless threats of Inuyasha. He waited for me to catch up, the weight of my haraikotsu starting to tire me out. Miroku took the opportunity to lean against the rock of the mountainside we were climbing. I nodded to him that I was ready to continue, and we resumed our frantic race up the mountainside.
When we reached the top, we wondered how we had ever agreed to separate our powers. Kagome lay in a pool of her own blood, Inuyasha stood in front of her to protect her, his eyes already starting to burn red even though he held his sword in his hands. Kirara stood to the other side of Naraku and his monstrous, serpentine form, leaning on her three good paws and still trying to fight. Shippo held Kagome's hand, trying to call her back to the land of the conscious, noticeable only because of the trembling of his tail.
Miroku's hand rested on my good shoulder. I stood up taller, and nodded at him. "Are you sure you can do this?" I asked, disgusted at the taste of my blood in my mouth. All he needed to do was draw in as much as Naraku as he could, so that Inuyasha could get close enough to finish him off with a sword. Of course, the original plan was for Kagome to see the shard Naraku, point it out, and we could cut it out of him before he could regenerate. As Kagome seemed currently down and out for the count, Inuyasha was probably going to resolve into hacking Naraku into small, shard-sized pieces.
The problem was this: Naraku was poisonous. He was like Sesshomaru, able to disperse poison from various centers on his body. The tentacles that kept Inuyasha from getting at the vulnerable places of Naraku's neck, stomach, and spine, had poisonous secretions on their underside.
It was Kagome's idea to try this. I can only imagine how much it hurt her to look at Miroku and know that her plan might cause his death, and then to have to look at me and know that her plan might cause the death of the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. We had no way of knowing how Miroku would react with the poison, but Kagome and I both suspected that they would act like the insects. Worse, a few of the insects were still around. Now that we had the antidote for them, there was little concern over the insects, only on the tentacles the kazaana meant to rip from Naraku's vile body.
How had she even come up with that plan?
"Sango!" A tentacle wrapped around my left arm as I completed the pass on an attack against Naraku and his monstrous body. I felt a tug and then burning, but the pain cut off from me as my stomach heaved and I was ripped from Kirara's back, flying straight at a tree. I heard Miroku and Kagome cry out my name, but I didn't land in the trees. I landed on something soft, and fell to the ground with a kitsune clutched in my good arm. The smell of burning flesh reached my nose; it was my own, but I was too full of adrenaline to be able to feel the pain right now.
"Thank you, Shippo," he said, leaving him to hide and recover from using his powers, allowing him to wait until he would be needed again. More than once the little kitsune had been our secret weapon, and even Inuyasha had decided not to pick on him. The hanyou's generosity seemed to have been appreciated, as Inuyasha was the first one Shippo had kindly caught from striking the forest behind us or the cliffs in front of us.
"Kaze no Kizu!" The attack bounced off of Naraku's shelled body. Miroku stood beside him, further off, fighting away more tentacles, and Kagome hung back, an arrow notched and waiting for a good shot; she only had so many arrows.
"Very well," I heard Miroku's deep voice say, as Kirara took into the air. I was doing the aerial attacks. "It's time I use…"
"Don't!" Kagome ran to him and snatched his arm before he could pull off the prayer beads. His eyes widened in surprise, and Inuyasha yelled something about breaking his hand if Miroku tried to grab Kagome. I ignored them, trying to fight Naraku as I let the haraikotsu fly, but I could still hear them, still see them from the corner of my eye. Kagome stared up at him, looking like she was ready to cry. She threw a rock into the forest, where we heard Naraku's poisonous insects hover before settling again.
Miroku shook his head. "But we have the antidote for them. I'm not afraid of enduring a little pain if…"
"Naraku himself is poison!" I shouted, unable to stay out of the conversation. I gasped in surprise when Naraku went for Shippo out of nowhere, a shower of small rocks flying into the air, kicked up by his sudden movement. They struck my body, my face, my cat… I ignored them. "Shippo!"
Miroku moved, Kagome firing the arrow in her hand. It flew as Miroku grabbed Shippo, holding the small demon against his chest and turning his back on the sharpened talon racing towards them. Naraku was a writing mass of odds and ends, each piece more ferocious and menacing than the last. Kagome's arrow struck, tearing through the talon and taking a tentacle out with it. The pieces blew apart, pieces of flesh and globules of blood striking Miroku and starting to burn little holes through his kesa.
It was chaos, complete and total chaos. Inuyasha was the only one fairing well, but he was the only one fighting a one sided battle, and the one getting the least attention from Naraku. Maybe he wanted to take Shippo out first because he was weak; maybe he wanted to take Miroku out because he knew how much damage the kazaana would do; maybe he wanted to remove Kirara and I from battle because he was pissed that we had saved Kohaku, but for whatever reason, we seemed to be drawing his attention.
Then the world turned into chaos when he struck Kirara from behind. I heard the snapping of her bones and we flew straight into the ground. My ankle twisted as I landed, and I winced in pain. That one I had felt, no matter how battle-ready I was. I looked at Kirara, who stood in front of me, trying to protect me from Naraku, who now seemed to be throwing his concentration of Inuyasha.
Inuyasha was loudly taunting him, calling his names, and striking whenever he had the chance. The scales which had been able to defend against Miroku's staff were sliced by the Tetsusaiga.
Kagome and Miroku came up behind us, Kagome immediately grabbing her first aid kit and trying to see to my arm. I shook my head. "Kirara first. I can surive."
My friend sighed and looked at us. She looked at the battle, where it sounded like Inuyasha was having a lot of fun, instead of fighting his greatest enemy. Her expression softened. "Naraku," she noted, "for all we attack at different angles, is still only fighting a one sided battle. He never turns his back to us, do you notice that? The shard he has… it's in his chest, right here," she placed her hand over the place where her ribs met, "but he never turns his back to us."
We both understood what she was insinuating. "It's because his back is his weak spot," we said in unison, and a hint of a smile passed across our pained faces.
She nodded. "His back is his weak spot. We need to attack from behind, and to get behind, we need to get up on that cliff. Kirara can't take you anymore, not with her leg broken like this. But Miroku-sama, and you, Sango-chan, you two could."
We nodded. Miroku appeared interested, but I was worried. I had seen Kagome wear this expression before, often after Inuyasha had done something and she had sat him out of anger rather than necessity. I knew what she was going to ask, and I opened my mouth, about to protest, but I shut it. It wasn't my place to protest.
And so Kagome had looked at Miroku, and told him of her plan.
We stood at the top of the cliff, Naraku ignorant to our presence. The win howled around us, and it made me cold. My hair hurt as it struck my cheek, my teeth wanted to start chattering when I imagined what it would be like to feel that strong wind coming from Miroku. I felt like a block of ice. But what was I doing? Mourning before Miroku was already dead? I stiffened, and tried to stand up a little straighter.
Miroku looked down at me, and I saw some part deep within him try to smile at me. The fact that he was so worried bothered me. I needed him to smile at me, to tease me so that I can smile and make him feel proud that he was the one person who had gotten me to lighten up and be happy. "I look forward to the irony that the power he gave me will help kill him."
Understanding, I nodded, and patted one of my hidden pouches to make sure the antidote I carried was still safe. I then patted the hand still lying on my shoulder. He took his hand back and gripped the beads of the necklace surrounding his right hand. I drew the haraikotsu and pretended not to notice how he hesitated at opening the wind-tunnel. Saying anything would only have made him feel self-conscious. Besides, what could I say that would not have made it sound like I was saying goodbye to him?
I wrapped my arms around him, the haraikotsu in front of him, protecting him from any attack that might come his way and somehow avoid the kazaana.
He was ready. He ripped the beads away, the tiny pale orbs flying everyway. The kazaana lashed open, causing even my hair to whirl about. The wind I had felt before melded with Miroku's kazaana. The sound of Miroku's robes slapping against his legs made the sounds of the battle below fade away, until a moment later a buzzing sound filled the air and the remaining insects that had not been killed by Inuyasha's wind scars threw themselves into the vortex. They were followed by the sound of Naraku's howl when his tentacles began to shake, being ripped off at the joints by Miroku's wind-tunnel.
Naraku turned to the new threat, exposing his back to Inuyasha. As Inuyasha lunged for it, it appeared as though our plan would have worked. However, Naraku had erected a barrier, one of the ones that he was famous for. Only he could open it up to allow someone to get close. A priestess could also break it, but Kagome was still solidly out.
Laughing, Naraku increased his mass, adding more tentacles and more poison for Miroku to absorb. Looking at Miroku, I was entranced by the intense concentration on his face. I wished I could have helped him, lend him my strength, but I was only there for the back up. Inuyasha had his sword, Miroku the wind-tunnel, Kagome the powers of a priestess, I was the only one without some kind of super-human ability. I had my haraikotsu, and my sword, and tricks up my sleeve, and nothing else. I was there only to watch their backs, to protect them while they took down all the big fish.
If only I could help him!
Miroku began to sway. He leaned heavily against me, his arm shaking as he held it out, still trying to absorb more. Naraku's huge bulk hid Kagome and Inuyasha from our sight. Miroku began to lose his ground, falling back with each ounce of poison he absorbed. Still, Naraku cackled. Wrapping my arms tighter around him, I told him to close it, to relax and let me take over.
Stubborn as ever, he shook his head. That's when I realized why he had ripped the rosary away. This was the end for him. Miroku was planning on either taking Naraku with him, or dying. His rosary was broken, and rather than draw out another one, he told me to hold him up, and he would continue to take in as much as he could, until he lost consciousness, in an attempt to weaken Naraku by making him run out of energy.
He had to be planning on winning then! He wouldn't have destroyed his rosary and opened the wind tunnel if his friends might be taken into it as well! Tears stung my eyes, and I doubt my voice could be hurt against the wind that rushed by us. My ankle throbbed as I tried to keep supporting Miroku.
I shook my head. "Miroku, we're already down a fighter. Don't weaken us by one more." My hands moved down his body, trying to find the hidden pocket in which he kept extra beads.
The woman in me… no. Not 'the woman'. Who says the part of me that cries, the part of me that grows sad I think of losing somebody I care for is the feminine side? No, it is the part of me that loved Miroku, the part of me that knew he had purposefully destroyed the prayer beads so that he could not stop taking in things through his right hand, the part of me that knew part of him expected to die in this battle, that part of me wanted to cry. The fighter in me told me to wait till a later time; tears in a battle were a foolish idea as they clouded your vision and one needed to be able to see in a fight.
The fighter won out, as I have been a fighter longer than I have been in love with Miroku. I suppose that I will always be a fighter first.
Tightening my grip around him, I knelt down to my knees, steadying him in my lap. He sagged against me, a terrifying amount of weight. I couldn't see his face, and the only way I knew for certain that he was still alive was the fact that the kazaana was still going strong. His other hand covered mine, and his breathing quickly grew labored.
"Sango," he said after a moment, Naraku's insane cackling nearly hiding his quiet voice. I treasured the way he said my name. It was so soft, so gentle, as if saying it too strongly would frighten me away. I closed my eyes, leaning my head on his shoulder as I continued to hold him, coming to the conclusion that he had no more prayer beads on him.
"I'm here," I comforted, holding him tighter.
"I can… I can't do it anymore. Lay me on the ground, and stay to my left. Give me a little time to recover, and I'll be able to help more… in a little while."
Nodding, I picked up my haraikotsu and laid Miroku on the ground. His kazaana pointed at the sky, taking in naught but harmless leaves, so long as he remained conscious and directed where his hand was going. I began climbing back down to the ground thinking of only one thing. Take down Naraku, and then go and help Miroku. If we kill Naraku, then the wind-tunnel will close, and we won't need to rush and try to find beads to wrap up his hand again.
Once again standing on flat ground, I closed in on the fight scene, and drew my sword with my right hand. I swung the haraikotsu over my shoulder. I wanted a direct fight. I let the anger in me explode. "Naraku!" His name drew his attention from closing in on Kagome and Inuyasha, who continued to stand over her. Inuyasha was covered in his own blood, the sword stuck in the ground, helping to protect Kagome from Naraku. Naraku turned on me.
He smiled. Naraku, oddly, was a fairly beautiful man. I always assumed that it was because he was a demon, possessing the same ethereal beauty that Sesshomaru did. His smile, however, was truly twisted, and the easiness of his voice was deceptive. "Ah, the slayer. I was wondering when you were going to rear your head." He slithered over in my direction. "I take it this means that it's your turn to try and take me on. What's the matter, Sango? You have your brother back, much to my regret. Is it revenge for the death of the monk that you now seek, slayer?"
"Sango! What are you doing?" I ignored Inuyasha, and soon Naraku once again blocked the view of everything else.
It didn't matter. Inuyasha could protect Kagome and Shippo. So long as I could see the sky and see the leaves whipping around the cliff beside me, I would know that Miroku was all right, and I was happy.
I gripped the sword tighter, and threw the haraikotsu wide, wanting only to startle Naraku. It did the trick. The anger I felt was small and compact, filling my stomach and warming me. It was as concentrated as my intent.
I was going to kill Naraku.
He lunged for me, and I blocked with my haraikotsu, my sword free to slash at the limbs and tentacles, hands and paws that came my way, sneaking around the boomerang. Acidic blood splashed and burned on my exposed skin. I ignored it, fighting through he stings of pain, desiring to see more than a few drops of blood fly from Naraku.
Pressing him out of the way, my sword danced forward swiftly, aiming for his neck. He avoided me, and a large paw smacked my body, sending me flying into a tree. The pain of me smacking against the tree made white lightning flare against my eyes. As I shook it away, a tentacle wrapped around my foot. I cried in pain, my sprained ankle snapping in his tight grip. The poison, the acidity of it, began to eat away at my boot, but I didn't have to worry about it for very long as he threw me into the same cliff that Miroku lay on. This time I struck my head, it hurt like hell, even though I had been trained to deal with just about anything until after the battle was over.
Dizziness washed over me. I struggled to get up. I needed to kill him! Spitting blood from my mouth, I leaned on my weapons to stand up, and went back to using my boomerang as a shield. I would take Naraku down!
I thought of Miroku, I thought of my brother, I thought of everyone that Naraku had hurt and everyone I cared for, and I chose my path to attack. I'd throw my haraikotsu at him, and when he was swatting it away from his monstrous body, I'd lunge for him. I'd pierce his heart with my sword, and cut it out of his fucking body.
I hurt. I was in pain. I didn't fucking care anymore. It was stupid, and reckless, and I didn't care. I just wanted him to pay. I wanted him to pay for everything.
I. Hate. Naraku!
Yes, yes cut out his heart! Make him pay!
I rose to my feet, feeling sticky blood trickle down the back of my neck. I pushed away the nausea and the dizziness, and I lunged, angling my sword straight for his heart. I let out a roar as I charged, and I said the last thing I ever thought I would say.
"I'm not going to let you take Miroku!!"
I never made it that far.
I placed my bad foot firmly on the ground, and stumbled, when suddenly a bright, pink light filled the air. Everything was silent. Then, without warning, an arrow pierced through the heart I had been aiming for, and bounced off the rocks behind me in a blazing trail of light.
As if it were corrosive, the wound spread, burning and purifying Naraku from the inside up. Through his chest I saw a bleeding Kagome holding her bow, Inuyasha's hands on hers, his arms wrapped around hers and his body against hers to steady the weapon and aim for Naraku. I nodded to them as Naraku crumbled to dust in front of us.
The Shikon no Tama, completed from being inside the body of a demon, fell to the ground with the gentle sound of a single, falling, perfect gem.
The wind blew, and his ashes scattered in the breeze. I wondered if part of that breeze was natural, or if it were something that had come from somewhere in Kagura's direction.
It took a moment for it to really sink in, as Kirara limped towards me to make sure I was alright. Though my wounds hurt at the time, they suddenly didn't hurt at all as we all realized what it was.
It was over.
It was all over.
Naraku was dead, and the jewel was whole. Naraku was dead! Years of pain, years of hunting, hundreds of deaths, hundreds of wounds, and it was finally over!
Shippo started it all, flinging himself at Inuyasha of all people, and hugging him fiercely. "Inuyasha! I was so scared when Kagome wouldn't wake up!"
After that it was a flurry of activity. I kissed Kirara, who roared and licked my cheek, her fur looking glossier and her ears instantly looking perkier. Kagome struggled up, and Inuyasha helped her up the rest of the way, holding her against his chest to help her stand. Inuyasha's free hand brushed Shippo's hair, reassuring the tiny demon who now snuggled between them both, happy and warmed by the protectiveness of someone whom he had always loved, and a man who he had always respected, deep down inside.
I slipped away from them, and struggled to run up the cliff. Or I tried to. Sadly, I still couldn't see that well from the hit I had gotten on my head. Blood coated half my vision. I slipped and slid all the way up to the top of the cliff side, tears running down my cheeks from the pain of my ankle and from fear.
The wind had stopped. The leaves that had been caught in the air were still falling like snowflakes around Shippo, Kagome, and Inuyasha. But had it been too late? Had the whole really vanished, or would I arrive at the top of the cliff only to find a crater, and no sign left of the man I had loved?
I arrived to find Miroku standing. His clothes were damp from exertion, and he swayed about as much as I did. The wind that had previously howled around us had died down. I cautiously approached him, worried about what I would find.
He turned to face me, and there was such happiness in his eyes that I even forgot that I was dizzy. The expression took my breath away. In all the time I had known Miroku, in all the smiles he had given me and all the rapturous looks I had seen on his face when he groped me, I had never seen anything so earnest or beautiful in my life. In one single moment, he had gotten a future, a life, and revenge. He held out his hand, and I didn't need to see it to know that it was whole. His eyes told me everything I needed to know.
Rushing forward, I threw my arms around his neck and drew myself up to his level. I pressed my lips against his, and he kissed me back, sharing in a happiness, a passion, I had never known before. His tongue slowly pressed into my mouth, running along the roof of my mouth, as my lips ran against his. His fully formed hand pressed itself against me, and he moaned in happiness, my hand running down the sides of his cheeks and my body pressing against his, trying to drown myself in his very presence, in everything about him that I had grown to love.
His hands wrapped around me, only briefly, and he pulled me back down so that he could look at me. Our chests scraped against one another as we stared into each other's eyes. I was surprised I still had the blood with which I could blush under his steady gaze. Chills ran through my body when he pressed his healed hand against my cheek. He thumb brushed away my tears and my blood, and his expression softened for a moment.
"Sango… now that I can offer you a lifetime… marry me."
My fingertips shook as I nodded vigorously. "I already told you that I would."
Miroku laughed—it was such a wonderful sound—and grabbed me again, hugging me so tightly that if I hadn't been deliriously happy, I would have been hurt. For a brief moment before he had hugged me, I had seen his face. He looked as happy as he had when I had been about to ask him if the kazaana was still open. The defeat of Naraku may have given him back his future, but when I saw his face I knew that the reason why he was so happy was because I was his future.
Looking down, I saw the others looking up at us, smiling. Inuyasha had his arm wrapped around Kagome, who leaned on him for support, and Shippo sat precariously on Inuyasha's other shoulder. We smiled back down at them and waved.
Turning back up to Miroku, I placed my hands against Miroku's cheeks, and I pulled him down to kiss him, causing my other friends to laugh at his expression, which was so shocked even they could see it. I pressed my lips against his, and he immediately responded. His hands moved up first to wind around in my hair, but when he accidentally touched the wound on my head, I whimpered and his hands instead slid down to my waist. He tried to draw away, but I wouldn't let him, and I kissed him with all the passion I could muster. Miroku eagerly responded, and he suddenly didn't feel like saying anything. My leg gave out and we collapsed, laughing and kissing in happiness, sharing as long as we could in one moment of perfect joy and freedom, our pain and wounds forgotten in the spirit of the moment.
Our friends were staring at us, but I suddenly didn't care. I wanted to be with Miroku; I loved Miroku, and I would let everyone I met know that I had found my perfect match. What they thought was meaningless. What was not meaningless was the fact that at that very moment, I was with the man I loved, and we were kissing each other, and we had forever at our fingertips.
Finally, we stopped, and Miroku picked me up in his arms, cradling me against him. I felt like a princess in his arms, as well as a warrior as I held my sword to my chest and clung to him with my good arm. He smiled at me charmingly, and this time when he said my name, it was in a strong voice, and had been soft, I would have kissed him again and showed him that I was no longer some princess to be courted with soft caresses and pussy-footing. I was his sensei, his bride, his partner, and his lover and nothing he would ever do would scare me away or make me nervous or doubtful of his intentions.
But I would still blush.
Just for him.
"Come on, Sango. Let's go get those wounds cleaned."
To keep an eye on him, and the poison that didn't seem to be affecting him at all, I slept beside him that night, under a single blanket.
It wouldn't be the first night that I did that, or the last.
I didn't even mind it when he groped me.
::hands out the tissues::
Thank you for all the wonderful reviews and the encouragement you gave to me in writing this. Hopefully you will all enjoy the sequel ('Complete and Unconditional') just as much. Now, if nobody minds, please pass the Kleenexes this way. I never thought I would be so sad to see a story finish.
P.S. What? Did you all really think I would actually wait to get reviews before I posted? ::pretends to be hurt:: Does no one here really know me? But I surprised you, didn't I? -
The Personification of Fluff