Look who finished a fic! It was me! Me, damn you!

Also, there is a scene that very obviously happens in the past, but I didn't italicize it because it just wasn't reading right to me. So, yes, not italicized, but please do keep in mind that it happens in the past. Just so you don't get confused.


To Be Tainted

Come to me, my miko.

Kikyou paused, her fingers brushing against the cool scales of her soul stealers, feeling their burning presence pressing closer to her, attempting to protect her.

The voice had been cold, calculating, and immediately she could feel the hate and loathing rising within her; she could feel the anger, the resentment, the anguish slipping back into her mind, curling tightly around her, reminding her of who she was, of who she once was. The bitterness was quick to snap within her; her soul ached, and at once she was stepping back into the protective glow of her soul stealers, wishing that he hadn't attempted to contact her. Wishing, more than anything, that he could have been simply happy with her instead of needing to feed listlessly off of the younger miko.

She could feel her chest tighten, and her soul cried out, begging for more.

The darkness was looming closer than she had thought possible, and she could feel it, reverberating throughout her body, snaking up and down her legs, twisting around her chest.

It was what he always did when he called her, twisting his disgusting miasma around her, attempting to taint her even more than she already was.

Distantly, she could feel the fires of hell lapping at her skin, burning and blistering and causing her to hurt, but quickly, she dismissed it, her chocolate eyes wavering.

She wouldn't let him get to her; she would not allow him to control her.

It was simple, what she needed to do, what she wanted to do, and she wanted to believe, more than anything, that she was headed there of her own free will. That he still couldn't draw her to him, the way she was able to draw him towards her.

She could feel his miasma on her back, and her soul stealers were pressing hot fiery kisses against her skin, attempting to bring her back into reality. But she was drifting, farther and farther away, towards the darkness, towards the lust, the torment and everything that she had said to the young miko was slipping away, out of her grasp.

Come to me, my precious little miko.

He wasn't talking to her; she knew.

She could tell by the way his voice echoed off the trees. She could tell by the way it slinked seductively around her, only to fly away at the slightest inclination of a fight.

Yes, she had to tell him. She had to relay the message.

You are only human.

She could already feel the sting of his fingers against her skin, threatening to break her, but her fingers were sizzling. Kikyou could feel the energies slowly seeping through her body, towards her hands, and she closed her eyes tightly.

She was not a real miko.

She was dead.

The bitterness was there again, and it was eating away at her, causing her heart to clench, her fingers to curl, and the darkness was taunting her once again, the taste of poisons settling on her tongue.

She was going to destroy him.

The hate continued to bubble within her, the flames licking deliciously at her fingers, beckoning her forward. Beckoning her back into the hell that was reserved only for her.

"I am not your toy, Naraku," Kikyou replied, a soul stealer wrapping lazily around her arm. "I will not be controlled the way she has been. I am not as weak."

The trees around her rustled viciously, and she could feel him, coming closer to her, inching towards her, attempting to break her. There was a chuckle, dark and tantalizing, flowing on the wind, through her hair, and quickly, she stepped away from it, attempting to dispell the repulsive feeling of his hands on her skin from her mind.

She could sense it, the miasma dancing teasingly around her, attempting to shatter the mask of indifference that protected her from things like this. From people like him. From Inuyasha.

"My beautiful little miko," he voice was low and menacing, and she knew, almost instantly, that it was just a puppet. Just another toy. She could feel his essence burning into her, attempting to force her back into the darkness, but the flames of hell were nipping at her skin, piercing through her flesh, and something hot and heavy weighed her down, making her feel incomplete.

She didn't want the hell, the anger, or the bitter hatred.

"The miko wants you dead," Kikyou started, an aching soul dropping into her body. "She is going to destroy you."

She could feel his breath against her neck as he chuckled, his fingers dancing lazily against her cheek. She turned into the touch, her brown eyes glittering dully as his fingers slipped to her hair, feeling the gentle silkiness against his fingers.

"She belongs to me," the puppet answered, shifting against her, the baboon pelt pressing roughly into her back, "the precious little miko is not capable of destroying me."

Something inside of Kikyou twisted, painfully, and she was stepping away from him, gazing ahead of her listlessly.

"Her strength comes from others," he continued, moving around her, slowly, disturbingly. "Her strength is not her own. Just as yours is not your own. Just as mine is not entirely my own."

The repulsion spiked violently, and Kikyou could feel her fingers tingling dangerously, could feel her own energies seeping from her hand, swirling around the puppet. She heard it chuckle, amused, and move closer to her, it's sharp talons breaking through the skin on her wrist.

Blood, thick and wet and black poured from the wound, and his fingers intertwined with hers. She watched in fascination, in ire as his skin bubbled and burned. She listened, amused, as he took in a sharp intake of breath, the energy increasing, swallowing his arm whole, causing the sickening scent of poisons and blood to waft through the air. To attack her senses.

His other hand wrapped around her neck, claws digging into her throat, but she could feel the hot burning souls dropping into her body, keeping her strong. The poisons stung and seared her skin, but still, she stood, her fingers tightening around his, wishing for this puppet to disappear, more than anything.

She couldn't stand it's touch, the way it was pressed against her, and she wanted to remind him, violently, that she was nothing like him.

Her strength was her own.

"You seem to forget," Kikyou started, emotionlessly stepping away from the dying puppet, feeling his claws rake across the skin on her neck, tearing it apart, "You are only human, and that makes you weak."

She reached out to him, her fingers running through the white grimy fur of the pelt, and smiled. Calmly. Beautifully.

"Onigumo has died," the puppet snarled, eyes glowing from behind the hooded mask, anger and fury apparent in the crimson orbs.

Kikyou smiled again, her eyes softening.

"Lies define you better than anything else, Naraku."

The puppet snarled, it's tentacles shooting out, desperately seeking blood. Atonement.

But suddenly, it erupted in flames, hissing as miasma was ripped violently from it's body. Purified.

A soul stealer wrapped around Kikyou's waist, pulling her gently into the air, away from the danger. And slowly, she was drifting away from the scene, from the small dwindling fire and into the night, content that she had gotten her message across, feeling the same familiar ache in her fingers that comforted her unlike anything else. The power was her own; it had always been her own. The words of a worthless hanyou was not going to change that.

A soul fell from her body, landing comfortingly beside the burnt baboon pelt.

Kikyou didn't need it.

She had enough of her own.

His fingers were around her neck, pressing into her skin, and still, she wanted more.

She pressed against him, her burgundy eyes hazy, blood dripping from her fingers, pain shooting throughout her body, and yet, she couldn't help but try to press closer, to taste thedarkness upon his skin, to feel it. To see it. Because it was always there, on the edge of her mind, slipping steadily out of her reach, teasing her, prompting her forward. And each time she chased it, desiring it more than anything. Desiring the perfection.

His fingers wrapped around her arms, pushing her roughly into the floor, and she could feelthe splinters lifting, piercing through her skin, causing a small dull throb of pain to shoot throughout her back. She could feel the warm wet feeling of blood on her spine, sliding over her skin, but she moved away from the pain, from the memory, because, suddenly, the boy was in her mind again, and she could hear his words over and over again, causing her to cry out in pain.

I wanted to see her break.

The tears were there, her eyes were stinging, and she could feel his miasma settling around her, causing her to choke. There was bile, and it was thick and bitter and it was on her tongue, reminding her of who she was. Of her imperfection.

"Does it hurt, taijiya?"

The pain exploded in her back, and a scream tore from her chapped lips, the memories slowly slipping away, leaving nothing. Her nails scrapped against the ground, chipping, breaking, and the pain was melting through her body.Her nerves were pinching and pulling and she could see the red staining his body; she could see the crimson dripping from his skin.

His eyes were glittering maliciously, and she could sense the cold pleased smile that stained his beautifully cruel features, and, suddenly, she wished that she could plunge into the icy darkness once more. She wished that she could wrap her fingers around it, twisting and pulling until it came to her, until it suffocated her and made her die.

"Does it hurt, taijiya?" He asked again, his bloody fingers wrapping around her bare neck, his lips pressed against her temple.

"Yes," she whispered, tears streaming from her eyes," it hurts too much. Always too much."

His tongue was rough and wet against her temple, and she shuddered, wishing that she could pull away, but pushed closer and closer to him, feeling his wet blood-stained body pressed preciously against his, feeling his miasma threatening to choke her. Threatening to kill her.

But death was at her fingers, and she wanted it, more than anything.

"It speaks to me, taijiya," he said, pressing back into her, watching as her eyes clenched shut in pain. A cold wicked smile danced across his lips, and she could feel the fire in her back, threatening to consume her. She could feel the anger, the pain, the resentment dancing throughout her body, threatening to overcome her, threatening to throw her into a whirling pool of ecstasy and pain. But still, she pressed closer to him, seeking the darkness.

"Please," she whimpered, her fingers digging into his skin.

She knew, even before she had asked, that he would draw away, that he would distance himself and continue to beckon her towards him, keeping everything just barelyout ofher reach.

"Scream, taijiya," he whispered, his clawed fingers digging into her naked thighs, drawing blood," Drown in your pain."

She was shivering, but still she reached towards him, drawing him closer to her, into her, and she reveled in the pain, she felt it spike through her body, arching sinfully towards her lower back. She tried her best not to whimper, she tried her best to pretend that she wouldn't scream, but her teeth were sinking into her bottom lip; she could taste the thick metallic taste of blood on tongue, and suddenly, she was writhing away, attempting to get away from the bitter darkness.

His hands closed around her wrists, pinning them above her head, and she could feel them bleeding. She could feel the hot sticky blood running down her fingers; she could feel the sting of the miasma, of the air, as it hit her torn skin, and she wanted nothing more than to get away.

I wanted to see her break.

Something inside of her shattered, and it was tearing at her, causing the tears to prick behind her eyes, causing her emotions to coil into a small, thick ball within the pit of her stomach. She could feel him pressing into her again, and she wanted, so badly, to move away from him, to get rid of the grimy sick feeling that was causing her throat to close, her tongue to swell, and the sweat to move down her body, cold and wet and salty.

"Please," She begged again, the tears streaming down her face, the agony encirling her body.

He looked at her, his eyes dark. His lips curled into a cruel disgusting sneer, and she could feel her skin being pulled, could feel the dull throbs of pain as he sunk his fingers into her back, stretching her wound, opening it, causing her to bleed.

The fog had settled over her mind, the desperation over her heart, and she wanted nothing more than to get away.

"Does it hurt, taijiya?"

"Yes," she whispered, the agony causing her toes to curl. She could feel the nerves in her body twisting and pulling, she could feel the darkness slowly descending upon her, wrapping around her, threatening to drown her in the perfection.

But you weren't perfect then either.

Something within her cried out, it's long talons wrapping around her heart, puncturing the thin layer of flesh, and she could feel his fingers push up against it, causing her to scream in pain.

Her throat was raw, her emotions dangling on a thread, and as he pulled away from her, the thin piece of glass in his fingers, she could feel the pain, could see the haze, and she tried, so very desperately to hold on. But he was pushing her, faster and faster, and she curled her arms around him, trying to hold on.

"I don't want to break," she whispered, pressing her face into the crook of his neck.

His eyes narrowed, something cold and dark piercing through the depths of his soul. He could see the silver, bright and hot, and he could feel his flesh searing, burning, blistering. The miasma around him thickened, causing her tongue to swell, her wounds to reopen, and she was pressing against him even tighter, her fingers cutting through the flesh of his neck, her blood spilling down his chest.

"Don't let me break," she cried, her voice hoarse, her body trembling.

"You can not break something that is already broken, taijiya."

His voice was cold, derisive, and she was jerking away, the tears staining her beautiful face, her hair dripping a beautiful crimson red.

"But you can make them nothing," His voice was low, and his fingers were hot on her back, causing the wound to fester and ooze, but she couldn't feel it.

Her body had gone numb, her mind blank, and there was something warm and comforting, standing the edge of the haze, attempting to remind her of who she was. But the darkness was lingering ever so close, tantalizingly, seductively, it pushed against her, causing her chest to constrict, her breath to catch.

It was close, so very close, and all she had to do was reach out and touch it, drag her fingers across it, and it would consume her. Swallow her. She could be whole, trapped within the darkness, feeling that delicious iciness nipping at her skin, tearing at it, trying to get her to bleed, to be imperfect. But when there was darkness, there was insanity and she could drown.

Gods, she wanted nothing more than to drown, than to escape the pain.

She wanted to forget, to pretend and yet...

And yet something was begging her fiercely to hold on.She could feel herself slipping away; she could feel the anger, the resentment, the disgust, the helplessness, and slowly, she was slipping, further and further into the darkness, knowing that it was better this way. That it was easier.

She would perfect. She would be nothing.

Will you come home?

No, she whispered, and the pain was gone, slowly sliding into the recesses of her mind.

She could feel him, pulling her closer, his lips pressed roughly against her neck, but everything was disintegrating, melting before her eyes.

The darkness was her perfection.

She needed it more than anything.

I'm sorry, she whispered, the tears rolling down her cheeks.

The miasma around her thickened, drowning her in sorrow.

"I want this to be the end."

Her voice was soft, calming, gentle, but as she spoke, they could feel her grief weighing down on her. They could taste her agony in the air, her despair twisting around her, threatening to break her. They both wanted to go to her, to erase the cruelty of the truth and yet... and yet they knew it was impossible, knew that it would hurt her more than anything.

She stood completely still, watching them carefully, her blue eyes guarded, hiding the uncertainty. Miroku was the first to act, moving towards her, the rings on his shakujo clinking together fiercely as he approached her, something dark in his eyes. His hand touched her shoulder, his fingers gripped her and pulled her closer.

She moved, fluidly, into him, her head resting against his shoulder as her hands fisted in his robes, trying her hardest not to break. Not to cry.

He had been the one to help her through it, most of all. The one who wanted, more than anything, for her to heal. For her to pull herself from the nightmares, the self-pity, and be happy. But the pain had been too great, too agonizing, and she had continued to beg and plead and yearn to be human once again. She continued to see the blood on her hands, dripping from her fingers. She continued to see her hands ripping through flesh with claws that weren't hers and - and it had shattered her, so completely, she had lost sight of who she was. She had forgotten who she was.

She wanted to die, then, more than anything.

His arms tightened around her, and she shifted closer to him, the tears stinging her eyes, threatening to overwhelm her senses.

"I'm sorry, Miroku-sama," Kagome whispered, placing a gentle kiss against his cloth covered chest, barely noticing his sharp intake of breath. She turned away from him then, her fingers clenching around the hem of her shirt, her blue eyes clouded with tears, indecision. She could feel Miroku's eyes on her, watching her almost warily, and she could feel the heat of his body, so very close to hers, reminding her of who was there. Of who had helped her.

"I want this to be the end," Kagome repeated, causing Inuyasha's ears to flatten against his skull. He watched them both carefully, something glimmering behind his golden eyes before he shrugged nonchalantly, trying to suppress the surge of bitterness in his soul.

"He already knows we're coming," Kagome continued, turning towards the cloudy blue sky, the tears streaming down her face, "Kikyou-sama-"

"Kikyou?" Inuyasha asked, turning towards Kagome, something akin to fury dancing in his amber eyes. His fists clenched painfully, his claws digging into the palm of his hands, drawing blood, but Kagome tried her hardest to ignore it, instead, wishing that she could fall back into what once was, that way, she wouldn't have to hurt anymore.

Being strong made her want to break. It made forced her to pretend.

"Kikyou-sama went to him, because I asked her to," Kagome whispered, feeling Miroku stiffen behind her, "She's letting him know that - that I plan on killing him."

Inuyasha growled softly, uncomfortably, and was immediately by her side, his claws digging into her shoulders as he stared at her, full of disbelief. Anger.

"You stupid-"

"You have no right to claim his life, Inuyasha, Miroku-sama. And I'm sorry, because I didn't realize it earlier."

The silence stretched on between the three of them, making them all uncomfortable. Making them wish that there was something else that could be done. Something elsethat they could do to change what was happening. But they knew, just as Kagome knew, that they couldn't. She had dragged herself out of the darkness, had promised to kill Naraku, to stain her perfect little hands with his blood and... Inuyasha wasn't going to allow it.


The simple word shocked Kagome out of her daze, shocked her into pulling away from him, shocked her into stepping right back into Miroku's arms. Into the pain. The grief. The doubt. She could feel the darkness tumbling around her, sinking it's sharp thick talons into her flesh, and she tried desperately to pull away, tried desperately tostep back into her role. Into pretending that she was strong. Because when she pretended, she didn't need to be weak. Didn't have to be. And she knew, it helped her remember. It told her who she was, what she was. She didn't want that to stop, she didn't want to forget the words that Kikyou had uttered to her, that Kikyou had forced into her mind because she was so completely disgusted with the way that Kagome had been acting.


Kikyou had been the one to come to her, to open her eyes, and the thought made her bitter. She was surrounded, continually, by the memories that haunted and plagued her. That continually tainted her body and her mind and reminded herof what she was. Of what she did.

Her fingernails were short and chipped and bleeding and she wanted so desperately to get away. More than anything, she just wanted to get away.

"Don't," Kagome whispered, her resolve breaking. Cracking. "Don't try to control me, Inuyasha. Not the way Naraku controlled me. Please."

Miroku's arm tightened around her chest, pulling her closer to him, away from Inuyasha, and for that, Kagome was thankful.

Inuyasha's ears flattened against his skull, something unfamiliar curling around his stomach, making him want to retch. Making him feel sick, disgusting.

"Don't you ever compare me to that - that bastard," Inuyasha spat, shaking with rage. His hands were clenched into fists again, his nails cutting through the thin layers of flesh, drawing thick crimson beads of blood from the stinging wounds.

Kagome flinched, the sight of blood reminding her, and she was burying herself back into Miroku's chest, her fingers tightening around his robes.

"Inuyasha," Miroku started, only to be silenced by the look of absolute fury on Inuyasha's face.

"I am nothing like him," Inuyasha growled, his voice deadly.

"No," Kagome shook her head, forcing herself to turn and look at the hanyou in front of her, "But I am."

Inuyasha snarled, his hand gripping Kagome's wrist bruisingly.

"Don't," he threatened, repeating Kagome's earlier plea.

Kagome could feel her fingers going numb, her insides going cold, the madness approaching swiftly. She didn't want to admit it, she was frightened, but she knew that they knew, better than anyone else, what she was going to say, the words that were going to condemn her to theinsanity forever. She hated them, they were bitter and frozen and they were going to break her, but she wanted to drop back into the hole, forgetting that she had any emotions. Forgetting that she was tumbling away from her perfection.

"Kagome-sama," Miroku started quietly, running his gloved hand over her silky black hair, "you do not need to speak. You do not have to condemn yourself to his fate."

Kagome stepped away, hating the warmth.

"He became a part of me," Kagome said gently, hot blinding tears threatening to spill from her eyes, "I know what it was that I felt. It was like... like he became me. The way my soul became... became Kikyou-"

"Shut up!" Inuyasha yelled, his hand gripping the front of her uniform, his claws ripping through the flimsy fabric. "Just shut the fuck up!"

"Inuyasha," Miroku started, watching as he pushed Kagome away roughly, turning his deadly glare to him.

"You're nothing like that bastard," Inuyasha whispered, his body shaking, "You're nothing like him."

Tears were spilling down Kagome's face, blinding her. "Yes, well, I'm nothing like Kikyou either."

The silence was defeaning, buzzing in their ears, and Kagome could see the defeat in Inuyasha's eyes. The regret. She wanted to take him in her arms, lovingly. She wanted to comfort him, the way Miroku had comforted her. But he was moving away from her, distancing himself from her, and she could feel the grief welling up inside of her once again. The bitterness was there, dancing around her small frame seductively, as though trying to draw her into the thick black pit of jagged emotions, attempting to break her further.

She could feel it, slowly winning. Slowly taking control, taking over her, and she wanted so badly to push it away. She wanted so badly to pretend that it wasn't what had happened. That she hadn't given into the dark urge that had suddenly possessed her. She wished, more than anything, that she had said those words, that she could take them back, but Inuyasha's claws had already dug into her skin, they had already caused a deep resounding sadness to well within her, once more, at the thought of losing something else she loved.

She stepped back, moving closer to Miroku, her eyes begging for no forgiveness.

The thought was enshrouded with fog in her mind, causing the anger to cut through her heart, and the tears were hot and blinding and salty as they rolled down her face, reminding her of her weakness.

The truth hurt, unlike anything she had ever come across.

And Miroku - Miroku was the only one who would pretend with her, that way, it didn't hurt as much. She wanted to turn to him, pretended that she could, but his eyes were filled with just as much anger, his eyes were just as dark as Inuyasha's, and she was afraid.

She knew how much they hated him, how much they hated what he had done to them and yet... and yet she had fallen before them anyways, the grief swept away by something stronger. Something absolute.


Kikyou had felt the same thing when she had looked at her, when she tried to remind her who she was. When she tried to remind her that she had feelings for Inuyasha, that she was supposed to care for him, just as he was supposed to care for her. Something inside Kagome tightened, and she tried her hardest to smile, to brush it off.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, rubbing at the tears in her eyes, "I just... the truth hurts, you know? And it was hurting me, not being said."

"Shut up," Inuyasha hissed, turning away from her angrily.

"And you both know, which makes it hurt even more. You wouldn't pretend with me, Inuyasha," Kagome whispered, feeling the tears welling behind her eyes again, "I just wanted you to pretend with me."

"Shut up!"

"I can take being Kikyou," Kagome whispered, feeling something inside of her break, "But I can't take being Naraku, too."


"Because that's what I am, isn't it? I'm both of them. They're together, in me, just like they were supposed to be."

"Kagome-sama," Miroku interrupted, notcing the way Inuyasha's hand was oozing blood, refusing to notice the agonizing words that were coming from Kagome's mouth. Trying his hardest to ignore the truth.

"He completed me, Miroku-sama," Kagome whispered, her bangs falling in front of her eyes, "the way that we'll complete the jewel. And it hurt."

"That's enough," Miroku said, his eyes unnaturally dark, "we need to continue if we wish to make it to the village by dusk."

"But it hurts to pretend, too, Miroku-sama."

Miroku looked at her, sensing something within himself, within Inuyasha, shatter.

"Then it needs to end," he answered, his fingers curling around her injured shoulder, "but now is not the time, Kagome-sama. You're still broken."

He stood next to her, his kusarigama glittering in the light.

She wanted to reach out to him, to ask him why, but he looked at her, his eyes dark and brown and dead. She could feel her strength slowly dwindling to nothing, could feel herself weakening, so slowly, she took a step back, her hand tightening around the hilt of her katana, her fingers curling around the strap that kept the bone boomerang fastened to her back.

She could feel the desperation suffocating her, and she wanted to get away. She wanted to act as though she couldn't see him standing there, as though he were fake, just a figment of her imagination. Because if she pretended, he wouldn't be there and he wouldn't be hurting her. If he wasn't there, she wouldn't have to think about the way his arms wrapped around her body, the way they were cold and freezing and breaking her.

It hurt, more than anything, to know that he could do that to her.

She paused, something tightening in her chest, and slowly, she set her boomerang against the wall, unstrapped the katana from her hip.

He watched her, something strange in his eyes, and it cut through her heart, making her want to cry.

She stepped towards him, watching warily as he lifted his kusarigama, ready to sink it into her flesh, ready to bring her pain and agony and torture. Exactlythe way her master tortured her.

"Don't worry, please," she begged, her fingers wrapping around his tiny wrist.

He looked at her, his brown eyes flashing with something - recognition? - before he lowered his weapon, the chain clanking angrily against the floor.

Her fingers were cold and biting against his flesh, making him want to move away from her, but still, she held on, trying desperately to figure out what it was about him that made her feel so raw. What it was that made her want to break.

"Who are you?" She asked, stepping away from him, unsure. Nervous.

"The little taijiya," he answered quietly, placing his weapon in the safety of his sash. She watched him, her eyes blurring as something in her chest constricted painfully.

Please go away, she wanted to say, but she remembered, and her mind was screaming for her to hold him... for her to wrap her arms around his cold little body and wish that there was something that would wake him up, take him away from the deserted darkness that was swirling needlessly around his mind.

But if she did that, her master would know, and he would punish her.

She didn't want to bleed. Not today. Not now.

"Who are you?" He asked, running his fingers over the rough wood in the room.

She swallowed nervously, and smiled softly, trying to erase the unease.

"The taijiya."

He looked at her, angry, and turned away.

"But you still aren't perfect. So it doesn't really matter."

It stung, and, sadly, she tried to turn away, tried to leave him to himself but her body was betraying her. She walking across the room, the desperation drowning her, and her hands were on his shoulders, turning him around to face her, forcing herself to look into the eyes of the person she wanted to disappear. That she, herself, wanted to break. Just so she could see what was underneath. Just so she could say that she had actually done something that was worthy enough for her to fly, to feel the wind slicing at her face and making her feel perfect. Complete.

He was warm in her hands and she wanted to press her lips to his face. Wanted to taste him and hold him and say that he was hers.

"When he is with me, I am perfect," she said, her voice laced with bitterness, "I won't let you take that away from me."

He looked at her, his arms wrapping around her neck, pulling her closer. His cheek was hot and wet against hers, but she held him closer, her fingers digging into the small of his back, trying to feel all of him.

"Do I break you, taijiya?" He asked, his voice oddly low, "do I make you nothing?"

Her throat tightened, her eyes watered, and she held him closer, molding herself against him so perfectly.

"Yes," she whispered, something cold and hard slithering into place.

"Then I am your imperfection," he said quietly, "and - and everyone has them. Even people who are excepted to be perfect."

Her fingers curled into his bangs, and she wanted release.

"We'll be fighting soon," she whispered, placing her forehead against his, "he punished me for it."

The little taijiya moved away from her, gripping her hand tightly, and glanced out the window, watching as the clouds drifted lazily across the sky, turning thick and black and disgusting. He could smell the poisons in the air, settling around them; he could recognize his masters anger, almost as well as she could. He moved closer to her, wanting to bury himself inside of her, wanting to hold her and to never let go.

But the barriers had risen, the suspicion was already creeping into his heart, and he released her hand stepping away from her, towards the window, his fingers clutching the chain of his kusarigama.

"Did you remember?" Low, dangerous.

"Yes." Soft, quiet, and oh so painful.

"What - what did you remember?"

The sun disappeared behind the clouds, and rain started pelting the roof, startling them both, but comforting them at the same time.

She stayed silent, glancing longingly at her boomerang, at her katana, and she wished that she were holding them, feeling their comforting weight pressing into her back, her hip.

She could his fingers, warm and soft against her cheek, and something in her back pulsed wretchedly.

"You," she answered, her eyes fluttering closed, "Him. Them. My friends. Her."

His hand dropped to his side, and her face was cold again and she felt empty.

"I remember how she screamed," he glared at her, a deep bitter hatred lacing through his heart, "I remember the blood on her hands and the look in her eyes. She enjoyed it."

She nodded, looking distant.

"Yes, well, I remember, too. And she loves me."

He wanted to hate her, but instead, his fingers were in her hair pulling her closer, looking her in the eyes, pretending that he, too, could love as she loved.

"Only because she's too frightened to love herself."

"No," she whispered, jerking away from him. She needed the distance, the seperation. She was drawn to him, inexplicably, but she needed to stay away from him. She needed to leave, to stop hearing the harsh truths, the bitter words. She didn't want to be burned. But, she didn't want to be frozen either. And he made her remember, painfully. Violently. He made her remember what she wished that she didn't have to remember, and it made her want to cry.

"She helped me remember."

There was silence, and it was deafening, frightening, but his hands were in her hair, her cheek was pressed reassuringly against his, and she didn't want to leave.

"Who are you?"

Her eyes softened, and she smiled happily.

"Does it really matter?"

"No," he said, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek, "because you're still broken."

Her arms wrapped around his shoulders, and she shattered.

"I'm not sorry," Kagome whispered, wrapping her sleeping bag around her tightly. Comfortingly.

The fire flickered briefly, distracting her, and she stared into its depths, trying her best to figure out why things were the way they were. Trying to figure out why everything was slipping further and further out of her control, spiraling down into a dark pit of desolation and hatred.

It had been fine, at first. She was trying, harder and harder, but nothing was making it right and nothing was going as she wanted it to and she hatred herself for it. She snuggled deeper into the sleeping bag, trying to avoid the nightmares.

"No one fucking asked you to be sorry," Inuyasha bit out, leaning moodily against a gnarled tree.

A twig in the fire snapped in two, and Kagome tried her hardest not to be angry.

"Then why are you so angry?" Kagome asked, already knowing the danger.

"I'm not angry," he growled, turning away from her.


"I'm sorry," Kagome whispered, rolling to her side. "But it has to end, Inuyasha." I need it to end. "And now... now is as good a time as any, isn't it? I mean, we don't even really need the shards to beat him and -"

"Kagome-sama," Miroku interrupted, placing a hand on top of hers reassuringly.



"-going to be all right."

Something inside of her cried out angrily, and she pulled her hand away, not wanting the contact.

"I still have nightmares."

Inuyasha and Miroku remained oddly silent, each shifting uncomfortably.

"I still think about it, even now. And I thought, maybe, if it ended, they would go away. Because - because it makes sense doesn't it? I mean he has to be the one reminding me of what happened because I... because I wouldn't want to remember and -"

"Shut up," Inuyasha hissed, glaring at his hands.

"I didn't mean to make you hate me," she mumbled, pulling at the loose thread of her sleeping bag, fighting tears, "but it's the truth, and there's nothing we can do but - he is going to die, isn't he?"

They didn't answer her, each going back to stare at the fire.

Kagome could feel herself shaking, and she wanted to move away. More than anything, she just wanted to move away.

"I almost went home."

Inuyasha stiffened, shooting her an angry glare, his hands curling into fists. Kagome could hear his knuckles crack dangerously, could see the fury dancing in his eyes. The resentment. But something quiet and gentle wound its way around her heart, settling deep into the pit of her stomach, and she could remember the feel of his hand around hers. She could remember the warmth and despair that he emmitted when he watched her smile and she wanted to move closer, wanted to hold him in her arms.

"Mama... she knew, you know? She knew what it was like and at first - at first I thought that she could help because sheknew."

I'm so sorry everyone, Kagome's mind whispered as she snuggled into her sleeping bag.

"Kikyou-sama called me weak."

There was fascination in her voice, amusement in her eyes, and for a second, they thought that she had come back, that she had found herself, and they had been hopeful. But just as soon as it happened, she had slipped away, back into her own memories, and was staring intently at the fire, something strange burning deep within her.

"She told me that I could still help."

She told me that I was human.

"Kikyou-sama wants me to kill him," Kagome said, sitting up, her hair falling over her pajama clad shoulders. "Because she - she can't."

Inuyasha looked at her, startled, disbelieving.

"Wha - what the hell?"

"She cares, too much. Always too much."

Inuyasha could feel his heart shattering, and he moved closer to Kagome, turning her towards him.

"What do you mean?"

Kagome looked at him, a soft gentle smile playing about her lips, tears running steadily down her face.

"He's still human."

She could hear the wind rustling through her hair, making her cold and bitter and useless.

It was eating at her, feeding off of her, and she wanted to escape from it. Act as though it didn't exist.

He stood next to her, pressed neatly against her arm, and for a moment, she felt safe. But she could feel him looking at her, his eyes dark and red and craving blood so she stepped away from him and realized that she didn't need the comfort. She tightened her hold on her boomerang, feeling its comforting weight shift into her palms and she glanced at him, the memories racing through her mind, her soul, and she placed her hand against his shoulder, pulling him closer to her once again.

"I don't want to forget," she whispered, and she thrust her katana into his tiny hand, feeling hot and sticky and wet.

He looked at her, his brown eyes questioning, but she stepped away from him, securing the strap of her boomerang around her slender form, staring out into the distance, knowing what he would ask.

Being to afraid to completely answer.

"Just in case," she clarified, feeling his arms wrap around her waist, feeling him press himself against her once more.

"You won't forget," he said, pushing the katana back into her hands angrily, unable to deal with the sudden pain that lanced through his chest, "unless you want to."

Liar, her mind screamed, and she moved away from him, towards her master, her burgundy eyes blank, dull.

He looked at her, amused, and his hand was dancing over the small of her back, over the scar that stretched and bled and ached and she felt it pulse, reminding her - always reminding her - of who she belonged to. Of what she was. She felt something bitter and heavy weigh down her body, her tongue was thick and dry and she wanted to get away, more than anything.

"Taijiya," he spoke, his fingers threading through her silky hair, "do not disappoint me."

"Will I get to fly?" She questioned, a strange sort of childish wonder seeping into her voice.

Behind him, the wind sorceress shifted, her crimson eyes watching her with something akin to disgust.

"Perhaps," he answered, his hand pressing into her stomach roughly, "but you must be perfect."

Shesensed the displeasure in his voice, and attempted to shy away. But he was holding her, not letting her go, and the escape was slipping from her fingers, reminding her - always reminding her - of who she belonged to. Where she belonged. She slipped, burying her head into his chest, feeling his hands wrap around her thin arms, and he lifted her, gazing at her uncomfortably.

The miasma was settling around them again, burning and breaking and making her bleed but she ignored it because the memories were swimming through her mind, reminding her of what was real and she was trying her hardest to swim out. Trying her hardest to picture that beautiful little face and forget that her hands had been stained with blood. How she had screamed and that she was probably drowning drowning drowning, unable to breathe or to break free.

She wanted to wrap her arms around his neck, fade back into what were lies and deceit and hatred, but she kissed his neck, pressing against him, and wanted him buried inside of her, just once more. Because she could remember, and the hatred was so strong; she needed to see him dead and rotting and buried beneath the ground the way that he had buried her.

The darkness had wrapped around her fingers, plunged deep inside of her.

"Then kill him," she said, her fingers curling in his hair, her eyes blazing with hatred, "because Kohaku is my imperfection."

She heard him growl, and she was being pushed away, angrily, violently. His red eyes were glowing with something aside from anger - desperation? - and she tried to reach out to him, tried to reassure him that she didn't mean it. Because she was still his, and she would always be his and there was nothing that would change that.

"I'm going to fight them," she continued, coming to her feet, "and I am going to free her of her nightmares."

Kohaku stepped back, looking at the taijiya with wide eyes.

"Because I am her imperfection as well."

Hands tightened around her neck, claws dug into her flesh, but she merely smiled, tears streaming down her face.

"I'm going to save her," she whispered, "because without me she's not human."

Naraku smiled, cold and pleased, and pulled the taijiya closer.

"She makes me remember."

Her back was pressed against his chest, and he was holding her still, drawing blood, causing sharp stabs of pain to dance around her neck, making her grimace at the dull ache. He released his poisons, smiling as she tried to pull away, but then - then he was smoothing it all away, her blood was staining her hands, and she wanted to say she was sorry.

"She became me, taijiya," Naraku spoke, his breath tickling her ear seductively, "Just as she was Kikyou, she is now me."

Something inside the taijiya broke, and Kohaku came closer to her, wanting to touch her. Wanting to take away her pain.

"She doesn't want the darkness."

Naraku's lips were hot and rough against her neck, but she held on, wishing that she could break free. Wanting to break free.

"You are the darkness."

Kohaku lunged at her, his kusarigama sinking into her flesh.

Pain rippled through her body, reminding her that she was human, reminding her that she wasn't perfect, that no one was and suddenly, she could feel her body burning - aching trembling begging for release - and she was sinking back into him, allowing him to consume her.

"I don't want her to die."

His chuckle was cold and dark and he pulled her closer, his hand pressing against her wound, feeling the blood trickle through his disgusting human fingers.

"Bring her to me," he answered, his miasma choking her completely, "bring the miko to me, my precious little taijiya."

Tears were sparkling in her eyes, and she nodded, feeling herself break.

"She won't be hurt, will she?"

He smiled, pleased, and released her, his claws sinking through her flesh, tugging at the scar in her back. She whimpered, painfully, and Kohaku was near her, pressing his cheek to her cheek, kissing away her tears.

Does it hurt, taijiya?

Yes, too much. Always too much.

Her blood seeped through her fingers, and slowly she stood, tears glittering in her eyes.

I'm sorry, Kagome-chan.

"Kikyou-sama," Kagome whispered, surprise evident in her features.

The undead miko looked at her, dispassionately, before turning away, her soul stealers floating around her beautifully.

Kagome paused, uncertainty flickering across her face, but then, she followed, trying her best not to fall into the cold brutal grasps of the other miko's indifference.

"I told them," Kagome started, kicking a pebble with her shoe nervously, "I told them everything, you know? And - and is he... does he -"

"He's expecting you," Kikyou answered, turning to look at her reincarnation.

Kagome froze, the guilt weighing down on her heart, the despair lashing out to draw blood, but she held it back, trying her best to feel as though she could handle it. Trying her best not to suffocate once more.

"When?" Kagome asked, staring blindly at her shoes.


"All right," Kagome answered, glancing longingly back towards her camp. "They won't let me do it alone."

"He doesn't expect you to."

Kagome flinched, wishing that she had something to hold onto. Wishing that she could be strong and confident and useful but Kikyou was already moving away from her, back into the depths of the forest, back to where she felt comfortable and needed and not dead.

"I'm sorry, Kikyou-sama."

Kikyou paused, her eyes gentle, a soft smile teasing her lips.

"Lies shape you almost as beautifully as they shape him," Kikyou said vaguely, moving deeper into the forest.

Kagome choked on a sob, hating the truth.

She was almost there.

She could feel them, coming closer and closer and closer and she hated it.

She wanted to pretend that she hadn't heard his words. She wanted to pretend that she didn't know what was happening, but she did and she hated it. Quietly, she moved closer to the wind sorceress, feeling the wind whip gently around her body, feeling comforted and alive and perfect. The wind made her happy, more than anything. Because when she tasted the wind, she felt as though she were flying, and she could remember, more than anything, the feel of yellow fur sliding through her fingers. Could remember the strength and happiness that accompanied her whenever her hands tickled the beautiful little catthat always mewed and reminded her that she was home.

Something jagged penetrated through the barriers she had thrown up around herself, and she wanted to be back with her friends. Wanted to be back with Inuyasha and Miroku and Kagome-chan. She missed them, more than anything, and when she was away, the darkness wasn't as perfect, it wasn't as beautiful. But she still wanted it, more than anything, she still wanted to fly and she still wanted to be back with him, by his side, even though he tortured and broke and forced her to scream.

She still wanted it, even more than she wanted to see him buried in the dirt, feeling cold and damp and useless. Feeling the bitter anger welling within him, feeling trapped, the way that she felt trapped. Suffocating.

She wanted his death almost as much as she wanted his touch, and she didn't know what to do.

She felt the wind tugging at her senses, bring her closer to her, closer to where her home was supposed to be, and she jerked away from it. Hating it. Loathing it.

"Don't," she hissed, glaring at the wind sorceress darkly, trying to dispell the angry memories. Trying her hardest to forget the images flying through her mind - Kohaku cutting through her father's flesh, Kohaku dripping with their blood, Kohaku crying and crying and crying because he didn't mean it, Kohaku trying to kill Kagome, Kagome screaming and crying because she didn't mean it either - trying her best to pretend that they didn't exist.

But they were there, tugging at her mind, making her angry, making her feel selfish.

She looked at the wind sorceress, wondering, hoping, but the demon glanced away from her, clutching the fan in her hands tightly.

"You were there," the taijiya started, walking next to the other woman, her fingers tightening around the strap of her boomerang, "what - what was it like?"

The sorceress scoffed, her crimson eyes glittering wish revulsion.

"You have your own memories," she replied, shifting away from her, "do not feed off of mine."

The taijiya winced, that same sinking feeling filling her entire body, and for a second, she could feel Kohaku's kusarigama sinking into her flesh again, making her wince and groan and tremble, but then, she was back in the present, she was staring at those crimson eyes and she was being reminded of how they were so completely different because she was the darkness, and without the darkness, the wind wouldn't exist.

"I want to know," she continued, her hands trembling, "what did she look like?"

The wind sorceress paused, pity flooding her eyes, but then she turned away and continued walking.

"Like Naraku."

The taijiya clenched her eyes shut, tightly, trying to force back the tears.

"So - so it's true then, isn't it?" she asked, choking on her words.

The wind sorceress smirked arrogantly.

"Her heart was still good, taijiya, it still belonged to her. Just as Kohaku's heart used to belong to him," the wind sorceress drawled lazily, pulling a feather from her hair.

The taijiya shuddered, holding back the tears, and turned away, trying not to hate her.

"Will you bring her to him, even knowing that she still wants to be pure?"

The taijiya froze, her eyes widening in fear, apprehension. Desperately, her teeth sunk into her cheek, and she ignored the metallic taste on her tongue.

She didn't know how to answer.

She wanted to say no. She wanted to say that no, she wouldn't bring the girl to their master because she had pride and honor. But the honor was slowly fading into the distance, teasing her, letting her know that she was a fool for thinking that she could even go back to what once was.

She thought about it, frightfully.

She thought about going back, about slipping back into what once was not thinking about what could be. It would have been easier, she could have been happy. But, instead, she had stayed there. Through her desire, through her master, through the man that was supposed to be her enemy. She had stayed, by his side, wanting to be with him. Wanting to stay with him. She didn't care that he had taken her brother away from her. She didn't care that he had slaughtered her family or hurt her friends or put that hole through his hand. She wanted to be near him, near the hatred and the darkness, more than anything.

"Yes," she answered, feeling guilty.

The wind sorceress hummed, running the feather through her fingers.


She didn't want to answer. She didn't want to hear. But the question was loud and clear in her ears, and she was turning, looking at the wind sorceress, remembering all the people that had been hurt, all the people that she, too, would hurt.

"I don't want to leave him."

I won't say I'm sorry.

"What is so special about him that makes you want to stay?"

But I am, Kagome-chan, I'm sorry for betraying you.


I didn't want to do this...

"He's weak, just the way you are, taijiya."

I didn't want to break your promise.

"I know," the taijiya whispered, rubbing her scarred hands against her face roughly, "but that's what makes him all the more beautiful."

The wind sorceress sneered, dropping her feather to the ground. She looked at her, disgusted, but slowly, she reached her hand out, offering to help her.

The taijiya smiled, and took it.

The wind was cold, like ice.

"This is it," Kagome murmured, gazing back into the distance.

She could see the wind rustling through the trees, she could feel it moving through her hair, teasing her, seducing her. She didn't want to admit that she was nervous, didn't want to admit that she had been a coward for trying to go on alone, for wanting to go on alone. But they were there, next to her, giving her comfort. Support.

She needed it, now, more than ever. She needed to feel their lingering warmth consuming her, she needed to know that they would help her when she needed it, that they would be there when she needed it. And she wasn't sorry.

She tried to be, had wanted to be, but they simply followed her, believing in her. Trusting her.

And that hurt, desperately.

She knew what she was going to do, what she had planned, but she still couldn't help but wonder why they felt that they could trust her. After all they knew what she was, they knew who she was, and yet, they still remained by her side, imagining that she was still just Kikyou. That she wasn't anyone else. Pretending that she couldn't be anyone else.

After all, two souls were too much for one person.

She felt the rough wood of her bow digging into her fingers, and the memories flew back into her mind, harrassing her, distracting her. She didn't want to remember, not now, not when it was still very familiar and raw and hurting but she couldn't help but close her eyes. She couldn't help but remeber that everything had happened that way for a reason, that there was nothing she could do change it, even if she tried.

Kikyou had died trying to win that battle.

She didn't want to die battling fate as well.

She glanced at her friends, worrying her lip between her teeth, feeling the warmth slowly slipping away from her.

She had to do this; she had to end it.

But - but now that she was there, now that she was looking out over the horizon, staring at what would be the end, of where blood and tears and raw dying emotions would be shed, she wanted to turn around. She wanted to forget and go back home where her mother made her dinner and smiled and acted as though the loneliness didn't hurt. She wanted to go back and listen to the stories that were dull and drab and have to watch as her grandfather pretended that he had power that was always moving barely out of reach, teasing and taunting him and making him feel pathetic, but forcing him to pretend, just so he could know, within the deepest contours of his heart that he actually was. She wanted Souta and his big teasing words and his childish jibes and his happiness that he could have but just pretended to have because everyone always went away and left him on his own.

She wanted it all back, now, because she knew that it wouldn't go right. She knew that there was something lurking, waiting for the slip up, just as it had last time and she was sick and tired of having to pretend.

She wanted it to end, more than anything.

But somehow, she knew that it wouldn't, and that just hurt her all the more.

She could feel Miroku shift beside her, his arm wrapping firmly around her shoulder, and he pulled her close to him, attempting to give her the sincerity that she needed.



"-going be all right."

Kagome nodded, her eyes wandering slowly to the kazaana, wishing that he would try to stop pretending, too. But he needed it, almost as much as she needed it.

Her fingers curled around his hand, and she lifted it to her mouth, kissing it gently.

"So are you, Miroku-sama."

Liar, his eyes seemed to say, but she turned away from him, returning his hand to his side once again.

"I think I'm -" dying "-ready." soon.

"Oi," Inuyasha called, dragging her back to him, "don't do anything stupid, okay?"

Kagome looked at him, smiled.

"I'll try-" not to die with him. "-my best."

They both watched her, warily, suspiciously, and she pulled away, clutching her bow to her tightly.

"He knows," she said, watching as the clouds condensed above them, moving closer together, blocking out the sun. She smiled, gently, closing her eyes, wanting the nightmare to be over. Wishing that she'd never had it, and opened her eyes slowly, glancing back towards her comrades.

"Let's not keep him waiting," she said simply before starting off down the hill.

The kusarigama was hot and burning as it sunk into her flesh, making her want to scream.

She could feel the tears welling behind her eyes, could taste the blood on her tongue as she jerked away, feeling the blade tear through more of her tender flesh, feeling her blood spill down her legs, splatter against the hard jagged earth. She could hear Inuyasha yell behind her, attempting to get closer to her, attempting to protect her from the little taijiya who was trying to protect him from her and she wishing that it was different. That it hadn't gone so terribly wrong and...

Kagome stumbled, falling to her knees, pressing her hand numbly against her stomach, tears streaming from her eyes.

She hadn't planned on this happening. She hadn't planned on having to fight him like this.

She didn't want the blood, the pain, the aching deep resentment.

She didn't want to look at her blood, and see it dripping from her hands and be reminded of what had happened, not again, not this way.

The nightmares were supposed to end.

It wasn't supposed to be this hard.

Painfully, she slid to the ground, trying to escape the pain, trying to ignore his cold brutal eyes because they reminded her so much of her, and she gripped her bow, trying to find her center.

Kikyou had always been perfect, hadn't see? Even through pain, she always managed to hit the perfect mark and -

His fingers wrapped around her wrist, pulling her painfully to her feet.

"I remember you," the little taijiya hissed, pressing the blade of his kusarigama to her neck, "and you enjoyed it."

Kagome's eyes widened, the pain intensified, and she fell to her knees, the wound stretching and pulling and biting and she tried not to scream. She tried not to cry.

"You planned on dying, didn't you?" He asked, pressing her into the ground, stradling her bleeding body. "You came here prepared to die because - because you couldn't finish it."

"Kohaku," she sobbed, her hands encircling his neck, "I - I just wanted it to end."

Her fingers were shaking, and her face was pale, but she was still holding on, strong and hard and oh so terrified because she knew that she was going to fail anyways and -

"You have the same eyes," Kagome whispered, pulling Kohaku closer to her, burying her head into his hair. He smelled of blood and death and decay, but he was so very alive and it made Kagome jealous because he had no right to be. Her fingers threaded through his hair, feeling the blade biting into her neck, but she needed to hold on. She didn't want to let go.

She could feel his body heave against hers, she could feel him struggling to get away, but she pulled him closer, allowing him to feel her blood, feel her pain, and giving him back the memories that he never wanted. Her fingers were curled tightly around him, the tears were already streaming down her face, and she kissed him, pretending that she was sorry for making him hate her more than he hated his master.

"It needs to end," Kagome repeated, her pale trembling fingers pushing him away, "I want it to end."

Her fingers erupted, the energy white and hot as it surged from her, and Kohaku jerked away, screaming as it burned his skin, as her energies tried to destroy the impurity within his body, as it tried to disintegrate the hatred and repulsions and longing for everything to be perfect because it never would be.

His blade sunk into her shoulder, and she jerked away, bucking him off of her hips, stars exploding behind her eyes. She could hear herself panting; she could hear him sobbing but still she tried to move. Still, she tried to dislodge to weapon from her shoulder. She could hear the chains clanking as she sat up; the pain was making her dizzy, making her tremble, and she felt the weapon tug at her flesh, tearing her apart even more.

In the distance, she heard Inuyasha yell, tentacles piercing his body.

"You're still human, too, Kohaku," Kagome murmured, clumsy fingers picking up her blood stained bow.

The boy trembled, curling in on himself.

"Even if you don't want to be."

She fumbled with an arrow, blood soaking the front of her uniform, and notched it, trying her best to dispell the dizziness that was causing her hands to tremble and her vision to blur. She had now and only now to try and destroy him, to try and end it all while Inuyasha and Miroku were so busy fighting Naraku and trying to take him down themselves.

But he wanted to protect his master, more than anything and the blade of his weapon sunk into her calf, causing her to buck and scream and -

"Fuujin no Mai!"

Blades were cutting across her back, burning her flesh, and she pitched to the ground, feeling the jagged rocks digging into her body.

I remember this, too, you know.

She smiled, bitterly, and she heard Inuyasha's curse, saw the way Naraku's tentacles impaled his body, sending him flying across the ground.

She could see Miroku, opening his hand, trying to bring the demon to his death but - it's his own weapon - and it wasn't working. Something bitter tickled Kagome, causing her to cough and her skin to become pale.

It wasn't supposed to end up like this.

Naraku was supposed to die just as he forced Kikyou to die. Just as he forced Inuyasha and Kouga's tribe to die. Just as he forced Sango -

She could feel Kohaku on her, his little fingers around her neck, tears streaming down his face. His lips were trembling, and his face was blistered and burned and she knew that he hated her for it.

"I won't let you take him away from her," he sobbed, pressing down into her body, "I won't let you make Aneue cry again!"

Kagome's eyes widened, and the guilt plagued her, causing something inside of her to break.

"And just because she remembers doesn't - doesn't mean anything!" His hands tightened around her neck, and his tears hit her face, making her wish she could have been strong enough to kill him. "She doesn't belong to you!"


Kagome felt the earth next to her pitch, violently, and then, she was flying through the air, her arms holding Kohaku tightly, trying her best to keep him safe.

She heard the gasps, the sharp intakes of breath, and her chest was heaving, her tears threatening to suffocate her.

No, her mind screamed, her arms crushing the little taijiya closer to her, NO!

But she had heard her voice, and she had seen the boomerang and she was standing there, watching all of them, something dark and sad and suffering inside of her.

Sango-chan, her mind whispered, burying herself into Kohaku, wanting to escape in his pain. In his memories. Why are you here Sango-chan? Why aren't you dead?

"Aneue," she heard Kohaku whisper, and he was pressing into her again, trying to escape.

Because he didn't want the memories either.

"Kohaku-kun," Kagome whimpered, running bloody fingers through his hair, "I won't tell, I promise."

The little taijiya whimpered, and rolled away.

She could feel the blood pooling in her shoes, and she felt even dizzier. She wanted to sit down and close her eyes and just wish it all away, but she stood, shakily.

She stumbled forward, ignoring the way everyone kept their eyes on her, ignoring the way Naraku smiled that cruel pleased smile, and she fell to her knees, picking up her bow, ready to end this.

And she tried her hardest not to tremble, not to cry, when Sango's katana pressed against her neck, as though daring her to continue.

"San-Sango-chan," Kagome whispered, her hand clutching the blade tightly, ignoring the sharp stinging sensation that shot through her hand, that sent even more pain shooting throughout her body, causing hotsalty tears to comeand blind her. "It needs to end."

"I know," the other girl whispered, pressing the blade harder against her hand, "but not like this. Not now."

Kagome coughed, blood staining her lips, and she dropped the blade, feeling defeated.

"I'm not sorry, Sango-chan," Kagome whispered, trembling, outstretching her hand, attempting to reach the stray arrow in front of her. "I'm not going to feel sorry, this time."


"I - I don't mind -" dying like this "-killing you again."

The taijiya's eyes widened, and she looked towards her master, shock and disbelief apparent in her features before she stepped away, her katana dropping to the ground. Her fingers curled around the strap of her boomerang, unsure, questioning, but his crimson eyes were glittering dangerously, and Kagura was at his side, watching, uncertainly, and she knew that Inuyasha and Miroku and Shippou were going to hate her but -

"It has to end."

Sango heard the string of the bow snap, she could hear the arrow flying through the air, towards her master. Panic seized her body, tore at her heart, and she didn't want to be sorry but she was and...

And her boomerang was slamming into Kagome's body, causing the miko to lurch forward, causing her to fly closer and closer to her master and -

Kohaku's weapon sunk into Sango's flesh, and he was watching her, his eyes dark and full of hate.

"Kohaku," Sango choked, jerking her arm away, ignoring the torn and bleeding flesh.

"She just wanted it to end, Aneue. Why won't you let her end it?"

Something bitter twisted inside of her, and slowly, she lifted her boomerang, aiming it towards her master.

"Because belongs to me," she whispered possessively, throwing it through the air.

I'm sorry, Kagome-chan, she whispered, drowning in the tears, I didn't mean to hurt you but...

But he belongs to me, and I can't let you end it.

Not yet.

Pain exploded in her back, and the darkness overtook her mind, drowing her in oblivion.

"I want to save her."

Bring her to me, my precious little taijiya.

"Don't worry, I will."

The air was thick with poisons, each swirling around them, threatening to drown them, to destroy them.

Kagome pressed gently against Inuyasha's shoulder, her blue eyes wide, fearful. It had never been like this, the feeling ripping her soul apart, giving her such distress. It had been different the other times, had seemed unreal. But - but this time, it was so hard not to pretend, it was so hard not to know that something was going to go wrong. She could sense it, better than anyone else, could taste it in the air. The dread that had filled her as soon as she stepped onto the deadened earth had not escaped her. Even now, it was pricking at her skin, causing the goose bumps to rise, causing her skin to sting and sweat and burn.

Something wasn't right.

She could tell by the way Inuyasha had looked at her, by the way his amber eyes darkened, by the way he refused to push her away. Miroku and Sango were strangely silent, staring over the barren wasteland, and Kagome could tell, with the utmost certainty, that something was definitely wrong.

Miroku's hand tightened, and, quickly, Sango brushed her knuckles against his prayer beads, causing them to clack together.

"It's... different this time," Sango said quietly, her eyes scanning the area below them, "it's... it's almost as if something bad isgoing to happen. I just can't seem to put my finger on it."

Kagome chewed on her lip, nervous and frightened.

It had taken time, effort to get where they were but now... now she wasn't so sure they should go through with it. Even Sango noticed something was wrong, and if she did, then she knew that the other two sensed it as well. It was as though it were lurking behind a corner, ready to grab hold and sinks it's sharp fangs into their necks, ready to feast on their blood. The thought caused Kagome to shiver, and she was taking a step back, her bow clutched tightly in her hand. Her knuckles were white, the spilnters were digging into her flesh. But somehow - somehow she simply knew that something was going to happen, something that could jeopordize the entire mission.

She didn't want to go home, not yet.

But the day had finally come, and they were there, and they were going to finish it.

"I can feel it," Kagome nodded, looking towards her friends," This - this is the end of... of something."

Miroku glanced at Kagome, something dark in his eyes before gazing towards the barren land once again. There were bodies, hundreds upon hundreds of them, all littering the ground, covered in blood, dirt, poison. It had been the perfect bait, drawing them there with the death of the humans, taking them closer and closer to the hate they felt towards him. Closer to the edge.

Kagome could feel the blade and it was biting into her back, causing her to bleed.

"I'm frightened," Kagome whispered, closing her eyes, "I mean -"

"Keh," Inuyasha scowled, digging his elbow into her ribs, "we'll make it out alive. The only thing that's endin' is that bastards life."

"Right," Kagome nodded, pulling her quiver higher up onto her shoulder. "It's just kind of creepy, knowing that he's waiting there for us."

Sango touched Kagome's arm gently, giving her a soft reassuring smile. Kagome nodded stiffly.

She still couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong, that something was going to go wrong. It was there, lurking within the back of her mind, but quickly, she pushed it away as Inuyasha's arm wrapped around her waist. They were jumping through the air then, through the disgusting miasma, towards the castle, towards the final battle.

Something within Kagome shivered, lacing throughout her stomach, curling around herabdomen and squeezing until a nauseating panic settled within her, making her want to wrap her arms Inuyasha's neck and never let go. She knew he could sense it, her panic, her desperation, but she was already pushing away, putting the distance between them as he set her on the ground, his ears flattening against his skull.

Now was not the time.

Now was not the time to delve into her fears, her insecurities.

They had always been fine before, nothing else was going to change that.

Glancing around the barren castle ground, Kagome gripped an arrow, listening and waiting, feeling the panic within her rising, the desolation threatening to bury her completely.

Something wasn't right.

It shouldn't have taken this long.

Sheathing her arrow, Kagome turned towards her friends, her brow knit in concentration as she tried to figure out what exactly was wrong, why she couldn't exactly place her finger on it.

Naraku should have attacked by now, that she knew. And yet...

And yet he was hiding within the shadows, acting as though he hadn't sensed them. But Kagome could feel him, drifting closer - she could feel the Shikon no Tama pulsating as his anger and hatred ran through it's core. She could feel as it cried out to her, begging her to take it in her grasp just to consume her power... just to feel the purity coursing through it once more.

"Miroku-sama?" Kagome asked, moving next to him, looking around at the grounds, doing her best to ignore the smell of the dead bodies.

"Kagome-sama," Miroku nodded in acknowledgment, dismissing the curious glances that Sango and Inuyashasent their way.

"He should have attacked us already," Kagome answered clumsily, chewing on her finer nail," he should have ambushed us... something. It's not like Naraku to not set a trap, you know? I mean, it's just not like him and -"

"Fuck," Kagome heard Inuyasha curse, and immediately, she turned towards him, worry evident on her face.


"We need to leave," Inuyasha answered, glancing around them quickly," we need to fucking leave now."


"Now!" Inuyasha yelled, running over to Kagome and scooping her up quickly. Her hands dug into his haori as Miroku and Sango jumped onto Kirara, still confused, but not bothering to question the hanyou.

"Inuyasha? What are you doing? Why are we leaving? Naraku-"

"We're surrounded by him!" Inuyasha snapped, running as quickly as possible.

Kagome's eyes went impossibly wide, and she turned, looking back behind her, looking at the all bodies on the ground. She couldn't believe she hadn't noticed it before, couldn't believe she didn't realize exactly what she was standing in. But Inuyasha had noticed, just as she had, what was going to happen. What was wrong.

He was going to absorb them.

"Oh my god," she whispered, burying her head into his shoulder.

"Fuck!" Inuyasha yelled, halting, and Kagome looked up, her eyes widening in fear.

They were completely surrounded.

The demons were all standing, each watching them with a look of lustful desire on their faces, their eyes glittering maniacally. Kagome could hear them hissing, could feel the power of the Shikon no Tama resonating within their beings, and slowly, she was shrinking away from them, into Inuyasha, into his warmth, fearing for the worst.

If he attempted to go for his Tetsusaiga, they would attack. She could see it in their eyes, in the way that they kept creeping steadily closer to them, in the way their fangs glistened with crimson, in the way they all eyed them each, as though they were some succulent prize to be feasted upon. Kagome could feel her heart beating rapidly, the panic in her spiking dangerously, and Inuyasha's arm wrapped tightly around her, pulling her closer to him.

"Oh god," Kagome whispered.

She could have purified them; she could have destroyed them.

But she wasn't as fast as Inuyasha. Her aim wasn't as good as Inuyasha's and...

"Fuck," Inuyasha cursed again, pressing Kagome's body tightly against his. "FUCK!"


"Shut up," he hissed, glancing around at all the demons as he tried to block their view of Kagome. He knew who they were after, he knew what they had wanted. The shards around her neck pulsated slightly, reacting to the demonic auras around them, and Kagome gasped, feeling them burn her collar bone.

"Don't move, Kagome-sama," Miroku said from above them, eying the demons that had surrounded them, his fingers clenching his prayer beads tightly. "I might be able to get them all into my kazaana-"


Kagome shook her head, her panic increasing. It was stupid and worthless to try and fight, especially with Naraku surrounding them like... like this. She didn't understand how he did it, couldn't understand how he did it, and yet, he had. Something within her burned at the revelation, knowing he had split himself apart, just for this. The demons had looked human, most of them had. And they had foolishly believed that the people they saw lying covered in blood were human but now... now it was disgustingly apparent that they weren't.

She had known something was wrong, had known there was trap, and yet she walked willingly into it, aware of the consequences.

Something inside of her tightened, her grief swelling painfully.

"I don't think we're going to get through this."

"Feh," Inuyasha growled, looking at the demons surrounding them.

"The Shikon shards."

"No," Inuyasha refused, his fingers tightening around the hilt of Tetsuaiga," we'll beat these bastards back, even if we have to do it one by one."


"Will you just shut up for once and trust me!"

Kagome remained silent, her blue eyes oddly dark. Inuyasha smirked, pushing her behind him, his knuckles cracking the process.

"Fucking bastards," Inuyasha growled, ready to unsheath Tetsusaiga.

But as soon as his hand was placed against the sheath of the sword, the demons surged forward, melding together, greens and blacks and reds and golds all melting into a myriad of colors, mixing and twisting and spinning, and before she even realized it, Inuyasha had wrapped his arm around her waist again, lifting her off of her feet and onto his shoulder. He had moved, quickly, efficently, but as they came nearer and nearer to the castle, Kagome's eyes widened in horror.

She could feel it, the strong beating of the Shikon no Tama, the way it cried out to her, and her fingers were fisting in Inuyasha's hair, tugging it harshly, trying her best to get him to stop.

"Knock it the fuck off!" Inuyasha snapped, skidding to a stop in front of the castle and dropping Kagome uncerimoniously to the ground.

"We have to leave!"

"You will not leave," Kagome's eyes widened, the fear stabbing her chest painfully, the despair cutting through her barriers. The hate came easily, the bitterness, and almost at once, she was standing, her arrow notched onto her bow. "My precious little miko."

"I am not your miko," Kagome hissed, the anger swelling within her as Naraku uttered those disgusting words, as he stepped towards her, lifting his hand lazily into the air. Next to her, Inuyasha unsheathed his Tetsusaiga, pushing Kagome roughly out of the way, his golden eyes narrowing.

"Naraku," Inuyasha growled, his amber eyes narrowing dangerously. The hanyou in front of him didn't flinch, didn't recognize the threat in his voice, instead, he was focusing directly on Kagome, his crimson eyes glittering maniacally. Inuyasha could see it, the lust, the desire, and almost at once, he could feel his stomach turn wretchedly. Something inside of him was breaking, slowly, agonizingly, but it was breaking. He could feel the bile rising in his stomach, the anger and the resentment, the fury and he was drawing his sword back, ready to attack.

He would not take her; he would not take the Shikon no Tama.

It was Kagome's, it belonged to her and no one else.

"Kaze no Kizu!"

Tentacles shot out of Naraku's body, encircling Inuyasha, dripping thick disgusting blood as the attack cut through them. Kagome gasped, her eyes widening, and she was on her feet again, notching her arrow, ready to take aim.

But Naraku was in front of her, and his hands were around her neck, ready to break off the shards dangling in front of her chest.

"Oh god," Kagome whispered, and shot her arrow, fear seizing her heart.

It cut through his shoulder, thick smoldering poisons rising into the air, and his hand tightened around her neck, crimson eyes narrowing furiously. She could feel the miasma settling around her, attempting to drown her, and distantly, she could hear Sango calling out worriedly, could feel the harsh tug of wind on her body.

"He will become part of me," Naraku whispered, his nails digging into the flesh of her neck, drawing blood. Kagome winced, her blue eyes watering as she looked over at the mass of tentacles strangling Inuyasha, blocking him from view. She could hear his muffled curses, she could see the blood squirting into different directions, thick and wet and red and her stomach was lurching, the sickeness rising in the back of her throat.

"No," Kagome whispered, her hand coming up to grip Naraku's wrist, struggling to get away. "No!"

Her fingers felt like they were on fire, the heat was blistering, almost unbearable, and a scream tore from her lips at the pain, at the torment, as the energies flowed through her hand, into her fingers, burning and searing Naraku's skin. She could see the fury in his eyes, the disgust, and immediately he was pulling away, his tentacles slamming roughly into her body. Stars erupted in front of her eyes as her body flew back, as the tentacles ripped through her shoulder.

There was a searing pain, unlike she had ever known, eating away at her, causing heartwrenching sobs to spill from her lips. She felt her body connect with the ground, felt the loud resounding crack as her head smacked against the hard earth, felt the blood as it trickled down her scalp, through the thick tendrils of hair.

Her world was spinning, her body aching, and she could feel fire at the tips of her fingers, could feel the comforting hands of something close and concerned and she wanted to bury herself in the warmth.

"Houshi-sama," Sango urged, pulling Kagome into her arms, "we need to leave."

Kagome heard a sigh, felt the resignation, and she wrapped her arms around the taijiya wishing for the pain to go away.

"Kirara," the Sango ordered, lifting the other girl into her arms as the fire-cat guarded them, attempting to keep them safe.

Kagome felt her shift, felt her heft her boomerang, and then, they were in the air, hovering in the sky, and she was pressed to Sango's body, trying desperately to hang on.

"Son of a bitch!" Inuyasha yelled, shaking violently as he ripped through the tentacles and picked up Tetsusaiga, darting towards his comrades. "When the fuck did he get so strong?"

Kagome blinked, ignoring the blood that was dripping down his forehead and stared, uncertainly, at Naraku.

Her head was spinning, and she tried, so very hard, to place what was different about him, what it was that made him so strong and unbeatable but...

Kagome's hands strayed down to her neck, and her eyes widened in fear.

"He took them from me," she whispered, dread seeping throughout her body, swallowing her whole. "He took the shards."

Sango gasped, her arms tightening around the younger girl, and almost at once, she turned towards Inuyasha, wondering what to do, wondering what needed to be done.

Inuyasha shifted, shooting Miroku an uncertain glance before hefting his Tetsusaiga, a fang poking amusingly into his lip as he smirked.

"Shards or no shards, that bastard's going down."

Kagome gripped her necktie, worriedly.

"But, Inuyasha, he took them from me and now... now it's almost complete."

Inuyasha scoffed, shooting her an irritated glance.

"Will you just shut the fuck up and let me kill him?"


"Kagome-chan," Sango interrupted, hugging the younger girl tighter, "we need to fight. Let's worry about the shards later."

Kagome nodded reluctantly, something sinking into her stomach, laughing at her.

"This might be the end," Sango said, gripping Kirara's fur tightly.

We're going to lose.

But her friends were already attacking, already attempting to destroy the hanyou that continually haunted their dreams and their nightmares, refusing to let them live.

Kagome's chest tightened painfully as she was set on the ground, as Sango pressed her bow and arrows into her hands, jumping off of the fire-cat with a small smile.

"Sango-chan -"

"Ne, Kagome-chan, we can make it, right?"

Kagome blinked, afraid of the answer.

"Because - because this might just be the end and-"

"We're going to lose," Kagome blurted, oddly flustered

Sango watched her, her eyes darkening before she turned away, her knuckles white from gripping her boomerang.

"Even so, Kagome-chan, we still have to fight, because we have no other choice."

Kagome sniffed, turning away, not wanting to face the truth.

"We can't let him hurt anyone else, Kagome-chan."

I know, her mind murmured, but then, she was movingcloser to the other girl, and her fingers were wrapping around Sango's forearm, turning her towards her.

"He chose us for a reason, Sango-chan."

Sango nodded, smilling sweetly.

"I need to see Kohaku now," Sango answered, jumping onto Kirara's back. Kagome winced, aching as Sango's words stung her, and, for a moment, she wished that it could have been different. But Sango was right, and there would be no way to change what was into what could be, and for a fleeting second, Kagome didn't want to.

But then, she could hear Inuyasha cursing, swinging the Tetsusaiga with all he had, and she could see Miroku, dodging the wind blades, attempting to stay alive so that he could have his revenge as well. They were all so bitter, so resigned to their fate, and it angered her, more than anything. She wanted to take it all away, she wanted to do more than just stand on the sidelines as her friends fought battles that she had absolutely no right to fight. She clutched her bow angrily, violently, and she knew she could end it, right there, right then.

Because Naraku was distracted by Inuyasha. By Sango and Kohaku and he wanted to consume them, even more than he wanted to consume anyone and it was just. that. easy.

Her hands were trembling when she aimed her arrow, concentrating with all she had.

She had to end it, here and now; she had to let them have their revenge, through her, because they didn't need to live based off of hate and anger. They didn't need to live, dying, day by day, while he still lived and grew stronger and thrived off of their pain. Off of their despair.

She wouldn't let them.

Because she, too, was tired of hurting. Of going through the motions.

"It needs to end," she whispered, releasing her arrow.

Inuyasha cursed, jumping away as the arrow sped towards Naraku, wondering just what the hell Kagome was thinking. But when he turned to her, he could see the determination in her eyes. He could see the anger and the fury, blazing hot and red and absolutely beautiful as she released another arrow, her own hate consuming her soul.

Inuyasha smirked, turning, ready to attack.

But then -

Then something shattered, and he could hear Naraku's chuckle, cold and pleased, and he turned towards the hanyou, dread and fear lancing throughout his body, causing a haze thick and deep to settle over his mind.

His eyes were wide, and the frost was settling over him, cutting into his flesh.

He could feel Naraku's miasma, choking him, and he was stumbling back, Tetsusaiga falling from his hands, clattering to the floor. He hadn't expected this. He had expected the blood, the anger, but not the sacrifice. Not like this.

His arm immediately went up to shield himself from the miasma, his eyes watering dangerously.

"Fuck," he whispered, watching as the small body crumbled to the ground, the mirror broken in hundreds of pieces, glass protruding from her flesh.


The miasma around the small girl quivered, hovering blindly, trying to seep back into Naraku's being. But Naraku merely smiled, almost sweetly, and the words were slipping past his lips, causing the panic to sink it's teeth into Inuyasha, making him go rigid with fear.

"Bring me the miko."

The poisons swirled, shooting dangerously towards Kagome, and Inuyasha watched as she struggled to fire another arrow, as she attempted to protect herself from the nothingness that was once the small child.

But something had gripped her ankles, tugging her to the ground, and suddenly she was screaming as the miasma tore at her back, tearing her skin, making her bleed.

Kagome could feel it, seeping into her, poisoning her thoughts and her mind, and she just wanted out, she just wanted to get away.

She hadn't planned on this pain, this agony.

She wanted it to go away, more than anything, she wanted it go away.

But she could feel it coursing through her mind, her body, and she could hear him chuckling, so very close. She could feel his icy desolation spreading through her, his hate and his anger, and she wanted him to go away. But he was there, causing the fog to drift over her mind, molding his soul to hers, and it was hurting, burning, searing. She wanted to cry, she wanted to scream and plead and beg him to leave, but he was with her, inside of her, and she was losing control.

Her body was standing, her hands were trembling, and she could feel the blood on her back.

Her bow was trembling in hands that she couldn't feel; she was burning with pleasure that wasn't hers, and she was notching the arrow, aiming it at her friends, at -

My imperfection, he whispered in her mind, and she was struggling to get away, struggling against the harsh, bitter truths. Destroy her. Maim her. Make her scream.

Kagome's hands trembled, and words were coming out of her mouth, words that she couldn't and didn't understand. Words that she couldn't and didn't hear.

"Die, taijiya."

She felt the arrow slide through her fingers, she watched in horror and in pleasure as it arched through the air, as it impaled Sango's chest, as she slid, painfully, from Kirara, her body slamming into the ground.

She heard the smack, something break, but she moved over to her anyways, her fingers burning with energy that was hers and that he had no right touse.

Kagome trembled, standing over her friend, wondering why they were always suffering and wishing that she could have been stronger. Because Sango was watching her with cloudy eyes, filled with fear, filled with sadness, and she could feel Inuyasha and Miroku watching her, dumb with shock, disbelief.

She felt her nails extend, turning into claws that she didn't want, increasing a hate that wasn't hers.

Kill her, he whispered viciously, and the claws were tearing through her flesh, tears were streaming from Kagome's eyes, and in her mind, she was screaming loudly, wanting to die, wishing she were stronger, wishing she could have resisted, that she was only Kikyou.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha yelled, attempting to dash towards her, but Kagura's wind blades were rushing towards him, threatening to kill him.

Kagome could feel Sango struggling, she could see the silver glinting through the air, could feel it cutting into her own flesh, drawing blood, but she couldn't feel the pain, couldn't feel the sorrow and she hated being numb. Imperfect.

"San-Sango-chan," she whimpered, falling to her knees, her fingers wrapping around the other girls' neck. "I-I'm so-sorry, Sango-chan."

Sango's hands wrapped around Kagome's wrists, and she pulled Kagome close, gently kissing her tears.

"I-I-I don't mi-mind, losing like this," she whispered, blood spilling from her lips.

Something inside Kagome snapped, and her claws were digging into Sango's neck, puncturing her flesh, making her bleed.

And then, the blade was cutting through Kagome's shoulder, dripping with blood, betrayal, and Sango's eyes turned glassy, unseeing, and he released her, oddly pleased.

She could feel it building inside of her, and there was blood on her hands, tears blinding her vision, and she was pressing against the other girl, violent sobs racking her body, trying to suffocate her.

"Sango-chan," she sobbed, ignoring the blood, the pain.

The hatred was welling inside of her, forcing the bitterness to rise in her throat, and she was being pulled away from the dead girl, feeling her blood mingling with hers. Feeling the hate and the anger and the betrayal coursing through her own blood.

Because she had killed her; she had sunk her hands into her flesh and she had enjoyed it.

She could feel her stomach lurch, making her want to retch.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way. They weren't supposed to lose, not like this. Not because of her.

Kagome's body trembled, pitched forward, and she screamed.

"I want to free her from the nightmares."

The miko belongs to me.

"Don't worry, I know."

She could feel something wet and cool touch her face, dragging her out of her dream, towards the realm of the living.

There was a cold sharp pain dancing in her lower back, something warm and wet and sticky sliding down her spine, causing a violent shudder to curl around her body and a quick dance of pain to escape from her lips. Startled, she outstretched her arm, a blinding light causing her to moan as her eyes fluttered open, and almost at once, she wanted to fall back into the oblivion, into the darkness of her mind but...

But something was holding her still, something was bringing her back, holding her down, and whispering that it was okay. Slowly, she could feel herself being lowered down onto something soft, gentle, and her muscles were relaxing, her hand was dropping back down to her side, her fingers curling into a tight fist.

Her vision had gone dark, something akin to unease spreading its way through her body, and she was trying, so very desperately, to open her mouth. To talk. But her throat was clenched shut, her eyes were watering, and she could feel the dryness of her mouth, the soreness of throat. There were dull throbbing aches and pains all over her body, each of them stretching into her, pulling and tugging on her nerves, making her very aware, very... alive.

Something within her snapped, and her drooping eyes shot open suddenly, ignoring the heavy desire to sleep that had descended on her.

She couldn't believe it.

She had remembered, almost vividly, the feeling of surprise, of pain, lancing itself throughout her essence, her soul, and she could remember the feel of his claws digging into her flesh, could remember the feeling of her arrows puncturing hers and... and she shouldn't have been alive. She was supposed to be dead. She could remember, frighteningly, the way that the kusarigama had cut into her flesh, the way the winds howled around her, the way her soul had been ripped from her body. Taken over. Disappearing.

And, she remembered, shamefully, the way his skin felt against hers. Hot. Sweaty. Slick.

And she could remember, the bile rising quickly in her throat, how much she had enjoyed it.

Something in her stomach wrenched, and she could feel the tears streaming down her face, the fear clutching at her heart, and she wished, more than anything, that they had just allowed her to die. That they had just allowed her to remain lifeless and rotting, that way, she wouldn't have to remember. That way, she wouldn't have to be tied to memories that burned and stabbed and ate away at her, consuming her sanity.

She wished, desperately, that the darkness had consumed her, tearing her soul apart, taking away her imperfections.


The voice was soft, gentle, and she was leaning towards the warmth, her tears blinding her, stinging her eyes, and she could feel the warm arms wrapping around her, holding her in place. Attempting to steady her.

"It'll be all right, Sango-chan."

Sango let out a harsh sob, wishing that her disgust would bury her alive, suffocate her, kill her.

She had never felt so filthy, so disgusting and grimy and -

She had enjoyed it.

His torture, his pain. She had enjoyed it, and, even now, she was craving more, wanting to be near him again, just so could feel the torment as it rained down upon her, taking away her sanity, pushing her slowly into the depths of hell. She wanted that now, more than anything, and the feeling made her sick.


"Kagome-chan?" Sango asked, her voice unnaturally hoarse as the tears blinded her. She turned towards the source of the voice, the disgust slowly being forced behind the shield. The barriers. Back into the darkness.

"Have some water," the younger girl replied, forcing a water bottle into Sango's hand, picking up a wet washcloth and plastering it to the other girl's forehead.

Sango gasped, the freezing washcloth against her burning forehead surprising her, before slowly settling into the welcome feeling. She took a sip of water, furiously rubbing the tears from her eyes at the same time, wishing that she could hide the weakness.

"It's all right," Kagome started, pulling the water bottle from her friends hand, "I've been crying a lot, too."

Sango nodded, turning away.

The silence that stretched between them was awkward, surreal, and Sango could hear the other girl fidgeting, her hands rustling in the fabric of her clothing as she twisted it around in nervousness. Uncertainty.

"Yes, well, uhm, I - I promised Shippou that I would let him know you were awake. He - he was really worried about you when we came back and you were... well, I'll just go get him."

Sango nodded, listening as the other girl stood, ready to escape, ready to dash out the door of the hut, away from the guilt. Away from the insecurities, the accusations.

She wanted to be happy, more than anything. She wanted to be able to forgive and forget and pretend but the memory continued to attack Sango's mind, replaying it over and over and over again. Tearing her apart. Making her crave the iciness that was always surrounding others with no need of emotions. Making her desire the strength to hide behind a mask. But... but as much as she wanted to, she couldn't. Because the memory was haunting her, ripping at her soul and making her feel so completely raw she didn't know what to do. She didn't know what to say.

I'm sorry, her mind seemed to scream at her, but Kagome was already walking away from her, away from the unease. The anger.

She could hear the reeds being pushed aside, the girl moving further and further away from her and -

"I enjoyed it," Sango whispered, the repulsion causing her voice to quiver.

Kagome paused, turning back towards her friend, something undecipherable in her eyes before she dropped the reeds, stepping towards the injured girl.


"I enjoyed it," Sango repeated, her voice cracking as the tears threatened to spill again, "I enjoyed everything."

"It - it isn't your fault. You couldn't have-"

"I know what I felt," Sango interrupted, the tears already slipping down her face, "when he - when he touched me, I wanted to drag him closer to me. I wanted him to stay near him because he made me feel what no one else has ever made me feel before. I wanted him to touch me. I wanted him near me and... and even now I don't want Inuyasha to kill him."

"Sango-chan," Kagome whispered, her hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide.

"He has no right to," Sango continued, her hair falling into her face, "I won't allow him to decide when Naraku can or will die. That - that -"

"Sango-chan, stop, please," Kagome begged, falling to her knees next to the older girl, "It's not your fault. If I hadn't have been so... so weak then, maybe-"

"Kagome-chan," Sango interrupted quietly, turning towards the other girl, her eyes unnaturally dark. "It isn't your fault either. Please stop trying to shoulder the blame all the time. You - you aren't that important."

The words stung, and Sango knew it, had hoped for it. She could see the younger girl drawing back, tears glistening in her eyes. She wanted to feel regret, the agony and the guilt that was slowly coursing through Kagome's mind, through her heart, but it was non-existent and it hurt her, more than anything.

He had changed her, changed her in a way that she could never have imagined. He had changed her into something cold, uncaring, and hateful. She hated the way she was feeling right now, the way she was acting, but she knew, better than anyone, that it had to be this way. She had to be disconnected, she had to seperate from them. She had to pretend that things would be easier, simpler, and that she could handle it. But - but she knew, better than anyone, that she couldn't.

But Inuyasha had no right to claim Naraku's life.

And she wouldn't let him.

"Kagome-chan," Sango started quietly, her fingers curling around Kagome's wrist slowly, almost impatiently, "Inuyasha will not kill Naraku. Naraku's blood will not stain his hands, not the way mine has already stained yours."

Kagome choked, her hand falling limp in Sango's.

"Naraku belongs to me, the way that I... belong to you."

Kagome's eyes watered, painfully, and suddenly, she was wrapping her arms around the other woman's small frame, trying to drown in her sorrow, her warmth. Kagome's tears were blinding, hot and salty, but she ignored it. She leaned into Kagome's lithe body, wishing that the anger around her heart would dissipate, that it would break apart, bit by bit, freeing the guilt. The regrets.

Oh Gods, how she wanted to feel it, more than anything.

"I - I didn't mean to kill you, Sango-chan," Kagome whispered, burying her face into Sango's hair.

"You didn't kill me, Kagome-chan. Physically, it was you, but... but the darkness that was Naraku possessed you."

Kagome nodded, her arms tightening aroung Sango's tiny physique, wishing that she could bury herself in the cool, calm serenity that was currently possessing Sango. Yearning for the detachment, for the strength.

"I tried to stop him," Kagome whispered, moving away from the other girl, "I tried to get him to stop but I couldn't. It was like he didn't want to leave, like he wanted to see your blood more than anything. He just wouldn't get out of my head."

Sango nodded, her fingers intertwining with Kagome's.

"We are his imperfections," Sango answered quietly, watching as Kagome's eyes widened in fear, disbelief. "He can break us so easily, turn us into nothing, and we'll continually fight against it, wishing that there was another way. If - if it weren't for us, Houshi-sama and Inuyasha would be killed by now. But now he knows how to break us, how to become part of us and have us longing for death."

Kagome flinched, not wanting to believe the bitter truth.

"You wanted stay in the darkness so badly, because it helped you to pretend. But at the same time, you wanted the light, because it made you stronger. Naraku didn't know how to get you to fall back into him. But then... then when he saw your reaction to me being alive he knew."

"Sango-chan," Kagome whispered, lowering her head into her hands. Her pale fingers curled into fists, the heel of her hands digging into her eyes, thick black strands of hair slipping through her fingers.

I'm sorry, Sango's mind screamed, but she couldn't bring herself to say the words.

"I don't want to be his," Kagome cried, shaking her head furiously, "I don't want this."

Sango sighed, turning away from the other girl, her fingers clenching her blanket tightly in her hands.

The revulsion was still there, lingering under the surface, devouring her, attempting to shatter her into the tiny slivers of what she once was. She could feel it, splintering off into tiny fragments, pricking at her unhealed wounds, at the fire on her lower back, and she was drawing Kagome closer, trying to comfort her, trying to protect her from the pain. The agony.

"If he dies," Sango started slowly, her arms tightening around the sobbing girl, tears coming to her eyes as Kagome clung to her, attempting to bury herself in the iciness of Sango's soul once again, "he can't hurt us. We'll be free."

Kagome shivered against Sango's hold, wishing for something different. Knowing it was impossible. She choked on her tears, wanting more than anything to push away, to pretend that she hadn't heard what Sango had told her. Wanting more than anything to forget the truth. The nightmares.

But there had been blood on her hands, Sango's blood, and it was written in stone and couldn't be undone. Because, no matter what, she would still be there, shattering Kanna's mirror, allowing Naraku's essence to invade her body, causing arrow after arrow to pierce Sango's flesh, smirking in a sadistic satisfaction as the other girl screamed in agony as Kagome attempted to purify her, instead, reeking of a thick, disgusting miasma.

Kagome's eyes clenched shut, trying her hardest to suppress the scream.

She didn't want to be his, didn't want to have any part of him, and she was. He was her, just as she was him and there would be nothing to change that. They had seen it, they had all seen it. The way his soul had merged with hers, making her stronger, complete. Filling her in a way that her own soul never seemed to be able to accomplish.

The bitterness was lashing out at her, and her teeth were sinking down in her tongue, drawing blood.

She didn't want this, didn't need this, but it was the truth, and it scarred her, more than anything.

"But - but we're only human."

Sango smiled gently, placing a gentle kiss on Kagome's bangs.

"So is he," Sango whispered, running her fingers through Kagome's sweaty hair, "and that's what makes it all the more beautiful."

Something inside Kagome snapped, and slowly, she was falling, back into her own mind. Into the nightmares, the grief.

The darkness was there, beckoning her foreward, seducing her, and gripping Sango's hand tightly, she moved forward. Towards the insanity, towards the madness.

It was freezing, and there was blood, and it was staining her hands, forcing her to remember, forcing her to relive the malicious nightmares, to taste the blood on her tongue, feel it weighing down her hair. Forcing her to feel her soul rip in two, that same blood-curdling scream passing through her lips as she saw her friend, lying dead and broken and bleeding on the ground. Forcing her to remember that it was her, and her alone that had been the one to kill her. That had been the one to stain her hands with blood.

But then, she was slowly slipping into perfection, feeling it devouring her soul, tear apart the pain, little by little.

Am I human, Miroku-sama?

Yes, you're still human, Kagome-sama...

It was always so much easier to pretend.

(The End)