Disclaimer: Not only do I not own Inuyasha, but I'm glad of it. Everyone would be dead and broken by the end of five episodes, and where's the good in that?

Apologies: More nightmares. More angstfics out of left field. Aiffe is in a bad mood. The requests are done when they are done.

Warnings: R for a reason. I seriously don't recommend reading this if you are squeamish or under 17. This isn't rated for happy little lemons.

"Take me," Kohaku says. He is proud the way children are proud when they show each other their scars, prompting responses like, 'Did it hurt?' or, 'Did you cry?' Yes it hurt, yes he cried, his scars glisten purplish, shining like the tracks tears leave, though they are dry like the rest of him now. But he is proud, and he smiles with the lights gone out of his eyes. In the dark, he kills.

In the morning, the blood is not sticky and slick. It is not the paint he whitewashes his scars with, not water on the barren landscape of his skin. It is a fine brown powder he rubs between his fingers, and it smells like farm tools and horseshoes. It smells like the iron of his kusarigama, and Kohaku knows that the wound and its maker are the same animal. So he goes to the weapon of his making, and whispers his words of adulation.

Naraku should know better. Love, however twisted, is the path of power, whether you are coming or going. He killed Kikyou in the light of day, in the open air, and became a god. In the blackness and timeless miasma, in his shuttered room, Kohaku comes to him and blows the lights out.

"Use me," Kohaku says. He was once a boy afraid of power, afraid of hurting himself. A shade now, dead man, he can say "Hurt me," and mean it. Power is the only ecstasy he will ever know, and it can only be used through him, on him. He waits for Naraku to tell him to kill.

Kagura is no one's crouching tiger. She is no sword in Naraku's sash, she is no tool in his shed. If she could, she would undo the seams of his flesh, open Naraku the way surgeon would, and eat his heart and brain, spitting in his empty places. She would leave his rotting flesh in the sun, and chase all the clouds away, and bake with him just to watch him shrivel.

She hates Kohaku. She spits in his empty places, and watches him shrivel, amazed that his sister even wants him anymore. She knows that Naraku has undone him, and devoured his heart and brain. His remains frighten her, as a traveler on the same road. She curses him, and veers to avoid his fate.

"Kill," Naraku says. And Kohaku cuts through the flock, well versed in the art of separation. Separate a person from their arm, their head, their life, a thousand separate drops spilling. A young boy begs him not to kill him, and oddly moved, Kohaku says, "It's not so bad, you'll learn to like it after a while," before turning the boy's blood to sand on his fingers.

A person cannot be unhappy forever, no matter how justified it is. Sango smiles, she laughs, she steals kisses in the early morning before everyone else is awake, in groves behind trees, and once, in a field of flowers when Kagome was off berating Inuyasha for some little thing. She is happy, and she is not. She hurts, but is incapable of holding that pain every instant, and feels guilty about it, as if she were some incompetent, who couldn't even be trusted to grieve properly. So like it or not, she has to be happy again, at least part of the time. She attributes it to the warmth of her friends.

But Kohaku is happy, at least some of the time. It is not happiness like catching butterflies with his Sango, it is deeper and strangely savory, a primal joy that sears him to the bone, leaving him numb to all the lesser emotions. Kagura says that he is hollow like Kanna now, what does she know. She is still stumbling in the dark, while he greets it with joy. Kagura kills carelessly, only hobbling for Naraku enough to avoid pain. Killing hurts Kohaku far worse than anything Naraku could do to either of them, but he begs for the privilege.

"Take me," Kohaku says.

Kohaku learned the nature of power the night he died. It is being able to control what another's body does, even whether it lives or dies. Naraku tells him when to kill, when to die, and when to live again. Naraku can give him hurt or joy, and has done both so often he has forgotten how to tell one from the other. He cries when Naraku wants him to, impossible water welling from the brown sand of his killer's face, flowing into red rivers, flesh of his victims revived by his sorrow. And Kohaku lacks even the power to say that this feeling has a name.

Yet when Naraku is inside him, he tastes power. Naraku's voice saying "kill," and the force behind it, simply yielding to it makes him a god. He was a tree once, growing in peace, upright. Now he is a log in a raging river, a dead thing moving at deadly speed, all the branches once necessary for maintaining life now torn off at the trunk. The blood all smells of his blade, until there is so much of it that he can't even smell it anymore, and then he smells only of Naraku's hand.

Naraku binds the bandages around his ankles, while Kohaku wraps the handle of his kusarigama in the same cloth. "I am yours," Kohaku says, and pleased, Naraku clothes the boy in his thin old silks.

Unlike Kagura, Kohaku does not have an immortal heart. It will not live disembodied, it probably isn't even living as it is, but he is afraid to cut himself open and check. His memories die in half-lives. Half a life here, half of that there. Naraku waits for the fractions to dwindle, since after the first huge lop the process has been slowing. Will the arrow ever reach the target? Naraku of all people knows how long it takes for a human heart to die.

"Use me," Kohaku says, worshipful. And Naraku uses him for things human and inhuman. The lights go out of Kohaku's eyes, and he praises the darkness.

Misery is a sort of resistance. Kagura in her misery rejects her situation, and strives to overcome it. For a long time Kohaku struggled to remain miserable in Naraku's clutches. But it takes so much energy, for so long, and exhausted, he allows himself to forget, and what comes after is so perfectly empty and overriding that it can only be love. Grateful, Kohaku allows himself the pleasure of submission.

Love kills his heart in half-lives. Naraku waits for it to go past its critical point, then he will crumble the charcoal together with old blood, and say, "Kill."

Perhaps, the part of Kohaku that isn't black dust hopes, they will kill me. Like a virus, his love for Naraku is converting his cells, and the rest of him burns in fever. He knows that he is terminal, he knows that he is dead already, and even yet, he has no hope of death for himself, because it is Naraku who controls that, and Naraku has told him to kill, not to die. No one can take his life but Naraku, he believes that. Naraku has devoured his heart and brain, breathed life into his lungs, leaked power into his blood, and set blessed darkness loose in his empty places, lest they shrivel in the sun. All this Naraku took without asking, because he is a god, and it is his right. Now he asks Kohaku for his most precious thing, but rather than taking it, he wants him to hand it over of his own volition. He has that right, it is in his power. Kohaku obeys, allowing himself to become that immense power. Naraku seeps into him, and he cries out in joy.

Naraku even has power over time. When Kohaku sees Sango, he barely recognizes her. She is older, now. Her bones have grown since he has known her, Naraku's time took her away from him already. He asked Naraku once if he would ever grow, and Naraku told him no, and ensnared him gently. At least Kohaku thinks it was gentle, though he has lost all concept of such things. So eleven-and-three-quarters year old Kohaku raises his weapon, with which he will sever his anchor, and drift buoyant on her blood.

"Kohaku," she says. He doesn't have the power to remember her name, let alone say it.

He sinks his blade right through her surprised eye, straight through to her brain. Fatal, he knows, but he is kind, he left her heart alone. He pauses briefly to enjoy the asymmetry, one eye glazed and perfect, the other hollow and mutilated, recalling how he thinks his insides must look. He slides out the kusarigama, catching his reflection on it as he kneels closer to her, and puts his mouth to her wound, tasting his weapon, tasting freedom. Inside his head, Naraku is screaming at him, he did it wrong, he was supposed to kill everyone else first, with Sango holding them back. A thousand frantic orders appear in Kohaku's head as Inuyasha's sword swings at him, and Kohaku looks up, his mouth cherry-red from Sango's blood, and says, "Make me."

Of course, Naraku does. He digs up his grave, and makes him and remakes him, cobbling him back together from parts that no longer want anything to do with each other, around the empty spaces that he also made. Shards for stitches, trailing through his body. Kohaku remembers the old tale, remembers that this jewel is Midoriko's heart, her proud flesh crystallized, long after her blood has turned to dust. She has empty spaces now, a hole where her heart should be, now pieces of her heart wind through him, forcing the fine sand to move through his veins.

"Love me," Naraku says, and Kohaku kneels trembling and reverent, to kiss his master's cock. For both, the joy comes not from the eroticism, but the possession. Kohaku loves Naraku, with all his crumbling devoured heart. He asks for nothing in return, is incapable of it.

But he hopes that someday, someday his god will tell him to die. He waits for the lights to go out, and Naraku to take him.