The Long Awaited Battle.

Glossary:

ningen - human
hamaya - purifying arrow
kehai - the feeling of sensing Shikon no kakkera
obi - sash (worn around the waist)
chichi-ue - respectful way of addressing one's father
kekai - barrier
daijoubu desu ka - are you alright?
ike - go!
abunee - dangerous!
muda na - no use
demo - but
yakamashii - shut up
doo desu ka - how is it?
dame yo - no good/don't do it!
shi ne - die
dakara - therefore
nani o shite iru - what are you doing?
chirei - scatter
tatakai - fight
wakatta - I know!
shin da - dead
mitte - look
mou - argh!
chikushou - f--k (or something to that effect)
tasukete - help!
yare yare - my my.
mata ne! - see you!
kisama nani o suru! - what the heck are you doing bastard!
wakaranai - I don't understand


"For the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one."

- Rudyard Kipling.


"Kanna!" Kagome gasped loudly and took a wary step back as she subconsciously tightened her grip on his clawed hand and her bow. Sesshoumaru narrowed his golden eyes and took a good look at the intruders while Jaken and Rin retreated to the far back with Ah-Un.

Kanna halted and gestured for Chiyo to do the same. She then tilted her mirror until it faced the ground and bowed her head slightly.

"Sesshoumaru, I have come to pledge my allegiance to you."

From the corner of his eye, he could see that Kagome was extremely tense and that her large eyes were fixed on Kanna's mirror. He wondered to himself what could a mirror possibly do to them, and why she was so afraid of this child. At the same time, he was still trying to decide whether she was a youkai or ningen since he could not sense any traces of youki nor smell the scent of ningen on her. But, his eyebrows did not arch up in surprise nor shock, nor did he move an inch when he replied calmly, "I do not need it. Leave us."

Kanna expected this and knew that even though the taiyoukai had lost his memory, he was still a cautious person and probably did not care for an alliance with her. She released a small breath of relief when Chiyo had indeed not struck and stood obediently behind her.

"Sesshoumaru, Naraku has requested your head. We have been sent for this purpose," she paused, but he did not respond other than to let go of Kagome's hand; it was as if he was not ruffled by her heinous threat at all.

Kagome frowned hard and bit down on her lower lip; Sesshoumaru had just regained his sight and she was not sure how ready he was for a battle with Kanna. Tenseiga was still with Toutousai, and for that Kagome cursed inwardly at their luck. She knew that he still had Toukijin with him, but what if he did not survive? Perhaps Tenseiga would protect him since it was especially given to him by Inu no Taisho? Maybe she could wield it and revive him if the worst happened?

"And what if you die?" The rational side asked back Kagome as she quietly took out an arrow from the quiver slung at her back, hoping that she would not have to use her hamaya. She took a deep breath and stole a quick peek at Sesshoumaru; he was expressionless as usual and she wondered what was going through his mind. Would she be able to coordinate with him? Would she be able to help him? Or would she become a hindrance instead? She reasoned that he would protect her, and if he was dead, then her existence would be meaningless. He occupied so much of her heart and her soul that she thought she would be as empty as Kanna if he was gone from the face of this earth. Kagome shuddered inwardly at this self-reached conclusion and forced herself to keep a careful look at Rin and Jaken instead.

"Naraku has tried to kill you before, but as the seer predicted, you did not die," Kanna continued.

Kagome's eyes rounded at this new piece of information. Was Naraku the one who had poisoned his eyes? Seer?

"Seer?" he asked. Now this weird child had roused his curiosity.

Kanna shifted her feet to the right and distanced herself further away from Chiyo.

"Hai. Naraku sought her out, and she predicted that Inuyasha and you will be the ones to cause his downfall. Dakara, he has been very conscientious in trying to get rid both of you. I have come to pledge my loyalty, for I do not wish to be under him anymore. I desire my freedom as much as Kagura."

"Are you saying that you are going to betray Naraku?" Kagome could not believe her ears. But then again, nothing was impossible in this world. Kagura had died for the same cause, and had in the process saved Kohaku from Hakudoushi and Mouryoumaru.

The nihility youkai nodded her head, feeling a little weary at having to explain her motives and intentions. Afterall, she was not used to holding conversations that lasted more than five minutes with anyone. She took a quick glance at Chiyo and realized that she was still standing in front of Sesshoumaru without any fear nor anxiety reflected in her eyes, but neither tensed nor relaxed.

"Hmm," Sesshoumaru pondered over her words and thought that for the longest time in his life, this seemed to be something interesting and exciting for him to look into. His arch enemy was plotting his death, while his subordinate was right before him, trying to use him to obtain her much desired freedom away from the clutches of Naraku. But before he could continue to further digest the information, Kagome spoke.

"Are you saying that Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru will defeat Naraku?"

Kanna nodded her head, wondering to herself perhaps she did not look sincere or honest enough. She could hardly fault them since she had tried to steal Kagome's soul into her magical mirror before.

Kagome shook her head and took another step back. She could not bring herself to believe what Kanna had just said; perhaps it was another twisted trickery of Naraku's, or a specially woven trap for them. Why had Kanna sought out Sesshoumaru and her? Why did she not look for Inuyasha first? And who was that weird girl beside Kanna? Kagome could feel the tainted kehai of a Shikon no kakkera from her forehead and knew that she was another detachment of Naraku's. But why did Kanna bring her? Was she her accomplice?

Too many questions bombarded her mind, and her head hurt as never before as she took another glance at Rin and Jaken for assurance. She looked at Sesshoumaru again and saw the thoughtful look in his eyes. She wished she could tell him, ask him, or just pull him away. Something did not feel right to her. She was not sure which side Kanna was on, but her presence brought an ominous feeling along with it, like the calm before the devastating storm. The silent girl beside Kanna made her uneasy too. Her blank stare reminded Kagome of the old Kohaku whose mind was controlled by Naraku, and she could not help but to tremble inwardly.

"Why? How would I know whether you are lying to us or not? We can't trust you," Kagome spoke out warily and gestured for Jaken and Rin to move further behind. They took the hint and promptly hid behind Ah-Un's tensed body, whose bright yellow eyes were keeping a tab on the intruders.

Kanna lowered her head for a moment, and replied softly, "There is nothing I can do to vouch for my honesty."

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed by a fraction while he took out Toukijin from his obi and pointed it at Chiyo, "Kill her, and I will take you under my wing."

Kagome's deep brown irises widened at his words; was he really going to trust Kanna? She had not told him about the nihility youkai before but surely he could sense her own hesitation and the trap that they might be laying out for them?

The nihility youkai swiftly shook her head and took another step back, further distancing herself from Chiyo. "Chiyo is sent by Naraku to take your head. I do not think that I am able to take her down."

Kagome frowned. If what Kanna had said was true, then why did Chiyo not attack them? She was standing there motionlessly like a block of wood, and she wondered whether she was capable of defeating Sesshoumaru. She looked up to Sesshoumaru, and was a little unnerved at the small smirk that graced his fair face.

"Sesshoumaru, something is not right. Don't fight, let's just leave!" Kagome pleaded.

But he did not look nor reply to Kagome. Instead, the smirk remained and Sesshoumaru rested his weight lazily on the lowered Toukijin. This was getting more interesting than he had thought, and somehow, he felt that there was more than what it seemed to him. He knew that Kagome was right, and he too felt that something was not really proper. But then again, when was the world ever right? To him, it was always chaotic and disordered; even though somewhere in his mind he knew that there was some hierarchy and unknown force behind that drives it onwards. But he also knew that he was not one of the higher hierarchy and to be driven mercilessly by that unknown force did not make him happy at all.

The only 'peace' that he ever knew was when his chichi-ue ruled and reigned over his lands with reason and strength, and even then, the peace that he saw was surface and fleeting. One had to close one eye over the murky disturbances that lay beneath the lower orders and forms of life who struggled to live within the so-called 'rules and regulations' of Life; or what the humans called 'laws and conscience'. And only when the chaos crept into his realm of carefully-protected tranquility and reality did he have to weed out the parasitic causes.

Sesshoumaru was never an easily-angered or rash person; nor was he a busybody who wanted to know every reason behind everything that happened, because he knew that there would be none. This was the way he believed the world worked, and so was Life itself, until Kagome came. But she was an unusual exception to the game of Life, and the once tightly-held peace was all lost to the air when his chichi-ue passed away. From then on, Sesshoumaru felt that it was his turn to uphold his chichi-ue's right and duty to instill some order into his world that he tried to expand, although he would not follow in his predecessor's ways since it did not work well at all.

He wanted to be at the top of the hierarchy, not to be pushed nor herded around Life's ways like a senseless cow. And that was why he had convinced himself that he ought to control his Fate, not the other way round. Sesshoumaru believed it to be possible, because if he did not, then Life would be very dreadful and hopeless. And so, he did his very best to try to make out some order and control through the chaos and disruption through Life, because ithat/i was also the only thing he could do.

He smiled bitterly to himself, amazed that he could remember so much about his chichi-ue and her but almost none about anything else. He continued to fix his stare at Kanna and thought she was just another disorder thrown into his life that he either had to right it, or remove it.

"So, you want me to kill her, and save you then?" Kagome thought that she had never heard him more amused and sarcastic at the same time. Was he mocking her, or playing with her? She would never understand the acute, battling mind of a taiyoukai, she told herself resignedly.

Kanna shot another nervous glance at Chiyo and frowned a little. Something was not right; Chiyo should have struck by now if she wanted to keep her life. Did she have other orders from Naraku? Or was she not loyal to him, too? Or was she simply stupid, not recognizing that she was betraying her out to Sesshoumaru? Kanna nodded her head and replied, "ee."

Kagome frowned; she was getting desperate at the time that had passed which they could have used to their advantage to leave. It was simply not prudent to fight when Jaken and Rin were still with them, and try as she might, she could not figure out what were his plans or motives. Or maybe I'm just so used to Inuyasha jumping right into the action and try to kill everyone. Kagome sighed inwardly to herself and fingered the arrow in her right hand.

"I do not care for her," Sesshoumaru threw a disdainful glance at Chiyo and continued coolly, "in return for your safety, I want you to bring me to Naraku."

Kagome's lips parted. She could not believe her ears that he had said that. Was that an alliance? Agreement? Treaty?

Kanna nodded her head in relief, "Demo as I have said, the seer had mentioned that you will need to work with Inuyasha."

His eyebrows straightened grimly, "I will not work with him," and tightened his grip over Toukijin's wrapped hilt.

The nihility youkai noticed it, and bowed her head further, "I am merely reporting what she has said. Besides, Inuyasha is bound to seek Naraku too."

"Are you really telling us the truth?" Kagome knew that this question was stupid, but she had to assure herself since there had to be some amount of mutual trust if they were to work together, if that was anything what Sesshoumaru had in mind.

Before Kanna could say anything, she heard a small startled gasp from Kagome. Her black eyes rounded as never before and she swung her head back, Byakuya!

The illusionist youkai was now flying towards them in his gigantic paper crane, and swarms of youkai were following tightly behind him, mildly resembling a humongous mass of black and purple howling cloud. Kanna took a step back and glanced at Chiyo nervously; there was now a hungry sparkle in her crimson eyes that reminded her eerily of Naraku.

Sesshoumaru's eyebrows dipped, and he stood in front of Kagome protectively with Toukijin raised. Nothing would ever be right, he mused and gathered his youki to himself, ready for battle.

"Byakuya!" Kanna gripped her magical mirror and stared. Whatever was Naraku thinking or planning! Had he discovered? Or had that damned Byakuya turned her out? Questions raced through her mind as she continued, "Nani o shite iru!"

Byakuya hopped off the paper crane which promptly burst into a ball of flames and folded his arms lazily, "What do you think I am doing? I'm on Naraku's orders, of course. I can't ignore him you know."

Kanna thought that she had never ever hated anything before, but now she knew that if it had to be something, then it would be his smirk. How dare he turn her in to Naraku! She fingered the smooth, cold rim of her magical mirror and smiled, "Part of your soul is still with my mirror. If you dare to-"

A splintered, clinking sound was instantly heard. Kanna looked down and realized to her horror that her mirror had cracked. She never thought it was even possible and before she knew it, her legs gave way to the strain of shock it had on her mind and fell to the ground like a lifeless doll. Byakuya's eyes widened as a thick yellow, glowing strand floated out from the rim of her mirror and shot for his body. He felt a sudden jolt in his core as if he had been shaken up, sorted out and rearranged. He smiled to himself, so this was what Naraku had in mind!

"Kanna!" Kagome gasped loudly and rushed to her side before Sesshoumaru could stop her.

"Daijoubu desu ka!" Kagome lifted Kanna up against her chest and never thought that she could look paler than she was previously. Her skin was cold, slightly clammy, and she was also incredibly light. In fact, she was too light, as if Kagome was lifting nothing more than a bag of bones, and she doubted that the density of bones could be that little.

"Ho?" Byakuya lurched his head forward and smiled, "are you dying now Kanna?"

Kagome stiffened; her mirror! Kanna must be... She only knew that the mirror was her weapon, but she never thought that it was linked to her life too. If so... then... then she was not bluffing us!

"Kanna! Hang on!" Kagome gripped her small childish hands tightly and hoped that it helped, although she knew that it would not. But Kanna did not say anything or move; perhaps all of her strength had left with the destruction of her magical mirror. For the first time in her life, Kagome saw fear, sorrow and misery reflected in her not-so-empty large eyes and pitied her. Kanna died with her eyes open, and Kagome felt like crying. Kanna was just a child like Souta, she told herself and tried to close her eyes to no avail.

Sesshoumaru frowned, what was Kagome doing! Putting herself directly in front of danger's line and away from him! Females and their lack of logic, he told himself as he commanded sternly, "Kagome."

But she did not respond. Kagome laid Kanna down gently and fixed her arrow onto the string of her bow, "Byakuya! You murdered her!"

"That was Naraku, not me, you stupid foolish miko," Byakuya grinned and snapped his fingers, at which the youkai started to gather and collect behind him, darkening the bright skies above them and giving out eerie, loud grunts and screams for their thirst of blood, souls and flesh.

Kagome frowned hard at the malice that surrounded her and thought of Kagura, Kohaku and Kanna. The unnecessary deaths, the torture of their souls, and the sorrow of their lives.

Ike!

The bright glowing pink hamaya was released from her fingers flying straight towards Byakuya. But before it could reach him, Chiyo jumped up and caught the hamaya in her bare hands.

Sesshoumaru's lips parted in utter shock; Kagome gasped again as a drop of perspiration trickled down her face.

The bright pink hamaya retained its glow as Chiyo landed on her feet like a cat. She drove the hamaya into the ground and stared at Kagome, who blinked twice to make sure that she was not seeing illusions. The skin on Chiyo's hand was not even burnt at all; how could it be!

Byakuya laughed, as he observed the countenances of both taiyoukai and miko. No one would have expected Chiyo to be capable of such a thing, not even he could until Naraku told him. "Are you surprised? Sesshoumaru, do you think that she is able to kill you?"

Sesshoumaru glared at the illusionist youkai's taunt and waved Toukijin across, releasing huge amounts of youki with it, "Soryuuha!"

Crackling blue bursts of energy sped forward like lightning but Byakuya managed to pick Chiyo and hurled themselves out from danger's way.

"Abunee!" Byakuya turned his relieved head around and saw that a considerable portion of the youkai swarm was wiped out.

"Sesshoumaru! There are endless of them, you know," Byakuya mocked with an evil smile on his face while Chiyo stood silently beside him.

Kagome ran to Sesshoumaru's side and released another hamaya, which was deflected again by Chiyo effortlessly, as if she swatting nothing more than a fly.

"Muda na, don't you understand? Chiyo has miko powers!" Byakuya continued as he folded his arms again.

"Hmph," Sesshoumaru snorted. But before he could attack again, he heard a shout, which sounded oddly familiar.

"KAGOME!"

Inuyasha's heart prattled as never before as he rushed to her with all his might. Kagome is with him, he jumped over a wild hedge as the ground beneath him turned into a blur of browns, whites and sparse greens; she's surrounded by Byakuya and youkai, his right clawed hand found itself wrapped around the hilt of Tessaiga; she's in danger, Inuyasha brandished out the transformed fang and yelled again.

"KAZE NO KIZU!"

Kagome stiffened, and felt her legs going wobbly at her knees. The familiar bright yellow youki-fork burst through the swarm of youkai; Byakuya and Chiyo both ducked to opposite sides while the youkai behind them crumbled to angry dust and ashes.

When the cloud of dust had finally settled down, Kagome thought that she might faint. Inuyasha was standing before her, in all his glory with the magnificent, transformed Tessaiga held in both hands while he put up his grim, frowning look that he always had when he was in a battle. Miroku and Sango were behind him on Kirara, and Shippou was clutching tightly to Inuyasha's red fire-rat haori. Their facial expressions were indescribable and undecipherable; Kagome swallowed down a lump in her throat.

She felt as if she had been caught red-handed while stealing, or on the bed with her lover, and also like a slut or prostitute. Kagome felt deeply ashamed too, to the barrage of reasons and thoughts that were hurling itself against the doors of her mental sanity again. Unknown feelings rose to her heart at the sight of Inuyasha; something was shining in his golden eyes that she had never seen before. Was that hurt? Betrayal? Sorrow? Misery? Love? Fear? Despise? Anger? Relief? Joy? Or just simply, betrayal?

Her knees failed her and Kagome slumped to the ground, her bow slipping carelessly from her fingers. Had Toutousai told Inuyasha? Or was he merely following Byakuya? Or did Kikyou tell him? Perhaps he went to her house and discovered that she was not in Tokyo? Did Souta tell him anything? Did Inuyasha suspect anything then? Kagome closed her eyes; she had never expected such a 'reunion' and was afraid that she would really collapse. Another yell jerked her away from the mental strain that she was exerting on her brain and she looked up wearily.

"Kagome! Daijoubu ka!" Inuyasha frowned and scowled at the same time.

Kagome's heart warmed; that was her Inuyasha, who always asked her that same question.

"Kagome!"

"Kagome-chan!"

"Kagome-sama!"

She smiled at her friends, and nodded her head weakly, "ee, daijoubu desu..."

Sesshoumaru suddenly felt alienated, and oddly calm. Inuyasha was here for her. She could return to him.

"Ho? Some reunion we have here..." Byakuya commented in mock curiosity as he continued and jerked his finger at Kagome, "Inuyasha, why is she with your brother?"

The hanyou gritted his teeth but did not reply. "Kagome, get out of here! It's dangerous!"

"Demo..." Kagome protested, although she could find no reason to.

"She is safe with me," Sesshoumaru did not know why he had said that. Was it out of a pique of jealousy, or possessiveness? But the words had left his mouth, and he did not stop to think more about it, since the more important issue was to deal with Byakuya and Chiyo.

"Temee, I'm not asking you!" Inuyasha was really trying his very best to ignore Sesshoumaru's presence.

"Hanyou, concentrate," Sesshoumaru raised Toukijin and thought that Inuyasha was indeed as what Kagome had described.

"Baka Inuyasha! We should be fighting as one, not quarrelling!" Shippou exclaimed as he hopped to safety, which was on Miroku's shoulder. Miroku and Sango nodded their heads in unison and thought that this was also the worst situation for all of them to be in, especially for Kagome, who could only sit on the ground until strength returned to her jelly-like legs.

Byakuya laughed out loud, although he felt a shred of panic and fear that Chiyo might not be able to handle all of them. He would have to personally tackle the houshi and taijiya and keep Chiyo free to deal with the two inu-brothers. "Inuyasha! Sesshoumaru is right; you should listen to your elder brother you know!"

"Yakamashii! Who is asking for your opinion here you bastard!" Inuyasha swung Tessaiga angrily at him, while Miroku frowned hard at the girl-child beside Byakya. Was she the new underling? He noticed that Kanna was lying lifelessly at one side and wondered who had killed her. Things were more severe and grave than he had thought, if Kanna had been killed by Naraku, since there was no blood on Toukijin.

But the illusionist youkai merely smiled, "Chiyo."

All pairs of eyes rounded at the transformation that took place before their eyes, except for Sesshoumaru who stood regally and calmly although his fingers tightened its grip over Toukijin's hilt.

"Wah..." Shippou's jaw dropped as Chiyo's soft black hair turned stark vermillion while her black irises switched to a bright hue of royal purple. Miroku fingered the beads that covered his Kazaana while Sango took to the skies on Kirara and kept a watchful eye on the youkai looming behind them.

"Sesshoumaru-sama, Inuyasha-sama, doo desu ka! Chiyo possesses both youki and miko powers, and you two will be the first to get a taste of her power! How does that sound?" Byakuya took out the katana from his back and grinned widely. Finally!

"Don't fool with me you fucking bastard!" Inuyasha swung Tessaiga out at Chiyo and yelled, "Kaze no Kizu!"

"Dame yo!" Miroku shouted as Chiyo flipped over the Kaze no Kizu like an acrobat and landed straight in front of Inuyasha; who was stunned for a moment at her agility. Chiyo promptly stretched out her hands and wrapped them around Inuyasha's neck.

"Shi ne," her voice was soft, cold yet calm at the same time. Inuyasha's eyes rounded instantly and yelled out in pain as her hands glowed bright pink. He could hear the sizzling sounds that her contact was making on the skin of his neck and realized that he was in so much pain that he could not even lift Tessaiga to hack her. Is this how it feels to be purified? Inuyasha thought to himself while Kagome screamed as loudly as possible.

"INUYASHA!"

Without another word, Sesshoumaru dashed forward and aimed Toukijin at Chiyo, who at the last minute decided to let go of Inuyasha's neck and jumped back.

"Inuyasha!" Miroku, Sango and Shippou cried out at the same time, all worried for his safety.

"Oi, your enemy is me, don't look away!" Byakuya took out five long lotus blossoms from his long sleeve and threw them high up into the sky, "chirei!"

As the pristine white lotus blossoms were scattered, shreds of it turned into small, sharp scalpels that fluttered through the skies. Miroku, Sango and Shippou suddenly found themselves alone, as if they were transported away to a foreign place and they could not hear anything nor feel the presence of their friends.

"Miroku, this is an illusion! We are trapped inside!" Shippou covered his head.

"And these are sharp!" Sango winced as one lotus-shred cut her cheek, blood dribbling down to her chin. Miroku swung his Shakoju around, trying to deflect the deadly shreds while he cursed, "They are diverting us away from Inuyasha and Kagome! That Chiyo is dangerous! We need to get out of this! Shippou!"

The kitsune shook his head and cried as he felt another lotus-shred cutting across the tip of his ear. "I can't do anything, Byakuya is too strong for me! We need to defend ourselves first!"

"Houshi-sama!" Sango used her katana and tried to fling the lotus-shreds away before she and Kirara got too badly cut-up. The knives-shreds did not seem to end and it was as if it was snowing lotus blossoms constantly

Miroku thought hard as the ringing of Shakoju resounded through his ears, "Sango! Shippou! Come to me!" He stuck his Shakoju into the ground and crossed his legs in lotus-style, "I will put up a kekai for us, I think it might work!"

Byakuya grinned as he reclined back on his paper crane and looked at the translucent glowing barrier, "Let's see who will last longer, ne?"

Sango looked as beads of perspiration and blood collected at the tip of his chin. They would be safe under his kekai as long as he continued to pray and focus, but to how long it would last, she had no idea. She took out a handkerchief and wiped his face, "houshi-sama..."

But Miroku did not open his eyes, and prayed hard inwardly that Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru would quickly settle everything before his body and mind gave out. He had to protect Sango, Shippou and Kirara for as long as he could. They would not die here.

"Sesshoumaru!" Kagome thought that she might go crazy too, from her worry and anxiety for both the inu-brothers. She forced herself to stand up and ran over to Inuyasha, hoping that he was not hurt too badly.

The taiyoukai glanced over his right shoulder and at that instant; Kagome thought that he wanted to say something. But Sesshoumaru remained silent and she felt wretched, seeing him challenging Chiyo alone while she remained behind nursing his otouto. Was things supposed to be like that? She asked herself and thought that she could feel his sadness radiating from that silent glance. Kagome wanted to be out there in the battlefield, to be by his side and to help him.

But, Inuyasha was hurt. And he was there too.

Kagome closed her eyes and placed her hands over Inuyasha's burnt neck, "Inuyasha, stay still."

The hanyou obeyed silently as Kagome somewhat tried to heal the wounds. His black eyebrows drooped to the sides as he watched his love at work on his neck. The way she squeezed her eyes shut, the wetness that lined her lush black lashes, the tension in her narrow shoulders, told him something that he did not want to know. What had exactly happened? Why was Kagome with Sesshoumaru? Did she love him, or him? His head hurt, his neck hurt, and he wished that he could kill Chiyo, Byakuya and Sesshoumaru.

Kagome was not his. He belonged to Kikyou. So why was he so angry? So hurt? Why did he even feel betrayed when he had already told Kagome that they could never be together?

But... Yet... Still... Inuyasha closed his eyes.

He loved Kagome, and he knew that she loved him. Where did Sesshoumaru stand in her heart then?

"Inuyasha, this is all I can do. Please be careful," Kagome withdrew from him and took out an arrow from her quiver and nocked it on the string, trying to aim at Chiyo. She knew that it did not work against her, but that could prove to be a source of distraction which might aid Sesshoumaru.

Inuyasha opened his eyes and saw a look of determination in Kagome's deep brown irises. The questions would have to wait until this battle was over, he told himself as he fingered his neck gently and picked up the transformed Tessaiga.

"Kagome, stay behind!" Inuyasha growled and ran forward to join the battle, not willing to lose to Sesshoumaru. She nodded her head and bit her lower lip, stay calm! If not I can't help any of them!

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes as Chiyo's glowing pink hands made a grab for his empty sleeve. He could feel the cackling energy of her purifying ki near his left shoulder stump and swiftly swung Toukijin down on her outstretched hands. But Chiyo was equally fast and instantly released her fingers away from his sleeve.

So she attempts to purify me bare-handed huh, he delivered a side kick to her legs, flipped backwards and landed gracefully on the ground. Sesshoumaru took a quick glance at Ah-Un's direction and realized that they were still safe while they hid behind the draconic beast.

Inuyasha crashed Tessaiga onto the ground when Chiyo skidded backwards and halted to a stop. "Kaze no KIZU!"

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed at the monstrous blast of energy, he thought he somewhat remembered this attack and looked fondly at Tessaiga. Did Inuyasha inherit that powerful katana from his chichi-ue too? Was he even worthy to wield that katana? He thought Inuyasha's swings were not smooth, efficient nor precise at all. In fact, it looked to him that the hanyou was waving the fang wildly around like a butcher or madman.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome cried out as Chiyo spun around herself on her left foot, while she made a big circle with her right. She was like a small spinning top that Shippou often played, her speed was incredibly fast and all they could see was the light pink glow that swirled out from the winds that resulted from her demon-like spinning, neutralizing the youki of the approaching Kaze no Kizu.

"Impossible!" Inuyasha's jaw dropped as his Kaze no Kizu disappeared within the purifying mini tornado that Chiyo had created. Without another word, Sesshoumaru called forth a string of his acid-youki whip and flung it out at her. They could hear the loud crackling and whipping sounds when his youki-whip came into contact with her purifying spin and when Chiyo slowed down to a stop, there was a hungry greedy look in her eyes that unnerved both Inuyasha and Kagome.

"Tatakai!" was the only word that came out from her mouth as she bent forward and panted a little.

"Sesshoumaru! Inuyasha! There's a Shikon no kakkera in her forehead!" Kagome shouted and aimed her hamaya at her forehead, since that was the only place her hamaya might work on Chiyo.

"Ah wakatta!" Inuyasha frowned and both brothers charged forward, trying to keep Chiyo as occupied as possible while Kagome tried to look for an opportunity. If she missed, Inuyasha or Sesshoumaru would get hurt. She shook her head to dispel the worrying thoughts, "Try to keep her still!"

"How the hell am I supposed to do that!" Inuyasha shouted in frustration while Sesshoumaru frowned hard; this was a difficult, tricky situation and although he did not want to work with Inuyasha, he had to make sure that the hanyou was at least in one piece because Kagome cared for him too. Upon that thought, he felt a little bitter and jealous but decided that it was no use since there was no future for him and her.

Kagome's eyes widened as Sesshoumaru grabbed onto Chiyo's right arm. Upon seeing that, Inuyasha instantly grabbed for her left arm and Kagome could see the pain on their faces while Chiyo's body glowed a bright intense pink. She prayed to Heavens that her one and only shot would be as accurate as Kikyou's and concentrated on the tip of the arrow like never before.

"IKE!" Kagome released her hamaya and ran towards them.

The arrow struck true at the middle of her forehead and two inu-brothers instantly released their badly charred hands from her. Inuyasha could hear her skull cracking as Chiyo fell back lifelessly from the impact of the hamaya. Kagome pounced onto her anxiously; half-amazed that only the tip of the arrow was lodged in her forehead, and half-doubtful that she had actually got her. She pulled her hamaya out effortlessly and quickly extracted the once tainted Shikon no kakkera from the small wound.

"Shin da!" Inuyasha ignored the burning pain in his hand and knelt beside Kagome who returned the shard into the bottle around her neck.

"Iie, she's breathing..." Kagome frowned as she peered into Chiyo's dulled irises, wondering how anyone could ever possibly survive that and whether her skull was also made of diamond.#

"Kagome, move away," Sesshoumaru commanded and before they could say anything, he plunged Toukijin straight through Chiyo's heart and she jerked up. Kagome gasped and flinched as he pulled out Toukijin gracefully and gave it a careless wipe on Chiyo's yukata. At that moment, she thought that the old Sesshoumaru had returned, and that thought worried her greatly.

Inuyasha was oblivious to the discomfort that Kagome felt and growled as Chiyo's blood splattered onto his hakamas and Tessaiga.

"Oi Sesshoumaru! I haven't asked her about Naraku yet!"

The taiyoukai glared at the hanyou, and thought that if it was not for Kagome, he would have swiftly decapitated Inuyasha's head. "This Sesshoumaru do not need to answer to you, hanyou."

"Inuyasha, mitte!" Kagome pulled on his sleeves and pointed to Tessaiga which was now sprinkled with Chiyo's pale red blood. The fang was now enveloped in a light pink glow, and they could see the droplets of blood slowly disappearing into the blade.

"Huh?" Tessaiga was differentn now; Inuyasha could feel the change to it, as if it was lighter and more powerful. Sesshoumaru let out a derisive snort as he slid Toukijin back into his obi, and tried not to feel neglected now that Kagome was paying more attention to Inuyasha.

"Where is Miroku-sama and Sango-chan? Shippou?" Kagome suddenly realized that she had not seen nor heard her friends while they were battling Chiyo. All three turned their faces around and noticed that they were alone. Something was not right; it was so quiet and still that the silence bore into their ears.

"Mou! Must be Byakuya!" Kagome cried out in frustration as thick mist started to gather around them in white cloudy, pillars.

"Chikushou! Miroku! Sango! Shippou!" Inuyasha yelled out but there was no response, not even echoes could be heard. The mist was thickening and all he could see was the transformed Tessaiga in his own hand.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and spoke very calmly, "Kagome, shoot your hamaya into the sky."

Kagome nodded her head and at the same time, was worried for her friend's safety. Would they be safe? As she pulled an arrow out from her quiver, she suddenly felt someone's breath on her fingers. But before she could scream, a hard hit was delivered at the base of her skull and blackness engulfed her mind.

"SESSHOUMARU-SAMA!"

As the high-pitched, unmistakable scream resounded through the mist, the illusion wavered like a disturbed, rippling lake reflection and disappeared as fast as it had appeared. At that very instant, bright, glaring sunlight filtered into the place and Inuyasha could see his friends hiding under Miroku's kekai. "Miroku! Sango! Daijoubu ka!"

"Byakuya!" Inuyasha cursed the illusionst youkai while Sesshoumaru gritted his teeth and glared, red bleeding into his golden eyes. He recognized that voice, for he had heard it in his dreams so many, many times. But Sesshoumaru never once thought that she had to call out for his aid for real and upon that realization, his anger multiplied a hundred-fold.

"Tasukete Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin squealed and kicked hard while a youkai wrapped its body tightly around her and flew to Byakuya who was still seated on his paper crane.

"Release her!" Sesshoumaru growled, winds of youki started to swirl around him in a mad rush while his canine teeth lengthened.

"Hmm... where is Kagome?" Byakuya laughed out loud.

Upon that question, the two inu-brothers turned around, but Kagome was nowhere to be found! Realization dawned upon both brothers that Byakuya had used his illusion to dull their senses and had taken her away right under their noses.

"Temee!" Inuyasha gritted his teeth while Miroku, Sango and Shippou flew to him on Kirara.

"Dame yo Inuyasha! You will hurt Kagome-sama if you use Kaze no Kizu!" Miroku by now was exhausted beyond description as he held on tightly to Kirara's thick furs.

"Kagome!" Shippou cried and berated himself for not being able to help out.

"Yare yare..." Byakuya snapped his fingers and another humongous crane appeared by his side, with the unconscious Kagome draped over its paper-like body. "Did you really think that we were really after your lives? Haha!"

"Kagome-chan!" Sango cried out and almost flung out her youkai boomerang when Miroku stopped her, "Sango!"

Sesshoumaru's eyes widened so much that he thought they might tear, his nostrils flared and he balled his clawed hand, ignoring the blood and pain. Kagome was captured by Byakuya, he had failed to protect her and Rin, he had failed to see that coming. He was furious, so furious at himself that his eyes seemed to be on flames again and he felt a little light-headed from the anger and blood that were rushing to his head. He wanted to growl, to bite, to claw, and to kill.

Yes, the kill. It was always familiar, the urge to kill to relieve his stress and tension.

Inuyasha ran and jumped high up into the air, Tessaiga poised in his hand wanting to hack off Byakuya's head. But before he could get near, Byakuya turned around and disappeared before his eyes, along with Kagome and Rin. "Mata ne!"

"Aaah!" Shippou's hair stood on his end when a bright string of youki suddenly appeared in front of him.

"Sesshoumaru!" Inuyasha growled and ducked to one side as the bright green whip retracted to its master. "Kisama nani o suru!"

The taiyoukai did not reply but hurled his whip at the hanyou relentlessly, while Inuyasha gritted his teeth and did his best to duck the acidic attacks. The thin trees were sliced into miserable pathetic chunks as the whip chased after Inuyasha like a mad dog.

"Houshi-sama! Is he mad!" Sango thought that the worst that could happen was for the two brothers to start their sibling fight now. She helped Miroku down Kirara and took his Shakoju while Shippou hopped onto his lap.

Miroku frowned and shook his head as perspiration clouded his vision, "Wakaranai... but it might have something to do with Kagome and our sudden arrival..."

"SESSHOUMARU!" Inuyasha blocked the deadly whip with Tessaiga and thanked Kami that the youkai fang could withstand it, "do you want to kill me now!"

Sesshoumaru retracted his string of youki and whipped out Toukijin. The two demonic blades crashed against each other and both brothers skidded in opposite directions from the impact. But he did not stop; instead he swiftly regained his footing and charged for Inuyasha again.

The hanyou was puzzled, angered, curious and jealous. Many questions were revolving in his mind like a merry-go-round and he wanted to give his brother a good piece of mind, although he had no idea what he could say. For now, he just wanted to thrash him, and perhaps kill him since it was partly the taiyoukai's fault that he got distracted from Kagome.

"ARGHHH!" Inuyasha spun on his bare foot and blocked another swing from Toukijin as he shouted, "Why are you with Kagome!"

Sesshoumaru did not keep quiet this time round. She was his. No matter where she went or who she chose; because she would always belong to him in his world.

"Listen Sesshoumaru! Kagome is with me, and I am going to save her! Don't stand in my way!" Inuyasha tried to kick Sesshoumaru but to no avail.

"Hanyou, I do not need to explain my intentions to you and I do not want to repeat myself!" Sesshoumaru raised Toukijin to arm-level and gave it a big wave, "SORYUUHA!"

Inuyasha's golden eyes rounded as he stuck Tessaiga down to the ground and used it to shelter himself from the attack. He really wants to kill me fucking bastard!

Before the dust settled down, Inuyasha yanked Tessaiga out from the dry earth, "KAZE NO KIZU!"

Miroku and Shippou dropped their jaws, while Sango gasped loudly.

Sesshoumaru for once thought that he might not be able to evade the bright yellow youki-fork as it sped towards him at a hurricane-like speed. As the yellow glare blinded his eyes, he could feel the angry winds of Kaze no Kizu approaching him and the sensation of Death at his door-step. At that very moment, fright took over his sense of survival and he could only stand there, as past memories jolted and jogged their way back into his mind.

He could no longer see the yellow blur of youki while frames of his memories flew before his eyes like thousands of bamboo scrolls unrolling themselves in front of him with demonic speed. He did not even have the time to feel overwhelmed as sudden pain shot into his eyes and head, which vaguely reminded him of the time he slipped by the door of Death, when he woke up and when he fell over the precipice with Kagome.

Sesshoumaru heard Kagome calling out his name, and the sheath of Tenseiga pulsing before darkness overtook his mind.


# Inuyasha's Kongousouha is actually gigantic diamond spears.

Note:

I realize that many readers have not read the later chapters of the manga and I would like to point out some facts:

- Kohaku is indeed with Kikyou now.
- Kouga is dead in my fic, but not in the manga. In fact, he has obtained Goraishi (some sort of claw-like weapon).
- Kikyou did extract Midoriko's soul from the cave using her soul stealers to heal the wound Naraku had inflicted upon her (because it opened up again.
- Mouryoumaru did steal Inuyasha's Kongousouha (and the poor boy is trying to retrieve it back now.
- Byakuya is indeed an illusionist youkai and is a real character in the manga. But I made up his moves and attacks since nothing much is revealed about him yet. He has a katana but he has not used it yet.
- Kikyou is able to 'control' the Shikon shards to a certain extent, therefore Kohaku follows her (for various reasons) and I remember that she did try to take the shards from Kouga too.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

And finally! This is the last chapter to "Fate"! (lets out a loooooong relieved sigh)

Is it long enough? )

There will be a sequel, and its title will be "Ten Thousand Cranes". I know a lot of things were not explained in this chapter, and the ending might seem a little abrupt. But rest assured that the story will unfold properly (I hope so at least!) in the coming "Cranes". I already have the whole plot and storyline in my mind (well I had it all along before I started this) so give me some time, ne?

Will post updates in my LJ, if you guys ever want to know that is.

To ALL my reviewers, iroiro arigatou gozaimashita (thank you for everything)! Your reviews are just like my daily manna you know. I never expected that this would gather so many readers and of course, this would not have been if not for continuous encouragement, support and help from some good friends that I made here in Single Spark.

I will not be long-winded. Sore ja mata! (See you!)

Pseudomonas