Spoilers. Anime!canon, and only just.


Naraku was gone, and Kagura could not believe her luck.

Oh, she thought, he'll be back. Obviously. She wasn't as naive as that; she could still feel him, tugging on her mind, directing the way she directed the wind. But for the moment he seemed to want nothing from her, and she was free.

For the moment.

And because she was free to make what enemies and allies she pleased she landed when she saw the lone girl, intrigued.

she said. Another wolf.

Ayame stared at her, lips slightly parted, and then her gaze turned furious.

You! You're the one that killed Kouga's pack! You're the reason he won't marry me!

Kagura cocked her head. Which bothers you more? she asked, and Ayame looked abashed.

I hate you. I hate you as much as I love him.Must not be very much, then.

Ayame was angrier than she had ever been and more confused than she had ever been. She had always pictured a more obvious evil, not a pretty face and prettier figure, and she was unsure how to respond. Hair demons, with mounds of twisting locks and slobbering jaws, were easy to fight, easier to kill. Oversized, undead men could be returned to ash and dust with no regret. It all came down, she supposed, to the unwillingness to kill the beautiful things in life.

Faith, wisdom, and valor, uh, Kagura said, smirking, and Ayame's hand clutched the flower in her hair self-consciously and scowled at her. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin.

That's right; I'm Ayame.Tell me, Kagura said, clearly enjoying herself, if I were to eat you, would it cure my world-weariness? Ayame flushed and she laughed, not bothering to hid it behind her fan.

she went on, tugging a feather from her bun and chuckling, I really ought to be going. Not that I have to, she added, smirk growing, feeling smug.

Ayame hollered at the sky, Kouga's in danger and I want you to tell me what's going on!

But Kagura didn't have to, so she didn't.


The next time Kagura saw Ayame, the wolf girl thrust a handful of yellow roses under her nose.

A present? Kagura asked, arched an eyebrow, and positively quivered with mirth. She had literally never found life so carefree, until she was free.

Sort of.

If this is some sort of trap, she advised her, it's falling flat. I didn't peg you as a dagger-in-the-left-hand sort of person, anyway.

Ayame scowled at her. I'm not treacherous. Not like you.There isn't anything you want that you don't have? she asked incredulously, and Ayame faltered slightly. Nothing you wouldn't fight for?I... I would concede, if I'm not wanted-It's not a matter of being wanted, it's a matter of wanting-Well then you're just being selfish! Ayame shouted. If I want him to be happy and if I want what's best for him, then I can't want him anymore! Kagura said.

Ayame glowered. What's that supposed to mean?I suppose that's the difference, then. You want someone else, and I just want myself.

Ayame didn't quite know what to say to that.

Kagura gestured. The flowers, then. What're they for?I had a... premonition. I thought they suited you, she clarified. Kagura made a face.

I hate flowers.

Ayame was shocked for a moment. What? Why?They're always looking to the sun, she grumbled. They haven't got any light of their own. She accepted them nonetheless; the thorns dug into her hands, turning them bloody. Ayame felt a little sick. Of course, this woman was a slaughterer. Murder wasn't even the proper word for her crime - she'd mowed down Kouga's men like they were stupid cattle, dragged Kouga in like a stunned animal to the chopping block. She couldn't forgive that. She couldn't forgive herself for forgetting that.

I want you to tell me what's going on, she said firmly. I need to know what Kouga's facing, I need to know if he's going to... she trailed off, biting her lip, and then she said, I love him.You act like it's required of you, Kagura mumbled.

That's not true!Then tell me, Kagura said, crossing her arms, roses jutting out from her elbow, why do you love him so much?When I was still a little girl, Ayame said, jumping into the story immediately, and I wandered off alone, he saved me from a Gokuraku-chou, and I-Hold it, Kagura said, lifting a hand. He saved you from a stupid mistake?No! I was going to die and he-So he saved you from learning a life lesson, and now you want him to keep saving you from life? Kagura gave her a distasteful look. So you don't want to make mistakes? Quite frankly, I think he's the biggest mistake you've ever made.That's not true! Ayame shouted, hating this woman that made insinuations and couldn't possibly understand anything about living.

Then tell me - how much living have you done since then? Kagura's eyebrows were drawn down at the corners. I bet you haven't even changed your hairstyle. You wanted him to come back as if time had not passed either of you by, didn't you?

Ayame had never been angrier at her, even when she'd learned this was the other woman Kouga had left her to chase after.


The next time Ayame saw Kagura she said, I've thought about what you said.And I think you're wrong, she added, glaring sidelong at her. Silence passed between them. I don't know why I'm talking to you. I should go and find Kouga and have him finish you off.I'm not interested in fighting him, Kagura said, and Ayame stared.

But you're enemies!

Kagura laughed.

No, Kouga and Naraku are enemies. I'm just Naraku's buffer, his comfort zone. He just fights through me. Ayame said, frowning around the idea, if you didn't have to, you wouldn't fight him? Kagura said. Maybe not. But then he'd be my enemy, and that's the important part in all this.

Ayame pursed her lips and looked away. Is that all you want?Of course.I don't think so, Ayame said. I think you're bitter. I think you're envious. I think you're really very cynical.

Kagura snorted.

I also think that's sad.


Ayame felt awkward around Kagura. The wind youkai struck her as someone who was trying to stuff a lifetime of life into a very short amount of time - she was hurried, blurred, so anxious to experience that she never seemed to enjoy.

Even though she was so much older, had seen so much more, Ayame felt like a child in comparison. While Kagura was fixing windows, Ayame was still laying the foundation. When Kagura looked at her, she felt unbuilt. Unmade.



The last time Kagura and Ayame saw each other, Ayame said, I'm not going to ask you what's going on, because I know Kouga's going to live, even if he's not going to live with me.Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence, Kagura quipped, smirking, and Ayame frowned at her.

Do you believe you're going to be free? she asked, and Kagura's face fell immediately. She scowled lightly and turned to face the other woman, inches apart.

If I do, she promised, you will be my enemy.

They stood and stared at each other, breathing on each other's faces. Kagura's eyes flickered down to her lips and then... she pulled away, turned away, and flicked her fan open.

I think, Ayame said, you're the one afraid of living.

Kagura smiled humorlessly. I'll give you boldness, she said, but you're still not very wise.I can discern what's lasting, she shot at her back, and I can tell what isn't.


Kagura felt the tugging on her mind again, strong and impossible to ignore, and was blown to Mount Hakurei.


When Kagura died, collapsed in the field of cherry blossoms, she thought, Okay, okay, life and youth are transitory in nature, I get it, you don't have to beat me over the head with metaphors.

She thought that perhaps it was better to look to the light than to run from it.


Ginta asked several miles away, turning back to look at her quizzically. Are you okay?I'm not crying, she insisted irritably, rubbing at her face. The wind's just making my eyes water.