AUTHOR'S NOTES: Aha! The scariest part of Inuyasha's 13 Days of Halloween was the author not posting the last chapter, right? Right?
Okay, maybe not. Sorry. Real life once more intruded on the idyllic life of a fanfic author, and sleep became much more important than updating. Oh well...absence makes the heart grow fonder...right?
Anyway, here it is: the last chapter. Those of you who have seen the original Carrie will recognize at least part of the scene, so there is a crossover here. I actually did try to make this less humorous and more frightening. Originally, I was going to end this with Freddy Krueger once more, this time being absorbed into Naraku, which would have ended up with Naraku sporting a nasty bladed glove, but it would take away from the way this story ends. Besides, gotta leave something for next year. Maybe Kagura will get her revenge on everyone then...
I hope you enjoyed it–I really appreciate all the reviews, which have been fantastic (with one exception, but trolls are trolls). We'll have to do this again sometime.
The quest was over.
The Inu-tachi had won.
Naraku was dead, if one could claim that he was ever truly alive to begin with. It had taken a team effort to put the arch-demon down–arrows from Kagome and Kikyo, Miroku's wind tunnel, Sango's hiraikotsu, and even some distracting foxfire from Shippo. Naturally, it had been Inuyasha who had landed the final blow, a Wind Scar of incredible force, saving the life of his half-brother Sesshoumaru, who had been felled by Naraku. Tensaiga had kept Sesshoumaru alive to enjoy their victory, and he and Inuyasha had made a peace treaty of sorts.
The Shikon no Tama, with Kouga's reluctant giving up of his shards, was complete again, purified. Miroku and Sango had left Kaede's village that morning, with a promise to visit often; they were going to rebuild the demon hunters' village, with the newly freed Kohaku. Miroku had looked decidedly pleased to begin "rebuilding" of his own: now free of the curse, he and Sango were free to raise a family. Shippo had struck out to build his own legend. Sesshoumaru had returned to western Japan, to manage the family lands, with Rin and Jaken in tow. And Inuyasha? He had decided to remain a hanyou and at Kagome's side, even if that side meant going to the future. Even Kouga got a happy ending of sorts. Though he had failed to win Kagome's heart, Ayame's hand in marriage and becoming leader of a united wolf tribe was a pretty decent consolation prize.
It had left only one person to suffer. Kikyo.
Purifying the Shikon no Tama from Naraku's evil had required the life of a miko. Kagome had been willing to sacrifice hers, but Kikyo had insisted on that right. "If you die, Inuyasha will never forget you. He would never be happy," she had explained. "I have nothing, Kagome. Not even a true body of my own. I was reborn by accident, and I want only to be as free as the monk or the demon hunter's brother." And so Kikyo, with a strange smile on her lips, had willingly stepped into death, her body dissolving into the ground near the Goshimboku. Inuyasha had been heartbroken, but Kikyo had insisted that he live–for her own sake, and for his. She released him from his vow to follow her into the afterlife.
Now Kagome stood alone in the middle of the night, dressed only in a nightgown, before the Goshimboku tree. Surrounding her were the lights of Tokyo. Back in the house was a sleeping Inuyasha. Though they were firmly in love–they had consummated that fact this night–Kagome felt a deep debt to her ancestor, whose remains lay beneath the tree even here in the modern world. Perhaps the tree nourished itself on the clay and bones that had been all the undead Kikyo had been.
"There was never any love lost between us, Kikyo," Kagome whispered as she stared down at the spot. "I wanted you gone as much as you wanted me dead. Yet, at the end, we were able to make peace for Inuyasha's sake, not for our own. You have my respect...and my prayers." She knelt down and dusted some weeds from the grave, intending to say those prayers in tribute to a woman who had been neither enemy nor friend.
Without warning, a hand suddenly shot from beneath the soil and grabbed Kagome. Kagome screamed in surprise, but reflexes learned from three years of fighting Naraku were already working: she jerked backwards to get away, scrambling with her feet.
To her horror, she drew back out of her grave nothing less than Kikyo herself–or what was left of her.
No longer was Kikyo the beauty she had been in life and that the witch had sculpted to be again. Her miko robes were badly deteriorated and filthy; her hair was stringy and matted, and both arms were slimy and rotting. Her face was somewhat intact, a shadow of once was. One eye socket was empty and the lips had decomposed, exposing a death's head grin; the remaining eye burned with an fiendish glow. At that moment, Kagome knew she was not facing some mindless zombie, but Kikyo herself.
"What do you want?" Kagome demanded.
"What do I want?" Kikyo rasped back. "What have I always wanted, Kagome?"
"You died!" Kagome insisted. "You willingly died to purify the Shikon no Tama! You told Inuyasha he was free!"
Kikyo's smile grew wider, if that was possible. "I waited fifty years in hell to be reborn by Urasue, Kagome. Waiting four hundred years was not more difficult. And if I could change my mind once, I could do so again." She began to sink back into her grave, her grip on Kagome's arm still tight. "He's mine, Kagome, once you're out of the way once more."
"You can't have him!" Kagome screamed. "You can't have Inuyasha! You can't drag him back to hell–he won't follow!"
Kikyo cackled in a very-Naraku like manner. "Who said anything about dragging Inuyasha back to hell, Kagome?"
Kagome abruptly realized that Kikyo's grip was no accident. She too was being pulled under the earth. Frantically, Kagome tried to tear away from Kikyo, ripping away skin and muscle to expose white bone, but to no avail. She screamed and shouted for Inuyasha, but there was no sign of him. Her mouth filled with soil and her eyes clouded over with dirt and—
"Kagome! Wake up!"
At the sound of Inuyasha's voice, she abruptly snapped awake. She looked around with wild eyes, but everyone was there: Inuyasha, Miroku, Sango, and Shippo. Kirara mewed at her feet with concern. Once she had gotten her senses back, Kagome glanced at Miroku's right hand. It was still covered in a glove. It had all been a dream–and a nightmare.
"Are you okay?" Inuyasha asked, concern in his eyes. Kagome grabbed at his hakama, nodding, unable to speak. He held her until she stopped shaking. Her pajamas were soaked in sweat.
Then Miroku took a swipe at Sango's butt, which elicited the usual squeal of surprise, scream of curses, and slap of monkish cheek. Shippo rolled his eyes and Inuyasha yelled to knock it off, dammit, Kagome's trying to sleep. She smiled. Things were okay. It was normal.
Her smile faded suddenly, because she felt Kikyo's eyes on her. Somewhere in the forest, her undead rival watched...and waited.
Because there was something Kagome was afraid of, after all.