Of Life and Death

Of Life and Death
By Tanami

"It's hopeless. Give up, Kagura." Naraku's words shot through Kagura, stinging.
"Bastard..." she growled, red eyes narrowed in defiance. She had gone outside again without Naraku knowing. Kanna, the brat, had told him.
"Watch your mouth," He said evenly. Slowly, a black heart dripping with blood formed in his hands, he squeezed it. Kagura felt a sharp pain go through her body, originating from her chest. It travelled outwards, spreading an awful burn. She collapsed on the floor, cursing softly under her breath. Naraku looked on in cool arrogance.
"You are me, Kagura." He said. How long do you have to repeat that? Kagura thought, sitting up and straightening her kimono.
"Go away. I don't want to see you." His arm mutated into a spike laden appendage and rushed to spear her like a fish. A spurt of blood, and his arm contorted back into a regular arm.
"Ever again." Kagura lay on the floor, holding her shoulder. Blood stained her clothes, and she glared at Naraku with pure hatred.
"Damn you..." She growled, voice shaky from the blood that continued to pour out of the shoulder wound. "Kill me, already, I'm sick of you..." Naraku lightly smiled, standing up and walking towards Kagura. He sat behind her, putting a cold, white hand on her bleeding shoulder. A shiver ran down Kagura's spine. She heard herself whisper, "Kill me, please..." She shut her eyes, waiting for a knife or dagger to plunge into her back, setting her free. Instead, she felt a whisper of a kiss against her cheek. Her eyes widened in surprise, and she turned to face Naraku in disgust. He smiled lightly, again.
"If your wish is to be dead," he said, slowly. "I'd rather not grant it. You're too much fun to get rid of..." Then he left. Kagura's eyes narrowed in disbelief, then pounded her fists against the floor.
"DAMMIT!!!" she heard herself shout, hot tears starting to pour down her face. She cried for a little while, out of frustration. That bastard, She rubbed her cheek harshly, trying to get rid of the gross feeling Naraku left there. She looked around the room, looking for a sharp object. After going through a small chest, she found an ornamental dagger, heavy with gems. It was sharp enough to cut, but not enough to slice. I don't care, anymore... Kagura focused the dagger against her chest, right where her heart would be.
I'm sick of this life.
If there is no freedom in life... Kagura thrust the dagger inside her chest, blood dripping off the blade.
Surely there is freedom in death... She let her eyes shut, lips curled in a twisted smile. I've beaten you, Naraku, I have... She lay there for awhile, half sleeping. After awhile, she noticed she was not dead.
"What??!!" She pulled the dagger out, seeing if she missed. The wound had partly healed, but she could still see inside of it. It was hollow. There was no heart.
"NARAKU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" she screamed, tears flowing again. She wiped them away, but they still came in a salty flood. What's there for me to do?... Kagura continued to cry, but softly. That brat Kanna would hear her and tell Naraku. Little kiss-up. There's nothing for me... she thought, sitting so her arms could wrap around her legs. I'll get my heart, and then I'll kill myself... She sat up, then went to her room to change out of her blood stained kimono. Just you wait, Naraku...

Early the next morning, Kagura told Naraku she was going to go find Inuyasha and kill them. He chuckled softly, muttering something about Kagura learning her lesson. She eagerly left the fortress. After she left, Kanna went in and talked to Naraku.
"She's trying to escape." Kanna said, voice dull.
"I know," Naraku looked at Kanna with a bored expression.
"You're letting her escape."
"It's no fun torturing her anymore." Naraku glared at Kanna. "If I kill her then she'll be happy. So..." he grinned wickedly. "I'll let her go a little while.
So she's drugged on the sweet of life.
And then I'll get rid of her..." He emphasized his point by squeezing his hand tightly, pretending Kagura's heart was being squeezed. Kanna looked on expressionless.

Kagura flew over the land, watching humans farm and raise children and the like. She saw cows graze by forests, some being snatched away by hungry demons. She frowned. It's not fair, they can die but I can't... She shook her head, and continued her search to find a demon strong enough to kill Naraku and get her heart back.
"I could try that Sesshoumaru guy..." she said outloud, finger absentmindedly touching her lip. "But he's a sour old jerk. I'll find someone else." She stopped flying and landed near a mountain. She had earlier heard some rumors about a strong demon living there. She walked in the forest. Moans and chirping mixed together in an unsettling ensemble, several snakes wriggled by her feet. Kagura rolled her eyes.
"Come out, you freak." She shouted, brandishing her fan. There was rustle in the trees and ferns nearby, and a delicate looking man stepped out from them. His skin was perhaps even lighter than Naraku's, and his dark brown hair was tied back. He wore expensive looking clothes, protected by expensive looking armor. He held a blood-stained sword, and there was blood next to his smirking mouth. The only thing that kept him from looking human was that his ears were pointed and a long snake tail ran from his back.
"Ahh... a woman..." A forked tongue darted out of his mouth, and darted back in. Kagura looked on bored.
"Freak." She spat. The demon frowned.
"If you have came only to sssspit inssssults, prepare for a slow death by, I, the great snake demon Ssssebi."
"I need you to do me a favor," Kagura said. "And if you can do it, I'll give you two shikon shards." It was a lie. She had dropped the two she had stolen from that wolf demon.
"Those sssshikon ssshards???" Sebi looked interested. "The oness that raisse your powerssss?"
"Yes." Kagura nodded. If the demon wanted to kill her after he killed Naraku because she lied, that was alright. She was planning to die anyway.
"Giiiive them!!!" Sebi's body contorted, and reformed into a large, emerald scaled serpent. It lunged to attack Kagura. She sighed, taking out her fan.
"Fuujin no mai (Dance of the Wind Blades)!!" The demon was mutilated and fell to the ground in bloody chunks, inner organs diced.
"Stupid snake." She started to leave. If I can beat him, then he's useless. she thought, tucking her fan back in her kimono. A chunk of Sebi's body twitched. It made a squelching sound and transformed into the demon. The human looking version of it, anyway. Kagura turned to kill it again, but it grabbed her neck and proceeded to choke her.
"Hehe, thought you could kill me that easssily??" Sebi's face was filled was insane glee.
"Ugh." Kagura struggled, reaching for her fan. Sebi slapped her hand away from it.
"Bitch. I'll kill you..." He raised his sword, preparing to slice Kagura open. "Now.. should I eat your heart first, or your liver??" He licked his lips and was about to cut her open, when a blast of energy disintegrated Sebi. His ashes weren't even left. Kagura turned towards the source of that power, it was Sesshoumaru, holding that sword Toukijin.
"You..." Kagura glared at him.
"I can't stand weaklings who can't kill weaker ones in a fair fight." He shrugged, putting Toukijin back in it's scabbard.
"Weaker ones??" Kagura clenched her fist, and taking out her fan with the other one. Sesshoumaru looked on uninterested.
"And may I guess you don't even have shikon shards?"
"Bastard. Even if he was to kill me, it doesn't matter. I can't die."
"What's it to you?" Kagura took a fighting stance. That Sesshoumaru, I can't stand him! She thought, raising her fan.
"I take, you're still trying to kill Naraku?" Sesshoumaru still looked bored.
"Yes, I am. And if you don't want to help, then leave!" Kagura raised her fan, just about to execute the Fuujin no Mai. To her surprise, Sesshoumaru said, "I might be slightly interested, if you promise to do something for me." Kagura lowered her fan.
"It depends what it is."
"Take care of this," Sesshoumaru pushed a little girl into view. She was filthy, her face was covered in dirt, her hair messy, and her yukata mussed.
"This Rin's mama?" The little girl said, asking Sesshoumaru.
"Mama?" Kagura was dumbfounded. What is he doing with this little brat?? Sesshoumaru turned to Kagura.
"Will you?" He asked, voice arid. Kagura was silent, slightly shaking with frustration. I have to be a "mama" to kill Naraku??!! She sighed, rubbing her head.
"Alright, I will." She started kicking some dirt onto Sesshoumaru's feet. He frowned, but then picked up the little girl carried her. He faced Kagura again.
"By the way," He put the girl into her arms. "Her name is Rin." Rin hugged her tightly around the neck. Kagura frowned, then ran to catch up with Sesshoumaru. By the Gods, please help me... Kagura thought, holding Rin.

Taking care of Rin is easy... Kagura thought to herself, lying down on her stomach and watching Rin play. She twirled a small, blue top with her finger as Rin played with a doll. They were at Sesshoumaru's fortress. It was similar to Naraku's, except it was a little more brightly lit and there were no human guards. Except for that irritating little toad guy that came and shouted at Rin sometimes. He didn't seem to bother Rin, she simply shouted back and kicked him. Sesshoumaru seemed to find this amusing. Speaking of the devil... Kagura thought, sitting up, her back facing the wall. Sesshoumaru slid open the doors, and Rin ran to greet him.
"Sesshoumaru-sama!! Sesshoumaru-sama!!" She held up a piece of paper with messy scribblings. "Kagura-kaachan taught Rin how to write!!" Sesshoumaru looked towards Kagura, a glint of amusement in his eyes.
"Oh really?" He looked at the paper again. "Rin, what were you intending to right?" Rin twirled a strand of her black hair.
"Aishiteru yo, Sesshoumaru-sama." She replied, pointing out each of the characters written on the paper. "See? A-i-shi-te-ru-yo!!" She put both hands behind her head and danced around singing "aishiteru yo!" Sesshoumaru looked towards Kagura again. She gave him a look that said, "What are you looking at, you idiot?" He rolled his eyes, then picked up Rin saying, "bath time." He deposited her into a room and left. Rin slid open the doors and shouted, "Kagura-kaachan!! There's no water!!" Kagura looked towards Sesshoumaru's retreating back. He glanced back, and said, "It's your problem." Furiously muttering incoherent things, Kagura walked towards Rin and helped her with the bath. When helping her, Kagura learned that Rin was so filthy because Sesshoumaru had never helped her with bathing, and that he didn't care. After the bath, Rin looked cleaner than she had probably ever been in her life. Kagura helped her wash her yukata and press out the wrinkles. Then she put Rin to bed and walked outside. She stood just outside the fortress, on a porch to be specific. She sat down, letting the wind wash over her body, raven hair flowing behind like a flag.
"I am the wind...
I am free..." She muttered, undoing her hair ties, letting the dark strands fly. She sighed, putting one of her hands against her forehead, tucking a few strands of hair back. She heard a screen door slide open and shut. It's probably Rin, she thought. Instead, it was Sesshoumaru who sat down next to her. She turned away in disgust, tying back up her hair. They sat in silence, listening to the wind blow through blades of grass, whistling.
"Naraku is a bastard, isn't he?" Sesshoumaru said, offhandedly it seemed.
"Sure is," Kagura said, looking straight ahead. "And you are too,"
"Not really. I'm the product of a legal marriage." Sesshoumaru said. "My brother, on the other hand, fits the requirements to be a bastard."
"So what's between you and him?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"You want me to kill him, don't you?"
"Since when are you so into morals?"
"I don't believe in killing for no reason."
"Right. You kill many people everyday."
"Because I had to."
"You're avoiding the question again,"
"So what?"
"What's between you two?"
"Don't like doing his dirty work?" Sesshoumaru said, his eyes looking into her own. What the-? How does he know?! Kagura nodded, slowly, looking away.
"Ah. So that's it." Sesshoumaru closed his eyes, smiling lightly. "Freedom or death, all or nothing, huh?" Kagura glared at him.
"How would you know? You've been free all your life," She said, quietly, fists clenched, teeth gritted. "You've never had to do someone else's work, do what they want you to do, you were able to do what you wanted..." She stood up.
"Good night," Kagura slid the doors open and went to her room to sleep. As she was leaving, she could have swore she heard a soft chuckle.

Kagura awoke to the smell of breakfast. She slowly opened her eyes, and saw Rin munching down next to her. She held her bowl of rice with one hand and shoveled it down with the other hand holding the chopsticks. Next to her was a plate of pickled radish and a small egg. Rin put down the bowl.
"Kagura-kaachan!! Breakfast??" She held out the bowl of half finished rice towards Kagura. She waved it away, burying herself back under the sheets. I'm too comfortable here... She thought, lying on the futon. At Naraku's castle, she slept on the hard floor, with no blanket. Kanna, on the other hand, slept with Naraku on a futon with blankets. Kagura frowned slightly at the thought of Kanna. Maybe I'll kill her too, she thought. The door slid open again. It was Sesshoumaru.
"I'm going out," he said. He then turned to leave, the little toad demon trotting after him shouting, "S-Sesshoumaru-sama!! W-wait!!" It's Naraku and Kanna exactly, Kagura thought. She made a face, mimicking Kanna. Rin giggled.

Sesshoumaru returned at sundown. Kagura made a small meal for Rin because she was complaining she was hungry. Sesshoumaru had ended up bringing home a large boar for dinner. Kagura ate, but it didn't fill her up. I need something more... She thought as she walked away from the table. She felt Sesshoumaru's eyes following her. She ran out to the porch again, burying her head in her arms. Damn you... Naraku... she thought. Kagura checked to see if there were any demons or humans around. There were none. So she stepped off the porch and lay down on her back on the grass. She sighed, feeling the blades of grass tickle her skin. She closed her eyes, feeling the wind blow again.
Kagura opened her eyes in flash, sitting up. How foolish, I left my body open to attack...
"Mind if I sit with you again?" He asked. Kagura shook her head slowly. What's with this guy? Does he have too much free time? They sat down together, wind caressing through their hair. Sesshoumaru's snowy strands and Kagura's dark ones.
"Care to pick up our conversation from last night?" Sesshoumaru snapped his fingers, and that toad demon came scurrying, carrying a tray of cakes and tea.
"Thank you, Jaken." Sesshoumaru then motioned for the toad to go away. He did, bowing and scraping all the way. Sesshoumaru offered a cup for Kagura. She took it reluctantly, and sipped the liquid with pursed lips.
"I'm not trying to bother you," Sesshoumaru put down the cup. "I just want to know what you want to do before you do something crazy." Crazy, huh? Kagura also put down her cup, and inching away from Sesshoumaru.
"I don't expect you to open up," His hand grasped her's. "Take your time. But you're wasting it." He let go of her hand, then rose to leave. Kagura watched him go back into the castle. She felt suddenly felt cold, as if Naraku had snatched away a blanket from her when sleeping in the dead of winter. I'm wasting time? She found herself drinking tea in long gulps. It doesn't matter, I've got all the time in the world...
And that ritual continued for awhile. Kagura would go outside after sundown, and Sesshoumaru would shortly join her. They would talk, and slowly, Kagura found herself looking forward to these conversations. It's nothing, just insanity... She shook her head, hoping to shake those thoughts out as well. But she enjoyed them. She enjoyed them a lot.

"'Cause all he does is sit around in the castle while I go out risking my neck," Kagura pulled at the grass. Sesshoumaru was with her, as usually, looking on with faint amusement. "And then I don't get to go outside when I want." She looked towards Sesshoumaru. "He just has me chained up all the time. It's a pain..." She massaged her wrists to prove her point. Sesshoumaru chuckled, then reached over and grabbed her hand, as he only has one arm. He placed a small kiss on her wrist, and said, "It is a pain, they're too bony for me to kiss." Kagura's widened in shock, she pulled her hand away and inched away.
"What was that?" Her eyes narrowed.
"Nothing, just nothing." Sesshoumaru rose and left to go back in. Kagura sighed, lying back down on the grass. What brought that around? She sighed again, and she thought she heard some say "I love you," but she shook it off as Rin telling Sesshoumaru good night. Besides, why would he care? It's not like I love... him... too...

"Kagura-kaachan," Rin was drawing, lying down. "When is Sesshoumaru-sama coming home? Rin misses him,"
"Hush, he's only an hour late..." Kagura lay down next to Rin. She watched Rin's fingers grasp the brush and weave it around the paper, creating a picture.
"Rin," Kagura asked.
"Hmmm?" Rin didn't look up from her picture.
"What are you drawing?" The picture so far had 3 figures on it, and there was what looked like a rectangle with two lines over it.
"It's Sesshoumaru-sama, Kagura-kaachan, and Rin," She pointed to each of the figures. Sesshoumaru was in the middle, Rin was on his right, and Kagura on his left. They were all smiling. Kagura found herself smiling like the figure on the paper.
"Is that so? Well, I'll make you a small meal then. Sesshoumaru should be home soon," Kagura rose and left to the kitchen. Rin sighed, then continued drawing.

A few more hours passed. Sesshoumaru still didn't come home. Rin was getting tired, but worry kept her from sleeping. Kagura was also starting to worry. Damn that guy, where is he?? Kagura looked out through a screen, still no Sesshoumaru. Rin yawned.
"Go to bed, now, I'll wake you when Sesshoumaru comes home,"
"OK..." Kagura ushered Rin to her room, tucked her in the blankets, and closed the screen. She heard Rin's soft sounds of sleep soon after. A few more hours passed. Still no Sesshoumaru. Dammit, I'm starting to get worried! Kagura kicked a cushion. It flew through a screen and out into the courtyard. She groaned, then walked slowly towards the yard to get it. As she was putting her sandals on, she heard a rustle in the bushes.
"Kagura..." Kagura froze. That voice... Indeed, Naraku cloaked with his usual baboon pelt appeared out of the bushes. On his face was a smirk.
"Did you have fun?" He gripped the pelt and tossed it to the side. His dark eyes focused on her's, mocking her. Slowly, he walked towards her, sandals crunching on the gravel.
"Bastard, go away..." Kagura growled, taking out her fan. Naraku murmured something, and then that heart materialized in his hand. He squeezed it, hard. Kagura's knees buckled, and she fell towards the ground, cussing all the way. He smiled.
"Now then..." The heart dissapated from his hand. "Back to business. You've been enjoying living here, haven't you Kagura?" Kagura rose to her feet.
"Why do you bother?" She spat.
"You have." He chuckled. "Could you bear it, if say, that impudent mutt of a demon never returned?" Kagura felt her non-existing heart sink.
"What did you do-!"
"Ah ah ah, no questions yet. Manipulating him is as manipulating that, what was his name again?" He paused. "Ah yes, Inuyasha."
"What did you do!!???" Kagura shouted, stamping her feet and clenching her fists. She felt a droplet of sweat run down her face, dreading to hear what she feared.
"Quite simple, really. Just pull a few nerves about that priestess bitch, pull another few nerves, and you have a life and death fight. Those animals should learn how to control their tempers," Naraku allowed himself to laugh. "Heh, don't expect him to come back tonight, Kagura. Just come back home, and maybe I'll forgive you." He laughed some more, then disappeared back into the night. Kagura felt salty tears drop down her face onto the dry ground. She wiped them away, then told herself that she didn't know for sure if Sesshoumaru was dead.
"Besides, why should I believe anything that Naraku bastard tells me??!!" She wiped a few remaining tears away. "I won't believe until I see his dead corpse!!!!"

Kagura shut up the castle, locking the door to Rin's room, putting up barricades and traps, then left to find Sesshoumaru. She found herself running through the country side, looking for him. Sesshoumaru, you bastard!! If you're dead I'll never forgive you!!! Kagura raced through a village, hurriedly peering through alleways and through corners. She ran out of the village, looking for a blood trail or anything that might help her. She searched for a long time, she didn't know, she didn't care. Finally, she found a fresh blood trail leading from a cliff to a forest. She followed it. Trees and vines twitched, then meshed together, forming a wall.
"Fuujin no mai!!!" Tornadoes of wind were produced from her small fan, ripping apart the wall of plants. She ran inside.
"Sesshoumaru Sesshoumaru Sesshoumaru..." She found herself chanting, louder as the blood trail went deeper into the forest. She cleared away a last barrier of plants, and found Sesshoumaru. His eyes were closed, clothes damp with fresh, red blood, armor shattered, and chest heaving with the effort to stay alive. His breaths were shallow. Warm liquid pooled in Kagura's eyes again, she blinked her eyes clear of them. She ran to his side, more tears flowing and mixing in with his wounds.
"God, please don't die please don't die!!" She cried, hugging him close to her body. "Not before you kill Naraku please don't die don't make me go back!!!" She shook him, hoping to bring him back to consciousness. It didn't. Suddenly feeling very angry, she screamed, "If you die on me you bastard I'll never forgive you!!!!" Her fingers traced his unconscious face. "I'll never forgive you because I love you..." She softly cried, arms entwined around Sesshoumaru, one hand pressed against his chest to follow his breathing.
"Please don't die please don't die...." She cried some more, listening for heartbeats. Time went by, Kagura didn't notice. His breaths grew less stressed, and blood started to stain. Kagura was asleep, still holding Sesshoumaru. His hand stirred, and Kagura still slept. Sesshoumaru unwrapped himself from Kagura's embrace, and slowly shook her with his one good hand.
"Hey, wake up," He said. Kagura slowly blinked, shaking off sleep. It took some time for her to register that Sesshoumaru was alive. Tears pooled up in her eyes again, but this time it was because she was glad.
"Sesshoumaru!!" She cried, hugging him again. His eyes widened in surprise, but he hugged her back, letting her cry a little more.
"It's OK, it's OK, it's OK...." He stroked her dark hair, tangled and messy from the earlier incident. His slender fingers slowly brushed through them as Kagura continued to cry and hold him closer.
"Are you OK, now?" He pulled her away, slightly, brushing the last remaining tears away. She slowly nodded.
"I don't know how to say it, but..." Sesshoumaru paused, letting Kagura fall back into his embrace. "Are you happy being with me?" Kagura nodded.
"Of course, idiot, why else would I go all the way out here?" She half smiled. Sesshoumaru half smiled back. "And if it's OK..."
"Forget about Naraku. Stay with me..." Then he kissed her. His lips together with her's.

"That's our cue..." Naraku watched Kagura from Kanna's mirror. A black heart materialized in his hand. Kanna slowly put down the mirror.
"Would you like to kill your sister, Kanna?" Naraku offered her a small dagger. A faint smile appeared on Kanna's face.
"Yes." She aimed the dagger just above, and thrust it into the pulsating heart.

Kagura's body fell limp, eyes wide in shock. No, I don't want to die, not yet, not just yet... The fading image of Sesshoumaru horror-stricken remained in her eyes. Sesshoumaru, I don't want to go, I love you... Her eyes slowly shut, she could feel her blood slow down, and finally stop. She couldn't see Sesshoumaru anymore. It can't be over yet, I'm finally happy, it's not fair.... Her body dissapated, and only her kimono and hair pins fell to the ground. Sesshoumaru...
I don't why it happened
Or how...
But you've given me happiness
And when I've finally found it
I'm taken away
Back into darkness
Thank you....

Sesshoumaru watched Kagura disappate like mist into the air, leaving only a tattered kimono and a few shiny hair pins. He didn't shout, he didn't cuss, he didn't do anything. But a lone tear found it's way to the ground because he realized one thing. I never told her I loved her... even through what I've done. He carefully folded the kimono and put the hair pins on the top like a bundle. Carrying the bundle back to the castle, he faintly smiled in irony.
"Naraku, you've given me one more grudge against you..."

The End