Ties That Bind
"I didn't break them…I reversed them," Kyo said. He began to sit up, but the blood loss he had sustained made him dizzy. He fell back to his back. "You can't control Kagura any more, and neither can I. In fact…"
"…she controls us," Naraku finished. "You moron! Why the hell would you do something like that? Why the hell would you let Kagura control us?"
"I'm very goal-oriented," Kyo smirked.
"You little--!" he brought Tetsusaiga down for the kill.
"Stop!" Kagura ordered. Naraku had to obey. "Oh, this is sweet. This is sweet, indeed. What should I do with you, Naraku? Shall I force you to do my bidding? That could be fun; extracting every drop of glorious revenge, tenfold. Or I could just make you follow me around so I can use you like a beating post every time I get mad. That would also be satisfactory. But you know what? I'm going to do neither of those things. I'm going to take the high road, do the merciful thing, and kill you right here." She paused dramatically. "Dance of Blades!"
Just as the attack was about to hit him--Naraku dodged! "Hey--how did you do that?" Kyo demanded. "I thought we couldn't break the binds."
"No, you can't, because you're woefully ignorant about all things sorcery," Naraku said.
"Well, then, it looks like I'm just going to have to kill you the old fashioned way," Kagura said.
"Quite," Naraku said. He then dodged another Dance of Blades, Hiraikotsu, an arrow, and Miroku on Kirara's back using his staff as a lance, in the process leading the fight away from Kyo.
Kyo tried to get up, but his head started spinning so bad he fell to the ground again. Well, screw it. He had done his duty. What did he care if Naraku lived or died? That was Kagura's problem. And the others', he supposed. Even if Naraku had tricked him, Kyo had still gotten what he was after, and now that Kagura was free, that was the end of his responsibility, unless Kagura ordered him to do something about that, as the ties that bound them were reversed. Letting someone like Kagura have complete control over everything he did probably wasn't a smart idea, but then, whatever.
Kagura…Kagome…InuYasha, even. These people were, like, friends, or something. He really ought to help them, he guessed, but what could he do? He had lost a lot of blood. He looked at his severed arm, and them at his new arm. The new one didn't really look like the old one. The new one was a couple of sizes too big, and pale. Then he touched the severed arm with the new one. The new one absorbed the severed one like some sort of tentacle monster. Now it looked like his old arm. He flexed his fingers. It moved, barely. He wondered if he didn't cross a nerve, or something? After all, he was no surgeon. When Kyo stood this time, he didn't feel like the world was trying to kill him, so the mass from the "new" arm must have converted itself into blood. Or something.
Kyo realized that he shouldn't have been able to do that. He also shouldn't have been able to attach the new limb to his body in the first place. That took skill, finesse, some sort of knowledge of what the hell he was doing. So how…he realized, that while Naraku had severed his tie to Kaura, he hadn't severed his tie to Kyo. They must still be connect on some subconscious level. After all, Naraku had resided in Kyo's head, and the tie binding them had been reversed, so theoretically…Kyo had an idea, but he'd have to get Naraku back to him for it to work. He had made the Shikon Jewel and the Tetsusaiga come to his hands. How? He hadn't of thought that he had had the power of telekinesis. He tried it, trying to make a rock come to his hand. Nothing. He tried making a piece of demon corpse come to him by summoning it's demonic energy to him. It leaped. The chunk of flesh completely missed the target, but Kyo got the general principle of the thing down. He had to call them to him. Naraku would follow. The sorcerer focused on the fight in the distance, and he concentrated on the objects of power.
Meanwhile, it had been a battle of five against one. Miroku didn't have his Wind Tunnel, and InuYasha's Tetsusaiga was being used by the enemy, so the males were at a disadvantage, having to wait until the enemy got within range of a melee attack, which he rarely did.
The fact did not escape Naraku. "What kind of men let women do their fighting for them?" he asked mockingly.
"Come here and say that!" InuYasha shouted, lunging for him while Kagome, riding his back, aimed an arrow. Naraku dodged both, and was about to block Hiraikotsu with Tetsusaiga when said sword was ripped from his hands. He recovered in time to dodge it completely, and then chased the floating blade. InuYasha reached it and grabbed it, which annoyed Kyo, as this wasn't part of his plan. "Thanks, kid."
Kyo tried to move closer to the fight, and discovered that running wasn't quite within his range of possibilities yet. Even walking was a chore. So, how to get close to Naraku, then?
InuYasha delivered his own Windscar, but Naraku deflected it with his barrier.
"Kagura," Kyo called. But of course, she wasn't bound to his will anymore, and she was a little distracted.
They were all ganging up on Naraku. InuYasha was hitting him with Adamant Barrage, and the others were taking care of those bits that dared to show themselves outside of the barrier. It seemed like they had the upper hand, and yet…why was he so confident?
"Kirara," he called. She resisted him, but he won out, and she veered off to pick him up.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Sango demanded.
"Sorry about commandeering your ride," Kyo said, pulling himself onto Kirara's back. The cat growled at him. Apparently, she didn't liked being controlled. Kyo noticed an odd sensation, of his power beginning to flow less like water and more like molasses, of his mind slowing down…fatigue. He was nearing the end of his reserves. He had to do this right. "I need to get close to Naraku."
"I take it you have a plan?" Miroku asked.
"Yeah, yeah, sure, sure," Kyo rubbed his eyes. "It might even work, too."
"Look," Sango said, pointing to the ground around the fight scene.
"Naraku is covering the whole place with pieces of himself," Miroku said.
"So?" Kyo asked.
"Trust me, that is bad," Miroku said.
"Kagura Dance of the Dragon," Kyo managed to say.
"That could work," Sango said.
"Get me to Naraku, first," Kyo said.
"I don't think he'll stay still long enough for you to get to him," Miroku said.
Just then, Naraku seemed to fall, but an upwelling of flesh engulfed InuYasha and Kagura, and tried to engulf the others, but Miroku put up a barrier.
"What, this? Why didn't you say so? I can use this," Kyo said, and intentionally fell from Kirara's back into the mass. Once he was inside of Naraku, he made headed for his mind. He was remembering a dream he had had, which he was beginning to think wasn't a dream, but a glimpse into Naraku's mind. He had found something there that time, and had been pushed away before he could find out what it was. This time, he would.
He was inside of Naraku's mind, a cacophony of voices, which he still thought of as his voices. Had they always been this angry? And the dominant voice…Naraku's voice. Kyo searched for the black lump he had found earlier, and then once he had found it, he began to try to open it. It was hard, as it was doubly locked to him, as it was both something Naraku locked away from himself and something nondemonic in nature. Still, he probed until his metaphysical tentacles found the crack in the surface, and began to pry at it…
Wait! Naraku shouted. Why are you doing this?
Because, I owe it to them, Kyo answered.
No, you don't. You already gave Kagura her freedom, and the rest of them didn't really help you, Naraku said.
A sister of a friend you haven't known since early childhood. And they didn't actually help you. What of me, though? I did help you.
Kyo paused. Naraku was right. Raising Kagura, planning his revenge, executing his revenge, it was all Naraku's doing. Kyo suspected that he had lent his own nerve to Kyo's in order to get him through it. And what's more…for all those years, when he had a problem, when he needed a friend, he turned to the voices…to Naraku. They…he…had always been there for him. Not that he had much choice. Still, he owed everything to Naraku.
You could be my henchman, Naraku said. I could use someone with your abilities. Or, if you're still as nihilistic as you've always been, I could simply absorb you. How would you like to be a part of me?
Actually, I've started to care whether or not I live or die, Kyo said.
Henchman, then. We'll sever your link to Kagura so she can't order you around, and then we can do great things together. I will teach you to use your power. I will give you a new mission in life, to serve me. You'll have purpose again, Naraku proposed.
We could do amazing things together, Kyo said.
Yes. You're a sensible boy; I knew you'd see things my way.
Kyo began to pull back, but then he heard other voices. InuYasha and Kagura were fighting to remain themselves as Naraku pulled them into him. Their desire for Naraku's death permiated throughout his mind, and because of the ties that bound them, newly reversed, Kagura's desire became a command. Sorry, Kyo said, and plunged into the blackness.
"Hello? Who's there? I've been alone for oh so very long."
"My name is Kyo," Kyo said.
"I'm Onigumo," said the voice.
There still wasn't any light, but he began to be able to see, both himself and Onigumo. "You're human," Kyo said.
"Don't sound so shocked," Onigumo said.
"Tell me about yourself."
And so Onigumo told Kyo the tale of his life as a bandit, of his quest for the Shikon Jewel, of how the priestess Kikyo had tended to his wounded body, of how he made an ill-fated deal with demons because of his love for Kikyo, of how the demons betrayed him, the first action of the newly-formed Naraku being to kill Kikyo. "So, why are you here?"
"To rescue you, it would seem," Kyo said.
"Your soul is what holds Naraku together. Without you, he would dispel."
"I don't know if I can…"
"C'mon. I thought criminals such as yourself were supposed to be big on revenge. If you won't do it for yourself, do it for Kikyo."
"Alright," Onigumo agreed. "How do we do this?"
"You just think about your body. I'll do the heavy lifting." Kyo forced the demonic energy away from the areas of their respective bodies, hoping that he wouldn't end up with any of Onigumo's parts. And then he was back on terra firma.
"Kyo, come here!" Kagura shouted, landing her feather. Kyo was too tired to move, but did so anyway, because the ties that bound them compelled him to do as she bid. "What happened?"
"Dispelled Naraku. Onigumo…"
"Am I free?" Onigumo asked.
"Temporarily," Kyo said. "As soon as I run out of power, whch ought to be in about two seconds, the demons will rush back into you, and Naraku will be reborn. Again. Sorry, I'm kind of new at this."
"Then what was the point?" Onigumo asked.
"I was kind of hoping for permanence. But there is one way to ensure your freedom."
"What?" Onigumo asked. When Kyo didn't answer, he said, "Oh." He sighed. "Very well. Anything's better than that darkness. Do what you must." He laughed, holding up a tiny object in his hand. "I finally got the Shikon Jewel." He closed his eyes, and his head was cut off by the Dance of Blades.
"Not as satisfactory as it would have been if it had been Naraku," Kagura said.
"He was Naraku's single vital element. No Onigumo means no Naraku. Now there's just a million little puissant demons running around with shattered memories and dreams of greatness. Going after them would be pointless and petty," Kyo said, and then he fainted.
"InuYasha suffered greatly from the wound he received in the beginning of the fight, but he'll recover, and you're going to need more medical care than I can give you if you're to make a full recovery, but you're not dying, as far as I can tell," Kaede said. Kagome nodded, trying to think of a lie to tell the hospital on the other side. "Aside from that, all of the injuries are superficial, and Kyo's physically unharmed."
"Which ought not to be possible," Kagome said. "After all, he did get his arm chopped off and a piece of his lung and liver removed, and then replaced them with Naraku's."
"I've heard of sorcerers attaching demonic extremities to themselves, but that's supposed to be temporary, and costly to maintain," Kaede agreed. "Maybe the fact that Naraku had human blood in him helped."
"Maybe," Kagome said.
"Hey, guys, Onigumo had this," Kagura said, holding up the Shikon Jewel.
"And, what, are you giving it to us?" Kagome asked.
"Sure, why not?" Kagura said. "I never wanted the stupid thing in the first place."
"Give it to me," InuYasha said. Kagura tossed it to the half-demon. "You said I was healed, right?"
"Mostly," Kaede answered. "Your remaining wounds wouldn't take long to heal, even for a human."
"Good," InuYasha said, closing his fist on the jewel and closing his eyes. His hair turned black and his ears shifted to their human position and form. When he opened his eyes, he was human, and the Shikon Jewel had disappeared, purified.
"InuYasha…" Kagome said.
"Kagome...let's get married," InuYasha said.
"Yes, lets," Kagome said, teary-eyed and breathless.
Being broken down and reconstructed inside of Naraku had done Kyo's body wonders. His shoddy attempt to reattach his arm had been fixed, his blood had been replenished, a scar on the inside of his left foot that he had had since he was five was gone, his toes, which were once crooked, were now straight, and all the toxins and pollutants in his body he had acquired in the modern age had been swept clean. He didn't know any of this, though; when he woke up, all he new was that he felt good, and fresh. Calm-after-the-storm fresh. This was kind of appropriate, because he had spent all of his reserves, like a storm spends all of the humidity in the air.
"Hey, kiddo," Kagura said. "Glad to see you're finally up."
"Kagura? Did I miss anything good?"
"Yeah. InuYasha used the Shikon Jewel to turn himself human, and he and Kagome are getting married," Kagura said. "It was really touching, but I got the feeling that there were volumes being spoken between them I wasn't privy to.
"Where are they?" Kyo asked.
"I delivered them to the Bone Eater's Well. Kagome needed medical attention."
"Don't worry, she'll be fine," Kagura assured him.
"Did we get invited to their wedding?"
"The one on this end. They're having the ceremony twice, so all their friends can be there," Kagura said.
"And are we going?"
"I intend to. You can do whatever you like."
Kyo considered telling her that he had almost betrayed them to Naraku, that he would have, if she hadn't of compelled him to destroy the half-demon. "Nobody died? Besides Naraku, I mean."
"Nobody died," Kagura assured him.
"Not except for Kagome and InuYasha, and they should make full recoveries, if the hospitals of the future are all they're cracked up to be."
"So Naraku's dead, my enemies are dead, the Bone Eater's Well is open to travel again, you're free, and none of us is dead or disabled. All in all, I'd say that that's a net gain," Kyo said.
"The ties that bind us are now binding you to my will," Kagura pointed out.
Kyo shrugged. "Eh. The net difference is still in the black."
"Business slang. Black is profit, red is debt."
"So, what are we going to do now…boss?" Kyo asked.
"I figured we'd find a sorcerer so that we can break these ties."
"You know, if you just leave them be, I'd be a powerful weapon in your arsenal."
"You deserve a fair deal. After all, you did free me," Kagura said.
Kyo smirked. "Since when are you a good guy?"
"Since I can afford to be one. One does not survive as one of Naraku's underlings by being compassionate, or fair," Kagura said.
"Huh." Kyo said, painfully reminded of his attempted betrayal. Kagura probably did him a favor by compelling him to kill Naraku. Still, he couldn't feel guilty about it. "So…about the releasing the ties that bind us thing…"
"We don't have to do it first thing. The thing is, I've spent so long thinking only about revenge that I don't really know what to do with my life anymore. I'm going to need some time to…figure it out. To learn how to live again."
"Alright. You are now officially my servant. I wasn't looking forward to meeting with a filthy sorcerer, anyway--er, no offense intended. So, what shall we do now that we're free? Well, now that I'm free, that is."
You're asking me?" Kyo asked.
"I've got no real plans for the day. Consider it a token gesture," Kagura said.
"Alright, then." Kyo closed his eyes and thought. His head was so silent, for the first time in years. His was the only voice in it. He was alone inside of himself, painfully and utterly alone, for the first time in years. Naraku would have one honest mourner, it would appear. Even the worst villain deserved one, he guessed. Anyway, back to the subject at hand: what did he want to do? There was only one thing he could think of. "Let's go see Rin and Sesshoumaru."
"Exactly what I was thinking," Kagura smiled.
Interview With The Cast & Author
Interviewer: Firstly, S-Michael, why did you decide to do this cheesy--and lengthy--interview thing instead of a regular "Author's Commentary (As If You Care)" as is your current standard?
S-Michael: This is a time for celebrating. I've finally finished this behemoth! Yea, me!
Interviewer: …O…K… Anyway, what inspired you to write this?
S-Michael: I can't be expected to remember in detail, it having been a solid year ago, but I'm pretty sure it was that the fact that Kagura died totally sucked ass.
Interviewer: But…you said you only watch the anime.
S-Michael: Which is true, but come on! I am a fan, remember.
Interviewer: You state in the Author's Notes on the first page that because of this being based on the anime, you don't have to label this as AU. Why do you care?
S-Michael: AU conjures up images of the Yasha gang going to Shikon High in modern America, or something. I wanted to distinguish myself from that as much as possible.
Interviewer: But…that's AR, not AU.
S-Michael: AU means alternate universe, and describes stories like ones in which InuYasha and Kikyo didn't get tricked by Naraku, and instead lived happily ever after. Stories that could have happened given the facts of the universe they take place in, but didn't. AR means alternate reality, and describes…well, basically what I just said. Things that could never, ever happen.
Kyo: (rolls eyes) Fanfic writers.
S-Michael: To answer your question, Interviewer, not everyone understands the difference on In fact, I didn't, until a little while ago.
InuYasha: You looked it up, didn't you?
S-Michael: Actually, I stumbled across it while I was looking something else up fanfiction-related.
Interviewer: So, Kyo, tell us about myself.
Kyo: Well, I'm an OC, obviously, and there's an unspoken rule to being an OC: never outshine the canon characters. That puts you on a dangerous path, one that might lead to Mary-Sue-dom, and you've got to avoid being a Mary-Sue, because those uppity bitches get shunned by the rest of the OC community.
Interviewer: OC community…?
Kyo: You don't want to know.
Interviewer: OK… Anyway, as you were saying…
Kyo: Right. Well, it was rather hard for me not to outshine my cannon costars, because I had to be powerful enough to raise Kagura from being dead for five centuries, or else I'd be useless. Reviving Kagura was the whole point of my existence, you know. My creator managed to beat me into shape, I think, but being him, he did it by making me deranged, neurotic, nihilistic, a touch sociopathic, and emotionally unresponsive. Maybe even a little bit emo. Bastard. He also had be try to betray the rest of the crew to Naraku. That definitely sheered me away from the brink of Mary-Sue.
Interviewer: So, was that planned, or anything, S-Michael?
S-Michael: Actually, I just realized in the fight scene that it would have been totally in-character for Kyo to be swayed by Naraku. After all, as Kyo stated in the story, Naraku had been responsible for him achieving his goal in life, and all that noise, and besides, he had spent years with Naraku as his only friend. Quite frankly, in many ways, it made more sense than him fighting against Naraku. I even considered changing it so that Kyo succeeded in betraying them--demanding that Naraku spared their lives in exchange, of course--and ran away with him. This would have left the door open for a sequel, but it would have ruined the ending which I had had planned, in which InuYasha uses the Shikon Jewel to become human and then marries Kagome. They wouldn't have the luxury to do that, if they were chasing Naraku.
Interviewer: Speaking of, I notice that Naraku isn't here.
Kagura: Well, yeah. He's dead, remember?
Interviewer: …Alright, then. Moving on; what is the significance of InuYasha waiting until now to become human?
InuYasha: I was still, as these people say, "hung up" about Kikyo. I felt a little guilty for being with Kagome, and I also had issues about the whole nailed-to-a-tree thing.
Interviewer: Both at the same time?
InuYasha: (shrugs) The heart; it's a bitch and a half to deal with. When Kagome was standing over me, protecting me with her life and her body…that's what it took for it to click, that she was just as worthy of my love as Kikyo was.
Interviewer: I notice that Kikyo gets idealized in this story.
S-Michael: Well, that's part don't-speak-ill-of-the-dead, part the natural distortion of memory, and part…well, I really do think she's better for InuYasha than Kagome is.
Kagome: (dryly) Gee, thanks.
Interviewer: So, Rin, what is the deal with you not liking humans.
Rin: Well, I do declare that humans are much scarier than demons in that episode in which those demon-killer-guys try to "rescue" me from Lord Sesshoumaru.
Interviewer: I noticed a certain moment…
Rin: S-Michael just put that in for a certain Sesshoumaru/me fangirl. She'll know who she is, if she's reading this. Hi!
Interviewer: So, how well do you think S-Michael captured your characters, people?
Rin: (looks at him funny) You do realize that S-Michael is still writing this, and we'll say whatever he wants us to say, right?
Sesshoumaru: This bores me. I'm going to go do whatever it is that I do all of the time. Come, Rin, Jaken.
Rin: Coming, Lord Sesshoumaru.
InuYasha: Well, he certainly thinks he's all that. Let's talk about him behind his back.
S-Michael: (to interviewer) I'd like to think that I was pretty within-character, that the alterations I did to their personality were entirely within what could have happened naturally.
Interviewer: Like how Miroku stopped being a lech when he got married?
S-Michael: Hey, it's possible. I've heard of it happening before. Besides, I have it on good authority that in the manga, he stops being a lech as soon as he and Sango get engaged.
Interviewer: Touché. Anyway, I notice you were pretty loyal to the English language, not even putting the -kuns, -samas, -chans, or whatever else suffixes at the ends of names, and using "demon" instead of "youkai."
S-Michael: Well, I watch the dubbed version, so wouldn't know which to use with regard to the names. Besides, I had to stick pretty closely to the English translations of words…
Kyo: Because he cheated.
Interviewer: Pardon me?
Kyo: In Western folklore, a sorcerer is one who can summon and control demons. I doubt that what got translated into "sorcerers" and "demons" had the same relationship in Japan. My entire existence is based on a lie.
Interviewer: I see. While we're on the subject of you, does your name mean anything?
Kyo: Well, my brother, Toshio, got his name from the ghost kid from The Grudge.
S-Michael: It seemed appropriate.
Kyo: Also, my last name is the name of the producer, or something.
S-Michael: It was a logo in one of the InuYasha movies.
Kyo: As for my name, well…alright, I don't know. What was it?
S-Michael: I picked it out of a hat.
Kyo: What? You picked it out of a hat? Do you even know if it is a proper Japanese name?
S-Michael: Unless Zatch Bell lied to me.
Interviewer: Well, we're running out of time, so lets wrap it up. Talk about the pairings.
S-Michael: Well, uh, this wasn't really a romance, but the pairings, I have to say, were definitely InuYasha/Kagome and Kagura/Sesshoumaru.
Interviewer: Canon pairings.
S-Michael: Yeah, I know; usually, I like to avoid canon couples at all costs, them being done to death and all. Still, like I said, this wasn't a romance.
Interviewer: Early on, I kind of thought that Kyo and Kagura would become an item.
Kyo: Getting romantically involved with the canon is another dangerous activity for OCs. Mary-Sues actually get their name from OCs created by obsessed fangirls, usually named after themselves, whose purpose is to "get with" a popular character. And before you ask, the whole thing with Rin and me wasn't planned or anything. It was just, well, I am an antisocial near-sociopath, and she hates humans, it just sort of clicked.
Interviewer: You know a lot about Mary-Sues.
Kyo: As an OC, I have to be ever vigilant against becoming one.
Interviewer: I see. So, will there be a sequel.
S-Michael: Never say never, but if there is, it sure as hell will not be as long as this. There will be other changes, as well.
Interviewer: Like what?
Kyo: I will be less powerful, more sane, and get less face time. After all, I've served my purpose.
Interviewer: I see. And time is up in three…two…one…NOW!