Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
A/N: Perhaps this deviates slightly from the actual storyline of the Inuyasha manga (I haven't been keeping up lately and have several months' worth to read after finals are over) but I'm fairly proud of myself for writing anything decent.
Shadow of Nothing
Naraku is dead, and Kanna breathes.
She is the only survivor, she sees from the distance. Each one of them falls in turn, cut down by bones and spells and arrows and bright, bright swords. Finally, only Naraku himself stands before the cold faces of their enemies, twisted with pride. (Kanna thinks that's what it is, anyway; she was never much good with emotions.)
He fights, because he is just as proud as they, and he fights well, but then there is the silent twang of a bow and the blinding flash of a fang-sword and Kanna knows, even before the dust clears, that she is the only one left.
Naraku sometimes told her about Kikyou. He said her name with hatred (Kanna knew hatred well enough), and he told her about how she wandered, dead and building herself with souls.
Kanna has nothing left to accomplish, so she takes to walking, staying out of sight. Sometimes she thinks about Kikyou, and she wonders if Naraku would hate her now as well.
Kagura talked about freedom, Kanna remembers. Hard to forget, since her complaining was nearly constant (until suddenly she was free, and it wasn't anymore.) Living in the castle and under Naraku, Kanna always had a shaky picture of what freedom was. The way Kagura talked, it seemed the endless ability to do whatever you wanted.
Want being an unfamiliar concept to her, Kanna always found Kagura's freedom incomprehensible. Now that she has it, she doesn't know what to do with it.
The first person Kanna sees and remembers from the beginning of her life is Sango, the woman who seemed to be so strongly tied to Kohaku. (Love, too, was something she could never understand.) Kanna meets her by accident, while the human woman is out picking healing herbs. Reaching for the bone strapped to her back, she mutters something, her face grim.
Kanna leaves before she can reach her. Nothing much has changed after all.
Kohaku asked her once, when his eyes were bright, what her favorite color was.
"White," she told him, for lack of a better option (or caring.) She does like white, though; it is comfortably empty and content without filling.
So she almost missed the old Sesshoumaru, when she saw him for the first time after the battle. He was alone, without tag-alongs, and wearing black. He didn't try to kill her; he seemed to realize that the war is over, or that what was never alive to begin with does not need to die.
Kanna wanders past a village and meets a third person from that time, so long ago already. She's a bit harder to recognize than the others; her black hair is straight and long and her yukata pale blue and she no longer chases butterflies. But it's the girl who traveled with Sesshoumaru; Kanna can tell.
"Kanna-san?" she says, then mutters, "The hollow one, Kanna." Rin is good at being quiet, but Kanna reads lips in her mirror and in life.
Kanna nods because she was born to agree, and Rin smiles. "Sesshoumaru-sama told me that you weren't dangerous without Naraku, and I think that's true. You just look sad."
It's strange how this little human (though perhaps not little for her kind; it has been nearly eight years) she barely knows can place her finger on Kanna so easily.
Perhaps she is reading the emotion wrong, but Kanna misses Naraku in a way she's ill-prepared to handle.
Afterwards, Kanna easily forgets where the village was and lets herself drift. Still, she hears Rin's voice, as clear and pure as rocks striking water. "The hollow one, Kanna…you just look sad…"
She returns, she tells herself, only because the wind carried her there.
Rin doesn't bother to hide her surprise when Kanna appears, white and silent as a ghost, next to the village well. Then she smiles, and takes Kanna's cold white hand and pulls her off to a quiet hill.
"I didn't think you'd come back. I thought, maybe, that you'd walk all the way around Japan and when you came back I'd be an old woman and have forgotten all about you." Rin laughs; Kanna could drown in the sound. "I'm so silly sometimes. The villagers say Sesshoumaru-sama did something to me to make me a child forever. Not to my face, of course, because that would be rude. They are always very nice to me. I'm sorry I'm babbling again. The villagers say that I'm always babbling."
It may be true, but the noise fills the void that is Kanna. She leaves feeling more complete than she has since Naraku.
Kanna thinks it is a year before she does anything of consequence again, but she's not sure. It isn't the nature of youkai to keep track of time.
That thing of consequence is visiting the closest thing Naraku has to a grave, the place where she was set free. After nine, ten years, the land has started to heal, vines creeping across the ruined castle, delicately avoiding the patches and scars in the ground that Kagome never got around to purifying.
Kanna seeks out those dead places. Maybe, if she tries hard enough, she will touch Naraku and he will tell her what to do now.
She sees Rin again not long after that; the girl waves her over and they sit on the hill, Rin's chatter tiding them over. This time, Kanna stays for a while, lingering in the woods. She kneels. It feels good to sit again.
"Are we friends?" Rin asks.
Kanna doesn't know friends, but she nods anyway because it seems so important. Rin smiles.
Kanna never really knew what freedom meant.
She stands in the wind and stars.
She wonders if Kohaku feels as peaceful dead, if Kagura can reach out and touch her white hair, if Naraku hates her for becoming so much like Kikyou.
Free, as it were.
She comes across Sesshoumaru near the castle where she was born. He, too, watches the deep cuts in the earth. This place is dead.
He wears white again, white for purity and white for mourning. If he sees Kanna, he gives no indication of it, and leaves in a swirl of white on the wind.
Afterwards, Kanna rubs that dead dirt into her skin to try and darken it, but she is left as clean and white as ever.
Free, as it were. White, white, white.
"I'm getting married," says Rin the next time they are together on their hill. "His name is Haku."
"No, just Haku."
It means 'white.'
Rin will carry on, and Kanna will remain here forever.