The Seventh Key

Chapter 10

The New Guardian

The closed hatch to the attic shook for a moment, and then exploded, sending splinters and pieces of wood flying across the room. Naraku whistled as he levitated up into the room, landing on the floor. He grinned and held his arms out.

"Yashie, I hoooooome!" he yelled, tilting his head back. He looked down, saw Inuyasha's corpse and groaned, lowering his sunglasses. "Ah man, come on," he sighed, sitting down on a crate beside the body. Naraku slung an army around Inuyasha's shoulders and shook his head. "I am really, really disappointed Yash, you evade me for over a century and die to a kid? I mean, come on. I was hoping to kill you myself," Naraku held up his hands and set his briefcase down beside him, flipping its lid open. "Oh well, beggars can't be choosers," he chuckled, patting down Inuyasha's pockets. "Alright ya dead bastard, where'd you put that key?" Naraku reached inside Inuyasha's pockets and frowned. He looked down and pulled up Inuyasha's hand, pulling the glove off it. Naraku stared at the un-tattooed hand for a moment before dropping it and tossing the black glove onto Inuyasha's lap.

"I told you so, didn't I?" he called, standing up. "You didn't listen to me then, but maybe you'll listen now. Inuyasha's dead, my demons are dead, hell, everyone's dead. It's just you and me, Kagome, and killing beautiful women…well I have no problem doing it, but hey, I'd like to not do it this time. I mean that, really," Naraku looked around the attic. "Come on out, we'll chat, maybe there's a way you can get a good deal out of this. I doubt it, but hey, worth a shot right?" There was a noise, and Naraku looked over his shoulder. Kagome stepped out from behind a pile of boxes, and Naraku squinted through the dim light.

"Ouch," he whispered, staring. Blood ran down Kagome's arms and had stained her clothes as she slowly walked towards him. "I'm a demon, but yeesh, you look like shit, all covered it blood, Shippo really tore you up huh," he muttered. "Look, it's over. You guys fought but you lost. Here," Naraku held out his hand. "Take my hand, and I promise, I won't hurt you, we'll go and get you cleaned up," he said. Kagome looked at him blankly before lifting her arm. "There we go," Naraku smiled, taking her hand.

Kagome's fingers wrapped around his wrist and hand, and Naraku screamed as his skin hissed and smoked. Kagome's eyes narrowed into a glare as she released him, and Naraku looked down at his burnt hand in horror.

"This ain't my blood," she snorted, raising her fists. Naraku looked up at her and glared.

"Stupid bitch," he hissed, jumping backwards through the hatch. Kagome stepped forward and looked down through the hole, leaping down into the room before. Naraku was gone. She slowly stepped out onto the balcony and looked over the hotel. A few body parts littered the floor below in the corners, but Kagome couldn't tell if they were human or demon – all things considered she didn't care to find out either. Kagome considered her options for a minute. Covered in blood from the key like this, Naraku couldn't touch her, but he would probably figure out a way before the sun rose. Besides, she wasn't in the mood to run anymore. Naraku was half right, they'd run all night and everyone was dead.

"No more running," she muttered, walking around the balcony. She approached the first door and kicked it open, looking inside the darkened room. Kagome frowned and continued to the next room, the bathroom. She opened the door and walked inside, looking up. The metal track for the shower curtain was empty, the metal hooks where the curtain should have hung were swinging slightly. Kagome frowned and turned around as the door slammed shut.

"Howdy!" Naraku yelled, flinging the curtain over her. Kagome screamed and flailed inside the plastic coating as Naraku pushed her into the bathtub. "You've gotta be clean to fight demons," Naraku sneered, twisting on the water and pulling back the curtain. Kagome sputtered as lukewarm water washed over her face. "It's like they say, cleanliness is next to godliness!" Naraku laughed, grabbing a handtowel. "Get aaaaall that nasty blood off now, you can't die looking like shit," he ordered, rubbing the cloth over Kagome's face. Kagome coughed as water flowed into her throat and leaned over the side of the tub and hacked before reaching into her pocket. She pulled the key out, and lifted it into the air before jamming it into Naraku's eye through the lens of his sunglasses.

"AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!" Naraku stumbled back and clutched his face in horror as he screamed. Kagome looked up at him, then opened the lid on the key and raised it to her lips, taking a gulp.

"AAAAHHHHH manm, I really liked those," Naraku sighed, pulling off his broken sunglasses and tossing them away. "I really liked those too, I killed the guy who made them you know, those were one-of-a-kind. Oh well." Kagome watched as Naraku reached up and wiped some green ooze from his healing eye. "I guess Inuyasha didn't get to fill you in on everything, that eyeball crap only works for low-level demons, not on me. Good try though." Naraku whistled softly and grabbed a larger towel from behind the door. He pulled the shower curtain around Kagome again and turned off the shower before wrapping the towel around the shower curtain and tying it shut.

"Ok, we're about ready," he said, lifting Kagome out of the tub and dropping her on the floor. Kagome squirmed inside the towel for her hands as Naraku grabbed her feet and pulled her out of the room and along the balcony.

"Now, we really need to talk. I'm still interested in you, but I think our relationship has one big hurdle to jump over, namely you being the new Guardian and me killing the last one. I'm sure you understand how that could be a problem if we intend to take this further," he said, walking down the stairs. Kagome squirmed and pushed a hand under her head to cushion her skull as it bumped down the stairs. "I'm probably gonna get promoted for this, this is a big day for me, be happy for me. If it makes you feel better, by the time the rest of your species finds out that the apocalypse is coming, well, they'll look like last week's dogfood anyway, so cheer up." Naraku reached the ground floor and unrolled Kagome from the shower curtain. Kagome winced, and the key rolled away from her.

"I'll take that," Naraku said, wrapping his hands in the shower curtain and leaning down. "Whoa, hot tamale, hot tamale!" he whooped, juggling with the key for a moment. "Ah, it's been a long time, good to have the seventh key back in demon hands," he smiled, placing it inside his pocket. "And that's that, the world's come to an end" he said, dusting off his hands. He looked down at Kagome and smirked. "Ah, don't cry, " he coaxed at her whimpers. "Come here," Naraku grabbed her hand and pulled her up into his chest.

"I know what you're thinking," Naraku chuckled, light from a disco ball shining across the floor while bass music played from an unseen source. Naraku danced forward and spun Kagome out. "He's got the key, what else does he want now?" Naraku spun her back and smiled down at her. "I want you." Kagome glared back.

"Hey, no one has ever brought a Guardian to the other side before, well, not in one piece anyway," Naraku laughed, stepping away and waving a hand at her. Kagome clenched her eyes shut as she whirled in place before falling back into Naraku's arms. "You'd be the first. It's be an easy adjustment, trust me, we get human food down there. I'm clean, I don't mind housework, I don't smoke, I only drink on weekends, and I look good in a bathrobe. I got a bitch for a sister, but hey, she'll deal with it." Naraku kept smiling and dancing as Kagome glared at him. "I can't help but notice you're not talking," Naraku growled, narrowing his eyes. He spun and let go, and Kagome slid down to the floor.

"What the hell are you thinking? You either side with me or die, bitch!" Naraku roared. "There was a time when a quiet woman was appreciated, not now, talk and stop pissing me off!" At the last word, Naraku's legs split into a flurry of brown tentacles and zoomed through the air towards Kagome. They wrapped around her arms and legs and held her up into the air. "Whoa, down boys, heel, down!" Naraku commanded, slapping the tentacles. They whirled back and vanished back into legs. Naraku winced and rubbed his nose.

"I'm sorry, really, I didn't mean to get angry," he whispered, looking down at Kagome. Kagome still didn't respond. "Kagome…Kagome, please listen," Naraku said, holding out his hand. "Kagome, I've never said this to anyone before…Kagome, I lo lo lo lo…you," Naraku groaned. "Kagome, I mean it, I lo lo lo…you. Do you think maybe, you could bring yourself to lo lo lo lo…mean?" he asked. Kagome stared. Naraku sighed and help up his hands. "Oh well…find, ok, I understand, ok." Naraku snapped, and Kagome rose from the floor. Naraku shrugged. "Oh well. You won't give me your heart?" Naraku grinned as the nail on his forefinger extended. "Then I'll take it." Kagome said something muffled. "What, now you have something to say?" he sneered. Kagome nodded. "Well spit it out!" Naraku snapped. Kagome closed her eyes, leaned her head back…

And spewed the blood in her mouth into Naraku's face.

Naraku screamed and stumbled back as his skin burst out in boils and began to smoke. Kagome coughed out the rest of the blood she had swallowed by accident, and watched as he clawed at his face. Naraku's skin took out a sickly green sheen as he moaned, his hands bubbling even as they grasped at his face. Suddenly, the demon's trenchcoat lit up in red flame, and it raced up his body. Naraku fell to his hands and knees as clumps of sizzling flesh fell off his torso as his clothes burned away. There was a burst of flame, and Kagome's eyes went wide as a giant spider burst from Naraku's back, screeching as the flames of Naraku's human body crawled up its eight limbs. The Naraku-spider let out a final squeal, and exploded. Kagome screamed as she was thrown back against the wall, slumping down the floor. Around the hotel, the wood structuring splintered and the windows shattered. Burning clumps of demonic flesh slapped down around the hotel interior, and there was a metal clank nearby. Kagome groaned and reached out to curl her fingers around the key before her eyes slid closed.

- - - - - - - - - -

Sunlight filtered through the broken windows of the hotel. A beam hit Kagome in the face, and she winced and opened her eyes, standing out of the ray's light. Kagome raised her hand and stared down at the key for a moment, then looked back up at the sun.

- - - - - - - - - -

Kagome set her suitcase and duffle bag down and stepped onto the chair, then reached up and heaved herself into the attic. She walked over to Inuyasha's body and knelt down, withdrawing the key from her pocket and holding it against the wound in Inuyasha's chest. She pressed down on the skin and watched as the former Guardian's blood dripped into the key's chamber. Kagome snapped the key shut and looked at the corpse for a moment. She leaned forward and gently pressed her lips to Inuyasha's cold forehead. That done, she stood and looked down. Smiling, she reached down and grabbed the black leather glove in Inuyasha's lap, pulling it over her hand and flexing her fingers for a few seconds.

Kagome slipped the key in her pocket and hopped down in the room below, hefting her duffle bag over her shoulder, picking up her suitcase, and walking down the stairs. At the front doors of the old hotel, she turned and looked over the structure, littered with bodies, and pieces of bodies, not all of them human. She sighed and walked down side, then zipped open her duffle bag and pulled out a small box. She looked down at it and then back up at the hotel. It seems fitting…

Kagome slid open the box of matches and withdrew one, sparking it against the side and watching as the blue and red ball of chemicals burst into flame. She tossed it into a pile of dry grass, which quickly went alight. Kagome stared for a few minutes as the flame raced along the grass and spread up the wall of the hotel, before turning and walking into the distance.

- - - - - - - - - -

The bus slowed and hissed as it stopped. About five other people climbed on, but Kagome stopped at the door.

"Where does this bus go?" she asked. The driver shrugged.

"Chicago's the end of the line," he told her. Kagome nodded and hefted her bags and climbed on.

"Just a sec," she said, setting the bags down at the top of the stairs. She turned and withdrew the key from her pocket, then let a few drops leak out onto the edge of the door. There was a red flash as the barrier rippled into place. Kagome put away the key and turned back, picking up her bags and dropping her change into the coin acceptor. The driver looked at her strangely as he closed the door and started down the road. Kagome slid into a seat and set her bags down beside her, leaning her head back. The events of the night caught up with her, and she allowed her eyes to close.

- - - - - - - - - -

Kagome was awakened by the bus jerking forward. She opened her eyes and leaned forward.

"Well, you want on or not?" the driver asked. Kagome turned her head and looked out the window.

Standing out on the roadside was a women. She had black, ankle-high boots and a long dark green skirt with a sleeveless black jacket over a crimson blouse. A pair of dark sunglasses covered her eyes, and her black hair was spun up into a bun. A silver briefcase was clutched in her left hand,

"Well?" the driver repeated. The woman looked up and down at the bus, and her ruby lips curved into a smile.

"No thanks," she said. "I'll get the next one." The driver shrugged and closed the door. The bus started up again, and as it slowly accelerated past the woman, she lifted a hand and lowered her sunglasses. Kagome stared into crimson eyes as the woman smirked up at her, winking. Kagome sat back and let out a breath as the bus got faster and drove down the road.

Back at the stop, the woman shrugged and hefted her briefcase, walking after the bus and whistling softly.