Haunted by Death
Note- I hope you enjoyed the last chapter. I never realized just how difficult it is to juggle adulthood with your passions. It seems like the older you get, the less motivation (and time) you have. I apologize to all of you, my loyal fans, who have been sucked into this series of dramatic stories, and haven't let go. I appreciate you. I welcome any ideas or suggestions you may have, because, truthfully, it's been so long since I've been so enveloped in this story that I've lost my way. Thank you.
Summary (Full)- Kagome is finally free of her psychotic cousins, their friends, and her nightmares. Her life has, basically, returned to normal. She's shopping and having fun with her friends. Her relationship with Inuyasha is going perfectly fine. Things couldn't be more perfect. But then, when she signs on one day, Death sends her an Instant Message, threatening her once again. Is it really possible to Escape Death a fourth time?
Haunted by Death
"Here is your receipt, sir," Sango said to the handsome, middle-aged man who had just purchased several cds. He smiled his impressive pearly whites at her as he took his receipt. "Come back and see us," she continued. The man nodded curtly, and made his way to the door. Sango then turned her brown-eyed gazed toward Kagome, her mega-watt smile fading slightly. "Kagome, are you okay?"
Kagome, who had been staring at an old stain on the floor - a stain that refused to come out of the carpet, withstanding even the cloeaning force of bleach - shook her head to snap herself out of her trance. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine." She chuckled lightly, turning to complete her task of unloading boxes and stocking shelves after the many music-hungry shoppers who had bombarded the store that morning, cleaning out most of their stock.
Sango wasn't buying it, though. She straightened her shoulders and followed her friend around the counter and down the aisle containing all the classic rock cds. "Really, Kagome, you looked...distracted."
Kagome placed the box she was carrying on the floor, and waved her hand in a 'no, really, it's okay' gesture. "I'm fine," she repeated, pulling out some ACDC albums and properly placing them on the shelf in alphabetical order. "Really, Sango. You worry too much."
Sango tilted her head to the left, her cynicism obvious, but she shook it off and laughed. "Yeah, it must be my motherly instincts." She knelt down beside her friend and helped her unload the box. "Speaking of motherly instincts, how's everything going with you and Inuyasha?"
Kagome smiled. "Good," she said, genuinely happy, her distraction seemingly momentarily forgotten. "He hasn't left me alone in the last couple days." She giggled. "It's like he's lost his senses."
Sango laughed, "When it comes to sex," she said, finishing with the handful of cds she had in her hands, "men always lose their senses."
Kagome laughed. "You have a point." She finished stocking the cds and rose to her feet. She lifted the box and ripped the base open to break it down into a flat piece of cardboard, tossing it into the backroom to be recycled.
"Did you hear about that guy that was murdered in his apartment?" Sango suddenly asked, causing Kagome to nearly fall over the counter as she tried to clean up the remnants of packaging from stocking. Kagome gulped quietly, and shot a quick glance at Sango, who was straightening up an endcap in front of the check out counter. Sango seemed nonchalant.
'Get a grip, Kagome. she meant nothing by it. She doesn't know,' Kagome chastised herself. "Yeah," she said instead. "I heard. It's awful."
"I mean, it's so weird. We went to school with him. Does Inuyasha know anything about it, yet?" Sango inquired, straightening from her position on the floor to fix a low shelf.
"Not yet," Kagome admitted sadly. She wouldn't admit it, but it worried her. She couldn't help but let Death's words haunt her. Much worse, she could help but let her decision to play his sick, twisted game haunt her more. She had been crossing her fingers that Inuyasha and his homicide team would find whoever had done such a thing to Naoto. Not only because she wanted justice for Naoto's untimely demise, but because then she would know it in fact wasn't Death, and then she wouldn't feel crazy anymore.
'Are you kidding me?' Kagome screamed at herself. 'You are crazy! You're the reason he's been killed in the first place!'
Kagome swallowed, hard. She had turned away from Sango, pretending to be occupied with wiping down the counters with a disinfecting cloth. 'I can't tell her. I won't tell her. I don't want her to get hurt...or her son. The less she knows, the better. The less everyone knows, the better. This is my fight, and I intend to end it myself.'
Kagome cleared her throat. "The candlelight vigil is tonight. I was...thinking of going..."
Sango appeared beside her friend. She placed a hand on her shoulder. "Is this because of all we went through?"
Kagome shrugged. "I just feel like going. You and I have seen more of this than a lot of other people. I just - I don't know - wanna go. Come with me?"
Sango smiled and said, "Sure thing," before checking out another customer.
Kagome couldn't help but smile, too. 'It's the least I can do for choosing him as a victim,' she told herself. And, for a moment, she didn't feel as bad.
Kagome exhaled, long and slow. The warm – too warm for some people – water washed over her body, caressing her skin from her head to her toes. She leaned her head back to let the stream of water rinse the shampoo from her long, black hair. She closed her eyes, and leaned her head forward against the tile wall of the standing shower. "This is horrible," she said to herself. "Just because I go to the vigil doesn't mean I will be completely innocent."
She shook her head and pulled the bottle of body wash from the shower kaddy hanging from the shower head. She opened it and inhaled deeply, closing her eyes once more to savor the smell of white clay and pink jasmine before pouring the luxurious soap onto a body pouf. She worked it into a lather and began to wash her toned body with it. It began to melt the stress away, until she remembered just how her body became as toned as it was.
Kagome wiped the sweat obscuring her brow and breathed deeply, trying to catch her breath. She stretched her arms, and rotated her shoulders to work the stiffness out of them before jumping up and taking hold of the sleek metal bar above her head. It felt good and cold against her wet palms. She began pulling herself up and down repeatedly, keeping close count on how many pull ups she completed.
She was glaring at the ceiling in concentration when Suikotsu approached her. Her flaming eyes fell from the ceiling to him, burning with hatred and annoyance.
"How well can you focus?" He asked.
She continued with her strenuous work out and only regarded him with a questioningly raised eyebrow.
"How long can you keep concentrating with a hindrance to your work?" He asked, being more specific this time.
"I suppose," she said, panting, still pulling her self up above the bar, only to drop back down, "that you're supposed to be the hindrance?"
"If I am?"
"You're not doing a very good job," she spat.
Deterred, Suikotsu stomped off to parts of the warehouse unknown.
Kagome smirked and continued with her pull ups, her newfound muscles straining with the effort of pulling her entire body weight up and down. She completed forty when someone snaked their arms around her and began tickling her. Laughing, she released the bar, falling onto her feet on the cement.
She stood up and whirled around to find Ryura. "Thanks," she mumbled with a smile.
"Anytime," came his response.
"You're a better distraction than Suikotsu. He tried to take my focus away from working out just a few minutes ago." Kagome said.
Ryura smirked. "I deserve a medal then, don't I?"
Kagome laughed and nodded.
"Look at those muscles," Ryura said, gently taking hold of her upper arms and squeezing. He whistled, long and low. "And you're not even flexing."
Kagome angrily rinsed the body pouf and left it hanging on the shower kaddy. Fully rinsed of the thick, delightful smelling soap bubbles, Kagome turned the water off and climbed out. She dried her hair with a towel before standing in front of the sink. She wiped the steam from the mirror, and looked at herself. She could see the firm muscles of her arms, and the definition of her abdominal muscles. She could see the strength she possessed, all thanks to Naraku, and his twisted groupies.
She could also see the shame, the fear, the sadness. Who was she, really? A killer? An innocent victim? An accessory to murder? A lover?
She turned away from the mirror, hurriedly putting her clothes on; dark jeans with a black tank top, and black sneakers. She wasn't sure what one wore to a vigil, having never been to one, which was surprising, what, with all the people she had lost…
All the people she had gotten killed, or killed herself.
She sighed, and realized what she was: She was lost. She was confused. She was trying to heal.
She ran a brush through her thick hair until it was luxuriously soft to the touch. She went from the bathroom to the bedroom and collapsed onto her stomach on her bed.
Kagome's head jerked up from where it was buried in the pillow. 'No,' she said to herself. She turned slowly toward the wretched laptop sitting on the table in the corner. She rose from the bed, slowly, and forced herself to be the strong Kagome she used to be, to face her fears…
Slayer258: Hey, Kagome.
Kagome visibly relaxed, and let out the huge breath she had been holding. "Stupid," she muttered aloud to herself. "You're losing your mind."
Miko17: Hi, what's up?
Slayer258: Just finished getting ready for the vigil. I just want to let you know that Ichiro is coming, too. I insisted that Miroku stay at home with him, but Miroku wanted to come along, too.
Miko17: That's fine. :-) I will meet you guys there.
Slayer258: Okay, thanks. Bye!
Kagome smiled before shutting off her laptop and gently closing it. She pulled a hoodie from the closet and slipped it over her head. She left a note for Inuyasha, telling him where she was going and that she'd be home right after. She grabbed her keys and stuffed them in her pocket, before heading outside into the chilly fall air, locking the door behind her.
She stopped outside of her car and stared at it. The apartment where the vigil was being held was right down the street and around the corner. It was so nice out, she decided she would rather walk. If needed, she was sure Sango would bring her home.
"We are gathered here this evening to honor the memory and life of Naoto Tomagichi," a man said solemnly, holding a candle in his hands. Kagome couldn't help but notice that, for the moment, it was the only one lit. "He was young, vibrant, bright…like this candle." The man held up his candle as a tear streamed down his face. "He was taken from us too early, but he would not want us to mourn his death; to wallow in our misery. He would want us to celebrate his life by continuing ours."
Kagome gulped, swallowing the lump that had begun forming in her throat. Her nose began to burn, and her eyes began to sting, and she knew she was going to cry. Inhaling sharply, she quickly wiped her face.
Sango reached over and took Kagome's hand discreetly, giving it an encouraging squeeze. She knew how hard murder and death was for Kagome.
Miroku, cradling Ichiro - who had fallen asleep after having and crying fit before the vigil started – smiled at Kagome kindly. Kagome smiled slightly in return.
"Let us bow our heads for a moment of silence to honor Naoto."
Kagome did so, for only a second. She peeked through her bangs to look around at all the people present at the vigil, which, surprisingly, had been a lot. She didn't really recognize any of the faces around her. Some of the faces were even covered with scarves due to the cold.
She glanced from Sango, to Miroku, to their precious son Ichiro. His hair was straight and just shy of needing a haircut. The streetlights reflected off it, revealing his light brown highlights, something both his loving parents shared. Miroku, though still perverted sometimes, had matured for the most part. He was a man, a father, and a loving husband. Sango had grown older, too. Kagome was shocked with herself at having not noticed just how much older they all at gotten.
She smiled fondly at her friends, who couldn't see her because they were still bowing their heads in silence. The man began to pray aloud.
"Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
That's when Kagome noticed the man standing to her right, behind Sango. He was staring at her, but she couldn't make out his face. He had a scarf around his neck, lifted high to cover his chin and mouth. He also had the hood of his jacket tugged low, so it obscured most of his face. The streetlamp created a sickening yellow glow across his broad shoulders.
As Kagome was looking him over, that's when she noticed the light catch something shiny and silver near his abdomen. He had his large trenchcoat open slightly, revealing the large blade he wielded. He pulled it out, fingering the blade gingerly. Kagome opened her mouth, but he placed one finger across his lips, motioning her to be quiet. He stepped closer to Sango. Kagome stiffened.
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," the man continued, but she could barely hear him. It was almost as if someone had stuffed cotton in her ears and pumped her veins full of ice. She just stared at the blade in horror. She could see the sickening smirk in the strange man's eyes.
"For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever."
She shook her head slowly, telling him not to harm Sango. He pointed the blade at Miroku, and she shook her head again. The man shrugged and looked around slowly.
The woman never saw it coming. One moment, she was praying, and the next, her artery in her throat at been severed by one, fluid motion. Her eyes flew open, her hands clutched her throat, and she tried to scream, but all the came out were painful sounding gurgles as the blood seeped from her neck and mouth.
Kagome couldn't help but gasp. This attracted Sango and Miroku's attention, who whirled around. Miroku ushered Ichiro into Sango's arms so he could kneel before the dying woman to try futilely to save her. Kagome looked around, but the man was nowhere to be found. When Sango got a truly good look at the woman, she let out a loud, shocked shriek.
And that's when everyone started to panic, and before anyone could calm them, people scattered in every direction.
Ah, a good old cliff-hanger. Sorry, guys, I had to. I hope you enjoyed.