Disclaimer: I do not own the Inuyasha series or any of the characters.
Summary: A shared moment of terror and understanding between those under Naraku's control. One-Shot.
Translations and A/N at bottom as usual.
The inhuman shriek of fury that seemed to rattle the walls of the castle plunged icy knives of terror into Kagura's gut. She ran for her life, though there was nowhere to go. She didn't dare try to leave and risk having that wrath turned on her. All she could do was stay out of the way and hope like hell that she would see tomorrow.
Privately, Kagura believed that Naraku's latest experiments with the construction of his body had fully unbalanced his mind. Always before, when plans had gone awry, Naraku had retreated to brood on his failures and scheme new plots in a dangerous silence. But now, rarely, but often enough to be alarming, something in his brain seemed to snap, and woe betide any in his path while he flew into a murderous rage.
Whatever the cause of these fits, Kagura didn't dare draw her master's notice. She was on thin ice as it was, and Naraku was angry enough to crush the life from her heart without any provocation right now.
Another enraged scream and the sound of something smashing had Kagura ready to jump right out of her skin. He was getting closer, rampaging through the building and destroying all in his path. Legs burning with effort, and throat burning with shouki, Kagura ran down another staircase and careened around a corner — only to skid to a stop inches from the pale, ghost-like figure of her elder sister. Kanna was standing in the middle of the hall, staring off into space as though unaware of her surroundings. Trembling with adrenaline, Kagura stayed frozen as Kanna slowly lifted her gaze to focus on a spot just past Kagura's ear. Kagura hated it when she did that. It always made her feel like there was something standing behind her.
"Naraku is angry," Kanna whispered in her thin, colourless little voice.
"Kanna, you'd better make yourself scarce unless you want Naraku to reabsorb you," Kagura hissed emphatically.
Kanna continued to stare, motionless, and then finally moved enough to drop her eyes to the floor, where she looked blankly at some invisible speck. And that was it.
Kagura gustily released an exasperated sigh. "I don't have time for this," she muttered, dodging around the void-child to continue her escape.
The oppressive feeling of Naraku's jyaki suddenly flared ominously, and Kagura looked back over her shoulder in fear. Luckily, there was no sign of her master, but as her eyes fell on Kanna's silent figure, still standing where Kagura had left her, she hesitated.
It doesn't matter, she told herself. Kanna wouldn't care even if Naraku did kill her. She doesn't feel anything. She's a void. She doesn't even have a sense of self-preservation, let alone emotions. I have to save myself.
But as Kagura stood there in a moment's indecision, she saw something strange. No expression crossed Kanna's face. No tension stiffened her body. The void-child didn't even turn her head to listen for Naraku or look at Kagura. But as Kagura watched, Kanna's pale hand moved and gave the back of her mirror a soft caress.
Maybe it meant nothing. But the gesture seemed almost like… well, like self-comfort. Like it was meant to soothe.
Another smashing sound made the floor shudder, and Kagura acted before she had a chance to think about it. Scrambling back towards Kanna, Kagura grabbed her sister's hand and fled, dragging Kanna with her. Kanna's hand was limp in hers, but her legs worked fine, and she kept up with Kagura's frantic pace even while passively allowing herself to be led.
Kagura darted into a room and pulled Kanna after her, sliding the door closed as quickly and quietly as she could before crossing the room. There was a crawlspace here, hidden from the casual viewer. It had probably been used by the castle's original human inhabitants to hide valuables if the castle was ever attacked. It was boredom that had led Kagura to explore the castle and find this space. She bored easily when cooped up indoors for any length of time, and Naraku delighted in tormenting her in this way.
Dropping Kanna's hand, Kagura flung herself down on her knees and pried at the edge of the disguised door with desperate fingers. She managed to work her nails into the crack and slid the panel aside, revealing the low, narrow, shadowy space behind it that ran along the wall of the room.
I think we'll both fit, Kagura thought. But… me, first.
Lunging forward, Kagura had only her head and one arm inside when she came up short at the sight of eyes watching her. Freezing, Kagura blinked as her vision rapidly adjusted to the feeble light. Someone had gotten to her hiding spot before her.
Huddled in the cramped space, looking back at her with wide eyes, was Kohaku. They stared at each other in surprise for a moment, neither expecting to find the other here. Kagura mentally measured the space Kohaku was occupying, and then searched her memory for alternatives. This was the only hiding spot she could reach, and it was taken.
What do I do?
Kagura and Kohaku both flinched as Naraku let out another wordless cry of fury, eyes fixed on each other. Those definitely aren't the eyes of a mindless puppet, Kagura thought to herself as the terror she felt was mirrored in Kohaku's gaze.
Then Kohaku moved.
Kagura wasted a moment gaping at the boy in surprise as he somehow managed to scrunch himself up a little smaller, withdrawing to the furthest corner of the crawlspace. He was making room for her?
Recovering, Kagura reached back to grab Kanna's wrist and crawled in, pulling her sister along behind her. They almost didn't fit, even jammed up uncomfortably in a huddle together. Kagura squeezed herself in beside Kohaku, flank-to-flank, drawing her knees up to fit her legs in, and hauling Kanna in bodily to sit beside her. If Kanna was uncomfortable, she didn't show it, even when Kagura's weight landed on her as the wind sorceress flung herself back towards the hatch, stretching awkwardly to close it.
The crawlspace went dark as the door shut, although enough light still leaked around the edges for Kagura to see. Gingerly, she backed off of Kanna and sat down again, managing with some effort to fold herself between the void-child and the taijiya boy. Her limbs felt too long and gangling in this cramped space, and she didn't like the fact that there was no way for her to sit without touching the others. She liked her space, and she was more than a little claustrophobic in such tight quarters.
Naraku shrieked again, and Kagura felt Kohaku flinch violently. On her other side, Kanna did not react. Naraku sounded much closer now, and he seemed to be heading this way. Kagura stared at the dusty, cobwebbed wall in front of her, willing herself not to shake. If Naraku found them, she suspected that she would bear the brunt of the punishment. She had the most potential to provide him with entertainment.
Naraku was so close! He must know! He must be heading here! Kagura found herself taking rapid, shallow breaths, while beside her, Kohaku trembled and covered his ears against Naraku's hideous screams of rage. Kanna continued to sit loose-limbed like a broken doll.
An unnerving silence suddenly fell, lasting long enough to reduce Kagura's nerves to shreds. Just when she was starting to think that it was all over, there came the sound of footsteps. Naraku was coming towards the door of the room outside the crawlspace!
Beside her, Kohaku froze. Kagura ceased panting in terror and stopped breathing entirely, listening with all her might to the footsteps and willing them to continue past. And then she knew that they were doomed, because the footsteps stopped right outside the door.
The next few minutes were among the worst Kagura had ever lived through. Everything was so silent that she wanted to scream. They sat, paralyzed with fear, terrified to even blink for fear that Naraku could somehow detect it.
Kagura and Kohaku both jumped rather severely at Naraku's call. Kanna, by contrast, immediately started prying at the crawlspace door, trying to go to him.
Kagura was frozen in indecision for a moment. If Kanna left here to answer Naraku's call, Naraku might start to wonder why she'd been in this room in the first place. He might investigate. But if Kanna didn't answer the call, Naraku would undoubtedly find her lack of obedience suspicious. Either way, they risked drawing Naraku's attention.
In the moment Kagura spent trying to decide whether she should prevent Kanna from leaving the hiding spot or not, Kanna managed to open the crawlspace door and slipped out before Kagura could stop her. The crawlspace door closed again and Kagura was left alone with the taijiya boy, filled with dread. Silently, Kagura pleaded with any kami who would listen to one such as her — don't let Naraku ask Kanna an incriminating question. Kanna would answer anything Naraku asked her truthfully. If that happened, they were done for.
Kagura turned her head to look at Kohaku in the dark, taking in the wide eyes and terrorized expression as they both listened to the outer door of the room slide open and then shut again.
"Kanna," Naraku's voice rang out again. "What were you doing in there?"
Inside her head, Kagura cursed whichever kami had ignored her plea. Kohaku had gone completely rigid. They waited for Kanna to damn them with her answer.
"I was looking at a spiderweb," Kanna answered placidly.
After a stunned moment, Kagura whipped her head around to look at Kohaku again. Her shock was mirrored on his face. Then Kagura looked back towards the spot where Kanna had been sitting. There on the wall, at what would have been eye-level to the void-child, was a large, silvery spiderweb, somehow undisturbed by the occupants of the crawlspace.
In something of a daze, Kagura tried to wrap her head around this. She barely noticed as Naraku's footsteps retreated to some other part of the castle, taking Kanna with him. Had Kanna simply been telling the truth? Or had Kanna meant to lie by omission? If Kanna had misled Naraku on purpose… was there more to her than merely the void? Was there a person behind those blank, black eyes?
She wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry.
It was some time later that Kagura's thoughts were called back to the present by Kohaku shifting his position beside her. She looked at him, and he returned her look with a questioning expression. Deciding that it must be safe by now, and that Naraku had had ample time to calm down, Kagura opened the concealed hatch and crawled out into the room beyond, followed closely by Kohaku. She took a minute to straighten her clothes and hair and dust herself off. She'd creep off to some remote corner of the castle and pretend to have been there all along. Kohaku could do as he liked. His alibi was his own look out.
Kagura strode to the door and slid it open. She was immediately seized by the throat and lifted off the ground. Scrabbling futilely at the tentacle that held her as she gasped for air, Kagura found herself face to face with Naraku's dangerous smile. She was aware of Kohaku in a similar position nearby, giving his best impression of a mindless puppet. She wasn't sure why Naraku kept falling for the act, but it always seemed to work. Lucky brat.
"What were you doing in there, Kagura?" Naraku asked her, almost pleasantly. She knew instantly that she was in for a world of hurt. "Do you have something to hide?"
Shouki – demonic miasma
Jyaki – evil demonic aura
Taijiya – demon exterminator
Kami – god/goddess
A/N – This story was originally meant to be part of Collected Works, but I decided to let it stand by itself. Then I changed my mind and put in back in Collected Works. Then I changed my mind again. It has been the source of much indecision. I started it quite some time ago, but I just couldn't seem to finish it. Then the new Inuyasha anime episodes started, and I felt inspired. Kagura is always an interesting character to write. I hope I managed to capture her personality in this. Let me know if there are any typos!
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