Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha. Inuyasha was created by a brilliant mangaka named Rumiko Takahashi. This is simply a work of creative writing which involves the character Naraku and depicts his feelings for Kikyo up to the point where he kills her for the final time. That having been said, enjoy!

She was dangerous. She was defiant. She was unreadable. She was dead. She was his greatest fear and most powerful rival.

She was beautiful.

Hair like fluttering threads of night. Skin pale as dawn. Lips the hue of roses- not the red ones or the white ones, but somehow both. Eyes like fresh copper, tinted with gold and flame. They tantalized him like nothing else, those eyes full of hatred for him, yet so lovely, so fierce…

He couldn't stand these thoughts. When he was alone, when he lay in the darkness without the presence of his incarnations and forgot, however temporarily, the outside world, these were the thoughts that took him over. Visions of that woman passed through him, destroying him the way a field of ice ruins fire. The ice melted in the flames, perhaps, but the water it left behind smothered the heat into nothingness. He was fire and she was ice, and no matter how many times he tried to break her she would take part of him down with her. He couldn't kill her without killing himself.

He was so alone.

He was alone because there was no one he wanted but her, and she despised him. She wanted no one but Inuyasha, but he wouldn't choose her and her alone. So they both knew the pain of grasping for something they couldn't obtain; they were so alike and yet unalike, but they would never be together. They were the only ones who truly understood the meaninglessness of life, the pain of being unloved. The only ones who knew that happiness exists only in dreams, because life never lets you take what you wanted without paying a heavier price. But because she hated him, he was alone.

He stared into the Shikon no Tama, that deadly orb capable of unleashing so much sorrow. There was a glimmer of light left, and he found it ironic, really. Ironic that after all this time it was the same story and he was bound by the same weakness he'd been defeated by from the beginning of his existence.

He'd come so far, he'd gotten so much stronger. But at the beginning he'd chosen to let his soul be consumed, so that he could have the two things he wanted most: Kikyo and the Shikon no Tama. Yet he realized now that he wanted nothing from the Shikon no Tama. If he were to wish upon it, he knew deep down what his deepest wish would be. He had believed he could overcome Onigumo's petty desires and use the Shikon no Tama's power to become a full demon, and yet…

He knew he would choose to have Kikyo instead.

Still weak. Still trapped at the beginning. Still unable to tune out the sound of an ever-beating human heart. No matter how hard he tried to get rid of his heart, it was the essential component that joined together all the demons that he was made of. Without it, he was not Naraku.

His fist clenched and a torrent of heat filled him as his weakness overwhelmed him. His simultaneous desire and hatred for her always fueled this anger, fueled his obsession with her. There was nothing he wanted more than to have her wholly for himself. He wanted to make her submit to him, to break that iron will of hers that had caused him so much pain and trouble. To grasp her in his arms, watching her writhe in despair, helpless to save herself… and then stop trying, resign herself to him and allow him to rule her. It would have been the most satisfying sensation of all, to know that he had broken Kikyo.

He suddenly remembered, now of all times, his words to Kagura when he released and then destroyed her. He'd taken pleasure, then, in her devastation. He'd had to make the unraveling of her life's wish the most bitter moment of her life. He couldn't help it.

This is the freedom you sought.

He was cruel, as cruel as life itself. He could never have let her go, happy, able to find peace, friendship, love…

She had been a part of him, after all. And he himself would never obtain that promise that came with freedom. He once believed he could do the same, that once he was able to move his new body he would be able to gain everything he'd ever wanted. He was wrong. He was disillusioned. He had suffered so greatly that he could never let anyone be happy again. He was trapped here, abominable to all, the most vile being imaginable… and yet he had done it all for even the slightest of chances to be with Kikyo. He'd deceived many people over the course of his life, but it was he who had been the most deceived.

This was the freedom he had sought.

He had tainted her beyond repair with his threads. He had emerged from hiding, because he longed above all to be the one to hold her as she died. He would let her die, here with him, because it was the closest he would ever get to having her.

He could strike her to her death at any moment with a piercing tentacle, but he simply wrapped his arms around her rigid body, enjoying the feel of her as she lay here, helpless, leaning on him even as she glared hatefully at him. It gave him such pleasure to be the one basking in her dying moments, to crush her strongest desire as well as Inuyasha's in order to fulfill his own.

"How does it feel to die in the arms of your most hated foe?" He taunted, holding her even tighter along his upper body. She tensed up, and he laughed. He could sense the hatred flowing towards him through his web, cutting into him, refreshing him. He would love this all the more because she despised him at this moment, despised him like nothing else. But he was the one who had her.

The irony was so beautiful. He couldn't bear to rush her death, even if Inuyasha was on his way at this instant. He wanted to savor every moment of this, the power he had, the feeling of unchecked pride in finally having her here, being the one who would occupy her last thoughts. She could hope all she wanted for Inuyasha's arrival, but while she was in his arms, it was to no avail. Even the slight upset he'd felt when Koga's shards had purified him did nothing to qualm his sadistic joy.

"Naraku!" The hanyou's voice emerged out of the air, finally bringing his attention away from his accomplishment. Naraku snarled at the sight of the fool, who was unable to do anything and yet still here to ruin this greatest of moments.

"Are you happy, Kikyo, that Inuyasha is here to see you die?" He laughed again, though with less certainty this time. There was nothing to fear from the weak half-demon, and yet…

"Dragon-Scaled Tetsusaiga!" Inuyasha shouted, plunging his sword into Naraku's demonic vortex. Naraku's eyes narrowed in derision, wondering how the dog-demon could be so stupid as to attack him with that move. He was in the middle of making a biting remark when-

A void appeared from his armored right shoulder, leading into his inner recesses. He gave a startled gasp as he realized the Shikon no Tama was within reach there. If Inuyasha sliced in there…

He had no choice. He was intelligent enough to realize the one thing he could do to escape possible death. Yet he didn't want to. He hesitated, agonizing over his dilemma.

He dropped Kikyo.

As Inuyasha reached to catch her fall, as he left her safely on the rocks below, Naraku closed his wound. The Shikon no Tama was no longer with him, and so he could no longer be purified by Koga's shards. A bitter smile crossed his cold face as he watched. He'd been forced to release the thing he held most dear in order to preserve his life.

The pesky reincarnation had noticed that the Shikon no Tama was in Kikyo's body. As his tentacles reached out to remove her arrow from its designated path, he faltered slightly, and he knew it would be too late. Would Kikyo live on? He wasn't sure whether he was happy or sad.

But Kikyo did not receive the arrow's healing power. She reflected it, at him instead. His eyes widened in shock as he realized she was trying to take him down with her, and eliminate the taint in the jewel all at once. So this was her end goal, since the moment she had first handed him the shards.

The purifying light blinded him and he howled in agony as it pierced his defenses. He fought back with all the evil he could muster as darkness spread over the jewel again. He knew now that she was too weak to finish him off. His webs had taken her power. She had lost to him, at long last. She would die now.

As he escaped with the nearly-complete Shikon no Tama, he realized that it wouldn't be in his arms that she would meet her demise after all. It would be in Inuyasha's, and the pain that had been submerged in him broke out as he wandered wearily through his own miasma, lost in thought. She would never be his, after all.

He had slain her again and again, and she returned to haunt him every time. Something told him, though, that this time it was final. In the end he had come so close to grasping her, to smothering that fire in her with his arms. Yet he had failed once more, and his victory over her rang hollow. She was still Inuyasha's, now and forever.

He cursed everything about her as he went on his solitary journey back to safety. She was the only person who had ever shown him kindness, and it was that incomparable purity and beauty of hers that had driven him to love her and hate her at the same time, to reach for her even as he moved his hand away. Everything he had done was, in some way, because of her.

And as he gazed into the endless night that had risen like it always did from a bloody sunset, he felt a ridiculous desire to touch the faint light that was arcing up towards the stars, despite the fact that night was his element and darkness his home. He reached his arm out, hating himself as he did so. But it was too high for him to reach, and he simply stared at the blinding purity of it in longing.

She had always been his heaven and hell.

I'd really appreciate any kind of comments or criticism you might have for this piece. The ending of Inuyasha and Naraku's revelation of his real wish at the end inspired me to the point where I just had to write this. Thank you for reading, and I'd love to hear what you have to say.