Zettai Yabureru Nai - Never Tear Us Apart
The sequel to Shinjite Ai No Tsuzuki
An Inuyasha Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
The landscape changed from hilly and rocky to smooth and deeply forested. From her position high up on Kirara, Nanaka spied a village. She called down to her friends the direction to go. When she looked back up, a large burst of flame and a massive tree falling in the woods ahead caught her eye. She descended and informed the party.
It was decided that Nanaka should scout ahead; being that she was the stealthiest of the group. Kirara reduced herself and clung to Yousuke’s shoulder. The boys followed Nanaka.
Just ahead, they could hear groans and screams of an unholy nature. “Must be a demon fight,” Shippou reckoned. “These days youkai fight youkai all the time.”
Yousuke swallowed hard. Even with his recent transformation he didn’t quite feel confident that he could do well in a fight with a youkai. They only ones he’d met so far had been friendly. What would a true enemy be like?
Nanaka appeared beside him suddenly, scaring him half out of his wits. “Seven of them are fighting just one other. It seems that they’re fairly strong, but their opponent is playing with them.”
“We should just avoid this. No need to get mixed up in stuff if it’s not the demon we’re looking for,” Shippou advised. Yousuke nodded.
“You may want to rethink that plan…” said Nanaka, hooking a thumb in the scuffle’s direction. “They’re coming this way.”
Just as they were about to flee, another large tree was felled only feet from them. A red, horned oni with tiger stripes and a whip-like tail tumbled out of the splintered tree and got up to prepared for another onslaught. Two of his brethren ran out of the forest towards him.
“Too much!” one shouted.
“Retreat!” the other cried.
Yousuke and his friends watched as anxiously as the oni for their opponent to emerge. The youkai was slim, not quite five and a half feet tall, of fair complexion and startlingly human looking. Her ears were pointed, her eyes were amber and her nails were clawed and covered in a greenish fluid. She walked forward with a totally blank expression on her face. The oni screamed and made to flee again.
“Three left,” she stated with a hollow, deep voice. The youkai leapt effortlessly into the air, coming down on top of one of the escaping oni. She slashed his throat with one hand then using him as a springboard, flipped through the air towards his companions. Her heel found one’s neck, pinning him to the ground and snapping it like a twig. The last one turned to watch and ran into a tree. The youkai approached slowly.
“No! Mercy!” it hissed.
“No mercy,” she repeated, turning his words against him. She stabbed him in the chest with her claws, her palm facing up. When she removed it, the oni slid down the trunk to the ground.
The youkai turned and stared at the newcomers. It seemed to Yousuke that she was staring at him. ‘No, come on baka, get it together!’ he scolded himself. Shippou raised his hands.
“We don’t want any trouble with you. Just passing through.”
She totally ignored him. It was now obvious to everyone that she was in fact staring straight at Yousuke.
“You,” she pointed to him. “You have the other half. Give it to me.”
“The other half of what?” Yousuke barked back. He let his backpack slip to the ground. Had this been the play yard at his school, a large crowd would have gathered and his opponent would have started to sweat, knowing there would be a serious beating in store. This woman didn’t so much as bat an eye. Yousuke bristled.
Shippou clenched his teeth. He had hoped that he could have gotten a chance to see what Yousuke was made of before they had to fight an actual battle. Yousuke’s father had been incredibly strong, but he had also been a hanyou all his life, and owned a particularly nice sword. Yousuke had neither of this things going for him. It didn’t take long for the kitsune to make up his mind. In a flare of blue flame he transformed into the huge fox Yousuke had first met him as. Nanaka gasped and retreated a few steps.
“Shippou-kun!” she gasped, astounded.
“You’ll have to get through me!” he snarled at their foe. This seemed fine with her. She leapt up and slashed him across the bridge of the nose with her claws. Too slow to swat her away, he jumped back and breathed blue flame at her. The youkai was engulfed in what looked like the hottest of flames. She wasn’t falling for the kitsune-bi illusion. Unfazed, she walked towards him to attack again.
“My turn!” Yousuke ran in front of her and took a fighting stance. She came at him in the same mechanical way she had attacked Shippou. With motions as fluid as water, Yousuke grabbed her arm and flipped her on her back. He twisted the arm to the breaking point. “What the hell do you want from me?” he snarled with his sneaker firmly planted on her neck.
“The Shikon no Tama. You possess half of it,” she intoned. Her face was like a mask and her eyes were yellow, but dull.
In his shock, Yousuke dropped his guard. She slashed at his leg, forcing him to jump back. The youkai back-flipped and came at him again. Yousuke dodged her punches, spinning this way and that. Finally, he caught one of her wrists in his crossed arms and threw her into the defensive. He faked low and landed a punch square in her face. With blinding speed, he swept her legs out from under her and uppercut her into the air. She crashed into a tree head-first and fell motionless.
Yousuke caught his breath and turned to his astounded friends. “Let’s get outta here before she wakes up.”
Shippou changed back in to his true form. “But, shouldn’t we ask her…?”
“I have a bad feeling about this chick,” Yousuke muttered. “I was lucky to knock her out. She’s incredibly powerful.”
“But,” Nanaka started, bewildered that they weren’t going to question the youkai. Shippou stretched out his hand to silence her. She pouted and folded her arms. His brows were furrowed, but there was understanding in his voice. “If what she says is true,” he said, “she’ll find us again.”
A few moments later, a large shadow fell over Sorako.
“Tsk tsk,” Kagura clicked her tongue at her as the enormous feather she was riding shrunk down. “Double knock out against these weaklings? And here I thought you were strong.”
Sorako slowly sat up in the splintered remains of the tree and watched as Kagura made her rounds to the fallen oni’s bodies. She uncorked a small bottle she carried and a thin wisp floated up and away from one of the bodies. “At least you were good enough to gather more youki for the master. Perhaps he won’t uncreate you.”
“He cannot uncreate me,” Sorako monotoned as she stood. Kagura shivered involuntarily.
“Of course he can, you impudent little shit. He made you.”
In reply, she simply stared at Kagura with her dull, unblinking eyes.
Kagura sighed heavily. “What do I care? If you get beat up so easily, perhaps you won’t be long for this world. Don’t hold any hope that I’ll come to your rescue, either, you freak. I won’t do anymore than I am instructed to do for him.” She finished taking all seven souls and enlarged her feather. She took to the wind, leaving Sorako behind.
No one questioned Yousuke further as they fled to a safe distance from the strange youkai.
Nanaka stepped onto the cart path and noted the sound of people up ahead. “We must be close to a village,” she said, smelling the wood smoke on the air. “Not more than a mile off that way.” She jogged ahead and met up with a small group of farmers bringing their produce to the town. She jogged back to the others after a few minutes.
“We’re in luck,” she said with a grin. “Those folks say they’ve heard tell of a vine monster, huge and moving fast through the forest towards the northwest just a couple of days ago.”
“Then the trail hasn’t gone cold yet,” Shippou folded his arms behind his head. Kirara chirped from her post on Yousuke’s shoulder.
“Mmm,” he hummed in agreement. The strange youkai’s dull yellow eyes haunted him. He knew that she held some key to his sister’s whereabouts, but she had disturbed him so badly he couldn’t think of turning around and going after her again. A hand fell on his other shoulder.
“Hey, how bout you and me spar a little before we hit this town?”
“Spar?” Yousuke blinked up at Shippou. “You mean it?”
Nanaka sighed melodramatically. “Well, while you boys have fun, I’ll be scouting for clues.”
“Sounds good,” Shippou smiled at her, making her turn quickly to hide her blush. Only Yousuke seemed to notice, but kept his thoughts to himself. “Why don’t you take Kirara with you?”
“I suppose…” she grumbled.
The youkai cat sat still on Yousuke’s shoulder. “It’s ok, Kirara. Go ahead.”
Shippou laughed. “I think she likes you, Yousuke!”
Reluctantly, she jumped down and caught up with Nanaka.
“Baka neko,” Nanaka hissed.
At the abandoned palace, the dark atmosphere reflected the dark mood perfectly. Kagura leaned against a far wall and watched Sorako as she entered the room. She sat on her folded knees in front of what looked like an over-grown and uncared for houseplant. It stirred.
“Kagura, I am very disappointed.”
Kagura gasped in irritation. “Me?!” she shouted. “I did what you asked. It’s your little zombie over there that should be the disappointment.”
“Silence. You are to work as a team. I will not have one abandoning the other.”
Kagura folded her arms but did not reply.
“Sorako. I have something that will help you greatly in your search and destroy mission.” The vines slithered sickly and presented something wrapped in fabric to the girl. “I would not trust Kagura with it, as it has a nasty habit of taking over a person’s soul to do its own bidding.” He unwrapped the cloth to reveal a large broadsword. “But since you don’t have a soul…”
She took the sword in her hand and stood up.
“You’ll find it quite useful. Now go and collect me more souls. I must have more power.”
“Yes, master,” Sorako looked at her own reflection in the blade and turned it just slightly so she could see the reflection of a body lying in a dark corner of the room.
A few hours later, Yousuke and Shippou caught up with Sorako at an outdoor sake booth. She was happily munching on some rice balls which she offered her companions. She informed them of what she had learned.
“This town is famous for youkai traffic. I’ve actually been here before to do extermination. You can see they’ve had a visitor recently.” She hooked a thumb in the direction of a barn being repaired. It had obviously had something large step on it. “The vine monster came through here at the northern edge of town and made a bee-line for the northwest only two nights ago.”
“Sounds like our man,” Shippou crammed the last of the onigiri in his mouth. He felt someone staring at him and turned his head quickly. A little girl with a blue cloth wrapped over head ducked out of sight. He chuckled to himself. ‘I’m jumpy still…’ “Need a rest first, Yousuke?”
“I don’t think we get one…” he growled and pointed to the sky. The wind picked up as the oversized feather landed in the street in front of them. People scattered as Sorako jumped down and approached Yousuke.
“Sorako! What is the meaning of this? We have a job to do!” Kagura moaned from her seat. “Oh hoho… So there are youkai here. Very well, do your best. I’ll just watch you get beaten again.”
“I won’t lose,” she muttered and drew the sword.
‘Kagura…’ Shippou thought and grit his teeth. ‘What does she have to do with all of this!?’
Yousuke slid his backpack off again and clapped his hands. “I won’t be so lenient with you this time, Sorako was it? I’m Yousuke. Remember that!” he shouted and charged her. She leapt back a few times, dodging his swipes and finally stood her ground. She pulled the sword around and thrust it at him. Yousuke laughed briefly, but as the sword began to glow, he felt the power it was giving off.
“Masaka, it can’t be!” Shippou gasped.
“What it that thing?!” Nanaka cried as light arched around the blade.
“Yousuke! Run!” Shippou called out too late. Waves of energy sharp as knives flew off the sword and lacerated the boy over and over. He screamed and was pushed back into the side of a building by the force. Sorako let it droop and approached the wreckage.
Much to her surprise, a smoke grenade went off under her foot and a masked face appeared in front of her own. “Give me that sword!” Nanaka shouted, grabbed her arm and punched Sorako square in the face. She didn’t seem to notice. Sorako slashed out with her claws, slicing Nanaka’s wrist guard and forcing her back. She leveled the sword at her. The blade came down, but bisected an illusion of the girl. Sorako looked left and right. Shippou and Nanaka were crouched on the top of a nearby building a few yards away.
“Thanks…” Nanaka whispered.
“You shouldn’t get anywhere near that thing…”
“I can fight!”
“Not against THAT sword. We have to get Yousuke the hell out of there…”
“You should learn to stay out of other people’s business!” Kagura shouted and spread her fan out. “See how you like my nice new poison darts, human!” She thrust the fan out and a dozen or so sliver-like projectiles at Nanaka and Shippou. They leapt away, but one of them nicked Nanaka’s now unprotected wrist.
“Nanaka!” Shippou cried as he saw the dart hit her.
“Ha!” the ninja laughed. “You gotta try better than that.” She pulled the needle like dart out and threw it down. “I’m not susceptible to even one poison in the whole of Japan!” She answered with a volley of her own throwing knives which Kagura blocked with a gust of wind.
“Insolent bitch,” Kagura seethed, but her attention was drawn to Sorako as she approached the wrecked building.
Sorako stepped into the remains. “This sword…” she mumbled. “It can find you. Why is that?” she asked no one in particular. “There you are.” She pointed it right at him. “Give it to me; the other half of the Shikon no Tama.”
Kagura’s eyes widened. “What?” she hissed. ‘The boy has another half? Is that why Naraku can’t use it?’ she wondered.
“What do you mean, OTHER half?!” he shouted as he struggled to his feet. “Who’s got the first one? My sister?! Do you have her, Sorako? Where is she?!”
In response, Sorako lifted the sword again. Yousuke clenched his teeth and prepared for the worst. He shut his eyes, certain that death was a breath away. When nothing happened, he opened one eye and stared. Sorako had a very strange expression on her face, as if she were wondering or lost. She looked left and right again and started walking away.
“What the..?” Yousuke cautiously jumped out of the ruined building and watched her. She walked up to a nearby paddock and jumped the fence. The first cow she reached, Sorako put her arms around its neck and planted a huge kiss on its nose. It mooed back.
Shippou and Nanaka jumped down from their perch. “What is going on with this lunatic?!” Nanaka asked, bewildered. The boys just shook their heads.
Kagura stared, slack jawed at the scene. “I don’t believe it,” she moaned. “The bitch lost again!”
“Kagura!” Shippou shouted and threw a small acorn at her. It exploded into an enormous burst of light. She shrieked and rubbed her blinded eyes.
“Quickly, everyone!” Shippou and Kirara transformed into their full size and fled the scene. Yousuke shivered and looked behind them. Leaning against the side of the ruined building was a young woman in a short, red kimono. She had long white hair and little ears on the top of her head like his. She smiled and waved, then disappeared.
“Uh… Who…?” Yousuke debated saying something about the woman, but rubbed his head instead. They set off to the north.
They touched down at the furthest edge of town and waited till Kagura and Sorako flew over them. Once they were sure they were safe, they hit the trail again. A few moments passed awkwardly. Shippou mulling over Kagura and the sword and Yousuke mulling over more clues about his sister and the strange hanyou woman left Nanaka to wonder in silence.
A little old woman walking in their direction on the path suddenly blocked their way. “Please,” she began in a sweet voice. “You’re the group that just defeated that youkai, aren’t ye? Would you do this one the honor of taking tea with me? It’s been so long since we’ve had visitors.”
“Uh, sure. I don’t see why not!” Shippou beamed at the thought of more free food.
“If you lose the disguise, yes.” Nanaka put her hands on her hips. “I’m surprised at you Shippou-kun. Not knowing a fellow kitsune when you see one.”
The old woman giggled lightly. “You’re very observant, young miss. You must have seen me earlier. I should have changed the dress, too.” She flared blue for a moment and standing before them was a kitsune youkai woman with a big, bushy tail and pointy ears like Shippou’s. She smiled and extended the invitation again. “My name is Hideko. Please, spare a moment for some tea with me?”