Zettai Yabureru Nai - Never Tear Us Apart

The sequel to Shinjite Ai No Tsuzuki

An Inuyasha Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Chapter Seven

 

            Shippou finally dozed off once the sun rose. He held Nanaka’s hand loosely in his lap. Yousuke snored lightly, leaning against the cave wall. Kirara mewed quietly as the body beneath her moved.

            “Kirara…” Nanaka whispered. Her left hand reached out and stroked the youkai’s head. She smiled softly and sighed as she noticed her other hand’s location. She reached up and touched his face.

            Shippou was startled awake, but overjoyed. “How ya feel?” he asked, quietly.

            “Pretty lousy,” she whispered. Her eyes wandered around their surroundings. “Is Yousuke ok?”

            “I don’t think so. He found his sister…” Shippou said gravely. He nodded to the body at the entrance.

            “No…” Nanaka gasped. “It can’t be. That’s not fair! We came all this way…” She slowly rose and crawled over to the girl. Her skin was almost the same color as her hair. Nanaka touched her face and frowned. “How was she killed?”

            “I don’t know,” Yousuke answered from behind her. “But I’m going to make certain Naraku pays for it.”

            Shippou nodded.

            “I don’t think she’s dead…” Nanaka muttered.

            “What?” Yousuke got up and joined them.

            The shinobi put her hand over her chest. “There’s no sign of life, but how long has she been like this?”

            “At least six or seven hours…”

            Nanaka plied the girl’s fingers. “She’s still limber. If she had been dead that long she wouldn’t be able to move.” She sat back on her feet and closed her eyes. “One time we went to exterminate this one village… People had been dying en mass. The bodies were piled up in a storeroom because there wasn’t enough time to bury them. Finally they realized the culprit was a youkai. We arrived, examined the bodies, laid a trap and waited. The youkai was drawing out people’s souls, leaving their bodies much like this,” she said and indicated to Misora. “When we killed it, the people all woke up. It was the happiest job I’ve ever done.”

            Shippou clapped his friend’s back. “So there’s a chance!” he cheered. “We kill Naraku we might get her back!”

            Yousuke narrowed his eyes. “Not Naraku…”

            “Eh?” Shippou looked at him funny.

            “That Sorako youkai. I have a feeling this is connected to her somehow. She knew I have the other half of the Shikon no Tama. She’s got white hair and she gives me a chill whenever I see her.” Yousuke held his sister’s hand. “I’m going to take her out first. If I don’t make it, Shippou, make sure you get Naraku.”

            “Yousuke!” Nanaka shouted. “Don’t sound so melodramatic. We’re going to win!” The force of the effort to yell made her head spin. She swooned into Shippou’s arms.

            They sat there for a few moments, collecting their thoughts. Finally Shippou stood, picking Nanaka up. “Let’s go back to the Taijiya Village. We can leave Misora and Nanaka there, then set out for the palace from there.”

            Yousuke picked Misora up and nodded. “Don’t worry, Mi-chan. We’re going home soon,” he whispered, perhaps more to encourage himself.

 

.x.

 

            In the daytime, Naraku wasn’t as active. Kagura had been paying attention. She drifted through the halls of the abandoned palace and hovered in the doorway. The vacant futon brought a small smile to her lips. ‘You’re a fool, Naraku,’ she thought. ‘They’re going to crush you. And I’m not going down with you.’ She eyed the prize, a small jar sitting on a low shelf on the opposite side of the dark room. The mass of vines and vegetable matter was inert on the far side. Narrowing her eyes, she made up her mind.

            Just before she reached the jar, Kagura jerked to a halt and let out a small cry of alarm. Sorako had grabbed her hair and held her fast. The vine monster awoke.

            “So,” it seethed. “You still haven’t learned, Kagura.”

            Before she could beg for her life, Kagura’s animosity got the better of her. “You bastard!” she cried. “If you think you are going to win this time you’re a bigger fool than I ever believed you to be!”

            He was visibly shocked to hear her speak out against him, but grinned and slithered towards her. “Good work, Sorako.” As his vines wound their way around the wind-user’s legs, Sorako released her and stepped back. “What was that you were saying about me?” he hissed as the coils tightened.

            “You…” Her eyes filled with tears. The clay jar that held her heart seemed a mile away. Suddenly, right next to it appeared another little clay jar. “You are a fool!” She spat in his face, knowing that she had nothing left to lose.

            “You have betrayed me for the last time, Kagura. Your death will not come easily.” He unwrapped the coils slowly and she sunk to the ground.

            “No…” Kagura choked. She looked up to Sorako and tried to reach out to her. “Help me… Don’t… don’t let him do this to me!”

            Naraku simply laughed and retreated to his dank corner as Kagura panted on the floor, unable to move and slowly having the life squeezed out of her. The new jar shrunk a little in size. Sorako stood and watched, unable and unwilling to do anything at all.

 

.x.

 

            When they finally reached the Taijiya village it was close to evening. Kirara and Shippou touched down. Nanaka shook off Shippou’s helping hand as she entered her parents’ house. “I can walk!” she shouted. Yousuke followed, carrying his sister.

            “Kaasan, Tousan! Nanaka’s back!” on of her younger siblings shouted. The first person out of the house was neither Sango nor Miroku but her only older sibling, Nioumaru. He had obviously been at home this time. He was wearing a simple haori and short hakama.

            “Nanaka-chan!” he greeted her. “So you’ve succeeded! I knew you could do it!”

            She smiled a little, knowing that he couldn’t have been spying on her for once. “Nioumaru…” she began but lost her strength and fell into his arms.

            “Nanaka-chan? Nanaka-chan!” Nioumaru looked shocked but picked her up, ignored the others and ran into the house.

 

            When the clamor had at last settled down, Nanaka and Misora lay on futons in the girl’s room. Miroku asserted that Misora was in fact alive and that her soul had been misplaced. It was all a bit much for Yousuke to believe, but as Shippou reminded him, it was not uncommon in the Sengoku Jidai. The boys explained what had happened, careful to keep Kagura and Naraku’s names out of the narrative.

            Shippou sipped a cup of tea and stared at Nanaka who was sullen and quiet as her mother bandaged her wounds. “Yousuke and I are leaving tonight and take out the Vine Monster.”

            “Are you certain you boys can handle it?” Miroku asked, raising a brow.

            He nodded.

            “Shippou-kun! You are NOT leaving me behind!” Nanaka shouted.

            “No,” Shippou agreed. “I am not leaving you. I’m forcing you to stay here.” His eyes were dark and serious. “You can’t go back in now in the shape you’re in and we need to act fast. I will not endanger your life.”

            Sango looked up from tending a bandage on Nanaka’s leg. “Please,” she whispered to her eldest daughter. “Please stay.” A few tears fell from her eyes onto the girl’s exposed skin.

            “Kaasan…” Nanaka pouted but held her mother’s hand. “I’m sorry. I’ll stay…”

            The door slid open and Yousuke entered the room, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

            “Are you sure you’re ready to go, Yousuke?” Miroku asked. “You can sleep for a while here if you like.”

            “Nah, we gotta go tonight, thanks. I was just reading the Togi Zoushi again. My eyes hurt. That writing is so old!”

            “It’s new to us, kid,” Miroku sighed. “Yousuke, Shippou. May Buddha be with you. I know you will succeed.”

            “Take care of Mi-chan. We’ll be back soon!” Yousuke cheered as he ran outside. Shippou transformed into the huge kitsune and let him hitch a ride.

            “Let’s show this bastard who not to mess with!” the kitsune roared.

            “Yosh’!” Yousuke punched the air and they flew off into the night.

 

.x.

            The castle was far creepier at night than by day. It seemed to be blacker than even the night sky. Yousuke shuddered remembering Naraku’s incredibly overpowering jaki, but sucked in a breath and marched up to the entrance. He looked to Shippou and nodded.

            “Oi! Naraku! I’m ba~ack!” Yousuke shouted at the top of his lungs. “Send out your minions or get your fat, lazy ass out here yourself, you coward!” When they heard nothing, Yousuke bristled. “I know you’re in there, you piece of crap!” the 15 year old bellowed as if he were on the playground calling to someone who was fool enough to call him out.

            “Oi, Yousuke,” Shippou whispered. “Why don’t we just go in there and kick his ass?”

            “Have you been in there!?” Yousuke hissed back. “I can’t stand the smell!”

            Shippou sweat a little but didn’t argue.

            Yousuke went back to his taunting. “I can smell your stink from all the way out here! You smell like puke warmed over!” Still the deadly silence echoed his words back at him. He screamed in rage. “All right, you sack of shit, I’m coming in!”

            He took one step forward and sensed Sorako’s attack just moments before it would have sliced him in half. He jumped back as the ground exploded under the power of Toukijin. Tetsusaiga sprang to life and the two swords seemed to be excited to get to fight each other again.

            Shippou clutched his fists and waited for his opponent to show her face.  He couldn’t wait to pound her face in. As if in answer to his anticipation, Sorako muttered, “Kagura will not come out.”

            The boys exchanged confused glances. “What now?!” Yousuke shouted.

            “I’m going in,” Shippou squinted and said solemnly.

            “Don’t be stupid!”

            “Too late for that.” Shippou ran around them and bounded up the steps, unhindered by Sorako. She knew who her opponent was.

            “Guess it’s just you and me, Sorako…”

            Her brows came together just a tiny bit and she charged him.

 

            Shippou padded softly down the hall. From a room at the end he could hear someone’s labored breathing. He swallowed deep and proceeded cautiously. Lying on the floor with her eyes wide with pain was Kagura the Wind User. Shippou clenched his fists and growled.

            “You… Kitsune…” she croaked. “Please… help me. He’s trying to kill me!”

            “He’s not the only one…” he snarled.

            “You don’t know what position I’m in! I don’t have a choice… I have to do what he tells me…”

            “She almost died…” He stepped closer.

            “Look up! Over there on the shelf… Please I’m begging you. Break open those jars! Please!” she gasped for breath. An invisible weight seemed to be crushing her. “It’s a perishing jar. I’m being squeezed as that thing shrinks. Save me! Please! I swear I won’t hurt you or your friends again!”

            Shippou stopped and looked to the jars out of the corner of his eye. She wasn’t lying; he could see the smaller jar shrink before his eyes. ‘What would Nanaka want me to do?’ he thought. ‘Would I be her hero if I killed the person who hurt her, or would I just make her feel inadequate?’ He remembered the disappointed look on her face when he left her at the Taijiya village. ‘I’ll let her worry about it…’ Shippou walked to the shelf and nudged the earthen jars. They crashed to the floor and emitted a sort of pink vapor which dissipated into the air. Kagura sighed heavily with relief and stood up slowly.

            “Thank you,” she whispered. “You came to get Naraku, didn’t you?”

            Shippou swallowed hard. “Yes.”

            “Well then,” she smiled. “Shall we? I think we both have scores to settle with him.”

 

.x.

            Kagome stood in the darkened doorway and looked into her daughter’s room. Nothing had been disturbed since she disappeared. Misora always kept her room neat and tidy. The bed was made and her plethora of stuffed animals sat at attention, waiting for her return.

            Just down the hall in Souta’s old room, it was evident that Yousuke was a different child. His things were scattered, papers all over the desk, the bedclothes were still messed. Kagome had thought about cleaning it every day, but every day couldn’t bring herself to do it.

            “It’s so hard...” she whispered as she heard her husband come up the stairs. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.”

            He hugged her tightly. “If they’re anything like the two of us, they’ll be home in no time.” His features darkened. Like Kagome’s willingness to have hope, his ability to keep Yousuke’s visit a secret was slipping fast. She hadn’t noticed the sword was gone. He didn’t want to have to lie to her. Perhaps now was the time. Inuyasha swallowed hard. “Kagome...”

            She smiled and turned to face him. “Don’t worry. I’m ok. Just having a bad moment. Come on, let’s go to bed.”

            As she went to their room, he heaved a sigh and turned the light in Yousuke’s room off. “Hurry home, kids,” he whispered as he followed her.

 

.x.

            Sparks flew as the two swords clashed. Fortunately for Yousuke, Sorako was also new to her weapon. Toukijin had only one master, and he was dead. The zombie-like girl seemed to have no problems with the mind-warping power of its bloodlust. However, since Tetsusaiga’s attacks were broader than Toukijin’s, her body was taking significant damage.

            Yousuke ran around the courtyard and looked for another opening. As Sorako turned, he caught it again. “Kaze no kizu!” he called and brought the sword down, sending the power of the attack at her. Seeing that she wouldn’t be able to dodge, Sorako held Toukijin up to deflect as much of the attack as she could. It tore around her, but still she did not cry out. She sank to one knee and panted. Expecting another attack, but realizing that she was too weak to deliver it, Yousuke rested for a moment.

            “I’m going to kill you with this next one,” he warned.

            “Hurry...” she breathed.

            Yousuke raised a brow. “What?”

            “Please...” Her voice was different, softer. “Hurry. Release me while you have a chance...”

            “That voice...” He stepped forward. “Mi-chan...?”

            When she raised her head, the golden eyes were pale grey, the same color as his sister’s. “Quickly Yousuke!”

            What he had guessed was true: Misora’s soul was trapped in Sorako’s body. Like a flickering flame, the grey was consumed by the gold once more and Sorako got to her feet.

            ‘Thank goodness,’ he thought as he brandished his father’s sword one more time. ‘If she looked like that, I really wouldn’t be able to do this...’ Narrowing his eyes and charging once again, Yousuke called out his sister’s name and brought the sword down.

            Toukijin dropped to the ground. Sorako stared dully at the boy as he ran for her.

           

            In a flash, it was over. Sorako’s body was obliterated by Tetsusaiga’s true power: the power to protect a mortal.

 

.x.

 

            Miles away at the Taijiya village, the morning mist was giving away to pleasant, late autumn sun shine. Sango finished cleaning up after their huge family breakfast and went in to see how Misora was doing. Miroku crouched nearby, running a rosary through his hands and chanting for the girl.

            “Anything different, Houshi-sama?” Sango asked.

            He shook his head and sighed, halting his prayers. “I’m getting worried.”

            She put a hand on his shoulder. “Remember whose son is out there...”

            Miroku put his right hand, the one which had threatened to swallow him alive until Inuyasha defeated Naraku all those years ago over hers.

            “Why don’t you go get some breakfast,” she offered. “You’ve been up all night. It’s my turn.”

            Miroku nodded and went to find the food she left him. Sango smiled and watched him trudge sleepily out of the room.

            When she turned back Sango made a face and moved closer to get a better look at the dead girl. “I must be seeing things...” she mumbled, thinking that Misora’s skin tone seemed to be growing pinker. She yawned, closing her eyes and when she opened them a pair of grey ones drowsily looked over at her.

            “Honda... san?”

            “Houshi-sama! Come quick!”

 


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