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Never Let Me Down by susie

Exit Naraku

When one of Naraku’s tentacles finally hit Inuyasha with enough force to knock him out, Sesshoumaru remained the only one of the group still able to stand and fight.  The others were under the protection of Kagome’s barrier, but the size required to envelope them all had caused it to weaken.  It wouldn’t take but a few well-timed hits to break through, and were it not for Jaken and his fire staph, they would have landed. 

Though none would know by watching Sesshoumaru fight, the daiyoukai was worn down.  He hadn’t slept in weeks, and though they had remained hot on Naraku’s trail, the spider demon had always managed to slip just out of their grasp.  Until now.  He had been weakened greatly after they had caught him off guard a few days prior, and had retreated to the small village where he had holed up after taking control of its residences.  He needed more time to heal, but with the jewel nearly complete, he was more than able to hold his own against the battle-weary travelers.   

Were he facing off with Sesshoumaru one on one, he would have already met his end.  But the dog demon had to plan his moves to keep Naraku’s focus on himself and away from the others, so he could barely seem to land a hit.  This didn’t escape the evil hanyou’s notice. 

“What a fool you have become, Sesshoumaru,” he taunted.  “Your new-found devotion to your weak brother and his pathetic pack has made you weak as well...how the mighty have fallen.”  Sesshoumaru was able to cut down the appendages as they struck at him, but had no time to blow back. 

“Hold your tongue, half-breed.  And know your place.  This Sesshoumaru has never known weakness.”  With that, Naraku had gotten a hit.  The force of the blow hit the demon hard enough to knock him on his back.  He rose to sit as Naraku appeared before him. 

“Is that so?  Because ‘my place’ appears to be poised to kill the strongest demon in Japan- not bad for a lowly half-breed.”  With a graceful roll to the side, Sesshoumaru barely avoided another strike, the earth exploding where he had just been. “Perhaps you should save that insult for the unconscious brother you so dutifully protect.  Though I guess it’s too late for that now.  Oh, well.”  In an instant, he was hovering over him, mere inches from his face.  

“With the great Lord of the Western Lands dead, I suppose it will be left to me to rule in his place.  What a gracious being I am, Sesshoumaru, to take you from this world before your subjects learn what a weak fool you have become.”  Another strike, another roll.   

“After you are dead, I will kill your half-breed and his pack, of course.  And with the jewel complete, I shall reign terror and pain that the world has never known.  I believe I will start with burning the Western Lands to the ground.  They shall be the lucky ones, out of respect to their leader.” 

He finally landed a strike, and Sesshoumaru had to fight to contain a groan as a tentacle cracked his rib.  “And you are respected, aren’t you?  Do you know how long I’ve waited, to wipe that haughty look right off of your pretty face?”  Another appendage slithered out to hit the same rib, forcing eyelids to slam shut in pain.  “Do you see now what your weakness has cost you?  What the distraction of this pack has cost your people?” 

“Silence!”  He bit out between clenched teeth. “This One’s pack is no distraction.  And This One’s brother is no half-breed.”  Confusion flittered across Naraku’s features.  “Inuyasha is half-DEMON, because our great and terrible father was his sire.  The blood of a legend runs through his veins.  The only half-breed present is yourself- a disgusting human who gave his body over to any low-level demon willing to consume him.  You are no more than a filthy whore.” 

The length at which he spoke was uncharacteristic, and caused Naraku pause.  He eyed him suspiciously.  “It is uncommon of you to speak in such a manner.”  The way he was sizing up the dog demon was as if he was trying to determine if it was indeed the Lord of the West who was before him, or a doppelganger.  “Such passion...such language...what are you doing, Sesshoumaru?” 

A malicious smirk from The Western Lord shot a jolt of fear through Naraku's being. “Distracting you.” 

By the time he sensed Inuyasha it was too late.  “Windscar!!”  Inuyasha threw everything he had into the attack, and collapsed before he saw it hit.  Sesshoumaru managed a backflip out of harm’s way before it reached him, but Naraku wasn’t quick enough.  The jewel alone kept him alive, but he was forced to transform into his human form.  Sword in hand, Sesshoumaru began attacking feverishly.  Desperately.   

All Naraku could do was defend himself, relying on the tainted jewel to lend him strength and speed.  Sesshoumaru was landing blows now, but it became clear that with the jewel as it was, he wouldn’t be able to finish him off.   

Just then, in the distance behind Naraku’s head, his eyes made contact with blue irises from within her barrier.  He was nearly startled at the raw hatred he saw there.  He had not considered them capable of such a feat.  A purity arrow was notched, and his own amber depths relayed a silent command that left no room to argue.  Shoot! 

She wouldn’t insult him by worrying for his safety, and he jumped away just as she let it fly. 

Naraku never saw what hit him.  The second it pierced his skull he was reduced to a pile of ash and dust; disintegrating to a heap at their feet. 

For a beat, there was only stillness.  Silence, as it sank in.  As if no one wanted to get their hopes up, in case it wasn’t truly over.  They waited for proof.  And Miroku gave it to them.   

“My wind tunnel…it’s gone!”  He exclaimed for all to hear.  That was enough for them.  

 Sango rewarded his announcement with a passionate kiss, and Kagome released an exhausted sigh as she let her barrier drop.  After a quick assessment that the others were alright, she ran to Sesshoumaru’s side, reaching him just as he rose to stand.  His clothing hadn’t made it out of the battle untarnished, and he was knocking the larger concentrations of blood and earth of the usually pristine garments. 

 She was going to ask if he was okay, but before she could, Inuyasha lifted her so that her hips pressed against his chest, and spun them around in circles.  He was smiling wide, putting his joy on display for all to see.  She let out a squeal, and as his twirling came to a stop, he held her still.   

“You did it!”  He looked up into her eyes with grateful relief. 

She smiled in return as he lowered her feet back down to the earth, and planted a kiss on her lips.  Nothing passionate, like the kiss Sango gave Miroku- was still giving him, actually.  It was...friendly.   

“We did it,” she countered, sparing a look at Sesshoumaru, who was still straightening his attire.  Releasing Kagome, he advanced on his brother.  Without an ounce of trepidation, he threw his arms around his middle and squeezed. 

The tattered armor did little to shield his broken rib from the attack, and Sesshoumaru allowed a wince to finally grace his features.  Though once the slight shock of his brother’s hug wore off, he responded by lightly wrapping one arm around the boy, and placing his other hand atop his head. 

He couldn’t explain the new rush of feelings swelling inside of him.  He should be affronted by the audacity of the action, and not long ago, he wouldn’t have wasted any time reminding the whelp why he should only know fear in his presence.  But in this moment, he couldn’t bring himself to care.   

Naraku was dead.  They had killed him.  And with the spider, the last true remaining threat to his lands had died as well.  There was now nothing stopping him from ruling as he saw fit, nothing he had to worry anything much about at all anymore.  It was liberating.  So, he would allow him this.  This was his moment. 

“You were excellent, Inuyasha,” he deigned further. 

“Not so bad yourself, brother.”  He smiled up at him ironically, and Sesshoumaru didn’t miss the absence of the ‘half’ they had both before always insisted on adding.  He smirked back down at him, and with that, Inuyasha ran back to the others and pulled Kikyo into a passionate kiss.  This one, not at all friendly. 

“You did very well, Miko,” she turned from the scene to regard Sesshoumaru behind her.  It wasn’t every day the Western Lord offered up compliments, and she allowed it to briefly wash over her. 

“So did you.” 

“This One was simply living up to his name.” It was said so matter-of-factly, had she not known him, it wouldn’t have come as playful. 

“But I’m the one who killed him!” she mocked offense.  “Guess you will have to change your name to ‘The Maiming Perfection.’”  When he paused, she worried her joking had gone too far.  Until finally... 

“Perhaps ’The Distraction Perfection?’” 

She had to laugh at this, “Yeah, you’re good at that, too.”  The corner of his mouth just barely ticked up.  “It doesn’t really roll off the tongue, though.” 

“No, This Sesshoumaru was correct the first time.  The jewel is your destiny.  The hanyou’s life was yours to take.  For any other to kill him would have been imperfect.” 

She smiled in response, then followed his gaze over to Inuyasha and Kikyo still kissing.  He produced the jewel he had collected from Naraku’s ashes and handed it to her.  “You know what you must do.”  He assessed her solemnly, and she looked again to the celebrating couple.  Turning her focus back to him, she nodded affirmative. 

“Will you delay?” 

She knew she had to make a selfless wish.  It was the only way to get rid of the jewel.  Inuyasha had conceded this, abandoning his hopes of wishing to be a full-fledged demon long ago.  Kouga had agreed, and relinquished his shards to Kagome before they began their final run to seek out Naraku; and Sesshoumaru had removed the one from Kohaku’s neck.  A swipe of Tenseiga had revived the boy’s life, and he was now with Kaede keeping watch of the village in their absence.  None of the others knew what wish she would make, but all were in agreement that Kagome would banish the jewel from existence. 

She removed her three shards from the pouch around her neck, and fused them with the rest.  Sesshoumaru easily contained his awe as he watched the dark sphere turn pink in Kagome’s hands, finally complete.  The jewel was such a small, unassuming home to contain such raw power.  None would expect what was churning beneath its surface.  ‘Much like its keeper.’ 

She felt a sad twinge of her heart, but forced a smile at the imposing daiyoukai. 

“Not for a second,” she replied, and made her silent wish on the Shikon.  

 Inuyasha tensed as he felt Kikyo’s energy react wildly, seemingly out of nowhere.  “What’s wrong?” he demanded of her; taking a defensive stance with his had flying to Tetsusaiga’s hilt.  Kikyo relished in the warmth that spread through her being, and the old familiar feeling of her reiki sizzling through her blood alerted her as half of her soul was returned.   

Kagome faltered in anguish, and Sesshoumaru steadied her so that she wouldn’t fall.  It was a painful rip, as if vivisection were being performed.  He allowed her to ball up the sleeve of is haori in her clenched fists as he offered his arms as stability.  Opening her mouth, she let out a silent scream as her head pounded and knees weakened until it peaked; then slowly began to ebb. 

The most selfless wish she could have made would be to give her soul back to Kikyo, so that the one she loved could be with another.  It seemed the fates were willing to make a deal, letting Kagome keep half her soul, and have she and Kikyo split the difference.  The other half would grow in each of them, making them whole, but separate. 

“Is it...did you...?” Inuyasha was speechless, looking between the two women he loved more than anything.  There was a time when he would have traded Kagome as she was to have his former love returned to him in one piece.  Those days were long gone.  In fact, he was a little upset she would attempt to wish away her soul now.  It had been too risky a move.  Didn’t she know how important she was to him?  Kikyo affirmed his suspicions.   

“Kagome.  She returned my soul...”  She started in grateful awe, but it soon turned to joy.  She ran to Kagome and enveloped her in a hug.  “You are an amazing woman, Kagome...Thank you.”  

 The three of them had begun their journey together ensnared in a bitter love triangle that seemed to have no amiable solution.  But over these last few months, it had morphed into something sustainable; something...comfortable.  Nobody had come out of it unscathed; but as roles were assumed, the players accepted their place. 

The pain now gone, Kagome released Sesshoumaru’s clothing and offered him an apologetic smile.  A lack of a reaction to the offense on his person was high praise as far as she was concerned, and she hugged the woman back as Inuyasha approached them.  Upon his arrival, Kikyo threw herself into his arms.  He could only stare dumbfounded at Kagome; gratitude plastered on his handsome features.  “Thank you” he mouthed as he returned Kikyo’s hug. 

Just then, Miroku and Sango approached hand in hand.  “Everyone, with Naraku finally dead, there is something I cannot wait another moment to do.”  Miroku got down on one knee, and ripped the ring that once helped cover his cursed hand from his robe.  Grabbing her hand, he placed the ring on Sango’s finger, “Will you marry me?” he simply asked.  He just wanted to get it out, not prolonging the question any more than he was already forced to.  

“Yes!” she responded as she pulled him up from the ground.  Their hug quickly became another kiss.  They had all put their lives on hold until their shared enemy was dead.  Now that he was, there was not a moment to be wasted in getting on with them. 

As the others offered their congratulations, Sesshoumaru eyed an older human male who was approaching the group.  From his attire, he assumed he was the lord of the village Naraku had been possessing.  With the spider demon dead, those under his control where back to themselves.  However, it would not surprise him if the lord harbored hostilities towards all demons- even those who saved their lives. 

He soon realized his suspicions were unfounded.  The lord was practically tripping over himself to thank them.  “My name is Hano.  I am lord of this village.  I wish to offer my eternal gratitude to each of you!”  He swallowed his fear as he regarded Sesshoumaru, but continued on.   

“Your heroic efforts on this day has saved my people from a most terrible fate.  Tonight, we shall hold a celebration in your honor.  There will be a great feast of all the delicacies we have to offer.  My village is home to some very talented musicians and singers for entertainment!  And I will personally make available our best accommodations for you to use as long as you like, so you may bathe and rest if you wish. I very much hope you will all attend?” 

The last three weeks had them on the run non-stop.  There was little room for rest, let alone the luxury of extended baths or meals for any longer than was necessary.  The humans’ weaker forms had been pushed to the limits of their mortality, but those with demon blood had been put through the ringer as well.  Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha had to keep watch as the other’s required sleep more regularly, and it was left to them to hunt for the group as well.   

This was in between constantly taking painful blows from one with a near complete Shikon, and traveling very long distances in very short amounts of time.  They were some distance from their village, and the prospect of only a short walk to receive the rest and nourishment they required was an appealing one. 

The group looked around to each other, and Kagome responded.  “Hot springs?! We’d be honored!  We could all use some R&R, right guys?” she looked hopefully to Sesshoumaru, as he was the only one she wasn’t sure would accept the offer.  He inclined his head slightly, as the others verbally agreed.  “Great!” 

Lord Hano described the lay of the land as he escorted the group back into the village.  “...the men’s hot spring is over there, and the female’s is over there.  I’m sure you will want to visit them first thing!”  he mused happily as he gestured to the spider guts and dirt they all sported.  “I shall have rooms prepared while you bathe.  How many will you require?” 

Inuyasha answered first, “My mate-to-be and I will only need one room.”  He put his arm around Kikyo as she smiled lovingly back at him.  Then Sango surprised the group by announcing that she and her fiancé would only need one room as well.  Miroku’s lecherous look in response earned a chuckle from Kagome and the other couple.   

Kagome spoke next, “Shippo can bunk with me.  And I’m sure Lord Sesshoumaru will want to stay with Rin.”  Knowing the demon likely wouldn’t answer the man, she piped up on his behalf. 

She turned to him then, “Will Ah-Un and Jaken stay with you as well?”  He hadn’t really an opinion on the matter, but answered quickly to get on with it.  He was more exhausted than he cared to admit. 

“Jaken may stay with This One to watch over Rin.  The Dragon prefers to stay outside.” 

“Okay, so I guess four rooms will be enough!  Thank you again!”  It wouldn’t be difficult to go back to her room and sleep for a couple of days, but the idea of a hot meal that she didn’t have to cook would be worth powering through for. 

“Do not thank me, priestess.  It is the least I can do.  Now enjoy your bath!  The rooms will be ready when you are through.” 

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A/N: 

Welcome to my very first fanfic!! 

Sesshoumaru is my favorite character; but thanks to his personality, he usually doesn’t get to talk much.  I did my best to keep him in character, while still allowing him to speak enough to have a little fun. 

As a result, I have to be a little relaxed with all the 3rd person.  I try to stick it in where I think it sounds right; but since I have him talking a bit more, it would get super redundant to use it every time he referred to himself.  So I hope that isn’t too distracting for you. 

I tried not to rush too much through the other characters’ storylines, but as I am mostly interested on Sesshoumaru and his relationships, I don’t want to bore myself and dwell on them for any more than needed to create continuity. 

Furthermore, I have tried to be true to the canon off the dome, but I haven’t seen fit to do all my homework as far as research is concerned.  I just wanted to have fun with this, so try not to take it too seriously.  Thanks for reading! 

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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