The battle had been impossibly long. Exhausted, he slumped against the wall at his back. Night dark hair tangled around his face as he let his head loll forward. The war of wills had been harder than either combatant had expected. The being who called himself Naraku had absorbed many youkai over the course of his existence, but none had fought like the half-breed Inuyasha.
The victor allowed himself a few moments to revel in the satisfaction of his triumph. But, only a few moments. He was not finished just yet.
Forcing himself to his feet, he strode to the door and snapped it aside. Crimson eyes swept across the room beyond. The room’s sole occupant, Kanna, met his gaze with her own expressionless stare.
“You are finished? It has been many days.” Her thin whisper of a voice was almost loud in the stillness.
“Yes,” he answered shortly.
Yes, the battle at least was finished.
For the second time in as many minutes Kagome rubbed her face against her sleeve. It was already damp with tears.
‘I can do this!’ the girl reprimanded herself sharply. Her hands tightened their grip on the bow she carried. Nails bit into the wood. Fingers crimped the fletching of the arrow she had strung in preparation for the battle ahead. She would be strong. Inuyasha would have wanted her to be strong.
“Inuyasha...” His name tumbled from her lips. Hearing it almost cost Kagome her newly gained composure. It was so hard to accept that he was gone. But, she had to accept it. If she could not, Naraku would win.
Forcing her feet to move, the schoolgirl slipped from the narrow crevice in which she had hidden. Now, she could only wait. Soon, Naraku would see her, and he would come.
Her hands tensed around the weapon she held until her knuckles glared white through the taut skin. When he came, she could not hesitate. He would expect her to hesitate.
There was movement from above.
Slowly, Kagome raised her eyes to the wooden structure set perilously along the cliff face. She bit the inside of her cheek, grinding the flesh until it bled.
This was it then. The girl desperately steeled her resolve, lifting the bow to a firing position, preparing to let fly an arrow. An arrow that would pierce through that beloved form. An arrow that would, that must burn away what would be her last glance of her love’s face.
‘It won’t be him,’ Kagome reminded herself. ‘He’ll take Inuyasha’s form, but he is not Inuyasha!’
She looked up.
There was a flash of color.
With a scream that embodied all of her rage, all of her pain, and all of her love for the half-human boy who had sacrificed himself for her sake, Kagome released her arrow. Raw power gathered around the arrow, brightening until its intensity rivaled the sun. The shaft became no more than a coruscating rush of coral light. It flew upward and flared into nothingness in an empty sky.
Kagome gasped in horror as hands wrapped around her waist and pulled her back against a solid body. Numbly, she stared ahead, her eyes as desolate as the barren sky where her target should have been.
He had moved around behind her...
He hadn’t waited! He hadn’t taunted her with Inuyasha’s face. He hadn’t trusted that she would never unleash her power against even a mockery of the boy she loved.
But, why?! They had been so sure. Sango-chan and Miroku-sama had gone ahead and likely already sacrificed their lives to give her this chance, hoping it would be unnecessary. Hoping they could defeat him alone. Kagome was their best chance, and their last chance. Sango and Miroku's efforts, if helpless to stop Naraku, were not vain gestures. They were meant to cement in his mind that Kagome did not want to face him. That she could not. If he believed that, she had a chance.
But, he obviously hadn't believed it.
Was it all for nothing then?
“I knew you were strong, Kagome,” a dark voice purred in her ear. “You’ve always been strong.”
It was too much. The shock, the raw power she had spent, the aching despair. It was too much.
Kagome let herself pass into blissful oblivion only distantly hearing the voice swear above her.
“Oi, you aren’t going to pass out on me, are you?! Oi, Kagome! It’s me!”---------------------------------
Comments and constructive criticisms always welcomed. And, er… I hope the ending makes sense. I've gotten some really mixed responses since I first posted this. I've edited it and attempted to address some of the specific phrasing that I was told prompted those responses. I've also attempted to clarify Sango and Miroku's role in the "plan" mentioned. I hope things are more clear now. If they're not, please let me know!