Dying Is Easy, It's Living That's Hard
"You're not getting away!" Suikotsu growled.
"Aaah!" Rin cried in surprise as Katsumi caught his fist, placing her fingers in the gaps between the claws, so that she wouldn't injure her own hand.
'He's absurdly strong for a human…' Katsumi thought, chagrined. Suikotsu smirked as he started to win their little arm wrestling competition. 'No… it's not really that… I've just gotten weaker!' Katsumi realized when she looked at her own hand and saw that her claws had reverted to normal fingernails. 'Did I get too close to the barrier…!?' Katsumi wondered in alarm as she brought her other hand up to hold his hand too and keep from being overpowered by Suikotsu. Suikotsu smirked and clenched his other hand into a fist. He stabbed Katsumi in the side with his claws.
"Urgh!" Katsumi grunted in pain, but she grit her teeth and held her ground. "Get back, Rin!"
Sesshoumaru glanced back at them when he smelled Katsumi's blood. His eyes widened slightly in surprise. Katsumi must have gotten too close to the barrier, because she had transformed into a human, but even though she was weaker, and her opponent was twisting the metal claws he had stabbed into her side, She wasn't giving an inch. If anything, She just looked pissed off. Still, if they didn't stop the bleeding soon, and get her back to her youkai form, Katsumi might bleed to death.
"Hehehe, if you look away, your head will fly off!" Jakotsu yelled as he attacked again. Sesshoumaru dodged, of course. Back on the bridge, Katsumi was starting to feel weak from blood loss, and the bastard attacking them was now twisting the claws he had stabbed her with while they were still stuck in her side.
"Heh. You're pretty tough, aren't you?" Suikotsu said mockingly. "But in the end, you're still only a human brat right now!" Suikotsu yelled as he suddenly yanked his claws from her side and slashed Katsumi's throat. Katsumi's eyes widened in shock and she loosened her grip on his hands. Suikotsu stabbed Katsumi in the heart and knocked her off of the bridge.
"Katsumi-neeeeeee!?" Rin cried in horror as she watched Katsumi's limp and bloody body fall into the river below them. "Noooooooo!" Rin sobbed. Sesshoumaru could tell what had just happened because of his heightened senses of smell and hearing. He could feel his blood starting to boil, but he kept it under control. He needed to concentrate.
'Oh, no! Now that Katsumi's dead, she can't protect Rin… If something happens to Rin, I'll be killed by Sesshoumaru-sama!" Jaken thought, breaking out into a cold sweat. 'Th-This is the only way!' Jaken slammed his staff in front of them on the bridge. "Nintoujou!" Jaken shouted as flames burst from the staff.
"!" Suikotsu said in alarm. The flames from Jaken's staff died down, and Suikotsu, along with a huge portion of the wooden boards of the bridge, was nowhere to be seen.
"Hehehe, blown away, eh?" Jaken said. The bridge suddenly jerked and started to fall.
"Ah! Jaken-sama! The bridge is starting to fall!" Rin cried.
"I know that, run!" Jaken yelled as they both tried to out run the bridge's collapse. "Geh!" Jaken squeaked in surprise when Suikotsu's metal claws shot up through the wooden boards between himself and Rin. "Wha…! He's alive…!" Jaken shouted when they looked down and saw Suikotsu hanging from underneath the bridge.
"Heh, you won't get me so easily…" Suikotsu said as he strained to keep his one-handed hold on the bridge. The bridge finally snapped completely, and they all fell down towards the river bellow.
"Wha…" Jakotsu said, stunned as he watched. That definitely hadn't been part of the plan. Sesshoumaru had had enough. He turned his back on Jakotsu and jumped after the falling Rin.
"!" Jakotsu said. 'Since the girl with him is supposedly his weak spot, we intended to take her hostage to constrain his movements, but… I never thought he'd expose his back to me!' Jakotsu thought. "I have you now!" Jakotsu shouted as he attacked. His sword circled completely around Sesshoumaru. All he had to do now was pull, and he'd be sliced in half. 'Got him!' Jakotsu thought smugly. Sesshoumaru blocked the attack with a movement too fast for Jakotsu to even see.
"!" Jakotsu said in surprise as the attack was not only blocked, but it was reflected directly back at him, landing right in the middle of him. 'Wha… My Jakotsu was… reflected back…' Jakotsu thought in shock.
'Damn! I missed killing him by a hair.' Sesshoumaru thought sparing a glance back as he rushed to the bottom of the ravine. Jakotsu collapsed on the ground, in shock. He had just come an inch away from being cleaved in half… it even cut some of his hair, and his kimono was totally ruined now.
Sesshoumaru landed at the bottom of the ravine. He found Katsumi's body. When she had fallen into the river, her body had been wedged between two rocks, and they had kept her anchored long enough for him to find her. Sesshoumaru pulled her body out of the river. He didn't see Rin's body anywhere on the ground. He glanced at the river again.
'Swept away, huh… With the water… her scent is fading.' Sesshoumaru thought. At least Rin had a better chance of surviving if she fell into the water, since Katsumi had taught her how to swim. Sesshoumaru stared down at Katsumi's cold and damp corpse. The river had washed away most of the blood… if it weren't for the stab wounds… she could almost be sleeping. Despite the oddly peaceful expression on Katsumi's face, Sesshoumaru felt a strange tightening sensation in his chest. He narrowed his eyes at her limp body.
'Who said you could die…' Sesshoumaru thought, suddenly angry at Katsumi for being so weak. Sesshoumaru drew Tenseiga and slashed the pallbearers for the underworld, restoring Katsumi to life, healing all of her wounds, and returning her to her youkai form. Katsumi slowly sat up, feeling slightly disorientated.
"Huh…? Didn't I die…?" Katsumi asked, blinking in confusion, when she saw Sesshoumaru standing over her. Sesshoumaru glared down at her. Katsumi froze. A shiver of fear went down her spine. 'If looks could kill…' She thought.
"Do it again, and I'll bring you back, just so I can kill you myself." Sesshoumaru said harshly. Katsumi's eyes widened. It finally clicked. Not only had she died, but Sesshoumaru had used Tenseiga to bring her back. Which meant he possibly cared… maybe… somewhere deep, deep, deep down inside. That thought made her happy, but, on the other hand, he looked dead serious when he had threatened her just now… Katsumi wasn't too sure how she felt about that one… She sweat dropped and smiled nervously.
"Heheh… Sorry to trouble you like that. Thanks for saving me!" Katsumi said. Sesshoumaru stared at her for a few moments before turning away. Katsumi let out a silent sigh of relief.
"Jaken." Sesshoumaru said as he stared down at the imp, still irritated. Jaken didn't move. "Playing dead, huh?" Jaken flinched.
"Please, forgive me, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Jaken cried as he prostrated himself before Sesshoumaru. "I, Jaken, shall find Rin in return for my life!" Jaken said, hoping it would be enough to get him off the hook.
"Eh…?" Katsumi said, glancing around. "What happened to Rin!?" Katsumi cried when she realized Rin was nowhere to be seen. Sesshoumaru didn't answer either of them. He just turned and walked away in search of Rin. Katsumi quickly followed behind, but kept her distance since she wasn't sure why Sesshoumaru was mad at her or how much.
A gentle breeze rustled the tree branches as Rin slowly opened her eyes.
"Uh." Rin said groggily. She realized someone was carrying her. Rin flinched in surprise and rolled out of his arms. "Uwaaah!" Rin cried as she remembered everything that had just happened and scurried away from the strange man.
"What's wrong… why… run away…?" The stranger asked. "Don't… worry. I am a… doctor." "Eh…" Rin said, confused. Rin finally looked at the man's face. He was wearing the same clothes as the scary man from before, but he had a kind face, like a completely different person. 'He's not… the man that hurt Katsumi-nee…!' Rin thought, surprised.
Rin walked alongside the doctor, the good Suikotsu.
"I see… you have companions." Suikotsu-sensei said.
"Yup." Rin said. "I think they'll be looking for me. So, I don't think we should move around too much."
"We're in the middle of a forest. Until your companions come, follow me." Suikotsu-sensei said.
"Okay…" Rin said. 'Somehow… he doesn't seem like a bad person.' Rin thought.
"… The village near the base of Mt. Hakurei… is where my house is." Suikotsu said as they came out of the woods. "In there, Rin, at about the same age as you… are a lot of children with no relatives."
"Hmm… so, you're the village doctor?" Rin said.
"You can see it now. It's my village." Suikotsu-sensei said as the village came into view. They walked to one of the houses at the edge of the village. There were children outside the house, cooking something.
"Ah…" The girl said when she saw the doctor.
"You kids…" Suikotsu-sensei said.
"Suikotsu-sama…" The girl said uncertainly.
"!" A boy said in surprise when he came outside and saw the doctor.
"I'm sorry… for being away…" Suikotsu-sensei said.
"Is he really… Suikotsu-sama?" The boy asked.
"… What's happened?" Suikotsu asked. "Why are you… so nervous?"
Jakotsu sighed heavily as he watched Suikotsu and the children from a distance.
'This is hopeless.' Jakotsu thought, annoyed. 'That jerk, Suikotsu, has returned to being a fucking nice guy. I was right in thinking that if that was the case, to wait here for him. I'd better wake him up.' Jakotsu prepared to draw his sword, but he saw a group of people coming towards the house, holding torches. "Hm?" Jakotsu hummed curiously.
"I thought it was Suikotsu-sama. He's come back…" One villager said.
"… What's with this group of villagers." Suikotsu-sensei said.
"Suikotsu-sama… I beg you, please, leave this village." The villager said. "That the Shichinin-tai attacked this village is your fault, isn't it? Also, back then, your face… was like… a demon's…" Rin glanced up at Suikotsu, wondering if following this man had really been such a good idea.
"Heh…" Suikotsu laughed, and sliced the villager who had spoken with his claws, killing the old man.
"Eh…" Another villager said, stunned.
"Wha…!" Another cried in horror. Rin stared, horrified as the old man fell to the ground, dead… just like how Katsumi had…
"Huh?" Jakotsu said, stunned. Not only had Suikotsu snapped out of it on his own, but he was still wearing his 'nice guy' face.
"Ah…!" The 'good doctor's' children cried.
"You're really ungrateful, aren't you…? Suikotsu-sama, the doctor, really took good care of you all…" Suikotsu said with an eerily calm smile. The villagers screamed in fear and ran for it.
"Wait up." Suikotsu said as he raised his claws and chased after them. Suikotsu began slaughtering the villagers.
'So… after all, he's the same person who attacked us on the bridge… who hurt Katsumi-nee!?' Rin thought, terrified. 'G-Gotta escape.' Rin forced herself to move, despite her fear, but someone grabbed her.
"Hi." Jakotsu deadpanned.
"Kyaaah!" Rin cried as she helplessly flailed her arms and legs in a useless attempt to escape.
"What's happened to you, Suikotsu?" Jakotsu asked.
"Jakotsu… you were here, eh?" Suikotsu said.
"Until now, when you had the 'nice guy' face, you never even killed a bug. Which Suikotsu are you?" Jakotsu said.
"Who knows. However, I feel better than ever." Suikotsu said. "Before, half my head was always blank, and I was always worried when I would become someone else, but… But now it's different. I am myself."
"Hmm. I don't really get it, but… does this mean you won't become a nice guy, even near the barrier?" Jakotsu asked.
"Yeah… even though I've come here to the base of Mt. Hakurei, that damn doctor hasn't come out. I'm… fine now." Suikotsu said.
"Suikotsu-sama… That's not Suikotsu-sama… The face is the same, but…" A boy said as he and the other children cowered in fear. Suikotsu glared calmly at them.
"Run away!" Rin yelled.
"Here's a going away present." Suikotsu said, raising his blood-soaked claws. "I'll send you bastards to the next world as well!" Suikotsu yelled as he lunged at the children.
"!" The children cried. Suikotsu felt a sudden stab of pain.
Sesshoumaru and Katsumi were flying towards Rin. Jaken was clinging to mokomoko-sama.
'I smell them… the smell of graveyard soil… They're at the base of… Mt. Hakurei!' Sesshoumaru thought.
"Se-Sesshoumaru-sama… maybe it's just my imagination, but somehow… it seems the barrier has become more intense than before…" Jaken said weakly. The sacred energy crackled around them, and a spark hit one of Katsumi's wings. Because her wings are just concentrated youki, the purifying energy made her wings fizzle out and disappear.
"Whaaa—!?" Katsumi yelped in surprise when she started to fall, but Sesshoumaru grabbed her in time. Katsumi glanced at Sesshoumaru. 'I guess he isn't mad at me anymore...' Katsumi thought. "Th-Thanks… that was a close one… I guess we know the answer to your question now, Jaken." Katsumi said.
"…" Sesshoumaru said as he pressed on.
The children stared up at Suikotsu, as he loomed over them, frightened and puzzled. They were sure Suikotsu was going to kill them, but now…
"D-Damn it…" Suikotsu grunted as he tried to move. For some reason, as soon as he tried to attack the children, he couldn't control his body.
"Hey, are you doing it or not?" Jakotsu said.
"S-Shut up!" Suikotsu yelled in frustration. A saimyosho flew up to them.
"!" Jakotsu said as he listened to its buzzing. "Hey, Sesshoumaru is coming!"
"Really!?" Rin asked excitedly.
"P-Please wait, Sesshoumaru-sama." Jaken said as they followed Rin's scent through the village. "This is a trap. They're using Rin as a lure, to bring you into the barrier, Sesshoumaru-sama…" A sharp pain went through Jaken as they got closer to the barrier.
"We know it's a trap, Jaken. We're not stupid." Katsumi said.
'And yet you're purposefully walking closer to something that could kill you…' Jaken thought sarcastically. He couldn't take it anymore. Jaken flopped down onto the ground. "If you continue any further… Sesshoumaru-samaa!" Jaken yelled as Sesshoumaru took off flying again, and Katsumi grabbed onto mokomoko-sama, since she didn't want to risk her wings failing her again. 'Does this mean you're fine, Sesshoumaru-sama…? Am I the only one in pain?' Jaken wondered miserably.
"That bastard Sesshoumaru won't be coming. It'd be too intense for him to come here, wouldn't it?" Jakotsu said as they climbed further up the mountain. Suikotsu was carrying Rin now.
"… It doesn't seem that way." Suikotsu said as he came to a stop.
"Hm?" Jakotsu said. There were Sesshoumaru and Katsumi, waiting for them. Katsumi had transformed into a human because of the barrier, so she had her sword drawn already, not wanting to be caught off guard.
"Sesshoumaru-sama! Katsumi-nee! You're alright!" Rin yelled in surprise and relief.
"It's going to be okay, Rin." Katsumi said.
'That girl… didn't I kill her already…?' Suikotsu thought.
"Wha…! He anticipated!?" Jakotsu shouted in disbelief. Energy crackled around Sesshoumaru as she rushed forward to attack. Katsumi moved towards Rin and Suikotsu, but Suikotsu held his claws to Rin's neck.
"As much fun as it would be killing you… again… I'd rather watch their fight, so why don't you just sit this one out? You wouldn't want me to hurt this girl, would you?" Suikotsu said. Katsumi glared at him, but now that she was human, she didn't have the speed she would need in order to beat Suikotsu before he could slit Rin's throat, so she had no choice but to do as he said… for now.
'This bastard… doesn't the barrier affect him!?' Jakotsu thought as he dodged Sesshoumaru and swung his sword. Sesshoumaru blocked the sword, but he got a small cut on his hand. 'His… movements have fucking slowed!' Jakotsu thought triumphantly.
"Sesshoumaru-sama…!" Rin cried. Katsumi's eyes widened. She hadn't realized the barrier affected him that much. If only they could get Rin and fall back, move out of the barrier's range. She glanced at Suikotsu.
"I wouldn't move if I were you… my hand might slip." Suikotsu said.