Drip. Drip. Drip.
The sound of her blood staining the pristine white snow was the only thing his mind could comprehend, yet at the same time, he wished more than anything that it was just a dream.
'Just a horrible dream...'
Her labored breathing brought the young mercenary crashing back to the harsh reality. The reality where the blue-eyed, black-haired woman in his arms was slowly dying.
"Kagome, you stupid idiot! What were you thinking!"
Of all the people he imagined losing, Kagome was never one of them. He had told her to stay away, when he sensed that he and their brothers were in very real danger, he told her she shouldn't come with them on this assignment, but did the stubborn girl listen? Nope. And now she had paid in the worst way.
"I...I've told you...before," she labored. "Ohana...means family. Family, means...we stick together...."
"Yes, but this is borderline idiotic! Why would you do this, sister??" His 'deadly-killer' composure long gone, he felt tears streaming from his dark-as-night blue eyes at an alarming rate. Bankotsu knew, without looking, that the life was fading from his twin's sapphire eyes, and that there was nothing he could do to save her. He felt absolutely helpless.
He sensed, rather than heard, the slowly approaching footsteps of his elder brother, Renkotsu, from within the tree-line. Renkotsu, or 'Ren' as Kagome preferred to call him, was closest to Kagome - aside from Bankotsu - and therefore had always been highly protective of her, something she found increasingly irritating as she got older. As he approached the clearing that the bloodied up twins occupied, his voice rang out in the silence.
"Hey, Bankotsu! Kagome! Come on guys, what's the hold up? How long does it take two master assassins to hunt up some meat for dinner? It's not like it's-"
The rest of Renkotsu's sentence died in his throat when he finally reached their clearing. The first thing he saw was the crimson blood that stained the snow and covered his youngest siblings. Then he saw that Bankotsu was hugging his baby sister's limp form to his chest, who had arrows protruding from her chest and her leg.
"Ren...?" Kagome wheezed.
Bankotsu turned his tearstained face to his fast approaching brother, "Help me get her back to the cave...we need to get her to Suikotsu..."
Nodding, Renkotsu gingerly scooped Kagome up in his arms, taking great care not to touch the arrows in her body. Bankotsu, turned and picked up Banryuu and his sister's Shuriken knives and stars that were scattered all around, all of them covered in snow and blood. With everything gathered up, the brothers turned and ran full tilt through the trees toward the cave the siblings currently called home. When they arrived, Renkotsu started bellowing through the cavern loud enough to wake the dead.
"SUIKOTSU!! GET YOUR HERBS AND BANDAGES AND GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE NOW!"
By the time Suikotsu came out, Renkotsu had already lain Kagome on her back on a pallet near the wall. "Hurry up, man! Kags is dying!"
Several shouts echoed from deeper in the cave, followed by the sounds of falling items, banging, and running feet.
Having inherited spiritual powers from their mother's line, Suikotsu reached out with his reiki to assess the internal damage inflicted upon Kagome. His blood ran cold when he discovered it was not good. Then the loud and feminine sounding voice of Jakotsu piped up.
"Jesus-fucking hell, Kagsy! What happened to you guys?!"
"We...we were...ambushed...miko..." Kagome coughed. "Would've killed...Bank...had to...stop her."
"We were caught completely off guard," Bankotsu continued for her. "This miko came out of fucking nowhere, screaming about how we were 'going to die this night like the abominations that we are!' Then the miko loaded an arrow onto her bow and aimed it at Kagome's head, but when she made to fire, one of Kagome's stars embedded itself in her arm, throwing her aim off and hitting Kags in the thigh instead. When she aimed and fired her second arrow at me, Kagome jumped in the way and took it in her chest. I'm actually surprised it didn't hit her heart."
"No, it didn't pierce her heart," spoke Suikotsu, "But it has punctured her lung, which is now slowly collapsing." All six of his brothers paled considerably at the though of how much pain their little sister must be in right now. "And the arrow in her leg completely severed her femoral artery, resulting in massive internal bleeding."
At that moment, Kyokotsu, the brutish, third youngest asked, "But, Suikotsu, couldn't you use you priest powers to heal her wounds?"
Suikotsu gave a solemn grimace towards his younger brother. "I'm afraid not. Even if I tried removing the arrows, it would do nothing more than speed up her death. The most I can do is clean her cuts, and saw off the protruding parts of the arrows. Other than that," he said, and he applied several mashed herbs to her wounds, and picked up his knife, "We ease her pain and make her passing as comfortable as we are able..."
Bankotsu had walked away, and was now facing the cave wall, punching it, and letting out a profanity with each punch.
"Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit!"
A hand was placed on his shoulder. "Bro, calm down, you'll punch the cave into an avalanche. We're all upset. She's our sister, too."
Bankotsu turned around to look into the face of his eldest brother, Mukotsu. He threw his arms around Mukotsu and began sobbing into his brother's shoulder.
"I- I just....I don't- we can't lose h-her! Why'd she h-have to be s-so.....selfless!!"
"Because..." Renkostu spoke up from the floor where he was cradling Kagome's head in his lap, "She's just like our mother".
Renkotsu looked down at her, "Nah, sis. it's me."
"R-Ren....I- I feel....cold...ngh...it hurts..."
"Sshh, you're okay, Kags. We're all here." whispered Ginkotsu.
Kagome nodded weakly. Blood was pooling beneath her and growing larger, severely staining her kimono and armor, which were both identical to Bankotsu's. Her blood was beginning to stain the knees of her brothers' hakamas, but they took no notice. They only had eyes for their dying sister.
"Urgh....I'm dying.....I can....feel it...I'm...slipping away....so cold."
Without thinking, Kyokotsu, who was kneeling to the right of Kagome, blurted, "You're not dying. You'll be fine!
Despite her draining strength, Kagome managed to spit a glob of phlegm and blood right in Kyokotsu's face. Renkotsu chuckled and shook his head at that, 'Same old Kags.'
"Don't lie to me, Kyo," she spat weakly at him. Then her features softened somewhat. "I love you guys......all seven of you loonies. You guys have been....the greatest brothers.....any girl could ask for."
"We love you too, Kagsy," Jakotsu choked through his tears.
"You were the sweetest sister, and the best twin, 'Gome"
Smiling weakly, Kagome turned her head towards Mukotsu, who was gently squeezing her hand. "I'll keep these idiots in line for ya, sis."
"Hey, Kags," Renkotsu said, "Say 'hi' to Mom and Dad for us? And wait for us, too."
"Of....of course, you pyromaniac. *cough* What kind of....sister would I be.....otherwise?"
Kagome's eyes looked up, towards the ceiling, as if there was someone there.
"Mama....you came for me...."
~"Of course, my daughter. Your father is here, too." ~
To say that her brothers were surprised was an understatement. If she could see their mother and sire, that meant she was passing at this very moment. They all scooted closer to her, holding on to some part of their baby sister, guiding her towards the next world where their parents were.
At that, Kagome's eyes forever glazed over, and her body fell limp. Renkotsu leaned over, placed an upside-down kiss on her forehead, and rested his forehead against hers, tears streaming out of his eyes and down his face into her ebony hair.