Fragment of the Dream

A Dark Alternative for Inu-Yasha

By Mandy "Seifergrrl" Lever

Chapter Four: Eyes

The wait had been intolerable; while brief, the half an hour they had been left with only each other had fallen to tense silence and miserable worry. The Shikon no Tama was not in the shrine. Inu-Yasha had never been sealed. This world was certainly not the one they knew.

She sees no one, Kagome recalled as the door slid open, not wanting to look up into a reflection of herself, she kept her head down even as she felt something resonate in her breast, her heart clenching painfully.

Sango's hand was on her own, but still, she would not look up. Don't make me look at her, please, please, don't make me look at this old Kikyou, this Kikyou that lived... Lived without Inu-Yasha!

If she saw a glimmer of herself in that face, she'd die. To live, without Inu-Yasha, for so long...

"Houshi-sama, Taijya-sama, and…" The voice was Kikyou's; it was reedy with age and lack of strength, but it still held the quiet, unforgiving power of the miko that had been. "And this girl…"

"I'm not a girl!" Kagome found herself snapping, her head lifting before she could stop herself. And then she was staring, the rest of her tirade cut short at the sight of the miko.

She sees no one.

Kikyou saw no one because she had no eyes!

Kagome's own eyes widened in horror, her mouth sagging open, as she looked at the miko; scarred and ill used, this was not the proud, straight-backed Kikyou, the woman who could purify the Shikon no Tama with her touch. This woman… this woman was broken down, ugly, and old.

This woman was not Kagome's future. She could not be. Inu-Yasha would never do this to her.

Four scars ran parallel across her face; dividing eyes, cheekbones, lips; her mouth moved in speech, but Kagome didn't hear her. The lips – scarred and ravaged by claws – were so horrible, the movement of that wound of a mouth so repulsive she thought for a moment she might be ill.

But she felt Sango's hand in hers, cold sweat springing up between their palms, and clenched the taijya's hand.

"Kikyou..."

"Who are you?" the miko asked, probably for the second, maybe third time. Al the same, Kagome could not manage an answer for a moment, before she finally tore her eyes from the sight of the scarred miko.

"I am Higurashi Kagome," she said softly.

"You carry pieces of the Shikon no Tama," Kikyou said, leaving pleasantries for others to indulge in. She began to kneel down before Kagome despite the sound of displeasure that Kagome made. "But the Shikon no Tama is with Inu-Youkai, in the palace to the west, so I must ask how you came to have a piece of a whole gem?"

"I do not know… Inu-Youkai," Kagome said, though already a sliver of fear stabbed at her heart, "But this came from the gem that was found in my body, the Shikon no Tama…"

"Of another time."

Kagome could not answer. Her head bowed, and she refused to look at the maimed miko.

Sango and Miroku exchanged looks. Miroku cleared his voice; Kikyou did not look back to him when he spoke, "We believe this to be the case. We ran afoul of a spell… I believe meant to reunite…" he stumbled here, his voice failing him for a moment, before he pushed ahead, "a pair of lovers who were rent apart by time and death."

"I see," Kikyou said quietly. "And I am to assume that it went poorly?"

"Yes," Miroku replied. "I do not think it was …her intent to divide our group, merely to …prevent a terrible tragedy in the past that would lead to long separation, and death."

"And your part, Higurashi-san?"

"I am that woman's reincarnation," Kagome answered slowly, her eyes still on her clenched hands, Sango's fingers still gripped in her own, "or so it is said."

Kikyou quietly nodded, and then rose, stepping away from the group.

"I suggest you travel south. The north is held by the wolf-prince, and he serves as Inu-Youkai's general, while to the east is the sea and the west is only deeper into Inu-Youkai's lands." She did not look back at them, their eyes spared her scarred face. "You will not be safe here."

Silence lingered as the three exchanged looks, but said nothing for the longest time. Was the Wolf Prince Kouga? Inu-Youkai truly Inu-Yasha? Did nothing make any sense here?

"We have to try the well," Kagome finally said. "If … if the Goshinboku was used to alter time, then perhaps, the well might reconnect us to the right time." She looked to Sango and Miroku. They couldn't cross the well, could they? Shippou hadn't, when he had fallen in, the shards of the shikon in his possession. It had only brought Kagome to him, not taken him to Kagome's time.

Could she leave her friends here?

Looking to Miroku's hand, whole beneath the glove, she could not help but think it might be better for him to stay here, where there was no Naraku.

"So try it," Kikyou said, finally turning back to them. "But do it soon. The time of the tithe draw nigh, and I would not suggest you show your face when the Wolf Prince comes to collect the bride of Inu-Youkai."

"The what?" all three blurted in unison.

"Bride?"

"Of Inu-Youkai?"

"What is going on in this village?"

"This village, like the others in the area, is under the control of Inu-Youkai," Kikyou said quietly, her wounded mouth making Kagome's stomach churn. "He takes his tithe in village girls, whom he keeps for a year, as his bride, and returns to us, poorly used."

"Inu…Yasha. His name was Inu-Yasha."

Kikyou did not seem surprised that Kagome knew this; she merely nodded. "Yes, it once was. But no longer. The hanyou is dead. A youkai lives in his place."

"What happened?" Kagome finally asked the question that had been foremost in his mind.

"He was mad," Kikyou said, and Kagome knew it was a lie. If she was still hiding their affair, after all of these years, then she would never tell them the truth.

"You were lovers!" Kagome blurted, finally getting a ripple of surprise to spread across Kikyou's face. "At least, you were going to be. You were going to purify him with the Shikon no Tama, and eat away his human blood. But you were prevented…Murdered on the eve of your elopement by…a terrible youkai."

Kikyou seemed to look to Kagome – or perhaps, looked through her. "Perhaps," she said again. "This is what occurred in your time. But that is not what occurred here."

"So tell us what happened!" Kagome begged. "Tell us, so I…"

"So you know what has happened to your beloved, here and now?" Kikyou's lips twisted, her sneer only enhanced by the slashes across her flesh. "He is no more. Any man you or I might have loved died when he gave up his heart for the Shikon no Tama."

"But why?" Kagome demanded, half-rising; Sango reached out for her, but she could not be consoled. "Why? He loved you! He still loves you! He's willing to endure hell for you!"

Kikyou's brows arched, but she shook her head. "He thought I was faithless, that I had another. It was not so. But he murdered the man he thought was mine, and took his revenge on me."

Kagome calmed slightly, and Sango pulled her back into her seat; the taijya's hand found hers again and its mate sought to soothe Kagome by stroking her back.

"With you out of the way, he took the Shikon no Tama and became youkai," Miroku finished for them all.

"Daiyoukai," Kikyou said. "He has displaced his brother as Prince of the West, and hate fed his power. With the shikon no tama growing stronger with the hate and suffering in his heart…" She shook her head. "He was unstoppable."

There was no scar on the Goshinboku, because Kikyou had been nearly slain in the field, bloodied and ravaged by claw and fang. There was no life in the village, because there was no hope. There was no hope because there was no Inu-Yasha.

Kagome's despair could not be abated; tears welled in her eyes, despite everything. "I can't believe this. I can't!" she murmured helplessly. "I can't believe… that he'd become a monster…"

"Kagome…" Sango murmured, "Please, this isn't… our Inu-Yasha."

"I don't care!" she cried. "I don't care! No Inu-Yasha could be turned so black inside!" She was on her feet again; Sango and Miroku quickly rose to pursue her, but Kikyou did not move.

"Love is not far from hate," was all the miko said. "Vengeance is not far from compassion. And the hanyou is not far from the youkai."

"I don't believe you!" Kagome cried again, and then she was running, running out of the shrine, down the steps, taking them three at a time, even though she stumbled, even though she knew if she fell, she'd break something.

Finally her ankle gave and she twisted in her fall; she hit the wooden steps and rolled hard, taking six more till she hit the bottom.

She lay there, sobbing – not from the pain in her ankle, in her scraped legs, or her bruised arms.

She sobbed for Inu-Yasha.

Soon Sango and Miroku were at her side, helping her up, holding her steady; Miroku's shoulder was warm, his robes easy to hold as she wept; she was only dimly aware that the monk held her as she cried, and that Sango completed the circle, her body against Kagome's back, as they protected and comforted her as best they could.

"What will we do?" whispered Sango, as Kagome's sobs ebbed away into sniffles.

"I am uncertain. We cannot go far," Miroku replied.

"We'll stay," Kagome said. "If the wolves are coming for this Inu-Youkai's bride, I want to see them."

"Will we fight?" Sango asked, as she drew away from, them both. Kagome nodded, her pain solidifying, becoming resolute determination.

"We won't let them take another girl from this village," Kagome said simply. "And if we're lucky, one will be able to help us find this Inu-Youkai."

Miroku looked between the two of them, and then nodded quietly. "It's decided, then. But first, let us see to your injuries, Kagome." Something in his tone refused argument, and he nudged her back toward the steps; Kagome limped along beside him, supported by his arm on one side, Sango's on the other.

But even if her steps were unsteady, her plan was crystallized. She wouldn't let this demon make a mockery of her Inu-Yasha.