AN: Woowoo, my new baby! It's a lot different from my usual style, so I hope you'll try and like it despite the departure from the norm. Uhhhm…what to say. OH!
Warnings: VERY DARK AND MATURE THEMES. And I'm not talkin' sexin' kind of mature. If you are bothered by the mention of suicide, emotional trauma, the paranormal or violence, this is not the fic for you. Please do not risk upsetting yourself for a bit of amateur fiction. Thank you.
Okay, that being said. This is an AU, but an AU which has deep roots in the Inuyasha plotline. You'll see as you read. It's so 3am and I can't think of anything I need to say, sooooo…here's a tap dancing Jaken to get you through the rest of this whatnot!
Jaken:tippity tappity tap: Lalala, Lauren owns nothing:tippity tippitytippity: dadada, thanks to Andrea S. for beta, and Coley for suffering through Lars' craziness, she appreciates your help! Ba-DA-CHIIIIING!
There we go. Onward to the story! Thank you for reading, as always
My father had been dead two months when I learned of the legend of Inuyasha the Hanyou.
Son of a great Taiyoukai, he sought the Jewel of the Four Souls in order to transform his half-human body into that of a full demon. But somewhere along the way, Inuyasha's quest for power became side tracked as he found himself slowly falling in love. Even more shockingly, it was Kikyo, the miko who guarded the Jewel, who caused such unexpected feelings to arise. As their romance blossomed, both Kikyo and Inuyasha agreed they would use the Jewel to purge Inuyasha of his demon heritage, making him permanently human. Then, they would wed.
But, on the very day his change was to take place, Inuyasha was tricked. Shot at by Kikyo herself. Enraged, he stole the Jewel from the village. Before Kikyo could prevent him from doing so, he used the Jewel's power to cast away his human half, leaving his demon blood pure. But there was a price to pay for such a wish. Inuyasha became mindless, utterly consumed by bloodlust- for his soul was mortal. Kikyo sealed him to a sacred tree, before dying from deep shoulder wound.
Strangely enough, the wound seemed to have been caused by Inuyasha.
To this day, no one knows who deceived whom. Kikyo's body was burned. Centuries pass and Inuyasha remains pinned to the tree still, Kikyo's holy arrow forever freezing him in a state of stilled time.
It is said that Inuyasha's humanity still walks the world, seeking his imprisoned half, thirsting to be united once more. All while Kikyo's bitter spirit lingers in the walls of the shrine where she died, weeping her wordless apologies, hauntingly beautiful even in death.
It was a legend my father would have liked.
It was a story of betrayal.
I see him, swinging from that rope in his study. The screams of my brother echo in the empty halls, my mother's frantic voice winding around them as she calls the ambulance.
And me…I stare.
My name is Kagome Higurashi. I'm a fifteen-year-old junior high student. I live in an old shrine that's full of history- a shrine where true love once died. Where a broken family pieces their lives back together. Where a girl must reconcile her shattered reality to the fairytales from her father's lying lips.
A shrine full of history- a history that would soon alter my future.
"Souta! What are you doing?" My voice, I know, crackled with annoyance. If he dawdled anymore, we would be late for school.
Huffing, I shoved open the door to the well house, probably with more force than necessary. The old slats of wood clacked loudly against the solid rock of the high walls next to the well house- part of a giant fence that encloses a little less than half of the shrine's courtyard. An entirely odd structure, no one knows exactly when it was erected or what it was enclosing- the keys to its' massive stone entrance were misplaced long before my Grandfather's time. Ignoring the possible damage to the door, I barged into the dark hut with all the fury of an older sister made tardy.
My little brother was crouched by the Bone Eaters' Well. Named that for yet another old story, it was ancient, less than sturdy, and dangerous.
"Souta! Get away from there! Grandpa told us it's not safe in here."
Souta bit his lip and turned towards me, making my exasperation double- he was making the face! It was a face only a ten year old wuss could master. Groaning, I massaged my temple as I caved into the pitiable look. "Alright, what is it?"
"Kagome." He was whispering, his eyes still wide with fear. "There's someone down there." He pointed shakily to the well.
I blinked in surprise. Dropping my backpack I rushed down the stairs and over to the edge of the wooden structure. "What? You mean someone fell in?"
Souta swallowed audibly. "No. Kagome…it's a ghost!"
Oh. My. God. "SOUTA! You twerp, you're making me late to school because you think you saw a ghost?"
He shook his head vehemently. "No Kagome! There really is one! I saw her!"
Exasperation was fast giving way to anger. "There are no such things as ghosts. I know you're always hearing stories about them from Grandpa and D…From Grandpa, but that doesn't make them real!" Honestly, I could understand this behavior a few years ago, but Souta was almost a middle school student. Grandpa's stories were entertaining, and inspiring- but they were still just stories.
Souta was unconvinced. His hands still trembled in spite of my stern reassurance. Time for big sister intervention.
"Okay, okay, fine, if I go down there and show you there's no ghost, will you please go get your backpack so we can leave?"
He nodded sharply, relief softening the fright that furrowed his brow.
Grumbling and slightly put out, and I started climbing down the creaking ladder, praying that this reckless action wouldn't result in a broken leg, or an even more painful injury. My steps echoed against the rock walls of the well as I descended into its' gaping mouth. I shivered slightly, not so much from cold as from dread of what evil creatures might be living at the bottom.
"Be careful, Kagome!" Souta sounded far away. A quick glance up revealed his pale face peering down at me.
"Yeah, I know! Get away from the edge!" I called back up to him. He obeyed me, for once.
The descent brought me deeper into the cold dark. I shivered as goosebumps rose on my bare legs. It was…creepy down here. Something prickled at the back of my mind, an uneasy feeling that seemed to be warning me- urging me to back pedal. It made me uneasy, and my senses immediately become more alert. Shaking the paranoia with some difficulty, I found myself at the bottom of the well unexpectedly. Casting blind eyes around, my hands grasped the rough wooden rungs of the ladder just a little tighter. Seconds ticked by in silence, the only sound my own measured breaths couples with the steady pounding of my heart in my ears. Relaxing, I felt a bit of my (unreasonable) anxiety subside. Nothing was stirring at the bottom of this old hole.
"Souta! I don't see any-!"
It hit me then- a force so powerful it cut my words off with my own gasp. The world spun as a hectic energy hummed around me- no, no, that wasn't right. It wasn't around me- it wasfrom me. Reality expanded in a rush of color, sounds, flowing time and blurring auras. My awareness was alive in ways that I never felt before- something was burning in me, something deep and primal- something that once was dormant, sleeping inside me. My limbs, my face, my mind- it was all consumed in this raw fire, ravaging me from the inside out. My hold on the ladder went slack without even a second thought, and I sunk to my hands and knees, the sudden onslaught of sensation overwhelming in its' intensity. And through it all, I could feel something foreign...something that wasn't me, passive but communicative.
I was pulsing.
And something was answering it.
A small cry broke through my haze, and suddenly, it was all over, as quickly as it had come. I was left feeling shaky, dizzy, and with the disturbing knowledge that I was no longer alone.
Eyes I didn't remember shutting blinked open. An ethereal light bathed the bottom of the well in bluish luminescence, and I was helpless to resist its' pull on my gaze. My heart…my heart thudded against my chest, each breath I took rasping down my throat almost violently.
A girl, no older than eighteen, gazed down at me impassively. Her shoulder was battered and torn- blood welled from the wound and coursed down her arm, and yet- it never touched the ground, never sullied or stained anything except her medieval miko robes and skin.
My stomach lurched as my own face looked back at me.
"Who are you?" My voice came out stronger than I thought it would, commanding in the hellish black I was drowning in.
Her eyes narrowed, like dark coals set in her wan face, fixing their unfathomable depths right on me. "You child. You should have stayed away from this place."
Her voice was deep, smooth, and cold- as freezing as the bottom of this well. Nothing like mine. For some reason, the knowledge that we weren't so similar gave me a brief burst of strength. "Answer me! Who are you?"
She ignored my question again. "Your awakening will have summoned him. He knows where to find you now." Her tone was emotionless. There have been winters less chilling. "It's time."
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Hysteria had finally closed its' mind-spinning fingers on me. This was not happening- this was not happening!
She walked up to me- not floated, not glided, but walked, like a person still bound by such earthly laws as gravity. Halting a few inches away she studied me momentarily, with a strangely detached curiosity I have never seen anyone mortal display. I could see her wound clearly from my place on the hard packed ground- four slashes, right through her very bone. I winced as she crouched down, looking me squarely in the eyes.
"You're…you're Kikyo." I don't know how I managed these words. They were thick and wobbly against my teeth, but they came out. She neither confirmed nor denied my statement, merely kept those eyes, dead of everything human, trained on mine.
"You will put right what I have wronged." And she reached out, touching my shoulder lightly, a gesture seemingly executed without premeditation.
At the brush of her icy fingers an aching sorrow assailed my being, soul wrenching and all-encompassing. Tears automatically sprung to my eyes as my breathing hitched on a sob. God…it was more than I could bear. The edges of my vision went dark…I could feel myself slipping away from consciousness. She removed her fingers quickly, and all that pain was wrenched away again. Nausea curled in the pit of my stomach, my arms trembling once before giving out, leaving me to fall in a heap on the ground. I fought the urge to retch, jerking my eyes up to where she should have been leaning over me- but she was gone.
I don't know how long I lay on the ground, trying to keep my vision from swimming and my meal down. Rising uncertainly on shaky knees, I fumbled for the ladder. Climbing had never been more difficult- everything felt surreal, dream-like. Grabbing onto the lip of the well, I managed to haul myself over the edge and land hard next to Souta in a heap of limbs and twisted fabric.
He was crying, and suddenly, a bone-deep weariness stole whatever had been sustaining me.
"Are you okay, Kagome?" He sobbed and I nodded tiredly, trying not to show him how shaken I was. "You saw her too!" his voice died down. "You saw her."
There was a muffled silence in the cool shadows of the well house, light breaking through the cracks in the wood to throw patterns against the weeping boy. He had been right. I should have listened to him…I should have…
"…I'm sorry, Souta."
He wailed, and I closed my eyes against the familiar sound.
I didn't think about my close encounter with the dead priestess in the days that followed. I forcibly removed from my mind the fact that we looked nearly identical. That day, when I rose from the well house's dirt floor, I vowed to put it behind me. I was hallucinating, I reasoned, some sort of delayed effect of my father's abrupt passing. I didn't try to explain how Souta also managed to see this 'vision'. Fairytales were not true. They just weren't.
Then I started to notice the presence.
A little at first, and then more intensely as time went on, I felt watched, stalked. The world began to change. Everyone seemed to hum with some mysterious force, and yet, at the same time they were completely normal. Things I never stopped to consider suddenly pulled me with an almost tangible magnetism. The cemetery on my way to school. The old park where it was rumored demons still skulked. The giant stone wall closing off half of our shrine.
But always, even with these startling new revelations, I felt those eyes. I began to carry a small can of pepper spray in my purse, and jumped at shadows that seemed too close to my own late at night. Despite that, I had almost convinced myself that nothing in me had changed, that life was as normal and humdrum as it always was. My mind slipped easily back to old faithfuls- grades, friends, family.
Then, as the reality of the situation started to fade to fantasy and dull history, she began her weeping.
It was the first night of what later became her nightly haunting. I shot up in my bed, my heart hammering away in my chest. I had been dreaming, but of what, I could not remember. For no particular reason, I held my breath.
That's when I heard it.
A quiet moaning, drifting through the walls of our house. I gasped in fear, choking on the air as it hit my lungs. The terror pushed everything out of me but motion. I ripped off the bed covers before thought filtered through my shocked haze, my legs pumping as I raced towards the sound. Why did I answer it? Why couldn't I seem to deny that calling?
I stumbled into the courtyard, the stone rough and cold against my bare feet. My chest heaved, my eyes strained. Where was she?
Where was Kikyo?
And then I saw her, bloodied, kneeling, glorious, not more than two yards away. She clutched at her temple and threw her head back, the wail that escaped her throat a tormented plea for release. Her sorrow made my bones ache, my muscles tremble.
She turned and caught my stare, her charcoal pupils boring into me. There was an instant understanding. Something passed between us, a deep empathy I knew was not inspired solely by her tragic plight. There was more there, binding us together.
"Find him." She mouthed, her crimson streaked hand stretching towards me.
"You're not real!" My voice broke with my tears, and my breathing became shallow and harsh.
She clenched her teeth in a grimace, squeezing her eyes shut. I thought I saw tears slip down those flawless alabaster cheeks. And then I felt it in me, some last reserve of self control and safe ignorance strain and break. I finally understood why I denied Kikyo's existence so vehemently and completely. It was because I already believed she was real. My hyperventilating breaths deepened rapidly to harsh sobs, and when I looked up she was gone. But it was still there, that realization, and I fell to the ground and cried as bitterly as she had. There was no time, no air. Only me, and that awful truth.
"Kagome!" Grandpa shouted as he ran to me. I barely heard him. Vaguely, the pressure of his hands eased my head up from between my knees. "My god. What's wrong! What's happened Kagome? Are you hurt!" He looked terrified.
"She was me, she was me, she was me, she was me…" It felt as if those words were soft, but I could hear the shouts of my voice bouncing back from the stone wall. I knew then, that I had been screaming it. Even as he folded me in the comfort of his arms, even as my voice died down to a bare whisper, I couldn't stop saying those awful words. My eyes leaked tears on his shoulder as I buried my face in it. My hands hardly dared to let go of his faded dressing gown, lest the world spin away even faster.
When I finally lifted my eyes, my vision had gone fuzzy, but I swore I saw a figure retreating into the shadows of the shrine. And with it, the sensation of being watched echoed stronger in me.
What was happening to me?