This story disregards all anime-canon.
The first time they met, it was on the road. She was returning from a purification; he was fleeing from one. He was barefoot and poor, dirty and thin. Human and bitter. She could not kill him.
The next time they met he was a monster, and she could kill him, but did not. That lack of action accomplished more than she ever had before.
She took up residence in a small fishing town. They were delighted to have her and invited her to their tribunal. The autumnal equinox was nigh; they wheeled out their condemned. A rat hanyou that lived in the moors and struggled to cultivate the area. Easily aggravated and prone to chasing children with hoes. Deformed and guiltless.
Their fire burned brighter than the harvest moon. Kikyou ran to the tall grass and threw up until her stomach was clean of bile.
She returned to her birth land and found herself a sister and an orphan.
The village was overpopulated; the men had started to cut into the forest to make room for themselves. They stirred up the youkai within and ran for her protection when the creatures dove at their throats and crushed their rush-job homes.
She was called away to the village of the youkai exterminators. There were carcasses stretched out on boards, drying and rotting in the sun, attracting great masses of black-iridescent flies that droned and buzzed and drove her mad.
The headman bowed when he presented it to her, as if it were a treasure.
She thanked him, as if it were a gift.
She kills thirty-six youkai on the road home. A dozen attacked her. A dozen would have. A dozen were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She sees him again. He stalks her from a distance, confident in his invisibility.
Kaede, who can see everything but the stone in her chest, always draws closer to her when he is around. Her sister seeks refuge in those who are lost.
She knows he is youkai, but she also knows he is human. A contradiction that is nonetheless true. A savior that kills. Prefect paradoxes.
She knows he is not so far gone.
Even before she knew of his heritage she likened him to a dog; made domestic and turned wild, ever-circling the campfire.
Maybe it was because she knew his downfall, his humanity. Maybe it was-
The Shikon no Tama.
Do you think I'd hand it over? she asked.
Do you think I won't get it? he asked.
A horrible, absolute yes.
They find a dead man and go hunting for the hanyou, the forest set to go up in flames with the first touch of their torches.
He seeks her out, finds her attending to the dead man's grave, but she's sure he isn't looking for her protection anymore than she is looking to protect him.
It wasn't me.I know, she says.
And so do they.
She nods and wipes grave soil from her knees.
He's angry. I never gave them a reason to distrust me.You never gave them a reason to trust you, she corrects him.
The men raven the forest, and the hanyou stays in the village, and they never find him. Kikyou calculates how long it will take the forest to grow around their search. Her final tally is fifty years.
One day she trips, and he catches her.
No one ever griped her before, and her pale skin bruises.
Beasts - animals and youkai, they were viewed this way by the ultimate Us versus Them mentality - had no ritual for the washing away of sin. This, she thinks, is because sin was a wholly human concept. It was their failings, not their accomplishments, that set them above beasts.
This, she thinks, is also why humans are terrified of beats. They had no concept of murder, nor of theft, nor of the downfall of pride.
Sometimes she envies them.
What, she thinks, is a hanyou? Something with the sin of humanity but without the chance of redemption.
Maybe, she thinks, it's simply because no one has tried.
She has a lot of thinking to do.
How would you feel about me, she asks, if I were different? Kaede repeats, confused.
Not different, Kikyou amends. Less...? I'm sorry, I don't...
Kaede is always struggling to understand.
Kaede is always apologizing.
Kaede has always been everything her sister isn't.
Sometimes she worried that she was defective. Broken, somehow, so that the idea of love appealed to her so much more than the act itself.
It was not that forbidden fruit tasted sweeter, but that reality could never compete with the mind's fancy. And it scared Kikyou, that she might never know love, not because of society's laws, but because of her own ineptitude.
Maybe it was bravery.
We could live together, as a man and woman.
Maybe it was cowardice.
Perhaps it was because she'd been so isolated for so long; perhaps it was because she'd seen both less and more than most people; perhaps it was because she simply was, but Kikyou had always felt inhuman.
She felt a connection to Inuyasha, because they were both so utterly incapable of connecting to anyone. And she clung, because this was the first substantial thing, ever.
She wonders what it will be like, using the Shikon no Tama.
She thinks it might be a bit like being reborn, like being thrown into the ocean and reemerging, naked and washed clean.
She always knew - knew - it wouldn't work. And maybe that's why it didn't. Maybe if her trust had been a little more blind, her hope a little more desperate, her faith a little more baseless, she wouldn't be lying here in the grass, her flesh shredded from torso to hip.
When she sees him, stolen gift in hand, she thinks they were both quiet sorts of heroes, because they had saved each other and no one would ever know.
She aims wide and shoots true.