Author's note- So I haven't written fic in almost six months, and I come back with this? I am sorry. This is an alternate reality one-shot based on what would have happened if Kikyou and InuYasha had been able to use the jewel to fulfill their wishes. No Naraku, etc. But I promise it's likely different from what you've seen before with this concept. I hope you'll read it with an open mind.

Oh- quick edit. Someone commented about IY being pretty calm in this story. There's a reason behind that, and I thought I'd implied it. However, it's possible I just noticed it because I knew it was there. Added a quick narrated explanation in.

Seasons Change

By Kelly O'Connor

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The first thing he'd done when he'd become human was rid himself of all aspects that would identify him as 'InuYasha, the hanyou.' What there was, he wasn't terribly attached to. There was his name, as surely a name with such magical connotations would be looked upon suspiciously. Moreover, it was a name given by youkai, not his Mother, so he wasn't particularly fond of it in the first place. He took to calling himself Tadao, an ordinary human name to blend in with ordinary humans.

There was his distinct brilliant red clothing, on the off-chance that someone had seen him outside the village before he'd wished away his youkai blood. He replaced it with a pair of hakama and a jacket, both in deep blue. The fire-rat coat that was his inheritance did not retain its regenerative powers when he was human anyhow.

Kikyou had suggested he cut his waist-long black hair, as hair of that length on a man was not common. But InuYasha refused that course of action, instead compromising by pulling it up into a ponytail. He would blend in fine like that, and blending in was what he wanted to do.

The purification of the shikon no tama had gone as planned. Kikyou had been the one to make the wish, believing that a miko might be better suited for Midoriko's jewel. InuYasha had consented, and the jewel had erupted in an explosion of light, its pink aura enveloping his form. And then it was finished. He stood before her, human. Neither of them spoke, but the emotion they were experiencing was mutual.

Relief.

Kikyou toyed with the shell-pieces on the now empty chain the shikon no tama had just moments ago been strung through. "It worked," she finally spoke.

"Yeah… it did," he glanced around the meadow they stood in, having never experienced being human in the daylight hours.

"You look different."

"I know what I look like," the once hanyou shrugged. Kikyou looked confused. "Hanyou turn human for one night every moon cycle. It happened to me every new moon." There was nothing to fear from telling her now.

"I did not realize that," she countered. There was so much she did not know. "I will continue being the miko of the village of course. Without the jewel, it shouldn't be much work. This is a small village."

"All right."

"Is that fine with you?"

"Why would it not be?" InuYasha looked slightly bewildered.

Kikyou didn't clarify. "Do you wish to work in the village?"

InuYasha nodded, picking at his dull human fingernails. "I'll need to change some things, won't I?"

"To avoid possible suspicion, they can't know…."

"What I was before," InuYasha finished for her. The statement made his stomach lurch slightly. The price he would have to pay to be accepted, was to live a lie. Nonetheless, he was willing to do so.

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InuYasha grew accustomed to responding to Tadao much quicker than he'd anticipated would happen. He realized though, this was because in reality he'd very rarely been addressed as InuYasha in the first place; having had almost no human contact since his mother's death. For InuYasha, adjusting to being human was difficult, but not tremendously so. He missed the strength that came with his youkai blood. However, not being on the run with the constant need to defend himself, it didn't bother him near as much as he'd predicted that it would.

He was also careful to be less abrasive and gruff around the villagers. But it was not such a challenge, because there was rarely anything that would have set him off. It was peaceful. Almost too peaceful.

Kikyou had spun, with great ease, a simple tale about InuYasha being a young traveler who had decided to settle in their village. No one disbelieved her, as there was no reason to. Tadao was just a normal teenage boy who did labor around the town to earn his keep. He was helpful and willing, albeit a bit reserved. He spoke to the other men his age from time to time, but he didn't go out of his way to seek out their companionship. He had little in common with them. But he was accepted, liked. The name he'd chosen for himself, Tadao, meant complacent. That was a fair word to describe how he felt about the life he led.

He and Kikyou did not live together. Only married couples lived together, and the subject of marriage had not come up between the two. She lived with her younger sister Kaede, who InuYasha had not forged much of a relationship with. Her job as the village miko did not keep her all that busy, and she spent much of her free time educating the village children. She loved children. InuYasha only liked them in very small doses.

InuYasha and Kikyou did not notice how they were growing apart. He was settling into the life of a normal villager, and she was settling back into what her life had been before the shikon no tama. Everything seemed to be occurring naturally. There was no reason to question what was happening.

For the first month, he ate dinner with her every evening. In her fire-lit hut, they shared the going-ons of their day, no matter how uneventful it had been. Gradually that changed. By two months, they were only eating together every couple nights. Often he was invited to eat with other villagers, appreciative of the labor he'd done for them. He usually received the invitations with a 'yes.' Kikyou ate alone with her sister more often, and started accepting meals from those who wished to honor the miko.

By four months, they only ate together about once a week. Six months, they didn't share meals at all. It didn't hurt or sting. Neither of them felt emptiness in their heart over it, although the puzzle of what happened to their relationship tickled at the back of both of their minds from time to time.

But it was not brought up. Not during the brief snatches of time when they greeted each other in the village and held friendly conversations. Not when InuYasha helped rebuild a part of the shrine at her request after a rare youkai attack. Not even when a father in the village approached InuYasha suggesting that he court his daughter. 'Tadao' was strong, intelligent, and resourceful. He would make an ideal husband. InuYasha gently rejected the proposal. Not because he was taken, but because he simply was not interested.

It was not until the winter after they'd wished on the jewel, seven months, that Kikyou and InuYasha braved the subject of their relationship. It was a chilled dry, dead winter day; the kind that lacks even the beauty of snow blanketing the ground.

The meadow InuYasha crossed to reach the forest was rock hard with bitter frost, and it reminded him why he was very glad he had taken up wearing shoes. He was retrieving firewood, a job he'd taken to doing quite often during the freezing months. In exchange for providing it to villagers, he was given meals and warm fires to rest around. It was something to treasure in the dead of winter. Reaching the edge of the meadow, InuYasha took his axe to a tree that a winter storm had left in splinters. It would be perfect for firewood.

He was interrupted by a tap on his shoulder. Leaping slightly, he turned around. "Kikyou?"

"Yes, it's me." She pulled the straw cloak she wore tighter as the cold wind stung. "I was out surveying the village surroundings and saw you." He nodded and put down the axe. "Do you know what this tree is?"

"It's just a tree that got wrecked during the storm sometime back. I thought I'd use it for firewood…"

"It's where we met," Kikyou interrupted. InuYasha's eyes widened.

"The tree closest to the edge of the meadow. It's the one I pinned you on with those arrows," the smallest of amused smiles crossed her lips.

"I didn't remember that, I'm sorry," he looked down dejectedly.

"I wanted to see you. I'm glad I found you here."

"Wha…"

Kikyou motioned him to silence. "When I was talking to the village elder last night, he brought something up. He said, that when you showed up in the village, he thought that I had brought you here to be my husband. He even asked me if you were the reason I got rid of the jewel."

InuYasha's mouth felt dry. He gulped.

"But of course, he noticed that we spent so little time together anymore. He wondered if he had been incorrect in his assumption, or if we had decided to not be in a relationship anymore." Meeting her eyes with his violet ones, she paused. "I couldn't answer him."

"I'm sorry Kikyou…"

"Don't be sorry InuYasha… Tadao. I never have gotten used to calling you that." She placed her hand on the bark of the fallen tree. "You did nothing wrong. Neither of us did. I couldn't answer the elder because neither of his assertions were correct. Do you agree?"

"Yes…"

"Why did we get rid of the jewel InuYasha? Tell the truth. I want to know." Her expression was conflicted.

"So we could be together," he answered, almost reflexively.

"No."

InuYasha sighed deeply, discomfited. "I could be accepted if I did it, that's why. I am now. The villagers treat me just like one of them. It's what I've wanted all my life..." She motioned him to continue. "It isn't perfect, because I know it's not completely real. If they knew who I once was, they'd reject me without a second thought. But, I am content with it, because I know it's the best I'll ever have." He glanced sideways, averting his eyes from her. "Are you?"

Kikyou paused before answering. "Yes. I am satisfied with the fact that I will never have to protect the jewel again. I'm not a normal woman, and I never will be. I wanted that, but like you, getting exactly what I wanted is impossible. I do not mind being the village Miko though," she looked back towards the village. "It's peaceful. It doesn't occupy my entire life. I am pleased with it."

"I don't regret using the jewel," InuYasha ascertained.

"I don't either." Both of them smiled, small but gentle smiles. "And I thank you for giving me that opportunity, InuYasha."

And I thank you… Kikyou, he added in thought.

"I should do what I came to do now," she put down her bow and arrow and placed a hand on his shoulder. His eyes widened, surprised by her unfamiliar touch. "I'm letting you go."

"What?"

Kikyou slid her hand down to his forearm. "We only knew each other for two moon-cycles before we decided to make the wish on the jewel. Two lonely souls. At that time, I believe both of us thought we were also wishing to be with one another. However, as soon as the jewel disappeared and you had become human, I believe both of us knew."

"What we wished for wasn't each other…" InuYasha finished in almost a whisper.

"We aren't two lonely souls anymore. The void in our hearts is filled. We no longer need each other."

"Kikyou I---- "

The miko shook her head. "InuYasha, it's all right. I am happy to have met you. Don't ever doubt that. But our happiness lies elsewhere."

Making a sound in the back of his throat, InuYasha placed his hand over Kikyou's. "I sometimes wish I could leave this place. I like it here, but there might be another village out there, where I can…"

"Start over. Free of any reminder of your past," Kikyou finished. "And I'm letting you go. Don't feel like you have to stay here."

"I'll wait for winter to be over."

"That's a good idea, InuYasha," she nodded, "and when you leave, don't forget that you are always welcome here."

"I will visit," he affirmed.

"I am glad. I want to know what becomes of the man who changed my life."

"It was the jewel, not me," he countered.

She shook her head. "It would not have happened without you." The miko reached down to pick up her bow and arrows.

"Yeah, same to you," InuYasha thanked her in his own way. Kikyou bowed in gratitude before walking away to continue her duties.

Picking up the axe and focusing his attentions back on the task at hand, InuYasha felt a smile cross his features, unbidden. Noticing the red of sunset creeping across the horizon, he sped up in his task, the promise of a warm fire awaiting him in the village. But even more so, he looked forward to when the frost melted away and spring descended upon his world.

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Owari