Author's Note: This is for alfb on LJ for July's flashfic. Her request was Kikyou/Naraku, any rating, any genre.
Dream a Wicked Dream
I have seen him before, she says. I have been there before, she says. Been here, been everywhere.
I have been.
Visions tumble through her head, confusing and seductive, a roiling mass of colour and motion. Vivid they are, brimstone acrid in the nostrils and blood metallic on the tongue, and light arcs over and around until her mind's eye is dazzled, dazzled.
There is nothing to do, but watch the world burn.
Ash is soft on the fingertips, a wispy reminder of what has gone before, what used to be; proof of transformation, evidence that no matter how grand, how imposing, how substantial was what went before, in the end, after the conflagration, it's all just…
She bolts upright in bed, presses her hands to her eyes until fireworks explode behind her lids. She's had the dream again, and she's starting to wonder what she might have done in a past life to deserve such scenes of horror.
Misery, tangible and sour; wrath, bitter and thick. A monstrous being, perverted so far beyond humanity as to be irredeemable, lost forever to lust and rage. His enemy, a woman clothed in red and white purity, determination writ large upon her face and in her eyes.
Some nights, upon waking from the dream, she weeps for the monster; tonight is not one of those nights. Tonight, she sits in bed, dry-eyed and wondering, what any of it has to do with her.
What was my role? she asks. Why was it my fault? she asks. For it was her fault, all her doing, she knows this and though she twists and turns, cannot evade that knowledge.
All my fault, it was me, me, and now I must pay.
Except she doesn't know how. She gets up, showers, dresses for the day. It's still dark when she leaves for the train station, and there's a sullen comfort in how the shadows wrap so closely. She pulls her collar higher, belts her coat tighter, walks a little faster, and soon stands amid those few others huddling into themselves against the chill fog of the early morning.
In her brown coat, black shoes, dark hair, she blends in seamlessly with the rest of the people of this Japanese city. She likes that, likes how she doesn't stand out at all, likes how much safety there is in being nondescript. She likes how no one knows of her extraordinary dreams, and wonders if they have any of their own.
Seven minutes after boarding the train, she looks up to find a man steadily regarding her. His eyes are black, like everyone else's, but there's knowledge in them, acceptance, even resignation. She stares back, seeing the flicker of flames in those eyes, and it's only when her lungs begin to burn that she realizes she's holding her breath.
Out it comes, in a rush that seems overloud in the tired grey hush of the train car. Embarrassed, she drops her gaze and slumps back in her seat, eyes cast down. He's coming toward her, she knows this, has time to get up and move away, but she doesn't and then it's too late.
"There you are," he says, as if he'd been looking for her for hours, days. Perhaps he has. Perhaps it's been years, a lifetime. She glances up at him, into his handsome, cruel face, and thinks, yes, he's been searching for a long while. In spite of her utter ordinariness, he has found her at last.
At the next stop, his hand at her elbow guides her off the train. The other passengers know they did not get on together, but are leaving together, and shame burns in her belly at what they must think of her.
"They don't matter," he murmurs. "Think only of me. Look only to me."
It's not hard; he's beautiful, his face hard and implacable. She's about to pay for some old slight, some ancient wrongdoing, but it feels right and she doesn't protest. If it means an end to the dreams, she'll willingly drink the poison, fall on the knife, thread her head through the noose.
Their destination is an old warehouse, dingy and rusted, a place where screams will echo but no one will hear. He positions her against a wall and walks away, rummaging in another room for something.
She takes a step, curious, meaning to follow--
"Stay there," he commands
--and she does. It doesn't matter what he's fetching, not really.
"Will it be quick?" she asks.
He pokes his head out the door. "Always is."
The warehouse smells like a cave, air damp and thick with mildew. She's reminded of another cave, one littered with crusts of bandages, bowls of thin soup, a little sister with wide, apprehensive eyes. The silence stretches, empty, a void that bothers her more than she can bear.
"How will you do it?" she asks.
He re-enters the room with hands full, looks surprised. "The way I always do," he replies at last. "The way I've done it since the first time."
She bows her head. "I don't even run anymore," she comments.
"I do appreciate that," he says, seeming amused. "Makes things easier for me. Though this time was harder. You're so plain, this time." He nocks the arrow into the bow. "Not that it would make a difference. I always find you."
"I didn't realize," she replies. That queer feeling in her chest, a tightening, is not fear, not apprehension. It feels suspiciously like relief. "Not until just a few weeks ago. If you hadn't sent the dreams, I'd never had known."
"I had to," he tells her, and takes position, aims. "Death isn't enough, not for what you did."
The arrow begins to glow, a steady and brilliant light. An image of white and red superimposes itself over his form, but briefly. "You need to see it, Naraku. What you did to us. You need to see what you're being punished for."
She sighs, and closes her eyes. "Will I ever have paid enough, Kikyou?'
"Never," he replies, and lets the arrow fly.