A Touch of Frost

Summary: Each soul has a story to tell. She listens to them all.

Author's note: Nothing really to say about this one. It's been a while since I wrote Inuyasha fiction, and Kikyou is such a wonderfully depressing character. So, this just flowed.

At night she can hear them whisper.

At first the sound was a nuisance. After all, she cared naught for the memoirs of the dead. Dying breathes and missed memories played over and over in her mind until, soon, Kikyou longs once again for silence.

Their souls are her soul now.

And she has already cried enough for one lifetime.

After a while she becomes accustomed to the noise of a thousand mourning voices. Their laments come with each new moon, and shine with every starless night. Through this she finds that she can feel again, and she is not sure how she feels about that.

She had felt a lifetime ago, and little good had ever came of that.

Those emotions long passed are lost on her body of clay and ash. After all, sensation was a blessing to the living and a coveted curse to the dead.

She is neither.

She loiters in stasis, feeling only the cold numbness of nothing. She could not cry she could not imagine, she could not touch. She could only watch those who could with the apathetic eyes of the twice damned.

Yet, she finds that each stolen soul is quick to reward their captor with sensation – the horror of a dying breath or the tang of a murderer's blade.

She raises her ashen eyes to the sky, and feels the first touch of winter's frost.

Then she listens.

And she is filled.

Her Shinidamachu brought their first offerings of the night, and she traced the first glowing orb with a long tipped nail, watching the soul shudder in response. Like a child collecting sea shells she covets each soul that passes through her body. Each woman passed was unique in their own way, and their stories now combined to form her own in whispered cadences.

Her hands raised to cradle the first one, and with a flare of power she absorbed the soul into her skin, drinking upon the power it offered. Her ash brown eyes turned rich and liquid as the soul sang to her, telling her it's story.

For just a moment she feels again.

This one was a young girl, barely out of childhood. Fear cloaked the girl child like a second skin as she shouted and searched for her mother. Yet, the ankle deep waters of the rice patties can be treacherous to those not paying attention. The maid found her death in a serpents kiss.

The prick of fangs register on Kikyou's own skin.

And she is thrilled.

This one was royalty – a hime forever comparing her lost castle to her clay cage. Kikyou hears her voice every time she notches an arrow in the night. When blood shines like diamonds in the moonlight the hime screams, for she remembers her own blood, spilled so that her lord could marry another.

The hime is cold.

And she is warmed.

The one was a healer. The kind girl had left her village to collect herbs that grew in the foothills. There the unfortunate maid was attacked by bandits who stole both her innocence and her life.

Her dying screams become her screams.

And she is enthralled.

This one was poor. An impoverished girl with straw thin hair and sorrow brimmed eyes. Thin rags clung to her paper body, useless against the first hint of winter's winds. Still, she would not steal bread so that she could live.

This soul is dim, and Kikyou finds that she cares not for hunger pains.

So she gorges upon the soul.

And she is sated.

This girl was young and naïve. The maid's beauty caught the eye of a wandering youkai prince. The maid was in love and was sure that love and beauty would make her family understand. Yet, her family watched as the village elders ran her through, ending the new life that she carried inside.

She whispered her lover's name as she died.

Kikyou holds this soul close, seeing herself in it's memories.

After a moment of shedding tears that no longer held the right to fall, she let the brilliant blue orb go. She hoped that the girl would find the happiness in death that had escaped her in life.

The soul winks goodbye.

And she is empty.

She paused before the next soul, her eyes clouding over with far off memories. She looks at the mockery of her existence now compared to the life she had once lived.

Did she ever love as deeply as that girl?

She can remember flickering smiles and laughing banter.

Yet, now her smiles are rare and his banter has turned to desperate pleading.

And she is yearning.

She remembering the prick of claws during playful caresses and the flutter of silver hair against skin.

Yet, now his hands are cold on her skin, and she can no longer feel the brush of the wind.

And she is longing.

She remembered proclamations of love.

Yet, now she can not return them.

How can one who feels nothing love?

And she is oh so desperately wishing.

Her once great love was torn apart by one clever lie.

And like a fool she fell for it.

And like a human she is lamenting choices past.

She had beens o quick to believe the worst about him.

And her eyes are hardening.

She took the next soul with a vengeance, desperately absorbing one glowing orb after another. The souls disappeared into her pale flesh faster than her soul steelers could deliver them. One after another they came and fell, until their voices were a discorded symphony in her head. Voices and moans merged together into a wave of sorrow as she feasted, hoping to fill that place inside that remained empty.

She would do anything to feel whole again. She needed . . .

The voices grew louder, she covered her ears to mask the sound as their lives played before her.

This one loved -

- that one loved.

This one lived for her love

That one died for her love.

This one died with her love.

That one.

This one.

That one.

Her skin had gained an unhealthy blue parlor as she continued to absorb the souls. Her Shinidamachu buzzed in warning about her, and soon she had to abide them. Her body could take no more, it was overloaded, laboring under the thousands of dying sensations flooding her – fire, water, blade, claw, labor pains – all fell on her at once.

Her body was overfilled with lives that were not her own.

She should have been sated, she should have been content, she should have been -

The tears in her eyes disappear as the sun rises, taking her ability to cry away.

- full.

She tries to feel, pressing her fingers desperately against her skin.

Yet, she doesn't bruise; she can't feel the pressure of skin against skin.

The last memories are that of her own soul. She remembered shredded skin from hip to shoulder and a Hanyou running with a stolen prize.

Yet, her last memory is of haunted amber eyes.

No amount of stolen sensation could chase the pain she saw there away.

And she is empty.