Once More, With Feeling
Summary: Before magical wells and dogs with pretty hair, Kagome was just a little girl with the memories of another stuck in her head. Kagome, Kikyou - platonic people, get your mind outta the gutter!
Disclaimer: Nothing's mine - tried looking for Sesshoumaru on ebay, though.
The children in the village skip to and fro.
She watches them through shadowed eyes the color of ash brown, while her small hands clutched the smooth wood of her first bow. At her side an elderly miko watches with a tolerant smile.
"Why don't you go and play? You've been training all day." The old woman's voice was warm. It caught like thorns over the child's skin.
Her thin lips pursed in distaste, even though something inside wants too badly. It's a silly desire for normalcy that worries her mentor and thrills the student.
For now it is easy to fight when she thinks of stiff bows and shifting eyes. Being picked last was no fun, and the promise of power beckoning at her fingertips make fair play almost impossible.
So she whispers, "no. Not today."
They turn to leave, and her steps fall in heavy behind her teachers. She can feel the stares of the children between her shoulder blades – they would never meet her eyes, and she shivers.
In her hand the bow feels heavy – like a curse, and she fights back the tears that will never come.
She remembers being young – very young. Much younger than fifteen, at least. It's one of her first memories, actually, of sitting along on the shrine steps. The other children had left her long ago, and she's never felt the urge to go after them. After all, she was different even then, separated by that spark of . . . something deep down inside.
At four a bouncing ball can keep her amused for hours, and thoughts of world safety and split souls are beyond her. The slow up and down glide of the crimson sphere enchants her, and a smile splits her face as sunlight dappled over her from above in a play of dusky afternoon and inescapable shadows. The ball would flash lighter – bright like sun, and then as deep a crimson as blood. Her eyes slid over the sight, enthralled.
As always though, the ball would bounce too high. There was a moment when a human's control was an impossible thing – it was only accepted in a child's eyes, and not met with the fierce glow of the damned. She felt a brief moment of panic – her grasping fingers fought over the rubber surface; fighting for purchase, and then it was slipping out of her grip and bouncing down the flights of ornate stairs.
A second latter and she was on her feet, running after it. Her flower printed skirt caught about her legs in creasing patterns as the shadows flashed brighter than the sun in her haste. Still, the ball is faster that her, and she fights the growing alarm that says that it will fly out into the street – out past her point of no return.
And still she fights, just running harder.
When she reached the bottom of the steps, the ball was nowhere to be seen.
Her eyes flickered too and fro – searching shadowed spaced and bright patches of emerald green for a splash of red – surely it would be easy to find.
And she sees nothing.
She fights back a frustrated sigh, and wiped at her eyes with one hand. Really, it was just a ball, she knew she had other toys to play with, but still . . .
Everything always went away.
And she's scared that someday she might go too.
Then a low voice said from behind her: "Is this yours?"
She whirled around. The sunlight dappled over her bare arms in little sing-song patterns while hope made her heart pound in her chest. When she turned there was a man kneeling down to her level, meeting her eye to eye.
Her eyes slid off of his, caring for nothing more than the scarlet ball he held out for her. A rushed thank-you slid from her lips, and rules about strangers were disregarded as she took the toy.
Something ran through her as her hands brushed his – a jolt that she then passed off as her joy at having the toy returned. After all, what did she know of the ethereal then? The metaphysical had no place in summer sun and fire-fly nights.
Even so, she imagines she feels claws prick at her skin.
Which is just silly.
When he stood she was amazed at how tall he was. The tingle from earlier intensified as he looked down at her. She looked at him as if she was gazing through another's eyes, with a strange set of senses – different from mundane sight or smell or touch.
As he turned to walk away she could have sworn that she caught a glimpse of silver instead of black. Cruel gold shimmered instead of the warm mahogany eyes that all of her people had. She smiled, tickled, as she bounced the ball against the too warm pavement.
Inside a voice that was her but was not, whispered, 'He is dirty. Tainted. He is not worthy of your time.'
And young Kagome tilted her head and wondered how anything so beautiful could be tainted.
The word echoed mournfully through her head, and then Kagome's mind was filled with memories of fluttering silver and fleeing crimson while from hip to shoulder her skin hung in shredded slips. Kagome flinched, and felt at her skin, making sure of it's wholeness.
Her eyes tilted downwards, watching the scarlet ball that had come to rest by her feet.
Suddenly she didn't feel like playing anymore.
The kids in the village watch as she passes by.
Her long ivory sleeves are stained crimson with unholy ichor, and she's shuddering as her mentor leaves a comforting hand on her back. First blood always hurts, she says, and the holy girl nodded, her eyes of ash lightened even more with a waxy sheen.
For a moment she wonders if she was going to be sick again.
It wasn't so much taking the life of a youkai – that she has been trained to do, and she will never shrink from her duty, no matter how much her duty suffocates her. It was taking the life of something that looked just like her.
She had thought them all to be monsters – but the Tai, no. They were beautiful beings with human faces and demon souls.
And Kikyou knows that though she knows fifty ways to kill, sometimes it's the fifty-first way that's needed.
She remembers being eight.
She sat down, watching her grandfather as he tended to the shrine. Tourist season was upon them, and this time of year was more hectic than most. She watches him light incense and hum prayers over sacred items, and she watches with a curious tilt of her head.
Somewhere deep down inside the song hums in her soul, and she has the image of milky hands tending to the religious duties. Kagome shakes her head to clear them away.
And still she has to ask, "Grandfather, am I different?"
He raises his head, his wizened eyes lightened to normalcy for a moment. "Different?" he questioned. "How so?"
She fidgeted, twisting her hands over in nervous knots. My hands, she thinks, not her hands.
"I don't know," she said uneasily, "just different."
Different like ancient memories and kids who would never come too near carefully at school. They saw something in her eyes that she didn't even see. It didn't matter, for even though she couldn't see it, she could feel it.
And that's even worse.
"You're completely perfect," her grandfather assures her in the way that is required.
Kagome frowns, and thinks of the way she sees things, and wonder how she could explain that. "I see people different," she admitted.
He's smiling that smile, and she sighs; knowing that she's not being taken seriously.
"Never mind." She said, and slid off of her seat with a frustrated sigh.
As she passes the mingling people she can see things different about the human faces – eyes unnaturally colored, and hands tipped with elegant claws. She sees hair fluttering in the wind, and colorful markings seared into perfect skin.
And no one else can see.
She eyes the others as they pass, looking for an indigo moon – the one she can always see loitering around. The man from before, always there waiting for her should she fall.
She smiles, comforted a bit, and inside the voice offers the image of puppy ears nestled in messy hair the color of fresh snow. Kagome tilted her head to the side, ignoring the odd jump in her stomach at the image. Her soul instantly recognized him, even though she questioned, why is he not like them?
He's half, the sad girl muttered. He's not whole.
Kagome frowned, and thinks for a moment, that it would be better to be half and half rather than two halves hastily put together.
For once the voice agrees.
From inside then shrine, her grandfather watched her leave, a sad glow in his wise eyes.
The girls in the village are well versed in the art of small smiles and coy fluttering of lashes.
From off to the side the other girl watches them – the different girl, the holy girl.
Her eyes lighten from ash to ember and she wonders. What would it be like? For a boy to take her hand, and carry her basket of herbs for her? Would her hand tingle? Would her skin warm? Would she blush and stammer out an excuse to leave?
She shakes her head, her thoughts are just silly sometimes.
But then sometimes, she can't help but watch them out of the corner of her eyes and wonder.
Kagome is fourteen when she's aware of his eyes following her every step.
Her school skirt rustled about her legs, her hands clutched her books that much tighter as she tried to pass unnoticed. At her side her friends chat on amiably. Yuki nudged her, and Eri giggled. Kagome doesn't have to look up to know that Hojo is watching them.
Her hands continued their agitated movements, the white digits caught over one another, and her deep brown eyes narrowed as she took in the milky parlor with a sigh. She was starting to look more and more like her with the passing of every day.
And she wonders what her friends would say if she told them about the memories stuck in her head.
She wonders what Hojo would say.
Would he still follow her? Stars in his eyes and sonnets on his lips?
The voice inside said that she cared little for poetry. She had the images of flickering twilight and careful truces. The half-boy who she thought could make her whole.
And Kagome shivers.
Underneath her left breast she can feel the eerie glow of power, and she wonders what would happen if she told them about that too.
And so she keeps silent about the weight of burden that no one could ever possibly understand.
The woman in the village part, and the men take their knee and bow.
Through the crowd of prostrate villagers, the Slayer marches, his kind eyes worried as he made his way to the priestess – a girl no longer, but holy nonetheless.
In his hands she can feel Midoriko's crystallized soul, and another part of her goes cold.
He passes the last bar of her ornate prison to her, and she accepts with a small smile and regal nod of her head. He bows and leaves, she watches him go, and then turns back to the trinket in her hands. She can feel the power brimming – the vibrations of four feuding souls, and somehow she knows, that while trapped, this is the most at peace Midoriko has ever been.
The villagers part for her to pass, and she pays them no attention. She's untouchable as stone, and finally she embraces a jaded heart of ice.
From the trees, feral golden eyes watch her, and this time she does not turn around. Somehow she knew that it was not her he saw, but the jewel in her hands.
He leaves – a flutter of white against forest shadow, and she feels fate leave her mark in a flicker of autumn twilight and frost chilled shadows.
When she is fifteen fate comes calling.
It's not a red ball she chases into the well house, it is a cat; and the irony will latter make her smile. The fat animal was quite comfortable on the rim of the well, and even as she pulled him away, her eyes are drawn to the empty depths.
Something in her soul hums.
She shook her head, exasperated with this second consciousness, and turned to leave.
And then the sad girl was fighting – fighting so hard. 'I have to see him, I have to see him . . .'
Kagome was more than confused, and then there was no time for confusion as the centipede woman came from the depths of the well – called by that spark of something she carried deep down inside. There is no time for confusion as terror takes over.
With a humans instinct she kicks and claws and fights – over her pounding heart she can hear the other girl speak.
'Fifty-one ways to kill a youkai.' she whispers. 'Fifty will never do.'
Kagome fights back tears as she is dragged towards the well. Inside memories flash – a bow taller than she, and arrows aglow with the power of purity.
Yet, my soul is sullied.
'No', the girl answers. 'Mine is.'
And when Kagome is thrown down the well she doesn't fight.
Magic engulfs her and her soul shudders in response. A jewel is pried from her, and as it leaves the voice whispers, 'the Shikon no Tama.'
Images flickered – fleeing crimson and white while her skin hung off her now useless frame.
Kagome winced, trying to get her legs up underneath her, and she asks. "Who are you?"
The centipede – the youkai answers, and inside the voice whispers: 'I am who you used to be.'
Kagome backed away from the monster howling for the shikon – and finds her back against a wall – or tree. She felt bark and sap underneath her searching fingers, and turns around as the other's memories flash with more and more insistence.
There was a boy suspended on the tree. She looked up – past the mass of snarled ivory hair and lazily drooped puppy ears. Her eyes trace crimson garb and clawed hands – like the ones only she could see. Her eyes pause on the arrows peeking out from the boy's chest, and she feels a pang of remorse that wasn't just hers.
Her eyes came up to his face, and she was struck by just how peaceful he looked, and wondered why he had never looked that way before.
Which was just silly.
'I could not make him look that way,' the voice whispered mournfully.
And Kagome hears the unspoken statement, but you can.
Her eyes narrowed in determination as she reached out for the arrow lodged in the sleeping boy's chest.
Inside the voice goes quiet, and Kagome does not regret the lose.
With a deep breath she pried to arrow loose, and when the boy's eyes fluttered open to reveal liquid gold she doesn't look back.
Okay, that was different. Not exactly cannon, but I was wondering if Kagome had ever felt, at least, that she had an old soul, or if she could feel her miko powers earlier on in life. It's not a far stretch of the imagination to think that she had some inkling of how different she was. Throwing Kikyou's voice in her head is a bigger stretch, but fun to write, nonetheless.
So, tell me what you think.