Title: Absolute
Author: Minako (minakiwi)
Rating: M
Genre: Angst / Romance / Action
Warnings: Bit of Violence & consequences.
AU/Canon: Canon
Pairing: IY / Kikyou
Word Count: 1097
Summary: She should have known she would fall.

She never let them see how exhausted she was, how much her duty drained her very soul. From the moment that she had been entrusted with the protection and purification of the Shikon Jewel she had been under constant scrutiny and threat of danger. The siren's call of power drew out the worst elements, be they human or youkai. All of them wanted its power, the wish that legend claimed it would grant, and none that sought the jewel cared about what got in their way.

Kikyou slept little these days, and despite her serene countenance and graceful movements there was weariness in her body and mind. She was abusing her power as a priestess to keep herself strong and vital, and she well knew that one day this would come back to haunt her. But gazing at the sparkling pink of the purified Jewel she knew that neither could she allow darkness to overcome it. While it existed her devotion to keeping it safe must be absolute, or she would fall.

How ironic that thought became to her, less than a span of days later. It was then she met him, and somehow forgot that her rival Tsubaki had cursed her when she did. Heat washed over her limbs as she smoothly drew back on her bow, fingers steady despite the tremor she felt inside. She was exhausted, but she would not allow those that had come to destroy her to win. The consequences would be dire for the innocents that slept on in the village below, her own sister Kaede among them. The light of her expended power made the night sky glow as youkai after youkai fell to her, purified into glittering ash that lazily swirled in the currents of air that caressed her form, cooling the heat on her skin.

Finally all were dead or dying from their wounds, sparkling reiki burning away their youki into the ether while they screamed. She shivered from a sudden chill, the wetness on her skin her blood and theirs, lifting her hand to gaze at it numbly. The porcelain perfection was marred by crimson smears and for a moment she felt her eyes burn as if she would shed tears. This, this was to be her life until she failed in her duty – there was no other recourse that she could see.

Then she sensed it, a presence that had been masked by the sheer bulk of her attackers, a swirl of something unusual. It did not feel like youki or reiki, and the glimpse she caught of him before she fell to the earth in her spent state showed her a human face. But there was something there, something far different than anything she had yet encountered. Amazingly when she woke she had been moved from the pool of blood that she had fallen in face down, though her clothes and body were still sticky with drying fluids. She levered herself tiredly up to her feet, she had to cleanse herself before going back to the village or she might attract unwanted attention. With a start she realized that words were echoing in her mind, that she had not been fully awake to understand before.

"I won't have trouble finding you again, you reek of death and blood."

Who had dared say that to her? It was cruel if true and surely if someone had actually said that to her they would have been evil enough to take the Jewel, but she still had the burden and comfort of its weight with her. Yet someone had, and while she pretended on the surface that it did not bother her, the next time she was showered in the blood and vital organs of a youkai intent on stealing her duty from her she found herself immediately at hot spring to bathe the stench away from her. Not that she was accustomed to people thinking of her as anything but the serene priestess, but how long had she smelled of death and no one told her? For brief moments there in the water she wept into her hands, her pale perfect hands rinsed clean of the blood but not the death they dealt.

Soon after she found the one that had had the temerity to be absolutely honest with her. He had been following her for days despite her taking warning shots at him, and something held her hand back from just slaying him. There was a strange blend to his aura and it puzzled her until he finally stepped out so she could see him. It was as if her mind lit up then, he was a hanyou! She had heard of them but never actually seen one, so her curiosity let her simply pin him to a tree rather than kill him. He spoke tough, cuttingly as a matter of fact, but he was not truly trying to steal the Jewel from her. He made it very clear he wanted it, but then did not attack her for it. The puzzle was enough to keep him alive.

They established a sort of routine after that, until finally one day she called him forth to speak to her. She shook her head at herself inwardly, was she that lonely that she would confide in someone that told her he would steal from her? Apparently so. Days passed and the connection between them grew, until the day she whispered to him there on the dock while he held her close to his heart.

"You ... could use the Jewel and become human. We could live together, as ordinary people."

Her heart trembled, poised to break until he whispered back to her that he would do it. She was so happy then, that what happened on the way back did not even phase her as it usually would. For once she was almost joyful as she slew those that had attacked her and InuYasha. Blood sprayed hot and wet, and she reveled in it because it might well be the last time she had to endure it. A soft sound emerged from her throat when she was struck in the shoulder. It would bruise, but the sound was what amazed her. It had not been a cry of pain or a grunt of effort, that small sound had been a laugh. When it was over she smiled at her companion again. There would be no more need for her to abuse her body and drain her soul, for tomorrow she would become ordinary.