Yes, you read that description correctly. Continue if you have an open mind or at least intelligence enough not to leap after my throat with claws stretched.
After I started writing this (February 6, 2002), I've found instances of Kikyou-Sesshoumaru appear occasionally, but it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. This is. And I'm damn determined to make it work.
I was horrified to read chapter 262 and discover that Sesshoumaru is going to meet Kikyou. Dang, I've been working on this for nearly four months now, and finally the manga comes up! I should have known… anyway, for the sake of my sanity, this takes place right before that thrice-damned Shinichinin-tai arc, okay? It veers off from there. ARGH. This story has been in no way influenced by the latest chapters of Inu Yasha, but it probably will be. I'll probably go back and forth from the original plot, but hell, this isn't that canon anyway.
The reflections of Kikyou and Sesshoumaru in very little ways reflect my own.
Disclaimer & Claiming: The author of this fanfic does not own the characters or the world in which this takes place in – that honor belongs to Takahashi Rumiko and Inu Yasha's animation company. However, the story: plot, lines, characterization and all other miscellaneous extras belong to the author who created them (me, Kylara) - and if I find this fanfiction used, mimicked, or plagiarized in anyway I have not personally deemed appropriate, Kikyou herself couldn't teach you a better meaning of hell than me.
When Ice Burns
Written by Kylara
Sleeping. Resting. Foreign words, once dearly familiar to her, but now long lost, and then with little regret. Death was, after all, the eternal sleep, and she had long experienced her full share of it. But sleeping was still something the living had to do - to snooze away the glorious night, for the sake of regaining energy, all in order to waste it again in the muddling activities of the day.
It was something that Kikyou had never tried. At any rate, she had never tried it in her new 'life', that was for certain. For the sake of keeping appearances up, she now nearly always stayed in her hut during the night. After all, how would it appear if the traveling, benevolent miko never slept during the night, but wandered around the land? She was there to help, to heal – not to horrify, terrify.
The memory of Sayo burned at her still.
But despite it all – or perhaps, because of it - Kikyou could not sleep. It was not a matter of choice, but rather a forced habit, a locked door. It was physically, mentally, and spiritually impossible, for she was condemned to never rest, like a sinner that had only hell to wait for. And that was the core of her being, although she had not sinned such. She was to forever be separated from the rest of the world: first, as a miko, then second, from time and mortality. To be, instead, a wandering soul. No, not even that: a warped shell of earth and magic, moved by her will. And, of course, other souls, who as long as she could not rest, would not rest either. How Naraku had actually thought he had knocked her unconscious only showed his stupidity.
But though Kikyou could not sleep, she could dream. During the day, it was repressed by the fact that she could walk or run away from it, letting her actions and duties fill her mind. But during the night, nights when she was trapped in a small hut, it was different. And this dreaming, like her existence, was not and could never be voluntary. Eyes half-open, staring off into the emptiness of the hut in the village where she was staying, where mock-figures of those she had known and knew moved, teasing and torturing with their never changing dance. And she never knew when the dance would start, or when it would end; for since she had no feeling of true time as only mortals can feel, it could last only minutes and seem like forever, or last hours and flash by like seconds. In the end, it was little difference. Forever would always be forever.
It was here where the dance began. A figure swung happily up to her, and, with childish clumsiness and devotion, embraced her, snuggling an ebony head comfortably at her waist. Kaede. Kaede, as a little girl, in the times when she would follow Kikyou, cheerfully and devotedly, an "Onee-sama!" spilling from her lips at every turn. The Kaede Kikyou remembered did that, obeying and respecting her elder sister with an undying devotion and love; the little sister that she had loved back so much.
But that memory was marred, for in her new 'life', Kaede was fifty years older, fifty years changed. Gone was that devotion, that respect that she deserved; instead, this old woman dared to correct her older sister, saying that it was Kikyou in the wrong, not – not him. And this Kaede – it was Kaede, she knew that - had even gone farther, as to say that Kikyou was a false spirit, that she was unreal, and that the true bearer of the soul was now that girl, the make-shift miko.
It may have been true, but there was no cause to continue to stab the knife. A knife that Kikyou needed no reminding to feel, for it had wrapped around her heart in a way that she could not exist without it, for it seemed her pain held her together. Kaede's remark was thus an unneeded reminder. And so, this Kaede was not the one she held close and warm to her mind, but another one, that she analyzed and made use from. She was not her little sister. Not that laughing, properly indignant Kaede. That beloved girl had long been lost to her sister, fifty years before. There could be no guilt over such an imposter, and indeed, there was none.
As if sensing Kikyou's displeasure, the dream-shadow of Kaede flinched, then, with a last look, vanished into smoke as she dashed away from her silent and alone sister. But Kikyou would not be left alone long; to take Kaede's place, another figure slithered forward. The skin of a tree-animal - a baboon, bleached an unnatural white, leered at her with calculating eyes, those windows of the soul that she could sometimes see pieces of herself reflected in. As for the person behind the mask, it was no better – a man, but not human, and could never be mortal, not if one could see through the shutters thrown wide open. But he was the one who possessed most of the Shikon no Tama. A man to fight, to defeat, perhaps, but also one to be wary of, and perhaps ally with before killing. Possibly, a long time ago, it would have been different: she would have given her life to eradicate him from the Earth as soon as possible, to destroy his evil youki, and its pollution to the earth she had loved so dearly.
But she no longer had a life to give, and no desire to do so.
Another figure walked up to Kikyou, gracefully swaying hair and body, a light grin glowing outwards. And against her mind's voice that was screaming at her to run, Kikyou stood her ground, long enough for the voice to fall to the ground, weeping. Weeping, in fear of a simple fifteen year-old girl, nothing but a flickering shadow that touched a single hand to Kikyou's face. Kagome, came the delicately silky whisper from the shadow. Kagome desu.
Her reincarnation. Her other self, her so-called 'true' self. The one with the happy friends, the happy lifestyle, the happy memories, and the happiness of the little things in life, all the ones Kikyou had been denied. And who had, still, with all of that, taken everything Kikyou had left. Kikyou's place, by Inu Yasha's side, as the one loving him and changing him for the better, day by day. The one in the village whom the villagers looked towards, for guidance and hope and purity. More, if that was possible, as the miko who protected and purified the Shikon no Tama. It was those things that had made Kikyou into who she was, the core of her personality, her very being. How could Kagome, her own reincarnation, so easily rip it away; so guiltlessly, so effortlessly?
As if she knew what Kikyou was thinking, the shadow-dream of Kagome smirked, then gave a quick slap to her across the face, the physical manifestation of what she had emotionally felt; so painful, she nearly felt the blow, but when she would have struck back, she was stopped by another.
With an almost casual ease, he blocked the blow with a sweep of his arm, and ran to the shadow of Kagome, who threw herself into his arms, and buried a weeping face into his clothes. Even as his arms moved to embrace and comfort her, he glared at Kikyou, as if she had done something wrong. As if it was Kikyou's fault that she hated Kagome, this girl who had taken everything dear and precious. As if it was her fault that no one would let her rest in peace.
For now, though, he did. Her former lover clutched her reincarnation close, both their eyes closed to the world, but still, in the vision of Kikyou, far too clear. The shadow of the girl could have been her, in more than just the emotional sense. Physically, they were almost – just almost - identical. A single rush of black hair fell down the girl's back, tightly closed shutters hid her brown eyes from the world, and slender arms wrapped around her beloved's neck in a desperate, but loving caress. He returned the gesture, one hand clutching her hair, the other tightly around her waist, and the fluid movement of it was the same as when it had been Kikyou standing there, so long ago, so many different times. It could have been them, her and Inu Yasha, the pair fated to never love one another in peace. Just – at least in his case - love others. But not her. She would never be allowed that privilege, that curse, just as it was not her standing there.
And her point was proven, for the girl didn't wear the outfit of a miko. No, she wore vivid green and white, contrasting cheerfully with her gently tanned skin that screamed of the sun's constant love for her, brightly stating that she was different. Different from Kikyou, beloved of the fickle, fickle moon. Yes, Kagome was different from Kikyou, as if there was a need for reminders.
It was simply another stab from the knife.
But there was nothing more to be said of him, or her, or them. She had loved him, and he had loved her, but the red string of destiny was cut. Inu Yasha was no longer hers: in the romantic sense, at least. It was pointless to say that he would one day be hers, despite the wrath of the world, for she had decided long ago that she would never again endure hell alone. He would go with her.
But there was one last shadow, not dancing, but instead, sitting some distance away from the others, down on a clean green meadow, leaning against the wood of the tree that gave her shade. The shadow was sleeping, but though her face was peaceful, it was wistful as well, with marks of tears having streaked her face. But, surprisingly, her mouth was curved upward in a grateful smile, whispering that she was content with the depressing peace her dreams gave her, rather than facing the alternative of nightmares with properties best not mentioned.
And so she smiled, and curving away from it was a wave of silk black hair, draped elegantly, but with little care, over her shoulders, where it slipped onto warm, green grass. If she stood up, it would undoubtedly fall past her waist. Clothing this sleeping form was a familiar white-and-red outfit - the outfit of a miko. And, clasped tightly in her hand was a shining, coral-tinted orb. It glowed with pure, clean light, beating in time with the flow of her pulse.
Herself. Alive at seventeen years, protector of the Shikon no Tama – foolish, naïve girl, in love with a heart-breaking hanyou named Inu Yasha. Yearning to be 'normal', a hope in her soul to live the rest of her life with the one she loved. Dreaming, of course, of Inu Yasha. Of love. Of being free of the Shikon no Tama. In the end, she dreamed of simply being normal, marrying the one she loved, raising a family, dying with that same love. To be free of spiritual powers, free of duties she had never asked for, never wanted, but had never questioned. Herself, who yearned for everything she had not tasted.
What you have not known, they say, you cannot miss.
A lie: the emperor of them. For though she had never been free, it had been all she had ever desired.
Pain ached her shoulder, and there was blood dripping everywhere. Of course there was blood, he had just slashed his claws into her chest. He, the one she loved, more desperately than anything else: Inu Yasha. Inu Yasha, of the warm, vibrant white hair; of the wild golden eyes that flashed with temper at one moment, and were kind with love at the next. Inu Yasha. She nearly couldn't believe it; how could this happen? They were supposed to wish for happiness together, and live together for the rest of their lives: she, a normal woman, and he, a normal human man, living the utopian dream she had always dreamed of. It was almost too strange to believe, too odd a story: his love, her love, now all lost.
But then, she did, she could – she did believe it.
She did believe.
That he had betrayed her.
That he did not love her.
That he, perhaps, never had.
That he had only used her.
That it had all been for one thing, and one thing only. The sake of a jewel.
The Shikon no Tama. It was all she had left, her only duty. Inu Yasha had betrayed her; she no longer had the comfort of loving him, of being there for him. Her love for him had blinded her, weakening her powers… now, her duty would be fulfilled, even at the cost of her life…
…Which was already ebbing away as she ran, blood flowing in wicked torrents, scarlet and black dripping on the grass behind her, dying the gentle white flowers in her path a brilliant red.
It was a shade they would remain as for years afterward.
But she took no notice of the flowers, or the damage she did to their vibrant white veins. Instead, she went to her home, and grasped her bow where it lay – she had not taken it with her that morning, had not thought there was a need, had been foolish - and waited for him. Outside the village where he was massacring her people, so that she would definitely find him. She knew where he would come, from where he would leave. She had always known.
It was fated.
And so he came, grasping the Shikon no Tama in his claws, a wicked grin on his beloved face that grinded the pieces of her already-broken heart into fine dust, until his burning laugh left not even the dust.
Then there was grief, and despair. By her hands, he was gone. And, by his, she would be dead.
And then all she could see was a painfully bright light.
She closed her eyes, and waved a hand at the shadows. They dissipated into smoke, wafting away from her almost peacefully. After all, the memory might be unpleasant to remember, but when everything was compared with her new life, she cared little for it. For she had long come to terms with what had once been her life; had accepted the tragedy, and mourned it less than was necessary. Because she relished this new life, this new way of living: to despise and to cherish as she never could before.
Because protecting the Shikon no Tama had meant that she could feel no strong emotions; love weakened her powers, hatred weakened her powers. So she had refrained from both – that is, until Inu Yasha had come, a mistake that had cost her everything. And even yet, she could not get away from it; her entire existence was still entwined irrevocably with his. And she would make sure he never forgot it.
But now, in her new reality, she was freer than ever before – if she wished to hate, she could hate; if she wished to love, she could love, and her powers would never again decline. Even if it would never happen again.
Yet, it didn't matter.
Because she was Kikyou, freer than all those with a mortal life span, but then all the more trapped. In a case like that, mattering simply didn't matter.
Rin was sleeping peacefully, smiling dreamily into her bundle of warm blankets of silk and wool, all while being watched dutifully by the ever-complaining Jaken… who would have liked to rest as well, but dared not, since he was to be 'guarding' her. He wasn't fully capable of the position, which Kagura had proved well enough, but Sesshoumaru took care to always be nearby, and even took an odd – some would call it perverse – pleasure out of watching Jaken squirm in fear of him.
Sesshoumaru himself did not sleep within Rin's eyeshot – or, anyone's at all. In fact, he rarely slept at all; it was not, exactly, an essential part of life. It wasn't necessary to sleep; in fact, youkai only slept when their defenses were completely down, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Pure, high-level youkai never needed to sleep – they only did so on a whim or fancy of theirs - and he, Sesshoumaru, was the purest of pure youkai.
Purity. Untainted blood, the cleanest and highest orders of it; and there were no existing ties stronger than blood. And he was the blood-son of the strongest youkai for thousands and thousands of years, and nothing could ever change that.
Yet Inu Yasha was as well.
It was what kept him up that particular night, a night when he had been planning to sleep. But, it seemed, he would not take a rest that night; it would be another time. It wasn't a problem, no, far from it. But he resented that Inu Yasha had taken a little pleasure like sleeping from him, Sesshoumaru.
There were many such little pleasures that had been stolen from him, or never had at all.
It was nothing new. But today, it was worse than before, for Sesshoumaru had gone to the site of his lord father's greatest and final fight – the battle with the dragon youkai, Ryuukotsusei, where the great beast lay quiet, pinned to the canyon wall by a massive claw.
And he had gone there many times in the past, sometimes to imagine undoing the seal, and fighting the magnificent Ryuukotsusei - or to, perhaps, avoid the first step and massacre the entire body into shreds. It was not cowardly. Simply put, it was a revenge for his father, a duty done out of honor, if for no other reason.
But he would never be granted the chance, for the dragon-youkai was no longer sealed.
Instead, only the broken, decaying pieces of its body remained, dusty with dirt, the air full of the stench of blood and a savage fight. But the strongest stench there was not of blood.
It was of Inu Yasha.
He could smell his brother's victory, seething out from every crevice of the magnificent valley. Naraku's scent, emanating from a mess of things quite unrecognizable: excepting the broken kugutsu protruding rudely from one side. And, with all the scents, he could, in a keen corner of his mind, see the battle: Inu Yasha foolishly hopping around, trying to fight Ryuukotsusei, failing miserably. And he knew this because of the evidence left. The paths, the scents of dragging blood, the newness of them, spread out in tangles all over the ground. Accompanying these scents were visuals – new scorch marks, burns, and scars, all left on the canyon, acquired from the battle – and the dry, arid smell of the burning Kaze no Kizu, flung around in every which way, always ending in an exploded rock or dent. Tetsusaiga's signature attack: the dead giveaway for the doer of the deed.
So his little brother had done what his elder had never dared - rip Ryuukotsusei's body into hundreds, if not thousands, of miniscule pieces.
Furious. He was furious.
But distantly so. Sesshoumaru was, if anything, perfectly controlled and accepting of his destiny in life – most of the time.
For the only emotion Sesshomaru was ever controlled by was anger, and such a thing is not being controlled when you allow it.
And he would have liked to sleep, liked to forget, at least for a while, but it would never happen. For one, he would never let it happen. It was disgraceful, to sleep to forget. A weakness. But there were other things.
His existence always had to revolve around Inu Yasha's. Life worked so simply, and so unfairly – his father left the stronger sword to Inu Yasha, left his legacy to the younger, half-blood son. Left his oldest nothing but a burden to carry, a gilded treasure casket with nothing inside.
And then every time his father's name would be brought up to the ungrateful Inu Yasha, he would just yelp, like an insolent dog - "I'm not sorry! I don't even remember his face!"
There was no respect from Inu Yasha; no honor given thought it was due.
Yet at the same time, he was blessed with everything he had done nothing to deserve; unswaying loyalty from his mortal companions, a legacy from his father, and the trust and respect of nearly all he met.
But Sesshomaru desired only the legacy; the rest was unneeded, unwanted, except perhaps the respect. Trust wasn't needed, for he needed no one's help for anything. And loyalty – and respect - from mortal companions was something he had, albeit that he hadn't wanted it. Jaken was - almost - a sort of comic relief for him, while Rin – he still hadn't gotten to that yet. Her smile meant something, he knew, but whether he enjoyed it in anticipation of a kill or a genuine fondness, he was not sure. But whenever he was sure she wasn't to be killed, he was left with no alternative but true caring – and that was less pleasant.
But it did not take away from the fact that Inu Yasha had still managed to deprive him of sleep, without even trying, without even knowing, or intended. His little brother probably did it for Naraku's sake, rather than his father's or even his own.
And he resented it, that such a glorious thing like Tetsusaiga would be wasted on a hanyou like Naraku.
Because while Sesshoumaru wanted the legacy, and would give up all the heavens for it, it would not be granted.
Tetsusaiga was forever out of his reach; the taste of power he had possessed, wielding it that day – it had been everything he ever imagined, a brilliant sword that breathed his every breath, pulsing with the flow of his blood.
But, a little voice mocked, wasn't it that your body changed its pattern to flow with the katana? Tetsusaiga would never live for you - the bitter, unloved eldest son. You can't even wield it without human help.
It will not reply to you, Sesshoumaru.
But Tenseiga would.
The sword of heaven's healing, given to the destroyer of the circle of life.
If his father had wanted to instill shame into his eldest son after his death, he could not have found a more effective way.
First Rough Draft Completed February 6, 2002
Revamped extensively April 15, 2002.
- Sesshoumaru's name literally translates to "destroyer of the circle of life", credit Chris Rijk's translations.
- Kikyou's kanji for her name translates to "Chinese bellflower", credit someone who read the kanji for me.
- Sesshoumaru is seen visiting the battle site in ending two, Fukai Mori. Improvisations are fun.
- Kikyou's scene was much longer than Sesshoumaru's. That's mainly because she has more problems to deal with, currently. That will change.
- Sayo, for those of you with memory loss (including me, since I had to look it up), is the little girl in episode twenty-two who saw Kikyou dispose of the monk ever so neatly.
- The moon metaphor is a reference to "Romeo and Juliet", by William Shakespeare. Yes, you can guess what I'm studying right now.
- I actually think it might be "(w)atashi wa Higurashi Kagome," but I wanted to kept it short, even at the risk of being grammatically incorrect.
Coming next: When Ice Burns - Chapter One.
I posted this for two reasons. One, I wanted this posted before the translation for chapter 263 came out. Two, today (May third) happens to be my birthday. :D This is my birthday present to myself (allowing myself to post another multi-parter o.O), so be nice and review, please?
Big thanks to the fantastic Queen for being open-minded enough to beta this. :D She caught so many bad-word choices and redundancies – if I hadn't been for her, this would've looked a lot worse. Wonderful person, read her fics…