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Elysium by wonderbug

Elysium

Disclaimer: Don't own, so don't sue.

Author's note: This shortfic was originally posted a couple of weeks ago on my blog, but I thought I'd share it here as well, since it's a little longer & complete. Hope you enjoy :)

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Elysium

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The dead don’t question their fate.

It’s the living who are left to wonder. After the ash settles and the sky clears, after their loved ones are laid to rest beneath a pile of sun-bleached stone, where do they go from here?

The lone survivor in the battle for the Shikon no Tama picks herself up from the wasted earth and returns to Edo village.

-

The first five years she can reasonably dismiss, but at ten, she begins to question. She begins to wonder if time is a circle and not a line.

At twenty years, she begins to despair. As Kaede’s funeral pyre burns to a cinder, she takes up the bow and staff of two dead mikos and leaves Edo behind.

There are none left now of the ones she knew before. Alone, she looks into the small, cracked mirror of her compact and studies her youthful reflection.

She thinks of the well sealed fast behind her. She thinks of fruit preserved beneath the lid of a jar. She thinks of a moth trapped in amber.

She thinks of the slow, steady creep of time.

-

She is a hero of legend, a miko of renown. In the markets and along the roads, she catches whispers of her name.

Of what was once her name. Like the uniform she used to wear, she has come to outgrow her former self. It is easier, she finds, to slip into a new identity than to maintain the person she was before.

As the years trickle by, the tales of her heroics begin to warp and fade. Her name becomes confused. Some even call her Kikyou by mistake.

But she doesn’t balk anymore at the comparison. Hollowed out and hopeless, she has more in common with her former incarnation than she would care to admit.

-

She counts the years in decades now. Ten have passed since she first traveled through the Bone-Eater’s Well.

On the other side of time, the family she left behind has surely passed as well. She wonders if Souta had children and grandchildren of his own. It is one of the few thoughts that brings her cheer these days.

Wrapping a bandage around a young girl’s wounded elbow, she speaks soothing words to her tearful patient and summons forth a smile.

Around her, the world is beginning to change. There are less youkai now than there were before. Many of them she has put to ground herself, but the others seem to have vanished like a fog.

And so when she looks up from her task and sees him standing there across the field, she blinks her eyes to clear them, just in case.

-

Pale and stoic and golden-eyed, he is exactly as she remembers. And so, she knows, is she.

Inclining her head, she greets him across the distance. His gaze is heavy upon her, and though her face is unchanged, she feels the burden of her years come to bear in the expression in her eyes.

Before she can think to approach him, he turns from her and walks away. The heart she thought she’d buried long ago clenches painfully in her chest.

She lifts a hand to it as his ghostly figure fades into backdrop of the trees, willing it to cease.

-

He is not the one she wants. And neither, she suspects, is she. But when he returns the next day, she greets him all the same.

And when he appears at her doorstep the following night, she welcomes him in like an old friend, though they were never friendly. Seated across the hearth from one another, they are more like strangers, despite the history that stretches between them.

He takes the teacup from her with a sound of thanks, and they sit together in the silence thereafter, companions in their solitude.

-

They do not speak of the past. Nor of the future. When they talk, they speak only of the present.

She tells him the names of the children that come to visit her, hungry or hurting or in want of affection. She describes the herbs in her garden, their various uses and the remedies she can make.

Leading her into the forest, he points out a few that even she was unaware of. Like a wild ginger that can cure infection, or a thistle plant that can stanch even the deepest of wounds.

Its blossoms crush in the tightening of her fist. Hooking a claw beneath her chin, he tilts up her downcast face, and reminds her that it is pointless to regret.

-

In the brilliant light of a summer afternoon, she can feel herself becoming whole once again.

From her place at the side of a stream, she watches the village children clamber over his lap and thread flowers through the silvery fall of his hair. Setting her washing aside, she smiles at the sight, pushing her bangs back from her brow with the dampened heel of her hand.

Golden eyes follow the motion. A bead of water trails to the corner of her lips, and he follows it too, lingering there in its wake.

-

He is not the one she wanted, but she is not the girl she used to be.

And when he lowers her to the floor and slides a clawed hand between the seam of her thighs, when he speaks her name and fills the aching loneliness within her, he is everything.

His eyes are molten amber, his touch unraveling. He covers her mouth with his as she arches into him, over and reborn in the span of a moment.

And it is bliss.

-

The tears on her face are for the children. They beg and plead for her to stay, but it is time again for her to move on.

Bending down, she kisses each one on the cheek. She will miss them. She always does.

But this time is different, because this time she is not alone.

Looping her arm through his, she smiles back in farewell. Together they make their way across the flowering field, and into the great beyond.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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