A/N: I've had something annoyingly akin to writer's block on my three current multi-chapter IY fics ("The Skin I'm In", "Strangers With Familiar Faces", and "Things Worth Dying For"; for the morbidly curious), so I wrote this one-shot in an attempt to break it. It was a chance to get practice writing in third person for "Skin" and "Strangers" and get away from the admittedly cynical humor driving "Strangers", as well as work a little more on Miroku and Sesshoumaru's relationship for "Things." Unfortunately, I wound up with writer's block for it too.

Stupid irony.

Warnings: Yaoi, not shounen ai. I really do hope that you know the difference, because if you don't, you're in for a real shocker one of these days. Also, this is a Sesshoumaru x Miroku, not Sesshoumaru + Miroku. Again, I hope you know the difference, or I'm not responsible for any sullied virgin eyes.

Disclaimer: Yes, they are mine, and I am in fact Rumiko Takahashi. That's why Miroku and Sesshoumaru are always running off into the woods together to make out, Kikyou is dating Hojou, Inu-Yasha is constantly shirtless, and Sango always galavants about in those really sexy short-shorts instead of, say, full- body armor. *_* Ah, my beloved Sango-sama . . .

Ahem. On with the fic, perhaps?

"If There Were Only Words"

It was dark. Dark, and lonely, and it hurt. Everything hurt, in fact.

Miroku couldn't stop crying.

Usually he could smile, could pretend that it was all okay or at least would be soon. Usually he could lie with a straight face and not care that he was dying, was living his so-called life with both feet in the grave. But tonight . . . tonight it just hurt. It hurt and it refused to stop.

He staggered through the trees; the only real conscious thought in his mind the need to get far, far away before the others saw him like this. If they did, he would never be able to face them again.


And if he couldn't face them, he'd die. He'd absolutely die. They were all he had, and he was hurting them just by existing. Every happy memory they had of him would cause them agony when the Air Rip finally ate him. But those same memories were the only reason he had to keep getting out of bed in the mornings.

Why couldn't anything ever be easy?

Miroku squeezed his eyes shut, narrowly avoiding running into a branch that still tore at his hair. Sobbing wildly, he ran as quickly as he could through the trees, tears blurring the vague, dusky colors into wild streaks and it all hurt SO much and the only thing he wanted was to just fall asleep and never, never have to hurt anything or anyone again . . .

And he ran and he ran, as if he might outrace his curse; as if he might be able to outrace his own damning skin. Even though he knew it was impossible, he wanted to anyway.

He never saw what tripped him, just the ground as it slammed up into his face. Bewildered, the monk twisted and stared at the offending entanglement through tear-filled eyes.

It was a kimono.

A white and red kimono, made of heavy silk and finely embroidered, and no doubt neatly folded until he'd stumbled into it. It had wrapped around his ankles like a snake and dragged him to the forest floor, sending him tumbling head over heels.

"Oww . . . " he whimpered softly, reaching down to untangle himself and rub at his bruised knees.

"Who's there?" a harsh voice demanded, and Miroku's head snapped up, his face white and tear-streaked.

"Sess- Sesshoumaru?!" he squeaked, instantly horrified at his own stupidity.

The youkai sat in a hot spring, no more than ten meters away, completely naked and utterly bemused by the monk's sudden appearance. "What ARE you doing?" he asked, disgust apparent in his voice.

"I- I- " Miroku stammered helplessly, trying to get to his feet and tripping over the other's robes again. He cried out in alarm and fell back to his knees. Sesshoumaru was out of the water and halfway to him before he even hit the ground, claws out and ready to slice, prosthetic arm pinning Miroku's cursed hand to the ground.

"Too easy," he murmured as Miroku gaped up at him in shock.

The monk's expression quickly hardened into a defiant glare, and he automatically reached into his robes, fingers seeking a scroll to at least attempt some kind of defense with. Sesshoumaru turned his slash into a grab, catching Miroku's wrist easily and inadvertently putting them both at a temporary standstill.

Each stared at the other in slight bemusement, neither man quite sure how to proceed. Sesshoumaru watched curiously as a fresh tear slid down Miroku's face, inexplicably fascinated by its movement. Idly, he wondered what it would taste like.

"I don't think . . ." Sesshoumaru began in an odd tone, scarcely recognizing the sound of his own voice, "I don't think that I've ever seen anyone cry before."

There was a heartbeat of time, and a heavy breath of misery passed between them. And then the echo of his words broke something, and Miroku let out a harsh sob, slumping forward. Somehow, the position they were in shifted to something vaguely like an embrace.

So the monk was crying again. Sesshoumaru wasn't sure why, but this bothered him.

It bothered him a lot.

"Why . . . ?" he asked finally.

"Hurts," Miroku said weakly as further tears overflowed. Sesshoumaru barely kept himself from catching one to taste. Would it be sweet? Bitter? Or would it be like water . . .?

"What hurts?" Sesshoumaru frowned. He couldn't see any evidence of a wound, nor smell any blood.

Miroku lowered his head onto the youkai's shoulder. "Existing," he whispered sorrowfully, releasing his grip on the ofuda and letting his hand fall out of his robes.

Sesshoumaru blinked; the lull in their scuffle broken by the other's vulnerability. To be honest, he wasn't exactly sure what was supposed to happen next.

"I- I'm so tired," Miroku whimpered. "I don't- I don't wanna pretend anymore. Just w-want it to end." He barely choked back another sob, burying his face further into the other's bare shoulder. Somehow, Sesshoumaru knew that "it" was not intended to mean the monk's chase of Naraku.

"You want to die?" It was half-question, half-statement.

And Miroku just lifted his head and smiled at him. A painful, lonely smile, nothing at all like the one that he usually wore.

"Yes," he whispered hoarsely, eyes glittering with both tears and an indescribable thing that was almost like ecstasy. "Please. End it, and we can all stop wondering."

Sesshoumaru stared at him, again utterly bemused.

"Please," Miroku begged. "Kill me. I've lived too long anyway. My father was dead by now. Make it stop hurting . . . I'm already such a failure. Didn't kill Naraku; let myself get too close to Inu-Yasha and Sango and the others. I just want it to go away." He closed his eyes. "Please . . . make it go away."

"Stop it," Sesshoumaru muttered, feeling strangely horrified. "It's pathetic, to beg like that."

"I don't care!" Miroku cried, both his face and his hold on Sesshoumaru's shoulders tightening with fury. "I just want it to end! Why won't you kill me, damn you?!"

"Like I'd follow a human's orders," the youkai snorted.

"Just . . . please." Miroku's face crumpled and his eyes again blurred with tears. "Please, I'm- I'm begging you . . . m-make it stop hurting."

Sesshoumaru glared down at him. "Just because I am a youkai, you think I'd kill you that easily?" he scoffed.

"No, because you're YOU," Miroku hissed, digging his nails into the youkai's deceptively delicate skin. "Because you're Sesshoumaru and you don't care about humans' lives at all."

"And if I did, what would you think of me?" he snorted.

"I don't know," Miroku moaned. "I don't KNOW; I just want it to stop hurting. Please, please, make it stop hurting."

Sesshoumaru looked disgusted. "You really think that's the only way I can take away pain?" he demanded.

"What other way IS there?!" Miroku snapped as fresh tears spilled onto his face, even as he pulled away to glare up at the other.

This time, Sesshoumaru didn't stop himself. He leaned down and licked them away. Miroku paled for a moment, then turned a brilliant red. His tears were salty and slightly sour, Sesshoumaru noted.

"Wh-Wh . . . " Miroku stammered, staring at the other in absolute shock.

"This," Sesshoumaru murmured, "is another way to take away pain." And before either of them knew what he was doing, he kissed the monk.

To Miroku, it was warm and cold at once- the warmth coming from Sesshoumaru's body heat and the cold from the now-chilled water that still hung on his skin. Sesshoumaru tasted of something unnameable, something shocking and still, like the water that runs deep. His misery was forgotten with incredible ease, and all because of the taste of the moonstone-bright youkai in his mouth.

To Sesshoumaru, it was hot, almost unbearably so, as he clutched the monk's burning face between his mismatched hands. Miroku's taste was something he could've defined to a science, if only the language he spoke had held the words. It was deceptive and elusive, varying from sweet to bitter as easily as you breathed, but the youkai knew every nuance of it almost instantly.

"Sesshoumaru?" Miroku gasped out in confusion as soon as they broke apart, an instantaneous infinity later. "Sesshoumaru . . ." he repeated faintly, slightly out of breath. "W-why?"

The youkai scowled at the other, just for a moment, and kissed him again. There weren't any words to explain with- he knew that, and Miroku was starting to realize it.

Somehow, kissing then became caressing, and caressing went deeper, and something violent inside both of them died. And from its phoenix-ashes, something else was born, though neither of them could've named it, whether they had the words or not.

~* ende *~

Story dedicated to my darling Katalyst, who both got me hooked on this pairing and beta-read said story. Should I have left you wanting more of these two, especially in bed (as my screaming reviewers tend to say I do), go read her stories. They are all kick-ass and sexy as hell in a handbasket. Currently, she has three SxM fics- one complete and two in progress, and all very much worth the read.

. : review, damn you : .