Inspired by Twilight Always Falls by Mystic Vaporeon, The Miyamoto Project by Lady Shadowcat, Inside by SevenInchSprockets, and the motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

@-}-

p     r     o     l     o     g     u     e

            So motionless was he, the slumbering child.  Or like a child he seemed.  Never before had she seen such a clear, untarnished soul.  In fact, she could not believe innocence so pure existed, until she looked into his eyes.

            Eyes that were closed with a heavy sleep.  The blankets had been kicked every which way until he was comfortable, and only then did his eyelids fall.  A wisp of his azure locks dangled in front of his boy-like face, and whenever he exhaled, it fluttered slightly.

            In the light of the stars he appeared pale, almost like an ethereal angel, but more like a child.  An innocent child.

            Almost like a mother, Musashi reached out a slight hand to brush aside the strands of hair.  After all, that was her duty, in a way.  She felt an obligation to protect little Kojiro from the corruptions of the world.

            She paused as her hand brushed against his cheek.  His skin was so soft...and he had stirred just then, and she feared her touch would waken him.

            The moonlight illuminated the rose which had been dropped from his delicate fingertips.  A faint smile danced about Musashi's lips.  She had never yet found Kojiro without his rose.  This struck her as rather romantic, yet still childlike in a way...

            As she returned the precious flower, his fist instinctively tightened around the stem.  She became alarmed at the thought of the thorns pricking into his skin...but there was no need.  Kojiro slept on, motionless as before.

            She reclined back onto her side, with one arm curled under.  Still she could not tear her eyes from the sleeping youth.  If only she could sleep as peacefully as he...  How nice it must be, to be ignorant of all the evils of the world...

            Still she watched his face as her eyelids fluttered shut...  As her own restless sleep overtook her, she wondered...

            Does he dream...?

@-}-

            Cold...

            "Yes, master.  The splice was successful."

            "Good.  When shall we see the results?"

            Pain...  Yet a strange sense of power...

            "That is not determined yet, sir...  Whenever the flower blooms..."

            "You think I have TIME to waste, watching a single, silly flower?!"

            "But master-"

            And the voices...

            "Hmm, I suppose you are right.  It is a small price to pay for what I will get in return.  How long will it take?"

            "Until it is ready, master."

            Immobility...  I am chained...

            "Ready?  For what?"

            And that eye...  That horrible, pale white eye...  Watching me...

            "The psychological trauma.  It will start to recall its creation."

            "Then I will wait.  No matter how long it takes."

            Relentless pain, like needles.  No, not needles...thorns...

            "...My Moonlight Project."

@-}-

            It was only a dream.  Kojiro had never come back at all...  It was only a dream.

            Part of her was willing to believe that desperate, futile lie.  The same part that lay cowering under the covers, hiding from the gruesome images still dancing in her head.

            She drew the blanket up to her pale chin.  It was no secret that he hated her.  Rumika the witch.

            But why had he...?

            She had the strangest suspicion that it was not of his own free will.

            Her knees began to shake wildly again, her eyes staring straight ahead, wide a frozen.  An image of the young man had entered her mind, his flesh stretched over the decaying bones, eyes rolling unfixed in their sockets.

            She would never forget.