Well, I started this fic after watching the second movie (The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass, if I remember the name correctly, and do please correct me if I'm wrong! :) ) several months ago-- it just seemed to flow a lot easier, and I got a lot of it written that night. But, it took me a long time to close all the gaps in what I wrote, which is why I haven't posted any of it until now. This started out as a shorter one-shot, and turned into a fic that needed to be broken up into chapters, as it's on the 35th page, according to MSWord with a 12 point font.

Seeing as this is a reactionary fic to that movie, there are some major and minor spoilers in here, although they are basically from Miroku's point of view. So please consider yourself warned. There are a few other references to things that happened in the series, as well. And some other scenes that I came up with on my own, so they're not spoilers for anything at all.

Although this story does discuss things happening as Miroku experienced them, I left a few things out that occurred in the movie. The major storyline is intact, but there were a couple of times that Miroku's actions just did not seem very in character, so I just pretended they didn't happen. So if, as you're reading, you notice the lack of certain things being discussed, that's why. :)

That being said, here's the first (of five) part of the story, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

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Not-So-Broken Dreams

Chapter 1

Was it his imagination, or had the kazaana actually been a little smaller than it was before? It surely wasn't bigger... was it?

Miroku flexed his fingers and sighed, wishing he could remove the beads and covering from his cursed hand without worry, as he'd been able to do mere hours ago. He'd been tempted to look under the purple cloth so many times since their return to Kaede's village that he had lost count. But he knew it would be pointless-- he could feel it, knew the swirling vortex in his hand was there as it had been for so many years.

He could almost believe its absence had simply been a dream, if it weren't for the pain he'd experienced upon its return. His hand still ached dully, as it had when the hole first appeared; another nightmarish event to add to the day he'd watched his father be pulled into his own air void.

Absently, he rubbed at the flesh surrounding the kazaana with the thumb of his other hand, hoping to ease the pain. Each time he used it, he felt the faint sting of his palm being torn further, but he'd trained himself to ignore it. It was those times that he couldn't drive the ache away that he knew something was wrong, like when he'd fought the mantis youkai that had disguised itself as a beautiful woman.

A slight smile curved his lips. As if getting himself tangled up in a mess with the woman wasn't enough, he'd gone to visit Mushin, to find out if his hand could be healed, and had nearly gotten himself killed there. Inuyasha and the others had come to his rescue, even though it was still early in their friendship.

He hadn't known then just how much his life was going to change, how much he was going to begin hoping that one day he would be rid of the gaping hole in the palm of his hand. He hadn't known he'd meet someone he wished to live for, someone who gave him an even greater reason for defeating Naraku than ridding his line of the curse. Someone who had her own reasons for destroying the same demon that haunted his life.

Someone who intruded into his thoughts, even though he tried to push such ideas away and think of her as merely another fighter.

Someone who had apparently snuck off to the hot spring with Kagome while he'd been too preoccupied to notice. He could see neither of the girls through the doorway of Kaede's hut. Of course he was far enough away that they might be out of his line of sight, but Sango's boomerang was also missing from where it had lain against the wall earlier.

He wasn't going to follow, not when he knew she needed time with the other girl, and perhaps by herself, to come to terms with what had happened over the past few days. He was taking the time himself, after pretending it hadn't bothered him as much as it had, pretending it was easy to fall back into the old routine of worrying that the next day could be his last.

Miroku closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath, leaning back against the tree he'd been using as support while he'd been thinking. He could hear the faint sounds of Inuyasha and Shippo bickering over something-- most likely the kitsune teasing the hanyou about kissing Kagome, as he'd done all the way back to the village.

But the arguing was normal, and hearing it almost helped Miroku to forget about the events of the past few days.

Almost.

He didn't think he'd be able to let it go for good until their quest was over. When Naraku would be defeated, or he and the others would be granted death as their reward for pursuing so powerful a demon.

Hoping to banish that thought, Miroku took in a deep breath then exhaled slowly, concentrating on relaxing each muscle in turn. With the outward flow of air, he sank further back against the tree and allowed his mind to wander.

-----------------------------------------------Flashback--------------------------------------

Miroku had not yet been ready to take on the curse, the day his father died. Although its inevitability had been drilled into him, he was still a young boy at heart, taking each moment as it came and not worrying that the next could be his last.

He'd been told it would happen, from the day he was old enough to understand. His grandfather's story had been recounted time and again, so that he would never forget who it was that placed the curse on his family. He'd been taught that one day, unless his father managed to find and defeat Naraku, the burden would fall on his own shoulders. Neither his father, nor Mushin, had spared him the details, wanting him to know exactly how dangerous the kazaana truly was.

His father had demonstrated its power, shown him its usefulness against demons, and taught him never to use it against another human. He explained how it could be counted as a blessing in some ways, that it was a unique ability and could aid in exorcising youkai. It was emphasized that the air void was not something to be abused, that each use brought him closer to the end.

He'd been told the importance of keeping the air void sealed, how to infuse the needed beads with enough holy power to keep the howling winds at bay.

But in between all the teaching, Miroku had been allowed to be a boy, both his father and Mushin hoping Naraku could be found and destroyed before the curse would ever pass on to the young monk-in-training. His father had been older when his turn came, and had understood more of the implications than Miroku would at his age, even though he was trained and taught as much as possible. The boy had continued on obliviously, unaware that his time was soon to come.

Mushin, however, had been prepared. Although the older monk was not able to predict exactly when Miroku's father would die, he could sense the changes in the air void and knew it was only a matter of time. Neither of the men had the courage to tell Miroku that the end was near.

They'd been quietly enjoying their evening meal, the young boy oblivious to his father's mere picking at his food. The man had slowly stood, absently cutting off some trivial conversation with Mushin before turning and striding out of the hut.

"Chichiue?" Miroku had called after him, quickly putting down his bowl and pushing himself to his feet. Mushin wasn't quick enough to catch him as he paused for a moment in the doorway, watching his father sprint away, before moving off after the man.

He'd called out again, but his father never looked back. "Wait! Where are you going?" he'd cried, finding it unusual that his father would leave in the middle of a meal to suddenly go off after some lead as to Naraku's whereabouts. Something was wrong, and he had to find out what.

It never once occurred to him that his father's time had finally run out, that the gaping hole in his hand was about to break free of his control and swallow him whole.

Mushin had grabbed him from behind, the older monk having caught up with the boy as he slowed to watch the power of the swirling vortex explode. Miroku had struggled to get away, but he was held firmly, by strong, stocky arms, as the winds threatened to pull them in as well.

"Chichiue!" he'd nearly screamed, reaching out a hand in vain.

He squirmed and kicked and even bit Mushin's hand, finally gaining enough slack in the monk's hold to break free. But it was too late. There was one last great gust of air, then things grew quiet.

Once the winds died down, revealing the crater that was his father's grave, Miroku ran ahead. He stared in wide-eyed shock at the hollowed ground, weakly falling to his knees as sobs began to shake him.

Mushin shook his head. It was over too soon, and he knew that it wouldn't be long before his young charge would bear the weight of the curse himself. But he had a small amount of time before the kazaana would reappear; enough to allow Miroku to confirm the events for himself and come to terms, as well as he could, with what was about to occur.

He'd let the boy grieve for several minutes before going to him and gently pulling him to his feet.

"Come," he murmured. "We must be prepared for when it returns."

The young boy's lips had trembled as he looked up with tear-filled eyes. He'd swallowed hard, then nodded as he wiped his eyes on his sleeve.

Mushin laid a hand on his shoulder before turning and leading the way back to the hut.

Miroku had sat on the wooden floor while Mushin gathered the necessary things, hands clenched into tight fists as he struggled to keep himself calm.

No one had told him about the pain.

At first, he'd barely felt the slight itch in the palm of his right hand; his own nails were digging in hard enough to leave marks in his skin. But the itch had grown, the faintest ache beginning between the bones of his hand.

He clenched his teeth, breathing deeply as he'd been trained, pushing down the fear. He resisted the urge to massage the flesh of his palm, knowing it would be pointless.

The pain continued, growing stronger and stronger, as if the winds of the kazaana were trying to break through the flesh of his palm. Indeed they were, taking their time as if granting him his last moments to enjoy his freedom from the curse, taunting him with the knowledge that some day, his life would end just as his father's had.

The torment had lasted for nearly an hour, Mushin silently watching, waiting like a cat ready to pounce for the moment that the air void would need to be sealed.

Miroku could feel the first stirrings of the winds, and lifted his hand. His eyes widened as he stared at the small black hole that seemed to melt into his flesh as he watched.

He blinked as his arm was suddenly yanked forward, a cloth and holy beads covering the kazaana before it could do damage.

"You can not just sit there and watch it, boy," Mushin chastised, one large hand enfolding Miroku's small fist. "You've seen what it can do," he added in a gentler tone.

Miroku bit his lip, nodding at the older monk.

Mushin gave his hand a squeeze and then let go, looking away with a sigh. "You've seen the worst it can do. But don't dwell on it tonight. Rest for now. Tomorrow is soon enough to begin the rest of your life."

A single tear trekked its way down Miroku's cheek as he caught sight of his father's staff leaning, abandoned, against the wall.

-----------------------------------------------End Flashback----------------------------------

Miroku sighed, absently scratching his chest with his cursed hand. His life had changed drastically that night. Knowing that he could some day die like his father had, that he should live each day as if it were his last, had caused him to grow up quickly.

With Mushin's influence, however, he learned to enjoy each moment for what it was, to live life to the full extent.

A tiny smile quirked the side of his mouth at the thought. The old monk had taught him that evil spirits usually resided in the wealthiest of the villagers' homes, and that the owners would always welcome travelers who could exorcise such demons. Miroku had played the innocent, earnest young sidekick, eager to follow in his master's footsteps and help such deserving people, usually earning the pair a little extra through his acting.

Though the older monk would never admit it if questioned, Miroku knew there were times when he felt they should have been given more for their troubles. They were supposed to be above needing physical possessions and payment in return for services rendered.

But they were only human, after all.

And there were times when they ended up taking a little more than what was offered.