Disclaimer: What my fevered mind spurred by drugs (painkillers) has used in this creation is not mine, and never was. Like my heart, it belongs to Naraku, and by extension, I suppose, to his masters.
I am more covetous of him
even than of your glance,
I wish more from his presence
though he torture me in a grasp,
Though he clasp me in an embrace
that is set against my will
and rack me with his measure,
effortless yet full of strength,
and slay me
in that most horrible contest,
still, how I envy you your chance.
Through he pierce me--imperious—
though beauty is slain
when I perish,
I envy you death.
Miroku knows what fever tastes like.
When Sango calls for him, ("Please, Houshi-sama") he tells her, "I am not well."
If she smells him, she will know. Four days past he has reeked of fever.
Miroku knows what Naraku tastes like.
Sickness, fever. His sweat is the sweat of those about to die. Naraku is always at death's door, in a state of deceasing.
It isn't sex. It hasn't been sex for a long time. It is his dark ritual, his contagion, his cure.
Naraku's eternally fevered skin is on him, and they begin again.
Miroku is aware only of the void.
(not well at all)
What a waste this Miroku is. Waste of flesh, waste of sperm, on this sickness of a man, this ailing demon, always burning with fires fifty years gone. Wasting his touch on flesh not his lover's, stolen flesh. Surely it can feel, but Miroku knows not who feels it.
And what a wasteland this Naraku is. A thousand lives joined, a thousand lives taken, an ambitious road, only to hold one quivering man as he comes, swallowing his weakness.
All things, this thing devours. Naraku lies wasting away with fever, as Miroku loses himself in him.
In the end, all that Miroku manages to arouse in Sango is worry. When he stumbles, she calls out to him.
"Houshi-sama, are you all right?"
"No," he tells her. He could never lie to her.
"Is it the kazaana?" she whispers softly.
"Yes." The void blossoms in Naraku's presence, but he will not tell her this.
"Is there anything we can do?"
Not even if it costs him his life.
"I think you're killing me," Miroku whispers in their next contact, feeling his words be sucked into Naraku's ears, lost forever.
"I've always been killing you," Naraku says.
"I don't have long now. Won't you miss me?" Of course this has always been his hope. If he can't fight his way out of the curse, maybe he can fuck his way out of it. He tells himself, not for the first time, that this is why he has been doing this, that he chose this.
Naraku doesn't understand. "I've been dying for half a century, and I'm still around. Death borders eternity, for us."
Miroku feels the kazaana spread. Death inches closer, and his flesh burns out its last flare.
He chose this.
Sango cannot quench this fever.
She swabs at his frail, sweating body with cold rags, inhales the germ-ridden miasma of his breath. The tips of her hairs brush him as she leans in to kiss his forehead reassuringly. She will scrub at herself vigorously later, to rid herself of his stench, and she will feel terrible about it.
She knows that he is dying.
His vision is hot and blurred, and it tarries not on her. He will not allow himself to see her. Naraku has taken everything from this girl, home, family, and now even the man who might (in a better world) have loved her.
He lies consumed by the kazaana, consumed by fever. He lies there consummate in his love for her, a love that she will never return, and he has no right to ask her to.
He also knows that he is dying.
And when she is gone, off to wash and cry and listen to Kagome telling her that things will be all right, then, only then, does Naraku come to him. Naraku the devourer, bringer of all his pain, and lately, the one to kiss it away.
So that's how he got sick, was it. Through a kiss. Already he hungers for the taste of disease.
"I loved a woman, once," Naraku confesses one day, stroking Miroku's hair idly. This more than anything else speaks to him of his fate—Naraku has never said anything unnecessary to him before. Miroku is no longer a threat, it seems. Too weak to fight, now, and quite the safe confidant.
Who will he tell, from the grave? Naraku fears no worms or ghosts, or the fevered whispers of the dead.
But Miroku is not as dead as he should be. He speaks. "Yes," he says, only a little hoarsely.
"She was beautiful," the demon lord continues, self-pitying, wretched. "Too beautiful. She was too good for me, and she knew it."
"Yes," Miroku says, too far gone to realize that Naraku is not talking about Sango.
"I killed her," Naraku says, self-righteous wretch.
"Ah," Miroku says. Not Sango. He remembers now.
"I didn't mean to. I suppose… I didn't think I could kill her. She had the jewel. She wasn't supposed to die." He frowns. "I'm doing it again, aren't I?"
He's like a child, Miroku thinks. Wondering why his toys break. He feels ashamed of dying so easily, at this child's whim. He's always been stronger than that.
"Shh-sh," Naraku says, responding to the darting of Miroku's desperate eyes. He kisses his forehead, overlapping Sango's kiss, his web of hair falling around them, insulating their fever. "You sleep now. I'll be Kikyou, make you all better. Trust me."
Miroku is not really surprised that Naraku is mad. He supposes he might be just as mad in similar circumstances. It disturbs him that he is identifying with the enemy so easily now.
"You killed my father," Miroku says, half to remind himself.
Naraku has an odd look on his face that Miroku wishes is guilt, but knows is not. Naraku's fingers thrum nervously in his lap.
"And my grandfather," Miroku continues.
"Your grandfather was a beautiful creature," Naraku says, nostalgic. "With his dying breath he asked me to lift the curse, for your father's sake. Then even his breath was taken by the void."
Six realms. One wheel. Countless lives to enlightenment.
Enlightenment is a thing attained through lack of desire, among other things. He hadn't been doing all that well to begin with, but surely Naraku has damned him. Naraku who would pull back and hover with his lips barely brushing his cock, until the burn of desire matched the fever within him. Naraku, who made him want to be stronger, want to be free, want to kill.
These are the thoughts of a dying man.
He rarely thought of his karma before, but now that he does, it's all Naraku's fault. He doesn't want to die with this hatred in him.
"Am I a bad person?" he asks Sango.
"Of course not," she soothes. "You've always been good and kind."
"Will you bear my child, then?" It is the last time he ever asks her. And the first time he is serious.
Sango has tears in her eyes. "I can't, I can't…"
"Then you should kill me," he says resolutely, "before I betray you again."
Horror in her eyes for a moment, and then trust. "You could never betray me, Houshi-sama."
He envies her. She will die pure, never having to know that love and fidelity aren't the same thing.
The fever breaks, and he is nothing. Cold as space, unfeeling, numb to the bitter bones. It is the kazaana, that disembodied organ of Naraku's, threading through his body like a parasite.
"You were beautiful," Naraku says, stroking his cheek.
"I won't beg for my life," Miroku says. It was a gamble, and he lost. There isn't even time left to care.
"Good," Naraku says. "I have no intention of giving it to you. It was mine before you were even born. It shall be mine even after you die."
The void splits Miroku open, and he hopes that it will suck Naraku in too, though he loathes the thought of them pressed together even in death. But Naraku is immune. Maybe he has dug his great tentacles into the ground, maybe his creation cannot harm him, but he steps back slowly as the hole spreads, unscathed.
He doesn't wake. But he is aware.
Now more than ever, you are mine.
He has wondered, passed many a firelit night in reflection.
I marked your body, and those of your kin with my sign.
About what lies after, for those he devours.
My sign, that is Void. Void firstborn to me, my empty realm.
After all, it was never his power.
When his eyes open, they are not his own. Moreover, they act entirely of their own accord.
He can hear as well. "Houshi-sama, are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Sango." He said that, his voice. Only he didn't.
"Oh, Houshi-sama, don't do that to me! I was so worried…"
He smiles. His face, but not his smile. 'Help me, Sango,' he wants to say. Instead, Miroku says: "My, did that outfit get tighter while I was sick? Or did you just get more beautiful?"
Sango blushes sweetly. In the void, the one who was Miroku shouts that he was never that sleazy, (even if he was) and begs Sango to realize, to see that it isn't him.
Sango only smiles at him and takes his hand, shaking her head to dispel Kagome's ominous warning about a growing evil in Miroku. He's fine, he's fine, she tells herself, and sees what she wants to see. When he kisses her, she denies the burning fever-taste of his mouth.When they reach the others, Kagome is overjoyed at being able to continue their journey. "Onward to find the Shikon no Tama!" she cries, clicking her chopsticks once before replacing them in her pack.
"Yes, the Shikon no Tama," Naraku says, in their midst.
Only once does Kagome look at him strangely. She relaxes slightly when she sees Sango's hand in his.
Miroku smiles Naraku's smile at her.
"She's been marked before," Naraku says, as they watch Sango bathe. "By her brother, who is also mine." He muses a moment, watching Sango rinse her hair. "It even looks a bit like a spider, doesn't it?"
"She's not yours," Miroku says.
"Like you?" Naraku taunts.
"I am yours," Miroku admits.
"And she," Naraku says, "will give her heart to you. To me." He slides into the water clothed, the water staining his clothes black. Sango startles, but calms when she sees him.
"It's a complex web of lives," Naraku says to Miroku. "The fine strings binding you together all lead to me. When I tug, you will fall." Sango looks at him, her eyes clouded by fever and wishes.
With a kiss, he transmits his sickness to her.