Sorry for yet another crazy long wait but yours truly has had a few health issues on top of working on several books for publication leaving very little muse and keyboard time for fanfic but fear not I don't plan on abandoning any of my stories here on this site or any other I contribute to.

No Beta on this update so all typos belong to me (and I apologize for this ahead of time but I did my level proof reading best)

Major love and hugs to my pal Vexed_Wench for the chapter title. I was stuck. *BIG HUGS*

Much love to you all and I hope you enjoy this! ^_^


Chapter 42: After the Fall


(Miroku's POV)

Inuyasha was conscious but not functional. He was no longer screaming in my head but he wasn't making sense either so I could only guess that everything had pushed him as close to the edge as he's ever been. I couldn't imagine what that felt like for him because even what little I had felt was agonizing in a way I didn't have words for. Pulling the purification energy out of his body was no walk in the park either. If I never had to do that again it would be fine by me.

Regardless, as I stood up on shaky legs after being tackled by Lady Sango I realized something that I had never thought on before. As a monk you would think I had purified many demons in my time but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure I've subdued them, I'm sucked them into the void and I've killed them with brute force but never once have I purified one out of existence.

Could it be that I am not capable of this?

When I looked back at Inuyasha he was tossing about on the table like a child caught in the throes of a vicious nightmare. In a sense I suppose that was an adequate description of the situation. A nightmare… a sadistic, twisted nightmare.

When I raised my eyes everyone was looking at me expectantly and I didn't even know where to begin. I was still running off of the rush that comes with battle and my head wouldn't clear until Inuyasha was no long trapped in the fitful state he was in. I can't quite understand his thoughts but the jumbled mess that they'd become sounded like a chorus of roars and mumbles off in the distance of my mind.

"Miroku, tell me who did this and they shall die by my hand before the next sunrise," was the declaration from Sesshoumaru. I could only surmise that the sensory bond he shares with Inuyasha had him in nearly as much agony as Inuyasha was in.

"I am afraid it won't be that simple Sesshoumaru," I said as I looked around. I wasn't sure if I should continue this in the middle of the dining hall.

As if reading my mind a cloud begins to form under Inuyasha. It floated him off the table to Sesshoumaru's side. Once it was large enough to hold him and myself I climbed on without being prompted to do so.

The demon lord looked at Tibade and without a word he was by my side. Sesshoumaru then turned to Kouga and Sango and said, "Come to Tibade's chambers after you secure the palace, calm the staff and make arrangements for the children," with that said the four of us got moving so fast I couldn't see our surroundings.

We made our journey so swiftly my head was still spinning as Sesshoumaru settled Inuyasha onto a cot in Tibade's area. When those serious golden eyes settled on me I knew I needed to speak and I needed to do it swiftly.

"This is Kagome's doing," I blurted out and I could almost feel the Youkai Lords hackles rise. When he gave me a look of disbelief I continued. "She now wields the power of the Shikon Jewel and her ill intentions are tainting the cursed thing once more."

"What was she trying to do to him? The pain I sensed from him was nothing like anything I've ever experienced."

"She was trying to remove the demonic influence from his soul in an attempt to make him solely human."

"Such a thing cannot be done. Inuyasha is as he should be and one part of him cannot exist without the other."

"I know that and you know that but she is convinced that she can accomplish this. On top of that, she is still determined to have Inuyasha. She referred to him as nothing without her and claimed his mind, body and soul as hers for the taking."

It was hard to stand still in the wake of the anger coming off Sesshoumaru. He was livid to the point where I believe his words were failing him.

"What was this other purely physical pain I would sense from him at times while she was attacking the two of you?"

"That was the beads at work."

"The Beads?" Tibade asked in confusion.

"That necklace Inuyasha wears is not mere ornamentation Tibade," Sesshoumaru began. "I have seen the human wench Inuyasha once courted use it and its power to pull him to the ground, but it was never strong enough to hurt him in the manner I felt," he looked at me then and asked, "What has changed to make it so powerful?"

"It is tied to her so I can only guess that her having the Shikon no Tama inside her is increasing the strength of the spell cast on the necklace as well."

"After we release him from whatever plagues him at this moment we shall devise a way to remove that necklace from his person. I should have found a way to do so long before now. I shall not let my oversight harm him further."


(Tibade's POV)

Once Pup used his cloud to transport the four of us to my chambers he let us know how well and truly pissed he was. The fury and ire rolling off him had us giving the raging demon a wide breadth.

"I shall relieve the wench of her life."

Considering the situation, I couldn't say I blamed him. She could very well have killed Inuyasha and as it was, I still couldn't be sure there were no lasting ill effects because of what she had done. Pup slowly approached his mate to be and when he reached out to Inuyasha the resulting spark of energy that singed his hand was weaker than it had been before but far from gone.

Whatever Miroku had done, it had greatly weakened the priestess's energy but what remained was still holding fast to him as he lay before us in some twisted state of half consciousness.

"Is there nothing you can do, Tibade?" Pup asked and the worry in his voice made me feel even worse for the response I had to give him.

"I am sorry but I have never encountered such a thing. I have nothing at my disposal to rid him of that energy, My Lord. However, whatever it was that Miroku did, seems to have what remains of it draining from Inuyasha at a steady even if slow rate."

I didn't want to voice it because they all had enough to worry about as it was but I was truly concerned as to why removing the energy from Inuyasha had seemed to actually hurt Miroku. I know the others took his reaction as strain, just as I originally had but I now I am not so sure. As it is lingering with him, on some level just as it was lingering around and inside of Inuyasha.

He was putting on a brave front but he looked ready to drop where he stood. His shouted words of, "She tried to rip our soul apart," just wouldn't leave me in peace, neither would the nearly crazed and desperate look in his eyes. Could it be that it is just as it sounds? That the reason why they share this bond is because their very souls are connected? That would explain a lot just as it is sure to complicate matters if that is the case.

Regardless I didn't have time to think on that, I needed to get answers out of the two people involved in this situation that were still lucid and able to do so.

"Have a seat Miroku and tell us everything from start to finish. I'm guessing you at least spoke to Lady Kaede before things took a turn for the worst."

The young man nodded but the panicked look he shot Pup wasn't comforting at all. However, Pup surprised me by saying, "Fear not anything from me due to what you have to say Miroku. Speak your mind."

I handed the young man some water and stepped back. He looked like he was on the edge and the last thing he needed was anyone hovering over him.

"Forgive me Sesshoumaru but Lady Kaede's assessment of our situation is that our souls are bound together. We discovered that if one of us moves too far away from the other the strain is terrible. It was enough to put me in a trance and without my full awareness I began moving towards him in an attempt to lessen that strain. Kaede said I didn't come out of this trance like state until I was much closer to him. He was also just as compelled to return to me."

The look on Pups face was indecipherable. I'm sure he was going out of his way to hide his emotions from us but hearing something like that was about as shocking as it comes. It was outrageous enough to find out it was possible for such a thing to happen. Add to that the fact that it was happening between your soon to be mate and someone else had to make it worse for Pup. Infinitely worse.

"What did it feel like?" I asked because Pup looked beyond words still.

"We had originally thought it felt like our very being was being pulled apart but Kagome showed us what that was truly like so I would have to say it felt more like… like part of whatever it is that makes me who I am, was being stretched almost too thin to bear."

Turning to Pup I asked him to tell us all he could about what transpired.

"I could feel everything the two of them went through to some degree, even though I had no clue what was causing their torment. The level of anguish Inuyasha was in was nothing I had ever experienced before. I could feel Miroku doing everything he could to shield Inuyasha from whatever it was, just as Inuyasha fought not to succumb to it."

"You seemed to be in some sort of daze or trance shortly before the portal opened in the dining hall. Can you tell us why?"

"As far as I can discern it was the intensity of the pain Inuyasha was going through that had me frozen. I am not sure why that was, I can only speculate that it was due to the attack being purification energy. In the middle of all this I was also fighting transforming."

"What else happened?"

"I could sense Miroku's desperation and I could feel him reaching out."

"What did you do?"

"Once I realized it was him I quit pushing the sensation away and when his energy wrapped around me, I embraced it and for lack of a better term, 'pulled' with all I had. Shortly after that the two of them fell out of the vortex."

The strange days I foresaw long ago are here indeed. If I am reading the situation correctly it seems on some level the three of them are bound together. But just as I thought on how absurd that is I recall the prophecy I once spoke of with Hikari and Kouga.

Sensing a need for a reprieve from the current topic I asked them both what they were sensing from Inuyasha. Miroku looked up at Pup in silent acquiescence. He would not speak first.

"Pain. Nothing like what he was in before but as I stand here all I feel from him is pain and turmoil."

"What of you my Lord not that I expect you to be in prime shape after the events of this evening but you still look out of sorts. "

"Because of the pain he is in my instincts have screamed nonstop for me to aid him in some way yet I cannot. There is nothing I can do but stand here and watch him suffer."

My heart went out to everyone wrapped up in this mess especially the four men in this room. It had to be pure torment. I looked to Miroku and if I wasn't mistaken it was sheer force of will that had him still conscious.

"What are you hearing from him lad?"

"It… it's mostly just mumbles but it's mixed with pleas for help and it's almost as if he cannot hear me when I answer him. I think he's fighting not only the pain he is in but his inner demon as well. Something strange is going on in his mind. I can't figure it out from out here."

"Is his inner demon the raw angry emotion I am sensing that feels so foreign?" Pup asked Miroku and when the young man nodded they fell into a conversation I stayed out of.

"It was pushing at him a few nights ago. It only seems to rear its head when he is in extreme distress or injured."

"So it is now a defense mechanism or even a self preservation effort of sorts."

"I hadn't thought about it in that manner but I suppose it is. He is stronger in his full demon form."

"Stronger yes and more in control of it than in the past but it is still not something he cares to endure."

"Correct, he fears losing control and harming others. It has become calculating now."

"Think young Houshi is there anything at all we can do for him. I know if I am nearly at my limit feeling him in this anguish you must be past that point."

"I… I don't know of anything certain but…"

He looked at me then and his weariness, uncertainty and fear was never more evident.

"I know painfully little about such things and you are our best hope, Miroku."

"I don't know if…"

"I trust you," Pup says suddenly as amethyst eyes locked with gold and whatever passed between them was damn near tangible.

"But I…"

"You have only his best interest at heart and I know you would never intentionally bring harm to him. So whatever this idea of yours is, out with it before his torment undoes us all."

Just then Satomi and Kouga entered my chambers and I brought them up to speed as quickly as possible.

"What is it you plan to do, Houshi-sama?"

"I know how to enter his consciousness but right now I don't know if I have the energy to stay there. That is where I will need Sesshoumaru's help. If I we can get to a point where we can communicate with him I think we can figure out something to decrease his pain and speed up the dispersal of the purification energy causing it."

"What will you have to do?"

"I will have to join all of our minds. Because if my guess is correct the main battle is being fought out deep within his sub-consciousness. If we can get there maybe we can assist him and get him lucid again."

"I am willing to do anything I can and take any risk necessary," Pup told them all and no one doubted that he meant every word.

"Is there anything you need us to do, young Houshi?" I asked.

"Yes but I wouldn't think less of any of you if you refused. At the first signs of too much distress we will need to be pulled out of Inuyasha's mind. I'm no guru at this. I'm actually not even sure how or why I'm able to do any of it."

"Just like with the portal in your hand Miroku you are much more than meets the eye," Kouga said as he walked up to Miroku and grabbed both his hands, "If I can do what needs to be done then I am at your disposal."

The unresolved tension between the two was very evident then. I felt for them both. With so much going on I know they haven't had the time to say what needed to be said.

"We will need an anchor to the here and now in case things go wrong. Are you sure you're willing to do this?"

"Yes."

"But I have no idea what will happen to you if things go south for us in there," Miroku said as he pointed to Inuyasha. "I can't promise…"

"Just do your thing Houshi. No offense, but Inuyasha, you and Sesshoumaru look like you're all running out of time. I'm not sure what he's going through but even I can tell he's dragging the two of you with him."

I would have never voiced it but he was correct. I could tell Pup's bond with Inuyasha was taxing him in a way I never thought possible.

"So let's do this so we can all recover and hunt down the crazy bitch that caused it all and make her pay."

His words were music to my ears and I was surprised to see both of the humans looked to be in complete agreement with the Ookami's words.

When I looked at the exhausted young monk I could tell he was terrified.

Whatever it is that he is able do is amazing. Unfortunately, he has had to test it out and flounder his way through this newfound ability during some desperate and trying times. Messing with the minds of others is nothing I would ever want any part of. For him to have to do this under the circumstances he has had to do it would rattle even the best. I admired his courage even as I felt sorry for him due to the weight of what he had to carry.

He was exhausted, in obvious discomfort and still he pressed forward. I have not known many humans personally in my time but even I knew he was rare amongst them.

He didn't hesitate for but a moment before he took a deep breath and I watched in amazement as that same purple energy that had flowed around him the night he saved Inuyasha from the clutches of death flared to life in a way that was startling within that color I could also see tones of magenta and pink as well. His spiritual gifts were just that, a gift and not some learned skill. It was something rooted into his very being. As that energy hummed around him I could nearly touch that strong-willed, inventive, and resourceful aspect of the monk that has surely served him well his whole life just as it has the past few moons. That creative and agile mind of his was a wonder to behold on such a level and that sensual, charming nature of his could easily win any person over. No wonder he was the Little One's dearest friend their traits complimented each other rather well.

I watched with trepidation as he reached out to the wolf demon. At first it appeared not to be working. Just as his violet aura started to dim he Miroku swayed on his feet Kouga's own aura flared to life in apparent response to whatever the monk had done.

Surrounded in earth tones, suddenly as visible to me as anything else in the room, I could then see why the wolf behaves in the manner he does. I am not skilled at seeing auras as easily as those who are spiritually gifted but I am well versed in what the colors mean. The many earth tones laced with gold swirls in and around the wolf demon displayed a love of the earth and a strong connection to it. His aura felt grounded, strong and stable. A need to protect, natural wisdom mixed with a sharp mind, and a great intuition surrounded him.

Miroku drifted over to Pup and when he touched his shoulder Pup's strong crystal red and orange-yellow aura expanded to engulf everything around us. An undeniable and nearly stifling feeling of power, drive and passion was entwined with confidence, intelligence, an abundance of raw energy and stamina. You could feel his virile, determined, survival-oriented nature filling the room.

After that Miroku settled down beside Inuyasha. When he picked up his hand the Little Ones blue/silver aura became visible to me as well and I could see Miroku's own aura entwined in there as well as the intruding blobs of the purification energy that was plaguing him. That sensitive, loving, caring and peaceful side of himself that he tries to hide jumped to the forefront quickly. Inuyasha's strength and power as well as his warmhearted and surprisingly strong psychic ability was very present as well.

Miroku seemed to be completely in a trance at that point but when he raised the hand not holding Inuyasha's small tendrils of all of their auras answered his silent summons. First wrapping around his raised hand then slowly moving to surround his own aura. From where I stood it appeared as if wisps Miroku and Pup's auras were flowing through Miroku and into Inuyasha while Kouga's aura looped around the four of them like a silent guard. This ability of Miroku's was amazing and if they all came out of this unscathed I'm sure we have yet to see the extent of what this young man could do.

As I looked on in awe I wasn't sure what I was watching but I knew I'd never forget it.


(Sesshoumaru's POV)

Miroku's actions left the wolf prince in a trance like state and Miroku himself didn't look much more coherent. The look on Tibade's face told me he was seeing something I could not and judging from his expression that something must have been a sight to behold. As Tibade and Sango guided the dazed wolf demon to a chair Miroku walked up to me and when he touched my shoulder something in me that I didn't know existed flared to life. No wonder the wolf demon looked like he was in a trance. The glow I could then see around all of our bodies must be what Tibade was looking at so intently. I soon felt my own consciousness fading and fading fast. With no more than a look around the room at all of us Miroku sat beside Inuyasha and picked up his hand and motioned for me to move to the other side of Inuyasha and do the same.

Mere moments later, I felt Miroku's presence at the edge of my mind and did my best to relax. An odd sensation washed over me and I realized it was similar to the feeling from that night when we went to retrieve Inuyasha from that mountainside. Before I could ponder this realization, the sense of my physical surroundings faded away. The next thing I am tangibly aware of is Miroku standing in front of me in what appeared to be nothingness.

"Where are we?"

"The edge of Inuyasha's consciousness."

"Why is there nothing here?"

"Because whatever state he is in has his mind trapped in his subconscious. That's why he wouldn't respond to us even though he was moving and making noise. It's kind of like being caught in a deep fitful sleep."

"Can you take us to where his mind is at?"

"I can try but I wanted to warn you about a few things first. One, he may not realize that whatever is going on isn't taking place in reality. Two, even though it looks like we have physical bodies what appears to physically happen to us here is only felt by our minds."

"So to be wounded here is not real?"

"Not from what I can tell or in the sense that you are accustomed to, if you break a limb it is not broken in reality. However your mind and spirit is what gets damaged."

"So in some senses it can be worse."

"Unfortunately and precisely."

"Any other surprises?"

"I'm sure there will be, but nothing I could name right now."

"Then let us proceed. Time is short and now that I am in here with you I can sense how truly exhausted you are. If I can, I will do everything in my power to make this as short as possible."

Once Miroku nodded I felt everything around us shift and the next thing I saw terrified me. We were in a place that looked like it was once an oasis but it was in shambles. Everything looked to be dying as if the very essence of what kept it alive was slowly draining away. All the plant life was wilting or already dead, the pond was partially dried up and in the middle of it all was… two Inuyasha's?

I looked over at Miroku and he seemed to be assessing the situation as well. Something that resembled realization dawned on his face and he quit moving.

"I would have never guessed it even though I should have."

"What," I asked confused as I watched the red eyed Inuyasha growl over at the dark haired human Inuyasha before one tried to run off but ethereal looking tethers from each of them mingled and grew taught before slamming them together. After a sickening display of melding the Inuyasha we are used to seeing was left in the middle of the clearing looking winded, dazed and confused.

"This is where Inuyasha's consciousness retreated to last time I was here. This environment despite it being a mere mental representation of an actual place seems to offer him a great measure of comfort. What surprises me is the fact his consciousness is separating the way it is. I wouldn't have thought it possible."

"The last few moons have done nothing for me if not change the limits of what I thought possible," I said as I watched my troubled lover. "Do you have a suggestion for what we should so? I do not want to harm him further; he has had enough of that today to last several lifetimes."

We started to advance again when Inuyasha's head lifted slowly and he acknowledged our presence for the first time since we arrived.

"How… how's the real me doing out there?" he asked in a voice that sounded as worn out as he looked.

"You have been better, Koi. Do you know of anything we can do to aid you?"

"I… I haven't thought that far. I've just been struggling to keep myself together."

"Can you tell us why you are separating in this manner?"

"Not a clue, Ru. When I separate I lose what…"

Before he could finish he separated again and I took the risk of grabbing his demon half by the scruff of the neck like an out of line whelp and held him. The human looking Inuyasha sighs in relief and it dawns on me. I can sense no pain from that side of him. Looking at the red eyed Inuyasha in my grasp I say, "For once you are not the problem are you?"

He smirked at me but said nothing before lapsing back into small fits of jerking and incomprehension. Looking at Miroku I tell him that Inuyasha's human side is only feeling this pain because of his inner demon.

"Is this true?" Miroku asked the worn out looking human figure. "Are you doing this?"

A guilty nod preceded the reply of, "The pain is… is more than I can withstand."

"I can only imagine, but you have to stop this. Your actions are actually making things worse at this point," Miroku said as he reached for his hand.

"You don't know what you're asking of me," Inuyasha's human form said to Miroku.

"I can't say that I do," Miroku replied. "I only felt a fraction of what you were enduring and it wasn't easy to endure."

"Then you must understand why I can't merge with him. This pain feels like we are being eaten from the inside out."

"If you will let us, we will do everything we can to help you through this but you can't stay separated," I say to him a stern voice. I would love to ease him into the idea of doing this but we didn't have time for such things. "If you do, you will cease to exist. One part of you cannot exist without the other."

Dark haired Inuyasha looks over at the red eyed demon in my grasp before sighing in a defeated manner, "If you can do something about the pain he is in then maybe we can hold ourselves together."

"We shall try our best," Miroku said as he approached Inuyasha's demon half. But as soon as he got within reach, the demon grew agitated.

"Perhaps I can help," I said as I moved the irate demon from one hand to the other and stuck my arm out to Miroku. I wasn't sure if it would work since these were not our actual bodies we were using but it was worth trying. We didn't have a lot to lose. "Push my sleeve up and rub the jagged mark you see in the crook of my elbow."

I could tell the Monk was confused and uncomfortable doing so but he did as asked without question. The resulting wave of euphoria that filled Inuyasha's consciousness may have been stifling but it was a welcome reprieve to everyone.

"Do whatever it is you can Miroku and do it quickly."


(Miroku's POV)

When I released Sesshoumaru's arm I realized something for the first time. Much like when Inuyasha was going through the Change of Power, Sesshoumaru was lending him his energy. The entire environment of Inuyasha's mind was looking less and less like the destitute landscape that had greeted us when we arrived. It was probably how he was keeping the red eyed demon half of Inuyasha so docile.

His request for me to act quickly was telling… I wasn't the only one feeling drained. When I approached the demon and started pulling more of the spiritual energy away from him, my own exhaustion caught up with me. When I tried to disperse more of the energy plaguing Inuyasha I swayed on my feet. Just as the two started to merge back into one, everything around us went out of focus.

Sesshoumaru grabbed onto me and the sudden rush of power had my head spinning.

"Finish what you were doing and finish it now," was the demand and I was more than willing to bend to it. This needed to be done while we still had the wherewithal to get out of here in one piece.

As Inuyasha started to fuse together once more I could feel Sesshoumaru growing weaker and I came to a horribly terrifying conclusion. Between what he was doing to aid Inuyasha, me and the constant exposure to all of this purification energy, it was draining him, something was actually draining Lord Sesshoumaru.

We needed to get out of here before that was no longer an option.

I tried to leave the landscape of Inuyasha's mind only to realize I couldn't. I looked over at Sesshoumaru in panic and when he asked me what the problem was I told him I couldn't feel the outside any longer.

"What do you mean, Miroku? Explain yourself and hurry."

"I… I can't feel the world beyond the confines of Inuyasha's mind. I can't reach reality and pull us back. I can't feel it."

"What can you feel?"

"I can't feel much outside pain and Inuyasha's mental anguish. I think being in here has overwhelmed my senses and..."

In mid-sentence my world started to grow dark and the strain of keeping the four of us tied together and the two of us inside Inuyasha's mind had swiftly become more that I could stand. Sesshoumaru called my name several times but for the life of me I couldn't manage to respond. If that wasn't bad enough, everything around us started to feel like it was unraveling. I could see Inuyasha straining to stay together and even as I inwardly screamed no over and over again I was helpless to do anything.

I was well past my limit and I couldn't do anymore.

"Can you not feel the connection you made with the Wolf Prince?"

"I can, but I can't, it feels… it feels like it's just beyond my ability to grasp. It's as if my fingertips can graze it but I can't get my hand around it."

"Focus on him, he will find you."

"What?"

"Just as your feelings alone were able to create this bond with Inuyasha his feelings for you are to the point his instincts are willing to risk his life for your well-being. If you reach out for him I am certain he will reach back."

"And if you are wrong?"

"We are in the same position we were before you tried, stuck here in Inuyasha's mind."

"If I redirect my concentration his pain will increase and I'm afraid he will separate once more and if the happens all this will be for nothing."

"Cease your interference."

"What?"

"I may not know exactly what it is that you are doing nor how you do it but I am no fool. I can tell you are still absorbing what spiritual energy you can in an effort to make this more tolerable for myself and for Inuyasha. Quit using your limited resources to that end, reach out to the wolf demon and pull us out of here."

"But it will…"

"I will use what energy I have left to shield Inuyasha from what you unleash."

"What about you?"

"I can endure it, but if we do not do something soon I fear it will not matter."

I looked around and while the environment wasn't reverting it had stopped improving and off in the distance that all too familiar darkness was there. I had seen that darkness up close and personally once before and I never wanted to be that close to it again.

I looked at Sesshoumaru once more, he nodded and I let it go. The chaos taking place in Inuyasha's mind increased to a breaking point for a moment before subsiding. I could feel the strain Sesshoumaru was under and I wasted no time redirecting my waning energy.

I reached out for Kouga and the reaction was nearly instantaneous. Energy very different from what I've felt from Yash and Sesshoumaru reached back. I must have felt desperate because it wasted no time engulfing me and pulling. I grabbed onto Sesshoumaru and told him he had to let Inuyasha go. The demon Lord hesitated for a moment before letting the embodiment of his mate's consciousness slip from his grasp. I could feel him pushing all the energy he had left at Inuyasha before he allowed me to pull him away.

In a blink that felt like an eternity, we were back in reality.


(Sango's POV)

I couldn't tell what was going on inside Inuyasha's mind but I could feel the constant shifting of energy taking place in the room. This new ability of Miroku's was as frightening as it was fascinating. Everything seemed to be going well as even I could sense the lessening of the purification energy surrounding Inu-san and Miroku.

Just as I was about to feel relieved, things took a nasty turn. An alarming sense of urgency filled the chamber. Inu-san resumed the fitful thrashing about he was doing before Miroku and Lord Sesshoumaru entered his mind and that sense of relief vanished. I wasn't sure what it all meant but every instinct I had was preparing for the worst.

This feeling was proven true in short order. All of the energy flying around the room rose to an intense level. Even those of us not directly involved in what was happening could feel it and the very air itself felt heavy. Shortly thereafter both Miroku and Lord Sesshoumaru stiffened before Miroku slumped over the fitful form of Inu-san.

A dense feeling of stress and despair overtook the room shortly after Miroku fell forward. I started to take a step toward them only to be stopped by Tibade.

"Be still Satomi."

"But they…"

"This is a battle they must fight. I think it would be best if we didn't interfere."

"What if they need us?"

"I may be wrong but I don't think so. I believe all they need is each other and it's just taken some trials and tribulations for that to become apparent."

"You're not just speaking about the current situation are you?"

"No I am not. I've never put much stock in that prophecy of Hikari's but this all has me singing a very different tune," he said as he stared at the four of them.

"What are you seeing that I cannot?"

"Whatever it is that Miroku can do is truly remarkable. He has was able to entwine his aura with Pup's before directing them to merge in a sense with Inuyasha's.

"What of Kouga?"

"Another remarkable thing, with a flip of his wrist he attached the barest wisp of the wolf's energy to theirs before setting Kouga's aura flowing around them. Something it's still doing even now."

"But Tibade, even I can sense something has gone horribly wrong. I don't feel right just standing here."

"I can understand that but this is not a matter we can help with. This is something they must do. If we…"

When Tibade stopped in mid-sentence I asked him what was going on and what he described was something I wished I could have witnessed with my own eyes. He said when Miroku's aura started to dim, Inuyasha's grew erratic and Sesshoumaru's expanded to encompass them both. When even his impressive aura began to fluctuate Kouga's reacted by intensifying before strengthening the attachment he had to them, and essentially pulling them away and almost completely separating them from their connection to Inuyasha.

"What do you mean by almost?"

Before he could answer three of the four men groaned and Lord Sesshoumaru looked as close to joining them as I'd ever seen him get.

I'm sure once they started talking this was going to be one hell of a tale.


(Inuyasha's POV)

I felt like my mind, body and soul had been drowned and beaten.

The last thing I clearly remembered was Kagome attacking us yet when I opened eyes that felt like lead, I was no longer in the forest fighting her and everything around me was fuzzy. I see five hazy forms standing around me and three of them looked like they were in a daze. Slowly they all began to come into focus and I could tell the two that were standing were Tibade and Sango and the three around me ,on whatever I was laying on, were Ru, Miroku and Kouga.

When I tried to sit up the pain that rocked up my spine and reverberated through my body stole my words. Dear sweet Kami, why in the seven hells did everything still hurt so fucking much?

"Easy there Little One," Tibade said just above a whisper. "You've been through quite the ordeal."

I tried to sit up once more but took it a lot slower the second time around. By the time I got into a sitting position they were all out of their daze and looking at me.

"Are you okay, Koibito?"

"I think so thanks to all of you. I think I'm…," pain stole my breath once more and the startling thing was they all seemed to flinch right along with me. "I think I'm beginning to be more trouble than I'm worth."

"Never," Ru said as he moved closer to me.

"Thank you all for what you did. I… I was falling apart at the seams inside my own mind. To be honest I still don't feel too great."

"I wouldn't expect you to my friend," Miroku said, his exhaustion coming through in his shaky tone. "Today has been a long one."

"Long isn't the word for today," Kouga said as he stood and stretched.

"Is it my delusional state or do I sense all three of you on a higher level right now? And why are we all glowy and shit."

"It would appear you are as eloquent as ever my dear one," Sesshoumaru began. "It is not your imagination Koi and you are not alone," Ru replied as ran his fingers through my hair. "As for the glow I think that would be our auras you are seeing and I have no idea why they are visible to all of us at the moment. It would appear young Miroku still has us all wound together."

"Uh… but I don't… I mean we are but not by my doing. I undid the aura braiding the moment we got back out here. What remains appears to be something I can't undo. I'm afraid this curse like gift of mine has struck again."

I moved to look over at him and pain lanced through my person again and at that Miroku groaned, Kouga flinched and even though Ru reacted in no outward way I could sense he felt that as well.

"It would appear that the four of you better work on your communication skills because it seems like you are going to be spending a lot of time together," Tibade said with a smile.

"Maybe I should try to undo this intertwining once more. I just don't understand why I can do this but not undo it and…"

"It can wait."

Was the command from Ru that made all of us look at him expectantly.

"I am as exhausted as I ever remember being and I sense the same from all of you. We shall rest, we shall eat, then once we are recuperated we shall devise a plan that will relieve that jewel wielding wench of her life."

I'm not sure if everyone actually agreed with Ru's declaration but no one was stupid enough to argue with him. When Miroku and Kouga started to leave the room Ru stopped them and said, "I want no more surprises this eve. If we are all as connected as we appear to be as evidenced by the interlaced auras around us then we shall remain together."

No one moved or replied to that and I can only guess that's because no one wanted to assume they knew what Ru meant and be wrong. I felt like hell and even from where I was it sounded like he was suggesting that we a bunk together. Considering how touchy he's been about people being close to me I'm guessing everyone was going to err on the side of covering their ass and wait for him to come out and say it.

When they all remained quiet I said, "Would someone please haul my tired, aching, still in pain ass to a bed please? I doubt I could sleep but I'd still like to fail at trying to do so and no offense to you Tibade but this cot is stiff as a board and I've been here too damn often over the last few moons for my liking."

Ru looked at Tibade and Sango and said, "Have Hikari leave staff in the kitchen throughout this night. I shall summon you once we are all awake."

Just like that the four of them were gone in a flash of light.

We arrived in our shared chambers and the landing was rough enough for all to take notice of.

"Damn it all," I said as I felt Ru struggle to keep up his air of strength and perfection. "I can't believe I put all of you through all this."

"You did not do this, Koi. For once you were doing as told. Unfortunately, fate had other plans for you."

Everyone was awkwardly standing around our bed wondering what to do next when my shaky legs couldn't take it any longer and crawled into bed. Ru followed and when Kouga and Miroku didn't budge Ru said, "I'm usually much more charming and hospitable when inviting others into my bed but if you are waiting for wine, wit and song you will not get it this evening."

Miroku snickered, shrugged walked around the bed and climbed in. After that I can only guess Kouga figured he'd just go with the flow because he did the same.

~You know when I thought about ending up in bed with you Yash it wasn't this crowded.~

~Tell me you're not loving it on some level and I'll try to care.~

~Am I to forever be so easily read?~

~Not even battle, a near death experience, exhaustion and finding out you're the next mystic of the century can outshine your inner pervert.~

~Thanks for nothing, Yash.~

~If it's any consolation I'd have you no other way and if I'm not mistaken I think you're growing on Ru.~

~Just remind him of that when he wakes up and finds me here, in his bed, on the other side of you.~

~Go to sleep Houshi. I have a feeling life is going to get more than a little bumpy from here on out so enjoy the eye candy and the nap.~

~I will and if this is some sort of dream be sure not to wake me during the fun parts.~

~Hell, no need to worry about that Houshi. As hard as today has sucked I'll be damned if I'd pass up on good time. I still feel like my insides are churning.~

~I'm sorry I couldn't fix that.~

~Don't you dare.~

~What?~

~Don't you dare feel guilty. If not for you I'm sure the crazy wench would have killed me. I know it's late as fuck but thank you.~

~You are welcome my friend. Anytime.~

~While that's comforting I'm really hoping like hell this was the first and the last trip down this road.~

~Some roads are the ones least traveled for a reason my friend, but do know if for some reason you have to repeat this you won't have to ever travel it alone.~

~Thanks Houshi and I…~

"I may not be able to hear you but I can tell you two are conversing and I am sure I speak for Kouga when I say for two people that have been through four of the seven hells this very day you two are terribly chatty and spry. Now settle down, go to sleep or I shall turn you both over my knee."

"Careful there Lord Sesshoumaru," Kouga began. "I've known Miroku for quite some time and I'm not so sure he'd see that as any sort of punishment."

As Miroku sank down into the blankets to hide the crimson flush that claimed his face I couldn't help but laugh.

I wasn't sure what this was the start of but it looks like the four of us were in for one hell of a ride.


There it is my dear sweet readers... sorry for the wait but I hope you enjoyed it all the same.

~Onyx