Disclaimer: InuYasha and affiliated characters and settings are the creative property of Rumiko Takahashi and all conglomerates holding the license to its distribution. Used without permission at no profit to this poor, humble authoress who likes to tor—err, write about the series.

The dialogue in the prologue is directly lifted from Kuro-sama's translation of the manga (chapter 448), which is posted her website, ear-tweak(dot)com. I take no credit for the creation or translation of those two brief segments.

Warnings: Major manga spoilers, über-angst, lots of… uh… not fun-ness.

by BakaBokken


"If he'd closed the kazaana just a bit later… the wounds would have gone into his heart, and likely cost the Houshi-dono his life."

He could hardly hear with all the blood in his ears, but he thought it might have been Kikyou speaking. The warm, sticky wetness of blood coating his body and mouth made him feel ill; or perhaps it was just the deadly dose of Naraku's poisonous shouki he'd imbibed moments – or was it hours? – before. All he was aware of was his own labored breathing, the blood, muffled voices, extreme pain, and the fact that his back was propped up against a strong chest. For a fleeting moment, he hoped it was Sango's, but realized that a rather decidedly feminine trait was missing from the picture.

"I'll purify them."

It must have been Kikyou speaking; the voice was too low to be Kagome's, and those two were the only women he knew of that had holy powers, with the exception of Kaede – who decidedly wasn't nearby. He tried to pull through and stay conscious, but when strong arms lifted him off the rocky ground, the movement brought the dizziness and pain that finally drove him into the dark.

He drifted in the quiet, excruciating dark forever, it seemed, though his internal clock told him it was only a few days. Sometimes he thought he felt ice cold hands on his chest, bringing a burning surface pain that somehow brought steady relief to the deep ache from within. Other times, he thought he saw his father's hand, pulling him towards the wrong end of the dark, but away from the agony he was sure awaited him if he went back. For a while, he even thought he had actually been consumed by the kazaana, and that he would drift like this eternally.

When a less-painful reality finally came slowly back to him, he remembered it all. As he faced the grave expression on Kikyou's face, saw Sango and her brother asleep in the corner of the small hut, he realized, even as the familiar pain pricked along the route of wounds that – on the surface, at least – had been healed. No, he hadn't simply realized it. He already knew.

And Sango must never know.

.end prologue.

The plot bunnies and muse made me post it, I swear! -ducks rotten vegetables-

As far as I'm concerned, this kills two birds with one stone. I needed a less-plotsy story for InuYasha than "Hellbound," and I wanted it to be Miroku-centric. Tada! -isshot- This is a continuation and/or divergence off some of the more current chapters of the manga (which was up to 450 as of the week this was written). Translation: this story will be SPOILER-HEAVY. And angsty.

Comments, as always, are greatly appreciated.