Written for a forum I frequent—we were asked to post fanart for the released Chapter 448 of the manga, and since I can't draw worth a damn, I chose to write a picture.

Spoilers for Chapter 448 and dialogue is taken from the manga translation.

For form's sake, I don't own Inuyasha.

-Ash

There were times when Miroku could be impossible, incorrigible, and a straight pain in his ass. The only other adult male of their group, the two of them had become as brothers-true brothers, taking in turn their share of fighting, of argument, and of well-earned poundings. Miroku, with his wandering ways and perverted sense of humor, was most of the time a singular pain in his ass.

But this wasn't one of those times.

From the moment Miroku had told them all to stand back and the shouki and made it's way toward the ridge, Inuyasha's mind gibbered frantically, panicked. He scrambled up the ridge, slate falling around him and his bare feet sliding in the rocks to gain purchase. With every leap and every landing, he found he slid half the distance back from where he began, so he'd had to claw his way up the ridgeline. The going was slower than he needed it to be. The incline of the ridge seemed interminable, as though for every frantic step he took toward his brother in arms, the further away the stubborn monk stood. The kazaana stirred what seemed to be every single speck of dirt and sand that lay in the once-quiet ridgeline, tossing the particles through the air like weapons themselves, every piercing blink of the eye or inhalation bringing a stinging pain as sharp as the diamond spears that they'd been avoiding since the beginning of the battle.

He could hear the harsh screams, the sobbing cries from the taijiya, could hear above the rush of the kazaana the shrill cries of the kitsune desperately trying to sway Miroku from this choice, from this course of action. His ears picked up the shouts from the monk, his voice deep with conviction and anger that was totally at odds with the usually calm and cautious man. He sounded desperate, determined….and too far away.

A strange, detached side of him wondered, idly, if his own actions made the rest feel this way, if the panic that clawed and dug at his chest was something normal for them, if it was something expected.

He winced again as his foot slid, the sharp planes of the slate slicing a myriad of tiny cuts across his heel but not slowing his frenetic pace. He could see the air flow from the kazaana, and see as well the debris and diamond spears shooting towards the direction of where he supposed the monk was. He couldn't see the crest of the ridge, couldn't see Miroku at all, but he was getting close, ever closer. Gods damn the fool, what was he thinking? It was Inuyasha's job to throw himself into reckless situations-he was half-youkai, he had a better chance of coming out of them alive than the rest of his friends. He shook his head to clear it, not only of the dust and debris raking across his face, but of the pattern of his thoughts. He'd think about the reasons afterward, after he got to the damned monk-after he made him close that cursed kazaana.

Finally, finally, he came to the crest of the ridge, bringing the full scope of the scene into focus above him. One more jump, one more leap and he would make it, he could make it to the monk's side. Miroku stood, legs braced against the pull of his own hand, robes flaring around him in a stormy, swirling sea of black and violet. The air rush of the kazaana was nearly deafening at this range, making Inuyasha's sensitive ears pin close to his head. He could still hear Miroku's warning, his entreaty to Naraku to give up over the din of rushing wind. Shouki, dark and ominous, shrouded the air between Miroku and Naraku, unfailingly pulled by the void in the monk's hand. Fuck! Between one heartbeat and the next, Inuyasha's focus closed in on him, and he reacted without conscious thought. In one smooth motion, he gathered himself and leapt, hitting the flat top of the ridge running, just as the fuyouheki was absorbed into Miroku's wind tunnel. The smell of blood ran thick through his nostrils, nearly choking him with both the sickly-metallic smell of it and the abject panic that the scent clawed through him. No..no… He barreled towards the monk, intent on closing Miroku's cursed hand and keeping him the hell out of danger.

The monk, pale face already streaming with the sanguine stain of blood, coughed once, yet more blood flowing unchecked from his mouth as the kitsune cried out for him to stop. Stubbornly, he shook his head, straining for now-elusive consciousness even as he swayed on his feet. I must do this. I must end this. He heard another scream, seemingly distant. …Sango… He felt it coming, the darkness, and he welcomed it. Soon, this would be over and he could rest. Soon, soon, she would be safe, and she would be content, her brother safe. Soon…

"Miroku! That's enough!" He heard the voice, but like the others it seemed distant, as if coming from a dream, or a nightmare.

Strong arms caught his shoulders as he swayed again; the unfocused vision of clawed hands and silver hair flashed before his streaming eyes as his right hand was jerked roughly and the clack and clatter of prayer beads rattled dimly in his ears. What..? No! Had he the strength, he would have fought, he would have struggled to keep the wind tunnel open, just a little longer—it would count, it had to count for something.

..no…

Miroku slumped as the kazaana closed, the backdraft of the debris still rushing at them clouding Inuyasha's sight as he knelt, shielding the monk with his own body and the voluminous folds of the fire-rat haori he wore. He felt the warmth of the kitsune against his side and could feel the boy burrowing into his hakama as the child sniffled, crying in relief. Naraku's taunting voice echoed above the almost deafening silence, mocking Miroku, mocking him even as the coward escaped in a cloud of swirling youketsu. Dammit, he's getting away! Inuyasha struggled to resist the urge to run after him, the urge to demand retribution and vengeance for the havoc wreaked on the monk's body, and assuredly his heart. The tumble and slide of rocks and the sobbing cries of Sango as she scrambled up the steep ridge, followed close behind by Kagome, kept him steady, kept him in place, shielding and protecting the monk until the rest of his friends arrived. Hurry, Kagome… He felt helpless, holding the man that had become his friend, the only true, male friend he'd ever had in his life, his blood seeping into his clothing. Gods..so much of it…

The deep clatter of the Hiraikotsu hitting the rocks at their feet seemed to awaken Miroku, his eyes fluttering into dull awareness just as Sango dropped to her knees beside him. Her hands reached out to touch him but stopped short at the sight of his injuries, at his bloodied and battered face. She pulled her hands back, instead focusing on his eyes. Her voice barely a whisper, she uttered horrified sounds, shock and pain etching themselves deeply on her features. "Oh, how awful..oh Houshi-sama….." She wanted to hold him, wanted to touch him, she wanted to assure herself that he was still alive, that he was ok. Gods…please… The blood…the blood would haunt her forever…

He moved in Inuyasha's arms, head rolling ever so slowly, painfully, towards the sound of her voice, dark blood mixing reds with Inuyasha's fire-rat. "..San..go.." His voice was weak, harsh, hardly a breath above a whisper.

"I'm…so..rry.." In disbelief, she hung her head, the tears flowing freely from her eyes as her hands clenched and clawed at the rock beneath her. No…no…not…I can't…please don't…

As if in answer, the soft, delicate swish of silk intruded into her thoughts. Turning, she found Kikyou, the undead priestess, standing behind her, observing the scene before her, appearing almost….angry. Kneeling, she inspected the prostrate monk, ignoring the breathed whisper of her name from the hanyou holding his friend and the shocked choke of the taijiya as she pulled away the monk's robe. The dark, claw-like wounds contrasted starkly with the paleness of Miroku's skin, making even Inuyasha blanch. She could feel them watching her, could sense the mingled hope and despair that enveloped the group and again she wondered at the bond these seemingly unconnected people shared. Like so much else, they do not deserve this…

Pushing the monk's robes back in place, she sat back on her heels. "The shouki wounds..are spreading from the kazaana. 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." Relieved sighs whispered across them, and Inuyasha simply let out a low grunt in acknowledgement.

Sango again reached out to push back an errant bit of hair from Miroku's forehead. Straightening, she met Kikyou's gaze and held it, challengingly.

"Can you help him?" Her eyes begged, imploring the priestess without words. Save him…save him for me…

"I'll purify them. However, his body has taken in such a great deal of shouki, that it will take three days to purify." She met Sango's tortured gaze and nodded once, reassuringly, until her attention was pulled away by the low, quiet sound of Inuyasha's voice.

"Please. Do it, Kikyou." The half-demon's voice was thick with barely-suppressed emotion, seldom heard. She met his gaze, and his golden eyes begged her, pleaded with thoughts he couldn't voice for her to save his friend, his brother-in-arms.

Again, she nodded, and motioned for them to help her move the injured monk.