What Goes Around
Every new thing, every beginning, requires an ending. My OC Exchange submission in response to SiriusFan's beautiful and amazing "In Due Time".

He wakes, so completely that he might almost never have been asleep. The cabin is suffocatingly still, silent, densely black on this night between the last of the waning and the first of the new moon. The fire has died long ago—he feels only the faintest fog of warmth from the direction of the fire pit.

I was dreaming. Wasn't I? It was about…

He's standing, alone, on an open, featureless plain, no idea which direction to go. The sky is dark, a storm must be brewing. It's cold, shiveringly so, and he feels deeply unsettled.

'Fighting! I hear fighting—where is it?'

He spins around, searching, and finally sees Miki, sparring with… with someone he can't really make out, someone small and slight, but with a dangerous ki and a dark aura.

'How do I know that?' he wonders to himself.

No, they're not sparring—they're fighting, really fighting, out for blood. They're both bloodied and wobbly with exhaustion. He tries to run toward them, but his legs will hardly move; they feel heavy as lead.

He calls, desperate to make himself heard, "Miki! Stop! You will lose to this man!"

But they don't listen, and he knows what is going to happen—can't bear to watch, can't turn away—

The feeling of panic is only a memory of the dream—the usual emotional hangover from a nightmare is missing. It's as if it had nothing to do with him, but…

How curious! Why am I thinking about that mysterious little swordsman…? So long ago…

He shakes his head, as if to clear it, and turns over onto his side—Ouch, not that side!—then, gingerly, favoring the arthritic hip, reverses his position.

Back to sleep, that's the ticket—tomorrow's a big day.

Tomorrow—as he drifts back to sleep, floating along the border between wakefulness and sleep, he muses about what tomorrow holds: Miki is ready for the ougi.

It's comforting, this knowledge. Finally, after that first heartbreaking failure, finally he will achieve his destiny. It's good it will happen through Miki—Miki, strong of will and heart and, now, of body, as well; Miki, his old heart's fervent hope; Miki, his one true deshi, the one worthy to carry the good heart of Hiten Mitsurugi into the future, the hand on the hilt of Winter Moon.

Just before sleep claims him for the last time, the very last time ever, he smiles to himself to think of what he knows of Miki's own personal future…