There was only the feeling of severe, agonizing pain. All else was blinded to the point of oblivion, with only the searing sensation on his flesh that proved he was not suspended in Limbo. Perhaps this was Hell? Yes…The deepest pits of the Spirit World.
His eyes were blinded, pure darkness with only bursts of white as another wave of pain washed over his form. Never in his life had such pain been inflicted on upon him, willingly or otherwise.
His flesh tore and out poured his molten blood, flowing down and causing the remaining flesh to bubble and sizzle from the heat. He couldn't tell whether it was him screaming or the screams from his past ringing in his head. Never had he screamed as such, his lungs charred and ripping with each vibration, with each desperate breath.
The bones of his shoulder blades were visible above broken, shattered flesh, crushed and bleeding marrow to mingle with the disintegrating skin and tissue. Never would he have guessed there was so much blood in his person.
Above his agonized screams, there was something else. Something sinister. It cackled and seemed to be otherworldly, even within these dark realms of Makai. It's claws helped to tear his flesh from his bones, dancing to the sound of his screams. A crunching sound met his ears, then blinding pain wiped out any feeling.
It was then, in the darkest of his life's hours, did everything go suddenly and blissfully silent and still. He was floating, on the border between life and death, in a sea of blinding white. He saw nothing but white, heard nothing but the pleasant buzz of complete and utter silence. Though his broken body could not move, his mind reached a tentative tendril of thought to touch the blissful purity above him. Or rather, near him, for he had no sense of space any longer.
It was cool, soothing in his mind, like snow or ice. It felt like home, as twisted and unbelievable as that sounded. He reasoned, though, that it would make sense that his death would bring last visions of what his eyes had seen first in the world. Like a tape being rewound.
A sharp stab of pain and a howl of agony and despair brought his crashing back to the Hell of heat and searing flesh. His shoulder blades crunched in a sickening way, though it was not as painful as before. The thought struck him, even as all other thoughts ceased. The stab of pain had been elsewhere, somewhere in his abdomen.
With a loud bellow of pain, his exposed bones crunched again, as though changing shape, sending shards of the white substance flying into the air. The flesh surrounding the open wound tore even more, his spinal column slightly visible now. Ropes of muscle parted, blood bubbling his skin like boiling oil, making the bone more visible.
The Hell spawn above gave a particularly amused cackle as a whip of pain descended on his crushed back. He found he could no longer scream; only create soundless expressions that reflected the torment.
Again the sickening shift of his shoulder blades sounded in his ears, as though they were moving of their own accord. This continued for what seemed like eternity, though somewhere along the line, the cackling had stopped and was replaced by angry howls and screeches. He wondered why, briefly, just as a sound snap and a new wave of pain blinded his senses and thoughts once more.
And then… Nothing. Blissful, pure, unfeeling, nothing. He blinked, looking upon the world, expecting to see the white abyss once more. Instead, what he saw caused his breath to stick in his throat, caused his eyes to widen in wonder.
He was looking on the world as though he were in a fishbowl, suspended over a bloody, fiery battlefield. And there, in the center, with a hunkering red skinned demon standing over it, was his broken, torn body. He looked dead, his back torn open to reveal layers of muscle and tissue and bone. His dark hair matted with blood, his pale skin scorched and blistered from burns and the crack of a deadly whip suspended in the demon's hand.
Something else held his gaze, however. The demon above his body was screeching like a banshee, whipping his unresponsive body with gusto. The bones of his body's shoulder blade were… growing. With each crack, they grew a little more, splitting the flesh and moving the tissue, until with a desperate cry, the demon attacked them with his hands, attempting to shatter them until they no longer grew.
He watched with fascination as the long, slender bone did splinter, though it did not break. Instead, it spread outward, creating five separate, boney fingers on each pole of bone. It was vaguely familiar, he realized. The blood that coated the bone seemed to spread as well, flowing upwards like a million rivers to coat it red.
The demon below howled and attacked with his claws and fangs, to no avail. With each bite or scratch or tug, the bones grew more defined, redder with blood, and then after a while, tissue. It snaked up from his torn back and wound itself around the reddened skeletal structure like vines until it was completely covered.
It had to have been a dream, a death dream, he reasoned, even as he watched the blistered flesh begin to stretch and climb up the columns of bone that spouted from his back. As the skin crawled, it grew taunt, sealing the wounds on his back as it slithered up, spreading over the muscles and blood and bone. It was paper thin as it spread like a veil from one boney finger to the next, like webbing, laced with bright red and blue veins.
The sickening blisters that covered the majority of his skin began to pop, and as they did they hardened and darkened to a deep crimson red, tinged with black, like scorched crimson scales. With a start, the entire picture came into focus, as the final bubbles burst and the howl of horror and rage from the tormentor demon rung in the air.
From the pain and torment, his body had reacted the only way it could to survive. From the broken body came new strength and had mended the most severe of wounds. From the flesh of his being came the weapon he would use to survive.
Like being sucked into a vortex, the scene melted before his eyes, and his soul was thrust back into his body with force. The pain was still there, enough to blind and dim his senses, but there was something else. There was power and strength now that had been bled away only moments before.
Forcing himself to his feet, as even the pummeling of the larger demon persisted, he turned, still blind, towards it and let out an unearthly cry. It echoed a thousand fold, high and inhuman, like the cry of a dieing phoenix. Thrusting outward, his hands caught the tormentor in his grasp, tearing into the hardened flesh as though he had claws, and tore with all his might.
The sweet scream of death met his ears, as the demon's blood splattered over his flesh, pooling at his feet. Dropping the still figure, he turned again, tilting his head up towards the vermillion sky. He opened his eyes slowly, then turned to stare at the living structures that hung around him now.
Looking back towards the sky, he tentatively moved the bones in his back experimentally. It burned, causing him to grimace and almost fall over from pain once more, although he forced himself to stay upright. Biting his lip hard, his battered legs thrust his body into the air, the muscles in his back screaming in protest as he worked them.
Catching the cool current of air above the blood soaked field, he willed his strength to withhold as he spread his wings to their fullest and soared towards the blood red sun.
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho or any of it's characters.