Rated for strong language and drug content.

Cold Forgiveness
Chapter 1: A Broken Man

Her auburn eyes gazed around the worn-down apartment complex, pulling her hair away from her face as a steady breeze blew by. Trees crackled under the wind as approaching storm clouds covered the ethereal glow of the moon.

The woman shivered and clutched her designer purse tighter around her shoulder, taking a deep breath as she steeled her resolve. It was her sister's last wish before she would slip from the earth they walked upon. It was only right to see it through to the end. And there wasn't much time.

Kikyo's heels clicked solidly against the black top as she stepped into a dark alley way, her eyes ghosting over the trash filled dumpsters and puddles of mud. Her nose wrinkled in disgust by the musky smells and she forced down a scream as a rat scurried by. It was not a place she would be caught dead in, but when her sister's smiling face came to mind, she pushed away her fears and worries about social status. It wasn't important now.

A few scraggly looking men huddled near the back of the alley; a sweet scent lingering in the air. Kikyo hardened her gaze and tried to calm her frantically beating heart. To them, she would appear a stoic maiden, seeking some answers.

Gray eyes met her own, glancing up and down her slender frame. "Lookie here, boys," he called, inhaling from the cigarette that dangled from his lips. "Seems as though we've got ourselves a stray."

A round of chuckles came from the small group of men. The foul odor of alcohol and drugs seemed to thickly coat the area, and Kikyo found it hard to breathe.

"Tell me, miss," the man with the gray eyes said, taking a step forward. "What's a pretty little thing like you doin' in these parts of town?" He peered at her designer clothes and expensive jewelry, licking his lips before meeting her gaze.

"That is none of your concern," she replied coolly, seemingly unfazed by the strange man's antics. "However, if you could tell me where I can find Miroku Houshi, I would be very grateful."

The man scowled and rolled his eyes. "What'cha want with him?" he questioned irritably.

"Now, now, let's not scare the pretty woman off," a smooth voice called over the crowd. The men parted to allow a person by, slightly bowing their heads with respect.

Violet eyes gazed at her with humor as the man she sought stood before her. His dark hair was pulled back to the nape of his neck as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his blue jeans, beaming a crooked smile.

"Miroku," Kikyo stated in greeting, not having seen the man in some time.

His eyes widened with recognition and his smile grew. "Lady Kikyo," he replied. "What do I owe the pleasure?"

"You know I detest that name," she sneered.

He shrugged. "Old habits die hard, I suppose. Especially when concerning childhood. Such simpler days, don't you think?"

Kikyo lifted her chin in defiance and took a step toward him. "I did not come here to reminisce about childish fantasies. I am in need of your assistance."

A single eyebrow rose behind dark bangs. "Oh? Are you saying Kikyo, a celebrity in the eyes of the city, actually needs my help?" Her expression didn't waver. He smiled. "Well then, allow me to escort you to my private room. I assure you that by the end of the night, satisfaction will be met."

A look of disgust crossed her features. "Same lecher as always, it seems."

Miroku rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Like I said. Old habits die hard."

She nodded absentmindedly, watching the group of men out of the corner of her eye. They were staring at the pair with obvious confusion, wondering what a high-class princess like herself was doing in a dank alleyway such as this.

Sighing, she turned her gaze back to the man of interest. "I need to know where he is, Miroku," she said, lowering her voice to avoid the ears of others.

All humor left his face and his brows furrowed. He frowned and hardened his gaze. "He doesn't want to see you," he stated, leaving little room for argument.

"I understand his reasons," she assured. "But I would never have come if it wasn't of life or death importance."

Miroku fished a cigarette out from behind his ear and lit it with a lighter, taking a long drag before turning his violet gaze to her once more. He stayed silent, waiting for her to voice her reasons.

She sighed and released some of the tension in her muscles. "I've looked everywhere for him, but there isn't a trace of him left. No one knows where he is."

"Because he doesn't want to be found," he spat in return, glaring at her fearlessly. "You betrayed him past the point of heartbreak, and when he found solace in someone else, you effortlessly crushed every fiber of his being once more. He just wants to live out the remainder of his lonely life in peace."

Kikyo cringed slightly under Miroku's harsh words, but her resolve did not waver. "I would gladly do so, as I have been for the past five years. However, this isn't about me anymore."

The furious expression on his face diminished ever so slightly. "Then who is it about, Kikyo?"

A soft sigh slipped through her lips as she turned sorrow-filled eyes upon the man. "It's Kagome."

Miroku's cigarette dropped to the ground as he opened his mouth, feeling like the wind had been knocked from his chest. Never in all his years did he believe Kikyo would utter her sister's name with concern. Kikyo had always looked down upon her younger sibling, always seeming to outmatch the girl in everything. But Kagome never let her spirits down, instead cheering her sister on in whatever she did.

"What happened?" Miroku mumbled, no longer angry at the woman before him. A wave of concern washed over him as a feeling of dread built in the pit of his stomach. "Is she alright?"

Kikyo shook her head. "I need to see him," she replied, her voice pleading with him to understand her request.

With a curt nod, he gestured for her to follow as he led the way further into the dark alley.

Miroku led her to an abandoned warehouse just on the outskirts of the city. They had climbed over drunken homeless people and druggies looking for a fix in order to hastily make their way through the narrow back alleyways. Kikyo breathed an inaudible sigh of relief upon exiting the uncomfortable atmosphere.

Her escort peered over his shoulder at her, his hand on the door knob. "Look, he's not exactly in the right state of mind. Hasn't been for a long time," he spoke quietly with a defeated tone. "I suggest you don't make him angry, although your appearance may be enough."

Kikyo opened her mouth to question his words, but he had already disappeared inside the warehouse. The door creaked eerily on the hinges and, not wanting to be left alone in a bad part of the city, she quickly followed him inside.

She could barely detect his faint silhouette through the darkness as she shuffled after him, hearing the slight click of her heels as he led her down a hallway. "Watch your step," she heard him call from the darkness.

With graceful steps, she managed to follow him down the old, rickety staircase to what appeared to be a basement beneath the warehouse. A dull light bulb hung overhead, swinging back and forth as the winds from outside picked up. It howled against the windows that lined the walls near the ceiling, while tree branches scraped against the glass.

In the middle of the room stood a wooden coffee table, its furnished surface dented and abused. Beside it was a beat-up couch, stuffing coming out of the cushions from being thrashed upon. Circling around the table were a few other wooden chairs and stools.

Seven pairs of eyes turned upon the new arrivals, and Kikyo found fear beginning to course through her veins. They sneered at her, looking her up and down as if she were a piece of meat.

"Look what the cat dragged in," a man with blue eyes stated from his place on the floor. His arm was slung over his bent knee as he smiled at her, his braided black hair shifting with the turn of his head. "'Bout time we got some around here."

Miroku shot him a look. "Sorry, Bank, but she's off-limits. This is a matter of business."

Bank scoffed and rolled his eyes, turning his attention back to the substances strewn about on the table. White powder sat upon old movie cases, accompanied by an ash tray, a marijuana bowl, a few packs of cigarettes, and numerous small bags filled with various drugs that Kikyo couldn't name. It was the very pit of a man's downfall.

The man who was seated on the couch snorted some of the powder. He wiped his nose across the back of his hand before looking up at the visitors. Dark circles hung under his blood-shot amber eyes and his silver hair was pulled back into a pony-tail at the nape of his neck. Drearily, he traced his gaze over Miroku's form, barely making out another person cowering behind his back.

Kikyo stepped forward, ignoring Miroku's hesitant gaze, and allowed the man to catch a full view of who she was. His eyes widened with realization and he shot up from his seat. "What the fuck is she doing here?" he spat out in a rage, his hands clenched into fists as his side. "I told you I never wanted to see the bitch again!"

"I know, Inuyasha," Miroku stated softly. "I wouldn't have brought her if it wasn't important."

He growled and tipped over the table, scattering the contents on the floor in his fury. Shouts of complaints rang through the warehouse as the seven other people surrounding the man cried out against the unjust action, falling over themselves to get out of the way.

"What's the big fucking idea, Yash?" Bank yelled, picking himself up off the floor as he watched his friends scramble to pick up the various drugs strewn about the floor.

Miroku sent a hardened glare his way. "Perhaps you and your friends should leave us alone for a minute."

The blue-eyed man stepped forward to protest, but he knew when to back down. After all, Miroku knew of Inuyasha's past and had taken it upon himself to keep their hideaway a secret from prying eyes. If it wasn't for him, the cops would have already ransacked the place for sure.

With a grunt of disapproval, he turned around and grabbed his jacket. "Come on, guys. Let's head out for a bit." He glared at Miroku a final time before gathering the others and exiting through a side entrance Kikyo hadn't noticed before.

As soon as they were out of sight, Inuyasha made his way over to a small refrigerator at the end of the large room. He swiftly opened it and grabbed a can of beer, slamming the door shut with frustration. "Tell me why the fuck you thought twice about letting her come here," he demanded, swigging down a large gulp while turning a heated glare upon his friend.

Miroku sighed and shoved his hands into his pockets. "Kikyo found me because she was unable to locate your whereabouts. She has some information that she insisted you know of."

His amber eyes narrowed. "Then why the hell couldn't you just fucking tell me?"

"Inuyasha." Said man turned to glare upon the woman who dared to enter his life once more. "Do not blame Miroku for my actions. I refused to leave until I saw you."

"Why the fuck are you here, bitch?" he demanded, taking a few long strides toward her. "If my memory serves me right, I told you I never wanted to see you again!"

She nodded. "That is correct. I do recall you saying something along those lines. But I am not here for my own personal gain, nor to harm you."

Inuyasha's anger did not diminish in the slightest as he stood there, impatiently waiting for an answer to his question. His amber eyes burned with the desire to kill and his hands flexed urgently.

Kikyo took a small step toward him, reaching out a gentle hand to try and soothe his anger. He took a step back, just out of her reach. "I know I deeply wounded you, Inuyasha," she admitted quietly, retracting her hand and looking at him with more emotion in her eyes than he had ever seen. "And I regret my actions to an extent."

"Keh," he scoffed, taking another swig of beer. "Hell must be gettin' pretty damn cold for you to apologize to me."

She deserved his hatred, she knew. The actions she took against him years ago were unjust and should receive the full-blows of his anger. "I know why you're angry, and I know that you must hate me with bitter passion," she stated, noticing the way he did not deny her accusations. "However, there is a more pressing matter to attend to."

He swiveled to face her, sending her a heated, yet curious glare in the process. "What are you rambling on about?" he growled.

A sigh escaped her lips as her mournful brown eyes found his. "It's my sister," she stated softly.

Suddenly, Inuyasha stood in front of her, teeth bared as he crushed his beer can in his fist. "What happened to Kagome?" he demanded, eyes bearing into her soul like daggers.

Kikyo fidgeted with the bag slung over her shoulder. "She's been sick for a while now, Inuyasha," she explained quietly. "There isn't much time left."

Surprise overcame his expression as he stumbled back, all evidence of his anger gone from his appearance. "Sick?" he echoed, unsure if he heard her correctly.

She nodded. "She was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. Her time is up."

Inuyasha slowly shook his head with disbelief as he stumbled back before hitting the couch and falling into it. Kagome – the beautiful girl who held no hatred within her heart, only kind words and thoughtful gestures – was sick. She was a bright spot within the world and although he hadn't been in contact with her in a long time, he knew she was out there somewhere, spreading her warmth. To imagine a world without her … it was dark and cold.

"How much time?" he finally asked with a shaky breath, placing his head into his hands.

"It could be a few hours or a few days, now," Kikyo spoke softly. "The doctors can't be exact."

He sat in silence for a few moments, trying to wrap his mind around everything Kikyo had said. A hundred questions raced through his mind, but only one managed to sum them all up. "Why did you come lookin' for me?" he asked in a softer tone, looking like a broken man.

"I spoke to Kagome only hours ago. It seems as though her last wish is to speak with you." Her auburn eyes peered at him, judging his reaction to her words.

"Why the hell would she want to see me?" he demanded to know, finally peering up at her with glazed eyes. "You fucked up our relationship beyond repair."

Kikyo's eyes softened. "Believe me, I never wanted to see you or my sister so unhappy. If I had known this was to be the result of my actions, I would have changed them in a heartbeat."

He scoffed and lit a cigarette, breathing in slowly until the smoke filled his lungs, before letting it out in a deep breath. "Lady Kikyo actually made a mistake?" he commented with a slight smirk. "Hell has definitely frozen over."

She clutched a hand tighter around her purse and her eyes hardened with determination. "I am fully aware of your hatred for me. I do not ask for forgiveness. However, it is Kagome's dying wish. I know that even you, Inuyasha, wouldn't sink so low as to deny my sister this. I am unsure of her intentions, but I refuse to fail her during her last moments."

Inuyasha didn't answer; rather he simply sat there with a distorted expression on his face, as if he was trying to figure out a difficult problem. His knee bounced with aggravation and his teeth appeared to sink into his cigarette.

With a sigh, Kikyo turned to leave. "She'll be at Shikon Hospital in the cancer patient ward. Tell the receptionist you're her fiancé, and I assure you they'll allow you to see her." She smiled kindly at Miroku, thanking him for his help, before walking toward the stairs. "Do not let your hatred for me overshadow your love for Kagome, Inuyasha. The fates have given you a final chance to make things right."

Without another word, Kikyo slowly walked up the staircase and disappeared out the door, allowing it to slam shut behind her.

Silence permeated the air for a few minutes as the men allowed the new information to sink in. Miroku turned toward his friend with a somber gaze. "Kagome is dying," he whispered softly, as if he needed to hear the words for himself on his own tongue.

Inuyasha sat quietly on the couch, his arms resting against his thighs as he lowered his head, trying to wrap his mind around the new reality Kikyo bestowed upon them. He mentally cursed everyone to hell, including himself. There wasn't really a reason, and there wasn't anyone to blame, but damn it all, he had to divert his anger somewhere! This time, there was no bad guy to hunt down. This time, the killer was attacking from within, and it was something Inuyasha couldn't fight.

He felt so helpless.

Miroku slipped his hands into his jeans, but made no other movement. A sense of mourning had settled over the two, both of them unable to accept what Kikyo said. It was so unreal, so terrifyingly wrong, that it blew them away. He lifted his violet eyes to his friend, concerned for his heartbreak. "What are you going to do, Inuyasha?" he asked quietly.

Inuyasha screwed his eyes shut and put his head in his hands, gripping his hair tightly. "I don't fucking know," he replied, but his words held no emotion other than complete defeat.