Author's note: I just want to say this, so that there can be no misunderstandings. I. Own. Nothing. Say it with me now: Nothing, nada, nichts, and all that jazz. This goes for every chapter that follows. Inuyasha and all the characters rightfully belong to the brilliant Rumiko Takahashi. I am merely playing with her toys. So there. Copyright satisfied, now please, put the shotguns down. Put 'em down. Atta boy.

Part I - Miroku

He was a pervert and womanizer. A man who preferred the finer things in life and to enjoy the pleasures this world had to offer. After all, he had good reason to. As a victim of Naraku, cursed with a kazaana that was bound to kill him in the near future, each day was a gift and Miroku was bound and determined to experience it as such. Besides, who in their right mind could possibly resist the beauty, grace and the potential for 'fun' that was the female body?

But despite his pleasure seeking tendencies, his lust for life and…well, his lust in general, Miroku was also a monk. And as a monk, he was also a man who firmly believed in fate. All things happened for a reason. No action was taken without serving some grander purpose. He believed in this, yet doubted at the same time.

Because what possible purpose could his own fate serve? Why should his grandfather have fallen into Naraku's trap, only to be dealt a curse that would destine him and all his descendents to such horrible a death?

Miroku shuddered at the memory of his father, desperately trying to put some distance between himself and his son, as his kazaana widened till the point where it could suck him in whole. A death worse than death and one he would share all too soon.

So what is the purpose? Why was I given such a fate? His finger idly traced the prayer beads keeping his curse contained, while staring into the fire. It was a good question. A purposeful question and maybe if he could answer it, his doubts concerning his faith, at least, could be laid to rest.

There was a sound of shifting cloth, mumbled words more or less without sense. His thoughtful gaze shifted from their camp's fire, to the person lying next to him. Kagome and Shippo, both tightly snuggled into the formers sleeping bag, were still firmly planted in the land of dreams. As was Inuyasha; back resting against the trunk of the tree nearest to the miko. But Sango, possibly in the grips of some dream, had shifted enough in sleep for her blanket to fall off, leaving her upper body exposed to the relative cool of the night.

A soft smile played around the monk's lips. It was such a rare sight, to see the slayer in a state of near vulnerability. Sango was the spitting image of tough; a fire in her eyes and more guts than most men could handle. But Miroku was quite certain that tough did not include full, rosy lips, slightly parted in sleep and a thumb that was suspiciously close to said lips. Nor would tough normally shiver in an unexpected breeze.

Reaching over with one long arm, the monk carefully rearranged the blanket, tucking it a bit more securely around the sleeping woman's shoulder. The action caused his prayer beads to clack together and for a moment he remained frozen, eyes wandering from his cursed hand to the sleeping Sango. The light form the fire reflected off of her hair and face, as it reflected off of the polished surface of the beads.

The truth was, if his grandfather Miatsu had never been cursed by Naraku, then he, Miroku, would never have endeavored on his quest to find and kill the demon. Would he not have begun his hunt, he never would have met up with Kagome, Inuyasha and Shippo. Nor was it likely that his path would have crossed with that of Sango. Likely, he would have become a proper monk: studious, poised and above all else, celibate. A shiver went through him at the thought. To think, to miss out on all the earthly beauties the villages and towns had to offer him on the road. It was a crime, that's what it was!

And to miss out on the absolute perfection that was Sango: a passionate heart and strong will contained in a female figure so perfected, there were times he wanted to get down on his knees and weep. No! Without beautiful, fiery Sango, his life would have been an unbearable, monotonous grey.

His cursed hand tightened into a fist, the prayer beads keeping death away biting into his skin. All things had a purpose. Every fate was not without reason; even his preordained death through the kazaana. His fated death had led him to Sango and the small group of people he called his friends. His curse could be used to protect those he cherished, as well as the innocent they encountered in their hunt for the Shikon shards and Naraku.

He eyed the sleeping figure of Sango again and a sudden wide and lecherous grin replaced his previously thoughtful expression. His curse served another purpose as well. The grin widened as his 'cursed' hand inched towards the very tempting and very delectable target that was Sango's perfectly rounded derriere. There was no question that he would be slapped silly for his actions. It was his fate. And as his cursed hand found its target and Inuyasha, Kagome and Shippo jumped awake at Sango's loud, outraged scream, Miroku thought that it was all well worth it.