AN:  Ok, after much debate in my head, I'm posting this story here.  In it's own right it could be an original fiction, but my mind has linked it so tightly to Trigun that I can't think of not putting it in this section.  As a warning, this is a prequel fic with a cast of my own characters.  What does that mean?  It means it takes place on Gunsmoke about 30 years before the show starts, but has its own set of mythology and whatnot and no Vash, no Wolfwood, no Legato, no Milly nor Meryl.  *watches as many readers hit the back button*  There will be cameos.  Knives will show up at some point, along with Rem.  I also have many many many references in here, not only to Trigun, but to Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and other miscellaneous books, movies, and TV shows.  I'll try to label most of them, but if I don't, please don't sue me, I'm only a lowly college student trying to write the great American novel.  Ficcy is rated R for language,  violence, disturbing scenes, and future gay tendencies.  If you can't handle two guys kissing, leave now.  If you can't handle long stories either, leave now and save yourself the torture.  So far this story is 84 pages and not even started.  Now without further ado….

Prologue

Squinting, she stared up at the ceiling.  The dark cracks riddling the uneven surface twisted into shapes and forms, then disappeared into the shadowed plaster.  She idly scratched at the IV running into her arm.  Another day, another test.  Shifting under thin sheets, she listened to the plastic-covered mattress creak beneath her.  Yet another sleepless night.  No matter how many times she told the nurses that she couldn't get to sleep lying on her back, they never listened.  They'd nod their heads and mumble, "Oh, that's nice.  Have some more drugs."  Of course, this only made her nauseous and did nothing to stop the pounding in her cranium.  The joys of housing an unknown illness.  Doctors had no clue and didn't give a crap, to boot.  According to them, she should have died a long time ago.  She shifted in the bed again, her head swimming slightly as she moved.  They hadn't even left her a goddamn book.  It could be the bible for all she cared.  Anything better than staring at the same peeling ceiling for another night.  She nearly jumped out of her skin when a loud crash broke through the silent room.

            "Shit!  Where'd that table come from?"

            Wincing, she turned her head to the right and laughed at the sight.  Moonlight spilled through the window and illuminated a tall lanky figure, his legs tangled around the small bedside table that a nurse had moved by the window that morning.  Glaring at her from beneath a halo of messy hair, the man tried to get up, but only succeeded in tripping over his long black coat.

            "Stop laughing.  You try climbing into a second story window."

            "You could always use the door, silly," she pointed out through giggles.

            "That would certainly go well.  Somehow, I doubt they let random mysterious strangers wander through hospital wings in the middle of the night.  So, how's it going?"

            "You really have to ask?  Something's wrong, but no one knows what it is, so they just pump me full of more drugs each day.  You could probably sell my blood on the black market as a magical elixir that cures all."

            "That bad?" he replied, wincing.

            "It's nothing," she stated, shrugging.  "I think at this point, they're hoping that they find something that I'm allergic to, so that I accidentally kick the bucket."

            Finally standing solidly on his feet, he pulled the small table over to her bed and sat down atop it.

            "You need a little more faith than that, Cor," he whispered, shaking his head.

            "That's easy for you to say.  You must have a good life if you can run off in the middle of the night to play priest for random sick people."

            "I'm hardly a priest," he chuckled.  "And what would make you think that?"

            She lifted her hand slightly and pointed to the silver cross hung from his neck by a black cord.

            "This.  It's just a good luck charm.  Although I think I need a new one.  The fairy dust and clover power is wearing off.  Oh, I got ya something."

He rummaged through the pockets of his black duster.  With a happy exclamation, he withdrew a tattered book from an inner pocket.

"Thought you might like it.  It's a romance.  Something about a vampire and a vampire slayer."

"Thanks," she exclaimed, leafing through the pages.

"Now, that that's done, let's move on to the magic show.  You know the routine.  First, you've got to close your eyes."

            Giggling, she shut her eyes.  After awhile, cool fingers pressed against her aching forehead.  Curiosity taking hold, one hazel eye cracked open.

            "Close that eye, missy.  No peeking or the magic don't work.  And now…on behalf of the moon and love and peace, hocus pocus and abracadabra.  Wingardium leviosa, bibitty, bobitty, boo.  A la peanut butter sandwiches.  Magic, magic, do as you will.  Alakazam, chocolato icecreamikus, and wala!  The great-eth one hath fixeth it-eth."

            Fingertips brushed down over her eyes.  Eyelids snapping open, she realized that once again the pain had melted away with his simple touch.  Her head felt clear and relaxation oozed through her body.

            "Better?" he asked with a small smile.

            "Thank you," she mumbled, stifling a yawn.  "I think I'll get a full night's rest for once."

            She smiled as, contemplating, her mystery man leaned out the window.

            "How do you do that?"

            He turned and held up the cross.

            "The power of God," he joked, winking.

            She giggled as her eyes slid shut.  Blackness embraced her and weightlessness washed over her.  Warmth coiled within her body as she drew the blanket of darkness around her.  She turned towards the lilt of a soft lullaby and a faint figure.  The woman's dark hair flowed down her shoulders and disappeared into the black velvet folds of her dress.  Raven-feathered wings perched on her shoulders.  She gazed at the woman's pale round face and friendly smile in confusion.

            "Mom?"

            The woman's smile grew and she extended her white arms towards the child.  Suddenly, stabbing pains erupted in Cora's wrists.  She gazed down at the twin holes oozing black blood.  Fear and confusion cascaded through her as she slowly backed away from the dark figure.  Doubling over and grasping her middle, agony laced through her stomach.  She withdrew an obsidian-glazed hand and, in horror, stared from it to the woman.

            "What…what's happen…"

            "Shh, it's alright Cora.  The pain will cease, but I cannot help you unless you come to me."

            Cora looked up at the woman.  It was too far, the pain too great. 

            "I can ease the suffering…"

            Arms outstretched, the woman stood beside her.  Cora gazed into the kind face of her mother, the warm smile.  Why wouldn't she stop the pain?

            "All you have to do is take my hand."

            She extended her hand, black rivulets streaming down her arm.  She paused, obsidian hovering above alabaster.  It would be a shame to stain such a pristine purity.  The woman chuckled.

            "Dear, there is no way in heaven or earth that you could defile me.  Now, take my hand."

            Cora placed her hand in the woman's grasp.  Washing away the pain, serenity swept through her body.  A soft white light replaced the warm darkness.  Then, peace.