DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Inu-Yasha - A Feudal Fairytale and all related characters are the creations of Rumiko Takahashi. The two un-named (in this story) characters are original characters of mine.

SPOILER WARNING: This story takes place after Chapter 370, Volume 38 of the Manga, so this story contains spoilers if you haven't read that much of Inu-Yasha yet. That part of the storyline occurs after the animated series ends. There is a brief explanation of events following the story, for anyone who wants to know. Please note that explanation contains spoilers.

 

Safe Haven
By Shadow's Mirror

 

Darkness surrounded him. It was as though he'd been blinded, but he knew that he could still see. His other senses were intact as well, and just as useless as his eyes in this cursed place.

He could see... but there was no light to see by.

He could hear... and wished that he could not. The void around him echoed with sounds that he could not recognise no matter how hard he strained to hear them. They seemed to come from everywhere at once and he knew he was surrounded. He also knew he was not alone in the darkness, but at the same time he had never felt more alone in his life.

He could feel... although he tried not to. He was aware of a biting chill and struggled weakly to pull his tattered kimono more tightly around his shivering form. His hands barely obeyed him but it didn't matter. There was no warmth to be gained from the fragile garment anyway.

He could smell... and he recognised the scent of the air. He'd never known that 'nothing' could have a smell, but it did. It was the scent of despair, hopelessness and defeat.

He could taste... and the dampness on his cheeks was salty. He had touched his hand to his face in surprise at the first drop and brought it hesitantly to his lips to confirm its origin. Tears. He hadn't even realised that he was capable of crying. It seemed like such a pointless, childish, human thing to do.

As Hakudoushi floated in the limbo he had been drawn into, his body still healing from its earlier injuries, his mind still reeling with the realisation of his fate, tears streamed silently down his cheeks.

- - -

Time was meaningless for Hakudoushi. Perhaps it was only a few minutes or a few hours, perhaps it was a few days before he realised that someone was at his side. He still couldn't see anything, but he suddenly felt a pair of strong arms wrap around him with surprising gentleness. One went around his back as the other went under his knees and he was vaguely aware of the air stirring around him as he was moved. The next thing he felt was warmth against one side of his body. He was exhausted, ill and weak, his mind foggy and slow, but he finally realised that someone had lifted him and was cradling him against their chest. They were moving too. He was being carried somewhere. But where?

At first, Hakudoushi couldn't get his voice to work. The sound that emerged was little more than a squeak. He tried again and managed a very weak whimper. Frustrated, he concentrated harder. "M...Mouryoumaru?" Surely there was no one else who would bother coming to his aid? He hadn't even thought that Mouryoumaru would do so. When there was no reply, he knew he'd been right.

But if it wasn't his other half, then that left only one possibility. "N...Naraku..."

Hakudoushi couldn't help the shiver that wracked his body as he thought of what Naraku might want of him. For Naraku to go to that sort of trouble to get him back, it had to be important.

He was so focused on his fear that he didn't notice the stir of power around him until it was too late. With a soft sigh, Hakudoushi slumped in the arms of his rescuer, caught offguard by the last thing he expected to encounter at that time, in that place. A simple sleep spell.

- - -

The partition slid open with a soft whisper but no one entered the dimly lit room. Instead, the visitor paused in the entrance, his expression thoughtful as he eyed the small figure sleeping on the pallet in the middle of the floor. When he finally crossed the threshold, he moved with a light step to the side of the pallet, then gracefully knelt down. He studied Hakudoushi's peaceful face for a moment before his attention was caught by something that caused a slight smile to curve his lips.

"Something amuses you, Master?"

The soft voice came from the partially open doorway on the other side of the room. As the visitor glanced up, the reed curtain was pushed aside a little more and a hooded figure stepped inside. The figure was about three feet tall and the face that looked out from beneath the hood's folds was reptilian in appearance, with the short snout and slanted eyes of a lizard. Except that no lizard ever had delicate scales of the reddish-gold hue of dawn, or sparkling eyes like beautiful forest-green emeralds.

"I was just admiring the way you have tucked him in. Even if he was awake, I doubt if he would be able to escape from the hold of these blankets." He smirked and the little figure shivered in response.

"I wish Master would not joke about such things. It would not be good if he woke at this time." The figure moved quickly across the floor, the cloak parting in the process to reveal a slender feminine figure dressed in a floor-length, dark green kimono with gold flames embroidered around the hem.

When she reached the other side of the pallet, the female hesitated for a moment before kneeling as well. She eyed the sleeping boy with obvious wariness. "He reeks of evil." Her voice was calm and quiet with only a hint of distaste in it. Only her eyes revealed the full extent of her unease.

"Well that is one way of putting it!" The young man's grin earned him a sigh and an irritated glance.

"Master, I can sense no good within him. Only evil. It clings to him. I do not see how he could ever be rid of it, such is its strength."

"I know." All signs of laughter faded from the young man's face as he nodded. "But I promised. Would you have me break my word?"

The female sighed and lowered her head. "No, Master. I would not. However..." She raised her head again, her eyes meeting his fearlessly. "The terms of Master's promise were only that Master would bring him back safely from the void. Now that Master has done so, is that not enough?"

There was a moment's consideration before the young man replied. "If he was anyone else, perhaps. But in this case... there really is nowhere else for him to go. Here, he is shielded from Naraku's senses. It is one of only a few places where Naraku could never find him. If he is to remain safe, then his survival must remain a secret. Although my promise was only to bring him back from that place, I can not bear the thought of sending anyone into Naraku's hands. If he leaves here, that will be his fate."

"Master is too good sometimes. He is evil, but Master is right. No one deserves such as he would receive, were Naraku to find him alive. For him, this is a safe haven. So he sleeps." Her eyes gentled as she reached out and lightly tweaked the blanket slightly so it covered the boy's shoulder completely. "For he would never accept Master's assistance otherwise."

"Yes. If he was to wake up, he would insist on leaving and then he would only try to finish what he had started before. Which would probably end the same way again. After all, that is the problem with creating beings without hearts. There are only so many ways that you can dispose of them, should you need to." The young man grimaced in disgust. "I would not wish that on my worst enemy. Which would be Naraku, come to think of it."

The female smiled slightly although her attention never left Hakudoushi. She hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "So he will stay sleeping here until Naraku is no more. Very well, Master. I shall tend to him." Her eyes lifted to meet her Master's, determination making them seem to glow from within. "He shall come to no harm while he is in my care."

Her declaration was rewarded with a relieved sigh and grateful smile. "Thank you." He stood in one fluid movement and the female sighed softly.

"Master is going to meet her?" At his nod she sighed again. "Master will please be careful."

"Do not worry. I always am."

The young man moved to the doorway and paused for one look back into the room. He smiled. The female was already ignoring him in favour of tweaking the blanket over the small figure again. Chuckling softly to himself, he went on his way, satisfied that Hakudoushi was in good hands.

- - -

She was exactly where he had known she would be.

The small pool was peaceful and secluded, far from any human village and close enough to a bubbling stream that most of the animals and youkai in the area did not bother to go there to drink. Although, the fact that she was often there was probably more of a reason why the forest dwellers stayed away. Even though she was quiet and unobtrusive, the creatures knew that she was neither human nor animal and so they feared her. The smarter Youkai in the area had quickly realised who she was and were all careful to remain out of her sight.

After all, only a fool would willingly approach Naraku's daughter.

A slight rustle of leaves up in a nearby tree went unnoticed by the figure lying in the grass beside the pool. Then again, the source of the rustling leaves hadn't expected anything else. She was asleep. He had made certain of that. Although he couldn't do much in the way of spells, what he could do was always both simple and effective. In this case, his sleep spell was also necessary. After all, the power that he needed to use only worked on those who were either asleep or unconscious.

Raising his hands, the young man perched in the tree above the sleeping female Youkai began to work his magic.

- - -

"I am here."

The soft voice made the female Youkai gasp in surprise. She looked up from the daisy chain she'd been making, her eyes sparkling with happiness as she eagerly searched for the speaker. "Oh! Where are you?" When she didn't see anyone around, the sparkle dulled slightly and she looked disappointed. "You are hiding from me again."

A sigh as soft as the light breeze that teased her hair came from somewhere nearby. "I wish I did not have to. Please believe me. I would like nothing more than to show myself to you. But..."

The female Youkai sighed sadly and looked down at the uncompleted chain that her hands were resting on. "But if I knew what you looked like, then Naraku would also know. The only reason he does not know about these meetings is because they do not really happen. This is only a dream. You are only a dream." The last was said so softly that it was barely a whisper, but the listener heard it all the same.

He had heard it before, of course. They had spoken to each other many times and they had held this discussion, and others similar to it, more than once before. But that didn't stop him from giving her the reassurance that he knew she needed.

"No. I am as real as you are. As we talk here, in the real world you are sleeping and I am watching over you. My powers allow me to enter your dreams, so we may speak without your father's knowledge. He cannot see into your dreams so he does not know that we can speak in this way. But if I were to show myself, then my image would be in your mind and that is something that he would be able to see. He would ask about me and you would answer him because you cannot do otherwise in the real world. Then he would make sure that we could not meet here again and that would make me very sad."

She had heard the answer before, but as always it brought a shy smile to her face. "Would it really make you sad if we could not talk to each other?" She kept her eyes down on the daisy chain as she lightly stroked one of the flowers' soft petals.

"Yes. You are very important to me."

A faint blush stole into her cheeks. "You... are very important to me too," she softly admitted.

"I know. That is why I want to make you happy. Do you remember the promise that I made to you the last time we were here?"

She nodded sadly. "You said that you would rescue my brother." Her expression changed as hope lit up her eyes. "Oh! Have you? Is that why you are here?"

"Yes. Do not worry, Kanna. Your brother is safe. Just like I promised."

 

The End

 

EXPLANATION OF EVENTS
(contains spoilers)

In chapter 370, volume 38 of the Inu-Yasha manga, Hakudoushi was badly injured by Inu-Yasha. He was then drawn into Miroku's Kazana (air rip). This was all part of Naraku's plan. He had no further use for Hakudoushi, and wanted him out of the way. This was a problem. Because they shared a heart, he could not simply be killed. The Kazana removed Hakudoushi from the world, while leaving the heart unharmed, which is what Naraku wanted.

Normally, once a character dies in the 'canon', that death is inescapable as far as I am concerned. However, in this case, it struck me that there was a loophole. Hakudoushi hadn't been killed. He'd merely been trapped wherever Miroku's Kazana had taken him. For me, a fanfiction writer who rather likes Hakudoushi, that was a challenge I simply couldn't resist.