Continuing Tales

The Cursed Monk

A InuYasha Story
by forthright

Part 4 of 9

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They returned the next morning with another bento and thermos, courtesy of Hachi's mate. After setting the picnic on the ledge near the entrance, Kagome hurried to the statue and firmly pressed her hands against smooth jade. She watched in awe as the cold veneer of stone gave way to skin and cloth. The monk blinked a couple of times as if coming out of a trance, then placed one warm hand over the two still resting against his chest. "Thank you, Kagome-sama. I am most grateful to you... so grateful, I could kiss you." He cocked his head to one side and eyed her speculatively. "I could kiss you! May I kiss you?"

His tone was so playful, it was impossible to be offended. "Don't tease, Miroku-sama," she scolded, choosing to ignore the fact that he was half-serious.

"Yes, Kagome-sama," he contritely replied, though his eyes held a twinkle. Giving her hands a pat, he stepped back and acknowledged Hachi. "I have more time, correct?"

"Five days," the tanuki confirmed.

Kagome looked between them. "This curse-thing isn't broken?"

"Alas, no," Miroku sighed. "All the conditions haven't been met, but I would like to make the most of the time you have given me."

"Conditions?" Kagome asked, confused. "You know, I think it's time you explained why you've been spending so much time as a statue. What happened, and why does Hachi keep hinting that I can help break this curse?"

"Ah... well," Miroku pushed his fingers through his hair and gave his ponytail a tug. "There's a certain amount of... that is to say... it would require a great sacrifice."

"You're not making any sense," she accused.

"Actually, I already told you; in fact, you already agreed… though, I will not hold you to it," Miroku explained, offering a sheepish smile. "Five minutes to entice, five hours to seduce, five days to impregnate. Those are the terms; the curse will only be broken if a woman bears my child."

Kagome gaped at him. "Someone turned your pick-up line into an actual curse?" She turned to look at Hachi, whose ears were drooping.

Miroku grimaced. "The tengu who cursed me had a perverse sense of humor... and a wide vindictive streak."

"You said something about a mountain god. What did you do?"

"There was a misunderstanding involving his wife," Miroku offered.

"You didn't!" Kagome gasped.

"I didn't," the monk returned in injured tones. "As I said, it was a misunderstanding, one that left me in this impossible situation."

"Not impossible," Hachi eagerly countered, wringing his paws together. "This is a good week for Kagome-sama. She is young, healthy, and a vir–"

"Hey!" Kagome interrupted, eyes sparking. "That's personal!"

The tanuki blinked apologetically. "I just want to end Miroku's suffering."

Frowning, Kagome turned to Miroku. "You're suffering?"

"Ah," the monk stalled. "I cannot say that I have taken any pleasure in my predicament."

"Well, we're going to change that," she announced, excitement shining on her face. "Today, you're getting out of here—fresh air, sunshine, a nice walk. I always dreamed of giving you guys a tour of my era, and now I have the chance!"

"I welcome the opportunity," Miroku replied with a smile.

"Good! But first, you'll need to change," she directed briskly. "You can't walk around town looking like Saint Promiscuity."

"Excuse me?"

"It's one of your nicknames," Kagome explained.

"How flattering," he replied with a rueful smile. "Are you sure you want to keep company with a man of my reputation?"

"It's a risk I'm willing to take!" she assured, beckoning to Hachi, who produced a bundle. "We decided that modern clothing might be too much of a stretch, but people do still wear traditional clothing, especially the old-timers in this area. You won't stand out too much. Okay?"

"You have my thanks," the monk declared, accepting that which had been provided. Kagome beat a hasty retreat so Miroku could change, and when they rejoined her, he was garbed in a dark grey yukata with a subtle geometric pattern. She applauded the transformation, complimenting the appropriate touch of a violet sash, and the monk sketched a bow before confiding, "Modern undergarments are remarkably comfortable."

She rolled her eyes and resolutely faced Hachi. "What happens if someone comes to visit while we're away?"

"My son has taken my place as Tadao, and I'll be taking Miroku-sama's place. It's the least I can do!" Withdrawing a leaf from within a fold of his garment, he transformed into a perfect replica of his monkish friend and flashed her a rakish grin. Hachi extended his hand for Miroku's shakujou, then said, "If you need anything, Kagome-sama knows where my family lives. If you need a place to... uhh... rest, my hut in the old village is still in good condition."

Miroku nodded an acknowledgment, then gazed curiously at Kagome. "Where have you been staying?"

"I've been camping just through those trees," Kagome explained, pointing towards the site. Lifting a wrapped bento, she asked, "How about breakfast? It's sure to be hot later, so it might be nice to eat while its cooler."

Talking about the weather, squinting against the morning sun, feeling grass tickle his ankles—ordinary things felt extraordinary after being trapped for so long in the dark. The monk's appetite perked up at the prospect of another meal, but it wasn't the only hunger that was stirred by Kagome's presence. Much to his dismay, Miroku found his attention caught by the changes his friend had undergone in the intervening years. She is less girl and more woman than when we traveled together.

"I know someplace you might like to visit before we go into town," she offered brightly.

With a bemused smile, he accepted her invitation, and to his surprise, she brought him to his father's grave. Of course he knew it was here, but this part of his life seemed so far away now. I suppose it is, actually... by centuries.

"Go on," she urged. "I'll join you in a minute; I want to replace the flowers."

Miroku nodded distractedly. Centuries. I am centuries from where I belong. Time had passed, and there was no going back. The weight of years weakened his knees, and he sat down on the edge of the bowl-shaped depression, much as he had when he was a boy... also bereft... also alone... also frightened. Is this how Kagome-sama felt when she was first displaced by the Well? It did not seem so, but then, she had Inuyasha.

And now, Miroku had her. As soon as Kagome returned with her small handful of flowers, several of his more mundane fears ebbed away. For now, he was free, and he was with a friend. More than I ever dared hoped for, all things considered. The monk watched her slip down the grassy slope and fuss with her bouquet, and he wondered at the odd intersection his past and her future had found. Perhaps fortune will favor us both... for once.

Seated side-by-side inside the reminder of a fate he'd spent most of his life fighting to avoid, monk and miko shared a quiet meal with none but the blue sky overhead looking on. They made short work of good food, and then Kagome stood and dusted crumbs off her skirt. "Are you ready to be amazed?" she asked eagerly.

"I assure you, that has already been accomplished," he replied. She shouldered her pack and scrambled up the steep slope; he followed more slowly, purposefully stretching muscles that didn't seem to have lost any of their strength in spite of the years spent as a statue. There was a restlessness in his limbs, and Miroku decided that one of the first things he wanted to do was put his body through its paces.

When he reached the top, Kagome slyly asked, "Are you nervous?"

"Do I have reason to be?" he returned lightly.

"Don't be silly! This is going to be so fun!" She laughed and threw her arms around him.

The impulsive hug stunned him, but he gladly returned it, unconsciously molding his body to hers and noting every curve. Eager fingertips drifted over the crisp fabric of her shirt and brushed lightly through the softness of her hair. The scent of soap and femininity surrounded her, soothing and seductive. When she placed a hand on his arm and gently pushed, it took a sheer act of will for him to unlock his arms and set her free. "I am sorry, Kagome-sama," he quickly apologized. "I have no right to act so familiarly."

"Don't be silly," she chided, reaching out to touch his arm. "I'm glad to see you, too. If you need anything, just ask."

The monk closed his eyes as pride and lust waged a war. He couldn't begin to express how much he craved touch, but with his lecherous reputation, he couldn't possibly expect her to accept his yearning to touch, to feel, to hold.

"Miroku-sama?" she asked softly. "There is something, isn't there? Please, tell me."

"Kagome-sama," he sighed. She was just as he remembered, always making it easier for those around her. He wanted to weep in the face of such compassion. I will not leave Kagome as I did Sango. Miroku did not want the last thing he touched to be the tear-streaked face of a woman, but his resolve was too fragile to overwhelm his need. "Let me hold you?" he begged, opening his eyes to meet her startled gaze. "I promise I will not molest you, but if you let me have that much, I will ask nothing more."

His fears abated as her eyes softened with sympathy. "Yes, of course," gently agreed, opening her arms invitingly.

He was in them... and around her... in a moment. "You were always so kind," he murmured against her hair. "Can you stay with me? I don't know what your responsibilities are in this world, but if you could... for these five days?" His voice betrayed him, quavering as he asked, and her arms tightened around him. It would be too easy to take advantage of her kindness, to twist it to my purposes. The monk rested his chin atop her head and wrestled with his thoughts. No... this is a real need. If I cannot hold onto someone, I will go mad.

"I'm taking a break from my work—such as it is. I won't leave you, Miroku-sama."

For several long minutes, she relaxed in his embrace, and when he finally let her go, he was delighted when she offered her hand. Gratefully threading his fingers through hers, he allowed her to lead him along the rutted path that led towards his first true glimpse of the future.

Although Kagome assured him that the village below the temple was tiny, Miroku found the innumerable changes a little overwhelming. She made a fuss about things like cars and telephones, but he was equally awed by things she took completely for granted—glass windows, smooth pavement, unusual plants, foreign lettering on signs, and even the way people wore their hair.

In the first building they entered, he was stunned by the chill in the air, the brilliant overhead lighting, and dizzying array of vibrant colors. He blinked several times, trying to adjust to the sudden change. Judging by the crowded shelves, the establishment belonged to a prosperous merchant.

"The shopkeeper suspects me of being a woman of loose morals," Kagome whispered conspiratorially. "You've probably just confirmed her theories."

Miroku searched the room carefully for the proprietress and spotted a dour-faced woman standing guard behind a sort of table. She eyed the couple suspiciously, and he offered a polite nod. With a sniff, she turned her attention back to a book with glossy pages. "You are a stranger in this village. What did you do to invite speculation?"

"I asked for directions to Saint Promiscuity's cave," she replied, barely hiding a smile.

"Scandalous, indeed," he said solemnly. Most villagers looked askance at travelers, so Miroku was used to speculation. He rather enjoyed stirring the pot and giving people something to talk about; however, he didn't wish to damage Kagome's reputation in this era. Tucking his hands into his sleeves, he maintained a carefully polite distance from the young woman as she began to explore.

She undid all his efforts by darting back and hooking her arm through his. "Come on, Miroku-sama! Ask anything you want," she urged. "I know this has to be weird for you."

"I do not know where to begin," he confessed. She fairly sparkled with happiness, and he found himself looking forward to spending the next five days with this woman. I had forgotten how contagious Kagome-sama's smile could be.

Taking charge, she led him up and down the aisles, pointing out the items on shelves, showing him the price tags, explaining about coupons. Slowly, he began to ask questions—haggling, barter, trade between villages, which led to questions about supply routes, mass production, and sale prices. Kagome handed him bills and coins from her purse and explained banks and credit cards to the best of her ability. The scale of this modern exchange boggled his mind.

"Let's get you a few things," she suggested.

"I will not be here very long," he gently reminded. Five days... four and a half now.

Her chin lifted stubbornly, and she sweetly persisted. "We could share some things, but you definitely need your own toothbrush."

Miroku knew that expression, that tone, that determination. "If you insist, Kagome-sama."

"I do," she said smugly.

The only other customer in the store dismissed him with a glance, but Kagome's gaze continually returned to his face, eager for his reactions. His eyes widened when they passed a magazine rack, and with a huff, she hurried him along until they reached an aisle dedicated to snack foods. "Ah... Shippo's ninja foods," he remarked.

"Hachi's mate is expecting us for dinner, but would you like something to eat or drink now?"

"What do you recommend?"

Kagome hummed and asked, "Salty or sweet?"

"A bit of both?" he diplomatically ventured. She plucked a few bags off the shelves and added a bar of chocolate before pulling him towards the refrigerated case where beverages were stored. Once more, he confessed, "I am at a loss." A selection of fruit juices, iced teas, and soft drinks were thrust into his arms, and they carried the whole jumble to the table where the proprietress waited. Miroku withstood the old woman's scrutiny with an expression of unwavering piety, and when she gave him the once-over twice, he chose to take it as a compliment.

They brought their booty to the shaded banks of the river that was fed by the waterfall behind the mountain Temple. Kagome slipped off her shoes and socks and stuck her feet into the water, then patted the spot at her side. "Nice and cool," she promised.

He followed suit and gasped at the sensation of water flowing over his skin. Is it possible to forget such things? Perhaps not, but he certainly felt these sensations more keenly now. A fitful breeze ruffled his hair. Bubbles tingled over his palate. Candy melted on his tongue. Everything was a reminder that while life was a sensual experience, it needn't be tainted by lust. Pure pleasure sent his soul to giddy heights.

Kagome talked at length about nothing in particular while nibbling on shrimp crackers, and he was content to listen. There were things they both wanted to know, but for this first day, they let the past to fade and put off the future. Living in the moment was enough.

Before night fell, they excused themselves from the tanuki residence and returned to Kagome's small campsite. Since the night was warm, there was no need for a fire, and as the shadows lengthened, they prepared to sleep. "I want to lay down," Miroku gravely announced. "I have not been horizontal in roughly five centuries; it is high time that I recapture the experience."

Kagome giggled, but glanced at him with a measure of concern. "You were quiet tonight. I thought maybe you were tired?"

"Yes and no," he replied as he spread a borrowed blanket a short distance from her sleeping bag. "There has been a lot to take in, and I believe I am at my limit."

"Is it the noise? I'm sorry if I was talking too much," she offered.

"No, no... do not apologize," he hastily replied. "Everything has been somewhat overwhelming—sounds, sights, smells, flavors, feelings. I am sure I will adjust before... well, before long."

Even in the twilight, he could see the way her expression clouded. "We'll think of something, Miroku-sama. We have to!"

He simply nodded and stretched out on his makeshift bed. Leaves stirred, crickets made a racket, and a few fireflies even put in an appearance. Kagome wriggled into her sleeping bag, far enough to discourage shenanigans, but not too far.

Stretching across the distance between, he brushed his fingertips against her knuckles. The need for contact wasn't quite as desperate as it had been earlier, but when she opened her hand, he gratefully accepted the silent invitation. Wrapping his fingers around her smaller hand, he turned to gaze to the sky as it filled with stars. "Kagome-sama?"


"Thank you."

"For what?" she asked softly.


The Cursed Monk

A InuYasha Story
by forthright

Part 4 of 9

<< Previous     Home     Next >>