Continuing Tales

The Cursed Monk

A InuYasha Story
by forthright

Part 5 of 9

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As Kagome woke, she became aware of the hardness of the ground, the freshness of the early morning air, the damp of the dew, and then, the sudden realization that she was alone. Sitting up, she gazed around, but Miroku was nowhere to be seen. Her fleeting alarm quickly ebbed. The man could certainly take care of himself, and there were plenty of reasons for him to seek privacy.

Taking her time, she packed up her few things, stowing what they wouldn't need in her bag and adding the rest to the small pile beside it. She tossed a few necessities into a tote, then ventured out, looking for the missing monk. There was no sign of him down by the river, so she backtracked uphill until she found him in a secluded meadow not far above their campsite. Oh, I remember! Kagome folded her hands over her heart and let waves of nostalgia flood over her. It had been ages since she'd seen a similar scene... years since she'd even thought about the little routines their group had fallen into while traveling together. All that's missing is... everyone else. Fleeing from that melancholy turn of thoughts, she cheerfully called, "You still wake up early!"

Her greeting interrupted a series of swift kicks, but he glanced her way with a mischievous little half-smile. "And you still sleep late," he countered. The man had slipped out of the upper half of his yukata so that it hung loosely from his waist, and bare skin gleamed with the sweat of his efforts. "Care to join me?"

"What, sparring? You know I'm no good at that sort of thing," she demurred.

"I could teach you," he offered.

Kagome couldn't decide if it was his inflection... the little lift of his eyebrows... or the way his gaze grazed over her features, but the color crept into her cheeks. Only Miroku can make a completely innocent suggestion sound totally suggestive. Strike that... nothing about Miroku is completely innocent. In a way, it was reassuring to know that the monk was still the man she remembered, quirks and all. At least he hasn't tried to grope me yet, she thought wryly. He just asked me to... oh.

The color drained from her face as the gravity of Miroku's situation came crashed down around her. He'd always claimed that his flirtation was a matter of life and death, a consequence of the curse he lived under. Before, he'd needed an heir to carry on in case he failed to defeat Naraku, but this time... he only had four days left.

"Kagome-sama?" She blinked in surprise when a warm hand closed around hers and looked up to find Miroku right in front of her. Concern was plain on his face as he asked, "What is it?"

"What are we going to do?" she whispered.

And just as before, he smiled and brushed aside worries that must have outweighed the world. "One day at a time, Kagome-sama," he gently urged. "Let's make the most of the time we have."

"But, Miroku-sama..."

"For starters," he interrupted, "I wish to explore the limits of my range." Releasing her hand, he pulled the sleeves back over his arms and shifted his shoulders as he adjusted the lay of his neckline. "I would like to see more of your modern village, and when we return here, I think we should check the abandoned tanuki village Hachi mentioned. We may find his old place more comfortable than sleeping in the open."

"You don't find camping... nostalgic?"

"Kagome-sama, have you ever known me to settle for anything less than the best accommodations available?"

"Nope. You talked us into some pretty impressive houses," she recalled aloud. With a sheepish smile, she added, "I'm sorry you had to sleep on the ground last night."

"Now, now, don't apologize," he chided, reaching out to take her hand again. "I have no regrets about last night; I simply prefer beds. Don't you?"

"Of course."

"Then the matter is settled," he said warmly. "Since I like beds... and you like beds... tonight, we'll find a bed."

"Beds," she corrected with a sidelong glance.

"Ah... of course."

"You can't leave the mountain?"

"No, I cannot."

"How do you know?" Kagome asked hesitantly.

With a bitter upturn of his lips, Miroku replied, "I tried and failed."

"Oh," she murmured, then lapsed into a pensive silence. After a little while, she ventured, "Do you remember where the boundary is?"

Miroku gazed at the village spread out below them, looking for landmarks. "The landscape has changed a good deal, so I am not certain. I daresay it will be somewhere in the midst of this village... since the land levels just there," he declared, pointing along the main street. "I am quite sure we will find out before the day is over. Shall we?"

They began at the high end of the town and worked their way down, going in and out of every shop, no matter its function. Souvenirs bemused him, housewares intrigued him, and the travel magazine Kagome purchased awed him with glimpses of faraway lands. Less pleasing was the newspaper she picked up, for he didn't recognize half the symbols scattered across its pages. He'd always prided himself on being an educated man, but in this era, he keenly felt his lack of knowledge. There is much to learn... and no time in which to do so.

While they shared an order of some kind of fried dough in a shop that served a beverage that smelled better than it tasted, he perused his magazine, asking questions about the strange sights it offered.

Out of the blue, Kagome asked, "Is there a barrier?"

"The sensation is more like being on a leash," Miroku replied. "When I reach the base of the mountain, I simply cannot take another step."

"In every direction?"


"I wonder if we could carry you over?" she suggested.

"We tried that," he replied, wincing slightly. "I would not like to repeat that particular experience."

Kagome swirled her iced beverage with a straw, lost in thought. "If it's like a leash, maybe we can cut whatever it is that's tying you to the mountain?"

"Perhaps... but I would not get your hopes up, Kagome-sama," he said solemnly. "We attempted everything we could think of to break the curse."

"Oh," she whispered, her expressive eyes taking on a shine that could only mean tears.

Miroku reached for her hand and gave it a firm squeeze. "You are welcome to try to break the curse; there is no denying that you are a miko of considerable power," he offered. He doubted that she would succeed where the others had failed, but the invitation seemed to hearten her. "What's next on our grand tour of your future?"

"Erm... there's a grocer next door. They sell fresh produce, canned goods, things like that," she said with a little shrug. "It's probably not very exciting."

"You might be surprised what I find exciting," he replied with a quirk of one brow.

With a small laugh, Kagome brightened even further, and Miroku tried to make sense of the change in her demeanor. The girl I knew in times past would have blushed and scolded over a hint of impropriety, yet she seems to find it reassuring. Since he quite enjoyed flirting with pretty young women, Miroku applied himself to the task of keeping Kagome charmed.

Their explorations continued until the monk spotted a distinctive sign that he had no trouble whatsoever reading. With a gleam in his eye, he looped his arm through his companion's, pulling her to a stop. "Kagome-sama, if I appealed to you as a man with mere days left to live, would you indulge me?"

She eyed him suspiciously and replied, "I suppose that depends on what you want."

Tugging her hands into his, he gave her his most soulful, pleading look. "Please, Kagome-sama... take me to a hot spring." He helpfully pointed to the prominent three-story building with bright red trim that lay near the opposite end of the main street.

"Can you even go that far?" she asked dubiously.

"Ah, shall we find out together?" Keeping hold of her arm, he took one exaggerated step, and then another. As they worked their way down the street at this deliberate pace, Miroku confided, "Anticipation is often the best part of any pleasurable experience."

"You know, they're not going to let you spend the night just because you offer to do an exorcism."

"If we make it all the way to the door, will you treat me?" he wheedled.

"Let's see how much it costs," she hedged. "I'm on a tight budget."

"I have nothing but my body to offer in repayment," he announced with a straight face.

"I'm not that kind of girl," Kagome grumbled, blushing.

"I know," he replied with a regretful sigh.

"Well... It would be nice to have a bath and a proper bed," she allowed.

"That's my girl!" Miroku praised, resuming their slow march towards the prosperous-looking establishment. "We can economize by sharing a room!"

"Not a chance."

He pulled her to a halt and pressed a hand over his heart. "Dare I hope they encourage mixed bathing?"

Kagome giggled and accused, "You are completely and utterly incorrigible!"

"I am merely sharing what is on my mind."

"On your perverted mind," she teased, her eyes sparkling enticingly.

The monk leaned closer and inquired, "Are you flirting with me, Kagome-sama?"

With a wave of her hand she loftily dismissed the insinuation. "You do enough flirting for two, Miroku-sama. You're lucky I'm used to your lecherous ways."

"How fortuitous!" he crooned, placing his fingertips at the small of her back as they reached the inn's front steps. "If you are accustomed to my charms, you may yet succumb to them!"

Sidestepping the hand before it could wander, Kagome declared, "I am willing to put up with a lot for the sake of a friend." A shadow flitted across her countenance, and she added, "Especially a friend in need."

"Pity is such a meager basis for seduction," he retorted with a mournful expression. "I'd rather stir passion than pity any day."

"Beggars can't be choosers."

"But the beggar is at the door!" he pointed out, for they'd reached the entrance to the establishment boasting open air hot springs.

With a gentle smile that went straight to his heart, Kagome replied, "Then let's go through it together."

While Kagome checked on the cost and availability of rooms at the inn's front desk, Miroku realized with a shock that he recognized the hostess. She'd been a regular visitor to his cave since her adolescence, rarely accompanied by the same man twice. Wanton scenes flickered past his mind's eye, and he unconsciously lifted his brows when he realized that she was gazing at him with hungry eyes. Oh, yes, I know her kind. A traveler's dream come true. For little more than a wink or a nod, she could be his for the night.

Her painted lips curved upwards, confident that her message had been relayed, before she turned her attention back to Kagome. "Two rooms, miss?" she asked condescendingly.

"One room."

Miroku started at his companion's cool response. I see the subtexts were not lost on her. His lips quirked in amusement because at the moment, Kagome bore a striking resemblance to Inuyasha when he was warning off Kouga. It is quite gratifying to be an interest she is willing to protect.

With eyes flashing warnings at her would-be rival, Kagome crisply declared, "We're together."

"I see," the hostess replied sulkily, glancing at him for some kind of confirmation.

Miroku smiled serenely.

Once the hostess left them alone in their room, Kagome folded her arms over her chest and announced, "It's more practical to share."

Miroku smiled. "I am not complaining, Kagome-sama."

"If we economize, we can stay two days," she explained, defensiveness still tingeing her tones.

"Very true," he solemnly agreed, eyes alight with amusement.

"And I didn't think you'd want to be alone."

Miroku paused for thought, then inclined his head. "Also true."

"So it's more practical to share."

He chuckled at her obvious discomfort and politely remarked, "So you have said."

She nodded briskly. "Then we're agreed!"

Though he had no idea what he'd agreed to, Miroku was only too happy to accept Kagome's decree. After all, she'd let him have his way. For the next two days, he would be free to sample all the amenities that the inn had to offer.

Kagome called their room 'traditional', and it had all the trappings of familiarity—sliding panels, tatami mats, and painted screens. However, a few additions reminded Miroku that this era was not his own. Light fixtures replaced oil lamps, and a gleaming bathroom was attached to the room. In the last two days, he'd been introduced to the miracle of indoor plumbing, but this would be his first opportunity to bathe in the modern fashion. He could hardly wait to try the shower.

"Do you want to go down to the hot spring or bathe in here?" Kagome asked.

"This will do nicely," he assured.

Taps turned, and water rushed into the room's compact tub. "I brought along most of your new stuff in case we dropped by Hachi's to freshen up," she announced. Rummaging around, she handed over shampoo. "You can have the first bath, because I need to make a call. There's a telephone in the lobby, and I should tell Mama what's happened."

Miroku nodded obediently as Kagome laid out an array of personal care products on the bathroom counter. A quick search through the cabinets yielded a stack of towels, a set of yukata, and slippers. She stayed long enough to turn off the tap, then with purse under her arm, she hurried away to contact her family.

The monk was still fiddling experimentally with the various switches and knobs in the bathroom when a light rap sounded on the door to the room. Sliding open the panel, he found the hostess smiling at him over an armful of folded towels. "These are for you," she said, offering up her burden.

"Why, thank you!"

Their fingers brushed, and her smile widened seductively. "I'm Mika."

He remembered. The men she'd brought to his cave had often groaned her name as she teased them with those lips. Clearing his throat, he managed a husky, "How do you do, Mika?"

"Very well, I assure you," she murmured, all suggestion.

Miroku was either out of his depth or in his glory, yet something nagged at him. This woman reminded him far too much of the mountain god's faithless wife, whose brazen invitation had landed him in his current predicament. Willing though she might be, was this the kind of woman he wanted raising his child? With a small shake of his head, the monk tried to steer the conversation onto a safer path. "This inn is a credit to your family... or are you the sole proprietress?"

Mika laughed coyly. "It's not mine; I just work here!"


"Is there anything you need?" she murmured, leaning forward so that the loosened neckline of her yukata sagged just enough to reveal some cleavage. "If you're not satisfied with your accommodations in any way, you can call on me."

Her message carried through loud and clear. She was one of this inn's amenities, and he was welcome to slip away and seek her out if he wanted a liaison. The monk's heartbeat quickened, for he knew just what this woman was willing to do... and just how she liked to be done. With effort, he kept his voice even and replied, "I will bear that in mind."

With a knowing glance at the stack of towels he'd discretely lowered to cover his reaction, she left with a saucy, "You do that."

As soon as he'd closed the door on the hostess, Miroku escaped to the bathroom and shed his clothing. Her visit served as a pressing reminder that five hundred years was for too long to go without. With a ready supply of warm water and slick soaps, he made himself comfortable on the small plastic stool, and slowly ran his hands over skin that still felt new. His sigh echoed slightly in the small room as he leaned back against wall and spread his legs. Heavy steam. Cool tile. The contrast alone sent shivers up and down his spine. His hands drifted languorously, and he hummed happily as pleasure rippled through his body.

Noises in the outer room were followed by Kagome cheerfully announcing, "I'm back!"

The sound of her voice worked to intensify his ache for release, and any hope of prolonging his experience fell by the wayside. Keenly aware that at any moment, she could walk in on him, Miroku's movements took on purpose. His eyes slid shut as his world narrowed, but while his whole body climbed giddily towards climax, he realized with a sickening jolt that something was wrong.

N-no! The monk was well-acquainted with his own body, and this was a new development. Just as when he was trapped in stone, desire inflamed his senses, yet there was no outlet for the building need. Ah, the curse is crueler than I realized. Am I not allowed to squander my energies?

"Miroku-sama?" she inquired from the other side of the door.

Shivers of anticipation skittered over taut skin. "Y-yes?" he replied in a strained voice.

"Do you need help with anything?"

The monk groaned softly, wishing he had the gall to invite her in; however, interjecting a note of reassurance into his voice, he called, "I will manage, Kagome-sama." Somehow.

The Cursed Monk

A InuYasha Story
by forthright

Part 5 of 9

<< Previous     Home     Next >>