Continuing Tales

The Cursed Monk

A InuYasha Story
by forthright

Part 7 of 9

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On the dawn of his wedding day, Miroku woke with his bride-to-be in his arms, fairly certain he'd simply dreamed up her proposal; however, the evidence of their prenuptial agreement coated his skin, and the imminent prospect of connubial bliss brought a gleam to his eye. Easing into a more favorable position, the monk tested the waters. Kissing Kagome's cheek, he nuzzled her ear and, in a voice husky from sleep, murmured, "Good morning."

He watched intently as her brows drew together, waiting to see how she would react. Will last night's impulse give way to regret? Her lashes fluttered briefly, then her eyes popped open, and a predictable blush flamed across her cheeks. Hoping for the best, he gently teased, "This is hardly the time to be shy, Kagome-sama."

"S'pose not," she mumbled, halting in the process of pulling the blankets higher. "Erm... good morning?"

"The outlook is most promising," he cheerfully acknowledged. A shadow flitted across her eyes, and his heart clenched. Reluctantly, Miroku offered, "I will not hold you to your agreement if you have changed your mind."

She blinked twice, then startled him with a flash of temper, fisting the fabric of his yukata as she sternly searched his gaze. "Are you planning to jilt me?"

Propping his head on his hand, he lazily replied, "That depends entirely on the meaning of jilt, Kagome-sama."

With a squirm, she replied, "Have you changed your mind?"

"Not at all," he quickly assured, easing closer. "I am eager to be united."

"Good." Giving his chest a small push, she added, "Later."

Miroku knew she was putting him off, but that one word held the glimmer of a hope he desperately needed. Buoyed by the promise of pleasurable prospects to come, he leaned down to kiss her nose, countering, "Soon."

Kagome surprised him by pulling him close and hugging him tight, not that he was going to complain. His arm found its way around her shoulders, and his fingers tangled into the loose tumble of her hair. She wasn't shying away from the inevitable, and his respect for her deepened. "Kagome-sama, you continue to endear yourself to me. I must confess, I am quite smitten with my future wife."

She snorted softly. "Obviously, the way to your heart is not through your stomach."

"Indeed, no." Keeping his tone light, he inquired, "What about you? How can I find the way into yours?"

Without missing a beat, she replied, "I already love you, Miroku-sama."

He wasn't really surprised, for Kagome's heart had always been quick to welcome newcomers. "So you finally succumbed to my charms!" he exulted, placing his hand over his heart in a dramatic fashion. "For the record, this is the longest it has ever taken me to seduce a woman."

"Five days?" she asked blandly.

"Five centuries," he glibly corrected. "Out of curiosity, what tipped the scales in my favor?"

After a thoughtful pause, she candidly replied, "Your kiss... erm... kisses."

"Has anyone else ever kissed you?" he probed.

"Only Inuyasha," she shyly confessed. "Just once."

"So he found the way into your heart, as well," Miroku said, smiling warmly. "I am in good company."

"Am I?" she whispered.

"Hmm?" he inquired, somewhat distracted by the soft pout of her lips.

"Am I in good company?" she asked tentatively. "What happened to Sango?"

"Ah," he sighed. "Didn't Hachi tell you?"

"Only that you had gone to the temple for your wedding. It sounded as if the mountain god interrupted somehow...?"

Miroku gave himself a few moments to order his thoughts by rearranging their blankets, making sure that Kagome was properly covered. She waited patiently and even patted her pillow, offering to share. With whispered thanks, he tugged her back into his arms and bumped noses with her in a friendly fashion. "You have every right to ask about my first wife," he began seriously.

A smile blossomed. "You did get married!"

"Yes," he acknowledged. "Sango was as insistent as you have been on that point. When she woke me from the tengu's curse, everyone was there. Inuyasha convinced her that I was telling the truth about the mountain god's wife, which probably saved me from five minutes of bludgeoning."

Kagome giggled softly, but there were tears in her eyes. "I didn't now he was there."

"He was there," Miroku replied. "All growls and scowls and sadness. He hated not being able to help me."

She nodded. "Yes, that's the way he is... was? What happened to him?"

"I do not know," he confessed. "You should ask Hachi to look into it."

"We'll do that together," she said firmly. "After."

"After," he agreed quietly.

"So... Sango?" she prodded.

"When she woke me on the second day, Mushin immediately performed the wedding," he went on.

"However, it was not a favorable time in Sango's cycle. From the beginning, we knew she could not conceive."

"Oh, no!" Kagome murmured.

"Sango, Mushin, Inuyasha, Shippo, and even Kaede near the end—they did what they could to try to break the curse, but nothing worked," he explained in subdued tones. "I had five days in which to say goodbye."

"I'm so sorry."

"No sorrier than I," Miroku replied wearily. As much as he hated to see her smile fade, it felt good to have someone understand the full scope of his tragedy. Kagome's sympathy was a balm, and when she kissed him, he welcomed the offering of comfort. Her touch was light, but the contact stirred his ardor; every gentle caress drew him out of the past and anchored him to the present.

Knowing he wouldn't get as far as he liked, Miroku settled for playful pecks and ticklish touches that were more play than foreplay. She wriggled enticingly against him, trying to trap his wandering hands, and gasping between giggles. "Enough!" she pleaded breathlessly. "I need to make so many phone calls!"

"Not nearly enough," he mourned, pressing a kiss to a shoulder he'd managed to bare.

"But the sooner I make arrangements, the sooner you can... erm..."

He drew back to meet her gaze. "Kagome-sama, you make a compelling point. I will yield."

"You will shower," she retorted, her gaze drifting along the planes of his chest left exposed by the yukata he'd never bothered to refasten.

He didn't miss the brief ogling she gave to the sheet that didn't quite hide his enthusiasm. "Kagome-sama!" he chided, feigning shock, and she averted her eyes guiltily. With a chuckle, he cupped her cheek, urging her to look at him. "Later."

To his immense gratification, she smiled and answered, "Soon."

It took two hours and six phone calls to put Kagome's rescue plan into motion, so she barely had time to think, let alone eat. Her stomach was rumbling noisily by the time they checked out of the inn and showed up on Hachi's front step. The tanuki opened his door and, with one twitch of his nose, broke into an indulgent smile. "Oh, thank goodness!"

For a moment, she was confused, but then she remembered. I didn't have time to bathe. He thinks I... we...! Kagome's cheeks reddened, and her chin tilted to a defiant angle as they were ushered inside. "Were you able to file the paperwork?"

"I called first thing this morning, so it's all taken care of," Natsume assured.

"Papers?" Miroku inquired.

"You need an identity," Kagome explained. "People don't just appear in this era. Everyone is registered, including youkai... but because they have such long lives, they keep spares laying around for when they need to switch lives."

Hachi shook his head. "It's more complicated than that, but yes. I'm so glad we were able to help!"

Miroku took his seat at the table, remarking, "Kagome-sama has been too busy to explain anything, but I am grateful for your efforts on my behalf."

"It's easier if I only have to explain once," Kagome defended. "Mama and I talked this morning, and we decided that your name should be Miroku Higurashi, a distant cousin from another branch of the family. That's what your papers will say."

Hachi nodded eagerly. "This will be registered as your birthplace. There's another tanuki family living just outside of town who'll vouch for you if need be. We have connections with a kitsune-run temple, where there is now a record of your training."

Kagome jumped back in, saying, "Mama's already leaking the news that my vacation was actually set up so we could meet. She's telling everyone that it's an arranged marriage so that Grandpa can bring you in to help tend our family's shrine."

"Your family isn't upset by this sudden development?" Miroku inquired.

"Mama's can't wait to meet her new son-in-law," Kagome assured.

"I am grateful... and astonished."

The young woman shook her head. "Miroku-sama, they've all heard stories about you over the years."

"You painted me in glowing terms?" he inquired skeptically.

"Well, they're also aware of some of your more infuriating tendencies," she conceded. "But Mama called you 'that brave monk' and told me to ask you what you want for dinner when we get home."

Miroku bowed his head and said, "I will endeavor to bring honor to your family name."

"And carry it on," helpfully interjected Hachi.

Kagome huffed, and Miroku offered an amused, "Indeed."

The walk up the mountain was mostly silent, and Miroku chose not to interrupt Kagome's thoughts. Natsume had loaned her a bright yukata, and Hachi had produced flowers for her hair before whisking off ahead of them to the temple. Perhaps she is disappointed to have a makeshift wedding... far away from her family?

More than half the day had been spent in the preparations required to introduce him into modern society, no small undertaking if Kagome's current disposition was any indication. As grateful as he was to her for taking such a practical approach to his predicament, he didn't want her to have to sacrifice everything for his sake. She is the sort who appreciates small gestures... a true romantic. He would watch for opportunities to woo her generous affections. Smiling faintly to himself, he allowed his steps to lag.

It took nearly a minute for Kagome to come out of her reverie and turn to check on him. "What are you up to?" she asked suspiciously, self-consciously smoothing her hands over her hips.

"Admiring the view," he replied innocently.

She stared at him for several seconds, then asked, "Me?"

He beamed at her. "You know me so well!"

Her expression clouded. "Do I?"

Ah. She is nervous after all. Offering his hand, he said, "Better than anyone."

"Only by default," she pointed out, threading her fingers between his. "I can't believe I'm getting married today."

"What a coincidence," he said, giving her hand a small squeeze. "I plan to wed today, as well. There is a woman I could not refuse."

"Because you had no choice?"

"Because her skin was soft... and her hair was loose... and her lips..."

She stopped walking. "And because you have no choice."

Giving her hand a gentle tug, he led her off to the side of the road. Standing together in the shade of a low-spreading tree, he took both her hands in his and confidently declared, "I want you, and I will make you want me. I swear it."

Her confusion was adorable. "Make me?"

"You forget, Kagome-sama," he rejoined. "I have five centuries of vicarious experience to draw upon. You shall benefit from my great wisdom."

"So the foundation of our marriage will be good sex?"

"I am deeply offended! I anticipate phenomenal sex."

She hung her head with a small groan. "Please tell me you're joking."

"I am joking."

Peeping up at him through her lashes, she admitted, "Plus, I'm a little scared."

"I will be gentle," Miroku promised.

"Not that," she muttered, shooting him a flat look.

"What then?" he prompted.

With a little shrug, she whispered, "I'm going to be a mother."

"Kagome-sama," he chuckled, leaning close to kiss her lightly. "As pleased as I am by your confidence, do not get too far ahead of me. I wish to take part in the process."

Her lips quirked into a sheepish smile. "I guess I am getting ahead of myself. So first, we'll..."

He stopped her with another kiss, one that did not end until he was certain he had her full attention. Then, he drew back and held her starry gaze. Nodding in satisfaction, he softly inquired, "Do you want to marry me?"

She glanced towards the road, then whispered, "If I said I'm not sure, would you kiss me again?"

Miroku decided then and there that he was in love.

The monk and miko arrived at the temple somewhat breathless, slightly rumpled, and noticeably late, but the head monk waved off their apologies. Hachi, disguised as a beaming Tadao, was one of the witnesses to the brief ceremony. To his relief, only one person remarked upon the groom's astonishing resemblance to the statue enshrined in the cave just down the hill. When all was said and done, Miroku graciously thanked the assembled, then smoothly escorted Kagome out of the building, across the grounds, and into the woods.

"Where are we going?" she asked curiously.

"Hachi has given us the use of his former home in the tanuki village. It's just through here," he explained.

"Oooh, that's what Natsume meant," she replied. "She and her daughter were going to stock their 'summer house' after we left. How much farther is it?"

"Just there," he said, pointing ahead. The tanuki homes were well camouflaged, but it was possible to pick out peaked roofs and fat chimneys tucked in amongst the trees. Trailing vines partially hid the wide door through which Miroku escorted his bride, and he gazed around a room that hadn't changed much over the years. A fire had been laid in the pit, and a large pot simmered over it. Sweet cakes were arrayed on trays, and several small kegs of saké were lined up. "Tanuki hospitality," he murmured with a fond smile.

"How quaint!" Kagome enthused, admiring the one-room abode. Her perusal screeched to a halt when her gaze fell upon the wide bed in the corner. Glancing tentatively at her new husband, she ventured, "Should we... erm... get started?"

"Are you anxious to begin?"

"Aren't you?"

More than you could possibly know. Shaking his head, Miroku replied, "There is a very real possibility that the only thing we will take away from the next two days are our memories. I want them to be exceptionally good ones."

"Isn't it more important to make sure I get pregnant?" she asked anxiously.

With a soft sigh, he caught the hand that was clenched over her heart and gently loosened her grip. "Relax, Kagome-sama. I promise to do everything in my power to break this curse, but I mean to enjoy the process." Faint color bloomed in her cheeks, and he stepped closer, lowering his voice. "My first priority is taking care of you, for the consequences will take care of themselves."

"Oh," she managed. "That will be... erm... oh."

"No, no," he replied teasingly. "It will be phenomenal."

With a wan smile, she asked, "Promise?"

Miroku nodded wisely. "Trust me."

The Cursed Monk

A InuYasha Story
by forthright

Part 7 of 9

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