Continuing Tales

Chasing Methuselah

A InuYasha Story
by Sandra E

Part 12 of 13

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Chasing Methuselah

All stories, if continued far enough, end in death,

and he is no true storyteller who would keep that from you.

-Ernest Hemingway

Her heart was full.

And she'd had this dream.

In her dream, she's waiting.

In her dream, he says, 'I'm going now.'

In her dream, she kisses him and melts into him and whispers, 'I want to go, too.'

And in her dream, he smiles at her and says, 'Okay.'

But outside this warm dream, Kagome had woken up, ready to start their future together.

He'd been sleeping, half on top of her, his limbs tangled with hers, thick, dark lashes resting peacefully against his flushed cheeks and she'd melted.

Was still melting.

Happily, Higurashi Kagome paused, her lungs filling with fresh, crisp air.

The woods around her were thinning and the sky was blue and Inuyasha didn't hate her and life was pretty.

She'd been so incredibly... worried only hours earlier, prepared to just stay there with Miroku-stay with him forever-to sleep life away wrapped in the cocoon of his arms, possibly staring at his really shiny earrings.

Except, there'd been this voice in her head.

Stupid little voice of complete and utter doom, chattering away about repercussions and betrayal and lack of good sushi.

But she'd pacified it with a healthy swig of Kaede's berry syrup (possibly illegal in modern times), had kissed Miroku's cheek (sleepy and warm and adorable), and had gone to fulfill her mission of radical usefulness and general... happy goodness.

Vaguely, she could remember her wibbles from a lifetime ago-whining about Gauss' theorema egregium and arc lengths and Euclidean spaces and blah, blah, something, blah, blah, living on borrowed time and not belonging anywhere, with anyone, but a mental photograph of Miroku-his sleep-mussed hair sticking to her pillow as he reached out a hand to find her even in his sleep-was weighing heavily on her mind.


Kagome wasn't going to angst.

She was going to give Miroku and Inuyasha a few more minutes to settle their differences privately (preferably, without killing each other), and then she was going to be reunited with Shippou-chan and Sango-chan and continue with The Big Happy Plan of Happy Happiness.


...was going frighteningly well.

She half-expected some spawn of Naraku to barge in on her, holding a helpless bunny at sword-point, and demand she stop being so lucky, because the universe wanted its balance back and damn it, did she mention how pretty life was?

'Cause it was.

'What do you see in him?' Kikyou had asked her barely an hour ago, with an odd, genuine sort of curiosity.

And Kagome had smiled and said, 'Myself.'

I see myself.

Her answer must have impressed Kikyou, considering the miko had agreed to help gather the shards and perhaps fight on their side and possibly have lots of sugar once she was... alive again.


-no more exams!

Ever again!

Absentmindedly, Kagome continued down the burgeoning path, her feet brushing against soft summer blossoms.

And maybe...

...just maybe...

...she'd find a way... eventually... to-to visit her family.

Because she hadn't said goodbye-not properly, at least-to any of them. Grandpa was probably still sitting there at his rickety table, dazed and wondering why he couldn't have a normal granddaughter. Souta had... most likely forgotten all about her within an hour, obsessing over his sphere grids and weapon upgrades and zombies.

No, she thought with a smile.

Souta was missing her. Like she missed him.

And mama.

And Kazuo.

Kagome shook her head firmly.

No. Happy, remember? Happy and-

She gave a soft whine.

A pebble had snuck into her shoe, obviously intent on ruining her happy happy mood.

Kagome leaned against a tree, staring at the small field of dandelions ahead, and untied her shoelace, devising a flawless strategy befitting a genius as profound as hers.

Objective One: Get rid of annoying pebble!

Objective Two: Find Sesshoumaru-sama.

Kagome paused thoughtfully, the soft grass beneath her feet fading into dusty gravel.

She wondered. She wondered how exactly the Tensaiga worked. Did it repair tissue, and if so, how? Did it always need a body or could it slice through worlds and time and bring back the soul? Did it reverse brain damage from oxygen deprivation, did it restore blood cells, did it... okay, shut up.


Everything in Sengoku Jidai was magic.

And the Tensaiga was certainly a legendary weapon; a part of this Sengoku Jidai-it was magic and everything was possible.

Except maybe electricity.

And as she retied her shoelace, Kagome giggled, pressing her face against the warm texture of her sleeve.

And Shippou.

She wondered what he would think, or, more importantly, say, once his pocky-induced, diabetic coma wore off. Because... she'd have to ply him with a maniacal amount of sugar before he accepted the fact that he couldn't-couldn't... um...

'You'll have to tell Shippou to reconsider his sleeping schedule, Kagome,' Miroku had murmured to her last night.

'Eh?' she'd replied so very eloquently, trying to fend him off.

'You wouldn't want him to... stumble across a horribly inappropriate scene, would you?'

And Kagome had giggled and disappeared under the comforter with a delighted little blush, offering a muffled, 'Good thing we'll never... do... this again, then.'

'Ah. Me and my foolish questions-' he'd grinned, diving under the coverlet and trailing tiny kisses up her arm.

'-sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G...' she'd replied, questioning her sanity.

Because she must have been insane to have let that vile, depraved, deranged... wonderful, amazing-concentrate, Kagome!-monk do... um, well... things to her. Things he would never, ever, ever! be allowed to do to her again, hff!


Kagome turned fifty-seven shades of red, each deeper than the last.

Hopefully, Miroku wouldn't be trying... that again. After all, Inuyasha was with them now and-

-that hadn't stopped the evil monk before, had it?

Blushing furiously, Kagome tried to bite back a pleasantly embarrassed giggle.


This whole... thing was insane.

Kagome had absolutely no idea how she'd gone from a relatively martyr-y 'I will save Miroku-sama and let [insert more deserving person here] have him!' to...

'Mine, mine, mine!'

Clearly, it was all Miroku's fault.

For he was evil and cute and hff, she'd given up electricity, Coconut-Extract Body Wash With Extra Bubbles, and ODEN to be here, so-so it... was... only fair.

Kagome flinched.


It wasn't.

Sango needed Miroku. She needed someone who'd be there for her, ten years from now, sitting around the fire, laughing, possibly chiding Shippou and Kohaku for stealing his shakujo to go fishing-

Sango needed happiness.

And she would... would have it with Miroku.

And just because Kagome had... been with Miroku didn't mean she had to... stay with him. Because-because... her life had been easy and normal and she hadn't had to watch her family die and... really, Sango and Koharu were more suitable for him.

Either of them would be happy with, say, that herd of children Miroku probably wanted. Herd of children Kagome was too young and too terrified to give him.

A small smile was tugging at her lips.

She knew, with almost absolute certainty, that he would be one of those fathers. One of those goofy man-babies that spoiled his children rotten, that invested in shotguns (eheh, well, once they were actually invented and introduced to Japan), to keep the evil scum [they once were] off his daughters and-

How come she never pictured Inuyasha ten years from now?

And how come Sango and Koharu were automatically replaced in her head with someone less Sango and Koharu and more... Kagome?

Kagome shook her head, kicking at a pebble.

She couldn't.

She couldn't give him up.

Not now, not ever. She'd always shared Inuyasha with Kikyou and had never asked for, or wanted, anything for herself, but...


Something within Kagome's chest loosened most pleasantly.


And besides! Sango might actually fall (truly, madly, deeply) in love with that Takeda guy-and-and Koharu was fourteen! What did she know about love?

You're fifteen.

"Almost sixteen," grumbled Kagome, glaring at an offending squirrel.

And he didn't say he loved you.

"Shut up," said Kagome, shaking her fist sulkily.

The squirrel smacked its tail onto a pile of wet leaves as if to say, "You shut up."

Kagome giggled.

Fine, so he hadn't-hadn't exactly... said he... loved her or anything, but!

Plans. He wanted to make plans.

And that was enough for Kagome.

Speaking of plans...

Aside from trying to hunt down Sesshoumaru and, consequently, Kohaku, they'd-

-have to go see Kouga, as well.

Kagome paused, blushing.

("Hello, Kouga. Have you met my woman yet? She wears purple panties."

"What the hell are you talking about, monk?"

"Or rather, doesn't wear them. Look how well they fit my robes. Pretty!"


Okay, so... no.

Miroku would-would have to stay home with Shippou and Sango, yes. Inuyasha alone should suffice for-

("Yo, wimpy wolf!"

"Dog turd?"

"The monk has Kagome's panties."


Giggling, Kagome bent down to pick a silvery dandelion.

Perhaps she would have to go alone.

Slowly, she looked up with a wide, happy smile.

Which immediately vanished.

"Playing by yourself, little girl?" asked a voice.

Kagome scrambled up, the dandelion dropping from her hand.

And into Naraku's.

"Looking for something?" he asked casually, inspecting the stem as though it were a jewel shard.

Kagome blinked, throat suddenly dry.

The shards. Why couldn't I feel the shards?

Naraku-Naraku!-was sitting in front of her, unimpeded by any of his minions or puppets, his long, skinny fingers twined regally, back hunched, knees drawn.

Kagome took an involuntary step back.

She was going to scream for Inuyasha or Miroku, but Naraku rose and sidled up next to her with a sinuous sort of mien, so she just stopped breathing instead.

"Are you?" he murmured, crushing the dandelion, its feathery seeds lingering around his fist.

"Am I-am I what?" she asked, looking for an escape route, her pulse racing.

"Looking for something?"

A storm of silky, pink petals seemed to appear out of nowhere.

"Help, perchance?" suggested Naraku breezily. "Or perhaps, me?"


Okay. Miroku and Inuyasha couldn't be too far. If she just stalled for a few minutes-

"Let me see it."

Kagome froze.

Naraku tilted his head undiscernibly, a soft petal drifting past his face, swept up by his long, black hair.

"Let me see the scar," he repeated and then suddenly, a sharp claw-strangely familiar-was swiping across her back, parting her white miko robes.

Move, stupid-run, do something.

But Kagome did nothing.

"You don't wonder why?" asked Naraku silkily, trailing the spidery contours upon her skin.

A strong scent-the pungency and clay of the miasma-assaulted Kagome's senses, fixing her to her spot among the golden dandelions.

"No," she lied, heart pounding.

"He wanted it," said Naraku, circling her slowly.

Kagome shook her head, balling up her fists. "Doesn't matter."

"I suppose not," he agreed, humming. "But I held up my end of the bargain," he smirked. "And now, you're holding up his."

He reached for a drifting petal.

"Ask," he sang wryly. "I know you want to."

Startled by her impulsive audacity, Kagome straightened. "I don't want to."

"Liar," sneered Naraku. "Ask."

The scar on her back pulsed.

Kagome winced.



A sharp pain sliced up her spine.

"No," she breathed.

A petal brushed her cheek, tangling itself with one of her dark curls.

Naraku smiled amusedly. "You don't want to know what your part of the bargain is? What he promised in return?"


A stinging ache coiled around her waist, traveling up.

"I'd rather not hurt you," murmured Naraku slowly, voice laced with malicious promise. "Again."

Kagome cried out, the small of her back practically ablaze.

"What-" she groaned, relearning how to breathe. "What do you want?"

Naraku sighed dramatically. "Rephrase."

Tears trembling in the corners of her eyes, Kagome flinched. "What do you want? Please."

Naraku seemed pleased.

"I could tell you," he smirked softly, keeping his distance. "I could tell you," he drifted closer, closer, "everything."

A petal slipped from between his fingers and landed before her feet.

"So tell me," she said, trying to keep the fear out of her voice.

Naraku, alone and real, bore his eyes into hers. "I could not tell you anything you don't already know."

For a moment, Kagome's fear turned to anger.

She didn't know anything. She never had, and, obviously, she never would. Why did everyone think she could just remember and know and see as though she were-

A small gasp of surprise escaped her parted lips.

"I'm not Kikyou," said a strong, confident voice.

Kagome was startled to find the words coming from her own mouth.

"No," agreed Naraku, sinking onto the ground with a slow, familiar grace that wasn't entirely as ethereal as she remembered. "No, you're not," he continued, in a deep, low voice. "She chooses the dog, always. You... don't."

Kagome found herself slumping to the ground, resting against the cold dirt and facing Naraku.

She chooses, always?

You don't?

Why? Why did that sound so... not final?

"And I find it... gratifying to know you've cast the dog aside for my flesh and blood this time."

Kagome's eyes widened in horror.

Oh, God.

The words kept repeating themselves in her head.

This time. My flesh and blood. She. You.

"Why?" she murmured finally, trembling with every inch of her borrowed soul. "Why would you do that to him?"

Naraku was watching her unemotionally. "I've inflicted worse on myself." He seemed to be contemplating something, then slowly stood up, hovering over her. "He doesn't know."

Eyes burning, Kagome fought back her anger and tears and despair. "Why do I know?" she asked quietly.

A thin branch slashed through the air, cutting through Kagome's robes and slicing at her chest.

The spider mark on her back pulsed, tearing into her spine and making her arch upwards in pain.

"I don't want to know," she rasped, clawing at the cold, hard ground. "I don't-please-"

The scar pulsed again.

A gossamer-thin remnant of a memory flickered before her eyes.

Onigumo. Another man. A woman. Fifty years ago.

"She didn't love you," whimpered Kagome, clinging to the ground, her whole body burning and aching and tottering on the edge of a familiar precipice. "She never loved you! And he didn't-he didn't want to-he didn't want a son-didn't want him to suffer-wanted to end it-"

A pained, furious scream tore itself from her lips.

Daichi. His name was Daichi.

Panting, Kagome looked up, her bangs matted to her forehead. "Miroku's grandfather," she exhaled harshly, tears trembling in the corners of her eyes. "He was happy with her." Deep, enraged inhale. "He was happy with Hotaru. He didn't need more."

Naraku hummed wistfully, though his eyes were peculiarly distant. "It was never about his happiness," he said, expression neutral. "And she never knew the difference, did she?"

Kagome choked on a sob.

Naraku, this time. Cloaked and masked and charming. Lowering her onto the soft blue grass. Telling her what to name the child.

Helplessly, Kagome shook her head, holding her breath and tasting betrayal on her tongue. "She never knew."

Naraku bent over her, cupping her chin. "It's funny how life is a string of coincidences, isn't it?"

Dazedly, Kagome was aware of a rustle of cloth and a flash of black and then, Naraku was watching her, barely an inch away from her face.

"Funny how Onigumo saw them both first," he murmured.

Onigumo, traveling with Daichi.

"Funny how he could never finish them off."

A soft caress.

Onigumo and Daichi, stumbling across a young Hotaru.

"Funny how I keep having to clean up his messes."

Daichi, asking for help. Onigumo, touching Hotaru. Onigumo and Daichi, fighting. Onigumo, consumed by fire.

"Funny how these memories won't go away."

A sharp pain down her back.

Kikyou, finding Onigumo, caring for him. Onigumo, offering himself to demons.

"Funny how I need them to go away."


"Naraku," whispered Kagome brokenly, "who am I? What am I?"

"Recycled soul," came an icy, smooth whisper. Naraku drew his face even with hers. "That's all you are. You're nobody. You might have been one of them before, might not, but you're nobody now."

Kagome shook her head, refusing to listen to him. "It doesn't-it doesn't matter who I was before," she said, more to herself than him, her voice lacking the conviction she'd felt only yesterday. "It matters who I am today."

Naraku's lips curled in satisfaction. "Not quite," he said, withdrawing. "It matters what you'll become. What I'll become. With your help."

Kagome's eyes widened.

"Ah," came Naraku's voice. A petal drifted onto her lap. "Have you remembered it all now?"

There was-there was this feeling inside her, these... emotions, lingering within her heart like frightened, unsure children, like last anchors in a crumbling reality, like...

"Was that all you wanted from them?" she asked, strengthened by an odd sort of relief rushing to her heart.


...these weren't her memories.

None of them.

"Power? Kikyou's power? Hotaru's power?"

Naraku cocked his head as though he was seriously contemplating her question, and for a moment, Kagome's heart reached out to him, to that piece of him that was so intrinsically connected to Miroku.

"Of course," was all he said. He glanced at her warmly, then added, "Third time's the charm."

But Kagome wasn't listening. "You could have stopped. You could have stopped after they died." Slowly, she looked up at him. "You could have raised your son. You could have removed the curse. You could have-"

"This is not about the monk," spat Naraku furiously, slashing a claw across Kagome's cheek. "He is Onigumo's rightful progeny-a thief, a fool-not mine!"

A thin line of blood appeared across Kagome's cheek, seemingly appeasing Naraku's wrath.

"And Onigumo is dead," he said, calmer, his nostrils flaring. "All that remains of the thief are his heart and his memories."

Kagome looked up slowly. "His heart and memories are enough," she said, in a low, overwhelmed voice, then paused.

"No," she amended with a tiny little frown. "They're..."


Kagome closed her eyes, listening to a sudden wind, then smiled.

"Thank you," she said softly.

Naraku's eyes narrowed, his features darkening with suspicion.

"For bringing Miroku into this world," said Kagome, shakily rising to her feet. "For letting me meet him." She took an unsteady step away from him. "For letting me make memories." One step, two. "For Miroku."

Crunch of gravel and a fluttering petal and she was suddenly not so lost anymore.

"You need me to wish for you, don't you?" she said, trembling with a new sort of power. "You need me to want to help you. The jewel won't work for you, will it? You need a connection. You need what Miroku and Inuyasha have. What Daichi had."

Naraku's lips thinned into an angry line. "Not quite," he said, closing the distance, his dark mane billowing in the wind. "After all, I've already obtained it."

Startled, Kagome froze. "What?"

"My flesh and blood," he smirked, sliding a clawed hand down Kagome's abdomen.

It took her a long moment to take in the implications, her eyes widening in horror.

"A perfect vessel," continued Naraku, licking the blood from Kagome's cheek. "Perfect new body the Shikon will finally accept. Mine and yours."

Horrified, Kagome pushed at him.

Can't think-shouldn't-he's wrong-I'm not-

Naraku smiled dangerously. "I've let you and the houshi live long enough to give me that," he sang wryly.

A rustle of leaves.

"Of course, I don't quite need one of you anymore."

Kagome's heart stopped beating.


"Naraku," she said desperately, panic drowning out logic. "Your tricks-your plans-I'm not Kikyou. I'm not Hotaru. I will not give you any stupid vessels or bodies or anything. I'll stop you."

Naraku was motionless for the longest moment, hair curling around him, licking at her wrists.

"You don't know anything yet," he said finally, his words echoing strangely in Kagome's head.

'You don't know anything yet, do you?'

Anxious, Kagome shook the memory away.

"I know enough," she said automatically, flinching as her mind evoked a different, warmer memory.

Naraku bared his fangs, then quickly regained his equilibrium, and smirked. "You think any of this was your choice?" he asked, sullenly amused. "Everything you feel for him is pretend. If you are Kikyou, there is room for the dog only. If you are Hotaru, there is room for the thief only. And I've made room for the monk within you. I've created this. All of it."

Fear-fear of him being right, fear of his Mona Lisa half-smile-was crawling along every inch of her skin, but she forced her lips to move. "I am Kagome."

A sharp claw dug into her shoulder.

"You are what I say you are," hissed Naraku furiously. "You do as I say. You don't get a choice."

For a moment, Kagome's heart skipped a beat.

'And you don't get a choice. I never did.'


Kazuo, Kazuo, Kazuo. Her Kazuo.

Frantically, Kagome shook her head, squirming out of Naraku's clutches. "No," she chanted to no one in particular, doubt and suspicion enshrining themselves into her mind. "No. I do what I want to. You don't dictate what happens-you don't-you're not-"

If Kazuo wasn't Miroku...

...she didn't want to-didn't...

"Shall I prove it to you?" asked his cold, condescending voice, but Kagome was barely paying attention. She hadn't said goodbye to Kazuo, had thought-however subconsciously-that maybe she would see him again, would maybe-

"For example, I wanted you to kill the monk," continued Naraku. "And you did."

Kagome's head snapped up.

Her throat wasn't working. Her lips were moving, but no words were coming out.

"He's dying as we speak," murmured Naraku. "You can't feel it?"

Recoiling in horror, Kagome listened.

Brush of waves, somewhere in the distance. Slash of tide.

"I only gave him the kazaana."

Demons, ascending the brink of a clearing.

"But you made him use it. You killed him."

Raging winds.

And then, Kagome was running, only she wasn't aware she was moving because the world slowed and collapsed in on her and she had to find him, because he couldn't be too far, because she'd seen him just minutes ago, had kissed him just minutes ago, had loved him-

All pretend, said Naraku's voice in her head, sounding as though it was riding on her shoulder, its taunts growing louder with every meter she crossed.

All part of my creation.

Ten meters, twenty... a fallen log and an uprooted trunk... thirty meters-

I could make you hate him if I wanted to. Snap of the fingers.

Forty meters... a lake and a clearing... forty-five meters-

"I'm not Kikyou," she was saying, maybe out loud. "You could never make me hate him. I'm never going to hate him. Never."

Fifty meters... burning lungs and a muddy puddle... sixty meters-

Noble. But he's going to hate you. As a matter of fact, he already does. Daichi hated Hotaru when he died. Kikyou hated Inuyasha. And the monk hates you.

Seventy meters... a cramp, starting slowly somewhere near her calf, hair tangling around her face... eighty meters-

He's going to die forty heartbeats from now. Because of you. You don't think he hates you?

"No," she said stubbornly, struggling for breath and time and help. "He's not going to die!"

One hundred twenty meters... a new clearing, last of the demons disappearing into the kazaana, and pathways-all outlined in the sunshine, bright and festive and leading to Miroku, to an expanding chasm of little roads and alternatives, but none that would lead her back home, and-

Watch him die. Watch him die and then come back to me.

Kagome ran faster.

She wouldn't. She wouldn't come back without Miroku.



This was what Kikyou-and Daichi-had felt fifty years ago, wasn't it?

This need to stay together, this selfishness, this inhuman hunger and greed and general apathy towards life.

A dry little gasp escaped her lips, as realization sunk in.


Kikyou hadn't-hadn't pinned Inuyasha to that tree because she'd hated him. She'd done it because she couldn't-couldn't let him leave her. Even in death, she'd wanted to be with him. And Daichi-the fire-he wanted, needed to end it. If one lived, the other would, too. But if one died-

It hadn't mattered.

Nothing else mattered.

Which is why Kagome hesitated for only the briefest of moments, self-preservation voicing a feeble protest, then ran.

She'd memorized every curve and bend of the dark outline before her; its apex tapering off into an eruption of icy hot winds, erratic and inconsistent and sweeping everything in its path. But everything else-the trees, the grass, the sky-was a blur; a graveyard of large, inconsequential structures glistening in the sunshine. And somewhere in that light and chaos, emerged paths Kagome never knew existed, paths so dangerous, so hot and narrow she felt her soul singe under such intense scrutiny.

Too late. You're too late.

So, Kagome picked the shortest path, the one lined with dust and death, and reached Miroku within a heartbeat.

She didn't want to die.

She never wanted to die.

Miroku, on his knees, head lowered, hand outstretched.

But he-he couldn't-

He couldn't die alone.

The kazaana was unfolding before her very eyes, melting into a crumbling gateway, literal and figurative, a puddle of nothingness and she was so so so afraid, but she couldn't let him. Do. This. Alone.

So, Kagome dropped to her knees, too, burrowing her head in his back, and relaxed completely against his warmth, waiting to wake up.

"You promised me," she whispered, but the winds in front of them grew louder, almost deafening against the shelter of his body.

Miroku tensed, that familiar look of concentration that so often lingered around his eyes shattering.

"Kagome!" he shouted, breathing hard and looking incredibly panicked to feel her there, at his back. "Don't-stay away-"

But Kagome shook her head, arms slipping around his waist, her bloodied cheek leaving a mark on his robes. "You promised."

She could feel Miroku's muscles tighten, waiting for him to tell her exactly how much he hated her.

"Kagome," he breathed, taking his eyes off the kazaana and glancing at the ground. "Please."

Kagome shook her head wildly, and carefully slid around him to press herself against his chest, climbing into his lap.

Distressed and bewildered, Miroku angled his still-gloved hand away from her as much as possible, steering the kazaana upon the cold dirt around them.

He opened his mouth as if to say, 'I hate you', and she remembered.

'You're Kagome. Don't-don't repeat Kikyou's mistake.'

Whoever Kazuo had been, was this what he'd meant...?

Don't die with him, miko.

The voice was angry and persistent, but-

It didn't matter.

Her bridges were freshly burned, probably still burning, and her soul ached. She-she didn't want much. To just wrap her arms around him one last time, to kiss him one last time, to drown herself in that familiar scent of tea leaves and chamomile and know he'd forgive her.

"I-" began Miroku slowly, Kagome's head tucked safely under his chin, hearing nothing but the breeze caressing the back of her neck, and her own steady heartbeat. He brought his other arm around her and her hands slid between them, lightly pushing at his warm chest as the howl in the distance grew louder.

"Don't say it, Miro-kun. Please."

The winds seemed to subside and the world felt different somehow, as though it'd been plunged into the eye of a hurricane where life was calmer, slower, safer.

"I can't-" he tried again, inhaling deeply and relaxing against her, and as she caught him looking at her like that, she didn't care how many bridges were buried behind her.

"Lovely weather we're having," said Miroku with a pained breath, tangling his fingers in her hair. I don't hate you.

His cheek was crisscrossed with tiny little scratches.

Hers was bleeding again.

"Yes," she whispered. "Perfect for a picnic." Are you sure?

The sun passed under a heavy shadow, dipping below a cloud, and it was cool and dark and quiet inside this bubble.

"Picnic," he murmured, face twisting in pain. "We could have one." Wince. "With pocky." Harsh exhale. "And sake." A sickening crack. "Maybe some ants." I'm sure, Kagome.

There was blood under her nails; she hadn't stopped to notice, but she would later, and later, she would cry.

"I'm sorry," she said, clutching his robes. "I'm sorry it turned out this way." She was watching him, only him, feeling the kazaana pull on her, pinching at her skin and robes, scratching thin little lacerations into her back, widening and stretching and trying to carve itself into her scar, flesh tensing and tightening around her bones.

"I'm sorry I couldn't change it," she continued frantically, cringing in pain and fixing her eyes on his. "I'm sorry I couldn't stop it. I'm sorry I made you use it so much. I'm sorry I-"

Miroku blinked at her, and abruptly, the icy glaze around his blue eyes cleared, and she could see real, raw pain.

"Kagome," he asked very, very carefully, lost as the winds tangled her hair with his. "Are you sorry you met me, as well?"

"No!" she cried, throwing her arms around his neck, and everything was suddenly coated with a fine blur, or perhaps, it was just her eyes that refused to stay dry.

But Miroku made her look at him with his shining face, his darkened heart, and said, with relief and regret, "That's all that matters, Kagome. Nothing else."

Nothing else mattered.

Kagome swallowed a cry, and had to burrow her head in his chest for just a little while, just to hear his heartbeat and know it was really real.

And Miroku-definitely real and hers and in pain-collapsed against her with an achy groan, elbows trembling, so her arms instinctively encircled his back tighter and she leaned her head into his shoulder, exhaling.



"My heart hurts, Miro-kun," she told the knot in his robes, with a soft, lost whisper, and tangled her fingers over the back of his heart.

Miroku's grip on her tightened.

"Selfish," he mumbled into her hair.

"What?" she asked softly.

"I'm selfish, Kagome," he murmured, trembling beneath her fingertips. "I won't send you away."

Squeezing her eyes shut, Kagome clung tighter, tears coating her eyelashes. "And I won't leave."

"I know," he said quietly, flinching and trying to steady his breath, a resigned little frown tugging at his lips.

The winds continued to rage around them, tearing at the earth beneath their ankles, their robes fluttering madly. Tired and empty, Kagome watched the emotions play across Miroku's face; exhaustion, anger, and a tiniest amount of wonder that he was still here.

"Does it hurt?" she asked quietly, one hand slipping down to touch his.

"Not anymore."

Kagome shut her eyes tightly, lifting her head. "You were a better liar before."

"Kagome," he groaned, his forehead pressing against hers. "There's nothing after this." His voice was strict and controlled and Kagome understood what he was trying to do. "Nothing."

"You don't believe that," she mumbled, wrapping her fingers around the beads dangling from his wrist.

Miroku gave a low gasp, wincing in pain. "I've seen it," he said angrily. "I'm seeing it now. There's nothing," he tried again.

The winds roared, hissing and sucking at the ground, impatient for them.

"I'm not afraid," she lied, trying to fuse with his flesh.

A sharp crack tore through the air, a dark glow sparking up lightly at the edge of Miroku's sculpted fingertips, spreading incredibly fast and licking at their silhouettes and suddenly, she knew.

Naraku wasn't going to change his mind; wasn't going to lift the curse.

They were really going to die.

"You'll have to close your eyes, Kagome," Miroku whispered softly.

Kagome couldn't help it.

A hopeless little sob tore itself from her throat as she crushed her cheek against his chest.

Slowly, Miroku brought his other hand to hold her there.

"Never thought," he gasped out, clearly drained of energy; his muscles taut with tension, stretched to breaking. "Never thought I wouldn't," he groaned, fingers clutching at her unconsciously, "be happy to see you," here, he shut his eyes tightly, lips flattening into a thin line, "on your knees."

Through her tears, Kagome choked on an anguished giggle, her heart overflowing with regret.

Every bone in her body hurt. Her temples were throbbing, her back seemed to be on fire, and she-

"Oh, god," she whimpered into his soaked robes, "I love you so much."

"That's nice," he murmured tiredly, his dark locks bouncing shadows across the smooth, moist surface of his skin, "but how do you feel about me?"

Kagome burst into tears.

Why? Why was he trying to make her laugh and forget and love him more? Why couldn't he hate her? Why couldn't he-

"Close your eyes, Kagome," he said, a new sense of worn urgency lining his voice.

Kagome's breath caught in her throat.

She could feel it... she could feel the kazaana, cold and sharp and tar-like, at her back as Miroku fixed his eyes on something behind her, ragged and weary and lost.


So, Kagome closed her eyes.

She was desperately panicky and perfectly tranquil at the same time, sending a silent goodbye to mama and Souta and Shippou and Jii-chan and Inuyasha and Sango and-

And then, Miroku was kissing her, gentle and hesitating, clinging, riding this incompletion.

She could feel herself drifting off in a soft sort of surrender, eyes closed and heart bare, trembling and glad that she hadn't let him die alone. Because Naraku was wrong. She was Kagome. And she made her own choices. Always.


Miroku's grip on her loosened abruptly and she was pushed away, hard.

"Ten seconds, Inuyasha!" was all Kagome heard, and then... somehow... she was flying, eyes wide open, clutching at the big red angry blur that was leaping away with her, the big red angry blur that was outrunning a sudden burst of strong, upward wind, its icy circumference spreading violently, nicking at the grating haori draped over her.

"Fuck," came Inuyasha's muffled growl. "He was serious." Faster, through a thicket, pine needles licking at her knees. "He was fucking serious."

Incredulous and shivering horribly, Kagome dug her nails into her palms.

Not gone. Not gone. Not-

The winds died away.

Inuyasha slowed, muttering frantically, hair streaming behind him.

Kagome closed her eyes, completely dazed.


Maybe if I keep them closed, he'll be okay.

"Kagome," said a wary, faltering voice.

Kagome's eyes shot open, scanning the horizon over Inuyasha's shoulder. "We have to go back!"

Inuyasha flinched, coming to a complete stop. "Kagome."

Why was it so damn quiet?

"Miroku," she breathed, fear pooling deep in her chest.


"Miroku!" she screamed, trying to wrench herself free, clawing at Inuyasha's knuckles.

Not gone. Not without me.

Inuyasha put her down carefully. "Kagome."

"You don't understand," she said forcefully, unsteady on her own two feet. "He promised me, Inuyasha."

Inuyasha averted his eyes.

"He promised me he wouldn't die," she reasoned, pleading with him.

Inuyasha glanced at her, ears matted to his head.

"And he wants to make plans, you see," she explained, shaking her head rapidly, hands gesturing wildly.

A slight breeze gently caressed her cheek.

And slowly, Inuyasha approached her, features soft. "He's-"

"-not allowed to leave me!"

Kagome gave a strange, strangled cry, and crumpled to her knees.

Gone. Without you. Your fault.

Silently, Inuyasha wrapped his red haori around her, and sat opposite her, burying his head in his hands.

Never coming back. Just like I said.

Trembling, Kagome... surrendered.

Good girl, echoed a cold, pleased voice.

Now come back to me.

Chasing Methuselah

A InuYasha Story
by Sandra E

Part 12 of 13

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