Continuing Tales

Chasing Methuselah

A InuYasha Story
by Sandra E

Part 2 of 13

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Chasing Methuselah

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,

so as to have the life that is waiting for us-E.M. Forster

Kyoto, Sengoku Jidai, circa 1542

She was doing it again.

Watching him.

He could feel her walking quietly behind him, looking at his back like he was about to drop dead or something. It was disconcerting. It was unusual. It was-


Pensively, Miroku slowed his step, watching the rest of the small group walk ahead. Inuyasha was trudging through the tall, glistening grass with his patented scowl, while Shippou, half-asleep, dangled from the hanyou's tattered sleeve. Sango, her hips swaying innocently, lagged behind the two, hiding an occasional yawn.

Miroku grinned wistfully.

He really did love that outfit, what with its curves and the-

"Miroku-sama?" came a small voice.

Kagome had finally caught up to him.

Miroku gave her a friendly smile, noting, with no small amount of discomfort, the glare Inuyasha had tossed him over his shoulder.

"Is something the matter, Kagome-sama?" Miroku asked quietly. Frankly, he'd been tiptoeing around Kagome for the past few weeks, ever since-

"No," she said, apparently content to walk by his side in silence.

Miroku frowned. She'd been doing that a lot lately, too.

"I was just... thinking," she said uncomfortably, twisting her fingers as they walked. "Maybe you should drink less of your... um, special tea."

Miroku blinked.


"Because, well, you only have one liver," she mumbled restlessly, glancing up at him through thick, dark eyelashes.


"And, you know, it's a very important organ. You can't-you can't live without your liver."

Miroku watched her bewilderedly.

She's doing it again.

Miroku wondered, forcing himself to look away from her soft, worried features, why she seemed so concerned about him lately. Sometimes-and he knew it was a thoroughly laughable assumption-it seemed as though she was fixating on his... his-

Death. But-

Why him?

Why now?

Miroku ducked.

A large, dirty pebble whizzed by his head. Inuyasha stood a few feet away, glaring sharply, faint carnage in his eyes.


"And," continued Kagome obliviously, "your robes-"

Maybe this was Kagome's way of dealing. Of taking her mind off her own problems. Off Inuyasha.

"-I mean, they're dark-"

But. Should he? Should he let her worry about him? Was it the right thing to do?

He hated to admit it, but he was... pleased this past week. It felt nice to have someone worry so openly about him. Not infrequently, he felt as if he were exploiting her good intentions, trying to usurp Inuyasha's dominion over her. Which was-well, it was ridiculous, considering he'd been made well-aware that Kagome belonged with Inuyasha. To Inuyasha.

"-and it's a universally-known fact that dark colors attract sun, a lot, so... so..." she trailed off, then tugged at his sleeve. "Heat stroke!"

Miroku couldn't help it.

A wicked grin upturned his features, his shoulders slumping dramatically. With well-practiced pomposity, he clasped her little hands in his, pausing airily in the middle of the trodden path. "I understand perfectly now, Kagome-sama."

"Um?" Kagome raised a dainty eyebrow, focusing her adorably flustered gaze on his eyes, but, to his mild surprise, she made no attempt to extract herself from his theatrical embrace.

"You're tying to tell me you want to see me naked," he finished with a sensational flourish. "Ah! I will be more than happy to disrobe for a beautiful girl such as yourse-"

"Hiraikotsu!" "Kaze no Kizu!"


"Are you all right, Kagome-chan?" asked Sango, shifting her boomerang with a menacing scowl. "Is he dead? And if not, do you need me to finish him off?"

"Stupid monk," growled Inuyasha, but somehow, even his snarling sounded indifferent and distracted. Sluggishly, the hanyou continued on his path, trying to detach the sleeping kitsune from his sleeve with a mildly annoyed glower.

"Uh... I'm-I'm okay, Sango-chan!" said Kagome loudly, then knelt down to inspect Miroku's throbbing head. "I'm sorry," she whispered gently as the rest of the group moved on with a few muttered curses, her bottom lip trembling peculiarly.


She was apologizing to him?

Stunned, Miroku let her touch the aching bruise on his forehead, watching her blue eyes widen innocently with every flinch. Her warm, slender fingers ran over the tiny gash lightly, fluttering indecisively as if it were a mortal wound, not a mere scrape. And-

Her eyes. That look.

Something loosened in his chest as he exhaled sharply.

What was going on?

"Kagome-sama," he said firmly. "What's wrong?"

She looked at him, startled, like he'd caught her doing something inappropriate. "N-nothing?"

Very convincing.

With a groan, Miroku slowly stood up, pulling her with him. Casting a cautious glance at the remainder of the group in the distance, he turned to the girl, trying very hard not to touch her again.

She'd wanted to tell him something a moment ago. He was sure of it. But. What was it?

Her shoulders were oddly stiff, her back was painfully straight, and her eyes were darting about, fixing their gaze on anything but him.

"Please," he heard himself say.

He had to know. For some odd reason, he had to.

To his chagrin, he was-he was worried about her. It was hard to avoid the rush of concern he felt whenever he'd catch a glimpse of her. Ever since-ever since he'd seen that... enlightened look on Inuyasha's face, he knew. He knew. It was absolutely, utterly, thoroughly hopeless. Irreparable. Impossible. Kagome would never be able to surmount or erase Kikyou's memory. She would never want to.

She'd never be Kagome to Inuyasha. She'd never be first.


-she'd never give up. Or mind in the slightest.

Miroku sighed in frustration, turning away. It was none of his business. It wasn't.

If she was that stupid-

"I can't tell you."

Miroku froze. A strange sense of déjà vu tickled the back of his neck, creeping into his consciousness, wrapping its icy fingers around him.

"I can't tell you," she repeated, fidgeting with a tall strand of grass, twisting it around her fingers. Then, quickly, she glanced up with a painfully cheerful smile, looking younger than he thought she was. "Come on, Miroku-sama! Let's go before Inuyasha... um. Well, two words. Raging apoplexy."

Miroku found himself smiling back, wondering all the while why he was indulging her. "You know," he began innocently as they descended the path again, "I never did hear you say no."

"What?" she flushed, tucking a stray curl of inky hair behind her ear.

A tiny smirk played about his lips. He had to do it. Had to. It would be good for her. If she couldn't hit Inuyasha-

"When we met," he elaborated theatrically, watching two particularly bright spots spread across her pink cheeks. "When I asked you to bear me a son," he waggled his bushy eyebrows. "You never said no."


He rubbed his forearm, grinning playfully. Mission accomplished. Though, really, he needed to stop collecting bruises for her benefit. It was... unsettling.

"It's been a while," he said cheerfully, "I forgot how hard you hit."

She stiffened abruptly.

What? What did he say?

She was watching him again, observing his every movement with those curious blue eyes. Suddenly, he had the feeling she knew something he didn't.

"Humm. So... what did I say?" she asked emphatically, cocking her head to one side.

With a chuckle, he walked past her, waving a nonchalant hand. "You said, and I quote," he pitched his voice higher, in a droll imitation of hers, "'And why would I do that?'"

Kagome jogged up to him, a serious expression on her pretty face.

"Um," she mumbled shyly. "How-how come you remember that?"

Miroku froze.

Why did he remember?

Flustered, he bent to pick up a pebble, turning it over in his palm, then swung his arm back and threw the little stone over a small sand dune. He heard it plunk into a puddle with an eerie echo, and when he turned to face her again, the edges of his face were outlined in light shadows and he was smiling confidently.

Shrugging, he ignored the thumping in his chest as he watched the smile flicker on her face like a freshly lit candle. "I have an excellent memory, Kagome-sama. It comes from my vigorous training," he grinned, nudging her lightly. "And my special tea."

Kagome beamed sweetly, tugging at his sleeve and making him stop to look at her. "Really? What did you have for breakfast?"


"Eight second rule, Miroku-sama," she giggled as his eyebrows quirked upwards, and ran on ahead, leaving him standing in the middle of the dusty trail with a positively nonplussed expression clouding his tanned features.

Flustered, Miroku frowned. What the hell was this eight second rule?

And as he lazily advanced on her, deliberately making a mental note to ask about this infantile rule later, he wondered what in Buddha's name he had for breakfast.

'I've always been more of a solitary man, preferring to work on my own, than in the company of others.'

'Yeah, but if we don't work fast, you won't even have your own company to enjoy.'

'Dear Kagome-sama, are you troubled by this wretched fate of mine?'

'Who should I help out? Miroku-sama's a lot nicer than Inuyasha...'

'Y-you wouldn't dare betray me!'

Oops, wrong memory. Grimacing, he shook his head, pushing the thought away unceremoniously. Damn it, what did he have for breakfast?


Miroku looked up. He'd caught up to the group without even realizing it. Inuyasha was eyeing him oddly, frowning distrustfully; Kagome was chatting with Shippou, glancing surreptitiously at Inuyasha, and Sango-

Sango was standing in front of him, a mixture of concern and suspicion staining her lovely features.

"I'm okay," he said absentmindedly, looking past her shoulder to the small valley below. "My. That village certainly seems as if it's enjoying an opulent lifestyle," he pointed casually, feigning indifference while his brain schemed furtively. "How truly unfortunate that such ominous clouds are gathering over it!"

Sango gave an exasperated sigh, while Inuyasha snorted derisively.

"Oh!" exclaimed Kagome happily. "I won't have to sleep on the ground again! Yay!"

Miroku tilted his head.


Kagome was the only one that never complained about his... less virtuous endeavors. In fact, most of the time, she was downright ecstatic about them. He couldn't recall a single instance when she'd chastised him for anything other than his, uh, roaming hands. Which, he noted with no small amount of astonishment, she hadn't really protested lately.


Forcing himself to look away, he descended the hill, enjoying the amicable silence. The village nestled within the valley spread below them like a dark, frozen river, resembling a sown playground of dying candles.

Unfortunately, the farmers on the outskirts of the village seemed a little too... enthusiastic to see them, even at this late hour. Most of them had turned their heads to watch as the group passed by tiny rice fields, observing the outsiders with sparkling eyes.

For a moment, Miroku was certain he could almost recognize the familiar glint of-something in their welcoming smiles. Then, assuring himself the... possibility was wholly ridiculous, he relaxed. This village-this village was small and peaceful and-

"Welcome, travelers!"

Miroku turned, looked left, then right, then frowned in confusion, his eyes wide and uncomprehending.

"Down here," said a hoarse voice.

Miroku glanced down, his eyebrows still high on his sun-touched forehead.

A short, old man with countless wrinkles and craggy whiskers was smiling up at them, waving his ratty cane. "Welcome! Can I interest you in a reading?"

Miroku blinked and exchanged glances with Inuyasha. The old man didn't seem dangerous, but what was he-

"What the hell are you talking about, old man?" asked Inuyasha rudely, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword.

The old man in question offered them a strained smile, though his eyes spoke of deep exasperation.

"The future!" he clarified loudly. "Do you want me to read your future?"

Miroku shook his head, muttering under his breath. He'd been right. He knew there had to be a reason for the village's obvious wealth in these times of hardship. Perhaps procuring tonight's lodging would be a much more difficult task than he had previously anticipated.

It was clearly time to turn around, that it was.

"Oh!" Kagome squealed happily. "A fortune teller! Ooh! Let's do it! It'll be fun!"

Miroku flinched. He'd planned on leaning closer to her and whispering the truth, but Inuyasha beat him to it. Except, minus the whispering.

"Keh. Idiot! He's trying to swindle us, you stupid-"

"I'd like to try it," said Sango quietly.

All eyes turned to her.

Her lips were thinning into a tenuous line, her eyes softening with unshed tears.

One simple word etched itself across Miroku's mind.


"For a nominal fee, I assume?" he asked suddenly, staring the old man down with a determined scowl.

The old man nodded vehemently. "Of course."

"Fine," replied Miroku, glancing at Sango. Something, some emotion beyond description, unfolded across her face.

He wasn't sure he wanted to know the future, but if Sango did, then...

The old man looked pleased as he ushered the small group into his ornate shack. A frumpy old woman sat there, looking bored. She jumped to her feet quickly when she spotted them, going about making tea and bowing excessively.

"So, how will you do it?" asked Kagome enthusiastically, practically bouncing from one foot to the other as an equally excited Shippou clung to her leg. "Crystal ball, coffee grinds, Tarot cards, ooh-palms?"

The old man blinked warily, his withered hands freezing midair.

"I prefer fortune cookies because they're open to interpretation," she continued happily while the rest of the shack stared at her. "Except, sometimes, they're kinda... useless and make no sense whatsoever," she scrunched up her little nose thoughtfully. "But they taste good, so that's a plus."


"Um... that is to say-hey, is that tea?"

Miroku tried very hard to hide his grin, then sat down on the offered mat. Sango sat to his left, while Kagome plopped down to his right, Shippou in her lap.

"Kagome," whispered Shippou, awed, "will you bring me some of those cookies next time?"

Flushed, Kagome nodded, ruffling the little kitsune's hair.

Inuyasha scoffed from where he was skulking in a dark corner, and Miroku looked at the old man. "So, tea leaves?"

The old man looked indignant. "Not just any tea leaves! My tea leaves. I've been growing them for years. It's a gift."

Doubtfully, Miroku raised a bushy eyebrow, thoroughly prepared to voice his disapproval, but Sango was sitting there, deadly serious, so he bit his tongue and reluctantly permitted the old man to moan and groan and pretend as if he actually knew what he was doing.

Without having to confer, Kagome, Shippou, and Miroku allowed Sango to go first. She was lightly flushed-most likely embarrassed to have all of them there for something she considered reasonably private-and concentrating on what the old man was telling her.

"Oh, I see apples in your future," said the old man with too much feigned mysticism. Miroku's jaw clenched imperceptibly.

"Uh... apples?" asked Sango, raising an incredulous eyebrow.

"Apples mean you're going to have a long life," nodded the old man appreciatively. "Good. You deserve it."

Miroku sat up straighter.

"And there's a basket," continued the old man with a mischievous grin. "An addition to the family, I'm convinced," he said, casting her a warm smile.

Sango blushed profusely, while Kagome giggled. Miroku cleared his throat with an audacious smirk. Hmm. Perhaps that child he kept asking for-

"And... he's going to be all right soon," said the old man unexpectedly.

Miroku's head snapped up.

"What?" Sango mumbled, trembling.


"Who's going to be all right?" she demanded, clenching her fist.

The old man blinked innocently. "What?"

Sango gritted her teeth. "You said-you said he was going to be all right. Who's he?" she asked desperately.

"Did I really? Did I say that?" the old man looked about the room, confused. "I don't remember."

Sango growled in frustration, then averted her eyes to Kagome. "I'm going to wait outside. Yell if you need a boomerang. Or poison. Or an extra set of hands."

The old man shrunk back on his mat, his whiskers twitching.

Sango slowly got up, squared her shoulders, nodded angrily at a disturbingly silent Inuyasha, then marched outside, fuming.

Miroku scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. He was going to follow her out, he was, but-

"And you," the old man pointed a wobbly finger at Kagome's lap. "You with the tail. There's a night bird in your leaves."

Shippou blinked his little green eyes, looking up at a flustered Kagome for an explanation. Kagome bit her lip.

"It is an evil omen," said the old man in a haunted tone. Shippou squeaked, blinking anxiously.

"Wha-what kind of evil omen?" he whimpered, clutching desperately to Kagome's red necktie.

"Sickness, poverty, disgrace!" said the old man gravely, though Miroku could have sworn he'd seen his wrinkled cheeks stretch into an amusingly malicious grin.

"Kagome!" wailed Shippou, snuggling into her chest, seeking protection.

"Oh, um," yelped Kagome, trying to comfort the little kitsune. "That's... that's not true." Pause. "Is it?"

The old man shrugged noncommittally. "There's also an arrow. I can't really tell."

"What does that mean?" cried Shippou, wiping his eyes with a shaky paw.

Kagome opened her mouth-

"It means someone's going to shoot you with one, stupid runt!" grumbled Inuyasha from his corner.

Shippou wailed loudly, then bolted outside.

Kagome looked at her empty lap, then Miroku, then Inuyasha.

"Sit!" she said angrily.

Inuyasha kissed the floor, breaking the low table and scattering the damp leaves around.


"My," said the old man, seemingly unconcerned with his wrecked household furnishings. "There's a wheel on that one. Did he inherit something recently?"

Inuyasha snorted, trying to get up.

"Actually-" began Kagome, but the old man raised a hand to silence her.

"And wood. Did he pledge himself in marriage?"

Kagome froze.

Miroku watched her intently.

"FEH! I've had enough of this shit. Kagome, let's go."

Kagome looked at the ground, furrowing her eyebrows contemplatively.

"Tch. Fine. Idiot."

And just like that, the hanyou was gone, escaping through the stringy flap that shielded the door. Dazed, Miroku narrowed his eyes at the old man. Was he methodically trying to get rid of everyone else?

Oi. What a ridiculous notion.

Bemused, Miroku addressed the old man, who was smiling oddly at the ground. "I apologize for the dama-"

The old man ignored him, picking through the leaves. "Head covering," he mumbled. He turned to Kagome. "Success in life."

Kagome tilted her head, putting a finger to her chin. "That's what a hat means?" Pause. "Are there little squares and triangles on it? Because I kinda have to pass Geometry."

The old man blinked. Miroku followed.

"Gah, Inuyasha's right. I guess this really was a waste of time. The only time people get answers to really important questions is in manga," she said, wrinkling her nose. "Or Escaflowne."

Slowly, she rose, and, throwing a questioning glance over her shoulder at Miroku, she exited, her fingers lingering on the flap before she pushed it aside with a soft sigh.

Miroku tapped his fingers on his knees with a blank stare.

Does that mean I have to pay for all this?

With a scowl, he turned to the old man, intent on weaseling out of such an unfair predicament.

"You're going to have to wait a long time," the old man told him seriously, interrupting his unrehearsed speech.


"For...?" asked Miroku bewilderedly.

"Heh," was all the old man said, thrusting his wrinkled hand out, expecting payment.

Begrudgingly, Miroku paid him, promising himself reimbursement once he cornered Inuyasha.

When he was almost out of the shack, his hand froze midair at the sound of the old man's grating voice.

"When the sun sets next, you better lay low, monk."

Miroku grinned. "I intend to," he said and was gone.

Once outside, he easily spotted the rest of his companions resting against a well in the center of the village. The moonlight dimmed for a while, as if the moon had passed under a great deal of heavy clouds, and for a moment, Miroku felt lightheaded and lost.

Promptly, he shrugged the feeling off, approaching the well and arranging his face into a cheerful expression.

Sango was standing stiffly, leaning against the well with her arms crossed, waiting for the vacationing Kirara to return. Shippou was clinging to Kagome, Kagome was watching Sango, and Inuyasha-

Inuyasha was staring off into the horizon.

Thinking about Kikyou?

With a determined stride (why did he feel angry all of a sudden?), Miroku closed the distance, and opened his mouth to smooth things over. But nothing came out. The darkness echoed back in silence as he padded across the gravelly ground, listening to Kagome's soft humming.

She glanced up at him as he sat next to her on the well's blocky brim.

"This whole village is full of swindlers," she muttered, swinging her legs with a pout.

"I told you," snarled Inuyasha halfheartedly, barely looking up from his sulky crouch.

"In the ten minutes I waited for you, I was ambushed by three beggars-who, by the way, looked wealthier than all of us put together-and a monk who claimed he could provide me with supreme enlightenment... for a modest price," grunted Sango accusingly.

"Wow, Miroku, you'd sure fit in here, huh?" said Shippou innocently.

Miroku's lips curled.

"So much for not sleeping on the ground tonight, eh?" sighed Kagome softly. Then, instantly, she perked up. "Oh!"


Kagome fidgeted. "Um, Inuyasha... would-it-be-okay if-I-went-home-now?"

Inuyasha twitched.

"It's just... uh, well, tomorrow's Monday, and I... I have school."

Inuyasha twitched twice.

"And, I know we haven't found any shards this time, but my exam in Chemi-no! Um. Geometry. My exam in Geometry is very important."

Miroku tilted his head, inspecting her studiously.

Her eyes were averted, her fingers twisting nervously, and one bare knee was slightly bent. She looked sheepish and shy and-

She was lying!

Miroku blinked incredulously. He didn't know how he knew, but she. Was. Lying.

He paused. She'd been going home frequently as of late. And she stayed away longer. And she seemed distant. And guilty. He'd attributed it to the whole Kikyou thing, but now...

Now, he wondered.

"Kagome-sama," he ventured slyly, "I thought you had this... Geometry exam last week."

Kagome blushed peculiarly.

Uh huh. She was definitely lying. Why?

"Yes, but, um..." she fiddled with her kimono. "I have to retake it, because..." here she looked at him, and for a moment, Miroku had the strangest feeling she was accusing him of something. "I just have to retake it, okay?"

Feeling inexplicably odd, Miroku prodded further. "But, Kagome-sama, you didn't bring any books with you this time. You couldn't possibly be sufficiently prepared."

He had her now.


Inuyasha did.


Sango giggled. Shippou snickered. Miroku grinned. Kagome stomped away furiously, her face alternating from a horrified pale to a flushed pink.

With an amused shake of his head, Miroku calmly addressed a grinning Sango. "I'm going to go make sure she reaches the well safely. If Kirara returns, could you ask her to come get us? It'll be faster that way."

Sango nodded, frowning gently. "Kagome-chan's been gone a lot lately, hasn't she?"

Miroku said nothing.

"It's that stupid dog's fault!" pouted Shippou, tapping his paws irately. Inuyasha finally picked himself up, but steadfastly ignored the little kitsune.

Not even a Feh? Hmm.

"Indirectly, yes," agreed Miroku, observing the hanyou. "But..."

But there's something else.

"Just go get her before she trips on a bug and ends up dead," grunted Inuyasha sulkily.

Miroku exchanged wary glances with Sango, then set off.

It didn't take him long to find Kagome.

In fact, it took him longer to stop laughing.

She was sitting on the grassy ground, nursing a bug bite with a petulant expression marring her usually cheery features.

"Got lost?" he asked, his shoulders shaking with repressed laughter.

She refused to look at him.

"What bit you?"


"Kagome-sama... are you upset with me?"


"Kagome-sama, are you?"



"I don't know."

Miroku pinched the bridge of his nose, then sat down beside her. She's not upset with me, he had to remind himself. She's upset with Inuyasha.


"I wish I'd remembered to bring at least one pocky. I could really use it about now," she muttered, rubbing her ankle.

It was a pretty ankle.


"Pocky?" he questioned curiously.

Kagome sniffled. "A strawberry one. A giant strawberry pocky."

Miroku wrinkled his nose. "That sounds... delicious," he lied.

Kagome glared at him. "Oh, shut up. You love them more than I do."


"Kagome-sama?" he blinked. He'd never had a giant strawberry... thing. He didn't think he'd ever want to have a giant strawberry thing.

Her eyes widened. "Oh! Um! No-forget I said that."

He wanted to. But-

"Kagome-sama," he said as softly as he could, but she stood up abruptly, offering him quite a view.


"I-uhm. I'm going home," she pointed to a distant thicket, flustered.

"Very well," he grinned cheerfully. "But you might want to-" here, he stood up and lightly grasped her hand, pointing it in the opposite direction, "-go that way."

Kagome went brick red, stammered out a 'Um, yes, thanks', then extracted her hand from his.

He watched her ascend the path, which was thick with foliage and slick with dew and-

She slipped.

"Miroku-sama..." she whimpered miserably.

Biting his lip to keep from laughing, he climbed after her, feeling the ground beneath him shift, scalding the earth to make way for his footprints. The moon started its slow descent, looking for all the world like water, its lakes glistening softly in the darkness.

He was reluctant, but-but he'd offer her a shoulder to cry on. He had to. He opened his mouth to tell her that it was all right to let it all out, to scream and cry and-

"You've never heard of the Grandfather Paradox, have you?" she asked suddenly, sniffling.

What? Wasn't this about Inuyasha? He was certain it had to be. Had to be. Kagome didn't think about anything or anyone else. She didn't.

"Of course you haven't," she mumbled to herself, climbing to her feet and brushing herself off. "Stupid question. I'm sorry."

"I haven't heard of it, Kagome-sama," he began uncertainly, stepping closer and helping her up the slippery path. "But perhaps if you explained-"

Her gaze rested on his face. She seemed to be contemplating it for a moment, looking as if she'd burst with some great secret any moment now.

"Gah! Okay!" she said finally, surrendering to whatever impulse drove her to ask him such a strange question in the first place.

Patiently, Miroku waited as they climbed toward the darkened horizon. Then, he waited some more.


She seemed to be searching for words. "Um, well," she began inarticulately. Her foot slipped a little, so, instinctively, she grabbed onto his arm for support. Except-except she didn't let go even after they were on level ground.

In fact, she looked quite comfortable resting her hand on his arm.


"Okay, apparently, this is how it works," she told him confidentially. "Say you went back in time about fifty years."

"Mh hmm."

"And say you met a young man, and accidentally, um... killed him."

"Why would I want to-"

"I said accidentally, Miroku-sama."

Miroku grinned brilliantly.

"So, anyway," said Kagome, poking his forearm with a side glance. "By doing that, you changed the past and your interference had terrible consequences, especially if that young man turned out to be your grandfather."

Miroku's head swam. The moon threatened to fade away with the coming flashes of early morning light. He listened to her voice, the sound tapering off like rain against thin metal.

She cleared her throat, and continued ambiguously, "So, if you killed your grandfather, he wouldn't have children, and those children wouldn't have you."

Miroku was silent for a minute. "So, what you're saying is, killing your family is dangerous."

Kagome blanched. "That-that's not what-I..." Her features softened ominously. "Miroku-sama. Don't you ever wonder if it's-wrong for me to be here?"

Miroku stared at her.

Stupid Inuyasha.

He was going to kill him.

"No," he said resolutely. "I don't. And neither should you."

Kagome looked at him in surprise, then relaxed and smiled happily.

Was that it? Was she worried she didn't belong here? Why wouldn't she-

Her fingers brushed against his skin, and suddenly, there was a breeze so abrupt and gentle it seemed to be seeping through the clouds. It sounded as though someone had sighed, somewhere off in the distance, as if a long bout of crying had finally ended.

Hn. She didn't belong here.

He couldn't even imagine what her world was like, what the future entailed, but... it was comforting to know that there was a future. As long as Kagome belonged in her time, he'd be able to cling to this selfish feeling of security.


"What was your grandfather like?"

"What?" he raised both eyebrows, his frown deepening. It wasn't exactly a non sequitur, considering their preceding conversation, but-

"He was a good man. I think. I never met him."

No one-no one had ever asked him that question. Hell, not many people asked him personal questions, period. So, it was no surprise Miroku found himself at a loss for words.

"And your father?" she asked softly, kicking leisurely at a small pebble.

Huh. Miroku glanced at her, wondering why she looked so comfortable leaning against him, with their arms entwined so snugly. What baffled him even more was-was that it felt so natural.

"He was funny. I remember that," he mumbled, a warm emotion spreading through his chest. "He used to tell me stories about-uhm, his..."

To his chagrin, Miroku flushed.

"His many conquests?" Kagome giggled innocently.

"Remarkable intuition," he smirked, pointing his staff north. "Actually, he always said no one was as difficult to, erm, conquer as my mother. She used to be a priestess-" Ruefully, he looked down at Kagome, who was watching the ground intently.

Definitely time to change the topic.

"Kagome-sama," he cleared his throat. "I'm not exactly positive, but..." he frowned. "I don't think you-or anyone, for that matter-can affect the future in a way that isn't already preordained."

Her nose scrunched up. "Wh-what do you mean?"

Miroku paused thoughtfully, then clutched his staff tightly as he knelt to the ground. "This Grandfather Paradox you spoke of-" he said, drawing a circle in the dirt. "It doesn't make sense."

Kagome eyed him skeptically. "Miroku-sama, with all due respect, I don't think you can debunk 20th century scien-"

"I'm not saying it's wrong," he mumbled, concentrating. Lightly, he marked a spot on the circle. "Let's use your example."

Kagome watched, fascinated.

Briefly, Miroku was completely distracted, surprised to be the recipient of so much of her attention.

"This is you," he glanced at her purposefully, scribbling her kanji into the dry, grainy dirt. "If you went back in time to kill your grandfather-"

"I wouldn't-" she huffed indignantly.

Miroku grinned, amused. "-and assuming you succeeded in killing him, most likely with a stray arrow aimed at someone else-"


Miroku bit back a chuckle. "You would never be born, therefore changing the future, right?"

Kagome nodded, a tiny superior smirk threatening to cloud her expression, as if to say, 'See, I'm right and you're wrong and I'm going to rub it in now with my giant strawberry pocky.'

Cleverly, Miroku looked up and braced his palms against the lopsided illustration, leaving his staff on the ground. "But Kagome-sama-" he murmured and watched, surprised, as her gaze slowly dropped to his lips.

Huh. This-this was new.

Her hands were tucked safely under her sleeves, the tips of her fingers poking out childishly as she blushed and knelt next to him to observe his sketch. Miroku fought the urge to close his eyes, hearing nothing but the breeze as it caressed the back of his neck, and his own steady heartbeat.

Swallowing, he pushed off the ground as the howling in the distance grew louder. "-if you'd never been born, how could you have gone back into the past to kill your grandfather?"

He watched, strangely satisfied, as her eyes widened and her lips parted, fingers clutching the hem of her little kimono, pushing it down against the wind.

"Oh," was all she said, and Miroku enjoyed the bewildered pout dancing across her features. Then, to his complete astonishment, she balled up her little fists, her knuckles turning white.

"I'm going to kill him!" she growled irritably, jumping to her feet. "I'm going to-I'm going to... well, I don't know what I'm going to do, but it's going to hurt!"

Miroku coughed uncomfortably. Kill him? Him, who?

"He lied to me!" she narrowed her eyes, then spun on her heel.

The next thing Miroku knew, her slender finger was poking his chest as she rambled, a slight trace of fury edging her voice. "Jerk!"

Oddly, Miroku felt as though she'd been referring to him, but that-that was impossible. He hadn't done anything. And he certainly never lied to her.

Fortunately, he was rescued within a moment.

With a throaty growl, Kirara, her paws blazing in the darkening sky, touched ground beside them.

"Kirara, am I glad to see you!" said Kagome, her anger washing away instantaneously. Kirara mewled and nuzzled Kagome's hand in greeting. "Could you please take me to the well? I'm sorry to be such a bother, but-"

Obediently, Kirara sat down, offering her back to Kagome. Gratefully, Kagome mounted the demon as Miroku watched with a contrite scowl.

Kagome certainly seemed in a hurry to get home. She was full to bursting with some unidentifiable energy, and-

What was so entertaining about her time now that wasn't before?


'I'm going to kill him.'


Briefly, Miroku wondered at the fleeting twinge of jealousy (where did that come from?) spreading its cold fingers through his flesh, but immediately shrugged it away.

Ridiculous. He was being ridiculous.

Hesitantly, he watched as Kirara and Kagome became nothing but tiny specks on the darkening horizon, then calmly collected his staff, and headed back toward the village.

Once again, it was none of his business. None. Of. His. Business.

Rubbing his chin in thought, Miroku grinned wickedly.

Besides. There was a basket in Sango's tea leaves.

Chasing Methuselah

A InuYasha Story
by Sandra E

Part 2 of 13

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