Continuing Tales

Chasing Methuselah

A InuYasha Story
by Sandra E

Part 8 of 13

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Chasing Methuselah

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change;

what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.

Why I Should Not Stay in Tokyo This Week:

1. I promised to bring Shippou candy.
2. Inuyasha.
3. Miroku-sama is still recovering.

"Ack! This shouldn't be this hard."

4. Um. Mr. Makoto might give us a surprise Geometry exam?

"Wait. No-"

4. Jewel shards!

"...will be there next week..."

4. Miroku-sama... um...
5. Is evil.
6. Has licked me. Twice.
7. And thinks he's cute. He's-he's... not monogamous. And he drinks. And-

"Um. Wow. Tangent. Maybe... maybe I could just-ugh. No!"

Why I Should Stay Away From Miroku:

1. He's distracting.



"What'cha writing?"

Kagome, who'd been waiting for the rest of her classmates to change into their gym clothes, jumped up.

"Yuka-chan!" she yelped, flushing. "Just... um-grocery list!"

"Oh, Kagome-chan," chided Yuka morosely, shaking her head, "you're so grown up!"

"Um, eheh, yeah," coughed Kagome, stuffing the crinkled piece of paper into her backpack, and straightening her shorts. It was only her first day back-a bright, sunny Tuesday-and she'd already managed to miss all but her last class.

She'd tried. She'd tried to be on time. She'd tried to remember Tokyo ran on minutes and seconds. Tried to remember clocks determined a girl's schedule, not cranky demons in search of legendary jewels. Tried to adjust from running away from evil spiders to running toward evil educational institutions.

Obviously, she'd failed miserably. And now-

Now she was... in withdrawal.


Discreetly, Kagome glanced at the bustling school playground.

She couldn't spot Miroku among the throng of boys-not that she was looking or anything!-so she followed her friends' cue, and leaned against the thin wire fence surrounding the quad. Occasionally, a few of the boys would stumble and cough as they passed them, evidently distracted by the silly little shorts the girls were required to wear. Eventually, though, the class naturally settled down; a small group of students claimed the basketball court, while the lazy majority scampered off to enjoy the late afternoon without... exertion... and...

Where the hell was Miroku?

"Yuka-chan," asked Kagome carefully, trying to mask her worried frown. "Has Mi-Kazuo-kun... er-since I missed the first... six classes today, um-"

Erri tilted her head. "Kagome-chan?"

Kagome winced. "I guess what I'm trying to ask is-did he come to school today?"

Yuka giggled. "Well, Kazuo-kun has been very busy lately-what with organizing several fieldtrips and all-but I don't think he's ever missed a day of class."

Kagome whimpered.

Ayumi raised an eyebrow. "Kagome-chan," she noted observantly, "you never did tell us why you and Kazuo-san seem so... close."

"We're not really that clo-"

"Or why he seems to know so much about you-"

"He doesn't really-"

"Or why you even like him."

Kagome paled. "What? I don't-"

"Well," sang Yuka merrily. "He is the class president. It's okay to like him."

"I suppose," shrugged Ayumi, while Erri eagerly bounced toward Kagome.

"He is sorta, well... pretty, don't you think?" she giggled, prompting Kagome to cautiously inch away, and turn her back to the basketball court. "And he always helps everyone-"

"-and he smells so nice-" cooed Yuka.

"-and I guess he is kinda smart-" grumped Ayumi.

"-and funny-" nodded Erri.

"-and cute-" added Kagome finally, unable to resist any longer.

"-and behind you."

Kagome stiffened. And suddenly-

Strong, warm fingers were digging into her shoulders, accompanied by a soft whisper against her temple. "Hmm," the deep, familiar voice told her quietly, "you were gone so long, I was tempted to tell the school you were pregnant," then quickly segued into a loud, hearty greeting.

Kagome choked violently as Miroku-who'd clearly acquired an invisibility cloak while she wasn't paying attention-slowly released her (placing a quick kiss on her forehead in the process). Automatically, Kagome backed up against the fence, wondering how he'd managed to sneak up on her and-and-what was he doing!

"You're late," said Miroku playfully, tilting his head and placing his hands on the fence, effectively trapping Kagome between his arms. Flushing to the tips of her toes, Kagome opened her mouth to clarify a few points-specifically, ones concerning his horrid conduct-but-


Miroku was wearing a t-shirt.

A plain, white, worn-out t-shirt. Nothing special. But...

His skin was darkened attractively by the sun-and the white shirt and the black hair and the blue eyes-and tanned.


"Kiss me," he said.

Kagome imploded. "Uhm...?"

"For luck," he explained ambiguously, nodding over his shoulder at the small group of boys watching them. "Important game, you know."

"Uh huh," nodded Kagome shyly, trying not to die of embarrassment and... other, less acceptable, things.

"Playing against 1E," he continued, biting his bottom lip.

"Uh huh."

"Don't want us to lose, do you?" he coaxed cleverly, his nose practically rubbing against hers.


"No, you won't kiss me, or-" he grinned, his hands moving closer, "-no, you don't want us to lose?"

"I don't want you to lose," she said to no one in particular, then-

Instinctively rose up on her tippy-toes, and pecked his cheek, ducking down and away from a random assortment of whoops and cheers coming from what were presumably Miroku's teammates. And so, blushing uncomfortably, Kagome hid behind Yuka, watching Miroku walk away. A goofy grin etched itself across his face as several of his enthusiastic friends patted him on the back.

"Aah!" Erri melted. "Cute!"

Kagome was far from disagreeing, but managed to arrange her features into an offended scowl. "Hff."


"Nothing," she muttered. "He sure is... perky today."

Yuka nodded. "Yep! Guess he's over his cold."

Kagome raised both eyebrows. "Cold?"

"Cold, yes," said Erri worriedly. "He's been a little sick lately (Kagome's chest tightened most painfully), and we figured it was the same cold you had-are you better, by the way?-but he seems okay now."

Kagome turned her head slightly, trying to watch Miroku without being too obvious about it.

"You know," hummed Yuka. "You've been sick a lot lately, Kagome-chan. Again. Have you thought about switching doctors? Because I have this one lady-she's practicing western medicine and-"

But Kagome had stopped paying attention ages ago. Because-

Because Miroku had apparently just scored three points for his team, and, and... guh, why hadn't she paid attention to basketball terms when she'd had the chance? Really! Remarkably, basketball didn't seem quite as boring all of a sudden. After all, there were muscles flexing and legs stretching and shoulders tensing and-


"Kagome-chan, are you alright!?"

Kagome whimpered from where she'd been knocked down by a stray volleyball. Dazed, she rubbed her forehead, her bottom lip curling with a sniffle.

"Watch where you throw that thing!" shouted Yuka protectively, shooing the culprit off. "You're not playing dodgeball, you know!"

"Yuka-chan, I'm okay-"

"I'll go get the nurse!"

"No, Erri-chan, I'm-!"

"Stand back!" came a familiar voice.

Oh, dear God, no.


Parting the crowd and swooping down and-NO!

"Stand back," he repeated enthusiastically, "I have training in first aid-"

"I don't need-"

Hojou fussed with his shirt for a moment, then awkwardly bent his head lower, cupping Kagome's face.

No, no, no! Can't. Don't.

His lips were nearing hers, drawing closer and closer-and no, she didn't want him to be her first-it had to be special-not like this and-


Where'd Hojou go?

Blinking her eyes open, Kagome sighed with relief. Miroku. Miroku had yanked Hojou off.

Kagome sat up, grateful and appreciative and... a little worried, because-

"What were you doing?" asked Miroku calmly, though his eyes were unusually dark.

Hojou rubbed his bruised elbow. "Um," he mumbled uncertainly, "CPR?"

Coolly, Miroku knelt down, pressing his fingers to Kagome's aching forehead. "Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation?" he asked angrily-angrily?-and turned his head to address a blushing Hojou-kun. "You realize, of course, she was hit on the head, right?"

Hojou clenched his fists. "I was just trying to help."

Miroku raised an intrigued eyebrow.

Kagome squirmed.

God, please? Please don't let him-

"No. You were trying to grope her," said Miroku, wrapping his fingers around Kagome's wrist and gently pulling her up. "That's my job," he finished, grinning evilly.

Kagome wasn't certain whether Hojou-kun would demand a transfer first, or if she'd manage to beat him to it. Because-no. No, no, no.

"Hello?" said a disembodied voice from somewhere behind them. "We have a game to play, remember? Higurashi-san's degenerating love life is not an excuse to slack off!"

Reluctantly, the crowd dissipated, grumbling and throwing surreptitious glances at Kagome and her incredulous entourage.

"Um..." began Yuka.

"Yes..." continued Erri.

Ayumi, on the other hand, chose that moment to explode. "Yasuo-san, are you trying to get Kagome EXPELLED? You can't just-just-make people think you and her are-and-whhh-what if a teacher had overhead you and-poor Hojou-kun!"

Yuka and Erri nodded encouragingly, shooting Miroku twin glares of absolute disapproval.

Miroku grinned. "Ayumi-chan," he purred silkily, "I apologize, but you must realize I don't share well with other children."

Yuka and Erri melted. Kagome resisted joining the melty puddle of goo, though her pedantic immunity was quickly wearing thin.

Ayumi, for her part, narrowed her eyes suspiciously and said, "Technically, Kagome-chan's not yours to share."

Kagome blanched.

A tiny lightbulb seemed to appear over Yuka's head. "Ah! That's right! Kagome-chan's dating some possessive stalker who's cheating on her with another girl! How could we forget?"

Miroku blinked, then quickly looked at Kagome.

Kagome scuffed her toe in the dirt, twisting her hands nervously. "Uh, no, I-"

"Wait," interrupted Erri, whispering conspiratorially, "I thought she broke up with him when she met that crazy guy who screams a lot and hates that other crazy guy?"

Miroku blinked again.

Kagome could practically feel her ears burning. "No, I-"

"Well, no matter!" said Ayumi, shaking her fist with determination. "They're all bad for her! But Hojou-kun-Hojou-kun is nice. Kagome-chan should be with him."


"Yeah!" agreed Erri.

Kagome flinched and opened her mouth to explain-possibly to Miroku-that...that-

"Oh!" shrieked Yuka suddenly, snapping her fingers. "What about that third guy? The-what did you say he does? The-the Buddhist guy?"

Kagome wondered why God hated her.

Miroku, though, was beaming at her proudly, his lips twisting into a conceited sort of grin.

"Oh. So, she mentions him, does she?" he asked nonchalantly.

Yuka appeared thoughtful. "You know, come to think of it..." she began, "Kagome-chan has been talking about him a lot more these past two months and-"


"-and," added Erri enthusiastically, "the way she describes him now, you'd think she was-"


"But-but isn't he in love with someone else?" interrupted Ayumi helpfully, turning to face a thoroughly humiliated Kagome. "Isn't that what you said?"

Kagome tried very hard to compose herself without committing suicide. "I thought he was, but... no."

Miroku's expression was unreadable.

"So, he's not in love with anyone?" asked Erri curiously, clapping her hands with an encouraging gleam in her eye.

Miroku's features darkened. "I wouldn't say that."

Kagome blinked, as her heart skipped a beat or four. What? Was he-did they... had Miroku met someone else during their journey? Was he referring to someone they were yet to meet, or someone they'd already met? Like, that girl... Koharu, was it? Or one of those village girls who fell for his fake palm readings? Or-

"Oh, so you know this guy, too, Kazuo-kun?" asked Yuka, hugging Kagome's arm. "Is he good enough for our Kagome-chan?"

Miroku smiled ruefully. "Yes, I do. And no, he's not."


Kagome tried desperately to decide whether she was angry or... angry.

"Hff!" she exploded, extracting herself from Yuka's embrace in order to poke Miroku's stupid chest. "You don't-you're not-you can't!"

Miroku's eyes widened slightly. "And now in Japanese, for those of us who are still learning your language?"

Kagome took a deep, calming breath. "You have no right to decide who is and isn't good enough for me."

Miroku seemed taken aback for a moment, his features softening. Then, to Kagome's relief-eek?-he gave a short nod, and grabbed her hand. "Of course I do," he said theatrically. "As your future husband, I have every right to object!"

And as her friends... blew up, Kagome decided to definitely visit the nearest pharmacy and inquire about its supply of arsenic.

"Marriage!" shouted Yuka frantically, shaking Kagome by the shoulders.

Kagome shut her eyes tightly.


Perhaps she was wrong.

Perhaps this wasn't Miroku.

Perhaps this was actually Naraku.

"When!" yelled Erri, bouncing like a bunny.

A strange, wild emotion swept through Kagome. She could feel it-the beginning-building from within, bubbling up to the surface, warming every inch of her.


She was having fun.

"Just don't get married before you graduate!" cried Ayumi desperately.

Kagome couldn't help it. She glanced at Miroku, saw his amused expression, and forced herself to sit down on the warm concrete. "Oh, please," she said, dissolving into a fit of giggles, "that's so 1542."

No one but Miroku would get that, she knew, and this specific bit of knowledge made the subtle wink he sent her somehow... special?

"So-so... you are together," accused Yuka, pouting.

Kagome felt a twinge of guilt, though it was promptly assuaged by her mounting excitement.

"I-" she began, but Ayumi-who'd marched up to Miroku, demanding answers-cut her off.

"Why should we trust your intentions are good? Why shouldn't we assume you're just trying to get in her pants?"

Miroku brought two fingers to his chin. "Well, for one," he began silkily, shrugging his shoulders, "I've already seen her naked."

Chagrined, the three girls turned to Kagome as one. "NAKED? He's not-not telling the truth, is he? Is he? Kagome? KAGOME!"

Kagome went brick red. Well, technically... "Um..."

"Never mind!" raged Ayumi. "How exactly do you plan to care for her? Are you rich?"


"How many children did you agree on?"


"Where will you live? Where will you work? Pets? Cars? Vacations abroad? How will you raise your children? Christian or Buddhist-?"


Kagome buried her head in her hands, practically on the verge of hysterics. A gentle pat on the back made her look up.

"Well," grinned Miroku as he sat next to her, "we're certainly not in a hurry, right?"

Kagome nodded numbly.

Miroku raised an eyebrow, then continued, "In fact, we probably won't get married-" (Kagome frowned, wondering why her throat was constricting so painfully), "-until we graduate from university."

Kagome sighed, an odd sense of relief washing over her.

"And," continued Miroku casually. "Two kids?"

Kagome bit her lip. "Definitely. Adopted?"

"Mh hmm. Buddhist?"


"Okay. Though, if we bring them along with us to sites, they might end up... I don't know, Mayan?"

Kagome tilted her head, oblivious to her friends' wild blinking. "Sites?"

Miroku waved a haughty hand. "Well, you can't expect me to work as a museum curator. I want to get my hands dirty."

Kagome beamed. "Archaeology!"

Miroku's lips curved mysteriously. "Of course. After all, several mythology textbooks are just begging for a rewrite."

"Starting from the Onin War," she giggled, then straightened, squaring her shoulders. "But... will we be able to bring our pets with us?"

Miroku frowned. "Pets? Cats, you mean."

Kagome pouted.

Miroku persisted. "No dogs."

Kagome sulked. "But puppies are cute. And-and-"

"-and they're more trouble than they're worth," he added, crossing his arms over his chest. "Besides, they're not very smart."

Kagome's eyes widened imperceptibly. When-when did we stop pretending?

"But they're... nice," she mumbled, faltering.

"And fickle."

A tiny shiver stretched across Kagome's back. "But dogs-dogs are loyal!"

And that's when it happened. Miroku tensed, tangled his fingers with hers, and looked at her-really looked at her-with an incredibly annoyed, jaded, furious look.

"Only to their masters, Kagome," he growled seriously. "Not their mates."

Kagome didn't want to play anymore.


Was that what Kikyou was? Was that why Inuyasha was so blindly loyal to her; why he loved her so much; why he'd never truly get over her? Was that-was that what he needed?

"You're right," she whispered, pleased that her voice betrayed none of her inner torment. With a cautious glance at Miroku-who appeared very anxious and upset, as though he was afraid he'd stepped over some imaginary line-Kagome tightened her grip on his fingers.

"Fine," she muttered, pursing her lips. "But I'm going to divorce you after I turn forty, and marry our sherpa guide."

To Kagome's delight, Miroku smiled brilliantly. "Fine. But I'll write a scathing collection of memoirs detailing your torrid affair to the world."

Kagome narrowed her eyes dramatically. "You wouldn't! Think of the children!"

Miroku had opened his mouth to retaliate, but a sudden coughing fit brought them both back to reality.

And their bewildered spectators.

"Well," mumbled Yuka.

"Yes," added Erri.

Ayumi, though, cocked her head approvingly. "Finally! Someone with goals," she applauded happily. "Now, what about your contingency plans?"

It was much later, when the class was on the verge of dismissal, that Kagome felt herself relax. Because-as Ayumi kept jotting down baby names and car models-Kagome realized she hadn't really thought about the future; hadn't thought past Inuyasha, past the Shikon.

She'd had plans before, hadn't she?

They were all very vague and possibly childish now, but they were hers.


Miroku's plans weren't half-bad, even if they were so ridiculously fake. School and adventure and yes. Yes. All things taken into consideration, their life sounded so... nice. So perfect, so-

Wait. Wait. WAIT.

Their life?

Mortified, Kagome decided to pay attention to the conversation, but soon found that it had degenerated into a pointless colloquy of-of...

Why was Miroku looking at her like that?

"What?" she asked hesitantly.

"Your friends just moved up our wedding date to next week," he whispered.

Kagome tried not to giggle. "When exactly will we tell them the truth? After they buy us a toaster?"

A dark lock of hair brushed against Miroku's forehead, distracting Kagome from, well, pretty much everything else. "The truth?"


"We haven't told them a single lie today," said Miroku disdainfully. His hand instinctively slid to Kagome's knee. "We are getting married." His fingers crept up slowly as a wicked grin spread over his face. "Next week, apparently."

Halfheartedly, Kagome tried prying his fingers off. "Miroku-sama," she hissed warningly.

"Hmm," he breathed, close enough to lick her (not that she wanted him to lick her or anything!). "At least we'll get a week off for our honeymoon."

Kagome swallowed hard, finding herself less and less inclined to push his hand away. "Nhhh."

"Mh hmm. Next week," he grinned.

Kagome snapped out of it. "You're not giving me a choice?" she huffed dramatically.

Miroku's lips curled. "You never gave me one," he said aloofly.

Kagome exhaled harshly. What was he talking about?

"Actually," began Miroku, leaning closer and running a thumb across her reddening cheeks. "Now that you're here," he continued softly, his eyes darkening, "I don't need-no, I don't want to make plans anymore."


"Um. Mi-"

"Kazuo-kun!" came a loud, cheery voice.

Kagome turned her head. A girl she vaguely recognized as a senior was approaching them fast, waving wildly.

"Hey, isn't that-?" began Yuka, squeezing herself between Miroku and Kagome.

"Good afternoon, Mitsuko-san," greeted Miroku politely. Kagome eyed him suspiciously.

This... Mitsuko-san observed all five of her younger peers, then zoomed in on Miroku. Flushing, Kagome scooted away, though she immediately regretted it, because-

"Oh!" squealed Mitsuko, bouncing. "I saw what you did earlier at the basketball court! That was so nice and caring of you! To help your-" here, she threw a quick, calculating glance at Kagome. "Your little... sister? Cousin? Neighbor?"

Seething, Kagome stiffened, waiting for Miroku to correct the girl, correct her now.

"Ah. You flatter me, Mitsuko-san," said Miroku instead, smiling irresistibly. "I did nothing out of the ordinary, I assure you."

Kagome twitched.

"Actually, Yasuo-kun and Kagome-chan are d-" began Erri enthusiastically, but was interrupted by Mitsuko's condescending wave.

"-that's nice. May we speak in private, Kazuo-kun? About Friday's fieldtrip?" she asked, batting her eyelashes.

Kagome wondered-as Miroku stood up, perfectly unperturbed-why she had the sudden urge to locate her elusive bow and arrow and, well... use it. Repeatedly.

"You don't mind, do you?" asked Miroku innocently, then strolled off without waiting for Kagome's reply.

Must... suppress... urge... to... kill.

"Kagome-chan!" whined Erri, retying one of Kagome's white bows. "You can't let your boyfriend talk to that-that... girl."

Yuka was likewise chagrined. "Don't you know Mitsuko-sempai is-is... well, she's not very nice!"

Kagome's brow furrowed. "He's not my b-" she began, then caught a glimpse of Mitsuko flipping her hair with a flirty giggle.


Kagome crossed her arms over her chest, frowning childishly. Mitsuko-well, one might consider the girl... pretty (if one were blind and stupid and-), but she wasn't-she wasn't Miroku's type and-

Aaaagh! What was she saying? Miroku didn't have a type. Miroku liked all girls, regardless of their obvious shamelessness and-and-and-

How dare he!

Kagome fumed, peripherally oblivious to her escalating double standard. Because-

Because it was impossible to begrudge either Inuyasha or Kikyou. After all, they'd loved each other five hundred and fifty years before Kagome had even been born. Kikyou was Inuyasha's... well, Kikyou was Inuyasha's first love, and a big part of him would always love her with this desperate, incredible sort of love Kagome could only dream of.

Kagome could understand that.

Mitsuko, on the other hand-

Kagome stood up, prying Erri's fingers away from her hair, and traipsed over to where Miroku was standing with that-that-

"Kazuo-kun," said Kagome slowly, anger edging her voice. Both Miroku and Mitsuko turned. Mitsuko frowned with annoyance, while Miroku raised a very amused eyebrow, as if he'd been waiting for Kagome to say something.

Kagome cleared her throat uncomfortably. God, I hate him for making me do this.

"Shouldn't we be leaving soon?" she mumbled experimentally.

"What's that, Higurashi-san?" he asked innocently, putting a hand to his ear as if he had trouble hearing her.

Kagome was beyond furious. "Shouldn't. We. Be. Leaving. Soon?"

Miroku smirked, not budging an inch. "Leaving?"

Kagome balled up her fists. "Yes."

Miroku watched her intently, a small smile warming his features. "Where?"

Kagome glanced at the irritated scowl currently marring Mitsuko's face, then raised her chin high in the air and said, without pausing to think, "Home."

Mitsuko blinked. Miroku grinned triumphantly. "I'm sorry," he said, barely able to keep a straight face. "What did you say?"

"I think she said-" blinked Mitsuko, her eyes darting from Miroku to Kagome. "Uh. Do you-do you guys live together or something?"

Kagome's eyes widened in horror. Ack, no!

With an anxious gasp, she reached out a hand to cover Miroku's mouth before he said something stup-


Kagome whimpered, her shoulders slumping in defeat. And then, she somehow ended up-

-wrapped in Miroku's arms, staring at a scandalized Mitsuko with wide, terrified eyes. "Uhn, Mi-"

"You mustn't tell anyone, of course, Mitsuko-san," said Miroku nonchalantly, resting his chin on Kagome's shoulder. "Think how poorly something like this would reflect on a class president."

Mitsuko nodded numbly, staring at Kagome as though she was working for the Yakuza.

"How exactly did you get elected class president? Poisoned the competition?" grumbled Kagome once Mitsuko was out of earshot. She could feel Miroku's lips curve against her skin, wondering all the while why she hadn't pushed him away yet; pried his fingers off hers; stepped on his foot; slapped that stupid grin off his stupid face and-

"You were jealous."

Kagome froze. "What?"

Miroku spun her around, boring his dark eyes into hers. "I need you to promise something to me this time."

Um. "Promise you what?"

Miroku looked away from her as the class was officially dismissed somewhere in the background. "Try to remember when you go back."

Kagome's throat was dry. Remember what?

But Miroku was already heading for the locker rooms.

And as she watched his back-seriously, white on tan... god-Kagome wondered why he didn't mind if the whole school thought she was his, er... whatever. Because... why? Why wasn't he... um, dating anyone? For real, that is. Certainly, he seemed to attract attention (Hello, Mr. Understatement), so... why? Was he still hung up Sango? Wait. No. He was never actually-with Sango-and...


And so, as she changed back into her uniform, waiting for Miroku to walk her home, Kagome kept scowling. There should've been an instruction booklet passed around, first day of class; one that could specify the particulars of this... friendship thing. Because, really, all of this?

More disturbing than Naraku.

Oh, well, thought Kagome. At least it couldn't get any worse.

On Wednesday, Kagome was-once again-proven so very, very wrong.

On her way to school, she'd met up with a very sleepy Ayumi, as had been her habit before she'd gone in search of her nosy cat, and consequently, a shattered jewel. Conveniently, it seemed as though it would be another beautiful, carefree summer day; the younger students weren't crowding her or the street; she'd been able to finish all her homework the day before, and was discussing the finer points of geographical conveniences with Ayumi when-

"Ohayo, and welcome to our morning news!"

Kagome blinked, trying to fend off a very bright, very sharp light. A short, chubby boy with glasses was smiling widely at her, stuffing what looked like a ratty microphone in Kagome's face.

"What the-?"

"Higurashi-san!" said the boy, bowing at what seemed to be a big, black... CAMERA!

"Ayumi-chan-" wibbled Kagome apprehensively, tugging at her friend's sleeve. "Ayumi-chan!"

"What did you do now?" asked Ayumi anxiously.

"Higurashi-san!" repeated the boy, jogging after them. "We're just doing a segment on undergraduate class presidents and-"


"Higurashi-saaaaaaaaaaan!" whined the boy, waving his wobbly cameraman over. "Just five minutes!"

Kagome panicked.

Gate, there. Wall, here. Exit! Where!

"Please, Higurashi-san," sniffled the boy, adjusting his thick glasses.

Kagome's shoulders slumped in defeat. Every last cell in her body was wailing timidly, reminding her she'd already had her quota of humiliation this week. But the boy looked innocent enough (I wonder what Shippou's doing right now!), and even though it was extremely unusual for students to-to-well, know her name, Kagome decided she could spare the poor kid a minute or two. "All right, but-"

"Yay! Okay, let's start!" said the boy, gripping his microphone maniacally.

Kagome tensed.

"Well, Higurashi-san," began the boy briskly, "it's common knowledge that our school festivals are among the best, most intricate, events in the county. This year's festival is in pre-production, but with the impending custodian's strike, there is serious doubt that Yasuo Kazuo-san will be able to complete the project on schedule, if at all. Is it true you're pregnant with his child?"

Kagome blinked incredulously. "Wh-what?"

"Oh!" shrieked the boy. "She's not denying it!"


"You heard it here first, folks!"

Kagome turned to a very pale Ayumi. "He's not hearing a word I'm saying, is he?"

Ayumi shook her head numbly. "I-"

"What's going on?"

Kagome spun on her heel. She'd never, ever, been so happy to see anyone.


"Ah!" cried the boy ecstatically, shoving the microphone in Miroku's face. "Can we get confirmation, Yasuo-san?"

Miroku blinked, swatting at the camera. "On...?"

Kagome was by his side in an instant. "I think Mitsuko-sempai didn't like your little act yesterday," she hissed accusingly.

Miroku frowned in confusion, then brightened. "Oh! Sure," he told the kid helpfully. "You've got it."

Kagome resisted the urge to smack her forehead.

The boy, on the other hand, seemed on the verge of passing out. "Aren't you worried this will affect your reelection chances next year?"

Miroku flashed his pearly whites at the camera. "Not at all. I believe something like this can only reflect well on both Kagome-chan and m-what's wrong, Kagome?"

Kagome groaned, trying to pinch him, because... because he obviously didn't understand-

"And your parents? How did they take the news?"

Miroku faltered, glancing at Kagome. "What do you mean? They were... happy, of course?"

"Really!" wailed the boy, thrilled beyond reason. "Traditionally, parents tend to have difficulties dealing with the prospect of becoming grandparents, but-yours are obviously coping above and beyond any and all expectations!"

Miroku blanched. "...Grandparents?"

Kagome huffed, crossing her arms petulantly. "Faulty grapevine."

Miroku rubbed his eyes wearily. "What exactly did I just confirm?"

The boy and his cameraman exchanged glances, then quickly-very quickly-packed up, and darted toward the entrance, disappearing from view within a second.

"Congratulations. Hope it's twins," muttered a still-dazed Ayumi as she wobbled off, leaving Kagome to glare murderously at a flustered Miroku.

"Well," murmured Miroku eventually, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, "I guess there's only one thing we can do now, before the rumors really get out of hand."

Kagome tilted her head. "Relocate to China?"

Miroku grinned, though his smile was somehow distant. "Nope. Time to meet my parents."

Thursday evening, oddly enough, couldn't roll around soon enough.

Though she wouldn't-couldn't-admit it, Kagome was deathly curious. She'd been so, so, so interested in Miroku's parents. Because, well... spying. And hints. And all the little things she hoped to pick up about Miroku's past.

Embarrassing baby pictures were merely an added bonus, of course.

"Concentrate," grumbled Miroku, wrestling a photo album away from a very giddy Kagome. "Solve for f."

Kagome sniffled. "You're a very mean tutor. There are better ways to kill time before your parents come home."

Kagome had, predictably, been referring to snooping-or possibly pilfering through his pocky collection-but, Miroku...

Miroku was looking at her with a smile that was entirely too innocent.

"Well, we could always play Twister instead," he suggested sweetly.

A quick mental image of twisted limbs zipped through Kagome's head. Er. "NO!"

"Then solve for f."

After five minutes of trying to solve for f (and wondering why the alphabet had so many letters which invariably had to end up as stupid, stupid inequalities), Kagome threw her hands in the air, rubbed her eyes tiredly, and whined, "Guh. On second thought, I'd rather play Twister."

And before she could properly process what was happening, Miroku had pinned her to the floor.

"Um," she said sheepishly. "Of course, I was only kidding."

"Uh huh," he said, but seemed strangely distracted. "Kagome-sama?"

Kagome shivered. His voice-

"Why hasn't your fever gone away yet?" he asked, arranging his features into a worried frown and letting her sit up.

Kagome brought a hand to her forehead, then felt her cheek. Okay, so she was a little warm, but-

"Eh," she bit her lip. "I-"

"We're home!" said a deep voice from somewhere downstairs. "You better be clothed!"

Miroku smirked, then shouted loudly, "Give us a minute! We seem to have lost her bra!"

Kagome eyed the window dreamily, wondering what her odds of surviving a ten-meter jump were.

Muffled laughter drifted through the door, and soon, she was standing up and facing a distinguished older man and trying to execute a perfect little bow without giving herself a heart attack and... calm down. Breathe. This was just Miroku's father. She didn't... need his approval or anything real like that. It wasn't as though she and Miroku were... together.

Kagome giggled inwardly.

Right. With Miroku. In love with Miroku. Maybe when pigs started flying. Or when hell froze over. Yeah, that. When. Hell. Froze. Over.

"Hajimemashite," said Miroku's father politely, "Yasuo-desu. And you must be Kagome-kun."

Kagome relaxed slightly. She'd opened her mouth to apologize for her previous behavior, but-

"And you were born with that name, I take it?"

Kagome started, glancing at Miroku. "Um, yes?"

"Didn't change a couple kanji or anything?"


Miroku shook his head. "You'll have to excuse him. He thinks both of us are insane."

"Not both of you," said Mr. Yasuo defensively. "Just you, son."

Kagome tried to bite back a giggle.

Mr. Yasuo glanced at her amusedly. "And when did you two meet? Exactly?"

Kagome cleared her throat reluctantly. '1542!' seemed a little... insane, so she went with, "Half a year ago."

Miroku's father pinched the bridge of his nose, his thin-rimmed glasses slipping lower. "Half a year ago, eh?"

Miroku grinned victoriously.

Kagome was a little... lost.

Mr. Yasuo, for his part, sighed in defeat. "We moved here barely three months ago," he mumbled to no one in particular.

Kagome froze.

"Never mind," said Mr. Yasuo, smacking his lips. "We can continue this conversation over dinner."

And with that, he left Kagome alone with Miroku. Which was nice, because-because it was time. She had to ask. Had to understand.

"How much do they know?"

Miroku grew serious. "Enough."

"And a more detailed answer...?"

Miroku flinched. "I didn't always remember," he began slowly. "And I didn't just wake up one day and go, 'Oh, yeah, hey, my name is Miroku and I lived five centuries ago, battling demons'."

Kagome could barely remember to breathe. "How much-how much do you remember? Really?"

Miroku looked up at her. "Everything," he mumbled. "Now."


"I'm not sure. Sometimes, it seems as though moving here sped up the... process, or whatever you want to call it."

Kagome's heart wanted to jump out of her chest. "But... how?"

Miroku's expression was, once again, unreadable, though Kagome could recognize faint traces of frustration. "I don't know. I thought maybe you'd know, but I... couldn't risk asking."

Kagome sat down on the carpet, folding her hands in her lap. "Me? How could I know if you... oh."

Oh, God.

"Because you died," she whispered.

Miroku seemed intent on ignoring her last sentence. "For a while I thought it might've had something to do with the jewel, but..."

No. There was only one jewel-one wish-and whoever managed (will manage) to wish upon the Shikon would definitely not [have] wish[ed] for... this. Not for something this... trivial. Because there was Inuyasha. Inuyasha, who wanted to become a demon. And Sango. Sango, who wanted her brother back. And-and hundreds of demons and humans alike who craved power and wealth and-

"Miroku," she said softly. "Can I change it? So you don't die?"

Miroku was watching her oddly. "Why would you want to?"

Kagome paused. 'Because you're my friend' didn't seem adequate at all, so she settled on, "Because-uhm, I-"

"Are you two coming down or what?" came Mr. Yasuo's deeply amused voice. "Before I become a grandfather?"

"Oh, just ignore him, children," came another, softer voice. "But, really, must we hear such news from a thirteen-year-old paparazzi?"

Kagome flushed, mortified, then meekly followed Miroku down the stairs, exchanging pleasantries with Miroku's mother. Thankfully, both of Miroku's parents were nice, average people-a little less traditional than she was used to, but...

"Now that you're part of the family," cooed Mrs. Yasuo, compelling Kagome to choke on a mouthful of seaweed, "I thought we could have a little talk."

Both Miroku and Kagome paled instantaneously.

"Not about that!" laughed Mrs. Yasuo delightedly. "This Shikon business-"

"Hypothetically speaking," continued Mr. Yasuo for his wife, who seemed preoccupied with a stubborn riceball, "if the Shikon no Tama were real, at some point in time..."

"... why hasn't the word been drastically changed by its existence?" finished Mrs. Yasuo, giving up on her food. "Why is Tokyo here? Because-because there have been instances, near the ruins of Tenochititlán, where entire cities seem to have disappeared mysteriously and-"

Kagome glanced at Miroku, startled.

Miroku grinned, raising an eyebrow and trying to hide his proud smirk. Unsuccessfully. "They're both archaeologists," he explained.

Mr. Yasuo nodded absentmindedly. "From what Kazuo has told us-"

"-and the ancient scrolls, dear. Don't forget the ancient scrolls-"

"From what we've gathered, this jewel of yours had practically no limits. And if there were indeed demons everywhere, why are there none today? Did a human complete the jewel and rid the world of them? Or was the jewel never completed? Did the demons fully die out? Are there still some among us? Are-"

"You're giving them brain aneurysms, dear," quipped Mrs. Yasuo.

"No," said Kagome softly. "That must be it."

Miroku frowned. "Kagome?"

Kagome looked up, tapping her chopsticks on the table absentmindedly. "The jewel must've never been completed."

Miroku eyed the table skeptically. "How do you figure?"

Slowly, Kagome straightened, thinking as she spoke. "With Naraku there, there's no way one of us will be able-was able to make a wish."

"And if Naraku had completed the Shikon," nodded Miroku, "I don't think any of us would be sitting here today, talking."

"But that still doesn't explain you," said Kagome desperately. She was getting a brain aneurysm.

Miroku's brow furrowed in concentration. "Hmm. If the jewel was never complete... where are the shards?"

"Don't ignore me!" said Kagome angrily. "And stop trying to change the topic! I have to know why you-uhm."

Miroku's parents were watching them intently. Kagome shrank back in her seat.

"Theoretically," said Mr. Yasuo as though nothing had happened, "if you're both established as clinically insane, do you think we could save on cost and place you in the same room?"

"No," sighed Mrs. Yasuo, "I think most mental institutions have rules about fraternization."

Kagome giggled. Okay, I get it. Next time.

"There is one other thing that's been bothering us, Kagome-kun," frowned Mr. Yasuo once the table was cleared and its occupants full. "How are you able to travel back and forth? Kazuo's been remiss to mention it."

"Because it's Kagome's business, not yours," said Miroku flippantly, scooting closer to Kagome, and effectively ending the conversation.

Kagome was having a hard time trying to not die of curiosity. She-she wanted to know everything. Everything about Miroku. She wondered briefly how long it would take to learn everything-about both his lifetimes-but was promptly distracted by an incredibly cute, squee-inducing photograph Mrs. Yasuo felt compelled to share.

Baby Miroku. In pink!

And while Miroku swore revenge, Kagome explained to his parents that, yes, the school newspaper would be printing a retraction (which seemed to disappoint Mr. Yasuo greatly), and that, no, Sengoku Jidai wasn't... too dangerous, so, nah, they didn't have to worry about her.

And then, suddenly-as Thursday slowly began blending into Friday-Kagome couldn't help but unconsciously draw certain parallels.

"What happened to the 'Opposites attract' rule?" she asked Miroku later, as they ascended the Sunset Shrine's many steps.


"Your parents," she began sleepily, "they're both archaeologists. I remember-I remember you telling me once that your father-um, not this one-"

"It's okay," grinned Miroku, just as sleepily. "Go on."

"Well, it's just, he was a monk. And-and you said your mother was a priestess," she said, her words coming out in an apologetic rush. "So-not opposites."

Miroku was laughing, and Kagome decided she really liked the sound. "Exceptions to the rule, Kagome."

"Mh hmm," she agreed, fantasizing about her nice, soft bed. And-wait, what did he just say?

"-fieldtrip tomorrow."

Kagome coughed, her cheeks burning. Stupid flu.

"I've been meaning to ask," she smiled, as they reached the top. "Is it a coincidence this fieldtrip you organized happens to fall on the same day as our geometry exam?"

Miroku smirked, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "Geometry exam? You don't say!"

Kagome giggled, wondering why she had a strong, irresistible urge to tackle Miroku. Instead, as she was a proper, good girl, Kagome forced herself to walk away. Unfortunately, she made the mistake of turning around halfway through.

"You realize, of course, there's no way you'll be reelected next year, right?" she asked cheerfully.

Miroku rubbed the back of his neck. "Probably won't be here anyway."

Kagome stiffened. "What do you mean?"

"We move around a lot," he shrugged apathetically. "Comes with the territory."

Kagome bit her lip. There was no way in hell he was leaving. She wouldn't let him. "Miroku-sama?"

"Mh hmm?"

"If you had the jewel, what would you wish for?"

Miroku crossed the short distance between them. "Nothing," he said and didn't seem to be lying. "I have almost everything I want."

Kagome perked up. "Almost?"

Miroku gave her an odd, sideways glance. "Good night, Kagome-sama."

It was much later, when Kagome's head was already buried in her soft pillow, that she realized a very important thing.

If history repeated itself, as experience told her it should-

Miroku would find his own exception to the rule. Soon.

And for some odd reason-which she would've easily identified as denial had she not been half-asleep-this new discovery infuriated her.

Morning dawned way too early.

Kagome was rushing through the shrine, screeching at Souta and Buyo, and frantically looking for her clothes and books and snacks. Grandpa had been wise enough to remove himself from the premises until Kagome was relatively packed (and sane), but her friends hadn't had quite as much experience dealing with a disorganized Kagome.

"Kagome-chan!" wailed Yuka as Kagome ran past, hopping about in one sock and rummaging around in the dryer for a skirt. "We have an hour."

"Kagome-chan!" wailed Erri as Kagome slid past, stuffing juice boxes into her deformed backpack. "You're going to break something."

"Kagome-chan!" wailed Ayumi as Kagome panted, leaning against the doorway. "Don't forget your geometry books!"

"Kagome," said Miroku as Kagome shimmied out of her pajamas and into a skirt and-aaaah! Miroku!

"Turn around!" she shrieked, glomping him with a pair of wooly pants.

Miroku put up his hands defensively and-and-and what was he leering at?

"There's something on your skirt," he drawled, reaching out a steady hand.

Kagome looked down, and to her horror-


A pair of panties were clinging to her skirt. They must have stuck to the skirt in the dryer and-

"Give those back!"

Miroku seemed to be considering it. "No. I think I'll keep them. Revenge for rifling through my baby pictures."

Kagome eyed her panties fancifully. "Stupid static cling. And electricity. And physics."

Miroku wasn't listening. He kept circling her curiously, his head tilted. "Does that mean you're not wearing any right now?"

Kagome shoved him out into the hallway, and locked her door with a loud, frustrated scream.

And then she leaned against the wall, feeling miserable.

What was he doing to her?

Instead of being upset with him for his... lechery, she just wanted to-wanted to-


Deciding she really didn't like analyzing herself, Kagome dressed hurriedly, checking for any other fashion accidents, then joined her friends in the kitchen.

"What are you doing here anyway?" muttered Kagome, watching Miroku ruffle Souta's untamed hair.

"As class president, it's my job to gather the herd," replied Miroku. "And also, we were out of orange juice, so I had some of yours."

Kagome bit her lip to keep from grinning.

"And after you're done gathering the herd, don't forget to check out the game shop next to the museum!" chirped Souta happily.

"Are you calling us cows?" twitched Ayumi.

Souta's eyes widened. "Nee-chan, won't you-won't you be late?" he asked, nudging Kagome.

"Nice save," said Miroku, ushering Yuka and Erri outside.

"Girls are scary," nodded Souta. "Evil Dead XI, on the other hand, isn't."

"Subtle hint decoded," smiled Kagome, dragging her backpack across the threshold.

By the time the class was completely assembled and on its way to the museum, Kagome had barely spent two minutes with Miroku.

Because, apparently, class presidents had to... work. And stuff.


So, Kagome spent most of the ride feeling absurdly disappointed, listening about Yuka's new neighbor and flowers and soundtracks and-

-she was ridiculously happy to finally enter the museum.

Mr. Yoshimatsu, the History teacher-who'd spent most of the trip fighting motion sickness-attempted to split them up into groups of four, but promptly gave up as most students scurried off in search of breakable antiques.

It was only after she'd spent twenty minutes with a very bored Yuka, staring at an ancient Chinese scroll, that Miroku finally decided to show up.

"Okay, you take over now," Yuka told him frenetically, scrambling to find the exit.

Kagome opened her mouth to ask Miroku whether he'd seen that game shop Souta was babbling about, but-

"I have good news and bad news," interrupted Miroku sheepishly.

Kagome winced, a million catastrophic incidents running through her head. "Bad news first."

"My parents are here."

Well. That didn't sound too bad-

"-and they want to show us off."


Of course, propriety demanded she put in an appearance, so Kagome shuffled into the closed-exhibit section, wishing she'd connected the dots earlier, 'cause... ow.

Parents, archaeologists. Fieldtrip, museum. Class president, easy access.

"Kagome-kun!" greeted Mr. Yasuo boisterously, dangling from a scaffold.

"Children!" echoed Mrs. Yasuo, adjusting a dusty scroll.

And thus began an excruciating thirty minutes of pseudo-traditional introductions to their coworkers ("Awww! They're so cute together!") and people whose names Kagome had no possible way of remembering. Eventually, though, when the museum curators and various assorted workers dispersed (leaving Kagome with pink, pinched cheeks), Miroku pulled her aside.

"And what's the good news?" she growled, rubbing her abused cheek.

"The good news is I still have these," said Miroku wickedly, patting his pocket.

Kagome tried not to smack him. Poor panties. "Miroku-"

"And," he shushed her, "I wanted to show you this."

This turned out to be a wooden katana, shielded protectively by a thick glass case.

"Wh-why didn't I sense it?" gasped Kagome. "It has a shard."

"So, I was right." Miroku frowned thoughtfully. "But how is that possible? If there are still shards floating around in the 20th century-"

"-I wouldn't be surprised," she finished his sentence.


"Noh Mask."

Off Miroku's blank expression, Kagome quickly filled him in. Once she finished, Miroku rubbed his eyebrow.

"Are you sure it's a real shard?" he asked, stunned.

Kagome concentrated. She couldn't feel it, couldn't recognize its figurative signature, but it was familiar and powerful and-

"Naraku!" she gasped, covering her mouth. "Do you remember when Kouga-kun's tribe was-"

Miroku's features darkened completely. "Yes."

"Well, um... that's what that is. I think."

Miroku knelt, observing the glass case angrily. "This thing," he spat, pointing at the object, "isn't even a hundred years old."

Kagome couldn't feel her legs. Did that-did that mean Naraku was still-

"What are you doing!" she whispered urgently as Miroku kicked the glass.

"Opening it," he said calmly. "We have to destroy it."

Kagome opened her mouth to protest, then swiftly closed it. He was right. "You're just lucky no alarms went off," she grumbled, kneeling next to him.

Miroku smirked. "This isn't part of the exhibit yet."

The glass cracked, releasing a hiss of woody freesia, rich and sweet and-

Were inanimate objects supposed to move?

"We should probably, um-dig the shard out. Now."

Miroku seemed to agree. He reached for the handle, but-

Wow. Fast.

And as they watched the katana swirl around them ominously, Kagome realized-realized that if this thing metamorphosed into a demon... they were... screwed. Because-because, she was generally useless anyway, but Miroku-without his kazaana-

"Kagome!" he shouted, watching the misty trail the object was leaving behind. "Do you see a toolbox under that ladder in the corner?"

Kagome quickly spun around, searching. A low, foreboding rumble seemed to be growing louder, originating from the shard, so she dove under the ladder and pried the toolbox away from its safe little corner. As she hurried back to Miroku, the rumbling... wasn't quite as incoherent anymore.

"Who dares inter-" said the... well, hilt? "What are you doing?"

Miroku looked up innocently from where he was rummaging through the toolbox. "Trying to preserve a generally decent artifact. Do you mind?"

The katana paused in midair.

"With a screwdriver?" whispered Kagome worriedly.

The katana swished through the chamber, barely missing her head.

"On second thought, use this one," frowned Kagome, handing Miroku the biggest gadget she could find. Miroku grinned at her, pointing above their heads.

"Be careful," he nodded. "And try to knock it to the ground."

"From the left?"


The katana surged toward Miroku, who ducked in time. He swatted at the thing, watching bewilderedly as it dropped to the floor.

Kagome joined him, looking at the twitching object. "Should we... step on it?"

"I think so."

But before they could even move a millimeter, the katana snapped up and lurched forward. "Mmm! Two for one sale!" it said. With a weak swish, it pushed off the dusty ground, and charged at both Miroku and Kagome, "I just can't resist a bargain!"

"I hate impulsive shoppers," ducked Kagome, then cringed, throwing Miroku an apologetic glance. "That was bad, wasn't it?" she asked. "I'm sorry. Oneliners are... contagious."

Miroku snorted, thwaping the katana with the entire tool box. The thing collapsed instantly.

Okay. So. Maybe not useless.

Yay, teamwork!

"See if you can touch it, Kagome."

Kagome knelt cautiously, poking the struggling object. "It seems to be... low on power or something. Should we ask it about-"

But Miroku was already crushing the hilt with an irate scowl.

"-Naraku," she finished. The katana stopped struggling. The shard crumbled to dust. And Miroku...

"Miroku, why did you-"

Miroku averted his eyes. "Yoshimatsu-sama must be looking for us by now. Fieldtrip ended twenty minutes ago."

Kagome let it go. Reluctantly.

"Do you think he's still-"

"KAGOME!" said Miroku angrily. "Just go. I'll clean up here."

Kagome winced.

Fine! If he wanted to act like a jerk-

She picked up her fallen backpack and managed to get lost a few times in the maze that was the renaissance section before reuniting with the rest of her class. It was later, when she was already seated next to Yuka, resting moodily against her shoulder, that she spotted Miroku again.

He was standing there, in the narrow aisle, watching her.

Every muscle in Kagome's body snapped to attention.

"Yuka-san," said Miroku, pointing at the boy standing rigidly next to him. "Do you mind if we switch places?"

Yuka blinked, gaping as Miroku skillfully extracted her from her seat and thrust her at the boy she was apparently supposed to go sit with.

Kagome frowned angrily. Hff! If he thought she'd be happy to see him after he'd treated her like, well... Inuyasha-and-and after what he'd just done to Yuka-chan-

"I'm taking a break from my duties," he explained casually, plopping down next to Kagome.

The bus rumbled to life.

Kagome crossed her arms.

Miroku glanced at her.

Kagome pouted.

The bus ran over a pothole.

Miroku brooded. "You know, I heard you were cheating on me with Yoshimatsu-sama."

Despite all her firm resolutions, Kagome smiled. "Old, sensei, and ew," she counted off on her fingers, mumbling playfully.

Miroku's features softened, and then, to Kagome surprise, he pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her.

Instinctively, Kagome nestled against him. "I'm still mad."

"I know."

Her fingers curled, bunching up his shirt. So exhausted. "I miss the ponytail," she sighed sleepily.

Miroku grinned, nudging her lightly. "Me, too."

"Stupid school regulations," she grumbled, yawning.

"Mh hmm," he agreed, adjusting her hold on his uniform.

Kagome was vaguely aware of hushed whispers and an occasional discreet cough, but couldn't care less. She was sleepy and warm and Miroku-contrary to her previous assumptions-made for an incredibly comfortable pillow. Soft and firm at the same time, and so, so, so-

"You're going to have to tell me sooner or later, you know," she mumbled into the crook of his shoulder.

"Later," was the last thing she heard before she drifted off.

By the time they'd reached the school, Kagome was, once again, wide awake and nibbling on candy. Yuka seemed to be in a forgiving mood, and suddenly, Kagome couldn't remember why she'd ever been upset.

Unfortunately, Miroku had to remain behind, directing the younger students (and, evidently, quite a number of professors), so she dragged herself away, fussing over the fact that he couldn't walk her home.

Alas, that was probably a good thing. Because-

Because the closer she came to the shrine, the more recognizable the hunched, grumpy silhouette waiting for her became.

"Inuyasha!" she shouted, running toward him.

She was genuinely happy to see him. For the first time in a long time, she was positively bursting with energy at the mere sight of him. She wanted-so, so badly-to tell him all about her day, all about her friends, all about Miroku-

"Finally!" growled Inuyasha. "Where did you go? The damn Northern Lands?"

Kagome refused to dignify his crabbiness with an answer. "How are you, Inuyasha?" she asked blithely.

Inuyasha blinked. "What?"

"How are you?" she repeated cheerfully. "How was your day?"

Inuyasha seemed ready to bolt. "I'm good. But you're drunk."

Kagome giggled. "Let me grab a few things, and we'll go."

Inuyasha followed her inside warily. Kagome giddily tugged at his haori. Inuyasha observed her with a suspicious glower.

"Everyone's gone insane," he grumbled.

"Who's everyone?" asked Kagome pleasantly, stuffing a few unread books into her backpack and writing a note for Souta (which was in turn a note for Miroku), wherein she apologized for not getting him the game.

"You," mumbled Inuyasha. "The runt. And the monk."

Kagome closed her backpack and peered at Inuyasha. "What's wrong with Miroku?"

Inuyasha snorted. "What isn't?"

Kagome giggled as she followed him out to the well. "Specifically?"

Inuyasha frowned skeptically. "He's acting weird."

"In what way?" asked Kagome cautiously.

"In your way."

Kagome blinked. "What?"

Inuyasha scoffed humorlessly, as though the situation both amused and disgusted him. "Like he's trying to take you away from me or something."

Something-a small, multiplying spark of something-within Kagome sank in, at last.

And for one glorious second, the little girl inside her-the one that really loved playing with Inuyasha's puppy ears-rejoiced. Because Inuyasha had said it. After months of conflicting emotions; of sweet dreams and waking nightmares, he'd said it.

'Take you away from me.'

She wouldn't be sure later what made her reevaluate the words, but as she stood there, smiling at a very confused Inuyasha, a new emotion tightened her chest.

'He's trying to take you away from me.'

Kagome's stomach flip-flopped as she realized why.


Trying to take her away from Inuyasha.

And Inuyasha-

Inuyasha was observing her worriedly. "What the hell is wrong with you now?" he asked, tapping his claws against the well's brim with an impatient scowl.

'Trying to take you away.'

A surprised, flustered laugh rolled off her lips as she said, in a soft, overwhelmed voice, "Nothing."

But I think-

I think hell just froze over.

Chasing Methuselah

A InuYasha Story
by Sandra E

Part 8 of 13

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