Continuing Tales


A InuYasha Story
by Elementary Magpie

Part 4 of 10

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Higurashi Kagome had been clawed, stabbed, cursed, shrunk, possessed, bitten, buried, hurled through the air, and had her soul sucked out of her, but she had never imagined that pain could be like this: the cruel slow constant throb of it. Her days alternated between drug-induced blurriness and wakeful endurance as the painkillers inevitably wore off too early.

The hunt for Naraku loomed, impending but not urgent, still comfortably far away from this hazy convalescence.

They had time.

For now, her task was to endure the pain. The pain of her healing wounds. The pain of her irrevocably lost friends.

The pain of Inuyasha's constant complaining.

When he had first arrived and learned of her condition, he had been scared, careful with her, patient. But now that the deep fear for her safety was wearing off, his natural impatience was reasserting itself.

She understood, of course. How angry he was about the death of their friends, and his failure to prevent it. How desperately he wanted to be out and doing something about it, warrior that he was. How trapped he was by the pride that would not allow him to express how truly worried about her she knew he was. She understood, and forgave him, as she had so many times before.


Lately, he almost never stopped. Whatever the subject, whatever the time of day, he was impatiently, irritably, loud about his disapproval. Sniping at her, sniping at Miroku, sniping at the twentieth-first century and this whole heartbreaking delay. After his boisterous attempts to "put some heart into her" one restless midnight woke the entire family, he had to be banished from the house at night. He claimed he preferred that anyway, sulking off to sleep in the trees behind her house.

They had fallen into a pattern, the three of them. Inuyasha would complain about some necessary inertia in Kagome's recovery. Kagome would cringe, trying not to feel hurt. Miroku would intervene, dragging Inuyasha outside for some exercise, or, more frequently, distracting her with an entertaining new subject or a solicitous inquiry about her needs. Which, she was beginning to suspect, were attempts to show Inuyasha how he should be behaving without actually going to the risk of saying it to his face. Sometimes it worked, and Inuyasha would calm, speak to her gently, sit quietly by her bedside, remember for a while that he was her friend.

More and more often, he stomped off in a huff.

And every time the sequence played itself out, Kagome wondered. She loved Inuyasha, she did, and she had promised to be by his side and take care of him always and she would, but... Couldn't he sometimes take care of her? She felt really guilty for feeling this way, but sometimes when Inuyasha stomped off, leaving her with Miroku, it was...a relief.

Miroku was a relief.

Miroku, who gave her quiet, humorous companionship and kept most of his thoughts to himself. After each of his interventions, Kagome felt nothing so much as abjectly grateful. She really wanted to thank him, and to apologize for yelling at him before.

But she didn't know what to do about Sango. Or say.

She missed the demon-slayer so much herself, kept forgetting to believe that she was really gone. She wondered if it was easier or worse, for him, having found her body, having meant to spend his life with her. Sometimes she thought she saw a strain in his eyes that had never been there before. But he didn't ever say, and she couldn't think of a way to ask him.

o o o

o o o

Inuyasha was doing it again.

"Kagome, why do you have to take so many medicines? They don't seem to be working for you anyway! You should let me brew up some of my healing tea like I did before. I'll just go out and--"

Miroku interrupted. "Grandfather Higurashi has told us that some of those ingredients are not available in this era, Inuyasha." He turned to Kagome. "Is there anything you would like to drink now that you are awake?" he asked. "Would it hurt you to sit up for a while if we helped you?"

But this time around Inuyasha looked at him with newly dawning suspicion. "Watch it, Monk," he said. "You're being pretty quick to offer Kagome all kinds of personal services these days. What are you trying to get away with here?"

Miroku's mouth thinned, and Kagome waited in horrified fascination for their regular pattern to shatter into something new.

To her enormous relief, Mama bustled in just then, hands full of shopping bags "Hello everyone! Look at what Souta and I have found: the perfect new clothes for Inuyasha and Miroku. I just need to have you try them on to make sure that I converted Grandpa's measurements into sizes that fit."

"I don't see why I need any new clothes," scowled Inuyasha. "The ones I have are just fine."

"You are much more generous than we deserve, Mrs. Higurashi," interjected Miroku hastily. "We are very grateful."

Inuyasha was opening his mouth to argue, so Kagome joined in. "Please Inuyasha? It would help so much with our search for Naraku if you could blend in on the streets."

Grumpily, he agreed, and Souta took them off to explain the intricacies of modern men's clothing in private.

After a few minutes, Inuyasha stalked back into the room, practically snarling. "Kagome! I can't believe that you really think my wearing this stuff is going to help us find Naraku."

Kagome had to work very hard to keep from giggling. Because Inuyasha looked like a thug. In an outfit clearly influenced by Souta's notion of what was cool, he stood stiff-legged in baggy jeans, his big swordsman's muscles bulging out of a sleeveless red-and-white basketball shirt, a rolled bandana around his head to hide his ears. He looked just like one of those teenage criminals who hung around in dubious video arcades, smoking and intimidating little kids and undoubtedly dealing drugs and mugging people. But she couldn't tell him that and still have a hope that he would agree to keep on wearing the clothes, so giggling was not an option. Using all of the skills she had honed trying to beat Miroku at their laughing game, she forced a serious look on her face and tried to listen sympathetically as Inuyasha complained.

"How is anyone supposed to move in these 'jeans' things?" he grumbled. "They feel like demon-hide armor without any of the joints. There's NO WAY I am wearing these things every day."

"Patience, Inuyasha," urged Miroku, wandering into the room behind him, bare arms bent up to retie his ponytail fastener. "Souta informs me that these 'jeans' will become more comfortable once we have 'broken them in.' I am sure that once he has explained that procedure to us, Mrs. Higurashi's most generous gift will become quite easy to wear. Is that a reasonable hope, Kagome?" Still fiddling with his hair, he stepped around Inuyasha's shoulder, and smiled at her.

Kagome couldn't answer, momentarily too busy just remembering how to breathe. "Uhn," she gasped, looking to her mother for support. But Mama was in a similar difficulty.

Because Miroku...didn't look like a thug. Kagome had always sort of known that he was handsome, but it had never occurred to her how twenty-first century casual wear would so comprehensively reveal exactly what his flirtatious smirk had always promised you could get. But now... The flat planes of the navy blue T-shirt somehow brought out the startling indigo of his eyes in a way that his robes never had. The form-fitting shirt and straight-leg jeans perfectly displayed the broad shoulders, the long body, the firm, slender muscles, the bulge in his...Eeep!

Miroku was saying something. He repeated it, looking at them uneasily. "Have I put something on incorrectly?"

Mrs. Higurashi recovered first. "No dear, just thinking that color blue suits you."

Luckily and for once Miroku missed the subtext entirely. "It was very kind of you to choose shirts that match the colors of our robes," he smiled.

"There's no way this suits me," Inuyasha interjected. "Miroku, you have to be insane..."

Under cover of Inuyasha's argument, Kagome pulled her mother close to whisper urgently, "Mom, did Grandpa have that talk about, you know, AIDS and stuff. Because, um, kid in a candy shop, and now there's absolutely no barrier..."

"I believe he did." She gave an uneasy frown. "But I'll check with Grandpa just in case."

o o o

o o o

Once properly clothed, Inuyasha took to wandering around the city looking for Naraku. After extracting his solemn oath that he wouldn't actually confront any demon he happened to encounter without coming home and telling them first, Kagomesimply gave up trying to stop him from going out. She was just too tired to fight that battle every day.

As she could have predicted, he didn't search in a systematic way and didn't have any real luck. Except...

"Well, there was one odd thing," he reported to them one evening, after another fruitless afternoon away from the shrine. "Every now and then I would pass this eating place, and wherever I was, it always looked exactly the same as the other ones. And there was a very faint demonic aura coming from it."

"A demonic aura?" fretted Kagome. "You didn't go any closer, did you?"

"No, no, I promised, didn't I? And it didn't smell like Naraku or anything. Just frying meat. But I can take you there to check it out when you get better."

"You said it always looked exactly the same? What did it look like?"

"Eh. Those big glass windows everything has. Red benches and square tables inside. A big red sign out front with yellow characters I couldn't read. Maybe some kind of a spell or curse?"

"What kind of characters?" asked Miroku. "Can you draw them here for Kagome to see? Maybe she will recognize them."

He did so, laboriously.

Kagome began to laugh, wincing as the stitches pulled.

"Hey! What's so funny--?"

"Oh, Inuyasha, that's just Wacdnald's. It's an American fast food chain. They have them all over the world. It can't possibly have anything to do with Naraku."

"Well, I felt what I felt. It has a demonic aura, whatever you say."

"What's an American?" asked Miroku.

o o o

o o o


Only she was so weak today and it was so hard to draw a deep breath without hurting that it came out more like "...sit...." But sometimes Inuyasha's impatience could really, really hurt. Couldn't he see that she was healing as fast as she could? That she would give anything to be able to be up and around making Naraku pay for what he did to their friends? That she was going just as crazy as he was spending her days cooped up here in her little room?

It was only when she noticed Souta and Miroku's shocked faces that she realized she had said it all aloud.

Even Inuyasha looked a little dismayed, a little guilty, from his position on the floor, like he knew he'd gone too far.

Miroku, watching her face, watching his, stood up decisively. "Inuyasha," he ordered crisply, "As soon as you've recovered, pick up all of those pillows and blankets and follow me."


Because Miroku had scooped up Kagome, bedsheets and all, and was carrying her out of her room. Carrying her, cradled firmly in his arms, down the stairs, past her startled mother, and out of the house. Out of the yard, along the side of the shrine, and over to the Sacred Tree. Trailed by protesting Higurashis and an enraged Inuyasha.

"Put those things on that bench for Kagome to lie on, Inuyasha," he directed. He looked down at her still in his -- really, very strong -- arms and smiled. "I think we all need a little fresh air today." She nodded up at him, mute, astonished.

Mrs. Higurashi's scolding stopped; her frowns changed into a grateful smile. "What a good idea," she exclaimed. "I'll go make some tea." They got Kagome settled lying on the low stone bench next to the Tree, the others sprawled out on the shady gravel. Souta fetched some snacks, and Mama brought the tea. The day was warm, but not hot. A gentle wind was rustling through the leaves, making the charms jingle against the trunk. For a moment they all sat in silence, enjoying the soft breeze and the whisper of the leaves. The city was nothing more than a quiet hum in the background.

It was really, really nice.

Kagome looked up into the shifting branches and her mind wandered, lovingly, to all of the important moments this Tree had shared in her life with Inuyasha. The strange moments: the very first day she met him, pinned to its trunk five hundred years in the past. The magical moments: the way their thoughts had touched across centuries, when Menomaru had sent the snowstorm freezing through the ages. The hard moments: when she had fled home after seeing him with Kikyo, realizing for the first time that she loved him. She remembered her anguish that day, and the conversation that she and her mother had had, sitting right here on this very bench.

"When you're close to the Sacred Tree," her mother had asked. "Don't you feel a strange kind of power? As though you feel truer to yourself? That somehow its presence makes your heart feel much more pure?" Kagome remembered how angry she had been with Inuyasha, and how full of doubt about what to do. Her mother had described the way that the Tree had helped to clarify her own future many years ago. "This is the special place where your father proposed to me," she had explained, "And of course I loved him like no other." But they had argued the day before, and she had begun to doubt if he and she were really meant for each other. "But the instant I walked under this tree, my mind cleared, and I accepted his proposal."

Learning of her mother's doubts had helped her resolve her own, and Kagome had returned to Inuyasha's side shortly after that talk. Somehow the Tree had made them closer than ever, she thought.

Her happy daydreams were interrupted.

"I don't know why you are so attached to this Tree, Kagome," groused Inuyasha. "It's not like anything good ever happened here."

"Wasn't it good to meet me, Inuyasha?' she asked quietly, hurt.

"Yes...," he softened, but then vigorously returned to his point. "But that was just that one thing. What about Kikyo shooting me? What about all of those years I just hung there, helpless to be anything but a spectacle for tourists to stare at? It's nothing I feel sentimental about."

Kagome felt betrayed. Didn't he care about anything that had happened after she freed him from Kikyo's arrow?

And what should have been Miroku's usual pleasant attempt to defuse the subject had an uncharacteristic edge to it. "Take comfort that at least you were a spectacle with teeth, Inuyasha. Did I ever tell you that my grandfather first met Naraku because he was sightseeing at you and your Tree? He had journeyed here to consult with the miko who guarded the Shikon Jewel -- Kikyo, of course. But when he arrived to find her recently dead and the village in an uproar with only her young sister to handle the spiritual duties, he went to investigate the demon pinned to the Tree instead. It was there he met a suspicious peasant who turned out to be Naraku in the first of his many disguises."

"Oh really? Then how come you never mentioned that to us when we first met? It seems like a lot to leave out, Monk."

"I didn't know it at that time. I figured it out later, talking with Lady Kaede; she remembered him." Miroku, who had sat up to talk to Inuyasha, stretched back out on the ground, head pillowed on his arms. Looking up at the wavering branches, he added, again with that odd edge to his voice, "I find it amusing and ironic that as a consequence of your imprisonment I, too, am keeping you company under the same Sacred Tree as my grandfather did, but five hundred years into the future, and not with the miko he was too late to encounter but rather with her reincarnation instead." He smiled briefly at Kagome, and went back to staring up into the branches.

Inuyasha's ears flattened in irritation. "Humph. Consult with Kikyo? More likely seduce her," he retaliated. "It's funny how the apple hasn't fallen very far from your family tree." His ears pricked forward and he grinned at a new thought. "You know, Miroku, if Kagome's the reincarnation of Kikyo, you've got to be the reincarnation of your grandfather. There can't be two such womanizing con man souls floating around the universe pissing off Naraku."

And just there, sitting under her family's Sacred Tree, Kagome had a moment of...clarity.

Miroku's grandfather would have met Kikyo? So they might have...

Miroku frowned, and began to lecture the half-demon on theology. The rising wind sent Inuyasha's gorgeous hair flying across her vision like a triumphant white banner. So beautiful. So unique. She sighed in longing, habitual.

The moment passed.


A InuYasha Story
by Elementary Magpie

Part 4 of 10

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