Continuing Tales


A InuYasha Story
by Elementary Magpie

Part 7 of 10

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Higurashi Yoko stood in the darkened hallway and listened to the conversation inside her daughter's bedroom in a rising fury. How dare that, that...person take advantage of such a vulnerably ill girl? She wanted to storm right in and interrupt these highly inappropriate proceedings immediately.

But she didn't interrupt. A large part of innocence is the ignorance of shame. If she could handle this out of earshot, perhaps some of Kagome's innocence could be preserved.

She had awakened incredulous to the sound of her father-in-law's drunken singing. It hadn't taken long to recognize the voice of his partner in crime. And what kind of an irresponsible...person encouraged an old man to abuse himself with sake like that? Especially that sake. In order to avoid a confrontation in front of the excitable shrine keeper, she had waited until Miroku left his room to check on his condition for herself. Father-in-law was all right; to give him credit, the monk had propped his elderly drinking partner with pillows so that he was sleeping on his side and had left a full glass of water by his bedside. She had been walking quietly back to her own room in the hopes of not waking Kagome when she had heard voices coming from her daughter's bedroom. She had crept closer to listen, mostly curious, not yet entirely alarmed.

But such a conversation! No one had the right to burden a young girl with such a cruel vision of life. Hardly appropriate judgement for a supposed holy man!

Her concern changed to fury when she realized what the sudden pause and the subsequent quiet whispers meant. Then she nearly did charge in to the rescue. Especially when, after a short silence of horrible possibilities, she heard him sigh, Kagome sigh, and the creak of someone's weight shifting on the bed.

But just as she began to step forward to throw open the bedroom door, she was stopped by the monk's deep voice, still speaking softly but in a more ordinary tone. "I think that it's time for you to take your medicine again now, Kagome, if you want me to get it for you."

"Okay, please." Her daughter's voice sounded breathless, a little drugged already. "Thank you."

There was the rattle of pills in the bottle, a clink of glass against the bedtable, the rustle of sheets asthe girlsat up to drink the medicine down. A moment later there was another rustle as she lay down again, and Mrs. Higurashi tensed to fly to the rescue once more.

But instead she heard Kagome sigh sleepily, and the quiet click of the bedside lamp turning off. The monk murmuring a good-night and her daughter's drowsy response.

Then the door quietly opened, and Miroku wandered out of Kagome's bedroom, looking thoughtful and discontented. Stopped dead in the hallway when he saw her, and then looked completely blank. She should hope so. With a silent, furious jerk of her head she indicated that he should follow her downstairs, turned on her heel, and marched on ahead of him. Heard him sigh and follow behind.

Yoko had devoted her life to smoothing things over, to maintaining a household of harmony and peace. But not this time. This time, she found herself consumed with an entirely unfamiliar desire to confront that...person and make him suffer.

It was only for Kagome's sake that she waited until they were safely private in the kitchen to look at him directly, vent her anger out loud. "How dare you?" she cried. "A sick girl who trusts you! How. Dare. You!"

He bowed his head. "I sincerely apologize, Mrs. Higurashi. That was an unforgivable lapse of manners that should never have occurred." He didn't meet her eye, simply continued to look down at his feet as he went on. "Please forgive my thoughtless behavior."

And all of that was perfectly proper and exactly what he should say, but she didn't feel remotely satisfied. Or reassured. She felt betrayed. And stupid. Yoko had never quite understood Kagome and Inuyasha's assumptions that Miroku's morals were not entirely to be trusted. Her unexpected houseguest had seemed like such a reliable young man. At times it had almost seemed as if he belonged here. Darn it, she had actually come to look upon him as an ally in her efforts to keep the peace. And instead, after betraying her trust, and her daughter's trust, and for goodness sake, all of the basic rules of hospitality, he had the nerve to stand there so calmly, so relaxed, making his apologies and awaiting her reply.


He should at least ...have the grace to look guilty. Not just...tired.

"Do you even have an excuse to offer?" she seethed, still wanting to fight.

He opened his mouth to say something, then sighed. "Not one that matters," he muttered, still not meeting her eyes.

Well, that was hardly adequate answer to her outrage. "Why would you do such a thing at all?" she asked in betrayed astonishment. "What could possess you to so completely violate my trust and hospitality like this? Not to mention Kagome's trust? What could you possibly hope to gain?"

That finally shook him, finally made him jerk his head up to look directly at her. "I don't want to be the expendable sidekick," he snarled, eyes full of anger.

Was that it? Ancestors protect us from competitive young men and their pride. She would not play host to a contest between Miroku and Inuyasha over her daughter. "No one is thinking that you are any such thing," she replied repressively. "But you need to accept that Kagome makes her own choices and that she cares very deeply about Inuyasha." She went on bracingly, warming to her subject. "That does not lessen the enormous favor you have done all of us by bringing Kagome back to this time when she was injured. But it is unworthy and futile to try to come between them because of that." Remembering the conversation in the bedroom, she allowed her voice to soften slightly. "I know that you have lost someone very dear to you. But finding a quick replacement is not the way to ease that pain. Trust me that I know this. Just wait. Give it time."

Miroku stood very still for a moment, face going very blank. "Of course," he said flatly, drawing himself in. "I apologize for such a foolish outburst." He looked down at her calmly again, standing straight and reserved. "And for the insult to your daughter. It was inexcusable. I gather that there are a number of Buddhist monasteries in this city. I will remove to one immediately. When Kagome is ready to resume the search for Naraku, she has only to send word."

And she should just let him go. In fact, why hadn't he done so on his own already? He was smart enough to know that he was never going to be able to go back to his own time even if they did defeat Naraku in this one. At least, not if she understood the nature of the curse correctly. What had be been planning to do, freeload on her family for the rest of his life?

However, there was her daughter's state of mind to consider. "That would be acceptable to me. Unfortunately, Kagome will worry about you if you leave, and I wouldn't do anything to upset her right now in her condition." She paused, then couldn't resist adding, "Couldn't you have done the same?"

The careful reserve was suddenly gone again. "What, upset her with a couple of kisses?" he blurted. "She's probably already forgotten it." And there was a bitter edge to that.

A sudden suspicion, half dismay, half pity, gripped her. "Do you love her?" she asked.

Miroku blinked, looked surprised, as if the question truly had never come up for consideration before. "Love her?" he mused, scratching the back of his neck in a nervous gesture, then letting his hand fall back limp to his side. " A girl like that? She's beautiful, of course. But...Inuyasha's. So... And after all, a girl like that..." He paused a moment, swayinggentlyon his feet, then continued, bewildered. " It's just that, you are supposed to show charity and kindness to everyone you meet, but I never thought that anyone actually sincerely did that, until I met her. But Kagome, once she decides..." He was rambling to himself now, not looking at her anymore.

Yoko was a little taken aback by this candid monologue. Could he be drunker than he looked? Her husband had been no more able to hold his liquor than his father could, but she had known boys who...

He was gaining momentum, still talking more to himself than to her. "You know, I don't think she even likes me very much, but there she is every day on the journey, watching out for my safety, worrying for my well being, just because that's what she does for people. Claims them." He peered back at her at last, pleading and earnest. "So how could could you not love a girl like that? How could you not do anything to protect her, no matter--"

Miroku stopped, drew in a surprised breath, eyes focused inward. Repeated softly to himself, in wonder, "Anything."

And then he looked down at her and smiled, with a face suddenly so joyful and serene it stopped her breath.

"I truly apologize Mrs. Higurashi. Please put it out of your mind. You do not need to worry - I will not do anything else to upset or dishonor either Kagome or your family. You have my word on it." A polite bow. That beautiful smile again. "May I say goodnight to you now?"

"Of course," she stuttered, unprepared.

Watched him walk through the kitchen door and away outside and wondered exactly what had just happened.


A InuYasha Story
by Elementary Magpie

Part 7 of 10

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