Continuing Tales


A InuYasha Story
by Elementary Magpie

Part 8 of 10

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For the next two days, both the kazaana and Miroku's temper held, as if caught together in the same fragile calm. The hollowed place in his heart filled up with the recognition of love, he had no more trouble making do with the moment. He chatted with Kagome, argued with Inuyasha, helped out around the Shrine, and felt nothing but peace. He even flirted delicately with Kagome's girlfriends, who came to visit their injured schoolmate and stayed to giggle over the cute "cousin" from the country.

Accomplishment? He had carried a girl through a Well. It was enough.

The end came, predictably, at the most inconveniently public moment possible.

They were all in the kitchen sitting down to eat the evening meal. Miroku was picking up his bowl of rice when there was a sudden, audible popping noise. The kazaana must have finally snapped a crucial tendon, because half of his hand instantly went numb. The bowl slipped out of his fingers and crashed to the floor.

As everyone looked at him, startled, he looked down at the broken pottery, and felt all of the waiting moments finally narrow down into this single, sharpened point.

"Miroku, are you all right?"

With a huge effort, he looked up, made eye contact. Smiled. Stood.

Bowed hastily to Mrs. Higurashi. To the shrine keeper. " Thank you for your most generous hospitality. I must apologize for the damage to your dishware. And to the grounds."

And the escalating shivering pain in his hand told him that it was time to go, so he turned for the door. Paused just a moment to smile down at Kagome, nod across the table at Inuyasha and Souta. "Goodbye. Thank you, for.... Good luck with Naraku."

They began to question and exclaim, but it was time, and so he began to run, out of the door, across the yard, cradling his shattering palm to his chest. Running hard, running for that spot in the front courtyard that he had already picked out as the only space large enough for his grave.

And as he skidded to his knees, panting, halfway between the main shrine gate and the wellhouse, just in time, the beads around his wrist shattered, the glove ripped off into the vortex, and the kazaana leapt free.

It hurt just exactly like Hell. Don't scream. He tried to angle his hand upward, to avoid catching the shrine in the path of the wind. And it was tearing at his fingers, ripping. Just this last thing. Just don't scream.

And at that moment, Naraku appeared.

Appeared, of course, to gloat over the final reeling in of his family curse. Of the triumph of supernatural malice over human will.

And he should have fucking known.

Because this was Naraku without his usual baboon-pelt robe. This was Naraku in fully human form, in a modern business suit. This was the man from the Wacdnald's commercial.

And the stupid bitter irony was that Inuyasha had been right, all of those times that Miroku had collaborated with Kagome to disparage his suspicions. Right all along, because Naraku actually was the CEO of Wacdnald's Japan, and they had known exactly where to find him all of this wasted time.

"Well, Monk, it seems that you have failed after all," that hated, unforgettable voice echoed across the courtyard. "And none of your friends are here to help you. So sad, to die alone. Again." The deep voice turned pensive. "Will you bother to be brave this time, I wonder, with no one here to see?"

Then Miroku did scream, every particle of his being turned to rage, and aimed the Wind Tunnel directly at its maker.

o o o

o o o

Kagome watched Miroku bolt out of the kitchen door and felt momentarily bewildered.

Damage to the grounds? What was he talking-- No. Oh no. No, no, no. Not now. Not yet.

Not if she could help it.

"Souta," she cried, "Go upstairs and bring me my bow and arrows. Fast."

"Kagome, what are you doing?" asked Inuyasha suspiciously.

"We have to save him, Inuyasha," she cried, beginning to wobble her way towards the kitchen door. "We have to stop the kazaana."

He stopped her by grabbing her arms firmly, but his voice was gentle and his eyes were sad. "No, Kagome. We can't do anything about the curse without Naraku here. Let him go. He wouldn't want to put you in any danger."

"Inuyasha! We can't let him go alone! We can't!"

"No, Kagome--"


And then she was stumbling free, running, crossing the courtyard, gasping at the pain stabbing at her side. Ignoring the cries of her mother and grandfather. Because she couldn't. Halfway across the yard, Souta caught up with her. "Sis! What are you doing? Come back to the house!"

But she could see the wind beginning to blow, up above the roof on the other side of the shrine, and she couldn't. Snatching the bow and arrow from Souta and throwing her other arm across his shoulder, she gasped, "Help me get there! We have to help." Maybe there would be a way, if she shot a sacred arrow directly into the Wind Tunnel -- oh, why hadn't she ever thought of that before? And Souta did help her, but they were still so slow, and she could see the wind beginning to solidify into a funnel, and some tiles were working free of the roof and--

Inuyasha snatched her up just before they reached the Sacred Tree. "Oh, no," he snarled. "You're not making me the one responsible for abandoning him. No way you're laying that guilt on me!" He bounded on around the corner into the front courtyard with her on his back, and stopped, stunned.

Because Naraku was standing there, in front of the kneeling monk. And Miroku, screaming, was turning the kazaana towards him. And she almost wept with gratitude, because it was not too late, and there was still something that she could do.

Inuyasha must have agreed, because he put her down, drew the Tetsusaiga, and leapt around the side of the windstorm towards Naraku.

"Get ready to die, Naraku!" he shouted, releasing the Backlash Wave towards the smirking figure.

But four feet from Naraku the spiraling power crashed into a darkly glowing barrier that suddenly surrounded the demon, and the whirlwinds were deflected to crash into the trees on the courtyard perimeter. And though Miroku still had the kazaana turned full on Naraku, as in the past it was failing to pull him in.

Naraku merely laughed, holding up the almost-complete Shikon Jewel by its chain in front of him. "Fools, nothing you can do will have the power to harm me as long as I am carrying this."

"Then I will just have to take it away from you!" cried Inuyasha, leaping forward, claws outstretched.

"No! Inuyasha! The kazaana will take you if you get any closer!" shouted Miroku. "Get Kagome out of the way now!"

And as Inuyasha paused in dismay, snarling, Kagome tried to steady her wobbling legs, plucked out an arrow, and began to draw her bow.

"You can't have him, Naraku!" she called through the rising wind. "You can't have anybody else, ever! I am stopping you now!"

"Kagome, no! Get back!" cried Miroku.

But she was walking steadily forward, and her aim was steady on the Jewel, and she knew, she knew that this arrow, when she let it fly, would strike true.

And then disaster struck.

Naraku gestured. Inuyasha froze in mid-leap. Naraku pointed. The ground beneath Inuyasha's feet opened into a deep, glowing, red chasm, leaving him suspended directly above it in the air.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome shrieked, turning her gaze away from the Jewel. And as she watched in horror and Inuyasha struggled to move or speak against the binding power of the nearly-completed Shikon Jewel, a pair of enormous black vines twisted their way up out of the firey pit, twined themselves around his feet, and began to slowly pull him down into the depths.

"Kagome! Shoot out the vines!" cried Miroku.

But before she could shift her aim towards the pit, Naraku's rolling chuckle echoed over the rising wind. "Yes, Kagome, save Inuyasha," he laughed. "And know that at the moment you fire your arrow at the Hell-plant, I will use the Shikon Jewel to finish opening the kazaana over the monk. Or shoot the Jewel and save the monk, and know that at that moment my power over the vines will weaken and Inuyasha will be pulled into the chasm." He smiled at her with relish. "Choose, Kagome. Miroku goes to the Wind Tunnel or Inuyasha goes to Hell."

Kagome didn't think. She didn't hesitate. She shot.

Her arrow sang across the path of the whirling winds as if they didn't exist, glowing, growing, until with an enormous ringing sound it hit the chain that held the Jewel just below Naraku's fist. The Jewel flew off at an angle, as Naraku's face went blank with astonishment. The demonic vines gave a mighty tug, and with a roar and a burst of flame the portal to Hell snapped closed around Inuyasha's frozen form.

And Naraku, screaming, panicked, unable to fly, unable to change shape, scrambling with untransformed human hands for a handhold and pelted by flying debris, was inexorably pulled across the courtyard and into the widening kazaana.

There was an ear-popping change of pressure, and a sudden silence.

But when she looked desperately over the ruins of the shrine arcade, Kagome could still see Miroku on his knees in the middle of the courtyard, slumped over onto the ground.

She didn't remember running to meet him; she was suddenly just there, kneeling by his side.

And as she pulled on his shoulders, pulled his face up from the ground to find him gasping, looking at her, alive, she was filled with the most incredible rage.

"You idiot!" She shouted, shaking him back and forth. "You used it, didn't you? You used it to get me to the Well! How could you risk yourself like that? How could you not tell me! How could you just leave--?"

And he shouted right back. "Are you insane! What did you think you were doing? You could have gotten killed!"

And he tried to grab her shoulders too, but winced, pulling his right hand back to look at it.

"Miroku! Your hand..."

"It hurts," he said, numbly. "I think that it's broken."

"But it's a hand, Miroku! Your whole hand!" She snatched it up gently, holding it so that he would look and understand. "Look, it's perfect," she babbled, smiling, softly tracing the sore, swollen lines with her finger. "Look, you've got a whole palm and everything, and all of the right lines, a heart line, a life line..."

"Life," he said, still numb. "Life." He looked at her in surprise. "I am going to live." And he began to laugh, and she began to laugh with him.

And then he began to cry. Tried to stop, turning away from her, starting to apologize. But Kagome, who still blushed at the very thought of being held by a boy, now found herself pulling him back towards her, drawing his head onto her shoulder, just as if she had done it a thousand times before. "It's OK," she said. "Just cry."

And he did cry, great, gasping sobs, on and on, as if making up for a lifetime. And she thought that maybe he was. So she held on tight, her arms around his shoulders, hands smoothing down his back, murmuring over and over. "I have you. It's OK."

And as Kagome held the sobbing young man in her arms, clutched his shaking human shoulders with her simple human hands, she finally began to acknowledge the truth that somewhere inside her she had always already known. That life, and love, were something more complicated than a fairy tale. More difficult. More deep. That heroism was more complicated, and didn't necessarily require a sword.

Eventually, Miroku's sobs quieted, and he sat up, drew himself out of her arms, tried to apologize again. She smiled at him, was about to tell him not to worry about it, when she noticed a rosy glint as he ran his left hand across his eyes in an attempt to wipe away the tears.

"Miroku? What's that in your hand?"

"Oh," he said. "I forgot." Surprise fought with exhaustion in his voice as he looked blankly down at the chain tangled in his fingers. "It's the Jewel. I think I grabbed for it as it came flying by." He looked at her with a dawning astonished triumph. "I seem to have caught it."

"Oh Miroku! You've done it! We've got the entire Shikon Jewel at last - all we have to do is add my shards! Wait 'til we tell Inuyasha--"

"Inuyasha!" he interrupted, looking at her in shocked recollection. "Kagome, you sent Inuyasha to Hell?"

Inuyasha! Realization crashed down with a crushing burden of guilt. What had she done? She couldn't even remember making the choice. "He'll be all right," she tested, trying to reassure herself. "He's a demon. He can survive being in Hell for a little while." She continued more confidently, beginning to feel convinced, "We can figure out a way to get him back, can't we? Now that we have the complete Jewel, it should be totally easy."

"I suppose that's possible," he mused, immediately shifting focus from disaster and redemption to the problem of rescuing their friend in a way that made her chest feel curiously full. "Do you have the other shards with you now? We should get started right away. It's almost the new m--" His gaze strayed to the spot on her breast where he knew the shard bottle should rest under her clothes. Then he looked lower, and suddenly turned pale.

"Kagome, what have you done to yourself?" he cried in horror. She was confused for a moment until she followed his gaze down her side and saw the blood seeping through her shirt. "Oh," she said, suddenly noticing how much she hurt. "Maybe I pulled some stitches?"

But then he was picking her up and running, running towards her family where they were cautiously stepping out from around the corner of the shrine. "Call an ambulance!" he shouted, his voice still hoarse from tears and screaming. "Kagome's injured!"

"No I'm fine," she tried to say, but she was beginning to feel a little odd and it didn't come out very loudly.

"What have you done to her now?" cried her mother, trying to snatch her out of Miroku's arms as Souta ran back to the telephone.

"It's OK, Mom," she tried to make herself heard over Miroku's explanations and grandfather's wailing about the damage to the shrine complex. "I did this to myself, running and stuff."

"What was that windstorm? Where's Inuyasha?" continued her mother, distraught.

"Kagome saved the day, Mrs. Higurashi. Naraku is dead. Inuyasha is...temporarily indisposed," Miroku shorthanded.

To Kagome's astonishment, her mother actually shouted at Miroku, "Didn't you promise me no more?" And to her alarm, the monk bowed his head and began to apologize.

"Wait, Mom, you're not understanding what happened," Kagome tried to fix things through her growing dizziness. And she thought she was managing to explain about the kazaana and Naraku and the Jewel and Inuyasha without getting too jumbled up, because her mother stopped glaring at Miroku and instead held her tight, looking down at her with a face full of love and fear and a sort of astonished resignation.

The ambulance must have been in the neighborhood when Souta called because it arrived just then, and further explanations had to be delayed in the flurry of emergency questions and procedures.

As the paramedics closed in to begin work, Kagome did manage to press the Jewel and the bottle containing her shards into her mother's hands. "Please Mom, take good care of these while I'm in the hospital," she whispered. "We need them to get Inuyasha back." He mother smiled and nodded and stepped back to let the emergency people reach her, and Kagome remembered another urgent concern.

"Help Miroku," she told the paramedics shifting her onto a stretcher. "He's hurt too."

"Don't worry, Miss," we will take care of everything," the older man replied. He must have really been listening to her, because when she was settled in the ambulance with an IV attached to her arm, she found that Miroku was sitting in a fold-out seat on the other side of the van, having his hand looked at by the young woman.

"Miroku!" she called.

"Don't worry, Kagome," he replied, completely misunderstanding her concern. "They are taking good care of you."

And then she couldn't see him through a flurry of activity around her as they encouraged her to tell them how this felt and hold still for this reading, and by the time all of that was done the van fell into a peaceful kind of quiet under the sound of the sirens. When she tried to crane her neck to see Miroku again, the man said to her, "Don't worry, Miss. Your friend is all right. He's just fainted."

The woman chuckled a little at her look of alarm. "Don't worry. Some guys really do faint at the sight of blood."

At once Kagome found herself blazingly angry, opened her mouth to protest hotly. How could she say such a thing about Miroku? They didn't know! They--couldn't possibly believe any proof she had to offer.

So instead of arguing, Kagome lay quietly awake in the ambulance for her second trip to the hospital that month and thought about Inuyasha and Kikyo and Miroku's grandfather, and about Naraku's inability to change shape during the battle, and about karma.


A InuYasha Story
by Elementary Magpie

Part 8 of 10

<< Previous     Home     Next >>