Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 21 of 60

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"For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting."
T. S. Eliot

Red eyes watched from the shadows with interest as the occupants of the House of the Moon scrambled in the wake of the previous evening. Shizuka and Hiraiku arrived shortly after the human child was taken away to help remove first the miko, and then Sesshomaru to their respective chambers. Hoshi called in more servants to clean and repair the youkai size hole in the hallway and then hurried off to attend to her duties.

Recalling with amusement as the powerful Taiyoukai, Lord of the Western Lands, was blown through a wall in his own home by the power of a mere human, the youkai chuckled.

Perhaps the miko would prove a useful tool before the end.

The House of the Moon was unusually quiet in the aftermath of the past evening. As the early morning hours crept upon the Western Lands, the only brave enough to make a sound were a few birds in the garden as they sang morning salutations.

Hoshi placed a sealing spell on the miko's door the moment she felt, more than heard, Sesshomaru thundering down the hallway.

"Where is she?" his voice boomed against the empty stillness surrounding the castle.

Hoshi calmly turned as he came to a stop, towering over her ominously. If he thought he could intimidate her by sheer size, he was a fool. She had mastered her powers long before even the great Inu no Taisho was born. There was nothing this whelp could do that she hadn't seen before.

Hoshi smiled benignly at Sesshomaru, which only seemed to raise his ire even more. Calmly she placed her hands inside her kimono sleeves and looked at him expectantly, not bothering to answer his question. He wasn't the only one who used silence effectively. After all, she was the one that taught him that particular skill.

"Hoshi," his tone full of warning.

"Now Sesshomaru, why is it that you're so interested in her, anyway? It's my recollection that you were only seeking her ability to heal Rin, which now that she has done that, I see no more reason for you to concern yourself with her. As soon as she wakes, she can rejoin your brother and her friends and be out of your way forever. Especially now that Naraku's gone, you have no reason to ever cross paths again. Though, as you know, she's in possession of the Shikon no Tama. It'll not be long before Naraku is replaced on her list of enemies."

"Half-brother, and things changed when she attacked me."

Hoshi snorted rather indelicately. He was just too much fun sometimes. "She did not attack you and you know it. Besides, if she had attacked you, then you would have been injured." She allowed her face to fall into a look of scandalized horror, though her tone was sarcastic. "Are you telling me you were injured by a tiny human woman?"

Sesshomaru growled low in his throat. 'Damn you Hoshi', he thought angrily. She knew just how to push his buttons. He took pride in his self-control and had long ago mastered the art of concealing the reactions she often took it upon herself to provoke. It may have taken centuries, but he was pleased with the fact that Hoshi had to work a little harder to get any reaction from him.

But that wasn't the case at the moment. He had gotten himself into a fine rage and really didn't want to think about things that might put a damper on it. It was easier to be mad about what happened, considering the alternative. The miko and he had been on even terms, considering he dispatched the youkai controlling her and then she healed Rin. But now, his honor was demanding that he stand in the uncomfortable position of being in a human's debt. A miko no less. That was a very unpleasant thought indeed.

This thought brought forth another growl, which almost drowned out Hoshi's next words.

"Let me see it."

He knew what she was referring to. "No." Sesshomaru turned and left without another word. Once again his housekeeper managed to turn the tables and leave him with no option but the one she forced on him.

He needed to find another way to unleash his mounting fury.

Sesshomaru allowed one of his rare smiles to surface and changed directions.

He might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Last night had proved difficult for the group camped not far from the gates of the House of the Moon. Tensions ran high as the constant fluctuations in Kagome's spiritual powers spilled over the castle walls. They all worried about their friend, feeling helpless in their forced separation. However, they dealt with it in their own individual way.

InuYasha and Shippo fought constantly. Kirara curled up next to Sango, and Miroku's wandering hands resulted in several bruises and bumps that were delivered with more force than usual.

After the bursts of holy powers died down, a servant arrived to inform them that Kagome was fine and recovering peacefully. Word would be sent as soon as she awoke.

The morning dawned and the promise of a beautiful fall day loomed over the horizon.

Sango opened her eyes slowly, feeling her slumber fade with every breath. Kirara was curled on her chest, purring softly. Sango ran a hand over the soft fur and woke her gently. Standing up and stretching, the diminutive cat yawned fiercely. Sango followed suit, cradling the little youkai her in her arms. She looked around the campsite to find Miroku already up, building the fire in preparation for breakfast.

He looked over, eyes softening as he took in her mussed hair and sleepy eyes.

"Good morning Sango," he called out quietly.

"Good morning," she answered as she placed Kirara on the ground next to her and raised her arms above her head, stretching out her upper body. She got to her feet and folded up the blankets she slept on, relishing the warmth in the crisp morning air. She was grateful to Kagome for bringing her a special blanket called a sleeping bag from the future. It was infinitely warmer and easier to use than the traditional blankets she was used to.

She finished cleaning up camp and noticed that it was just the three of them.

"Hey Miroku, where did InuYasha and Shippo go?"

"They went to the river for water," he answered as he poked the fire with a heavy stick.

They had discovered the river soon after arriving, and though it was a farther walk than the castle, it was the only option acceptable to InuYasha. He insisted they go to the river instead of the castle since he would never ask anything of his brother.

Miroku watched Sango move about the campsite out of the corner of his eye. Her quiet grace and strong sense of self permeated the air around her. It was one of the many things that had drawn him in from the very first moment.

Since Naraku's defeat, their future together had been on the forefront of his mind and he was getting restless to start the future that filled his dreams every night. Of course he could never ask her to leave while Kagome's own fate was uncertain, but he wouldn't lie to himself by ignoring the growing impatience. It had been a very long time since they had discussed the future, but he knew that her heart belonged to him. It went without saying that no other woman would ever compare in his heart or mind. The time was drawing near that they move on to a future that promised the love and contentment they had fought so hard, and sacrificed so much, to attain.

Miroku looked down at his now bare hand as the absence of the wind tunnel brought a smile to his face. It was the proof that the future he hungered for was within his grasp.

Sango finished her tasks and came to settle next to him. She never sat close enough for his taste, but he knew that was not her way. The casual observer would say that Sango was not very affectionate, but Miroku knew better. It was the pain of losing all that she loved that had hardened her into the woman she was today. Watching her family die by her beloved brother's own hand and then fighting to save his soul had carved a deep gash into her heart that seemed no amount of love would fill. Yet Miroku was undaunted by this seemingly insurmountable task. Instead he was learning to wrap around that hole, filling the cracks with a devotion so strong that she could see the light of the world once again. He vowed to make her laugh again, like she did when she was young and saw a world full of promise.

He didn't realize that he had been staring until Sango finally spoke, her cheeks slightly pink either from the chill morning air, or from his regard.

"Why are you looking at me like that Miroku?" she asked, looking back at the fire feeling self-conscious.

He didn't know if it was the fact that they were so close to finally having their happy ending, or the way the morning sun filtered through the trees to caress her features, but he decided that now was as good a time as any to broach the subject of their much anticipated future.

"I was just thinking about what will happen once Kagome is back with InuYasha and we leave the Western Lands."

His statement hung in the air between them. Sango's heart sped up as she realized his meaning and didn't have a ready answer. Their pursuit of Naraku had put the issue of their future on the back burner for four years. Now that it was all over and the barrier keeping them apart finally destroyed, Sango had to face the one obstacle that she didn't know how to defeat. Her heart.

Sango would be lying if she said she didn't love him. Everyone knew that she did, but that didn't take away the deep seeded fear that when the day finally came, the future that she secretly hoped for might disappear like mist in the morning sun. Instead, the past few years had been spent in preparation for the despair that would probably be so great it would consume her very soul. Sango had learned long ago that it was always easier to allow her mind to go to a place so deep and dark that she sometimes found it hard to climb out. It was only Miroku, and her friends, that kept her from being consumed by the cyclone of grief that pulled at every fiber of her being. Letting her heart hope for a future that might never happen had been out of the question since it opened her up to a hopelessness that she knew she would not survive. Trusting Miroku to be there, standing on the other side waiting with an open heart, was something she feared she could never do.

She looked back at Miroku and caught her breath. There in his eyes was everything she needed to know. The brown depths revealed to her his inner thoughts and feelings like no words ever could. She could see the hesitancy of not wanting to push her, his deep affection and love that could neither be broken by time or conflict, and she could see fear. Fear that she would reject him to pursue a future on her own.

Sango thought for a moment about what a future without him would be. When she tried to picture a life other than the one that she imagined for the past four years, all she could see were stilted silhouettes of half-lives and shuttered memories. It was a life full of sadness.

Sango blinked away the vision and focused once again on his luminous face.

She needed light. She needed love. She needed laughter.

She needed Miroku.

"And what is your conclusion?" she asked with equal parts curiosity and trepidation.

Miroku smiled and reached across the short space, taking her hand. He squeezed it gently and opened his mouth to answer. Suddenly a huge crash sounded from the direction of the river. A heavy wind blew through the trees almost extinguishing the fire. Miroku pulled Sango to him and held up a heavy sleeve to protect against the blowing debris. Once the wind calmed he lowered his arm and looked down at Sango. She was tucked neatly into the crook of his arm, her face only inches from his neck as he felt her breath caress the sensitive skin of his throat. He cursed to himself. Here she was in his arms, talking about the future, and two ill-tempered brothers had ruined it.

'Damn you two,' he thought grumpily. Timing had always seemed to be a problem when it came to Sango.

He looked down at her again and heaved a frustrated sigh.

"Well, I suppose we should go and make sure InuYasha doesn't die. At least for Kagome's sake because right now I'm not too sure that I care all that much".

Sango's husky chuckle only fueled Miroku's frustration as he helped her to her feet.

'Oh yes, InuYasha is going to pay for this,' he thought, not bothering to hide his grimace.

Being thrown through tree trunks was not a pleasant experience. Of course it wasn't the first time, nor would it probably be the last, but this time InuYasha hadn't the faintest clue as to why he was involved or what they were even fighting about. One minute he had been walking with Shippo back to the campsite, and the next he was laying on his back staring at a broken tree stump.

In fact, his brother had come out of nowhere and just hurled him through about six trees without saying a word.

"What the hell is your deal?!" InuYasha shouted as he lifted himself off the ground.

Sesshomaru stared at his brother a moment before charging again. He had yet to draw Tokijin, electing instead for hand-to-hand combat. He landed another blow to InuYasha, knocking him through another tree.

"Fine, if you aren't gonna answer then we can just let our swords do the talkin." InuYasha pulled Tessaiga from its sheath and faced Sesshomaru with a wide legged stance.

"If you wish."

Sesshomaru slowly lifted a hand and placed it on the hilt of Tokijin. InuYasha's eyes widened as he took in the movement but quickly hid it.

"Keh, now I see."

Both brothers streaked toward each other swinging their powerful swords in a flash of red and white.

Sango and Miroku entered the clearing just in time to see InuYasha's form take out two trees on the far side of the small river. After watching InuYasha take another painful blow, Sango started forward to stop the feuding brothers but Miroku grabbed her elbow.

"Wait Sango." Miroku then let go of her arm and crossed his own in front of his body before continuing, "They aren't really trying to kill each other by the looks of it."

Sango stood in silence and watched the fight. Something was different, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Just then Sesshomaru sunk a heavy fist into InuYasha's stomach before swinging Tokijin up and blocking the Tessaiga.

Realization hit both Miroku and Sango with stunning force, but it was Sango who was the first to find her voice.

"Miroku? There's something different about Sesshomaru?" her voice barely registered above the crack of the two brother's swords.

He answered, voice tinged with wonder and confusion.

"He has both arms."

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 21 of 60

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