Categories > Anime/Manga > Inuyasha > This Can't Be Good

(49) Clearing

by Ithilwen 0 reviews

"It pains me to correct you, Sango, but it isn't a demon thing." He pressed his palm to his breast. "I assure you, I hate him too."

Category: Inuyasha - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Humor,Romance - Characters: Other - Published: 2005-11-23 - Updated: 2008-12-05 - 3345 words

Teles is coming here to meet you?

HIEI: You do know that she is married to a Demon Lord? Are you aware of how many different kinds of agony he could visit upon that human body of yours?

You are all helping me clean up.

KURAMA: I have to know what this is about.

KUWABARA: It sounded pretty obvious to me, Kurama.

YUSUKE: No kidding. They made us read about it in health class. Did you know that in the second trimester, some women-

HIEI: Spare me the details. When I want to know what goes on inside the human body, I'll slice one open.

(A limo pulls up and a very pregnant ex-goddess eases herself out.)

KUWABARA: (Offers his arm.) Let me help you, ma'am.

TELES: (Smiles winningly.) Why thank you.

SESSHOUMARU: (Gets out of limo.) You may remove your hands from my wife, human.

KUWABARA: Hey, you're that Sesshoumaru gir-

YUSUKE: (Elbows him.)

KUWABARA: Okay! Letting go!

TELES: You will have to excuse my mate. It is in his nature to be overprotective. (Teles moves to Kurama and, taking both his hands, greets him with a peck on the cheek.) You look well, Kurama, if very different from what I remember.

KURAMA: I know the sentiment exactly, Lady.

SESSHOUMARU: (growls at Kurama)

TELES: Sesshoumaru, for gods' sake, stop that!

KUWABARA: Heh heh! (makes whip motion) Wha-pssssh!

SESSHOUMARU: (growls at Kuwabara)

KUWABARA: Uh, I meant... (fakes a sneeze) Wha-choo!


"Did you slap him too hard, Sango?" demanded Inuyasha. "It almost sounds like he said-"

"Mushin," Miroku repeated. "We will take Hojo to Mushin."

Sango shot the dog demon a look, then turned back to where she and Kagome were helping Kaede fix dinner. ...Or rather, where Sango was helping and Kagome was sitting listlessly as they discussed yet again what might be done with the boy from her home village. The taijiya looked away. Kagome had nothing to feel guilty about. If anything, she had been far too easy on the boy. It was not Kagome's fault if the well chose to inflict a harsher punishment on him.

Sango closed her eyes. Kagome had felt responsible for the boy since the minute he'd fallen through the well into the real world, and now he would be lost to his family forever. Getting the young miko to feel at ease with that would be like getting water to flow uphill, and... Sango held in a sigh. Hojo is faced with a permanent separation from his family and loved ones. A village, still guarded by its broken palisade rose in her mind. That is more than many hearts can bear.

"I have to admit, monk," Kouga broke the silence around Kaede's cooking fire, scratching his head. "Even I can't follow your logic on this one. I thought high monks weren't allowed to purify other humans."

"Kouga!" Sango admonished. "Miroku doesn't mean for Mushin to exterminate Hojo." Her eyes suddenly went to slits. "At least he'd better not."

Miroku sighed, rubbing one hand over his eyes. "I suppose I deserve that."

"And frankly," she turned her evil gaze back to Kouga. "I'm growing more than a little tired of this stupid, territorial demon thing that you hold against Hojo. He's shown himself a fool, but-"

"Ah..." Miroku held up one hand. "It pains me to correct you, Sango, but it isn't a demon thing." He pressed his palm to his breast. "I assure you, I hate him too."


"Ow!" The taijiya rubbed her arm, stifling a wince.

"Be careful, child," Kaede told her. "You must not use that arm of yours until it is more fully healed."

"Thank you, Priestess Kaede." Sango shook her head. Miroku was right about one thing, though: Hojo needed supervision. Who knew what trouble he'd get into while they weren't looking? Shippo had run off to play somewhere, which was good. Inuyasha had assured Hojo that his organs would be alphabetized should Shippo come to further harm, which was better.

"Allow me to explain," said Miroku. "When I was studying under Mushin, he would often express his longing for an apprentice with less wit and more respect," he informed them with an air of elegant duty. "It is high time I repaid him for all the years he spent raising me, and it gives me great pleasure to do so by granting this, his dearest wish."

Inuyasha gave a short laugh. "You just want to make the old coot eat his words."

"I do anticipate a certain satisfaction," the monk admitted, "but there are many other strong reasons to follow this plan of mine, not the least of which-" He gave Sango a pointed look. "-that I grow weary of the suggestion that the world has not enough virtuous monks. Hojo is far from the greatest mind I've ever known, but he is patient, he is dutiful, he can already read and write-"

Kouga choked. "He can?!"

"Yes," Miroku finished heavily. "More importantly, if there is any power in him, then Mushin can bring it out, and if there is no power in him, then he can at least teach him to stay alive."

"I must admit," Kaede's heavy voice settled over the roiling conversation. "Despite any other motives that Miroku may have, sending the boy to be trained as a monk does not sound like the worst idea I've heard all night."

Inuyasha gave a snort. "Whatever gets the ugly runt out of our hair. He can't come with us and he can't stay here without a babysitter. That old drunk in the temple is our best bet."

Kagome nodded soberly. "I think it's a very good idea."

"You stupid girl! I'm only trying to-" Inuyasha blinked. "You do?"

Kagome shrugged emptily. "We tried the well. We tried the talisman. We're past the point where we can give him more choices. If he doesn't want to be a monk, then he can just walk away." She pulled in a breath and let it leave her body in chunks. "It's settled then. If you guys don't mind, I'm going to go for a walk and clear my head now."

Sango half rose to follow Kagome's slack shoulders as she shifted the reed curtain and slipped out the door, but Inuyasha beat her to it, trotting after the girl with a half-audible curse. "Where do you think you're going, you stupid girl?"

Kouga's eyes narrowed. "You're not going without me, dog breath."

Miroku looked up as Kouga made for the door. "Sango, would you?"

"Of course, Houshi-sama." She hefted Kaede's ladle.

"Ack!" Kouga fell headfirst into the wall as Sango's blow stunned his calf. "What was that for?" he snarled.

"You should not be so ready to follow Inuyasha this time, Wolf Prince," Kaede said smoothly. "Now if you would please return my ladle..."

"A good fight with Inuyasha is likely just what Kagome needs to put this Hojo matter into perspective," Miroku spoke up. "None of us should interfere."

"Hojo..." growled the wolf demon. "This is all his fault."

"Indeed," answered Miroku.

Kouga gave a snort. "It's a miracle that a weakling like that lived to adulthood in the first place."

"I have wondered about that myself," mused Miroku. "During my training, one of the things Mushin tried to impress upon me was that strength of mind can be more potent than strength of body."

"The runt doesn't have that either, Priest."

"That would be my concern, yes," finished Miroku, rubbing his chin. "I suppose the source of Hojo's power will forever elude us."

Sango felt her eyebrows shoot up. "His power? Hojo has no power," she said as Miroku and Kouga turned their empty, disdaining skepticism toward her. "There is nothing at all mysterious or special about him. He didn't shout or call names. He didn't let his hands wander and he didn't flirt with anything that moved. Maybe that seems like a power to you, Priest."

A slight smile had touched the old miko's mouth. "It seems Sango understands the matter well. In this company, at least, Hojo's restraint makes him a rare gem indeed."

"Nonsense!" scoffed Kouga. "If I'd restrained myself in our last battle with Kagura, we would all dance to her wind tonight. Only a fool holds back."

Miroku clasped his chin with one beaded hand, gaze fixed somewhere in the woodwork. Sango frowned. It was strange to see the delinquent priest put this much thought into something that wasn't a con or a woman of questionable morals. His voice dropped to a murmur. "Can that be it?"

Sango felt her mouth open and close, a strange idea forming. "Surely, Houshi-sama..." she trailed. "Surely this is not a new concept for you."

He turned his eyes toward her, but did not answer.

Her startled breath seemed to trip inside her lungs, "But... the cold glares, the silent treatment!" She searched his face. "The beatings? Did you miss the point of all of it?"

"Sango, I-"

"I practically slap you senseless every time you do something lecherous, and you never figured out that-"

"Sango!" he got to his feet. "That isn't it at all." He held up both hands. "Something just sprung to mind," he assured her, edging toward the door. "Please excuse me."


"Inuyasha, I just want to-"

"No. You're sulking over something that isn't your fault."

Her shoulders rose and sank. "It's not about fault."

Inuyasha's eyes narrowed against the stinging gold of the sun's last rays. He gave a snort, crouching down next to where Kagome sat, elbow to knee and fist to jaw on the white steps of what would become her shrine. "What then?" he demanded. "If you're finally over blaming yourself for Hojo, then why can't you act normal? Everything's decided."

"But it's not over."

Inuyasha dropped into a sitting position. "What do you mean?"

Kagome's head shook slowly from side to side. "I've thought about what to tell Hojo's family, how to break it to them that their son isn't coming back, but..." Her teeth peeked out of hiding to clamp on her lip. "They'll want to know what happened."

He shrugged. "So tell them. Tell them that Hojo's all right and-"

"-and that he's fallen through a magic well into a past full of demons and witches and all the other things we thought were made up?" She moved, really moved, for the first time, sliding toward him to fix her hands like cool weights against his shoulders. "They won't believe me. Or worse--they will." Her eyes pressed shut, chin dropping to her breastbone. "Whether they call the police or a nuthouse, it will be the same. Hojo disappeared and I know something. Anything could happen. They could say that I killed him, or that my mother did. There's nothing we can do that can make this-"

"Write." The word leaped out without permission.

Kagome looked up. "Huh?"

"The monk said that the runt can write. Have him tell his family to leave you the hell alone." Inuyasha swallowed, unused to the blank openness that flooded her face.

Kagome blinked her wide blue-gray eyes, posture going a different kind of limp.

Inuyasha squirmed, pushing one of her hands off his shoulder. "I'm just saying, since you keep hauling those stupid books back and forth, I figured you could take one little piece of paper." Kagome didn't say a word. He held in a tiny growl. "Will you quit looking at me like that?"

The girl looked away, still silent.

Inuyasha growled for real this time. "So what if it's bad idea? It's better than moping out here like a-"

"It's a good idea," Kagome answered in amazement. "I mean... It's at least a start. People will still come to the shrine and ask questions, but-"

The idea sank through the sand into Inuyasha's mind. "So why are you acting all surprised?!" he fumed. "It's not like I never have good ideas or anything!"

Kagome laughed, ruining a perfectly good tantrum, and slid forward to hug him around the neck. Inuyasha growled for real, but without the anger. At least she smelled nice.

"It's just not often that I need an answer and one just shows up for me gift-wrapped," she explained. If her breath felt soft against his cheek, he didn't blush. ...that was just a trick of the light. And he certainly didn't slip one arm around Kagome's waist to feel the pulse at the small of her back. She was just heavy and awkward.

And if he happened to notice one of her hands slip up to cup the back of his head, then it certainly wasn't because of a certain squeaky sound, not unlike that of a small puppy seeing someone walk toward him with a treat. Oh no, everything was perfect this ti-

Inuyasha felt his spine go tense, radiating outward to his arms as he twisted his shoulder and swept Kagome's hands off his neck.


He gulped hard, feeling his teeth clamp down on the frustration in his mouth. Squeaking like a little animal in front of Kagome... At least caught himself in time. wasn't he supposed to feel relieved?

Bad enough that his damn ears marked him for this thing that he was, a creature half-transformed into a taiyoukai totem beast. Bad enough...

His eye flicked to the side of Kagome's neck, the world taking on a veil of ashy gray as he figured it out. The layers of his own mind had betrayed him. He wanted to feel her touch, wanted to roll belly-up on the ground, keen like a cub come home, and forget he'd ever been anything else.

"I'm sorry." Kagome's eyes were drifting down into the grass. "I forget that you don't like to be hugged."

"It's not-" Inuyasha clamped his mouth shut. "Nothing," he answered, feeling a growl build in his throat. It seemed as though everyone needed to clear their heads tonight. "I gotta go," he all but snarled, jumping off.

A few minutes later, he found himself pacing near the edge of the village. His words came in angry undertones, "Stupid girl... Why does she have to-But then I-Arrrrrgh!"

There was a telltale jingling of metal. "There you are." An urbane voice floated out to him through the dusk.

"What do you want, bouzu?"

"Something Sango said made me wonder." Miroku took a few steps toward him. "What exactly did Kagome have to promise you to defend Hojo as you have these past days?" A hard amber glare did not dissuade him. "She did promise you something, did she not?"

Inuyasha growled, dropping down to his haunches, both fists pressed hard against his cheeks. "Tendaysfnosids," he muttered.

The monk blinked his too-big eyes. "What was that?"

"Ten days no sits!" he shouted back. "She said that if the runt gets home safe and sound, she won't use the damn spell on me for ten days."

"I see." Miroku nodded. "And were there any special terms involved?"

The memory brought a growl to his throat.

"I'll do everything I can to keep her from going back to you. I'll fill in the well or-"
There was a light cracking sound, and Hojo was sprawled on the grass. Inuyasha looked down at his knuckles. They slowly turned pink. Hojo touched the edge of his jaw with one fingertip.

"I'm not supposed to hit him," he answered.

"I thought that might have been it," Miroku mused, rubbing his chin. "Well!" he said cheerfully, "now that Hojo will never again set foot in his native land, you may as well have at it."

Inuyasha scowled. Something else was going on here. "What are you really getting at?" he demanded, jumping back to his feet. "What's the big deal with helping Hojo anyway? Hell, you put up with the little runt tons more than I do!"

The monk blinked.

"Damn it!" the dog demon threw one arm toward the sky. "The kid would have been dead three times over if not for you. What the hell has he got on you, anyway?" Inuyasha's mind froze, and one claw jabbed toward Miroku's face. "He didn't catch you doing more than flirt with some girl and now he's threatening to tell Sango, is he?"


"He did?" Inuyasha asked in amazement. "Fuck! If Sango doesn't have your ass for this, I will!"

"That's not it!" the monk insisted. "I owe Hojo nothing, but-" He rubbed one hand across his forehead, "but it feels as though I do."

The dog demon folded both arms. "What do you mean?" he demanded.

"I don't understand it myself," the monk answered through gritted teeth. "Believe me, if I did-" He took a breath, composing himself. "Perhaps it is that Mushin cared for me when I was a boy. Without his guidance, I would be twice the fool that Hojo is today. I do have some responsibility to pass on what kindness was given to me. Besides, he brought something to my attention," he closed his eyes, suddenly looking much older than he was, "something that I should have noticed myself, long ago."

"If you keep treating Kagome like the dust under your feet, then she's going to come back home forever."

Inuyasha poured all the blackness of the memory into one growled word. "So?"

"So perhaps he's not as hopeless as we thought."

The dog demon gave a snort. "Is that why you came out here?"

Miroku shook his head. "I had a question, and you've answered it. That was all."

There was a long pause. Crickets chirped.

"And Sango was about to beat me senseless any second."



The sigh slipped past the boy's lips like a spirit into the twilight air. "What do you want from me?" he breathed, both palms pressed down in prayer against the lip of the Bone-Eater's well. "Come on," he coaxed.

His eyes were still shut, unaware of the dim witch-light pulsing like a second heartbeat at his throat.

The well knew it.

"I came all the way out here by myself, just to figure out what's what." His whisper was clear and empty as a starry night. "I could die out here just for coming to talk to you. How do I..." One hand left the splintering wood to fist against his forehead.

One thing for another. She sighed. He was such an innocent.

"I thought you understood," said Kikyo, stepping into view.


KUWABARA: You're right. The voice makes it way easier to tell.

YUSUKE: Keep it down!

I thought you would like to see this. (Shows Teles the Sephiroth costume.)

TELES: Are these the real clothes that-

Sure are.

TELES: (Holds them up, a hungry gleam in her eye.) Yes. Yes, I believe this will do nicely.

SESSHOUMARU: (Eyes Kurama.) Surely you cannot be the famed fox bandit Youko Kurama.

KURAMA: I am indeed. (Eyes him back.) Nice suit.

SESSHOUMARU: (touches collar) Armani.

KURAMA: (touches collar) Junior high school issue.

No fighting. I just had the rug cleaned.

SESSHOUMARU: I don't like you. I like this idea of my wife's even less. (Darkly) ...but I did promise, so if this "transaction" of yours fails to please her-

KURAMA: Yes, about that. To be perfectly honest, I-

TELES: Hm... (Shakes head.) I'll probably have to make some alterations.


TELES: (Holds costume up to Sesshoumaru.) It looks like it will be a little tight around the chest. What's your tailor's number again?

No way! That thing's an original!

SESSHOUMARU: Beloved, I know your body gives you difficulties, but I will not wear this foolish garment.

TELES: (Firmly.) Sesshoumaru, I will not tolerate argument from you about this -- not now. Atonement, as I believe they say in this vernacular, is a bitch. (To Kurama) Very well. So how much are you asking for this costume? ...and I would like to take the time to remind you about that instance when you required my... (delicate cough) assistance.

KURAMA: . . .

YUSUKE: . . .


HIEI: (near-silent whisper) If anyone tells him what we were all thinking, I will kill you both horribly.
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