InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Fireside Chats ❯ Part Seventeen: Heavy Burden ( Chapter 17 )
Author's Note: Again, a huge thanks to DarklessVasion for helping me past a writers' block involving Miroku. I was unsure how to keep him in character and yet still have him do what I wanted. He's a complex character that I wanted to explore, but realized I didn't know very much about.
Disclaimer: Obviously I don't know the menstrual cycles of our two leading ladies, I just chose to take a little bit of artistic license for the sake of the story.
Update: A few clarifications added, adjusted some grammatical inconsistencies and streamlined the punctuation.
Part Seventeen: Heavy Burden
Kirara didn't have any trouble finding Inuyasha. If anyone had a nose as good as Inuyasha, it was the firecat. The hanyou was seated on a high bough of a tall, sturdy tree. The twitching of an ear alerted Miroku that the hanyou was aware of their approach
"What the hell do you want, monk?" Inuyasha snarled without preamble as Kirara landed at the base of the tree in which he was sitting. Miroku slid off the firecat's back, and Kirara transformed back into her tiny kitten form. She was exhausted, and her small form required much less energy and power to maintain.
"Would you mind coming down from there? I think we need to talk."
"Keh! I don't need to talk with anyone."
"Ah, but I think you do, Inuyasha. Now, would you please come down from there? I'd rather not shout up at you."
"And I say that I don't need to talk to anyone, dammit! Leave me alone!"
Miroku pondered his options, and finally decided he had no choice. "Very well then. I'll just have to wait you out."
"You'll have a helluva long wait, idiot."
Miroku smirked and said to himself, "We'll see about that." He walked over to the tree and sat down, leaning against the trunk and looking up at the shadows cast by the moody hanyou brooding in the boughs. He smiled at Kirara and patted his lap invitingly. "Come, Kirara. I could use a nice conversation."
He heard a distant "Keh!" but ignored it as Kirara hopped into his lap and made herself comfortable. His hands fell to scratching her black ears. She purred softly and snuggled into his caresses.
"Beautiful evening, isn't it, Kirara?" The firecat mewed in response. "The full moon is very lovely. Such a spectacular view from the campsite."
Kirara purred a little louder as he scratched under her chin.
"The weather's been very nice lately too." Purrrrr. "Dinner was good, wasn't it?" Purrrrrrrrr.
Miroku ran a hand gently across the firecat's back, smoothing down her fur. "You've had a long day, haven't you, Kirara?" The firecat mewed a sleepy response. "Carrying three adults and a kitsune cub for long distances, all while trying to keep up with Inuyasha, must be exhausting. Too bad Inuyasha doesn't understand the meaning of moderation. And plus, he wouldn't carry Kagome today. So that left you, poor thing."
Kirara's purrs became fainter as she started to fall asleep. She had indeed had a long, hard day. With Inuyasha avoiding Kagome, it left Kirara to carry all three humans. Inuyasha had caught a stray whiff of the saimyosho bugs and had taken off at a ground-eating lope, forcing everyone to pile onto Kirara just to keep up. It had been a long journey, and by the time Inuyasha gave up the trail when it ended in a complete dead-end (the scent literally disappeared), Kirara had been so tired she could barely keep her larger form.
And then a swarm of low-class forest demons -- similar to the demons Naraku tended to throw at them, but Inuyasha insisted these didn't smell anything like Naraku and therefore couldn't be affiliated with him -- had started attacking. Miroku had used a large portion of his available sutra and scrolls in the fight because they had been in such close quarters that Sango had been unable to properly utilize Hiraikotsu. She was very skilled using the giant boomerang, but not when she was literally wedged between two other adults while astride an airborne Kirara in tight quarters.
"You're such a good partner, Kirara," Miroku said sincerely. "We don't thank you nearly enough for all you do for us. Honestly, I don't know what we'd do without you." He paused in his petting, thinking.
Kirara cocked open one red eye and looked up at him. Her amused gaze said what her lack of vocal speech prohibited her from voicing: Keep with the petting, monk. The praise is nice too, but keep up the petting. I am a cat, after all.
Miroku chuckled and resumed stroking her fur. "Unlike some of us, you take commands without question and obey them. You don't charge headfirst into battle and create more havoc. You're probably the most reliable fighter of all of us, even Sango, and that says a lot, you know." Kirara's purr seemed to echo with feline laughter. "I know at least one of our number who could learn a lot from you."
There was a rustle in the branches overhead, a flash of red and silver, and then an audible -- but not loud -- thump in the leaf-litter before him. A stray moonbeam illuminated the argent hair as the irritable inu-hanyou crouched before the monk. "All right, monk, you made your point. The mindless chatter is annoying."
"Mindless? I was merely praising Kirara."
"Whatever. You want to talk? Fine, talk; but enough with this talking about me like I can't hear you."
"Fair enough. Now, tell me something, and be honest. No playing dumb. Why are you avoiding Kagome? You are avoiding her, it's very obvious. You know it, I know it, Kagome knows it -- everyone knows it! -- so don't deny it. Explain yourself. What's going on?"
"Damn, you're direct!"
"Answer me, Inuyasha," Miroku said forcibly, abandoning all laid-back pretenses. He had to get some answers out of the hanyou. "We cannot afford the discord and tension that is between us right now. We are dealing with a very deadly, vindictive and manipulative demon; we have to be able to trust each other absolutely. You know that, probably better than anyone. So tell me what is going on. Kagome is getting the wrong idea."
Inuyasha looked away, and for a moment it looked like he was tensing up his muscles to leap into the trees and abandon the conversation. Miroku readied himself to strike, to try and pin him if he tried to get away.
"Kagome smells different lately," Inuyasha said finally.
"That's what I said."
"Different in what way?"
Inuyasha turned and faced Miroku, and the intensity in his citrine eyes was unnerving. "You're human, Miroku. That means you're nose-dead. You can't smell the changes in Kagome. That one fact alone is all that's keeping me from ripping out your throat right now."
For the first time in a very long time, Miroku was so taken aback that he had no response but to unhinge his jaw and gape stupidly at Inuyasha. He flexed his jaw a couple of times, illiciting a disgusted sneer from the hanyou, while he worked his mind around what had just been said. "What do you mean? I don't understand what you're saying. How can Kagome smelling different make you want to kill me?"
"That's just it," Inuyasha looked away again. "I don't understand it either. I just know that because of how she smells, I feel very uncomfortable, and any male that's near her, I feel urge to kill."
"How long has she smelled this way?"
"This time? Oh, about two days or so now."
"What do you mean, this time?"
"It happens every month. Right around the full moon or so. Her scent starts to change about three days before the full moon."
Her scent changes monthly... Miroku was beginning to understand what the problem was, but needed more information to verify it. "What happens after the full moon?"
Inuyasha's cheeks flushed slightly and his left ear twitched like crazy. "Well, usually, she then starts to smell like blood, for a couple of days. She says it's nothing to worry about, that it's common for human females, and that her body is just getting rid of excess blood, that I shouldn't be worried about it. The blood smells different though. But in any case, afterwards, she's back to her usual scent."
Bingo. That's what I thought. "Well, if it's something that all human females go through, that means Sango does too, right?"
"Yeah. But not right now. Hers is usually the week before the new moon, but it varies more." Inuyasha's ears twitched again. "So what?"
"When this happens to Sango, do you feel the same way as you do right now?"
"Of course not."
"So, the last two days Kagome has started to smell differently. So what? What does that matter to you?"
Inuyasha glared at Miroku. "Dumbass. I told you: it makes me uncomfortable and aggressive."
"Her scent makes you aggressive?"
"Well, yeah. I want to kill any male that comes near her."
"You're a male, Miroku, and if I thought you could smell the change in her, I'd probably be ripping your throat out. But I don't understand why I have this urge. It's... it's not like the demon side of me. It doesn't delight in the prospect. It's like it's some sort of necessary thing."
Sweet Buddha. How do I explain this to him? He won't admit his feelings for Kagome, but this confirms it as well as if he were to stand up and proclaim it at the top of his lungs. She's gone into her 'heat' cycle and he's aggressively protective of her because deep down he views her as his mate. It's instinctual.
And here Kagome thought he was avoiding her because he'd been seeing Kikyo!
"Let me reassure you now," Miroku said slowly, trying to buy time while he got his thoughts in order. "I won't lay a hand on Kagome in earnest. I can't promise I won't, er, touch her in jest or whatever. But I will never lay so much as a finger on her, unsolicited."
The word 'unsolicited' was clearly confusing the hanyou. "I mean that I won't touch her unless she asks me to."
Oh shit. Wrong thing to say!
"Why would she ask you to?" Inuyasha growled.
"Nevermind. Forget it. It was a slip of the tongue."
"There's still another matter we need to discuss."
"Eh? Now what?"
"What about her? Shit, not you too, Miroku! I have no love for that damned horse demon! I felt sorry for her, but that's all."
"Then why do you insist on keeping that one shard with you? You won't even let Kagome purify it, and that's very much unlike you. Why does that shard mean so much to you? And don't give me that 'I'm trying to keep it safe' routine. You know that the only person who can safely handle the Shikon no Tama is Kagome. Why do you want that shard so much?"
Inuyasha looked away again. He was silent a long time, but made no motion like he wanted to escape. His ears remained relatively still, twitching only occassionally to indicate that he was thinking.
"It's to remind me. Of how evil the Shikon no Tama is."
"Do you really need to carry a tainted shard for that purpose?"
Inuyasha looked up squarely into Miroku's eyes, and again his citrine eyes were disturbingly intense. "You don't get it. Until now I've always believed that I could use the Jewel to become a full demon -- a sane one -- like Sesshomaru. That I could become a taiyoukai like my father, and take my place in the scheme of the world. I considered it to be mere coincidence that every demon we've encountered who had a shard was evil."
Except for Koga, Miroku thought, but held his tongue. Mentioning the wolf-demon would only make Inuyasha angry. "So what changed that?"
"When we first met Kiniromaru, she was a strong, proud demon who knew her duties and her place in society. She had no real ambitions because she had reached most of her goals in life. She didn't desire more power. She desired a peaceful existence for her tribe. She never actually told me any of this out loud, but I could tell by the way she carried herself, the way she moved, the way she spoke. She was a calm, dignified, confident demon. And being devoted to Nijimaru, she had only distaste for the Shikon no Tama, despite trying to fool us into thinking she had one.
"You saw what she looked like the next time we met her. She was not the same creature. She had been stripped of her pride and dignity. Her tribe was dead, she was physically about three-quarters dead herself, and only her rage and hatred kept her moving. Her peaceful existence was gone. She lived only to destroy the one she blamed for her predicament.
"You remember how she reacted, don't you, when she found out that she was alive because of those shards? She was devastated. She didn't want to live anyway, and she learned that she was only alive because of the very thing Nijimaru had schooled her to despise.
"I can't explain to you how hard it was for me to see such a proud, dignified demon reduced to what she had become. I think it's probably worse than what Naraku's done with Sango's brother. Kohaku is likely driven by a desire to live. Kiniromaru wanted only to die, to be released from what she'd become.
"And all of this, just because of two little pieces of the Shikon no Tama. Kiniromaru's entire life and reason for living was completely corrupted by those shards. Naraku didn't do a damned thing to them, because one of them never even encountered him. It was the evil of the shards themselves that ruined Kiniromaru and turned her into what she became."
Inuyasha paused, as if his thoughts had suddenly escaped him, but after a moment of contemplation, he continued.
"Until I saw what she became, I thought that the Shikon no Tama could be used harmlessly to make me what I always wanted to be. I thought that there was nothing wrong with what I wished. But now I'm beginning to see. Nijimaru wanted Kiniromaru to live. So live she did, even though she didn't want to. She was forced to enduring a living hell because Nijimaru had wished on the shard for her to live. A completely selfless wish -- a father wishing for his daughter to survive -- was entirely corrupted and made her suffer for nearly a month and a half. So now I'm realizing that no matter how innocent the wish is, the Jewel will distort it and make it be the worst thing you could have imagined."
Miroku blinked slowly, nodding his head in acknowledgement. "You've put a lot of thought into this, haven't you? I'm impressed at the depth of your observations. You're right, the Jewel will corrupt any wish. Remember that it's made up of souls that are battling for supremacy, and only one of those souls is considered good. Its very creation was violent and deadly in nature. Nothing good can come from using it."
"Yeah, I'm beginning to see that now."
"But I don't understand why you insist on holding onto a tainted shard of it."
"To remind me of why I don't want to use the Jewel once it's whole. Kiniromaru's tragedy opened my eyes to just how evil the Jewel is."
"But you're holding onto a tainted -- an unpurified -- shard, Inuyasha. I really think you should give the shard to Kagome; let her purify it."
"No. This burden is mine to bear, not anyone else's."
"Inuyasha," Miroku said seriously, "you know that Kagome is the only person who can safely handle the shards. A tainted shard is very dangerous."
"Keh," the hanyou spat. "Nothing doing. I can handle it. It's not like I'm tempted to use it or anything."
"Hear me out: you know that the shards draw youkai to them, and the more tainted a shard is, the stronger its pull is. If it remains unpurified, its taint will grow slowly, and it'll attract more and more youkai to it."
"So? What's your point?"
"My point is, if you continue to hang onto a tainted shard, we will be encountering more and more youkai as we travel. By keeping the shard unpurified, you will likely put all of us in danger sooner or later. Do you really think that this 'reminder' is worth that price?"
Inuyasha looked away, his features becoming harded with anger and frustration. "Fuck this. Why don't I just destroy the damned thing? Then the Jewel will never be whole!"
Before Miroku could get a word in edgewise, Inuyasha pulled the pouch from his clothing, dumped the shard into his hand, and placed it on a nearby rock. Then he drew Tetsusaiga, raised the blade and swung it straight down on the rock with all the force of his frustration. Miroku just barely managed to put an arm up to shield his face from the flying rock debris as the rock exploded under Tetsusaiga's power.
As Miroku lowered his arm and looked, Inuyasha poked with the tip of Tetsusaiga at the rubble that remained of the rock.
"Aw, fuck! It didn't work!"
The shard was still intact. In addition to that, it was glowing slightly from where it lay in a pile of rock-dust. The glow intensified as Inuyasha reached for the shard, and the light repulsed his hand.
"What the hell?!"
"Sweet Buddha, Inuyasha, what have you done?!"
last updated: August 28, 2005