Disclaimer/Acknowledgements: I can't claim Inuyasha, Miroku, or any of the other characters mentioned in this fic; they belong to Rumiko Takahashi. I also can't take credit for the main premise of this story; it was heavily inspired by two other wonderful fics. The first is Aishuu's CCS fanfiction "The One True Thing" (yes, I stole the title as well :P), and the second is Seifergrrl's Inuyasha fic "Philosophy by Starlight." Also, Aishuu's fic was in turn inspired by part of Kouri Arashi's original story "Borderline", so I suppose I should give that a nod as well. All in all, about the one thing I can take credit for is the fic's dialogue—and even that was mostly derived from a flash of inspiration I had in the shower, of all places. XD
And one little author's note: I've never had an alcoholic drink in my life, let alone sake, and I didn't exactly bother with research for a little one-shot like this, so please forgive me if I've gotten a few details wrong. Hopefully there's nothing that will be too distracting.
One True Thing
A heavy thump.
A resounding slap.
Shippou winced as Kagome and Sango angrily gathered their things and stormed off, Kirara trailing behind. In their wake lay a snarling hanyou and a dazed monk. Shippou sighed in resignation.
They hadn't even stood a chance.
With a farewell shrug to his comrades, he went off to follow the girls.
"This is all your fault, monk," muttered Inuyasha as he pried himself from the pretty new indentation he'd just made in the ground.
"If I recall correctly, Inuyasha," Miroku replied calmly as he gingerly examined the bright red mark on his cheek, "you were the one who went looking in her bag in the first place. And you, also, were the one that found it."
"You were the one who practically pounced on the thing once I pulled it out!"
"I was merely expressing my interest in the manuscript. I was not aware such things existed in Kagome-sama's time." Miroku trailed off, a contented look on his face. "I thought it was quite remarkable…"
"Keh. That's nothing. They have other ones where they're wearing more of those 'swimsuit' things Kagome always wears to bathe." He paused, then added, "And there are others where they aren't wearing anything at all."
It was true; he'd seen a few in a corner of the 'convenience store' that one time when Kagome had taken him to go shopping in her time. There were piles of them, in fact. Even his interest had been caught for a moment…
…not that he'd ever mentioned it to Kagome, of course.
"It's a pity Kagome-sama did not have any of those…" Miroku sighed regretfully.
"Keh! Of course she wouldn't! She ain't a pervert like you!"
"At any rate," replied Miroku, expertly changing the subject, "it seems that we have inadvertently upset her and Sango."
"Ya think?" Inuyasha remarked, rubbing his sore back. "I hope you're prepared to sleep outside, 'cause there ain't no way they're letting us in Kaede-babaa's hut tonight. Hell, we'll be lucky if they're even speaking to us tomorrow." He winced as he hit a tender spot. "She was really pissed…"
"Unfortunately, you're probably right." Miroku sighed in resignation, then stood up and walked over to where Kagome had left her 'bicycle' propped against a tree. He started to rummage about in the basket. "Ah, well—in that case, I suppose we should make the most of it." His eyes lit up as he discovered whatever prize he sought. "Ahh!"
Out came a jug of sake. Inuyasha raised an eyebrow as Miroku sat down beside him again and promptly produced a pouch from within his robes; inside were two shallow sake cups. Miroku offered one to Inuyasha, who merely stared at it, both eyebrows now raised. "Have you lost it, monk?"
"You don't want any?" Miroku mused in polite surprise. "Very well, then." He withdrew the cup and set both down in front of him. Then he carefully pried open the sake jug. Inuyasha, meanwhile, was trying to figure out where and when Miroku had gotten his hands on the rice wine. He narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
"Did you steal that?"
Miroku looked back up at Inuyasha, an expression of utter innocence spread flawlessly across his features. "Where would you get an idea like that?"
"Tricked someone into giving it up? Blackmailed?"
Miroku did his best to look aghast. "Inuyasha, I can't believe you'd think so low of me."
"And I thought monks weren't supposed to drink anyway," Inuyasha continued, despite the fact that Mushin, Miroku's foster father and fellow Buddhist priest, seemed to get drunk on a daily basis.
Miroku made a rather vague and disinterested noise in response, and otherwise ignored the question, once again diverting his attention back to the sake jug, the contents of which he paused to examine closely. "Hopefully it's still good…"
"Keh." Inuyasha shrugged.
"Inuyasha." Miroku looked up at him again curiously. "You really don't want any?"
"Keh! Why should I? I don't really feel like getting drunk, thanks. We've got shards to find tomorrow, and the brat and wenches are annoying enough as it is." He stood up, intending to go and find a comfortable tree not too far away to spend the evening in.
"Ah… I see," nodded Miroku slyly. "Very well, then. Although I must say, this is a little surprising."
Inuyasha paused and glared back and Miroku, who looked back at him as innocently as ever. "What's so surprising?"
"Well, you being half-demon and all, I'd just assumed… but silly me, of course I was mistaken. After all, I'm sure demon blood has nothing to do with it."
Inuyasha narrowed his eyes. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Well, obviously you can't handle liquor very well."
Inuyasha nearly choked; never mind there wasn't anything for him to choke on. "What?"
"Maa, maa," Miroku said quickly, waving a pacifying hand. "There's nothing wrong with that. You can't help it if you're a lightweight, after all—"
He was interrupted by angry snarl from the hanyou as he stomped back over and reclaimed his seat beside the monk. "Give me that," he growled, snatching the sake cup Miroku was holding.
"Are you sure?" Miroku asked pleasantly. "Have you ever had sake before?"
Miroku complied, doing his best to ignore the rather unsettling amber-eyed glare of his companion. He had, after all, been successful in goading him. "Shall I pour you some, then?"
Muttering a few unintelligible curses beneath his breath, Inuyasha handed the cup back to Miroku, who set it down next to the other cup and proceeded to carefully fill both.
"Normally you would pour mine and I would pour yours, but I don't think we need bother with such formalities tonight," Miroku said as he handed one of the shallow cups back to Inuyasha.
Inuyasha just shrugged, sniffed his drink cautiously, making a face at the smell. As a matter of fact, Miroku's earlier guess happened to be right—he had never drunken sake before. And he was quickly regretting his decision to sit down and do so now. Damn his stupid pride. Damn the stupid monk…
The monk in question was about to take a sip of his own drink when he paused as if thinking better of it. "Say, Inuyasha… how about a little game?"
"Eh?" The hanyou frowned in confusion and yet more suspicion. "Whaddaya mean? What sort of game?"
"Just something I picked up in a village some time ago during my travels. It's called 'The One True Thing.'"
Inuyasha frowned, not sure if he liked the sound of that. "How do you play?"
"Well, I've seen it done several different ways, but I'm partial to one of the simpler versions. Basically, I name a subject and you take a drink and then say one true thing about that subject, the truest thing you can think of. Then I take a drink and you name a subject, and so on, back and forth."
"What kind of subject?"
"Any subject; any person, place, or thing."
"Forget it." Inuyasha went back to sniffing his drink.
Miroku grinned. "Ah, come on Inuyasha, what's a little sharing between friends? Unless, of course, the idea unsettles you. We would be drinking sake after all, and if you can't handle it, you might end up saying something you regret—"
Inuyasha growled again. For a moment, he seriously contemplated smashing the entire jug of sake over the monk's head, but then something inside him relented. So instead, he did nothing. Miroku, still all smiles, correctly interpreted this as a reluctant agreement.
"Why don't we give it a practice go-around first? I'll think of something simple." He paused for a moment, then nodded. "Okay, go ahead and take a sip." He indicated Inuyasha's cup.
Inuyasha eyed the liquid warily, but he couldn't back down in front of Miroku now. So reluctantly, he lifted the drink to his lips and tasted it. He almost choked again—ugh! He couldn't for the life of him understand why some humans were so fond of the stuff. Hell, some of the dirt he'd unintentionally swallowed during a few of his unwilling trips to the ground had tasted better.
Grimacing, he forced himself to swallow a small gulp.
"All right—the one true thing about Shippou," Miroku said.
"The brat?" Inuyasha repeated, trying to get the taste off his tongue.
Miroku nodded expectantly. Inuyasha finally sighed, unsuccessful.
"Fine… uh… the one true thing about Shippou is that he annoys the hell out of me."
To his slight surprise, Miroku frowned at him disapprovingly. "Inuyasha, the whole idea is to say the truth for once."
"Keh." Inuyasha looked away, annoyed. "It's just a stupid game."
Miroku continued to frown. Then, suddenly, he took a sip from his own cup. "The one true thing about Shippou," he said, "is that he may be young, but he really does try his best."
Inuyasha looked back as Miroku refilled both cups, then offered back Inuyasha's. When the hanyou didn't immediately reclaim it, the monk raised an eyebrow pointedly. With a sigh, Inuyasha took the cup, held his nose, and took another quick sip.
"Fine," he said grudgingly. "The one true thing about Shippou is… I guess… uh, that is… gah, fine! I guess he doesn't really annoy me—that much." He glared in irritation back at Miroku. "Satisfied now?"
Miroku nodded, then took another sip from his own cup. "Your turn."
Caught a bit unawares, Inuyasha blinked, then stuttered out the first thing that came to his mind. "Kagome." Idiot! he thought as soon as the name left his mouth. Choosing her as the topic was probably almost as revealing as whatever Miroku's answer would be. He fought the urge to wince.
Miroku flashed Inuyasha a conspiratorial grin that made the hanyou's cheeks flush in embarrassment before the monk took on a thoughtful expression. "Hmm… the one true thing about Kagome-sama is that she has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen."
Inuyasha blinked again. He hadn't expected such an open response from Miroku, and it surprised him more than a little bit. But he supposed it wasn't a bad thing… and he certainly couldn't say he disagreed.
Perhaps there was more to this game than he'd first thought. "Your turn," he said after a moment.
"Hmm…" Miroku mused. He fingered his cup, then said, "Kaede-sama."
Inuyasha took another sip of the sake. "The one true thing about Kaede-babaa… is that her heart's almost as big as Kagome's." He frowned for a moment, wondering where the hell that had come from. Was it possible the sake was already having an effect?
Miroku, for his part, grinned again—he was doing that entirely too much right now—and took Inuyasha's cup to refill it. "I can't say I disagree with you there," he said, referring to Kaede. "Sometimes I don't know how she manages to deal with all of the trouble we bring her."
"Keh." Keen to change the subject, Inuyasha quickly said, "Women."
"The one true thing about women is that men will never understand them," Miroku said wisely, responding almost before he had finished his sip. "Men."
Sip. "The one true thing about men is that we're too damned nice to women for our own damned good." He sighed. "Youkai."
Miroku drank, then said, "The one true thing about youkai is that not all of them are bad."
He took another sip for no particular reason, then said, "Humans."
Inuyasha sipped again. Actually, it wasn't so bad once he got over the initial shock. The taste was slowly growing on him. "The one true thing about humans is not all of them are good," he countered.
Inuyasha leaned back against a nearby tree. "But… a lot of 'em are decent." He fished around for a new topic, then finally said, "Naraku."
Miroku pulled a face and drained the rest of his cup. Then he actually grinned again. "The one true thing about Naraku is that his days are numbered."
"Hmph—you can count on that," Inuyasha smirked as Miroku refilled both cups again.
"I am counting on it," Miroku said half seriously and half in good humor as he handed the cup back. "Anyway, since we're on the subject of Naraku, how about Kagura?"
Now it was Inuyasha's turn to pull a face. He looked rather thoughtful as he took the obligatory sip, however. "…The one true thing about Kagura… is that if I didn't know any better, I'd say she wasn't all bad."
"She has her own interests at heart, but yes. I think more than anything else, she just wants to be free of Naraku's influence." His eyes took on a distant look for a moment. "I can't say I don't sympathize with that."
Inuyasha frowned as he looked over at the monk. A silence passed between the two for a minute. Then Inuyasha said, "The kazaana."
Miroku gave him a sharp glance. Then he looked away. Resigned, he took his sip. "The one true thing about the kazaana is that it scares me."
More silence, during which Inuyasha felt strongly that he should say something, but at the same time felt too awkward to do so. Miroku once again drained his cup and refilled it.
"Hmm… Kouga," he said presently.
"The wimpy wolf?"
"That's the one."
Inuyasha was both piqued and relieved when the small, mischievous smirk finally reappeared on the monk's face. Grumbling under his breath about it not being fair—but after Miroku's startlingly honest answer to the last question he couldn't very well back down now—he took a rather large gulp.
"The one true thing about the stupid wolf is that I'm afraid he'll take Kagome away."
Belatedly, he realized his own answer was a little too honest. Damn it—was he getting drunk? He had no idea how one was supposed to tell.
Miroku was chuckling at his confession, and he shot him one of his patented glares. "It ain't funny!"
Miroku put his hand up in a gesture of peace. "Sorry. But I don't think you need to worry about that."
"Keh. Who said I was worried?"
"You did, just now."
Inuyasha couldn't decide at that moment whether he would rather smack himself, or the too-cheerful bouzu. He settled for just growling some more as Miroku chuckled again.
"The one true thing about this fucking game is that I'm beginning to hate it," Inuyasha muttered as Miroku's laughter finally began to subside.
"Then you're not drunk enough," Miroku grinned, taking Inuyasha's cup and refilling it, spilling a little in the process—he himself was definitely slightly inebriated, although experienced enough to handle it. "The one true thing about the Bone Eater's Well."
"Hey! Isn't it my turn?"
Sighing, Inuyasha drank. "The one true thing about the Bone Eater's Well is that it's both the best and worst thing that ever happened to me."
"Besides for Kagome-sama, that is."
Inuyasha glared at him again, annoyed that the sake was making Miroku so suddenly damned perceptive. "Are we still playing the same game here, or have we switched to Twenty Questions?"
"It's your turn," Miroku responded calmly.
"You already asked that."
"Keh!" He paused a moment, then smirked. "Sango."
"Sango…" Miroku took a long sip, then smiled. "The one true thing about Sango is that she's the strongest person I've ever known." He paused, then added softly, "And the most beautiful."
"Keh," Inuyasha muttered for the third time in almost a row, mostly to keep things from getting too sentimental.
When Miroku didn't say the next topic for a moment, Inuyasha closed his eyes, knowing what was coming…
Shit. He hated being right.
Long, long sip.
"…The one true thing about Kagome," he said finally, "is that I'd do anything for her."
Miroku didn't say anything, but he smiled again.
Feeling oddly wistful for some reason, Inuyasha took another sip, then murmured, "Love."
"The one true thing about love," Miroku responded dutifully, "…is that there's no way to predict it."
"I'll drink to that," Inuyasha replied. And he did. So did Miroku.
They sat relaxed in silence for a long while after that, each a bit lost in thought, the sake jug lying near-empty beside them. Slowly, the sun descended in the sky. It was getting late, and Shippou and the girls were still missing in action; Inuyasha suspected he had been right in predicting that they'd spend the night at Kaede-babaa's, leaving the two young men to make do just outside the village. Eh… that was fine with him—they'd dished out worse punishments in the past.
"You know, the sake wasn't so bad after all," Inuyasha murmured presently.
Miroku chuckled, then sat up, poured the rest of the sake into his cup with a slightly unsteady hand, and downed it.
He lay back down contentedly, then abruptly pronounced, "The one true thing about Inuyasha is that, no matter how hard he may try to hide it, he's the most decent guy I know."
Inuyasha felt his cheeks go red, and he didn't think it was the sake. He couldn't think of anything to reply to that, so he simply said, once more, "…Keh."
There was a soft rumbling sound beside him, and he blinked before looking over to realize that Miroku had passed out, and was now snoring contentedly.
Inuyasha rolled his eyes—apparently, compared to some, his own tolerance for alcohol wasn't too bad after all. "Stupid monk," he muttered.
He started to stretch, about ready to hop up into the tree he had been leaning against and get some sleep himself. As he stood up, though, he paused.
"The one true thing about Miroku is that you may be a stupid monk… but you're still a good friend."
He yawned, then felt embarrassed crimson once more spread to his cheeks as Miroku smiled in his sleep.
Leaping up to his branch, though, he decided that it really hadn't been a bad game after all.
For any who are wondering, Inuyasha stumbled upon an everyday women's fashion catalog in Kagome's backpack, that's all. But keep in mind that those do have pictures of underwear models, among other things, and that with Miroku's help, some questionable comments were almost certainly made within earshot of our two favorite girls. I left the details deliberately vague because I preferred to jump right into the fic's main context without wasting time backtracking to other things.
Also, because of the way the fic played itself out when I typed it up, it turned out that there were a few "one true things" that I unfortunately wasn't able to fit in. I would have loved to work a few comments on Kikyou or Sesshoumaru into the framework, for instance. But it just didn't work out that way. Alas… anyway, just thought I'd mention that in case anyone wondered why I didn't mention this character, or that one…
Lastly—no, I do not have any idea how Inuyasha managed to utter the word "Keh" a total of 11 times in 7 pages. All I can say is, it just seemed right every time… but it slowly added up. (sweatdrop)