Before we get started, I must give credit for part of this story to Saro! She wrote the very first part of this chapter for fun and sent it to me, and it gave me such a good idea that she allowed me to continue with it and even gave me permission to post it.

Thank you, Saro! ^_^

Oh, and just so you know, this story is mainly being written for fun in my spare time, and it wasn't originally written with the intentions of being posted. But the people who have read it enjoyed it so much that I decided to post it. So updates might be very slow (especially since I am working on another story at the moment that takes precedence over this one), and the story might not end up being very long. But hopefully you guys will like it and encourage me to write more! After all, I do enjoy writing this story and just the thought of the plot is enough to get me laughing, if that tells you anything…

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Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the characters used in this story, but that still doesn't stop their suffering at my hands! *evil laughter*

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Chapter One

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A resounding smack broke the morning air, followed by a not too unfamiliar cry of, "Hentai!"

Kagome woke up with a start and found herself staring blearily at a well-known scene. Miroku was sitting on the ground, rubbing at the red handprint on his cheek, with Sango glowering down at his prone form.

"Not again," the girl from the future groaned, burying her face in her sleeping bag in an attempt to deny the fact that the sun was peeking through the trees, the birds were chirping, and her friends were awake and shouting.

"Can't you at least wait a few hours to start acting like a pervert," Shippo asked, yawning behind his hand. "Maybe until after breakfast?"

"This is the third morning in a row I've woken up with your hands on me," Sango fumed, shaking one first over the monk's head.

"Hey, can you keep it down," Inuyasha growled from his tree. "Some of us were trying to sleep."

"Do you always have to be such a lech?"

"Can't you go a few hours without touching one of us?"

"Hell, you even grope them in your sleep!"

"Aren't monks supposed to be virtuous?"

Through out this whole routine exchange, something very abnormal was happening. Miroku's face, usually serene and only slightly befuddled when confronted with this sort of assault, was slowly growing darker and darker, his brows drawing lower and lower, and his lips turning in an uncharacteristic frown. He was touching the new handprint on his cheek with less and less
surprise, and more anger.

"That's it," the monk said finally, interrupting Shippo who had been having his turn, "I'm not doing this anymore."

"What?" Everyone asked at once.

"I'm not doing this anymore," Miroku repeated, standing up and brushing the dirt off his robes. "I am swearing off women."

"You're what?" Sango and Kagome gasped at the same time that Shippo's jaw hit the ground and Inuyasha grumbled, "Tche, like that'll happen."

"I mean it. I, Miroku, do henceforth swear off all involvement with the feminine sex," Miroku declared firmly. His feet were planted, his shoulders squared, his jaw set. He looked ready to face a whole army of demons.

For a long moment no one said anything. The birds stopped chirping, the sun stopped peeking, the morning air stopped breaking, and everyone stopped talking. They all just stared at the monk, varying expressions of disbelief painted on their faces. Then Kagome leapt out of her sleeping bag and rushed over to the monk, laying her palm across his forehead. Inuyasha rolled off his branch and scrutinized him, and Shippo tugged up the edge of Miroku's robe to peer underneath.

"Huh," Kagome said wonderingly. "He doesn't have a fever. Are you feeling okay?"

"What are you trying to pull?" Inuyasha said skeptically. "Is this some kind of trick?"

"Who are you? And what have you done with Miroku?" Shippo asked suspiciously.

"I'm fine. And this isn't a trick. I am me." Miroku answered, pushing Kagome's hand aside gently, returning Inuyasha's look with his own glare and removing Shippo from his clothing. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go clean up."

The rest of the group watched him go, hardly crediting what they'd heard. Sango had hit the monk plenty of times, but he'd never done 'that' before.

The demon hunter blinked and exchanged a troubled glance with her friends. After the monk was well out of sight, she said quietly, "Maybe he's finally taken one too many blows to the head...?"

Kagome shook her head, but not in response to her friend's question. "I'm not too sure about this. What do you think he might have possibly meant by 'swearing off women'? Does that mean he's going to start acting like a real monk?"

Shippo screwed up his little face in sincere disbelief. "HA!"

"That'd better be what he means." Inuyasha huffed. "What else?" When this innocent little question was voiced, the two girls in the group suddenly went pale.

"You don't think…" Sango's voice trailed off uncertainly.

Kagome shook her head violently and a little desperately. "No! Miroku-sama wouldn't do that!"

The demon exterminator nodded in response and managed a weak smile. "I'm sure you're right, Kagome-chan."

While this small exchange went on, Inuyasha was growing more and more confused. And the more confused he got, the more annoyed he got. So of course it didn't take long before he couldn't stand it anymore and delicately voiced the question on his mind. "What the HELL are you both talking about?!?!"

Kagome and Sango both turned to him in surprise.

"I don't understand either." Shippo complained from his spot in Kagome's lap.

An uncertain look passed between the two women before Kagome attempted to explain. "Well, since Miroku-sama swore off women, it would only be logical for him to…" Her once pale face was now a bright shade of red.

"Logical for him to WHAT?" Inuyasha growled. He obviously didn't have the patience for any delicacy that morning. Not that he ever does. "Just spit it out, wench!"

Pure irritation at the half-demon for his rudeness crossed Kagome's features. If he wanted blunt…"What I mean, Inuyasha, is that he might decide to start groping YOU!"

Sango gasped and blushed. "Kagome-chan!"

Despite Sango's protests, even she had to admit that the look that came into the hanyou's eyes was well worth the embarrassment such a statement caused.

"Ewww, why would Miroku want to touch HIM!?!" Shippo cried, making a disgusted face.

Inuyasha didn't know whether he should agree with the baby kitsune, or be offended and clobber the small kit. He finally settled on saying a rather flustered "Keh!" with his arms crossed over his chest in his classic pose. "As if he'd do something so stupid."

The girl from the future gazed at him with a thoughtful expression, and what Inuyasha suspected to be amusement. "Oh, I don't know. After all, Miroku is awfully addicted to groping. And if he really has sworn off women, then the only option left would be to grope other men like YOU. Desperation can drive people to do some strange things, Inuyasha."

Inuyasha was finding it harder and harder to hide his nervousness and couldn't manage more than a derisive snort in response.

Kagome let out a small giggle. "I would worry if I were you, Inuyasha. After all, how often do you actually show any…uh, sexual interest in women? You act protective, and even show a little romantic interest, but…" Kagome allowed her unspoken words to hang in the air and unsettle the half-demon even more.

Inuyasha wasn't looking nearly as confident as usual.

Shaking her head and hiding a smile, Sango suddenly stood up. "I think we should just stop worrying about it. Houshi-sama will be back to normal in no time. Do you want to get a bath at the hot spring before we go, Kagome-chan?"

The younger girl was distracted from her teasing immediately and moved to grab her overstuffed yellow backpack. "Of course! We need to take advantage of our pervert free time while we've got it!"

Giggling and chatting, Sango and Kagome walked towards the Hot Springs and left one very upset hanyou and one extremely confused kitsune to their thoughts.

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~*~*~*~*~*~

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"Ah, that was such a nice bath!" Kagome cried happily as she and Sango slowly walked back towards camp.

"I agree. Especially since there wasn't a single pervert in sight the entire time." The demon exterminator was still reveling in the fact that she could let her guard down for even just a few precious minutes and relax. The feeling was very foreign, but also very welcome.

Each girl was still smiling happily when they entered the campsite a few moments later.

"KAGOME!" Shippo shouted, launching himself in her direction. He latched himself onto her shoulder and stared at her with worried eyes. "Kagome, I think something's really wrong with Inuyasha!"

Both girls looked around in confusion and worry but didn't see the hanyou anywhere, though they did see Miroku calmly sitting on the ground before the fire. At their questioning gaze, the monk looked up.

"It seems something is indeed wrong with Inuyasha." Miroku confirmed. "The moment I entered camp he suddenly growled and ran in the direction of Kaede-sama's village without a word of explanation."

This action of leaving Kagome virtually unprotected (Well, by Inuyasha's standards, anyway) was very out of character for the hanyou, and concern over this was reflected in each of their faces.

"Perhaps he smelled something wrong and went to check it out?" Sango suggested.

Kagome gazed worriedly in the direction Miroku had indicated, her eyes glazing over slightly. 'Even when he runs off after Kikyo, he always tells someone where he's going or leaves some pretty obvious clues. I hope he's okay…'

Shippo was now sitting on Kagome's shoulder and staring at his adopted mother in concern. "Kagome?"

Eyes snapping back into focus, Kagome nodded firmly. Standing around and worrying wasn't going to do her any good, and she knew it. "I think we need to follow him and see what's wrong before he gets too far. This isn't like him at all."

"I agree." Miroku nodded seriously.

The group began packing up the contents of the camp, and both girls, in their distracted concern, unintentionally gave Miroku ample opportunities to grope them. Surprisingly enough, though, he behaved himself like a perfect gentlemen.

"Do you think he really means it?" Kagome whispered to Sango while heading towards the village. Both girls were at the moment walking several paces behind the hopefully ex-lecher and trying to distract themselves from the problem with Inuyasha.

In response to Kagome's question, Sango shrugged her shoulders and carefully watched Miroku as he walked. "I honestly don't know, Kagome-chan. Maybe he does, but even then, how long will it last?"

The younger girl didn't answer this question out loud, but mentally she compared this situation to common ones from her own time. 'Miroku-sama is kind of like an addict, isn't he? His resolve might be honest, but most addicts just can't go cold turkey like that. How long will it take for him to slip up?'

Kagome was so lost in thought that she soon fell slightly behind the others in the group, and Sango was too busy watching Miroku like a hawk to take notice.

"Oi, Kagome!" A voice out of the blue hissed.

The girl from the future continued to walk forward without having heard.

The voice then became rather peeved. "Pay attention to me, wench!"

THAT got Kagome's attention and caused her to stop and look around. "Inuyasha? Where the heck are you?"

"Look up, dummy!"

Snapping her head back, Kagome looked up at the branches above her head and frowned at the red and white figure perched there.

"Keh! Took you long enough."

Kagome ignored this. "Where did you run off to? Better yet, WHY did you run off? We were worried about you, you know!"

The hanyou snorted and glanced at the still walking figures far up the path, checking in case they might have suddenly realized Kagome's absence. "I…had some thinking to do, not that it's any of your business!"

"YOU can think?"

"Shut up!"

For several moments the two just glared at each other in silence, ignoring their surroundings.

"Kagome-chan!" A voice suddenly shouted. Both turned their gazes to where Sango, Miroku, and Shippo had stopped to look back at her, and Inuyasha started looking very uneasy.

After Kagome signaled for them to wait a moment, she once again turned to glare up at Inuyasha. "Let's catch up with them and talk about this later, okay?"

The half-demon shifted nervously but didn't budge and inch.

"Well? Are you coming?"

"No."

"Oswari!"

Kagome watched him with half-lidded eyes as he cursed like a drunken sailor and attempted to pull his face out of the dirt.

"Are you coming now?"

"No!"

The scene was repeated once more, and Kagome's facial expression could only be described as one of sheer boredom. While this was happening, Sango and Miroku walked towards them.

"Welcome back, Inuyasha!" Miroku called with no small amount of amusement in his voice. The hanyou growled in response and slunk backwards along the ground as far as the spell would allow, which wasn't much.

"I don't know what's wrong with him!" Kagome cried in exasperation. "He keeps refusing to come with us!"

Sango gazed at him questioningly. "Did you perhaps hear of a shikon shard?"

"No!"

"Or maybe..." Kagome nervously tugged on the hem of her skirt, an action that Inuyasha couldn't help but distractedly take note of. "Did you go see…Kikyo?"

"Of course not!" He looked positively offended at her thinking so little of him, and Kagome sighed in relief.

Miroku spoke up suddenly. "If that is so, then the answer is very obvious." Everyone turned to look at him, some gazes more paranoid than others.

"Well?" Sango sighed, expecting something perverted.

"He must have smelled Naraku."

Everyone's jaws dropped in shock.

"N-no!" Inuyasha denied, though seriously wishing it were true. "If I'd smelled that creep, don't you think I would have told you?" As much as he tried to cover it up with anger, his voice still betrayed his hurt that they didn't trust him.

"I know you would have." Kagome answered soothingly. "But you still haven't told us why you ran off."

Inuyasha turned his gaze to the ground. "As I said, it's none of your business!"

Sighing, Kagome finally decided to drop the subject and ask him again later in private. "Fine, be that way. Shall we go?"

Everyone automatically looked at Inuyasha expectantly.

"W-what are you looking at me like that for?" A large sweatdrop had appeared on his head.

"You are the leader, therefore you make the decision about where we shall go." Miroku answered patiently. "As usual, we will follow you."

"Besides, you make our lives miserable when we don't." Shippo muttered.

Panic was quickly welling up inside the hanyou, but he squelched it and tried to think of a way out of the situation. "I…Keh! Let's go back to the village since we're headed that way anyway!" He crossed his arms over his chest and mentally congratulated himself for his quick thinking.

Nobody moved.

"Dammit, are you humans so weak that you can't find your way back without me leading you?" He growled. "You can find your own way back, so get moving!"

"Are you kidding?" Kagome narrowed her eyes when he waited for them all to walk ahead. "You're acting way too strange if you ask me, so I'm staying where I can keep an eye on you."

"Well, I'm the leader and I say you can't!" The hanyou blustered in annoyance.

Miroku turned to Sango. "I suppose this situation leaves us to lead the way, Sango-sama. Shall we go?" He politely walked beside her instead of slightly behind her like he normally would, no longer having a perverted reason to do so. Or perhaps just to avoid temptation.

Inuyasha let out a small sigh of relief when the two finally moved on, leaving him to follow without worry. He then walked after them, leaving Kagome standing still and staring at him.

Inuyasha turned back to her in mid-step. "Oi, are you coming or not?"

Shaking her head, Kagome ran to catch up while still keeping a speculative eye on her hanyou companion. 'I can't believe this! First he runs off when he sees Miroku, and now he refuses to walk in front of him. Could it be that he really is worried about what we said?' Kagome laughed to herself at the thought. 'Nah, that couldn't be it. Surely he knows Miroku better than that...I hope...'

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So what do you think so far? Like the plot? When Saro sent me the part about Miroku swearing off women, I couldn't help but continue it with my own little plot twists involving Inuyasha. It is just such an amusing set up, and I've never seen another story quite like this one. And more than anything it is so much fun to write! Messing with poor Inuyasha's head…Anyway, the next chapter is also completed, so if you guys like this one, then review and I'll post the next one. ^_^