The Moonlessnight: Sorry this update took so long guys. The holidays, work, and preparations for the next semester of school sapped a lot of my time. I hope you find this chapter to be worth the wait.

This chapter is a lot longer than the last one and for good reason. Be warned, it is not as funny as the first installment of this tale. In fact, this chapter is downright angsty, but no worries! The rest of the story will be much more fun, you have my word. That said, enjoy the story and, as always, read and review!

Oh, and I almost forgot! To those who were confused about the last chapter like RedFlyingFox, Kagome was telling Sango about her most recent experience with Hojo. I thought I had made it clear enough, but I guess not. As to Miroku, all will be revealed eventually. You have my word on that.

Disclaimer: I just noticed that I never placed a disclaimer on this story, so this one will have to cover both chapters. I do not own Inu-Yasha or any of the characters mentioned in this story. He and his affiliates are the sole property of Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Corporation.

The Challenge Is Made

Miroku walked slowly back to the camp, his staff chiming softly with each step he took. Crickets chirped from the nearby brush and a wolf howled somewhere in the distance but Miroku took no notice. Nothing short of a demon attack could draw him from his quiet brooding tonight. Well . . . almost nothing.

"Miroku!" Sango's voice came echoing from the woods. "You pervert! Did you think you could get away with it?" That cry was the only warning the monk received as Sango's massive boomerang came hurtling from the darkness behind him. He whirled, hoping to fend off her attack but he only managed catch a glimpse of Sango before the hyrikos landed squarely on his head. The unfortunate monk landed on the ground with a painful thud, grimaced, and glared at the black-clad demon hunter. After a moment, he smiled a cold smile that never reached his eyes. "Well, hello to you too, Sango. Tell me, have I done anything to offend you this fine evening? I really do not think I deserved such harsh treatment tonight, even if it was dealt with such great skill."

Sango only glowered at him and retrieved her weapon from the ground near the fallen monk. "Don't you even try to play innocent with me, Miroku! After Inu-Yasha dragged himself out of the crater Kagome put him in he told us everything! He said he had only come to the springs to find you because you had never returned to camp, and he DID find you. He caught you spying again, you perverted monk!" Sango shook her head and frowned. "I would have thought you knew better than that by now. You never get away with it, Miroku, so why do you even try?"

Miroku sighed and shook his head, gingerly rubbing at a large goose-egg that was forming. "I was not trying to spy, Sango. I was only-."

"Being a hentai? You never learn monk." Sango turned quickly on her heel and hefted the herykos onto her shoulder. "You are pathetic Miroku and do you know why? It is because you could not behave yourself around women if your life depended on it. In fact, I would be willing to bet that you could not control yourself around women for one week."

"Sango, I-."

Sango cut him off with a shake of her head. Throwing a wistful glance back towards Miroku she spoke, her voice dropping to a soft whisper. "No Miroku. Not for your life and not for me." With that, she began her slow trek back to the camp, slowly disappearing into the shadows from whence she came.

Miroku gasped at the hurt that tinged her voice, the sorrow born from his actions (no matter how unintentional), and did the only thing he could think of . . . he yelled. "For you, Sango, I would do this thing!"

Sango froze, unable to believe what she was hearing. He would do this thing? Do what? Her mind spun around her words, spoken in anger and already half forgotten, falling finally upon the meaning behind the monk's words. A challenge had been made and the question now left to her was what reward would be given. Would she give him money, a walk under the stars, or a kiss perhaps? She shrugged the idea aside. Miroku would never last an entire week without a girl. He could not. It just was not in his nature.

Meanwhile, Miroku took Sango's continued silence as a sign of anger. She was no longer walking away but not turning back either, her form half hidden by trees and the night. Rising to his feet with the angry clang of his staff, Miroku took a step in her direction, speaking as he did so to reaffirm his conviction. "One week without as much as a glance or a touch. Seven whole days, Sango, and I will do it gladly!" She still did not turn and he raised his hand to her shadow, pleading with it silently before letting his hand drop and bowing his head. "For but a smile from you I would do this . . . Sango. Please do not be angry with me. Please."

To Miroku's relief the shadow that was Sango turned and took a few steps towards him. "I have your word, Miroku? One week without a girl?" The monk nodded. "Then the challenge is made. By your own words, Miroku, seven days without a girl and you will have much more than a smile as your reward." Seeing the smirk that suddenly crossed Miroku's face, Sango raised her hand and shook her head. "A single kiss, Miroku! Nothing more and nothing less. A one kiss for one week. Understand?"

Miroku nodded and bowed low. "I humbly accept your challenge my lady and eagerly await my reward at week's end."

Not another word was spoken after that. Sango turned and continued her walk back to the camp, secure in her belief that Miroku could never last an entire week without a girl. Meanwhile, Miroku was left to contemplate the true weight this challenge had laid upon his shoulders. . . .

"There are other things than demons to fear in this world, my friend, and women are one of them." The words continued to echo through Miroku's mind despite his best efforts to stop them. There had been a time when he had not thought like that; there had been a time when he believed there was nothing more wonderful in the world than to be near a prospective bride, but those days were long gone. All his dreams for a future family had died with his father in mountains surrounding his family shrine, the day when the elder monk had been swallowed by his own kazaana.

Miroku could still remember that day even though he had been no more than thirteen years of age at the time. He remembered the horrible sounds rumbling through the shrine like thunder and the light that had flared from the mountains as though it were the sun itself . . . at least if the sun burned darkness instead of light. He had known, even then, that his father stood at the heart of that storm. When Hatchi came stumbling home later that night, he did not have to say a single word to the young boy about the occurrence in the mountains. He merely nodded his head and walked away.

Miroku had not shed a single tear that night, for he knew what would await him in the morning. His father had told him of Naraku's curse years ago and the young boy knew all too well that he would awake on the marrow to find his own curse. The curse of his blood, the wind tunnel, was passed from generation to generation and would be until either the family died or the curse was lifted. It was his grandfather's legacy, his own hunger made tangible in that voracious black hole.

Tears came to Miroku's eyes at the memory and he found himself fingering the beads around his right wrist, pondering the curse his father had left him to bear. The others knew nothing of the weight the kazaana placed upon his shoulders, the true extent of Naraku's curse.

His kazaana expanded every year around the same time and that time was coming soon. Any day now, the process would begin as it always did; soon it would beckon the monk to say and do things would never even consider thinking otherwise. It was the way it had always been since the kazaana had first appeared and Miroku was sure it was meant to remind him of that horrible day so long ago.

It could be no fluke that the wind tunnel would choose to expand on the anniversary of his father's death. Naraku must have been in an exceptionally bad mood when he designed that portion of the curse. In so doing, he bound each generation to the next through more than the kazaana . . . . Each member of Miroku's family was doomed to die on the same day and in the same hour as those who came before, and his day was coming.

If Sango had known the truth, she would never have laid the challenge upon him.

The Moonlessnight: There it is! The second chapter of this story is done (although I might rewrite this chapter in the future for the sake of clarity). Did you like it? Any like or dislikes? Review! I'm always glad to hear from you!

Oh, and be forewarned that I no longer know exactly where this story is headed. It has pretty much taken on a life of its own and I'm just here to write it down. Hopefully things don't end too badly for the monk. Open to suggestions on the matter though. Maybe I can still pull a few strings to get a happy ending for the poor houshi.