Disclaimer: Inuyasha does not belong to me, and I make no claims to the contrary. But I would like to….
Purgatory - In order to forget his unrequited love for one, he found himself in another's bed, setting into place a series of events that would place him in the middle of both. Sesshoumaru-Miroku-Inuyasha triangle.
Err, don't ask. Just don't ask….
Although it is safe to note that the only reason why I dragged my lazy ass out of bed the morning I started this was because I wanted to write this story more than I wanted to curl into the very welcoming warmth of my blankets and just sleep for a couple more hours….
Anyhow, some vague information about this ficcu… this is an AU, and everyone is human and essentially in college as of now. Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha are just brothers because 'half-brother' is just not so aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and Miroku has long hair because it makes him look pretty. Although I don't think that ever manages to come up in the story….
Um, yes. I'll just shut up now.
But before I really shut up, let me give about a gazillion thanks to my beta-reader/friend Sashimi-chan, who got this story back to me in just one day and in that one day, changed it from something disturbing to something that is… well, not so disturbing. ::huggles her:: Thanks so much again!
1: An intermediate state after death for expiatory purification; specifically: a place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God's grace may make satisfaction for past sins and so become fit for heaven. (1)
He woke up to find himself staring into a mass of white hair, and wondered exactly how much he'd had to drink the night before.
At least, that is what he told himself, although he already knew that rather unfortunately, he'd had nothing to drink the night before. Instead, he had been quite painfully sober when he had marched up to the apartment of his love interest's brother – not the love interest himself, but the brother, a fact that demanded repeated emphasis – and asked him if he wanted to sleep with him.
He certainly had not expected the frigid bastard to say yes. And because he had not anticipated such an event happening, he couldn't think of a decent excuse that might have gotten him out of the situation without acting like a complete prat although looking back that probably should have been low on his list of priorities. But maybe if he had thought about the possibility that Sesshoumaru would have agreed to his crazy little plan, he would have spent some time creating a back-up plan instead of entering the situation completely unarmed. And then none of this would have happened.
That was his justification anyway, and combined with the usual loss of common sense that accompanies watching your love interest in the arms of someone else, he thought it was a sufficient one. Of course, he had no idea what Sesshoumaru's excuse was, and he suspected that he never would. Sesshoumaru was the type of person who just did whatever he felt like, and if he had any regrets about it later, he certainly never showed it. Perhaps it was because he had such an illusion of being perfect, although Miroku was pretty sure that had to be a façade. Nobody could be that self-satisfied with life, especially when one was as antisocial and unemotional as Inuyasha's older brother….
A mental wince, as he again was forced to remember what had led him here in the first place. Inuyasha. The unrequited love interest because by all appearances, Inuyasha was straight, and not to mention wonderfully unperceptive to the fact that the best friend was lusting after him with the subtleness of a pig dying a slow, painful death. Miroku was not sure on how he felt about that concept because on one hand, he could stay close to his friend and continue to admire him from a very close proximity, rather than have his friend run off every time he got close. On the other, Inuyasha would never know how he felt, thus making the possibility that those feelings may be returned virtually impossible.
Oh well. They were always impossible anyway, and considering the situation he had ended up in, it would probably never get any better.
The bed moved as the other person currently vying for occupation shifted, and he tensed for the inevitable confrontation that would follow awakening. The wonderful game of 'who's fault' was about to start, and he had a feeling that it would be a losing battle. Of course he knew that this was all technically his fault, but at the same time, Sesshoumaru should not have said yes. The bastard should have known that he was not completely right in the head, and could have slammed the door in his face or at the very least handcuffed him to a chair while they waited for the paddy wagon to come pick him up. He wasn't supposed to open the door and let the obviously insane and decidedly stupid person into his apartment, go up to the bedroom, and proceed to get into his bed.
It hadn't been making love – it was just plain sex, with no messy emotional attachments except the ones that they chose to bring in. Except the only emotional attachments Miroku had were for someone else, and as for Sesshoumaru… well, that guy didn't seem to have any emotions period. What they had done meant nothing to one another, and he had no illusions that it ever would because it wasn't supposed to have happened. Nowhere in the script was agreement involved, and no one in his right mind would have allowed this game to proceed nearly as far as it did.
But apparently it had, and now he had no idea what to do about it.
Sesshoumaru, on the other hand, knew exactly what to do. Even as Miroku finally sat up, radiating enough nervous energy to send an entire army into convulsions, and desperately trying to hide the fact that his hands were practically white from the way he held the dark blue sheets close to him, the other man simply got out of bed and picked up the clothes that had been neatly draped on the chair. There was not even a backward glance; no indication was made that the white-haired man knew or cared that Miroku was watching with a frozen expression on his face.
He had expected something like this, but he had not expected absolutely nothing to happen. It was as if he was not even there, as if he had not just made a complete fool out of himself.
Perhaps he should have seen this as an opportunity to escape with some of his dignity intact, but the logical part of him knew that he had long ago abandoned any semblance of pride when he had endeavored on such idiocy. Even if he had left, at that moment, it would never prevent the awkward moments that were bound to happen should the two meet accidentally in the future. More importantly, even if he had left without saying another word, he would never be able to face Inuyasha again knowing what had happened had… happened.
So whether it was just a desperate need to explain away what happened or the same stupidity that had landed him in this situation, Miroku blurted out, "This isn't happening again."
There was a silence as Sesshoumaru pulled on his clothes, and Miroku could feel crimson creeping into his cheeks as he wondered if it would be such a bad thing if he decided to hide under the blankets in shame. But just as he was contemplating moving to a different country where everyone was required to shave their heads bald as soon as a single white hair showed itself to the light, the older man snorted slightly.
"I doubt that."
Embarrassment quickly dissipated in the onslaught of annoyance. It was easy to turn his anger from himself to Sesshoumaru, and less painful besides. After all, despite what anybody thought, this was the bastard's fault because if he had just said 'no', then none of this would have happened and he would have been waking up in his own bed. Granted, he would still be moping after Inuyasha, but at least then he wouldn't have to deal with anyone.
And granted, if he had chosen not to say anything, he wouldn't have to deal with anyone now either. Except for his conscience, but it wasn't like his conscience had taken the form of a cricket who would chirp like mad until he squashed it flat. He could ignore his conscience – he had learned to ignore it quite a while ago, especially during his skirt-chasing days. What he couldn't ignore was Sesshoumaru's cold indifference to what had happened, as if everything that had occurred meant nothing.
Even if it was supposed to mean nothing.
"This was just a one-time thing. I'm not coming back after this," he snapped, finally relinquishing his death grip on the poor cloth and instead focused all of his homicidal tendencies – of which there were many – onto the white-haired man. "It's not like you were that good."
Actually he was. Perhaps. Probably? He couldn't really be sure. One would have thought that he would remember something like this, but he didn't. He hadn't been thinking – obviously – during the entire situation, except on how this was an amazingly strange way to forget.
That had been the whole point of this exercise – to forget everything that was happening with Inuyasha. He didn't know what Sesshoumaru had been hoping to get out of this, but he had come because he had figured that this would be an easy way to temporarily ignore his soap opera of a life. Granted, the fact that the white-haired man was his love interest's brother probably had something to do with it, but mostly he had wanted to do this with someone who would at least share his sentiments of never making this an issue again. He should have known that it wouldn't work completely because as notorious of a flirt as he was, he would always remember something like this.
During the night, Sesshoumaru had never asked him if he wanted to reconsider. No words had been exchanged, no foreplay and no warning. They had simply taken off their clothes, gotten into bed, and had sex. It was almost as if the entire thing was a business deal, and even if it was good – which he thought it was? – it was still just an excuse to forget that his real love life was really, really fucked up.
A low chuckle distracted him from his thoughts and the memories that were threatening to surface, and he was more than happy to return to the topic at hand. Sesshoumaru had finally turned to look at him, and a smirk played on the cold lips.
"Unless something changes in the very near future between you and my brother, you'll be coming back very often, I think."
"I doubt that," Miroku shot back, a part of him glad that he could now attribute the red in his face to anger rather than to the mortification that was currently doing a strip dance in his eyes while singing out, 'Nyah, nyah, nyah!' to his sanity. "I said this wasn't going to be happening again, and I meant it. I don't know why I was stupid enough to let things get as far as they did last night, but just because I was stupid then doesn't mean I'm going to keep making the same mistake over and over again!"
Even to himself, those last words sounded like a pitiful wail. That more than explained why Sesshoumaru looked so damned amused.
Bastard needed to die. Now.
"Well. I do hope you are able to keep your resolution," yeah, he really sounded like he meant that. "However I will continue to doubt it until you come to terms with the fact that Inuyasha does not know of the existence of your feelings, and being the half-wit that he is, never will."
Before Miroku could say anything to defend his romantic prospects or more importantly, grab the lamp and throw it at Sesshoumaru's head – he could always call it justifiable homicide – the white-haired man gave him one final smirk and left, and it was not long before he could hear the water of the shower running.
He did not know how long he sat there, trying to cover the fact that he had was exposed in more ways than one. But soon he was dressed and gone, all accomplished before Sesshoumaru got out of the shower. Quickly he called for a taxi – not caring how many meals he may have to forgo in order to pay for such a luxury – to take him back to his own place so he could celebrate his blatant stupidity with a very large amount of alcohol.
Miroku was back for only ten minutes when Kagome came to borrow a text that she needed for a paper.
She took one look at his face and decided that it was probably best not to ask. A fact for which he was very grateful, and he tried to convey this fact by kissing her, something she allowed him to do in good stride as it was only on the cheek anyway.
It was not very hard to see why Inuyasha loved her so much, although it did not make it any easier.
Higurashi Kagome was more perceptive than most people, and judging by the looks she used to give him before what he was mentally starting to call 'the incident', she knew a lot more than she was letting on about. He was thus doubly grateful that she did not ostracize him for something that he personally felt that he could not control and besides, if he could just stop being in love with Inuyasha like that, he would have done so promptly, as anything had to be better than… loving someone afar? Or something like that – he didn't read enough romantic novels to give it a good name, although he admitted that he wasn't really that far away….
But she let him know, in her quiet, subtle way that she knew about his romantic preferences. It had to be quiet and subtle because if it was not, Inuyasha would notice and that would probably be the end of their friendship. And not to mention that the last thing any of them needed was for half the campus population to notice too, as they were proving to be just as clueless. This was a good thing, especially since they became disturbingly gossipy when it came to such personal matters.
Miroku often found himself wondering during his more paranoid stages if she knew about 'the incident' too, as if she was not a human but a strange being – a demon perhaps – who could look past all the walls he threw up and gaze straight into his soul. Or perhaps she could smell Sesshoumaru on him, despite the approximately five-point-seven showers he had taken as soon as she had left his apartment. The bastard did, after all, have a very distinctive smell, although he might have noticed that only because he had been so busy trying to take off the layer of skin that carried said distinctive smell.
Maybe he shouldn't have bothered to worry since Kagome had enough to worry about herself, especially with Kikyou transferring to their university. She probably shouldn't have been worried about that, but he couldn't help but be slightly grateful for the distraction because it meant that she would be focused on something else instead of him. As helpful and understanding as Kagome was, he didn't really need her hovering over his shoulder trying to figure out precisely what was wrong with him, especially since that was something he was still trying to figure out himself.
Despite this fact, however, Miroku was not completely in the safe zone just yet. There was still Sango to deal with, and unfortunately the other girl was not quite as subtle. Oh, she was very subtle when it came to keeping her mouth shut to the general public, at least. But him? He didn't have that luxury of such discretion. If she suspected anything was wrong, he might have found himself being hauled away to the nearest secluded area, and under her expert cross-examining skills and equally sharp tongue, he would probably spill his guts. And as luck would have it since luck was an evil bitch who didn't like him very much judging by the state of his life at the moment, probably the school newspaper editor would be walking by them at the exact moment he told her about 'the incident.'
Of course she would not have intended it, but he doubted that would make him feel better when the entire thing was pasted on the front page of the campus paper.
Not that he thought his life was quite that important to a campus that had enough students to fill a small country. But it wasn't about him – it was about the other people, one who knew how to keep his mouth shut and the other who didn't realize enough to say anything of substance. Everyone knew Sesshoumaru because he was one of those students… the ones who seemed to know anything, and had the look and attitude to match their brains. By default, most people knew Inuyasha too, as the two were brothers although they rarely acknowledged this well-known fact. Just being associated with one of them was enough to get on the radar of gossip central, and that was a very uncomfortable place to be already.
The very thought of being associated with both of them to the public eye, and one of them in a way that his mother would probably not approve of, was enough to make him contemplate committing suicide from the top of one of the taller buildings.
There were plenty of them scattered around the campus, and the only difficulty that he would have would be to decide exactly which building he wanted to jump from.
"I told you that you would be back."
"I didn't ask you for your opinion."
"I didn't wait for you to." And then the door opened fully, though there was no invitations to come in. Instead, Sesshoumaru just walked off, in a way giving him that one last chance to walk away from this situation.
He should have taken it, but then again, he had never been a strong advocate of common sense.
He felt like things were spinning out of his control.
If he was honest with himself, he would have realized that they had been doing so for quite a while. But after that night, after 'the incident,' it did not take very long for him to lose any sense of order on his life. Soon, the best he could manage was to paint his delusions with enough layers so that they could maintain some semblance of sanity, and to smile his way through the daily activities so that he could at least appear somewhat normal.
It was a strange situation, if only because he had always thought that something like this would be more traumatic. There was no life flashing before his eyes, and no sensations similar to that of being torn apart into little pieces. There was nothing quite that dramatic; instead, he simply found that he could no longer stop himself from doing things that he probably should have avoided.
Sesshoumaru had been right, loathe he was to admit it. A week had not even passed before he found himself on that familiar doorstep, and although he was again given every opportunity to escape without losing too much face, he chose not to. Little had been said after that initial sparkling gem of a conversation, and somehow Sesshoumaru had kept the mocking 'I told you so' out of his cold amber eyes. But even if he hadn't given him that last shred of dignity, Miroku wouldn't have done anything differently.
By that point, he was simply too tired to care anymore.
He wasn't quite sure what was going on anymore, and what his feelings on all of this was. He wasn't sure what any of this was supposed to accomplish, or if it even was supposed to do anything. He wanted to distract himself from whatever romantic notions he had, and in that realm, his plan worked with a limited amount of success.
He did forget, from the moment he entered that bedroom to the time he stepped out. Once away he was flooded again with all those doubts and questions, but when he was there, it was as of none of that mattered anymore. They were not gone, and they never would be. But they just weren't a part of his thought process at that moment.
Even after they were finished and drifting off to sleep, he was able to avoid all those things that he should have been wondering about, although he was not sure how he managed that.
Perhaps it was because Sesshoumaru didn't really care.
For him, for both of them, it was just an action; it did not mean anything to either of them. Miroku wanted to forget, and whatever the other man wanted, he was obviously getting it if he permitted these indiscretions to continue the way they did.
It had taken him less than a week to return to Sesshoumaru's bed.
It took one more week before he found that he had casually and quite conveniently ended a futile attempt at understanding the logistics of the situation – the whys behind it all, and exactly how many drugs had been put into his food in order to deplete him of so many brain cells.
It took two weeks before he stopped thinking about it all, as it had suddenly become so… commonplace that he just didn't stop to wonder at all.
It took three weeks before he finally realized that he was finding himself in the same bed every night, and that his own bed was becoming cold from disuse.
Well, at least he wouldn't have to wash the sheets anytime soon.
And throughout it all, they continued to live their daily lives as if what was to happen later in the night did not really happen at all. If they happened to run into each other – a rare enough event, but Miroku could have sworn that it was happening a lot more often than it had been before – they pretended that the other did not exist, or at the very best they exchanged a quick greeting that did not betray any ambivalent feelings that they might have had. Inuyasha seethed quietly when they did this, and Miroku wondered inanely if maybe he was wrong about his friend. He didn't think about it for very long though, something that he attributed to his ability to ignore what was in front of his face. He wasn't quite sure how much longer he could keep ignoring the situation like this, but he had an odd feeling that it could be for a very long time.
He was starting to get comfortable.
It took him a long time to realize this, and when he did, he wasn't sure if he believed it. But no matter how he might have loathed the fact, and no matter what he thought of it, he could not deny that he was starting to become comfortable with the entire thing.
All of this was just something he did, and as long as he continued to look at it like that, then he could continue to live with himself. He continuously denied the existence of any feelings – both positive and negative – for Sesshoumaru, but he did not deny that this was a situation that he was coming to accept. The feelings of humiliation and anger that he would bring himself down so low had long ago dissipated until he felt nothing, instead giving way to the chilling fact that this wasn't quite as bad as he had wanted it to be.
He was pretty sure that he wasn't supposed to feel this way. But when he showed up that day and found himself looking into Sesshoumaru's cold amber eyes, he felt an odd sort of… nothing.
Perhaps this is what Sesshoumaru had always shown, this apatheticness that had been embraced from the very beginning.
And as he walked on that familiar path to the bedroom, shrugging off his clothes and letting them lay on the ground because he knew that Inuyasha's older brother would never leave room for him elsewhere to create a mark, however temporary, he wondered if he could spend the rest of his life doing this.
It wasn't a lie, really. None of this was.
It just wasn't the truth either.
He had to ask himself if it even mattered anymore, although the questions were quickly dissipating as the older man joined him, the long white hair covering more than anything else could. Even if he tried to figure out the answers to all those questions that were swirling in his mind during his rapidly disappearing guilt trips, the only question that remained now was exactly what did Sesshoumaru smell like.
It was such a distinct smell, and the only thing that could make him blush. He wasn't even sure why that was, although it might have had something to do with the fact that he had casually regulated that smell into this strange night life, and confronting it outside of that realm made him squeamish.
There was so much that he would eventually have to deal with, and so much that he would have to one day fix. But right now, this didn't feel like anything that needed to be fixed; it felt more like something that should be embraced, even if it meant nothing emotionally-wise.
This – all of this – was just something he did, and the quicker he accepted it, the easier life would become.
He read fantasy novels, and Sesshoumaru read history texts.
Supposedly you could learn from history, although he wasn't quite sure what. Something about how the mistakes made in the past won't be made in the future if you learned about them, but judging by the current situation, that didn't seem to be completely applicable.
Maybe history just wasn't appropriate for complete psychopaths.
That was why he preferred fantasy, where dragons were real and dreams were just as dangerous as waking life. Anything went in those books, and although they retained a slight sense of normality, most of the time they just seemed to be a completely different world.
It was something he could identify with, especially since he was living with the constant feeling that he had one foot in reality, and the other foot in a fantasy of his own making.
It wasn't really about Inuyasha anymore.
It had started because of him, but now it continued for a completely different reason. Miroku wasn't certain what that reason was, but he was pretty sure he would figure it out eventually, and hopefully before he went completely mad.
He still wanted to forget about Inuyasha, but it almost seemed like he had shoved that into the background of all the other problems that he was having. He supposed that being regulated to the background would still make his painfully clueless friend a part of this situation, but as the days went by, he found himself thinking less and less about the white-haired boy. Now, he allowed it to continue not because he wanted to forget, but because… because of something that he wasn't quite able to explain.
There was just a certain feeling that he had when he was with the older brother. It wasn't safety, but it was something similar enough. A comfort zone, perhaps, or something just as disturbingly morbid, especially when considering the circumstances.
He wasn't really sure anymore.
It took him a while to realize that Inuyasha wasn't the person who was influencing his decisions anymore, as if he wasn't receiving a gentle shove that sent him on the journey downtown each evening. It took him a while to realize that if Inuyasha was to suddenly decide that he was indeed a fruit basket who wanted to have wild monkey sex with him for twenty-four hours straight, then he might still cut it short in order to search for that solace which he had so unexpectedly found in Sesshoumaru's bed.
The fact that he had to go to somebody that he did not really care about to get some peace of mind was crazy enough already. But then there was the other tiny concept that if he simply stopped those visits, then he wouldn't need to get peace of mind because most of his problems would disappear.
It was a simple enough concept, but apparently it didn't want to sink in.
Things were changing slightly, between him and Sesshoumaru. The initial introduction was still the same, and the lack of conversation. But even as they continued on this perverse course, some shreds of humanity were starting to fall into place as well.
There were actually days when they did not do anything except lay in bed and ignore each other. Sometimes he read, sometimes he caught up on the course work that was truly suffering since he had started this charade, and sometimes he just lay there and enjoyed the warmth. Hard to imagine that Sesshoumaru could be so damn warm when the bastard had the personality of an ice cube, but that just goes to show how you couldn't judge a book by its appearance. Or in this case, a person's body warmth by his personality, a saying that was certainly not going to get into a book of quotes anytime soon….
Sometimes, during his more psychotic moments – of which there were many – he joked bitterly to himself that they were acting like an old married couple. As the… excitement wasn't quite the right word, but he was hard-pressed to think of anything better in his semi-delusional stage, finally began to die down, they were left with something that was built more on a foundation of companionship.
A totally brilliant thing, especially since the two didn't exchange more than five sentences on a good day. And that was a good day.
Perhaps that was why it had taken him so long to realize that it was no longer about Inuyasha. That, plus how he didn't want to think about it anyway. He wasn't even sure why it had occurred to him, but as he was walking between his classes, it suddenly came to him.
It wasn't about Inuyasha.
He had stopped cold, just for a moment. But it was enough to earn him odd looks from Kagome, Sango, and of course Inuyasha. And it took him longer than it usually did for him to paste a smile on his face and assure them with his usual cheerfulness that he was quite all right, but he had suddenly remembered something that he needed to do later.
That night, and the one after, he did not return to that apartment. Two days were not very long by any stretch of the imagination – unless you were a butterfly with a lifespan of three days – but it was certainly enough time for him to realize that he needed to go back, despite any reservations he might have had.
He needed that odd peace of mind that he got when he lay next to Inuyasha's older brother, that odd peace of mind that was paradoxically the cause of all his anxieties.
And yet, despite that need, it took him a very long time to accept the fact that he was willing to remain in purgatory for the rest of his life.
They rarely kissed, and if they did, it was never on the mouth.
So when Sesshoumaru brushed those cold lips against his, he passed it off as an accident and never deigned to think about it again.
Somebody had once told him that if you hit rock bottom, then the only place you could go from there was up.
He swore that he would hunt down that person, rip off his lips, and force-feed it to him while smiling like a crazy person. Because he was a crazy person, and it was only natural for a crazy person to act like… well, a crazy person.
He didn't care if that made no sense. It wasn't exactly the time to be worrying about that.
What he should be worrying about, especially in the immediate future, was the stare that Inuyasha was giving him. It was the kind of stare where the eyeballs looked about ready to fall out in disbelief-slash-petrifying horror, and he had a feeling that if he didn't say something soon, he would have to find a really good eye surgeon for his friend.
So he gave a jaunty wave and a small, "Yo."
It would have been so good if his voice hadn't cracked, despite the fact that 'yo' was only one bloody hiragana character long.
Well, what could you expect from a crazy man?
Surprisingly enough, he was calmer than he had expected he would be. While it had always occurred to him that Inuyasha might find out, he'd chosen to assume that it would be after he had moved to a different planet, or at the very least a slip of the tongue. Or at least some accidental type of event. He hadn't expected Inuyasha to come barging into the apartment – exactly what the hell was Sesshoumaru on when he decided to give Inuyasha a bloody key, especially since the two didn't exactly like each other – only to make his way into the bedroom to find Miroku in his older brother's bed.
Yeah. That would be kind of awkward.
Just a bit.
Inuyasha was gawking at him right now, and he winced. A part of him was railing on and on about how this was supposed to be his time to ignore Inuyasha's existence, but the rest of him was desperately searching for some sort of excuse. He supposed he could tell his friend the real reason why he was here, but he had a suspicion that Inuyasha would not quite appreciate it. After all, a confession of love followed by a cheerful, 'And that is why I am letting your brother screw my brains out every night!' probably was not the best way to advance a friendship.
Although judging by Inuyasha's expression, there probably was not going to be any way this friendship was going to remain intact unless something very big happened in the next two seconds, like a nuclear weapon hitting Tokyo or Godzilla deciding to come out of retirement. He didn't care which, just as long as it happened soon.
And then something did happen, although as soon as it did happen, he wished that it didn't.
Sesshoumaru stepped into the room, and gave Inuyasha a cold look, "What are you doing here?"
His older brother's presence quickly seemed to bring the boy out of his daze, and immediately his lips seemed to draw back almost in an animalistic growl, "What am I doing here? What is he doing here?!"
Oh, and now he had been reduced from 'friend' to 'he'. Definitely not a good sign in the relationship department.
Sesshoumaru simply cocked his head slightly as he looked from the frothing sibling to the frozen person who was currently residing in his bed with an expression that seemed to be silently wondering who these two crazy people were. Miroku just held tight to the bed sheets in fear of bloodshed, his mind in shut-down and his mouth frozen. Obviously not going to be a big help in the explanation portion of the evening, but then again, when did Sesshoumaru ever need anybody's help?
Correction. When did Sesshoumaru ever need anybody at all?
"I don't think it's any of your concern what happens in my home, Inuyasha." The way he said the name made it sound more like a curse, and again, Inuyasha bristled visibly. Miroku chose to ignore all of that and began to search for a way to get his clothes and dress without catching the attention of either.
Normally that would have been an impossible task since his clothes were clear on the other side of the room, but considering how the two brothers were acting, it would probably be easier than he thought.
"You conceited bastard!" Inuyasha roared. He never could keep a cool head in situations like this. "I can't believe you would do something like this behind my back!"
"It was hardly behind your back, brother. Besides, you're so busy with your woman that you wouldn't have noticed if Miroku had walked in front of you naked."
He couldn't help but blink, somewhat surprised at the use of his name. Well, that answered his constant wondering if Sesshoumaru even knew who he was, or if he was just some nameless person that was decent sex and vaguely related to Inuyasha.
Now if only he could have found that out under better circumstances.
Inuyasha was currently making a sound that was a cross between a sputter and a choke, something that made him sound like he was dying. "That is not true and you know it!"
"Oh really?" Sesshoumaru's words were as cold as always, and yet he still somehow managed to lace them with skepticism.
"Shut up! You're always doing this, you selfish asshole! I don't know what the hell you were playing at this time but you're always the same, trying to do… do… I don't know what you're doing! But you are always like this!"
"Stop acting like a petulant child, Inuyasha."
This was definitely the point when he should be leaving. He was careful to make no noise as he crawled over the bed to get closer to his clothes, but he was finding it difficult with the loving conversation that was taking place right over his head.
He wasn't sure what would happen, although he knew that he probably didn't want to be there to find out.
"Stop talking down to me then! You're acting as if you're not even doing anything wrong!"
"Keh! That's what you always say! You could be standing over a body with blood dripping off your hands and you'd still say that you're not doing anything wrong!" Inuyasha shot back, and Miroku was starting to get the vague feeling that this was a common pastime for the two brothers. How many times had he heard his friend complaining about his older brother – six or seven times an hour? Half the time Inuyasha didn't even bother mentioning Sesshoumaru by name, instead launching into a rant that could last for several minutes. Kagome tended to just sigh and ignore him when he was in such a pet mood, but Miroku himself had always found himself half-torn between showing sympathy and being outright amused.
"I believe you are overreacting."
"I am not overreacting!"
"You're acting as if I am doing this simply as a ploy to humiliate you," Sesshoumaru pointed out coolly.
Inuyasha was disturbingly calm as he asked, "Are you going to tell me that you aren't?"
Oh fuck. He froze, and a part of him wondered if he really wanted to know the answer to that question.
The rest of him just wondered why he hadn't thought of it before.
Sesshoumaru hesitated for a second too long, "The world does not revolve around you."
There was no love in this relationship. There were no emotions. It didn't matter what Sesshoumaru's motivations were, and it shouldn't matter to him either. But for some odd reason, it did, and the split-second hesitation was enough to freeze him in place once again.
He should have expected it though, shouldn't he? The idea that Sesshoumaru was using him, just as he was using Inuyasha's older brother in the same way. It shouldn't have mattered to him to realize this fact, especially since he was acting just as selfishly.
It certainly shouldn't have hurt, even if it was only a brief pang that disappeared quickly after the initial onset.
Taking in a deep breath even as he blocked out the argument that was taking place a few feet away, he got his clothes and dressed before trying to reach for his backpack without leaving the protection of the bed and the blankets that he had practically wrapped around himself. He had to keep telling himself that none of this mattered, that he didn't care.
He had to keep telling himself, or risk losing a piece of himself that he didn't even know existed.
Unfortunately he miscalculated, and his arms weren't quite long enough to grab his belongings without a little extra stretch. And since he wasn't exactly going to go through a growth spurt for convenience sake, he ended up falling out of bed and earning the stares of the two combatants, who had suddenly remembered the person who had basically started the confrontation in the first place.
His face was turning as red as a tomato, and somehow he managed to push a nervous laugh out of his throat. It didn't matter that it was disturbingly high-pitched, but it was out there now. And so was the sickly smile on his face, and all the other adornments that he draped over himself in order to conceal what was inside.
"I'll just be going now." He tried not to keel over from the pressure that was starting to build up, instead standing up on shaky legs and clutching his backpack tightly. He managed not to sway, although he supposed that if he had, then he could have blamed this entire thing on being drunk.
Yeah. Because then he would have to have been perpetually drunk for the past two months. That just sounded like a really good case for alcohol poisoning, not for why he had been sleeping with Inuyasha's older brother.
"How could you have agreed to this?!" Inuyasha demanded, turning to him with a look that just screamed of… not betrayal as a friend, but more of a betrayal that was founded on bewilderment.
He was caught off-guard with the question being asked, and it made him pause just long enough for Sesshoumaru to take over for him. This was a bad thing, especially considering how the relationship between the two brothers made it almost impossible for either of them to accept what the other said at face value.
"He didn't. He came to me."
Now he really wished Sesshoumaru could just shut the hell up.
Inuyasha looked stricken, but that didn't last for very long before he was soon advancing on his friend, looking ready to grab him and shake some sense into him while demanding some sort of an explanation. And again, Miroku could only stand there like a deer in the headlights, about to get run over by a sixteen-wheeler.
Things were never going to be the same after this.
Before Inuyasha could reach him though, Sesshoumaru stepped between the two smoothly. Miroku wasn't sure whether he should be grateful or not, especially considering the enraged expression on Inuyasha's face, and then he decided that he definitely should not be when Sesshoumaru spoke the words that he had hoped would never reach his friend's ears.
"And he never would have come to me if it wasn't for you."
Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
He wished that this was all just sort of elaborate delusion brought on by the smell of Sesshoumaru, but no matter how intoxicating it was, he had never been that lucky.
Inuyasha was gaping now, and it was hard to tell who that expression was supposed to be directed at. Miroku, on the other hand, was wondering it Inuyasha would be angry if he killed his friend's older brother right there in front of him, or if he would receive a medal in exchange for his actions.
Not that it would have done anything to repair the damage that had been done.
Somebody should just shoot him right then and there as it would be the physical equivalent of what they were doing to him anyway. It would at least be the merciful thing to do, but hey, who the hell cared about mercy these days, especially when he was caught between two psychopathic siblings who had somehow managed to throw him into whatever demented relationship they had?
Okay, so maybe he did dump himself in there too, but hadn't he been punished enough?
"I'm going now." He spoke the words loudly and clearly, with a lack of emotion that showed he had been spending way too much time with Sesshoumaru. And before anybody could stop him through guilt or physical restraint, he walked through the door and left.
For a moment he stood there, trying to calm himself down enough so that he would not collapse on the way back. He'd already made enough of a fool of himself, and he doubted that he needed to humiliate himself further. Already, he could hear the beginning strains of an argument continuing from inside the apartment, and he couldn't help but a small, bitter laugh. They were too busy dealing with each other to worry about him, after all, and he couldn't help but be slightly amused by that fact.
It helped him forget everything else, at least.
He felt like he should have been apologizing, but he wasn't sure if the apology should have been directed at Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru, or himself.
And since he wasn't sure, he decided it would be easiest to crawl into the corner of his apartment and die for a little while.
Sesshoumaru wasn't willing to let him die though. This fact annoyed Miroku terribly, since if the bastard had just kept his mouth shut, then none of this would have happened.
Or that's what he liked to tell himself because he had spent so long blaming other people for his problems, and he wasn't about to stop when his problems were starting to become downright shitty. In fact, this was when blaming other people became even more handy, especially if you went so out of your mind that you inexplicably found yourself being hauled in front of a court for first-degree murder.
"I do not know what you want, but I would appreciate it if you left."
Sesshoumaru didn't move. Miroku didn't either, and if he continued to stand where he did, there was no way Inuyasha's older brother could get in without shoving him aside. Personally, Miroku wouldn't put it beyond him, but then this week had been one peachy surprise after another. First there was that oh so wonderful encounter with Inuyasha that had more or less turned him into a hermit despite the fact that finals were only two weeks away, and now Sesshoumaru had shown up on his doorstep. Considering all these recent turn of events, he wouldn't have been very surprised if the white-haired man suddenly announced that he was going to get a sex change.
"It's been a week."
"I'm glad you can count the days," he smiled pleasantly. "Now that you have demonstrated your abilities, will you leave?"
Before he could close the door though, a pale hand grabbed the side of it. He would have slammed the door anyway, despite the fact that he really didn't have enough money to tempt somebody into suing him, but Sesshoumaru was stronger and more than capable of keeping the door open.
If he wasn't so angry, he might have taken the time to wonder why Sesshoumaru was even bothering. Maybe he even would have been flattered by the attention. But then he was still angry, and flattery wasn't enough to make up for everything that he had lost, no matter how ill-gained it might have been.
"I need to speak to you."
He debated playing dumb, but then decided that for someone as silent as Sesshoumaru, it probably wouldn't work out very well. Besides, when people played dumb with him, he always tried to talk their ears off, just as a special type of torture.
"Why? You won the game with Inuyasha, didn't you? I don't see what other part I need to play, especially since he knows now anyway."
Even as he said those things, he wondered if the pain would ever truly go away. Inuyasha had not been there to see him since that night, although Kagome and Sango had stopped by. They hadn't stayed long, especially since Miroku was pleasantly advocating their departure from the moment they stepped in, but it had still been nice to see them there, especially since Sesshoumaru had pretty much admitted for him that he had feelings for Kagome's boyfriend. They didn't have to come, and yet they did. It hadn't helped very much, but knowing that was still better than nothing.
Especially since he was starting to feel like he had nothing left.
Bleh. Talk about overdramatic tendencies. If somebody had the bad enough luck to read his thoughts, they'd think he was an angsting fourteen-year old girl.
Sesshoumaru didn't say anything to that, and it took every ounce of willpower for him not to smile bitterly. He settled instead for continuing, "Well. That's how it started, right?"
"Does it matter?"
Miroku rolled his eyes, wondering if the man actually meant the question or if he was just trying to weasel his way out of answering the question. "Um, yes. Yes, actually it does matter."
"It didn't matter to you before."
He wondered if he should tell Sesshoumaru the truth, about how such a concept simply hadn't occurred to him before. Would it make the older man scorn him, or….
"That's because I was stupid enough to not figure it out on my own before."
It had been a while since he was this blatantly honest. Now he remembered why that was, seeing that it was not very fun.
"I never said it was about him."
"And that is a crime now?" Was it just him or did Sesshoumaru sound slightly exasperated? Well, if he was, it was his own fault for perpetuating the image of himself as a block of ice for his entire life, and that was another one of those things Miroku wasn't going to blame on himself.
"Well, for you, yeah," he replied easily, a lot more easily than he felt at the moment. He wasn't quite sure why Sesshoumaru was forcing the subject or the conversation in general, as it would probably be a lot easier for both if they could continue on their lives without worrying about each other.
There was a silence, and he felt oddly obligated to break it, but he wasn't sure how to do that. So he let his feelings do the speaking, something that turned out to be a damn big mistake.
"You didn't even care." Even to himself, he sounded like a whiny child.
"I never said that."
"That's not saying much. You didn't say anything."
"That doesn't give you the right to assume."
"Well, you weren't providing much help."
Sesshoumaru didn't reply to that, instead leveling those amber eyes on his face. Miroku fidgeted slightly, uncomfortable under the gaze. Sure, he had gotten used to being with the older man, but that expression was something he did not see very often. It was oddly contemplative, and Miroku really did not want to think about what somebody else was thinking about, especially when he had enough trouble figuring out his own thoughts.
"This started because I was in love with your brother."
"I know." Silence. "You said 'was'."
He blinked, surprised at how easily the words had come out. "I did, didn't I?"
"Oh. Well, I guess I've finally realized that it would never work out."
"Did you now?"
"Yes," he replied, feeling rather cross that Sesshoumaru wouldn't take anything he said at face value. "Honestly, do I need to spell it all out for you?"
"Miroku." There was that name again. It sounded so odd coming from Sesshoumaru's mouth, but then again, anything sounded weird coming from that man's mouth. "If Inuyasha told you that he did indeed love you, would you take him?"
He blinked stupidly, and wondered vaguely if he had ever heard such a stupid question before. But he supposed that it was a fair one, although he wasn't really sure how to answer it.
It felt so impossible, and he found it difficult to figure out the answer. Would he say yes? Not too long ago, the answer would have been a vehement yes, and now he found himself hesitating. Even if he had finally become disillusioned, did it really mean that he had completely given up? Or had he allowed something else to happen in those two months, something that he had not really expected?
He looked at Sesshoumaru, and wondered how he played into all of this. Was he still just Inuyasha's older brother, or was he a person in his own right? Was it, in fact, that Inuyasha was Sesshoumaru's younger brother, and that the person who he was starting to look to was not the person he had started out with?
Those two months had been oddly satisfying when he was with Sesshoumaru. They hadn't been so pleasant when he was trying to figure out exactly how he could be so stupid, but he could not deny the pleasure he'd had being with the older man. It wasn't a physical pleasure, but more of a warm fuzzy feeling, one that he certainly would not have associated with such a cold personality. Like he'd found a place where he could just be, without having to play a part or worry about what other people thought.
That warm fuzzy feeling had left him though, and all he had now was reality. Reality, who was asking him the questions that might determine his life.
Did he love Inuyasha still?
Perhaps a part of him always would. But the rest of him seemed to realize that it wasn't really meant to be.
And now that he had answered the question, now what? What was he looking for now, or had he already found it?
Sesshoumaru smelled like peach blossoms.
"No," he finally breathed out, almost as if he was asking for release from some sort of prison. "No, I don't think so." He took in another deep breath, and finally fixed his dark blue eyes on Sesshoumaru, and the question that emerged was one he was not sure he had the right to ask, but he did so regardless. "Would you have wanted me to?"
And there it was again – that split-second hesitation. But it didn't last nearly enough, especially when Sesshoumaru finally answered.
That was the point when he realized that he would be staying in purgatory forever.
(1) Definition comes from the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary.
I have never written a story like this.
I have written more romances than I would like to admit to, and I have written angst, although not quite as many as I would have hoped for. But I have never written a story like this, and so I guess you could call this an experiment of sorts, although I have no idea how successful I was (probably I'm somewhere between ordering another jolt of lightning and screaming 'It LIVES!') with this.
Personally I doubt if I will continue this, as it has been so long since I've written a one-shot and although this one is kind of left hanging towards the end, that's the way I wanted it to be. Still, it could have been worse, right? :3