(originally written 8/2005)

Pairing: Miroku/Kagome
Word count: 5971
Author's Note: First, you know that second anime movie? The (spoiler!) kiss at the end of the second movie? It never happened. Never I say! And last, this fic was written for the lj community of iy(underscore)flashfic, in which people pitch in fic requests, those requests are put into a hat and then passed out at random to the participants. We have a month to write them, and then we post them at the end of the month. This fic is for Seaouryou, who, by the way, is a totally rocking author.

Summary: It started with a question, but it wasn't a question that was answered completely in words.

Standard Disclaimer HERE.

In Conversation

Kagome sat on her sleeping bag on the hill, eyeing the setting sun warily, hands fussing absently with the long-bladed grass. She flopped over and placed her face on the plush of the sleeping bag.

"Inuyasha is a jerrrrrk!" she screeched into the ground. It didn't make her feel better, and it didn't help that now she felt like a little child either.

Sitting up, Kagome huffed indignantly to herself and hugged her knees to her chest. It would have been nice if Sango were here, but the last battle with Naraku's most recently deceased attachment left the Hiraikotsu with a long crack down the middle, forcing Sango to leave them for a few days. She had insisted that, besides Kirara, she didn't want any company, but had relented when Shippou, taking advantage of his naturally big and wide eyes, expressed curiosity about the process of repairing the Hiraikotsu. So Kagome didn't even have Shippou to hold and cuddle in her irritation.

Stupid Inuyasha and his stupid assurances that he wasn't going to do anything with Kikyou and his promise that he would be back in the morning. Did it occur to him that staying with a girl overnight meant that he was doing something with her?

"Obviously not," she murmured at a dragonfly skimming across the tips of the grass.

But on the bright side, at least she could finally get some peace. With four out of six of their group away, Kagome had the rare opportunity to sit quietly and relax.

And then a shadow fell over her.

"Mind if I join you?"

Kagome looked up, realized that a small bit of her panties were currently out in the open, and immediately placed her knees onto the sleeping bag, effectively covering the panties.

"You weren't trying to look up my skirt were you?" she asked Miroku suspiciously. The general direction of his eyes was downward, but a little too far down to be innocent.

"Of course not," he replied with a straight face. He sat down next to her, and sighed, settling his robes in an almost bored manner.

Rolling her eyes, Kagome said, "Whatever you say."

The silence that came was almost as silent as it had been before Miroku arrived, but Kagome felt a little more fidgety than before. Maybe it was just that Miroku had positioned himself just a tad bit closer to her than she was comfortable with, and Kagome wasn't sure how safe her personal space around her lower regions was.

But the sunset was enough to make her forget about discomfort, a quiet moment and a sunset together were rare these days after all. And Miroku apparently knew its rarity, for he didn't say anything to her and seemed to enjoy it.

Absently, Kagome wondered if Inuyasha was looking at the sunset at the moment, or if he was too busy not doing anything with Kikyou. He had shouted over his shoulder that he wanted to check something as he had left, but he hadn't specified what exactly needed checking.

In an effort to steer her thoughts away from what was certainly pointless contemplation (why couldn't Inuyasha… how did Inuyasha feel about…), Kagome glanced sideways at Miroku, at the way his eyes took in the wide expanse of the sunset and how straight he kept his back, with no hint of slouching.

The silence hadn't completely encompassed them. Kagome could distinctly hear the singing of crickets and the rustling of a light wind across the grass they sat on. But it was beginning to grind on Kagome's nerves, because these sounds always seemed to drive her thoughts to places she didn't want to go. She didn't want to think about that person who didn't deserve to be thought about, but her treacherous mind kept coming back to him.

Kagome told herself for the umpteenth time to stop thinking about him. It was a pointless thing to do, with so much unresolved and undone. What right did she have anyway? She had never even kissed Inuyasha, and he had certainly kissed Kikyou more than once.

No, she was doing it again.

Unfortunately, her mind seemed to only want to think about that person and that problem, and with nothing else for Kagome to occupy herself silently with, Kagome decided to break the silence and have a conversation with the monk sitting beside her. Miroku was her friend, right? Friends listen to their friend's troubles, yes?

Kagome immediately thought of a topic to discuss, but the nature of it made her hesitate to open her mouth. Would he laugh at her? Sneer? Pat her head and call her a child? Blink and grope her?

But, sitting cross-legged beside him, close enough for her right knee to touch his left lightly, with warm fire crackling at their backs as the sun inched down below the horizon, Kagome eventually felt comfortingly assured that Miroku would be friend enough to take her seriously, to some extent at least.

"Miroku-sama," Kagome began slowly.

"Yes, Kagome-sama?"

Kagome swallowed nervously. She felt confident, but it was still a silly question as it was. "What… what are kisses like?"

There. She'd asked it. Nothing to be ashamed about; she had never kissed anyone, and if Miroku was really the pervert he acted like, then he certainly must have, monk or not.

Flinching as Miroku abruptly turned his head to stare at her, Kagome began to regret her question and opened her mouth to take it back when Miroku actually answered.

"Kisses?" he said. "Kisses," he repeated, rolling the word around his mouth, "are fickle things."

"Fickle?" Kagome asked.

"Fickle," Miroku confirmed. "But I think sex is more interesting anyway."

"I'm amazed you can say that with a straight face while sitting there in your robes," Kagome remarked. "But seriously, what are kisses like?"

Quirking up an eyebrow, Miroku seemed to smirk without actually doing so. "Why do you want to know?"

Kagome, to her shame, felt her cheeks blushing and hoped that Miroku couldn't see it in the disappearing light. "I'm curious. And, okay, so I've never kissed anyone before! Why else do you think I'm asking?"

"Just curious." Miroku was openly smirking now. "But I'm surprised at you. Has Inuyasha never done any…?"

Kagome pierced her lips and looked down.

"But anyway," he said gesturing grandly with a hand. "A kiss? Oh, what to say, what to say? Where should I begin?"

And then he folded his hands into his lap and thought about it for so long a time that Kagome was sure that he was teasing her.

There went her confidence. As quickly as she had thought the question, Kagome wanted to change the question and pretend she'd never introduced the subject. But Miroku's smirking seemed to indicate that now that she was in it, she couldn't get out.

She suggested desperately, "Tell me about your first kiss?"

Miroku's smirk disappeared, mouth corners drooping and mirth disappearing from his eyes. Panicked, Kagome wondered if she had gone too far without knowing.

"Sorry, I'm being rude—" Kagome blurted out quickly, secretly grateful for the opportunity to stop this line of thought. But Miroku foiled her attempts and held up a hand, cutting her off.

"It's all right," he assured her. "I'll tell you about my first kiss, since you wanted to know."

Miroku's gaze moved back to the sunset, but he continued speaking. "A family from a village nearby had come to meet with Mushin, to talk about the details of the eldest daughter's upcoming wedding. I was just a boy at the time, but apparently I was old enough for the second daughter to approach me."

"Approach you?"

Miroku smiled placidly.

"We were both bored, and we didn't need to stay during the talks anyway. She just looked at me and then we were both standing up and going outside."

"How cute! How old were you?"

Smiling in amusement at the intrusion, Miroku answered, "About nine, maybe ten. Those years seemed all the same to me."

Kagome giggled as she pictured a miniature Miroku in a little yukata, holding hands with a petite little girl, both bending forward at the waist and lips pouting as they touched, bodies forming a heart shape, like a card.

"It happened as we were running around the fields outside Mushin's temple, during a game," Miroku continued. "I was running after her, and then suddenly she stopped and turned around. I guess our game bored her and she wanted to do something more interesting." He looked up at the sky, and Kagome could see the glowing slivers of the sun reflected on his face. "I thought it was a nice kiss, although it was painfully obvious that this wasn't her first kiss and that she probably didn't enjoy it as much as I did. But it didn't really matter to me. The first kiss was wonderful, but it was the second kiss that was troublesome."

"So it was the first bout of perversion you got caught doing?" Kagome joked lightly. She hadn't meant anything by it, and she wondered why Miroku's smile suddenly seemed strained.

"When we kissed a second time, she grabbed my hand, my right hand."

He stretched up his arms, cracking the knuckles of his hands. The beads on the rosary wrapped around his right hand clinked as they rubbed against each other.

"She started to rub her thumb over my wrist, and one of the beads slipped. And then the whole rosary slipped."

Kagome heard a sharp intake of breath and realized that it was hers.

"The rosary… slipped?" she repeated. "So the girl was… So the Kazaana did…"

Kagome didn't want to say it, what she thought the Kazaana did. It was mistake to ask Miroku that question, such a silly question. She was being rude, insensitive, naive, making Miroku talk about this. Why did she have to be so foolish, such a little girl?

Miroku grinned at her stuttering, but his face darkened with bitterness.

"Mushin had started calling for me, so the second kiss was broken off rather abruptly and I was able to discreetly fix the beads before the Kazaana opened," he told her. "Relieved?"

Miroku was staring intently at her, smack right in the eyes, not letting her escape, watching, waiting. Kagome didn't answer. What could she have said? Oh good, you didn't actually suck up your first girlfriend. Yes I am relieved! But then what would Miroku do? How would he react?

"At the time," he said, "I had used the Kazaana a few times, never on purpose of course. But I think the second kiss made me realize, for the first time, that the Kazaana could be used on humans."

"Oh," Kagome quietly said to this.

"Obviously it brought a great shock to me, but more than anything, it brought me the realization that I was capable of harming others, that I was a danger to anyone around me, not just a boy who happened to have something nobody else had. I had only used the Kazaana on little things, like rubbish and plants. It had never occurred to me before then that my fellow man could get caught up inside it."

"You poor—" Kagome began, and then she covered her mouth in horror and looked away.

She couldn't help herself, but Kagome knew that she shouldn't have started those words. She had already known that Miroku could suck things into a slit in his hand, could make things disappear with his right hand. She and the others had all come to terms with the fact that Miroku was going to die young if they didn't kill Naraku, and that every moment he was risking his and their lives. Miroku was a walking black hole, and Kagome had been aware of this fact for so long that she had stopped thinking about it. Pitying Miroku now was not much more necessary than it was before, and immediately Kagome felt ashamed of herself.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, taking her hands from her mouth and moving her eyes away from Miroku's face.

"Sorry for what?" Miroku asked, almost wearily.

"For…" For thinking that her stupid problems were so important, for thinking about them as if they were the end of the world, because his troubles are the end of his life. "I'm sorry for…" For taking the Kazaana for granted. She tried again, "I'm sorry…" For thinking that Miroku was happy based solely on the expression on his face and not considering anything else.

But Kagome was pretty sure that Miroku didn't need to hear any of her apologies. As she turned to face him, Kagome saw expectations in him, expectations that she would apologize until the end of the world, or at least until the end of this night, and that his curse would drape between them as a paper-thin void when it hadn't mattered before. He didn't want pity, but if people were going to give it to him, Miroku was kind enough to receive it and lock it away as another reminder of the blot on his hand, on his life, and let it slowly rot himself away.

Miroku didn't need Kagome to give him pity, so she stopped trying to apologize.

Kagome smiled faintly at him and pointed at the horizon.

"The sun's set now," she commented.

Miroku looked. "Yes." He pointed as well. "And the first stars are coming out." Kagome's smile became less faint, and they watched as the night sky became brighter than before.

A hand was placed on her knee, and Kagome knew that Miroku was friend enough to forgive her. She covered it with her own, because there was no lechery in friends touching each other, only comfort.

"We'll win, you know," Kagome asserted cheerfully. "We will."

Miroku chuckled, looking like the smiling monk she was used to. "Of course we will," he agreed. "What was it you wanted to know, again?" Miroku asked, voice as bright as the stars peeping out.

"What kisses were like, I think," Kagome answered dreamily.

"Ah," he said. He considered this, fingertips stroking her kneecap.

"I guess," Miroku began, "the only way you'll find your answer is to actually do it."

"Hm?" Kagome turned to him in surprise and asked, "Do… it?"

A corner of Miroku's mouth drifted upward and the whites of teeth briefly flashed. "Yes."

And then he leaned toward her, and the void between them became nothing.

Oh, Kagome thought vaguely to herself when she felt something cool and smooth brush against her lips and then catch them gently but firmly. Apparently, her mind murmured groggily, she was having her first kiss.

Her eyes were aching, and Kagome realized that they had widened to painful stretching point and that Miroku's eyes were closed and much closer to hers than she was used to and sliding in and out of focus. When she shut her eyes, the dizziness stopped, but it brought on more physical feelings that she hadn't noticed before then, like the grazing of her nose against Miroku's and the lock of his hair that had slipped forward to tickle her eyelashes.

It was only when Miroku slid cold fingers under chin that Kagome became aware that her right hand still held his on her bare knee.

Her eyes were wide open again when Miroku drew back. She blinked hard and jerked her head slightly at the feeling of Miroku's warm breath.

"How did that feel?" Miroku asked, almost politely.

Kagome swallowed hard and a sickly feeling rolled into her gut. Taking a deep breath, Kagome wondered if her breath felt warm on Miroku's face as well.

"It was…" She trailed off. The sickly feeling began to pulse.

The finger on her chin began to move up and down her skin, and Kagome lifted her hand off her knee in shock.

Miroku had just kissed her. Miroku. She knew why the sickly feeling was there now. Wasn't it supposed to be Inuyasha giving her first kiss and kissing her for the rest of her life? How did Miroku, her friend and fellow enemy of Naraku, end up slipping into Inuyasha's role? And why didn't she realize this during the actual kiss?

Miroku hadn't even attempted to grope her.

Then again, she remembered, it wasn't as if Inuyasha was going to take up his role anytime soon, if his absence tonight was any indication.

They were friends, Kagome decided. And Miroku was just answering her question and happened to do it with physical act, because friends help each other out.

It wasn't as if it meant anything.

Breathing out as the sickly feeling left her stomach, Kagome said brightly, "It was nice. But it's not as if I have any experiences to compare that to, so I wouldn't know."

Miroku nodded sagely. "Quite true," he agreed.

He removed his fingers from her chin and tucked his hands into his sleeves. Watching them disappear, Kagome felt vaguely disappointed.

"It was still a nice kiss," she added.

"Thank you."

As they both sat and stared at the stars, both too lazy to make much movement, something persistently scratched on Kagome's nerves. Even though she was grateful that Miroku wasn't declaring his love by kissing her, Kagome still felt paradoxically frustrated that he wasn't doing so. A kiss is a kiss in the end, but she still wanted to hold on to the romantic belief that a first kiss was special, a girl's first brush with love, a cherished moment. Miroku's casualness and lack of awkwardness should have relieved and comforted her, since he wasn't her most important person, nor she his, but they still blatantly contradicted everything she expected to come with a first kiss.

"Have you kissed Sango?" Kagome asked suddenly.

In the sudden silence that followed, Kagome could have sworn that she heard a sigh, or at least a small breath.

"I'm just curious," she said defensively. "And you and Sango are both my friends, so I deserve to know. I'll just ask Sango when she gets back anyway if you don't answer, and she'll tell me," she added sadistically.

Instead of a narrowed gaze that Kagome expected, Miroku arched a brow amusedly.

"I don't think you'd receive much satisfaction in her answer," he said, "because there would be nothing for her to tell."

"So that means you haven't kissed her," Kagome concluded. "But I thought you lov—"

And she snapped her mouth shut as the small mention of the so called L-word made Miroku drop the brow.

"In the end," he said, "it has to be mutual. Both sides have to feel something and to want to feel it."

Miroku sighed and his robes rustled as he turned around on the sleeping bag to face the fire, away from the stars.

"I think I have something," he continued. "I would like to think that Sango feels something as well, but it doesn't make a difference if she does or not, because the truth of the matter is that her family, walking or not, means more to her than love." He regarded the fire thoughtfully. "I think her determination is beautiful, and I respect that she places it as a higher priority than she places me, even if it means I have to sacrifice."

Kagome allowed herself to pity Miroku, because, unlike the Kazaana, this seemed to be something he would let her pity.

"I feel, sometimes, that Inuyasha doesn't place me as a priority either. He always promises to protect me harm, and I love that about him. But I know that I'm only second, maybe even third. Kikyou is obviously a higher priority," she muttered bitterly. "But I can't hate Kikyou for that, for loving Inuyasha. I think he understands that, and somehow we're able to continue along together. But still…" She trailed off uncertainly.

"You never felt confident enough to ask him about kisses," Miroku finished for her.

"That wasn't exactly what I was going to say, but yes," Kagome conceded. She wondered if Sango had ever thought about kissing. "But Miroku," she asked, "Are sure that Sango means the most to you, especially with defeating Naraku and the Kazaana?"

She expected him to react negatively to that, but Miroku surprised her again.

"Point taken," he said, nodding.

When he didn't elaborate, Kagome probed again. "So success means more to you than Sango does?"

The look Miroku gave her made Kagome want to snatch back her words and apologize over and over again, but he spoke before she could.

"It's not that I'd rather kill Naraku than be with her, nor is it that she would feel more happiness at avenging her family than she would if the Kazaana disappeared from my hand. It is only that we have responsibilities that ultimately go before feelings. If we have feelings that come while in the middle of things, then we certainly can't deny them, but if we concentrate on them more than the task at hand then it's the wrong thing to do."

"But you're always asking girls to bear your child," Kagome pointed out, wondering how their little chat had turned to this direction.

"Because I need an heir, should I fail," Miroku said gravely. He didn't say, And you know that very well.

Kagome frowned as a new thought surfaced at Miroku's words. "So having a child with a girl who doesn't have responsibilities would be acceptable, because it's part of your task? And Sango would be okay with this?"

"I—" he started, but Miroku abruptly cut himself off. He hung his head down and chuckled darkly. "This is going to get silly, isn't it? This conversation we're having?"

"What? Why are you laughing?"

But Miroku flapped his hands carelessly at her. "I've just realized something," he related to her. "If feelings can get in the way of the task at hand, then romance, or 'love' or whatever you want to call it, has no place in our little group's life. None of us should be having feelings of any sort if we want to defeat Naraku as soon as possible. Sango and I, you and Inuyasha, I shouldn't even be pairing our names together. That's how much we've let our feelings affect us, even though none of us have kissed each other yet. Well, except for you and me of course," he added, gesturing at the two of them. "But just imagine how it would be if we didn't have these feelings, if we only focused on Naraku every minute of the day. Think of how much more progress we'd have had, how many more shards we'd possess."

Even though Miroku was probably right, Kagome didn't laugh along with him. "But we're human, Miroku," she told him quietly, looking up at the night. "And humans fall in love, and we can't help ourselves, no matter what we do."

"So you think the feelings were inevitable?"

"Well," Kagome considered, "not exactly inevitable. But we allowed it to happen, so what difference does it make?"

Miroku propped his chin onto a fist and seemed to ponder. "None, I suppose," he relented. "Which makes me wonder what part romance plays in our little quest."

While Miroku faced the flickering embers of the fire and Kagome the soft shine of the stars, they reflected on this for a moment.

When the moment ended, Kagome swung around in her seat, away from the stars and facing the embers.

"It doesn't have a part," she decided. "It's just…"

"…there," he finished for her, "Making our lives more complicated than we'd like."

"Or something like that, anyway," Kagome added. "It's as if somebody up there is just twisting us around for her own amusement."

"Her own amusement?"

"And we can't do anything but be her play pieces," Kagome continued. "So we can't help but fall in love."

"Indeed."

"So then knowing all this, why did you kiss me anyway?" Kagome asked.

She hadn't thought that the question was really out of the blue, and it surprised her to see Miroku look taken back.

"I mean," she said, "if you won't kiss Sango, the girl you have feelings for, then why bother kissing me just because I asked what it was like? Were you just bored or something?" As Miroku notched his head to the side, Kagome added, "Or were you romantically frustrated and just wanted to take advantage of my lack of experience?"

"Are you making an accusation?" Miroku questioned back, eyebrow raised with amusement. "Would you feel used if I said yes to your latter question?"

As she opened her mouth to say that she would indeed feel used, Kagome thought again. If she really was being used, which was probably the case, was she bothered by it? Had she really minded that her first kiss hadn't been Inuyasha? If nothing was happening with Inuyasha anyway, was that such a bad thing?

"Would you feel used if our positions were switched, if I were taking advantage of you?" she asked.

Miroku smirked. "I've never actually been in your position, so I wouldn't know," he answered.

Kagome could feel a tingling in her mind, a feeling of light-headedness and dreaming that told her that anything she did in the next few moments wouldn't trouble her in the least.

"Then there's only one way to find out," Kagome told him, smiling.

Miroku's face was half cast in shadows when she reached out and turned his head toward her, but Kagome could still see every detail of his face with perfect clarity. So she knew exactly where to go when she slowly went up onto her knees, placing her hands on his shoulders, and took her second kiss.

It was a spontaneous act, and Kagome still feared that, despite their talk, Miroku would push her away and then awkwardness would move in between them. But apparently this was not so, as Miroku slid fingers to the back of her head and gently tugged her closer.

Kagome had started the kiss gently, not knowing any other way to have a kiss. But then Miroku pressed forward and suddenly the world went lopsided as she fell down onto her back on the plush of the sleeping bag, opening her eyes briefly to peek at the stars and then closing as Miroku cupped her cheek and began to move his lips against hers.

That sickly feeling came back, but Kagome didn't pay much attention to it. Who cared if her heart wanted Inuyasha to be the one in Miroku's place?

After a while, when it was obvious that Miroku was smoother kisser of the two, Kagome stopped trying. Surprised, Miroku drew back and stared at her.

"Do you want to stop?" he asked, almost worried.

Kagome's mind did some cartwheels and she wondered why she was doing this with Miroku, whatever this was. And then she wondered why she didn't feel guilty. The feeling that it should be Inuyasha in Miroku's place was easy to ignore, but that didn't mean they didn't exist. Kagome was pretty sure that despite whatever it was she was doing with Miroku, she would still give her heart to Inuyasha should he ever ask for it, and Miroku to Sango.

Maybe Kagome really was frustrated romantically. It didn't matter how much sexual tension there was between she and Inuyasha if they never did anything, to put it simply. And if neither made a move outwardly towards each other, then it was like there weren't any feelings between them, no evidence. So in all fairness, Kagome shouldn't have had any reservations about kissing Miroku.

She reached her hands out from underneath Miroku's chest and undid the knot holding up his outer robe. With one hand, she dragged the robe off his body while the other snaked around his head and pushed it down lightly, and they returned back to kissing.

No, Kagome thought as one of Miroku's hands slid up her skirt, she wanted to believe that guilt was unnecessary, but perhaps it wasn't fair to Inuyasha to say that he shouldn't mind her doing this, as if he had no right to do so. If Inuyasha happened to come upon them at this very moment, with her hands working their way through Miroku's next robe, Kagome wouldn't blame him if he went into a jealous rage. This was the guy who gave fits whenever Kouga so much as grinned in her direction after all.

The guilt began to creep in as Kagome pulled Miroku's robe off his shoulders while he slowly drew her shirt up, and it annoyed her. Why should she feel guilty about, just say it, damn it, cheating on Inuyasha, since whatever she was doing at the moment was probably what he and everyone else would call cheating, when she wasn't really with Inuyasha in the first place? Why should she wait around for Inuyasha to decide that his feelings were strong enough for him to actually act on them, even if his promise to Kikyou would drive them apart anyway? Why did people seem to expect that she'd be happy staying innocent and unkissed for a guy who wasn't entirely as devoted to her as she to him?

That thought made Kagome wish she had pillow to punch and punch until all the stuffing spilled out, but instead she decided to see what would happen if she poked her tongue into Miroku's mouth, and having tried that, she took out her anger on Miroku's lips and tongue. Miroku made a small noise in his throat and seemed to enjoy her anger very much, judging from the frantic movements of his fingers along her spine.

The fire burned steadily as they continued. Kagome refused to call it lovemaking, since there wasn't any sex even if they came close to it several times. But from the way Miroku abruptly withdrew from her tongue, gasped for breath, and then went back down on her and the short, surprised squeak she made when she found a tongue in her mouth before moaning, Kagome did wonder if what they were doing was possible without some sort of feeling in it. But that was something that she was sure neither of them wanted to go near. There was enough romance in their group as it was with complicating it further than they already were.

At one point during the night, Miroku somehow slipped off her shirt, and Kagome suddenly felt an ache at the tips at her breasts and Miroku's bare chest rubbing against hers didn't make it feel any better. But she carefully took his eager hand away from her bra hooks and replaced it on her hip, which he squeezed and smoothed over just as enthusiastically. They both knew there was a certain limit that they couldn't cross without repercussions, and getting underneath her bra was probably one of them. But they were perfectly content with kissing and touching, without remorse and hopefully without guilt, the one they didn't love.

Eventually, the fire lessened into a pile of glowing embers, just barely illuminating the ground around it enough for Miroku to locate Kagome's discarded shirt and slip it back on her. Sitting up, Kagome dragged back his purple over robe and shook out the dust from it. Miroku straightened his black robe, making sure to cover his shoulders appropriately, and returned to the sleeping bag. Without asking, he lay down and Kagome spread out the purple cloth and tucked it around them.

The last thing her mind dwelled on as she feel asleep, wrapped in Miroku's arms, was the feeling that her shirt was too tight, too suffocating, and that she wanted to take it off again just to feel comfortable. But then Kagome remembered Inuyasha's promise of return in the morning, and thought better of it as she slipped away.

X

X

"What the fuckis this!"

Kagome opened her eyes closed them with a moan.

Inuyasha glowered down at her. "What? Is my face uglier than pervert monk's?"

"No, Inuyasha," Kagome told him gently. "Your head is right next to the sun. It's blinding me." And then, just because, she added, "Silly."

"Whatever!" he exploded. "Why are you two sleeping together?"

A hand moved against her stomach, and Kagome looked down to see Miroku's hand inching its way up her body.

"Oh," she said.

"What is going on?" Inuyasha continued. "Can someone please explain this to me? And get your hands off her, monk!"

Inuyasha began to make a violent gesture toward Miroku's general neck area, but Miroku sat up on the sleeping bag just in time to miss his claw.

"Why good morning, Inuyasha," he said cheerfully. "It's a lovely day isn't it? How was your visit with Kikyou-sama? You missed quite a sunset yesterday, you know."

Inuyasha grabbed Miroku by the neck of his robes and shook it. "You wanna tell me what you were doing with Kagome? If I find out that you were feeling her up in her sleep or—"

So Inuyasha just thought Miroku was taking advantage of her, Kagome thought with relief. He didn't seem to suspect that any feeling up was mutual on both their parts. Which was a good thing, because Kagome wasn't exactly sure how she'd react if Inuyasha ever found out what happened when during their friendly chat last night.

"Why must you be so untrusting?" Miroku complained. "Kagome-sama was merely cold last night, and I was sharing my body heat with her. It was as innocent as that."

Kagome wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh. But it relieved her that apparently Miroku wanted to keep last night a secret as well.

"It's okay, Inuyasha," she assured him. "He didn't do anything." And she smiled brightly at him and took his clawed hand in hers.

Inuyasha looked down at their hands and then back at her suspiciously. "You're not going to ask me what I did with Kikyou?"

"Why do you ask that?"

Looking at her with barely concealed nervousness, Inuyasha said, "You're not usually in such a good mood whenever I come back from… seeing Kikyou."

"Well, do you want to tell me?" Kagome asked sweetly. But then she decided to let it go, just this once. "Miroku, I have an idea!" she said brightly. "Why don't we go visit Sango-chan and Shippou-chan? She's probably not done fixing her weapons yet, so we can surprise her. Wouldn't that be nice?"

Yesterday was nice, she tacitly told him. Yesterday we shared something nice. But we don't have to change anything about our relationship because of it. We don't have to force obligations to hold feelings for each other, just because we did things together. One could call it sleazy, the way we acted, but if neither of us sees it that way, then who cares?

"I think it would be delightful," Miroku replied, smiling warmly.

I agree, he answered. Thank you.

"I'm glad," Kagome said back, grinning, because friends understand.

Inuyasha looked back and forth between the two of them, eyes narrowed. "I don't get what the fuck is going on, and I'm not sure I want to know," he declared. "Let's go now."

"Hold on, I have to pack my stuff," Kagome protested, gesturing toward her sleeping bag that she and Miroku still sat on.

"Then hurry the fuck up!"

"Okay!"

But to Inuyasha's surprise, instead of shouting "jerk!" at him and stomping off in a huff, Kagome turned to grin merrily at Miroku as if to say, here we go again.

"Sorry Miroku, but you're going to have to move," she requested.

And Miroku retrieved his purple cloth and graciously stood onto the grass as Kagome neatly tucked away the sleeping bag, with no corners out of place.