Spoilers for the first two movies and up to chapter 370.
Miroku's eyes slid open wearily, immediately narrowing as he stared up at the ceiling. Now, despite being a monk, Miroku did not consider himself a very religious man. This was probably a good thing, considering his many vices. Still, he had not expected death to involve ceilings.
He hadn't expected dead people to feel tired or warm, either. He most especially had not expected dead people to feel so very, very sore. Shrugging a little (for Miroku was the sort of person to take things as they come. Usually), he turned over on his side and resolved to give the matter more consideration in the morning... or whatever death's equivalent of morning was.
He found himself staring at a pair of purple eyes. He blinked a few times, sure he was hallucinating.
Hakudoushi gave him a bored look and said in a very neutral tone, Good morning.
Miroku sat up with a muffled sort of scream, only just then realizing he was very, very naked. And so was Hakudoushi. And, while Miroku had always sort-of hoped being dead involved a lot of naked women, this really was not an acceptable substitute.
You! And - and - wha... What, you, here?
Hakudoushi sat up and crossed his legs, resting his hands on his knees. Without the slightest change in expression he said in the same dry, somewhat sarcastic voice, How rude. You could at least pretend to remember last night.
Miroku made a strangled noise. Tha... What are you doing here!As I recall, you invited me, Hakudoushi yawned against the back of his hand. I don't suppose we could finish this conversation later? I'm still rather tired-But you're just a KID!
Hakudoushi looked annoyed. I may look like one, but I have the same mental capacity Onigumo had... and he was far from innocent. The pale boy leaned forward and leered at him in a way Miroku was sure he had at countless women while he was still alive. Miroku made yet another indecipherable noise and (Huh. I had no idea the dead could get panic attacks) scrambled backwards, only to sit on something soft, warm, and unyielding.
Before he could properly analyze and identify the object, however, it was yanked roughly out from under him and he was promptly kicked. Fuckin' bastards, I was asleep, too... came the gurgled words and someone on the other side of Miroku shifted and sat up. Miroku turned his head slowly, his eyes resting on the long, exposed leg attached to the foot that had collided mercilessly with his side. His eyes landed on the pale thighs, and he weakly noted they had bite marks on them.
Miroku's gaze traveled upward, taking in the sheets that had fallen down around her abdomen, the uncovered, perfect chest, and the bright blue hair and scowling face of none other than Ruri.
She smirked at him, looking smug. Good morning, handsome.
This was wrong, wrong, very wrong, so wrong, the wrongest sort of wrong. Miroku had no idea the afterlife was so creative when it came to punishing sinners.
Miroku had known he was going to die. He'd made sure to get the others an exceptionally nice room for the evening, as a sort of goodbye present. God knows Inuyasha and the others would never try to worm free food out of a rich landowner without him. They'd probably spend the rest of their lives sleeping on the ground, so he thought a nice going-away gift would be appreciated.
Of course, Inuyasha and Sango didn't appreciate the deception of gullible people, no matter how rich they were, but he was willing to let that slide.
Miroku had waited until Sango, Shippou, and Kagome were asleep. He'd stargazed a little because, well, it wasn't as if he was going to get another chance. He had a mild, panicky, God, I don't want to die, God, I don't want to die!' moment, but it had passed quickly enough.
And then he'd told Inuyasha.
He suspected he would have started yelling if it weren't for Shippou and the girls. He did accuse him of being a coward and a failure and giving up and lying and being crazy and swearing they would catch Naraku, any day now!...
The fact remained, however, that if Naraku did not appear right there and then and stand around waiting to be executed, Miroku would die.
Inuyasha called him every nasty thing he could think of.
Miroku smiled. I'll miss you, too.
Do'ya have to be so goddamm loud? I've got a headache, you know. And I'm tired. And that's your fault, so let a lady sleep... Ruri yawned and stretched, completely oblivious to her state of undress. Or, Miroku supposed, she simply didn't care. Miroku attempted to remind his hormones the gravity of the situation far outweighed the fact a naked female was sitting next to him. His hormones put up a fairly good fight.
Miroku reminded his hormones a naked, for all intents and purposes underage and murderous boy was also sitting next to him. Miroku's hormones were immediately, and quite possibly permanently, squashed.
What are you doing here - both of you!I guess you did drink the most... Ruri said, crossing her arms and resting her elbows on her knees, still completely ignoring the fact she had an exposed chest in front of two men - well, a man and one fucked up boy, anyway. All his life, Miroku had thought he would have killed for a woman like that. If only he'd known all he had to do was die for one.
Ruri actually looked sympathetic, which was creepiness beyond creepiness. I suppose you don't remember. Pity. Well, I can personally vouch that you had a great time-
With that, Miroku stumbled backward and fell off the edge of the bed, then immediately began searching for his mysteriously absent clothes. The two youkai remained where they were sitting, and Miroku was embarrassingly aware they were staring at him. Ruri looked bemused; Hakudoushi looked merely bored.
What's wrong with him? she asked, not even pretending to whisper.
Dunno. Some sort of human thing? Hakudoushi fielded a guess, though he didn't seem to genuinely care.
What's wrong with me? What's WRONG with me! Two irredeemably evil youkai just took advantage of me while I was intoxicated! he said irritably, tugging his robes on.
Took advantage of? Ruri repeated with a snigger. Sorry to burst your happy, victimized bubble, but you started it. And you were perfectly lucid at the time, you kn-oooooo-w, she said, covering a yawn and stretching her arms out stiffly.
Miroku glared and privately fretted and was very, very confused. He was new to this whole being dead thing; he was newer to demonic threesomes.
Ruri sighed a little, yanking off the covers and climbing out of the bed (grumbling all the way about the cold floor on her bare feet) and disentangled her clothes from the pile on the floor. She chucked Hakudoushi his clothes over her back, missing her target by a meter. Hakudoushi hissed a few choice curses and went to retrieve them.
Miroku stared a little. What are you doing?You're going out, right? Hakudoushi said, watching him suspiciously. Well, we wouldn't want you wandering off by yourself.I, at least, do not need a baby-sitter.Bite me, monk.Both of you shut up, Ruri commanded, still a little groggily. She threw Miroku a look over her shoulder and opened the door, and... huh... that was weird. Because the door swung open, instead of sliding. Actually, now that he looked (for he had, understandably, been fairly preoccupied up to this point), the whole room looked different. The bed, the windows, the walls - he'd never seen anything like it during all the time he'd spent alive.
But then, he rationalized, this was the afterlife. There was no rule saying it had to conform to the appearance of the living world.
It was still rather disconcerting.
They could tell something was wrong. Maybe it was something about the way he was walking, or the way he talked to them, or the way he smiled...
Or maybe it was in the way Inuyasha was acting like Tessaiga had just gotten confiscated, and you couldn't even say nice weather' to him without getting your head bitten off.
And it was nice weather. Miroku couldn't have picked a nicer day to die.
Regardless of whatever it was that had given him away, Kagome's eyes were glued to his back; Shippou was clinging to his shoulder, his claws tearing his robes; and Sango...
Sango was holding her boomerang so tightly the strap was digging into her palm. He decided to grope her, one last time. He thinks, on some level, she must have known. She hit him harder than she ever had before.
Miroku stumbled out into the hallway. There were more rows of those odd doors on either side of him; a light was flickering above his head that reminded him of the flashlights' Kagome brought back through the well.
Could it be, he wondered in a sudden flash of insight, that the void worked the same way the bone eater's well did? He thought Kagome would have said something if the monsters he sucked up appeared in her time.
Still, it made about as much sense as everything else did. Which is to say, none at all.
said a rough feminine voice, and Miroku jumped when a hand clamped down on his shoulder.
Ruri smirked. Twitchy little fellow, aren't you? Course, I knew that already...
Miroku glared. What do you want.
She pointed a finger down the hall. Well, if you're done staring at the ceiling, I was going to say that the way out is down the hall and to the left.
Miroku's glare intensified. He turned and started down the hall, ignoring the two youkai that were following him, and almost broke his nose when one of the doors swung open.
Oh, my apologies, I didn't see you ther-... Miroku?
The monk, who had doubled over and was clutching his nose, stared up at the neatly-shaven man. It is you! Miroku, my boy! he shouted, all but tackling him as he was pulled into a hug. It's your grandfather!
Miroku, dazed and confused and given more shocks in twenty minutes than most deserve in a lifetime, could only make a few incoherent noises and gape.
What... what're you doing...?Here? This is the void, boy! I've been here for fifty years! he released him, suddenly growing somber. But, I do owe you an apology. If I'd known this was going to happen, I'd... well, actually, I probably would have done the same thing anyway. Miroku asked, confused.
Well, you know how it is. Can't resist a pretty woman! And he made a very pretty woman, when he wanted to. I guess my hand paid the price, hehe!Let me see if I understand you, Miroku said, staring at him hard. Naraku cursed our family for three generations... because you groped him? his grandfather said shamelessly, nodding. Oh, but it was worth it...
Miroku would have lunged at him if they weren't interrupted.
I thought you were getting more ice, not blathering on.
Miroku gaped at Kaguya. The last time he'd seen her, she had been a gaseous cloud and was trying to kill him. Now, she was wearing a sheet and leaning against a door frame, looking impatient.
Once again, Miroku was reduced to incoherent babbling.
Coming, sweetheart, just a minute, he said sweetly. Kaguya's eyes flickered over to Miroku's briefly, before settling back on his grandfather. She lifted an eyebrow. Well, hurry up or I'll eat you.
Miroku's grandfather gave him a smug, knowing look. Miroku felt nauseous. his grandfather added as he passed him and moved down the hallway, if you see your father - not that it's likely, he's off with the triplets - would you tell him the ice machine finally got fixed, and if he breaks it again he's not too old for me to still smack?
Miroku's head spun. Hakudoushi coughed.
Need a drink?Now more than ever.
Inuyasha hadn't been able to hold Sango back.
Oh, he'd tried. But even with his superior strength, he hadn't managed to hang onto her twisting limbs. Not without hurting her, at least.
And Sango was already hurting enough.
But then she'd broken free and ran toward him, and his heart had stopped. (And he supposed that was to be expected; he was a dead man now anyway.) Miroku did the only thing that made sense.
The last thing Miroku saw was Sango's face, and he felt so guilty for making her cry. Then he'd stared down at the growing hole in his palm until his whole world went black.
Ruri steered him into a dimly lit room. She had to keep a hand on his arm, because he kept stumbling and muttering, dazed.
I-can't-believe-this. Fifty years spent trying to get revenge, and Naraku was the wronged party!
Hakudoushi snorted. Well, don't lose any sleep over it.You talk too much, Ruri snapped, slapping her hand down on the counter and ordering a round. Miroku recognized the old demon behind the counter as one of the many his father had sucked into the Kazaana.
Miroku groaned and laid his forehead down on the counter.
He was too exhausted, too worn out and bewildered and sore to even care that the seat he was sitting on was high and swiveled and everything about this room was strange and alien. Ruri stroked his hair sympathetically, and he only flinched a little.
Hakudoushi said, all but cramming the bottle down his throat. Drink something. It will make you feel better.
Miroku raised his head just enough to look at the oddly-shaped, out of focus bottle in front of him. Is this any good?You had twenty six of them last night.
Miroku groaned again, smacking his head back down on the counter.
Oh, quit being such a wuss, Ruri snapped suddenly, her hand dropping down to his collar and wrenching his head up violently. You're dead, boo hoo, get over yourself. We're dead, too, and you don't see us bitching about it. She pried the cap off the bottle and shoved it into his hands.
I don't think you understand, he said angrily. Miroku almost never got angry, but he felt the situation warranted it. My entire life has been a sham! I died for a mission that was never even my own!No, I don't think YOU understand, she hissed, cracking her knuckles. Yes, yes, sucks to be you, doesn't it? she asked sarcastically. Sorry to interrupt your pity party, but the exact same thing happened to us.
Miroku frowned, began to argue, and... hesitated. Because she was right. She'd been following a lord's orders, and he had never stopped to consider she might not care about a two hundred year old revenge. And Hakudoushi - hadn't he died trying to rebel against Naraku's orders, after all?
It was too damn early to began identifying with a couple demons that had once tried to kill and manipulate himself and his friends and had then slept with him while he was completely plastered and technically dead. Too. Damn. Early.
He was doing it anyway.
For crying out loud, monk, Hakudoushi put in with a scoff. Quit being such a whiny drama queen. You're acting like you're the only one with problems. You're acting like Kagura.I am not-Yes, you are, he said smoothly. Your family's entire crusade was completely selfish. Congratulations, the universe screwed you over. Take it like a man.
Sometimes, when Miroku had allowed himself to dream, he'd imagined himself surrounded with grandchildren. He'd imagined himself toiling out in a field, wiping sweat and dirt from his brow, and never having a proper bath. He'd imagined not enough food, and a house that needed repairs, and clothes that itched when it got too hot.
Miroku had dreamed of a thousand little things, ordinary things, lack luster things. A thousand things he would never, could never, have. His favorite dream was simply thus: he was old and withered away long past his prime.
Miroku doesn't mind not having these things. Not really. You can't miss something you've never had, and you can't be disappointed when it's something you knew you would never get.
And Miroku can't mourn people forever when he always knew they were only temporary.
So... are you happy now? Miroku asked, nursing his bottle. Ruri snorted and waved a hand dismissively.
Once you've been stuck serving a tree for two hundred years, anything'll make you happy. Anyway, she threw her head back, finishing off her drink, at least it's interesting. Yes. Yes, I am happy here.
Hakudoushi snorted. It's better than being at Naraku's beck and call. He used to make me play Go, and he was a sore loser.But are you happy? Miroku pressed.
Who gives a damn! Hakudoushi snarled. I'm not not happy. What about you- he shot back, throwing a scowl in his direction -are you happy?
Miroku paused. Frowned. He looked at Ruri, on his right, and Hakudoushi, on his left. He tried to imagine waking up between them for the rest of forever and found, in this setting, it didn't feel quite so outlandish anymore.
Miroku smirked and finished off the rest of his alcohol in one swallow. No. But I think I will be.