AN: This is a one shot written for alfb in the group, iyflashfic of LiveJournal.


A Home for Kirara

I wrinkled my nose as Kagome and Inuyasha talked sadly about my mistress. Most of all, I felt perturbed, even offended when Kagome felt she needed to "take care of me" and was disappointed when she couldn't take me to her home on the other side of the well.

It annoyed me because she was treating me like I was a pet, and I was no pet. I was decades older than her, and I had been doing very well at taking care of myself. At one time, I had even been told by my Alpha tribesman that I had been the most resourceful and strongest among the females of my tribe. Surely, Kagome had known me long enough to know that I was not some human subservient and that I could live well enough on my own.

Inuyasha seemed like he was the only one that understood that about me, and he was trying to convince her of this.

Yet, their conversation was unsettling to me when I stood there as they discussed my plight. Didn't they realize the bigger concern here? Our good friend had just been killed!

"Don't worry about Kirara, Kagome," Inuyasha finally told her sighing. "Kirara isn't like Buyou; she's a demon cat that can take care of herself."

"I know, but I just feel that Sango would want someone to be there for her and take care of her. I know she's resilient, but I can't help feeling that she needs someone to live with and a place to call home," Kagome replied mournfully, shooting me pitying looks. I cocked my head at her and gave her a hard stare.

Scoffing, I turned around and left them. I'd had enough of it. How could Kagome talk about me like I couldn't take care of myself?

I was no stranger to human mortality. I was not so inept that I couldn't make it on my own.

And here I was. The last people I knew to be my family were gone. The demon slayers were extinct as the line had ended with Sango when she became a causality in the final fight against Naraku.

"What about Miroku?" I heard Kagome say as I was walking away. Inuyasha didn't reply at first as if he was thinking deeply.

"I don't know. Miroku –" Inuyasha paused. "Miroku hasn't been himself lately."

'As well he should be,' I thought right away. The monk had been quiet since my mistress died. He had been avoiding me particularly, as if I was some reminder of the love he had lost. I had tried many times just to sit with him, to share silence as we both thought about her, and remembered her in our own individual ways. But every time I would approach him, he would refuse to look at me, and his eyes would glaze over and his lips would curl. He would stand up immediately and walk away.

It had honestly hurt me, and for some strange reason, I had gotten used to him, automatically settling on the fact that I would follow him to the temple where he grew up and call it my new home.

But it seemed that he didn't even want me. And I could not go with Kagome because she would be going home in a time where I couldn't reach. Inuyasha was out of my reach as well, as he would be going with her.

So I supposed that I would stay with Shippo and Kaede, and not that I thought it was a bad thing, I was just aching that I could not be with the monk.

He was the closest person to Sango that was still left after Naraku's defeat. He understood her, knew her like the others didn't. He had shared nights with her lying in her arms and holding her.

In him I felt a kindred spirit because there had been nights of my own where my mistress had held me, keeping me warm and needed during cold and trying days.

With him I wanted to reach her, to have him hold me as he had held her and as she had held me, and somewhere in the middle she would still be there.

I caught myself sniffling, and my feet had brought me to her memorial site. I don't know how long I had been walking and thinking, but I had managed to bring myself to her grave once again. I was always drawn here, as if I was tethered by invisible strings, and no matter how far I walked away, my heart would always bring my feet back to this place, the village of the forgotten warriors.

My nose wrinkled as I smelled incense. I looked around the quiet village, adjusting my eyes to the late afternoon light casting restless shadows over my former home. As I approached Kohaku's and Sango's graves, I realized that I was not alone.

Sitting in front of Sango's grave, Miroku was praying with his hands in front of him, and I could see tears running down the side of his cheek. Softly, I walked up to him, hoping I could at least stay a moment with him before he realized my presence and inevitably went away.

I stared at him, feeling lumps form in my throat and a deep feeling of agony echo throughout my bones. As Miroku sat there, remembering Sango in front of her grave, I too began to remember her, thinking about all that I was honored to know about her.

Memories filled my head of two giggling children running through flowerbeds in long ago days. On lazy afternoons they would lie down with me and enjoy peaceful moments, bright sunshine and pleasant fragrances of fresh wild flowers.

I had watched them grow into good, caring humans and talented warriors. I had always known I would live beyond them, but I never knew how soon it would be.

I had never imagined how horrible they would die. And then I felt small, too small to completely share parts of their suffering. In spite of all of it, I was here and they were gone. Now the suffering belonged completely to me – and now to Miroku.

I unexpectedly whimpered, and Miroku cracked an eye to see that I was there. His lips pursed together as if I had bothered him, and I hung my head down low as I was ready for him to leave again. Even though as I stayed here with him, I felt the empty spot in myself fill half-way even when she was gone.

I knew that if he left now, the contentment inside me would drain again, and I would feel more alone than ever.

As I heard him shift in the dirt, I closed my eyes not wanting to see that he was going again, running away from me and running away from this pain. I suppose I reminded him of her, and he didn't want to come to terms that she was truly gone. I cried audibly, with my eyes shut harshly and my paws frenetic in the dirt. My tails were rigid, and all the hair on my body felt like it was standing on end.

Then I felt a subduing warmth caress over my head, smoothing down my fur rigid from anxiety. I hesitantly opened my eyes, crying in soft surprise. I looked up, and I saw that he was smiling at me with silent pain and gentility.

"Kirara, don't cry," said the monk; his voice was somber but soothing. I slowly walked toward him, nuzzling my head against his hand as he continued to pet me. I felt dizzy, relieved and scared at the same time. Then I was floating as he picked me up and settled me into his lap. I curled in a ball and soaked in his heat, offering my sadness to him, sharing my pain.

That was what I wanted.

"I'm sorry," he said automatically. "I've been avoiding you. I hope – I hope I didn't hurt you. I just needed time to think. I needed time to really accept that she was dead."

I mewled in affirmation, though I was relieved that he didn't hate me and that I finally knew the reason why he shunned me these past few days. I nuzzled my head deeper into his robes. I sniffed, bringing his pleasant scent of jasmine and morning rain. I let out a small whine, and he chuckled lightly, still stroking my pelt.

"She was really something, wasn't she?" He said with a far away voice. I raised my head and looked at him. His face with glazed over with contentment as he lived in her memory, sadly smiling as if he finally realized she was dead but not entirely gone from our hearts.

"I didn't want to lose her," he said sadly, his smile fading. I realized by the shaky tone of his voice he was ready to weep. "I thought – I thought we'd survive this together, and then we would finally be able to get married and start a family."

He brought up his once-cursed hand and stared at it, lifeless and plain as any normal hand. His lips curled bitterly at the sight of it. "I feel as though I have traded one good thing for another."

The muscles around his mouth contorted, and wetness formed on the corners of his eyes. "Sometimes, it's just not fair, is it, Kirara?"

I mewled responsively, climbing up to his shoulder and licking at his tears. He laughed at that, and I felt part of the shadow that loomed over him slightly fade away.

It was the least I could do to comfort him.

"Come on, silly kitten," he teased me patting my head. "Let's go back."

----

Inuyasha and Kagome were still talking when we arrived. Neither one of them had pleased looks on their faces, nor did they appear to have settled the issue regarding me. They stopped talking when they saw Miroku and I come back, with me resting on his shoulder and smiling pensively.

"Is dinner about ready?" Miroku asked, trying to indirectly shift the awkward heavy air away from Sango and Kohaku's death. Kagome frowned and Inuyasha looked at him inquiringly.

"Why do you care about dinner? Where have you been?" Inuyasha asked, and Miroku shot him a look of displeasure. Inuyasha looked away gruffly, speaking under his breath. "We were only worried about you and Kirara. We were about to send Shippo out to find you."

"As you can see we're okay. We just made a visit to the demon slayer's village. I trust we came back in time to eat?" Miroku asked, and Kagome tried to give him a smile.

"Of course, it will be ready soon. Kaede had just told us she was beginning to prepare it," Kagome answered.

Miroku nodded. "Good, because after dinner, Kirara and I are going to take off."

I looked at him quizzically. What did he mean "take off?" Kagome and Inuyasha both appeared as confused as I was.

"Where are you going?" Kagome asked with concern.

Miroku smiled slightly and then turned his attention to me. "To the temple. We're going home." He paused as Kagome and Inuyasha became satisfied, obviously glad Miroku was taking care of me. Miroku patted my head again as I looked at him intently. "Isn't that right, Kirara?"

Warmth filled my belly, and I felt the darkness that eclipsed my brain dissipate. He was serious, and he was inviting me into his home, and soon it would be my home too.

I mewled, and it became apparent that I was happy after a low purr rose from body. I nuzzled my nose against his ear.

My mistress was dead and my home had been lost, but I was not without hope. Kagome and Inuyasha beamed ecstatically as they watched me with Miroku. He kept me close, offering me a place to live and letting me share my pain with him.

Then, I felt filled with acceptance because the last tie to my dead mistress needed me and wanted to be with me.

When I looked into his deep violet eyes I knew – I knew that within him I was finally home.

The End