Written for ALF at the livejournal community iyflashfic. She requested a Miroku-centric piece and, me deciding to end my Miroku/Sango withdrawl on my own, could not resist turning it into this
Life was too short. Of this Miroku was certain. He was a man of aspiration, resolve embodied in his every cell, and he had no time to stray from his quest or his companions. If there ever was a time for him to sit down and think, it was when the world was quiet, when dark hung over that evening's camp as miasma did not, when even the Kazaana was still in slumber.
During moments likes these, Miroku pondered. And, even more often, he remembered.
His existence was hollow; there was so much life surrounding him that his being alive and, soon enough, his inevitable death, made no great impact on the world. What made the difference between a shell of a life and something full and whole and wonderful were memories. Every moment Miroku spent, every encounter with a woman or youkai, every bruise, every laugh, every tear and every smile… it was those that Miroku cherished above all else, that filled him to the brim with a sense of completion.
But with every glance at the Kazaana, his joy was scattered by a passing breeze, lost to him as he wandered through the halls of his curse. When he saw the Kazaana, he would see his father. Dying. Gone. Lost lost lost.
Miroku remembered every detail about the day of his death. He remembered the crunch of the grass beneath his sandals as he ran, remembered flabby but powerful arms restraining him, remembered screams, remembered wind…
He remembered a needle.
Miroku's hand rose to meet his left earlobe and to finger the two gold hoops swaying there. He knew that his comrades were fully aware of the danger that was the Kazaana, his family's unwanted inheritance, but what he never told them was of the second item that was passed on through generations. No… it wasn't an item, even; it was a tradition, one that began fifty years ago.
On that day, Naraku had pierced the monk Miyatsu's hand and created the Kazaana.
Two hours later, Miyatsu had pierced his left ear and created the legacy.
Just like Miroku did now, Miyatsu had traveled the region searching for both fated foe and fated female. According to Mushin's stories—though depending on his level of sobriety, they tended to change from time to time—Miyatsu had found her in a rundown village where she, fifteen and voluptuous, had shone like a star amid the ruin and filth. She had approached him and begged him for assistance, Miroku had heard, and what Miyatsu had given her was himself.
In return, she gave him a son with beautiful dark eyes and smooth, unpierced ears.
"She died during childbirth," Mushin had told him once with sake cup in hand and facial features already bleary with drink. "And so, in her place, Minoru—your father—lived his life bravely, as though every moment he had was his last on earth." Sip. "Mhm. Good drinker, too, that Minoru."
Miroku, of course, knew the fate that had befallen his grandfather, as he'd witnessed his father's passing—or, perhaps, his murder—himself. He'd never guessed, however, that the hoops his father bore on his ears were his way of taking up where Miyatsu had left off.
"He wore those two earrings," Mushin had continued after polishing off a second bottle of sake, "To signify that he was the second in line to bear the Kazaana. And Miroku, you… hic! …are the third."
History ended at the same temple where his father himself had ended. Miroku carried a weight now three generations strong on his shoulders and in his hands and on his lobes and so sought Naraku out with little rest or disinclination. Miroku would rather slice his arm off than see his family's enemy win and yet…
Before he'd managed to register what had happened, Miroku found himself flat on his back with his stomach in his throat and his heartbeat in his cheek. He touched the newly-formed slap mark gingerly and winced; it seemed that Sango was especially angry with him today.
"My… my dearest Sango," he said, righting himself as he flashed her a sheepish grin. "Whatever is the matter?"
"Don't pretend that you don't know." The taiji-ya stood, hefting Hiraikotsu from its place on the ground over her shoulder, and Miroku couldn't help but notice how adorable she looked when she pouted. "You're the problem, you pervert. That hand of yours, going where it shouldn't. I…"
"Don't be shy," he cut off, quirking the corner of his mouth upward. "You know that you enjoy it."
A low noise that sounded like a mix between a growl and a sigh escaped Sango and she turned away, letting a scathing "lecher" slip from her lips.
But Miroku wasn't blind; if he leaned a bit, he could see the blush creeping across the bridge of her nose.
He sighed and folded his arms, falling back into himself once more. On the day Minoru had been annihilated by the Kazaana, wiped clean from the planet like a bloodstain on the ground, Mushin had pierced Miroku's ears thrice. When the curse had erupted in his hand a week after, he began his training as a monk, learning how to draw ofuda and weave holy deceits as he tried to get used to the sound his earrings made when the wind slapped them against one another.
He'd been a smart child, Miroku. He could remember everything because memories were precious, and so even today, he could recall just what Mushin had said to him.
The Kazaana was his burden to carry. The cuff on his hand and the gold on his ears reminded him of that everyday. He needed to kill Naraku or, if he failed, bed a woman and produce an heir to complete his mission for him. Like Miyatsu had done to that prettily pathetic village girl. Like Minoru had done to a woman Miroku had never even heard of but whose eyes must have been dark and whose straw mat must have been cold.
Miroku did not want that.
There was a woman who made his heart race in his cheek and turned his life into something precious. She was beautiful with a fair face and deep eyes and hips wide enough to bear him a son easily. She'd promised herself to him, even; she could be carrying his child today if he had so willed it.
He should have, for the sake of his journey.
He would have, had he been Miyatsu or Minoru or momentously desperate.
But he couldn't and he wasn't and he didn't.
Sango was far too valuable to him.
Miroku's familial burden was his own to carry; he would not force her to shoulder it with him. The grudge that had eroded lives and was killing him quietly was for his to end alongside friends loved and cherished.
Life was too short, he remembered everything, and he would be damned if his last memory was of a wife he should have forgotten and a son both fatherless and accursed.
It was for her, his precious, beautiful, rememberable Sango, that he threw his life to the wind and forsook his quest.
It was because of her that, until Naraku lay dead and the world was quiet, there would never be a fourth earring.
End fic. If you feel so inclined, please drop a review. Thanks for reading.