Author: Lily Kalanoa
Story: An Heir
Genre: InuYasha - Angst / Romance
Rating: T / PG-13
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my laptop, which put me into significant debt. All characters and series belong to their respective creators, I just like to torture them, heh heh.
Warnings: Yaoi. Possible NCS but not really, depends on how you look at it.
Pairings: Gradually Miroku / Sesshoumaru
Spoilers: generally very few . . . in fact I can't think of a single one that isn't common knowledge.
Author Notes: Here it is, everyone! The much anticipated (I think) epilogue. It has a different feel than the rest of the story, but I like the way it came out. Originally this was meant to be a seperate story, just like the 'sequel' but since it didn't flesh out properly, it just gets to be the same story. I wanted to show some of how Ihou has grown and also follow up the whole Miroku x Sango issue (Sorry fans of that pairing). Anyway, I do appologise for the wait, it took a couple weeks longer than I expected. I do hope you all enjoy, and thanks for reading my story as a whole. I want to write more Miro x Sess, so keep an eye out for that (But don't expect it anytime soon). On with the show, thanks again, and please review
A / N 2: Ack! I almost forgot! I think I mentioned I wanted to do some art for this story despite my utter lack of talent. If anyone is interested in seeing that, I have an account at devientArt - user name Kalanoa. It'll be another week or so, but I will be putting up my attempts to draw Ihou and possibly some other scenes. Miro x Sessy goodness, if I can manage. I don't expect them to be wonderful, but with any luck they'll be decent.
Sango smiled widely, enjoying the feel of the sun on her back while she trained. Beside her, Kohaku also looked happy, practicing with his sickle. Of course, the boy seemed to have a permanent smile since Naraku's death more than a year ago. Still, it was heart warming to see it and it just amplified Sango's own happiness. Her smile dimmed when she felt someone approaching them, however. The elder sibling made sure to put herself between her brother and the tree line, glaring into the foliage.
Slowly, a demon walked towards the two of them. His hair was long and silver, pulled back from his face and his piercing golden eyes. He was dressed in a startlingly white kimono with purple and red accents, making him stand out against the green of the light woods. He stopped at the edge of the trees, staring plaintively at the siblings, almost as if studying them. Sango frowned, fingering the strap of Hiraikotsu; she could feel how strong this demon was. "Who are you?"
The demon's eyes widened slightly before they darted to the side, no longer meeting the woman's eyes. "Sango, it's . . ." He hesitated, looking at her face again before straightening, his face emotionless once more. "It's Ihou."
Sango's mouth dropped in shock and she took a step back. "Ihou?" she muttered as if she couldn't believe it. He'd grown so much in only a year and a half, easily mistaken for a teenager, were he human. "Why are you here?" She demanded, the caution creeping back into her voice.
"Sango, I came to ask a favor of you." His eyes twitched away again, belaying the nervousness that was nowhere in his voice or posture. "I want you to come with me, to visit Miroku."
The demon slayer sputtered suddenly. "Miroku? Why would I want to see him?"
Those golden eyes were suddenly on her again, anger flashing in their depths. "You haven't seen him since the final battle with Naraku! Why would you not want to see him?"
"At the end of that battle, Miroku made his choice. He went with Sesshoumaru."
The demon's anger hardened, his eyes narrowing slightly. "Of course he did, it's not as if he had anyplace else to go." For a minute, the two glared at each other, Kohaku hesitantly looking out from behind his sister. Abruptly Ihou dropped his eyes, retreating from the argument. "Please Sango, I'm only asking for a few hours." He held out his hand in silent invitation, looking at her with a pleading expression.
For another long moment, the girl didn't move, but she was no longer glaring at the young demon. Instead, her eyes were locked on his extended hand and the string of blue beads wrapped around it. "Why are you wearing those?" Her voice sounded small when she spoke.
Ihou started, glancing down at his own hand quickly. His fingers curled into a fist after a hesitation and he dropped his arm to hang by his side once more. It seemed like an effort to look into Sango's eyes again. "Please will you come see him?"
"Why are you wearing those beads? What's going on?" Her voice was more demanding this time, but she received no answer. "But – but he's dead! Naraku's dead, I was there!"
"I don't know anything about the battle. Sesshoumaru-sama ordered me to stay away and that's what I did."
"I was there, I know exactly what happened. And believe me when I tell you that bastard is finally dead. What's going on? What's wrong with Miroku?"
Ihou looked away again, focusing intently on the ground. He gave a short, bitter laugh and a pained smile crossed his face. "He's dying."
The day's travel was spent in near total silence. Sesshoumaru's palace was a few days travel away, even at demon speeds, and the small group conserved their energy for travel. It wasn't until the sun had long since set and they stopped for the night that Sango tried to stir some conversation. "I don't understand," she mumbled around a mouthful of cooked meat.
Ihou was focused on the fire, eating his own meal without glancing at it. "Neither do we," he whispered after a slight pause.
"Naraku is dead." It should have been the answer. Sango kept repeating it, waiting for Ihou to realize that this was all some horrible misunderstanding.
The half-demon just shook his head. "Yeah, I know. But the curse isn't gone."
"I don't understand." Sango's voice had regained that quiet, lost tone it had held earlier that day.
Ihou was silent for a few minutes before heaving a great sigh. "I don't know anything about the battle, I only know what happened afterward, when Miroku came home."
"Home," Sango whispered, distracted. "He really thinks of that place as home."
"And why shouldn't he? It's not as if he could follow-" He cut himself off, staring at the girl's profile in the darkness. "He had nowhere else to go. Besides, I wasn't likely to leave and he wanted very badly to spend at least some of my childhood with me." He sighed again, leaning back and looking at the stars. "For a while, everything was okay. We were happy and we all felt safe. Miroku enjoyed playing with me and Rin and Sesshoumaru-sama was just . . . happy.
"For a long time, though, Miroku refused to check and see if it was really gone. He was scared, plain and simple. If he looked, the curse might have been gone, or it might have still been there. He was scared that if it was still there, there was nothing more he could do. It took months just to get him to check, and when he did . . ."
Ihou had begun to toy with the beads around his right wrist and he stopped suddenly, glaring at them as if they were responsible for all of this. "That's when I started to wear the beads. That's the first time I heard exactly what the curse was. And I wanted to kill Naraku myself, I've never wanted anything so badly. Naraku's dead and the curse is still there and now there's not a damned thing we can do about it!"
Sango had pulled Kohaku close to her side, wrapping her arms tightly around him. "There must be something-"
"There's not!" Ihou snapped, scowling at the woman before hastily adjusting his gaze to scowl at their fire instead. "A couple weeks ago Ji-san . . . Miroku started to get really weak. He started staying outside, away from the palace, and he won't let anyone near him when he sleeps. Sesshoumaru-sama tried to convince him he was just sick, but Miroku's convinced it's the curse. He made sure we all know what to do when he – when - when it happens. And he asked to see you."
Ihou had to stop speaking, one hand scrubbing at his eyes for several moments. When he stopped, he looked at Sango again and his eyes were angry. "You should hear the way he talks about you. Like he's the one that did something wrong when you're the one that abandoned him. You're the one that acted like you'd been betrayed, like I was the result of some torrid affair when the truth is that it was one big misunderstanding and a whole hell of a lot of luck. And you got what you wanted out of Naraku's death! Meanwhile ji-san's still . . ."
Sango wouldn't meet his eyes. "Why are you telling me this?"
Ihou was staring at the fire again, his voice softer and infinitely sadder. "Because I want you to do something for me. When we get there and you see him, I want you to smile. I want you to hug him and smile – cry if you can. I want you to cling to his side and forgive him and tell him you never should have left. I don't really care if you mean it, but I want you to tell him and make sure he believes you."
"I will," she whispered without hesitation. "And he will believe me."
There was another long silence before Ihou spoke again, still staring at the flames. "I'm glad you got what you wanted. I just wish it could have worked out for us, too."
They cleared the trees surrounding the palace to be greeted by Sesshoumaru. Ihou was instantly tense, hands shaking in fists, breath suddenly ragged. The titles dropped from his speech looking at the demon lord and he stuttered out a feeble "Otou-san?"
Sesshoumaru met his gaze evenly. "He's sleeping. I didn't want you to wake him accidentally." Ihou sagged in relief, one hand raking through his bangs. Sesshoumaru's eyes drifted over to Sango, studying her for a long time before shifting again to stare at Kohaku. The boy was still behind his sister slightly, peeking around her nervously. "You aren't much older than Rin."
The young demon slayer jumped, startled by the voice, and looked up at its owner. "No, I guess not," he mumbled, shaking his head slightly.
Sesshoumaru didn't move but seemed to grow older all of a sudden. "In the morning, when we visit Miroku, I want you to keep Rin company." Then, in a much softer voice directed towards Ihou, "She is not handling this well."
The half demon dropped his head, staring at the ground. It was clear that he wasn't handling it well either, but he at least had training and formality to hide that fact somewhat. "We'll have to put you up for the night, please come with me," he tossed over his shoulder, not even looking back to see if the siblings were following him.
Sango slipped into the offered room, Kohaku and Kilala right behind her. Once inside, she looked back at her guide; he was still staring at the floor. She had a hand on his shoulder without thinking about it and when the boy looked up she struggled desperately to think of something to say. She wanted to tell him it would be all right, that everything was going to be fine. She hadn't even seen Miroku in more than a year, had barely crossed paths with him for months before that. Now she was presented with news that he was dying . . . all she wanted to do was go back and make it all better. The thought was no more plausible than her assurances and after a moment Sango withdrew her hand without saying a word. Ihou's eyes dropped again and he tugged at the beads around his wrist as if they chaffed before turning on his heel and stalking down the hallway.
Despite the exhaustion of traveling three days straight, Sango couldn't sleep. Kohaku and Kilala dozed fitfully, but Sango stayed up. She stared out a window, trying to think of what she would say in the morning. Surely Miroku deserved . . . something. Something more than she could give. The sun had hardly started to rise when there was a soft knock at her door. Sango obediently went over and opened it, not at all surprised to find Ihou waiting for her, staring at the ground. "Ji-san usually wakes up about now."
Sango nodded, glancing back at her brother before slipping out the door. A few minutes later Sango was looking out over the front gardens. For a few minutes the two stood there in silence. Then, like a wraith, Sesshoumaru drifted through the dawn mist that hadn't yet disappeared. "He's awake."
"I thought he wasn't letting anyone near him when he was asleep?" Sango asked.
This received her a dark glare from Ihou and a blank look from Sesshoumaru. "You think we'd leave him alone?" The younger demon growled. "We're not going to abandon him! Yeah, we'll make sure he doesn't know, but-"
"Ihou!" The boy fell instantly silent, left hand scrubbing at his eyes, right hand shaking in a fist at his side. "You will not cry in front of him again. You will not yell at her or rave about anything in his presence." Ihou was nodding numbly as Sesshoumaru stared at him. The demon lord turned to Sango. "I trust I do not have to dictate your actions as well?"
"What am I supposed to do? What should I say to him?"
Sesshoumaru gave no response, turning and floating back through the garden. Miroku was at the far end of the garden, slumped on a low stone bench, staring at the plants around him. His hand was curled tightly against his chest. As they drew near, Miroku stirred, looking up at his visitors. He smiled, looking first at Ihou. "You're back." In a burst of speed, Ihou was beside the monk, arms wrapped tightly around him. Over his shoulder Miroku was staring now at Sango, his smile smaller but still pure.
When Ihou pulled away, he moved behind the demon slayer, clearing the space between the two. Sango moved forward slowly, lowering herself onto the bench beside Miroku. The monk shifted, moving his covered hand to rest behind him, putting his whole body between the hole and the girl beside him. There was a moment of hesitation, of complete silence. Sango leaned against him suddenly, clinging to his robes almost desperately. After another moment of shock, Miroku's free hand circled around the girl's shoulders, his covered hand still hidden behind him.
Sango felt lost, and not just because she didn't know where she was in the sprawling palace grounds. After spending the day in silence with Miroku, she was wandering around, trying to figure things out. Sesshoumaru was still with the monk, but Ihou had disappeared hours ago. Jaken had wandered over with the children at one point, but they were off playing elsewhere again. She wasn't looking for anything and so was surprised when she stumbled across something. At first the low grunts and muffled curses startled the demon slayer and she sprinted around a couple of turns to find what was wrong.
Ihou was enraged. He twisted on himself, slashing out with a slim katana again and again. He was surrounded by straw dummies, most of which were damaged beyond recognition already. There was a slash of a sword followed by a swift flick of the boy's wrist and a slim whip of energy lanced out, cutting deeply into the dummies. For a long time Sango stood transfixed, watching this violent display of anger and frustration. This had clearly been going on for some time, but the boy showed no signs of tiring.
Eventually he did slow, turning to look at his one person audience. Now that he wasn't moving, Sango could see his eyes were puffy and slightly red. After a moment the boy sheathed his sword, walking slowly towards the demon slayer. It was the girl to speak first. "Are you all right?"
"There should be something I can do and there's not. How the hell do you think I am?" He sighed before pulling his shoulders back, eyes losing the emotion buried in them. "I'm fine," he bit out, not convincing Sango in the slightest.
"Will you take a walk with me?" Ihou looked surprised at this, but he fell into step right beside her. "Do you know what's bothering him the most?"
Ihou nodded without hesitation. "It's not the curse in his own hand. He's so much more worried for me." He was playing with his beads again. "I guess you're more clever than I thought, I didn't think you'd notice that."
"Miroku's never been worried about himself. It's always been about his family." Sango locked her gaze on Ihou for a second before quickly looking away. "He doesn't deserve this." She reached for the boy, but it was hesitant as she leaned into him, resting her head against his shoulder. It was awkward as he took her hands in his own, leaning against each other for support.
"You should know something. Otou-san has a plan."
"Have you thought about what I told you?"
Miroku didn't move, staring at the ground in front of him.
Sesshoumaru reached up, brushing his hand along the monk's jaw. "I think it would be for the best."
"And if the curse does move on?"
The demon leaned in, nipping at his neck before pulling back. "It won't. Naraku is dead, Ihou's beads are just a precaution. This curse will end with you." His hand wrapped painfully tight around Miroku's right hand, as if sealing the hole and his promise with the action. For long moments the two didn't move and stayed silent. Miroku was waiting for the demon's question, wondering if it would come . . . "What will you do when you wake up?"
Miroku leaned more heavily against the taller man. "If it works . . . I don't know."
Sesshoumaru leaned in again, pressing their lips together this time. "Tell me what you want to do. I don't want to see you like this if I can change it . . ."
"All right," Miroku finally sighed. "All right."
Sango stared blankly in front of her, certain her ears were playing tricks on her. Ihou still held her close to his side, but she had stiffened and they weren't moving anymore. After a long silence and still without looking up, she struggled to find her voice. "Are you serious about this?"
There was a bitter laugh from above her. "It's best, isn't it? If it works, everything will be all right again. And if it doesn't, it's better than watching him waste away like this."
"You're talking about killing him!"
"I'm talking about saving him!" The two separated, each glaring at the other. "It's not the same as death, Otou-san can – Sesshoumaru-sama can bring him back to life. The tenseiga can save his life."
"You're still talking about killing Miroku," Sango accused, glaring at him. "And you expect me to stand by and do nothing about it?"
"If the curse kills him, there will be no body to revive. At least if we do it on our own, we can spare him that pain."
Sango's eyes latched onto his hand again and the anger seeped out of her features. "The curse . . . you'd be willing to take it on yourself, wouldn't you?"
Ihou's eyes dropped. "Naraku is dead. There is a very real possibility that I won't inherit the curse at all. If I do, then so be it, it's a small price to pay if we can bring ji-san back whole."
All the anger between them was gone now as Sango reached out to take his covered hand. "If you bring him back just to see that you have been cursed, he would die again. If the curse passes on . . . it would be kinder to leave him in peace." She could see the tears in the boy's eyes, but he turned swiftly, freeing himself from her grasp and stalking back through the plants.
It was only a few minutes before the two were greeted by Sesshoumaru. The demon looked gravely at his son before focusing on Sango. "You should find your brother-"
"I'm not leaving his side. If you're going to do this, then I'm going to be there."
Slightly startled eyes shifted to look at Ihou. The boy wouldn't meet the gaze. "I told her about it. Is it time then?"
There was a pause and then the demon lord gave a sharp nod, turning and leading the way back towards Miroku. "He's scared," the demon said suddenly, deep voice cutting through the silence. "If he asks you to leave, you will leave. Anything he wants."
Ihou leaned closer to the demon slayer. "Sesshoumaru's poison is somewhat slower than other options, but it is mostly painless. You must be brave and smile. You cannot cry in front of him or he may lose his nerve. Can you really stand by and do nothing?" Sango looked at him, numb. The words rang so close to what Ihou had been told that morning, orders that they both had to adhere to. Feeling suddenly weak, the girl managed to nod, and then they were in sight of the monk again.
He hadn't moved and sat slumped over, head resting in his left hand. His right was again curled tightly to his chest, clutching the threat as close to himself as possible. As they came closer, he looked up, obviously surprised to see more than just Sesshoumaru returning. Ihou's face was locked, no emotion showing through while Sango was able to offer a small encouraging smile.
Sesshoumaru nodded at the two before going to the monk, kneeling in front of him. The demon leaned forward in a kiss, but Miroku turned away from him. Sesshoumaru's grip was gentle but determined as he moved Miroku back to facing him. "When you wake up, you're going to leave with her. The least you can give me is a last kiss."
"I haven't said I'm leaving-"
The monk was silenced by the demon's lips firmly on his. At the same time his fingers slipped down to caress the boy's neck, his claws easily piercing the delicate flesh. Miroku stiffened, but didn't pull away. Only a firm grip on Sango's wrist kept her where she was.
After a minute, Sesshoumaru pulled away, his hand still holding the monk's shoulder loosely. Miroku's breath was ragged, his eyes unfocused. He pitched forward, gripping almost desperately at the strong chest in front of him. Then suddenly he shoved the comfort away, the move toppling him over the other side of the bench.
Sesshoumaru jerked towards him, but stopped before he was within arms length. He shifted quickly to the side, blocking Sango before she could complete the action herself. He held her firm, not letting her get an inch closer to Miroku. Quickly he hissed into her ear, "You knew what this was going to be and you agreed to it. He doesn't know what's going to happen and you will not go against his wishes." Sango stilled, looking at the demon seriously. "He wants to face this alone so that's what he'll do."
"You can honestly say you won't even try and comfort him?"
The demon's eyes narrowed dangerously and he dropped his hold without warning. "I have other things to worry about." The demon stepped away and for the first time Sango realized she'd slipped free of Ihou's hold without even trying. Shocked, she spun on her heel, looking back at the young demon. He was crouched on the ground, both arms wrapped around his chest tightly. He wasn't crying; his whole body was shaking, but no tears escaped his eyes.
Sango turned away from the two demons, watching Miroku closely now. It took a minute for his eyes to close and she waited another minute before stepping over to him. She knelt carefully, holding her hand over his lips. When she felt no breath, she turned back to the demons behind her. "Sesshoumaru."
The dog demon glanced her way before focusing again on Ihou. He pried the boy's hand away, shifting away the covering to inspect his palm. A moment later he stood, unsheathing his own katana and stalking towards Sango. She scurried out of the way moments before the blade sliced through the air. Then Sesshoumaru sheathed the blade and knelt, gathering the fallen monk in his arm. "I'm taking him inside. I'll send word when he wakes up."
Sango watched the two of them leave before walking over to Ihou. The boy was still shaking, hunched over. Slowly Sango knelt beside him, resting her hands on his shoulders. "It's all right. It's over now, you can cry if you want." The words were barely out of her mouth before Ihou pitched forward, burying his face in her shoulder, soaking it in minutes.
Miroku lay on his side in bed, staring at his hand with no small amount of amazement. Sesshoumaru was beside him, silent, and Sango stood against the wall near his head. In the last hour none of them had said anything. Finally Miroku shifted, looking at Sesshoumaru. "You didn't mention my head would hurt this much."
The demon smiled, slow and forced. "I'm not exactly used to people surviving my poisons." The awkward look left his face and he glanced at Sango before he continued. "But it worked. You'll never have to think about it again, it is time to move on with your life."
Miroku looked at Sango, too. The girl had a small wistful smile on her face. Suddenly she moved closer, bending and wrapping the monk in a hug. "I'm sorry for everything, Miroku. What I did to you wasn't right and I'm sorry." Miroku returned the hug stiffly, whispering into her ear. The moment passed slowly and Sango detached from the boy, moving towards the door.
Sesshoumaru stood quickly, stopping Sango before she leave. "Tell him you love him," he whispered, soft enough that Miroku couldn't hear.
Sango matched his tone, looking at him steadily. "Why?"
The demon frowned, the barest twitch of the lips revealing the expression. "If you tell him you love him, he'll leave with you."
The woman grinned, fearlessly catching the other's arm and pulling him further away from the monk. "He loved me back then. And I loved him. Loved. Past tense. Those are his words, Sesshoumaru-sama, but they are no less true." There was another moment of silence before Sango turned to the door again. "I'll let Ihou know everything is all right. You take care of him, of them both."
She paused again at the iron grip on her arm, looking back at Sesshoumaru uncertainly. The demon's face was unreadable, no emotion leaking through. "You are welcome here any time you want." This got him a grin and Sango backed out the door. When Sesshoumaru turned back to Miroku, the monk was smiling slightly. He smiled in return and moved right up beside him. "I've only ever asked one person to stay with me."
"I did love her," was Miroku's quiet reply. He was looking at his hand again, his gaze not broken until Sesshoumaru's hand covered the ugly scar that remained on his palm.
"Past tense?" He leaned forward, kissing Miroku deeply and then shifting to nip at his neck.
Miroku's hands tangled in his hair, gasping at the move, but he pushed him away slightly. "I did love her. And I can't imagine my life without seeing her. But I'm not leaving with her." Anything else he might have said was forgotten as the two men kissed again fiercely. As hands grew bolder, Miroku quickly decided he could wait a while longer to see his son again, but he managed to detangle enough to ask one last question. "You've never told me-"
"I love you, Miroku. I always will and you never have to doubt it."
"I never did. I love you, too." The monk shifted again, never releasing his hold, and bit the demon hard on the collarbone. There was no stopping after that, but really there was no desire to stop either.
-o-o-o- owari -o-o-o-