I do hereby disclaim any rights or responsibilities for the characters in this drabble…especially for the one waxing eloquent.

Author's Note: This drabble was written in response to the Live Journal iyficcontest community's challenge for week 71. The theme was "The Seven Virtues of Bushido." Herein lies my response.

forthright

……………………………………………………………………………………

No Virtue is Safe

They'd each taken their turn teaching Shippo something useful. Kagome had insisted. So this morning's walk found the young kitsune perched on Miroku's shoulder, reciting the Seven Virtues of Bushido. "…Yu, Rei, and, umm…Makoto!"

"Good, Shippo. Now, do you know what each of these virtues mean?"

"Nuh-uh."

"Alright," came the patient reply. "You list them again for me, but I'll explain them as we go."

"Okay. Uh…Makoto."

"Good. Makoto is honesty. Now honesty is a fine virtue, and one that should be given close consideration. The honest man is unashamed by any utterance he might make. Keep in mind that words must be chosen with care, for they can either enflame or flatter. A little diplomacy will improve any man's chances."

Just ahead of the lecturing monk and his eager disciple, Kagome and Sango were walking, heads bent together, indulging in a bit of girl talk. Sango snorted. "Are you sure Miroku is the right one to be teaching Shippo about honesty?"

Kagome's knowing smile acknowledged the irony. "Well, I'm sure he can cover the basics."

Behind them, Miroku was winding up his summary. "The right word, breathed in the right ear, can open a world of opportunity. I personally appreciate honesty in others' responsiveness."

Shippo nodded his head, "Right! Next is Jin."

"Alright. Jin is benevolence. Benevolence is all about giving happiness to another. We must give our full attention to their needs, gaining intimate knowledge before plunging ahead. Benevolence often requires listening carefully to another's responses—lapping up everything that falls from their lips. And if all they can do is tremble in your arms, it's up to you to carry them along and sate their hunger and slake their thirst."

The girls, still eavesdropping amiably on Miroku's explanation, stutter-stepped and turned stunned eyes on each other. "Plunging?" mouthed Sango.

"Lapping up?" mouthed Kagome in return.

"Oh, that's just wrong," mumbled Sango.

Covering a bemused smile, Kagome nodded. Eyes fixed firmly forward, both slowed their steps slightly to stay in range of the conversation progressing behind them.

Shippo had chirped out, "Meiyo!"

"Meiyo is honor," Miroku promptly responded. "Honor means being able to take pride in every area of life. It's a matter of personal honor for a man to always give his best. Opportunities will arise for you to make your mark, and your immediate instinct will be to thrust ahead. But it is eminently honorable in such situations to deny one's own drive for a more…considered approach. In fact, the rewards are tangibly greater when one gives appropriate attention at such a juncture.

Sango's eyes widened and she turned a questioning look onto Kagome. "Did he just say what I thought he said?"

"Um, I'm not sure. He couldn't have meant, well, you know…could he?"

Sango just lifted one shoulder and gave a confused headshake.

Shippo had chimed in with the next virtue. "Yu!"

"Good, Shippo. Yu is courage. A man's life should burn with courage. Courage to follow his dreams and indulge his desires. Courage to peruse, pursue, persuade, partake. Courage to storm gates, invade dark passages, and penetrate secret places. Fearless. Dauntless. Breathless. Never withdrawing until every tightening coil is conquered and shudders in welcome release."

At this, both girls risked a sharp glance over their shoulders at the monk. He acknowledged their narrowed eyes with a serene nod. "Oh, yes. Without courage, a man could not find completion," he finished with a mischievous gleam.

The girls' heads snapped back forward as Shippo led the conversation to the next virtue. "Chugi!"

"Ah, yes. Chugi is loyalty. Loyalty is all about forming close bonds with your companions. Once one insinuates himself past casual contact and delves deeply into another's life, loyalty can be allowed to flourish, build, and reach untold heights. Loyalty compels us to stand by our friends—proud and erect, ready to mount every summit, to climb each swelling rise. Anything less would call my manhood into question.

Kagome couldn't decide whether to be disgusted or delighted by the continued double entendre. "Did he just use 'erect' and 'mount' in the same sentence?"

Giggling behind her hand, Sango whispered back, "To do otherwise would call his manhood into question!"

Eyebrows waggling suggestively, both girls tried to suppress their laughter enough to listen in on the next point in the monk's lecture.

"Gi!"

"Gi is rectitude. Rectitude has to do with making right decisions in life. This means achieving a delicate balance between one's passions and one's purposes. You see, there will be times in your life when you'll be surrounded—walls pressing in around you. In the heat of the moment, it's too easy to abandon all thoughts. But cling to rectitude. You must ignore base instinct in favor of the greater good. You must be willing to push yourself. Indeed, you must know when and where to push, and how hard, and how long."

"I'll say he's pushing it," groused Kagome.

Sango waved a hand at pink cheeks. "You have to give him credit for, ahem, vivid imagery."

Shippo's brow furrowed briefly until he was able to come up with the seventh virtue. "And last is…Rei!"

"Excellent, Shippo. Rei is respect. Respect has its foundations in understanding our intrinsic equality. When we strip people of everything and get down on the same level with them, we begin to see that our wants and needs are very much the same. So we can, for the sake of respect, cast aside all our innocence and inhibitions. Face to face, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip…." Miroku's words trailed off as a dreamy look suffused his face.

This time, Sango and Kagome came to a halt. They turned aside to watch as Miroku paced sedately past, rings jingling gently on his staff and Shippo chattering happily on his shoulder. He would have been the picture of piety if it weren't for the rather smug tilt to his smile. The girls waited three beats, then doubled over—gasping with silent laughter. The pervert! They knew they should be scandalized, but it was just too funny. Was Miroku even serious about these so-called virtues?

"It's a good thing Shippo is too young to know what's going on," chuckled Kagome.

Sango finally managed to wheeze out a coherent thought. "I've never in my life heard a more butchered explanation of the Seven Virtues of Bushido!"

Kagome wiped tears from her eyes and quipped, "Well, you know Miroku. Nobody's virtue is safe with him around!"