Disclaimer: These characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi and other associated companies.
Chapter Three: The Monk
Heralded melodiously by the delicate chime of metal rings as he hurriedly stepped, Miroku swiftly glided through the tall grass of the field. The weighted tips of the innumerable blades tickled at his sleeves, dampening the dark, finely-woven cloth with their lingering drops of morning dew. He paid the clinging fabric no mind as his determined, violet gaze roamed over the gentle hillsides, searching for the brilliance of yellow and orange and the effervescent young lady who was adorned in it.
Without an inkling of doubt, it was a bold pursuit, even for one as unscrupulous as he. Even now, his better judgment whispered keenly of a myriad of excruciating injuries and ghastly deaths that would inevitably follow if his brazenness was discovered. Yet, his stride never wavered and his scanning sight remained steadfast in its hunt. If he was true to anyone, it was definitely to himself. And, if his somewhat underhanded principles meant his messy and doubtlessly charred end, then it would be a proud death that he would surely be able to admire in the afterlife.
The checkered hues that spoke the warmth of the summer sun caught his eye next and sitting contentedly on a speckled boulder, the monk found his jubilant quarry. Fragile blooms of pink, lavender and yellow lain out before her, Rin sorted through her prized bouquet, rearranging the hastily gathered stems to her liking. Absorbed by the blameless attentions of pretty flowers, the sweetly humming girl was ignorant of the holy man of dubious intent that closed in on her.
"Good morning, Rin-chan," Miroku spoke up genteelly when his dark shadow over her neat piles of colorful blossoms failed to attract her attention.
"Oh, good morning," she greeted happily in return, her chestnut-dyed sight leaving her work to find the pleasantness of the handsome, robed man at her side. Wrinkling her nose in bewilderment, it took the puzzled girl a long moment to realize who exactly had come to share her company. Then, with a beaming grin, she remembered and declared her fairly accurate realization. "It's nice to see you again, Monk-sama."
"Miroku," he corrected gently.
"Well," he continued as he quirked an unsure brow at her absently made response. Since her initial and delighted welcome, Rin's eyes had quickly fallen to her bundles of flowers and it had become a bit of a mystery as to whether she had truly realized what his name actual was. "May I ask what are you doing this fine morning, my dear?"
"I'm making these look pretty together," she explained while she gathered a few stems into her hand, careful to make sure that no blossom of the same color was touching at the top. "The Farmer-san didn't do a very good job before he gave them to Sesshoumaru-sama."
"Oh," Miroku replied and then with his dangerously charismatic smile, he slipped over to comfortably lean against the outcrop of granite in front of her. "I have to admit it looks quite lovely now."
"Thank you," she smiled gleefully at the compliment, her eyes sparkling under both the praise and the early morning sunlight.
"However, to be truthful, I must say it's not nearly as lovely as you."
"Huh… Really?" she doubted with a bubbly giggle of nervousness. His resulting husky chuckle only furthered her embarrassment with a pink blush to swiftly warm her cheeks.
"Indeed," the monk assured softly, taking a neglected, coral-tinted bloom into his beaded hand. Slowly twirling the stem between the gentle grasp of his fingers, he contemplated the flower for a moment before leaning forward to brush her skin with its silken touch.
"Umm," Rin murmured weakly, hopelessly captured by his intensely violet stare and the delicate caress of the blossom tracing along the curve of her jaw.
"It is such a poor existence for this sad flower to have its seemingly flawless petals compete with the clarity of your skin and the flush of your cheeks. Yes, I must confess that only a truly tragic fate could have befallen it if it was meant to share its company with one as beautiful as you."
"Hush. There is no need for gratitude, my dear," he interrupted, a finger of his free hand finding her parted lips and instantly ending her words with a gentle pressing against them. "These are but, mere observations and ones I could no longer bear to keep to myself. My heart has lightened now that they are free and to know they were loosed before you only pleases me more."
"I have, but one request," he continued on with earnest and unwavering eyes. Setting the flower neatly down in its pile, he took her small, bouquet-filled hands into his own. "A trifling matter really and, of course, one I will decidedly not ask of you until the fruit of your budding beauty has fully matured."
Pausing in his customary and typically satisfying strangulation of his half-brother, Sesshoumaru felt the ominous weight of misfortune return. Residing now in the pit of his stomach, it sunk heavily with its foreboding undertones seeping out to tighten his chest and raise the fine hairs on the back of his neck. Warring with his rational tendencies, the menacing sensation would not relent despite any reasoning or practical thought he leveled upon it. Inevitably and against all probable logic, he knew that an event of ill-omen would soon be upon him again.
"Oi Sesshoumaru," Inuyasha called out when the strength of the youkai lord's grip lessened without any determined prying or kicking on his part. Still dangling some distance in the air, the hanyou remained caught in the vise of claws as he peered down at the furrowed expression of his brother. "What's wrong with you?"
"There is no problem," the daiyoukai assured absently, the lack of conviction in his deep voice easily finding the half-demon's white, triangular ears.
"Feh! I can breathe right now and that's more than enough proof to say that you're bothered. Did you find a knot in your hair or somethin'?"
"Chip a claw?"
"I do not require any further diagnosis on your part. Of that you can be assured."
"Whatever," Inuyasha muttered flippantly and through his thick mop of tangled hair, he scratched his head pensively. Still gripping Tessaiga in his other hand, the hanyou's thoughts remained undeterred by the full demon's stern warning. Soon, another possible explanation rose to mind, but before he could begin to utter it, a distant and seemingly benign exchange of words silenced his tongue. Dog ears flipping toward the source, the healthy tan of his face paled at what he heard and at who was unsurprisingly shameless enough to speak it. "That idiot monk."
"What?" Sesshoumaru questioned frostily, his elfin ears having already honed in on the offending question that hung unnaturally on the cool drafts of air. With golden eyes narrowed harshly, his severe glare quested over the soft hills of the broad field until they found his innocent ward and the devious companion who was cradling her hands. "Rin-chan, will you bear my child?"
"Wa-Wait Sesshoumaru," Inuyasha managed to blurt out before claws clenched tightly around his throat, ending his appeal almost instantly and with a gruff gasp. Struggling for breath, however, was a brief battle as the half-demon rapidly found himself airborne and sailing speedily through the sky and into a far-off copse of trees.
Unceremoniously, he collided with the small wood. Ricocheting from trunk to limb and back again, the hanyou unwillingly rebounded his way towards the distant ground below. Surrounded by the loud cracking of branches and rustling of leaves, he was finally relieved of his painful, bouncing descent and hung pathetically in the net of jagged boughs like a broken marionette. Chin in his palm by sheer coincidence, he tapped his cheek irritably with a clawed finger and muttered. "Damn it, Miroku."
Her brunette head tilted to the side, Rin stared quizzically at the sincere monk while she mulled over the mystery behind his seriously given question. The long gap of silence gradually filled with the melodic songs of birds on the wing and of those flitting through the grass. Miroku frowned at her obvious confusion and swiftly came to an indisputable conclusion. "Rin-chan, do you actually know where babies come from?"
"Jaken-sama told me one time, but I don't know how to lay eggs."
"Yes. He said that mothers lay eggs in the water and then the fathers fertilize them. After a while, the babies hatch and swim around."
"I think that might be right for Jaken, but I don't believe that's correct for humans, Rin-chan."
"Oh," she murmured thoughtfully, puffing her cheeks as she pondered. "Then I don't know."
"Hmm," the holy man mused wordlessly before grinning broadly at a well-intended thought that caught in his mind. A harmless notion and one he knew rather well. As an educated and giving man, it would only do that he should share his knowledge and rout her ignorance on the very important subject. "Well then, would you like to know, my dear?"
"Yes! Please, tell me, Monk-sama!" she begged enthusiastically, eliciting a dark chuckle from the monk with her eagerness. "I want to know!"
"Very well," he acquiesced with a conniving smirk. "Let us start from the beginning." Pulling a hand away from her tender grip, he softly tapped her nose and drew a bubbly giggle with his touch. "What are you?"
"Yes, and what else?"
"I'm a human."
"I'm a girl."
"Very good," he said and then withdrew his hand to tap his chest. "If you're a girl, then what am I?"
"Hmm… a boy."
"Exactly," he agreed encouragingly. "I'm a man and you will one day be a woman. And, while we both have very different parts, they fit together in a certain and most wonderful way."
"I see. So, I'm a girl like Kagome-sama and you're a man and like Sesshoumaru-sama, right?!"
"Yes," he agreed before sighing despondently at the final content of her words. "Although, I must say he is more of a tragedy for all male-kind. At least for the ones who want to have children."
A sinister aura of icy wrath inundated the air as an equally dark shadow fell upon the two of them. With a cold sweat beading on his brow and his face draining to an ashen pall, Miroku did not have to look beyond the corners of his widened eyes to know who the looming, silver figure was at his side.
"Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin exclaimed elatedly, her already radiant face lighting up further at the unexpected and equally welcomed appearance of the youkai lord. "Monk-sama was telling me where babies come from!"
"Was he now?" the daiyoukai replied questioningly as his amber glare pierced the frozen holy man with its coldly enraged stare.
"Yes," she replied assuredly in her ignorance, adding a firm nod for good measure. Then, her exuberance faded to returning puzzlement as the earlier question she had been tempted to ask uninvitedly bubbled forth. "Monk-sama said that you were a tragedy for all male-kind. Why is that, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"Close your eyes until I give you permission to open them."
"Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama!" she abided dutifully and with unwarranted zeal. Quickly withdrawing herself from the monk's loosened and now strangely clammy grip, the young girl set her flowers down carefully and obediently placed both hands over her eyes.
"And sing your odd music as well."
A cheerful hum emanated from her pressed lips and she swayed to and fro to her manufactured song, lost to its freshly conjured melody. Sure of her thorough distraction, Sesshoumaru's attention fell to the anxious monk, undivided and unmerciful in its purpose.
"Now let us be reasonable, Lord Sesshoumaru," Miroku began nervously when a caustic, green cloud of vapor swelled around the demon's claws. "I only meant to be of service to educate this fair lady on the splendid ways of nature and never beyond a few wisely chosen words for she is entirely too young for a demonstration beyond that."
"Indeed," the youkai lord replied, the poisonous fog increasing in brilliance.
"Granted it is at your discretion how and when she is taught," he half-mumbled next, sliding hastily over the broad boulder. The massive stone now between himself and the slowly advancing and murderous youkai, the monk backed cautiously away through the grass, fingering the rosary that bound the air void in his palm. "It was presumptuous of me to not inquire with you before I elected to teach her. As you are clearly a magnanimous lord, I ask for you to forgive my ill-mannered missteps without the need of maiming or death."
"I will take that under advisement."
The daiyoukai disappeared from his place beside the boulder, becoming a silver shadow as he rapidly closed the distance between himself and the unfortunate holy man that would shortly be nothing more than a bloody stain on the mostly pristine field. Pausing in midair to relish the deepening realization of his foolhardy prey's final expression, the demon lord narrowly missed the slicing torrents of youki wind that cut across the earth before him. Landing lightly on the muddled remains of severed blades of grass and large, broken clods of soil, his sight left the stunned monk to follow the panting curses of a bedraggled hanyou.
"Oi Sesshoumaru," Inuyasha wheezed in mock belligerence when he caught his brother's glare. Doubled over with his hands on his knees, the half-demon stood unsteadily as he recovered from the matchless sprint he had made from his crash landing to the rescue of indisputably undeserving monk. With a multitude of leaves and twigs protruding from his disheveled hair and torn, red clothing, his bright eyes and sly smirk set a deepening scowl on the daiyoukai's face. "I thought we were fightin'. Or did you give up so that you could fret over a little girl? Hmm, I think that might be right, eh?"
"If you wish your permanent end to arrive before this impudent monk's, then I will be magnanimous enough to accommodate you."
"Feh," he remarked indifferently, waving a dismissive hand at the promised threat. "I guess you'll be livin' a long time, Miroku. Miroku?"
"I'm returning to the ladies now, Inuyasha," the monk called out as he glided through the field and toward the sanctuary of the priestess and the huntress. "Don't die!"
"Thanks," the hanyou muttered under his breath and gripped the worn hilt of his sword tighter when the hard, fierce eyes of his half-brother focused in a way that seemed to bore right through him. "We'll see about that…"