Author's Note: Wow, three months between updates ^_^;;; Sorry for the wait! Hope you enjoy this chapter, lame humour and all.
Things – unbelievably – had simmered down a little since Naraku's attack (in which he groped me and stole my supply of eyeshadow). Miroku was back to normal, if not more hellbent on killing Naraku.
"The bastard groped my Sango!" he complained loudly as we embarked on another day of travelling. "Nobody but I should get away with that!"
I hit him over the back of the head. "Nobody should get away with that," he hastily amended.
Scowling, I ignored him. It was going to be a long day.
Surprisingly enough, despite my gloomy predictions of doom, the day turned out like any other – minus the scuffles with minor youkai. It was a perfect day in the literal sense; the sun shone throughout but it was never too hot. Inuyasha sulked but did not do anything that earned him an "Osuwari!" from Kagome. Shippou kept to his own devices. The biggest pervert in the province of Musashi (or whichever province we happened to find ourselves in) was remarkably well-behaved.
In the light of the circumstances, it was no wonder I was beaming as I settled down in the camp for the night.
"It's been quite a nice day, hasn't it?" Kagome echoed my thoughts, a smile on her face as she flopped down on the grass beside me.
"Wonderful," I enthused. Kirara yawned and stretched.
She ran her fingers through her hair – barely mussed by the wind, and tangle-free to boot. Whatever deity had blessed us was a meticulous one indeed.
"What would make the day truly perfect would be a convenient, nearby hot spring," sighed the young girl. "And with our luck today, we just might find one around the corner..."
Miroku emerged from the forest at that moment, back from scouting the area. "Ladies, you'll be pleased to know that there's a hot spring not far from here," he said, grinning madly.
I threw a pebble at him, taking care to miss him but only just. Kagome laughed. "Thank you, holy deities of hot springs!"
"I hope it's secluded enough to deter Peeping Toms," I said loudly. Miroku pretended not to hear, settling himself by the fire.
Inuyasha snorted. "You're all mad." He leaned back against the fallen log, arching his back. "Humans and bathing. Keh. I don't see what all the fuss is about."
"Well, you ought to." Kagome walked over to him; her bathing supplies were already gathered in her arms. "You spent the past fifty years pinned to a tree, mister."
"And judging from the way you act, I think you'd want to spend fifty years in a hot spring," he shot back. "I've never seen anyone make such a racket over a bath like you, Kagome."
They continued bickering in that vein for a while; I rolled my eyes, seeing that they were not putting any heart into their fight. Neither was in the mood for anything serious – and for that matter, neither was I.
"They're at their happiest like this, I think," remarked Miroku.
"... Why is it you always show up with a comment every time Inuyasha and Kagome-chan are bickering like this?"
"A gift." He smirked and moved closer to me. "Since Kagome-sama is otherwise occupied, may I – "
" – No."
"But I only – "
" – no." I stood up, brushing off my clothes. "I know what you're going to ask, and the answer is no, no and yes."
He snapped to attention. "Yes?"
I stared hard. "I was joking. I meant no, of course."
Miroku pouted. "And here I was, thinking your true feelings for me had finally surfaced."
I laughed. "Nice try, Houshi-sama."
" – and so there!" Kagome neatly rounded off the argument, turning her attention to me. "Let's go, Sango-chan," she said, taking me by the arm, "away from that annoying, insufferable – " The rest of her sentence was mumbled to herself.
" – hanyou with excellent hearing," called Inuyasha. Her back stiffened but she kept walking.
"Jerk," muttered Kagome darkly as we undressed (after a thorough check for lurking perverts).
"People don't usually smile as they say a word like that," I teased her gently.
Kagome dismissed me with a very Inuyasha-like 'Keh' as she settled into the hot water. "Just the right temperature too," she said aloud.
""Keh"? You have been spending too much time around Inuyasha." I exhaled as I entered the water – she was right. It felt heavenly on sore, aching muscles.
"... So how are things between you and Miroku-sama, Sango-chan?"
"Interesting – if there was actually something between us in the first place," I answered.
Kagome pulled a face. "Denial. It isn't just a river in Egypt any more."
"... Never mind." She sighed and rinsed her hair. "Sango-chan, you can't be serious. Especially not after the other day, when we walked in on you both – "
I could feel my face growing hotter – and it was not because of the hot water. "N – no! We weren't doing anything like that, for goodness' sake..."
"Like – like whatever you're thinking, Kagome-chan. And don't smile at me like that, sometimes you're as bad as Houshi-sama, I swear."
She responded by splashing me in the face with water. "Honestly, Sango-chan. To think you would think so lowly of your best friend...!"
I giggled. This were the times I liked best: no Naraku, no fighting, no sadness. Just two girls having fun away from the world, even for only a while. Time would seem to stop –
– I paused, halfway through deluging a simultaneously choking and laughing Kagome. Now, if only a certain pervert could be induced to stop...
"What is it, Sango-chan?"
I raised an eyebrow at her and she rolled her eyes. "I should have known," groaned the young girl, sinking into the safety of the water. "It was too good to be true!"
"Come out, you pervert!" I shouted, fumbling for my towel on the rocks with one hand and taking up a suitable weapon with the other.
Miroku stepped out, wearing nothing but his fundoshi and a smirk. "I didn't mean literally!" I gasped as Kagome ran for cover with a shriek.
He raised an eyebrow. "I'm filthy. I've just recovered from illness – which doubtless would have lasted longer if not for your devoted care, Sango – and you ladies are taking a rather long time."
By this time, Kagome had reached her towel and wound it around herself, red in the face (though whether from embarrassment, outrage or the hot water was anyone's guess). "M – Miroku-sama!" she spluttered. "You shameless, annoying, perverted – !"
" – that's my line," I muttered, holding up my weapon. Ah. A good-sized tree branch, light enough not to leave lasting damage but heavy enough to teach an incorrigible lecher a lesson he would not forget in a hurry. The deities were back in business.
Kagome was already fully dressed but still steaming – quite literally, actually. It was a hot spring. "I'm going back to camp." she announced, and took off before Miroku and I could say anything.
He was eyeing the makeshift cudgel with a great deal of apprehension. "Eh – Sango, what are you doing with that? It's very kind of you to tidy up the general area – erm, you can put that down now – "
I took an experimental swing – and missed him by a sizeable margin; not bad, considering I was trying my best not to look at him. I did not need to lower myself to his level!
"Sango? You'd improve your aim drastically if you'd just open your eyes a fraction – oh, that was a good try!" I could hear Miroku's voice, see a flash of skin as he leapt back and forth... "...Unless you're trying not to lower yourself to my level?"
"One of us is already the incurable, perverted lecher, houshi!" I yelled.
And then things went awry as the deities lost interest. Or rather, as part of me likes to think, their interest took a frankly unhealthy slant.
His fundoshi slipped down.
I heard the fabric rustle – and for a moment, thought it was the glove on his right hand. After a few moments of silence minus howling winds and the rapid removal of my body from the world, I was forced to conclude it was not the misplaced article – and remembered the only other garment Miroku was wearing.
Oh damn – he was laughing. The wretched pervert was laughing at me.
"Pervert!" I whirled around, snatching up my clothes.
"Well, thanks for helping me," came his amused voice. "Won't you join me? It's a bit lonely bathing alone..."
"No!" I squeaked.
Kagome really should take better care of her stuff. All those strange, sweet-smelling liquid and solid soaps; it was a wonder anyone could keep track of all of them.
As it turned out, she missed one piece of soap. Which happened to be strategically placed in my path.
I slipped and fell back into the hot spring – right on top of Miroku.
"So glad you decided to change your mind," came his smooth voice, right after the water had calmed somewhat from my fall.
Damn him. Damn him and all the assorted deities that had engineered this (and him again for undoubtedly thanking them).
With as much dignity as I could muster, I climbed out (my towel still magically tied around me), picked up my sodden clothing and stalked away.
"You let Miroku-sama wander off?!" screeched Kagome. Inuyasha winced, his ears flattened against his skull.
"There was ramen – and then when I looked up, he was gone – "
Kagome poked the empty cups in disbelief. "... You sacrificed your integrity for ramen?"
"It was good ramen, and it would've gotten cold."
She shook her head. "I can't believe my ears."
Inuyasha blinked at his good fortune – he had already positioned himself over the softest patch of grass in the campsite.
When a few more moments passed and he was sure she was not going to sit him, he ventured a tentative query. "Where's Sango?"
Kagome smiled – and one ear twitched. "She was about to flatten Miroku-sama when I left."
The miko stared at the very un-Inuyashalike response. "What?"
"Well, there's Sango and Miroku and a convenient, nearby hot spring. And they aren't wearing much clothing," began Inuyasha hesitantly, "so there's no guessing what's gonna happen next!"
There was complete silence for a full minute.
Kagome's jaw dropped. "INUYASHA! Did you just say that – Eeuw, no! Why are you talking like one of my – wait, you didn't."
She seized him by the front of his robes. "Inuyasha, you wouldn't happen to have... taken anything from my time recently, have you?"
"Nothing," gulped the hanyou. "Just one of those man-ga books your brother showed me that time lying around your room..."
Kagome let go, blushing a furious scarlet. "My doujinshi! You didn't – Inuyasha – I – OSUWARI!"
So much for being lucky, he thought as he kissed the ground.