(clinks glasses to the Miroku and Sango pairing) Cheers!
Miroku sat on the grassy slope at the edge of Kaede's village, by himself. The weather was perfect. The air smelled wonderful. The soft green grass poked up through his bare toes, tickling the topside of his foot.
But the gorgeous setting wasn't the reason for his ear-splitting smile, or the silly, nonsensical drinking songs that hummed off his lips, nor was it responsible for the fact that for the first time since he could remember, he didn't wake up that morning contemplating his own death…
Truth was, it could have been cold, stormy, and lightning could have struck his…well, maybe not the lightning part, but he'd be no less elated than he was right now. This very second. Curseless.
For the thousandth time since they'd defeated Naraku, two days ago, he held his hand out splayed in front of his face. The hand. Only now, it wasn't hidden behind a rosary. And it didn't have a nasty hole in it that sucked people into hell.
Just a regular, everyday man's hand. Soft in places that had never seen the sun, but just as capable as his other. A very undignified giggle trickled out of his mouth, and he bit his bottom lip through the smile out of reflex, since monks weren't supposed to be given to such spontaneous moments of joviality.
And that lasted all of about three seconds. Leaving his composure behind, Miroku laughed. Out loud, by himself and to himself, like a merry lunatic. He stretched the fingers of both his hands to the sky, exercising them. If Shippo was nearby, he'd toss the little sucker in the air. And if Sango were there…
His smile sobered down into something much more intimate at the thought of the demon slayer. Egads, she was something else. As powerful an ally as he'd ever had, yet as effeminate and beautiful as a goddess of myth. He'd been so cautious to temper his thoughts concerning her until now. The monk was no fool. A woman like that would have consumed him utterly, distracting him from the task of destroying Naraku.
But Naraku was dead. And now that he knew he had a future, he finally allowed his mind to dwell on her. And dwell on her, it did. So much so, that he no longer found other women beautiful. So much so, that thoughts of Sango distracted him more than the newness of feeling a breeze on his untouched hand. So much so that his chest literally ached when he was around her. It was the first time his heart wanted someone as bad as his body did, and he found it odd that it actually hurt.
He had to say something soon. These feelings were far too big to keep inside. Perhaps today…
As though on cue there was a languid movement in his peripheral vision, and he turned to see… "Sango-chan…"
"Houshi-sama…" The sight of her suddenly winded him. Her expressive calf eyes twinkled even through the shadow of her bangs…those pretty, thick bangs that accentuated her face better than any hairpiece or fancy collar. Her posture was at ease, with one hand clutching a bag, and the other bent over her shoulder, bracing…Hiraikotsu?
Bag, weapon, traveling shoes… Alarmed, he looked back up to her face to see more than just the crinkled eyes, or the upturned lips. Her expression was rueful. Almost sad.
He frowned. "Sango-chan, where are you going?"
The smile on her face somehow didn't make it up to her melancholy eyes. "Home."
Huh? When had she decided this? To just blurt it out like that, and it's not like she had a home left to go to… "Your village?"
"To pay your respects to they who have passed," he deduced, calming down. "I see." Should he offer to go with her? She might be gone for days, and he didn't think he could go that long without being near her. "So when are you returning?"
"I won't return."
He choked, and his shocked expression must have been pretty obvious, because she blushed and looked down at her feet. "I've been thinking, Houshi-sama-"
Oh, how he would love to hear her say his real name. Just once. For it to come tumbling off those pretty lips…
"…and I want to start a school there for youkai slaying, drafting in recruits and their families from neighboring lands," she lifted a hesitant gaze and met his eyes. The sincerity there said more than all her words together. "I want to…rebuild our village, Houshi-sama. Make it what it was… Or close, anyhow."
"Such a noble aspiration," he thought out loud, marveling at how his yearning for her just seemed to double. He clutched a hand to his chest.
"Are you well?"
He let go, and forced a smile. "Hm. I'm fine. I'm fine." But, "To leave so suddenly…"
"I have a lot of work ahead of me, my friend. There's no point in wasting my days away here, now that my life is finally safe to live."
Was that how she saw him? A waste? Miroku's heart sank. He suddenly wished he could go back and retract all those times he'd groped her.
"So take care, Houshi-sama," she said. "I'm glad our paths ran together, if only for a short while." Eyes glistening, she nodded politely and turned on her heel to go. Knowing nothing more than that he didn't want to lose her, Miroku cried out, hand outstretched…
She paused, mid-stride and turned enough to look at him over her shoulder in…regret? "You know, Houshi-sama, it's a pity that you're incapable of being monogamous," she mused, moisture collecting in her eyes. "Because I could see myself growing old with you," she said quietly, "if only your nature were different."
She could have slapped him, and had less effect. Miroku gaped in mute shock as she walked on. Did…did she just say…? He replayed the words over in his head, taking several moments to process the meaning of her comment. And when it truly sank in, the monk quickly jumped to his feet in panic, and stumbled after her.
Dispirited, Sango walked on, even though it felt like she was leaving a huge part of her heart behind. Well, it's done, she sighed inwardly. And unconvincingly, It's for the best…
If she was lucky, her self-appointed task of replenishing the taigiya village might distract her from the biggest regret of her life. That perhaps time, and distance might make her forget the sparkling warmth in his eyes, or the reverent timbre of his soft voice... That handsome boy smile that gave her butterflies every time it curled his lips upwards…
Agh. Dammit, Miroku. Why couldn't you have been-
She gasped as the object of her thoughts suddenly materialized in front of her, blocking her path.
"Houshi-sama," she uttered as he dropped on one knee before her, head bowed in the deepest humility and respect. His fingers dug little indentations in the dirt, and she could clearly hear his winded panting, as though he'd just run the length of the village. She frowned concern.
"What is it?" she asked, wondering what had caused his heart to beat so quickly.
"Sango-chan," he whispered intensely, and lifted his face to lock stares with her. There was a great desperation…an urgency in his eyes. "I can be monogamous!" he whispered, his jaw muscles jumping. "Can be. Already am. For you."
She blinked. Forgot to breathe. "Wha…" she shook herself. "What?"
He reached up and grasped her right hand in both of his. His grip was almost hot. Unwavering. The gesture made the blood rush to her face.
"I just…" his mouth fumbled inarticulately over jumbled thoughts, and in the middle of this sudden moment, Sango couldn't help but to think how cute he looked without his usual composure. She quirked a brow for him to spit it out.
He nodded and tried again. "What…whatever it is that you're doing with the rest of your life, I want to do it with you," he stammered. "And only you."
She took a step back as his words sank in. "You don't…" she closed her eyes and looked away. "You don't mean that, Houshi-"
He swore under his breath and stood to his feet, her hand still firmly grasped in his. "Gah! I do! I do, Sango. Please make room for me by your side!"
She gaped at him. Clenched teeth, pained eyes, flushed face… He was serious. The rational part of her - the side that had struggled so furiously to be heard over her twitterpated heart - countered his declaration in the back of her mind. Making her wonder if his sudden devotion was because all the other women in the village had rejected him. It reminded her that her beloved monk's actions had betrayed him too many times. He was a womanizer. And the demon slayer respected herself far too much to commit the rest of her life to a man with wandering eyes.
"Houshi-sama…" she faltered when she realized he was holding his breath, and hesitantly lifted her other hand to touch his jaw. He surprised her by nuzzling her palm.
"Don't do this," she caught herself before she got lost completely in his stare, jerking her hand back. "I could never trust you. You know that."
He advanced on her, and got in her face. "And I tell you, you could!"
"But you grope after every woman who crosses your path-"
"Keh! Reflex!" His fingers curled through hers. "The residual actions of a boy who was conditioned to manhood by womanizers. There was no want behind it, Sango. No passion. No girl has ever made me feel like," he scrunched his face, searching for words. "Like…" Abruptly, he flattened her hand against his chest. And even through the thick material of his robes, it felt like his heart was about to thump out of his ribs. "Like this..." he finished.
A lump formed in her throat, and her eyes stung. "You're serious…"
His face relaxed into something more hopeful, and less strained. "I am."
"But…" she tried desperately to reign in her affections and recall all her earlier arguments for walking away from the biggest crush of her life. "But what if you decide you don't like me down the line, Houshi-sama. After all, you've been with so many women…"
His eyes widened, and his mouth fumbled inarticulately over stammering words. The ridiculous expression was compounded by the five shades of red that his face suddenly turned. He hung his head, and stared at his feet, his arms dropping at his sides. "Uh…see, now that's not necessarily true…"
She paused. "Eh?"
"I, uh…uh…" he brought a conspicuous hand to his mouth and muffled the next words into it. "Umaavirchn…"
She frowned confusion. "What did you say?"
He took a deep breath, and met her eyes, obviously embarrassed. "I said, I'm a…" sigh, grimace, flush, "virgin."
She blinked. A hand went to her mouth. "You…are?"
A grin stretched her lips. Her breaths quickly evolved into relieved chuckles, and pretty soon Sango found herself doubling over with unladylike hee haws. Miroku looked around embarrassedly, and put a restraining hand on her back while she tried to recover.
"Hey… Not so loud…"
"You mean you've been rejected by every single one of them?" she managed in between sniggers.
"Well, I…no…some said yes, but they were usually youkai in disguise trying to…kill me… Shhh! Quiet Sango-chan, or the others will hear…!"
That just made it worse, and it took great effort to quiet her hearty laughter before she could speak again. "Well," she stated, wiping the wetness from her eyes. "That's the last thing I expected to come out of your mouth!"
Miroku looked pleadingly at her. "It doesn't mean I'd be bad in bed. I've heard a good deal, and-"
She held a hand up to his lips, fighting the new wave of mirth that threatened to buckle her knees. "Enough!" she laughed. "You're killing me!" Oh, she was enjoying this. Mostly because he seemed to be under the impression that he just shot whatever chances he'd had, when in fact, he'd just secured his position by her side.
She tilted her head back and smiled at his worried face. "You can come with me, Houshi-sama."
He frowned, about to continue his arguments when her words registered. "I…uh, you mean…"
"Yes, I do."
The smile that brightened his face right then made her heart leap. All that sincerity. Just for her. What an amazing affect it had…
"Really?" he asked, his eyes crinkling in delight as he slid a hesitant hand around her waist.
"Really," she blushed, letting him pull her close. With a glint in his eye, he caught her chin and tilted it upwards as he eagerly leaned down to kiss her. But his fingers were already dropping down her back in their usual untimely fashion. Sango broke away, and thumped her forehead against his chest.
"Damn your hands, monk."
He laughed nervously. "Give 'em a chance. You might like them in a few minutes."
She snorted, and in response, unhitched the chain on her thigh. She put her hands up between them and roughly pushed him back against a nearby tree, enjoying the confused look on his face. Then, before he could protest, she hookedl his wrist with one end of it, looped it around the tree behind him, and wrapped it around his other before he even regained his composure enough to resist. He gasped, as she imbedded the ending blade into the tree out of his reach, leaving him with his arms splayed straight out against the trunk.
He frowned at the mock crucifix, and flexed against his sudden restraints. "What are you doing?"
"Making sure you behave."
He stretched his arms again, the sound of clinking metal grating against the bark, trying to loosen the restraints. But she knew what she was doing when she strung him up like that. The boy was stuck.
The perplexed look on his face turned to slightly distressed. "I don't…oh, come now, Sango. You can't just leave me here-"
"I wasn't going to," she said, swallowing back her timid inhibitions. The blush heated her cheeks immediately as she hesitantly leaned up next to him. The warmth from his body radiated through his clothes, hitting her with a heady rush of spontaneous sensuality. This, she realized, was doing more for the moment than any amount of his untimely groping could ever do. Perhaps it was the more aggressive side of her nature, but she enjoyed the fact that he was tied up a little too much.
Understanding eased his face, and his breath quickened. Unpracticed as she was, and still unforgivably shy, Sango raised a trembling hand to his face, and stood on her toes. Some part of her was aware of the clanking chains as he reflexively tried to embrace her in return, but the bulk of her attention went to the soft, fevered texture of his lips as she finally leaned in and kissed him.
The sensation was shocking…absolutely, and totally stimulating on every level. The soft warmth of his mouth, the press of his body, his sweet breath against her face… Though as enlivening as it was, this was all still too new. She wasn't very comfortable with her behavior, and found herself quickly pulling back.
His red gaze bounced sluggishly from her eyes to her lips to her nose, back to her lips. He looked unbelievably cute when his face was flushed, she decided. "Again, Sango…" he whispered.
Well, that's all it took, and she leaned in and kissed him again, repressing a giggle as he squirmed helplessly. Leaning forward as much as he was allowed, Miroku angled his head left, and opened the kiss with a blind eagerness that made her squeak in response. The taste of his mouth was intoxicating, with lingering scents of honey bread and mint tea…
The clanging of his chains got louder and louder as he grew increasingly frustrated, until he growled impatience against her lips, "Agh, Sango. Unchain me!"
She pulled back enough to see his outstretched fingers, flexing and grabbing at the thin air. She bit back another laugh, considering how torturous it was for him to not have the use of his ever-groping hands. "And let you ruin a perfectly good moment?" she asked.
He smiled ruefully.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, and winked. "I don't think so."
"Chain or no chains…" his speech slurred as she ran her nails in little circles at the base of his neck. "You won't be able to keep my hands off you when we're married-"
She froze. Of course it was the natural progression, but to hear the words sent her heart fluttering all over again. "And…" she tried to maintain her composure, fighting a sudden urge to do multiple back flips, "When is that going to be?"
"As soon as you let me go," he jerked his chin towards the village without taking those glittering eyes off her.
It took her a moment to find her voice. "You're...sure about this?"
Quick, jerky nod, his expression alone sucking the strength from her legs. "Hai. I love you."
She choked up. "Miroku…"
His face brightened. "Say that again..."
The sun reflected of his pretty white teeth. "I knew I'd love the way my name sounded on your lips."
The concession made it past all her barriers, and Sango finally broke. The chain came off. They had their ceremony. And the following, my dear readers, is too precious and private to be smeared and cheapened by ugly words.
But suffice it to say that love is the rest.