Chapter 5: "Draw"
Sango had intended for it to be a sweet, but brief brush on the lips. But when Miroku had wrapped his arms around her and gently pulled her into his chest, she did not resist. He had returned her kiss with an irrisistably tender and lingering one of his own.
Between the warming sensation of his lips over hers, and the way he gently held her close, Sango felt herself melt and half-wondered how she would ever get away... not that she particularly wanted to. But just then, he pulled away.
"You..." she finally managed, feigning annoyance, but allowing a slight smile to play on her lips. "You are always ruining it. Why?"
Miroku looked at her for a moment. He seemed to be on the verge of telling her something serious... when he started laughing instead.
Something in Sango's expression must have given away the fact that she had become a little confused and hurt, because suddenly the houshi shook his head emphatically and took her by the shoulders. "No, it wasn't you. It's just something I remembered..." He chuckled and shook his head again.
"...Eh? And what's that?"
"I was just thinking... that I'm sorry."
Now she was really confused. "Sorry for what?" Sango asked.
"I'm sorry..." he began seriously. "...that you would rather bear the child of a boar youkai than of this poor Miroku."
Miroku grinned. "So, I'm sorry. Ahh, if only I had known... I would have prayed to be a boar youkai during my past life..."
Sango glared at him disbelievingly. "So you were spying on us!"
"No, actually, though that would have been nicer still. I just borrowed Inuyasha's hearing power."
This guy... Sango tried to be angry, but against her will, she started giggling instead. "Next time I go to have a private conversation, remind me to lock you up in a room far away, first."
"Sure..." he replied, with a catch in his voice. "But only if you're the one tying me up..."
"I'm kidding! Kidding!"
Sango sat back and folded her arms, observing the houshi wearily. How did I ever let myself fall for someone so perverted? she wondered. "Anyway, don't tell me that's the only reason why you stopped."
She sensed a strange pause on his part.
"Why, Sango..." He looked at her searchingly with his remarkably dark blue eyes. It was just enough to make her heart stop.
"Do you mean... you wanted to continue?"
Blushing heavily, and slightly annoyed that he had to ask so forwardly, Sango was just about to respond in the affirmative when she caught a glimpse of something in his eyes.
...What was this? Was he...?
Sango couldn't believe it. He was starting to play her... again! Just when they had gotten past that! But she was positive that he had been straight with her thus far. That could only mean...
She looked back into his eyes to confirm her suspicions, and surely enough, there it was.
He was challenging her to one last game.
Sango looked at him. Although he had said, "well," about the kiss, she knew exactly what he meant. And he knew that she would understand.
This was it. If she admitted anything remotely close to a simple "yes," it would be over, and he would be the victor. What would be won, and what would be lost, she wasn't sure of. All she knew was that this was another game. And she would not lose by giving herself away.
But... what else could she say?
Sango silently cursed the honesty of her feelings... and the houshi, while she was at it. It would have been easier if he had just let her come out the tell the truth, but that twisted Miroku... he just wouldn't have it done that way.
You can always back out, a voice inside her offered helpfully. You don't have to play this game...
But... she protested. If I back out, I'll lose.
It's okay to lose, the voice insisted. It's just a silly game.
Just a game...
Sango paused. No... she thought slowly, suddenly aware of the implications of what she was doing. It's not about the game. If I back away, it will also mean that I can't accept his way of doing things... that I can't accept houshi-sama for who he is, and then... it will really be over. So... she swallowed. Whether I win or lose, I have to play.
But I want to win.
What do I do?
Upon observing her delayed reaction, Miroku decided to push her a little harder. "Well, Sango? Don't leave me hanging here all night..."
And then, all at once, Sango found her answer.
"...What if I want to?" she asked quietly, daring him to respond.
Miroku paused, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. But he was swiftly on the rebound.
Sango held his gaze.
I've got it now.
"Would that trouble you so much?"
The secret to controlling the game...
The houshi hesitated, finding himself losing ground. "Is... my happiness so dear to you?" he finally shot back.
...is asking questions.
Sango gave him a half-lidded stare. "Are you going to ask me questions all night?"
Miroku glowered at her. "…Hey you. Stop avoiding the question."
"Who's the one avoiding the question?"
Startled, he opened his mouth in protest, and promptly shut it again. Miroku had finally given up. He looked at Sango admiringly. "My clever Sango..." he murmurred. Then he paused, suddenly sweatdropping. "Ano... What was the original question?"
Sango blinked. "Actually... I don't remember."
They laughed. So they had both won.
"Oh yes..." the houshi began thoughtfully. "I remember now..."
Miroku reached over and held Sango in his arms again. Sango hesitated briefly out of a learned instinct to avoid his lechery, but then she relaxed and allowed her head to rest in the inviting space between his neck and shoulder.
It was so warm…
Sango looked up. What was it now?
"...You should probably go back to your room now."
Miroku smiled weakly. "...Though I can hardly believe I'm saying this. I never imagined that you would come willingly to my room and seduce me in the middle of the night..." he paused. "Well... maybe I did, once or twice..."
"...You are such a hentai," Sango muttered.
Then, without warning, the hentai kissed Sango lightly on the forehead. Taken by surprise, she blushed and remained silent.
"...Anyway," he continued, now looking at her intently. "There are... some things that require our immediate attention, that need to be taken care of first. Do you understand?"
Sango nodded. "Naraku..."
Miroku's eyes suddenly flashed with a brief wave of anger, but it quickly passed back into his calm, subdued face. "...Right," he said at last. "Things like that..."
Sango looked at him sadly. ...He talks about it so casually, but I know it eats at his heart every day.
Then gently, and rather reluctantly, she loosened herself out of his embrace and stood. "...I understand." She smiled at him with all the comfort she could muster. "You... Rest well, okay?"
Miroku hesitated, as if just realizing that she was no longer in his arms. But he nodded. "Thank you. Good night, Sango."
"Good night..." Sango paused. Should she...?
"...Miroku-sama," she finished, turning slightly pink again.
His blue eyes widened at hearing his name from her lips for the first time. Then he smiled.
"H-hai...?" Her heart began beating faster.
"...I guess that means you'll be coming to visit me at night more often, then?"
...?! I should have known...
Sango shot a death glare at him while sliding open the door. "Good night, you..."
With a lecherous grin on his face, he waved her off, pretending that he had heard a different reply. "Hai, hai... Good night."
Scowling, she exited his room without a word and shut the door behind her before stalking back to her room.
The cool night air washed her burning face with a soothing breeze. Recalling all the events of the night, the taiji-ya stopped just before reaching her room and looked to the sky.
It was another breath-taking night. The stars shone brilliantly clear, like ripples of light playing on water, across the vast expanse of velvet darkness. The moon was just barely visible behind a floating mist of dark cloud... but it was enough to reveal that which Sango would have tried to hide, had anyone been watching.
Her scowl had reluctantly given way to a carefree smile.