Guilty As Charged
ONE SMALL STEP
Kagome glanced at her watch for the thousandth time that minute. What was taking Miroku so long? Shouldn't he be done talking to Principal Johnston yet? It didn't take half a freaking hour to ask for permission to bust a kid out of an abusive foster home so he could go see his sister in a juvenile delinquent center…
… or maybe she was too impatient.
Kagome swung her legs back and forth, watching her shoes as they whizzed through the air. This was her precious lunch hour she was missing. Miroku better not be blabbering in lawyer-speak just for the sake of improving his skills—five more minutes before the bell rings.
"How long are you going to sit there, child?" the secretary asked her.
Kagome shrugged. "Until Miroku comes out of that office. And that's not going to happen until he gets what he wants." Realizing how her words must sound, she quickly added, "He's trying to get permission to help a girl at juvy by—uh… yeah…"
Open mouth, insert foot.
The secretary looked at her suspiciously with her one good eye. Kagome always wondered what had happened to the other one and why she had to wear an eye-patch over it. "Do you enjoy working at the delinquent center?"
"Enjoy?" I wouldn't exactly use that word… "Sure, I like it all right."
"You've had no trouble with the inmates?"
"Not really… why?" 'Lady Kaede' had never spoken more than three words to her before; why was she so talkative now?
"Several parents heard about your… expedition to the delinquent center and protested against the school sending students into such a place."
"What do they care?" scoffed Kagome. "It's not their children going there—and I can take care of myself."
"It became more of an issue when…Inuyasha—was thrown into the slammer."
The secretary's lip curled slightly as she spoke the boy's name.
"He's not so bad," Kagome found herself saying. "I mean he is rude and short-tempered, but he's really just hurting… I think he loved Kikyo a lot."
"Enough to kill her, eh?" the secretary said, giving Kagome a suspicious look. "Don't tell me you're falling for him too."
'Just like my niece. Was won over by sweet talk and his hurting heart. She had a savior complex—just like you do, I suspect. Funny that you two look so much alike."
"Your niece? You mean… Kikyo?"
The secretary ignored her. "Don't let yourself be pulled in by his charms, child."
She snorted. "What charms? A bullfrog has more charm. And what do you mean by 'savior complex'?"
The secretary just eyed her and sighed. "Just like my niece…"
"So do you think… Inuyasha is guilty?"
"What I believe is irrelevant." The woman shuffled through a stack of papers, expertly filing them in the cabinet beside her desk.
"But since Kikyo—"
The door to Principal Johnston's office banged open and a rather smug Miroku strolled out into the office. He shot Kagome one of his classic "heartbreaker" grins and wrapped her in a hug. "I've done it, Kagome! We're good to go!"
"That's…great, Miroku," she said, forcing a smile onto her face. He had the worst timing of anyone she'd known. She shrugged out of his casual embrace and turned to ask the secretary her question—but "Lady Kaede" was already yelling at a parent through the phone.
Miroku was tugging at her arm. "Come on," he said, "we'll be late for class."
Yeah, now's a great time to remember that. Blowing out a frustrated breath, Kagome allowed him to lead her out of the office. She cast a glance back at the secretary, who was now fervently filling out paperwork. "Did you know Kikyo was her niece?"
"Huh?" A puzzled look crossed Miroku's face. "Kikyo was whose niece?"
"The secretary. Lady Kaede."
His eyebrows flew upward. "The prostitute Kikyo who Inuyasha murdered? Kaede's niece?"
"I think so. She didn't deny it."
"Geez," he murmured, "no wonder she's such a moody hag. I would be too."
"Miroku—" she halfheartedly scolded him.
"I wasn't trying to be rude; I was just stating the truth. And the truth is, if a member of my family had been murdered, I would've been wishing for the killer's death."
The word death resonated in Kagome's head and her breath caught in her throat. "But we don't really know if Inuyasha's guilty," she said quickly. "I mean, judges do make mistakes."
Miroku shrugged. "Sure they do… but if it was my niece that was murdered, I'd be out for blood." He glanced back at the closed office door. "Makes you feel kinda bad for the lady."
Kagome said nothing. She was rather concerned that she felt sorrier for Inuyasha than she did Kaede. She bit her lip before absently waving goodbye to Miroku, who had class in a different hallway.
She was becoming too attached to Inuyasha. She felt protective of him—and she was actually looking forward to seeing him this afternoon.
Don't think like that! God, she sounded as if she had a crush on him.
Kagome snorted out loud at the thought of her mother. Hey, Mom can I go on a date this weekend? 'Sure sweetie, where to?' Oh, just the juvy library. Inuyasha thought it'd be nice if we had a light dinner in his cell and then read some intellectual books together.
She pushed the door to her Physics class open with more force than necessary, causing it to slam against the wall with a sharp bang.
Twenty-seven pairs of eyes turned to stare at her.
"Oh, Kagome," her teacher chirped, "I'm so glad you came to school today. I was afraid you were sick or something… the elementary school head of department wants to you talk to the 1st through 3rd graders about your serving experience."
"My… serving experience?" Kagome drew a complete blank. "Pardon?"
"She wants to you talk to the children about serving in the community, about the importance of helping others." Her teacher beamed. "And I said there was no better candidate than you!"
Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it was worry over Inuyasha, over Sango, over how much more complicated her life had become in the past few weeks. "What exactly am I supposed to talk to these kids about?" she asked tiredly, rubbing her eyes. "Am I supposed to just give some patriotic 'Miss America'-type speech?"
"Indeed not," her teacher sniffed, "you will talk about how you bravely went into the juvenile correction center and lent your aid to those poor, suffering souls."
The trap snapped shut.
"Uh…" was all Kagome could think of to say.
"Hurry along, dear, you'll be late," the teacher said, still smiling. "Room 124, down in the 1st grade section. Thanks so much!" She leaped off her stool and shooed Kagome out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind her.
Kagome's feet started to move automatically towards the elementary section of the school. What just happened?
Sango watched as the rain streamed down the window in rivulets of transparent blue. She made a game out of the rain, keeping track of which waterfall "won" the race by making it to the bottom of the window first.
I wonder what Kohaku's doing right now… She mentally slapped herself for thinking about him. Don't get your hopes up.
Although Miroku had promised…
No, not Miroku. That boy. Name him and you'll start getting attached.
She jiggled her foot and let on leg slip off the side of her cot. She was bored. Incredibly bored. There was absolutely nothing to do in this place… she'd already read Anna Karenina twice and was halfway through it now. She was absolutely sick of Russia and extramarital affairs. At this point, she almost wished for homework… research papers… busy-work… anything to break the monotony.
Slight movement outside her cells wasn't what caught her attention—it was the brief glimpse of white that made her turn her head at the last second.
A tall, slender woman with long white hair was walking—nearly gliding—past her cell, towards the cells that were located in the inner part of the center. It wasn't hard to figure out; they put the most dangerous offenders in more centralized cells to make escape more difficult.
Images clicked through her mind and she connected the only two white haired people she'd ever seen in her life.
Wonder if they're related? she thought idly, returning to her raindrop races.
"What do the prisoners look like?" one little girl in blonde pigtails asked, raising her hand.
"They were white pajamas with black stripes, stupid," another kid answered before Kagome could open her mouth.
"Don't call each other 'stupid'," the teacher said from her desk, not looking up from the tests she was grading.
"Actually, they don't wear the jailbird suits at all," said Kagome loudly, talking over the loud whispers of the bored first graders. "They wear scrubs—like doctors."
"Orange ones?" a little boy shouted.
"All… different colors, in fact…" Kagome said, getting the distinct feeling that the teacher was merely sick and tired of teaching and needed a break. Simmering, she tried to think about something else to say before the kids started yelling at each other again. "I met Inuyasha, you know."
All chatter stopped and twenty pairs of eyes stared straight at her. Kagome winced, regretting the words the moment they left her mouth.
"The Inuyasha?" someone whispered.
"Who killed that… prostitute?"
Muffled gasps and giggles erupted when the "p-word" was uttered.
"Settle down!" the teacher snapped. "And Thomas, we don't use that word!"
"Aw, how'd you know it was me?" he grumbled, slumping down into his chair.
Kagome was wondering the same thing herself. The teacher hadn't looked up once.
"Miss!" one little girl was waving her hand around urgently. She looked as if she was trying to swat away flies.
"Yes?" said Kagome, pointing to the girl and feeling rather like a teacher.
"The newspapers say that Inuyasha is going to be killed by the 'lectric chair… is that true?"
A silence fell over the room once again. The collar of her oxford shirt suddenly seemed suffocating to Kagome, and she attempted to swallow around the lump in her throat. "I… some people think Inuyasha should have to pay for the alleged—er, the murder they think he did."
"But he did murder that lady, Miss!" a little boy yelled. "MY daddy said so! He said, 'what can you expect from a demon?' He said they should all be killed."
"Now, Billy, don't go repeating such things," the teacher remonstrated monotonously.
"Not … all demons are bad," said Kagome hesitantly, wondering how she was going to discuss such a topic with a room full of seven-year-olds. "Just like not all humans are nice. Right?"
The children just stared at her. "But demons are evil monsters that are out to destroy the world," one boy piped up. The other children murmured their agreement.
Kagome couldn't find a reply for several minutes.
Inuyasha… is this what you have to face every day?
Could his trial have possibly been biased?
She really didn't know what to think.
"Eh?" Called girl jerked out of her daydream and blinked at the three faces peering down at her. "Oh, hi, guys, when did you get here?"
Her three friends exchanged a look. "We've been standing here for at least five minutes calling your name."
Kagome blinked again. "Oh… sorry… How long has class been over?"
"About fifteen minutes now," said Ayumi cheerfully, nudging Kagome over so that she could sit down. Eri and Yuka claimed empty desks around her. "So, tell us about this daydream that kept your eyes glazed over for so long."
"It wasn't a daydream!" she said defensively. "I was thinking."
"Pretty heavy stuff," commented Eri.
Silence reigned for a full minute before Eri continued, "Well, aren't you going to tell us what you were thinking about? Or…who you were thinking about?"
"Eh…" Kagome couldn't stop the blush that spread across her cheeks. Dammit, what the hell am I blushing for?
"Ohhh—" Three identical grins spread across her friends' faces. "Who is he?" they demanded together.
"N-no one—it's not like that—"
"I'll bet it's Miroku, isn't it?" Yuka said immediately. "You've been spending so much time with him—"
"No, it's Inuyasha," argued Eri.
"Inuyasha? Pffffft—" Yuka snorted. "Eri, get real. He's a convict."
"That doesn't make him a bad person!"
"It does too! You can't base your perception of life off romance novels—"
"You needn't be so dismissing towards the idea of love just because you're a feminist—"
While Eri and Yuka argued about love and fairy tales, Ayumi turned to Kagome and said quietly, "You were thinking about Inuyasha, weren't you?"
"Well, yeah—but not in a romantic way," she added hastily.
"I don't know, Ayumi. A part of me wants to be a friend to him, wants to help him—but the other side of me knows that he is dangerous and no matter how good I make him out to be in my fantasy image, there's probably a whole 'nother side to him I haven't seen…"
"I think you shouldn't worry so much," replied Ayumi. "He can't hurt you in the center, can he? With all those aides around?"
Kagome gave her a look. "He could snap my neck in a second. Or tear me apart with his claws before I could scream for help. Or—"
"Okay, okay! Ew."
Ayumi calmed down enough to say, "Still—don't be afraid of helping, Kagome. From what you've told us, he's been hurt. Badly. It's probably okay to assume that he's never really seen true love before. No, stupid, I don't mean the fairy tale someday-my-freaking-prince-will-come love… I mean a true friendship-I'll-always-be-here love. Get my point?"
"Yeah. But he's so hard to talk to! I get the feeling that I annoy him more than I help him."
Ayumi shrugged. "No one said this was going to be easy. And it's only for another two weeks, remember?"
"Geez, that's it?" She ran through the calendar in her head and was shaken to discover her friend was correct. "Wow… It's going to be weird not rushing there after school every day… man, that'll be nice."
"Mmm," agreed Ayumi. "Won't you miss it at all?"
"Of course. I'm sure on my last day there I'll be crying into my dirty pail of water, using the sponges to wipe my tears—out of pure sentimentality." Kagome gave her friend a look. "Not really, no."
Ayumi smiled knowingly. "You knew what I was referring to."
"Stop being so evasive. I mean Inuyasha."
"What about him?"
"Will you miss him?"
"Sure, just like I miss that raccoon that used to dig around our trash can—"
"Kagome." Ayumi sighed and leaned over, propping her elbow up on the desk and resting her chin on her fist. "I've known you since first grade; you can't hide anything from me. You're attracted to him aren't you?"
"What, me?" she squeaked.
"Yes, you. It's that whole 'good girl, bad boy' complex, isn't it?"
"I… don't know?" Kagome groaned and rubbed her temples. "Okay. So I am. I'm not even sure it's that kind of attraction, Ayu… I don't think it's lust, and it's definitely not love, but maybe… a more kindred soul type of thing?"
"Or pity?" her friend suggested.
Kagome shook her head, her dangling earrings slapping lightly against her cheeks. "No, I don't think it's that. I just feel—protective towards him for some reason. He puts on this Tough Guy front, but I've seen him act kind and considerate and… vulnerable… despite his rude and crass exterior."
"You sure it's not an act?"
"I don't know… I don't think so."
"He could be duping you."
"For what reason?"
"To seduce you?"
"Ha! Hardly. He hates me because I look like his dead girlfriend… fiancée… lover… or whatever the heck she was… remember?"
"That's right: the prostitute."
Kagome winced slightly. "Yeah."
The lunch bell shrilled through the school at that moment, and there was a jumble of scraping desks and swishing of papers as teens sprinted out of classrooms in hopes of being first in the lunch line.
"Just be your normal, caring self around him, Kagome," said Ayumi as she rose. "I think what Inuyasha needs most right now is a friend who cares about him. Not a judge; not a lover—a friend."
"That's just it—I don't think he wants a friend."
"Want and need are not the same."
Kagome sighed and played with the pleats on her skirt. "We'll see."
"Come on, slowpokes!" Eri called, tapping her watch impatiently. "I'm starving! Lunch is going to be over by the time we get there!"
"What do the feed the people at juvy?" Ayumi asked quietly as she and Kagome collected their things.
"Oh…normal stuff… I guess…"
"Maybe you should bring him food this afternoon."
Kagome stared at her blankly. "For what reason?"
"Oh… well… you know how that saying goes—'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.'" Ayumi grinned mischievously.
Kagome glared at her friend. "For one thing, Miss Ayumi, I am not trying to get to Inuyasha's heart. For another, what on earth would I bring him?"
Ayumi shrugged. "Nothing fancy. Just something out of your closet. Cookies, chips…?"
"All we've got is ramen, ramen, and more ramen. And maybe spicy ramen."
"So bring that. You can't go wrong with ramen."
"Watch him be allergic," said Kagome under her breath.
When the last bell of the day sounded, Kagome dashed out of the school and headed straight for the student parking lot, not even bothering to drop off her unneeded books and binders in her locker. Breathing heavily, she looked for Miroku's car, but didn't see it.
Miroku, you'd better not be hanging around the locker room with your jock friends. She kept looking, impatiently tapping her foot as floods of people flowed around her.
"Hey, Beautiful." An arm snaked around her waist and propelled her forward.
"Miroku. About time." She pulled his arm off and placed it as his side. "Hands to yourself."
He smirked. "Of course." He directed her towards the lot where his car was parked.
"Are we still going to bust Kohaku out?"
"And… how exactly are we going to do this again?"
"No idea. I'm hoping some last-minute inspiration will come when we get there."
"Just kidding." He unlocked her door and opened it for her, showing one of his rare displays of chivalry. "I'm counting on my silver tongue to get us out of trouble."
"Why doesn't that reassure me?" she muttered.
"King Egbert of Wessex, 802-836… King Aethelwulf of Wessex, 839 A.D. to 855 A.D.… King Aethelbald of Wessex, 855 A.D. to 860 A. D.… King Aethelbert of Wessex, 860 A.D. to …" Shippo trailed off on his list of early English monarchs as a shadow in the hallway steadily grew larger… until it stopped in front of his cell.
The kit's eyes widened. "I-Inuyasha—"
"No, I don't know the first of the Carolingian line in France. Bug off." Inuyasha didn't move from his curled up position on his cot.
"No, really, Inuyasha—"
"And I don't know the kinds of the early line of Prussia either."
"Inu—!" cried Shippo.
"Amusing as this little game is," a deep voice resonated. "I have not the time to waste listening to such foolish ramblings."
Inuyasha's back stiffened straight as a rod and he slowly sat up. "Sesshomaru," he said flatly. "How… pleasant to see you again."
Miroku put the car into park and looked at Kagome. "Well…"
"Let's just get this over with." Kagome opened the door and jumped out.
"No, wait!" Miroku hastily groped for the door handle, missing it the first few times. "Kagome!" He leaped out of the car as well and bounded in front of her. "Stay behind me," he ordered. "We didn't exactly get a hospitable reception last time."
"Are you expecting trouble?" She frowned.
"Yes. Now stay behind me!" He took a breath and started forward. "We've got to do this carefully—"
"Wait, you forgot to lock the car."
He pressed a button on his keys without looking back. "Let's go."
With baited breath, Kagome followed him to the front door of the dilapidated house. He knocked on the door three times before it finally opened a crack. The old woman glared at them through the tiny slit she left open. "What the hell d'you want."
"We'd like to come in, please."
Kagome bit her lip.
"Please, ma'am?" Miroku asked. "We just want to talk with you for a minute."
"I'm sure you do. And take that boy away from me, huh? And try and use 'evidence' against me to put me outta business, huh? How d'you expect me to feed my kids? To buy clothes? I need to live too!"
Kagome could smell the alcohol on her breath from behind Miroku. Yeah, how much of that money is actually going to your kids?
"Ma'am if we could just—"
"Get off of my property!" The door flew open and revealed a gun in the woman's hand.
Kagome's breath hitched in her throat and her knees nearly gave out. A gun. The woman had a gun. For all the action movies and suspense novels she'd read, nothing could have prepared her for the numbness that overcame her body at the sight of a weapon. One slip of the intoxicated woman's finger, and Miroku's life could be snuffed away. Her life could be snuffed away.
Breathe, Kagome, breathe… Miroku, let's get out of here!
"Put that down," ordered Miroku. "We just want to talk."
"So talk," the woman cackled.
Miroku sighed. "Kagome," he said, not turning around. "Please go get in the car."
"What? N-no, I'm staying here with—"
He slipped his car keys inter her fingers. "Go. Give me fifteen minutes."
Kagome caught the unsaid "—before you call the police." "Okay…" She slowly backed away from the front door, not really wanting to turn her back to that woman.
She made it halfway to the car before her nerves caught up with her; she broke into a sprint and hurriedly unlocked the car, diving into the passenger seat like the devil himself was on her heels. Once she was safely enclosed in the car, she dived for her cell phone, which was stuffed in a pocket of her backpack, and turned it on with shaking fingers.
She wasn't in the habit of praying—she'd never been very religious—but now her entire self was screaming to whatever was up there. Please, please, please if you can by some bending of the rules of science and physics hear me… please keep Miroku safe. I want Sango to see her brother; I don't want to be forbidden from coming to juvy again…
The end of fifteen minutes saw Kagome still huddled in the seat, clutching her cell phone for dear life. Fifteen agonizing minutes in which she watched every move the second hand on her watch made. Her breathing sounded amplified in the stark silence of the car.
Sixteen minutes. Kagome physically sat on her hands. I'll give him one more minute.
Seventeen minutes. Pulling her hands out from underneath her, Kagome flipped open her phone and dialed 9-1-1. Her thumb was inches away from the "call" button when, out of her peripheral vision, she caught sight of two figures walking towards the car.
Kagome bolted out of the car, forgetting to unbuckled her seatbelt again, and threw her arms around Kohaku in happiness. "Miroku! You did it!" She knelt and touched the boy's face. "Oh, Sango will be so happy to see you…"
Kohaku looked a little bewildered at her display of affection. "You're taking me to see her?" he mumbled.
"Right now." She smiled at Miroku, who grinned back.
Once they were inside the car, Miroku wasted no time in driving away from the foster home at nearly sixty miles per hour. "It took every bit of my negotiating skills to get that woman to relent," he reported grimly, his eyes on the road. "I almost thought it wouldn't work."
"How'd you get her to agree, then?" she asked, glancing back to look at Kohaku. The boy was staring out the window with an unreadable expression, his hands stuffed in his pockets.
Miroku looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "It's not important."
"What do you mean, 'it's not important'?" repeated Kagome accusingly. "Did you blackmail her or something?"
"Don't worry about it. All's well that end's well, right?" He smiled tightly and quickly changed the subject. "I'm just hoping Sango's reaction will be worth it."
Kagome smiled to herself. I think he really does like her… even if he doesn't realize it himself. "Oh, I'm sure it will be."
"You're not looking well, Inuyasha."
"Really?" Inuyasha looked down at himself in mock horror. "Dear me, I've lost weight! And these clothes!" He clicked his tongue. "Completely unacceptable. Sesshomaru, you really must start a juvy reform crusade. Do you think Saks will donate clothes to us? Perhaps we should all wear Ethan Allen sleepwear as well?"
"I have just heard," Sesshomaru said loudly, "from my lawyer of an… interesting twist in your little mess of a love tryst."
"Don't call it that," snarled Inuyasha jumping off the cot and stalking toward the bars that separated him from his half-brother.
"Apparently the police just found another body in the room of the crime."
"What do you mean they found another body?" Inuyasha literally growled.
"Stuffed in the closet. Apparently they put a newbie on the site investigation and the incompetent buffoon missed the closet in his sweep. The body looks to be a maid that stumbled in on an… unsavory scene."
"I didn't murder her. Him. Or Kikyo. Or whatever new type of bullshit they're going to try and pin on me."
"That," said Sesshomaru, looking hard at Inuyasha, "is for the jury to decide."
"Of course you wouldn't trust me."
"Don't make me out to be the bad guy, Inuyasha. This is your mess. I just thought I'd let you know what you're up against." He turned on his heel and glided out of sight.
"Go fuck yourself, asshole!" Inuyasha shouted. He whirled around and kicked his cot as hard as he could, causing the bed to nearly fold in half. A string of choice curse words follow the enormous clatter of bending metal.
Shippo cowered against the wall in terrified silence. When Inuyasha turned angry, red eyes on him, he shrieked, "Don't hit me! Don't hurt me, please!"
The pleading cries stopped Inuyasha in his tracks and he clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to get himself under control. "Shippo."
"Don't hurt me!"
"Shippo, stop it!" Inuyasha roughly pulled the kit into an awkward embrace. The kit shrieked and clawed at him, but Inuyasha didn't let go.
Footsteps bounded down the hallway, and a guard skidded to a stop in front of their cell. "What's going on in here?" he demanded, huffing.
"Kid had a nightmare," said Inuyasha. "He'll be okay. Go back to your doughnuts and coffee—I've got this under control."
The guard glared. "I'll take the liberty of contacting the psychiatrist for you, Dr. Phil."
"You do that, Porky."
The guard stomped away.
It took a full five minutes for the failing and crying to stop, but silence finally descended over the cell.
"I won't hurt you, Shippo," said Inuyasha, feeling guilty for scaring the kid like that. "I may rip my half-brother to shreds and feed him through a sewing machine, but I won't hurt you."
Shippo just whimpered in response.
There was only a certain capacity to which Inuyasha could show emotion—and he'd just about burned out both ends of the spectrum in under ten minutes. He carefully set the kit down on the unharmed cot and went to lay down on his own mangled one. He was flexible; the awkward position didn't bother him.
He sunk his claws into the mattress for good measure and tried his hardest to fall asleep.
At this exact moment, a schoolgirl in boy's gym shorts and a happy smile on her face entered the hallway.
Miroku was new to this feeling of lightheadedness. His step had a spring of anxiousness and he had to stop himself from dragging Kohaku to his sister's cell.
He wanted to see Sango's face when she noticed her brother. He wanted to see her happy. He wanted her to thank him in a—
No. He didn't want her to thank him. He didn't want her thanks. He didn't know why—but he was too preoccupied to question his rationale.
One hallway to go. The key he'd swiped from the receptionist was digging into his slick palm.
Kohaku's shoulders had tensed and he had unconsciously begun to walk faster. Miroku didn't protest. By the time they reached the end of the corridor, both males were practically running.
They passed the cells at lightning-fast speed. Miroku halted so suddenly that Kohaku passed Sango's cell before he realized Miroku wasn't beside him anymore. Then he doubled back and grabbed the bars of the cell with both hands. "Sango!"
Sango, who had been listelessly staring out the window, started and stared at the two people standing in front of her cell. She blanched and scrambled to her feet. "Kohaku…!"
Miroku swallowed, not missing the tears that were pooling in the corners of Kohaku's eyes. He inserted the key in the lock, unable to open it the first two tries because Kohaku was shaking the bars so much. "Calm down, kid, I'll have this cage open in a minute."
Kohaku didn't appear to hear him. Sango was trying to hug him through the bars of the cell door, which, admittedly, wasn't working very well. When Miroku finally got the lock open, Kohaku was in the cell so fast that Miroku stumbled a bit from the force left in his wake.
"Kohaku! Oh my baby, how are you?" Sango was squeezing the life out of her brother. "I can't believe it's you—I can't believe you're here—"
"Only for a little," said Kohaku, his arms around his sister's waist. "He said we only had an hour. But he said I can come back, every week if I want to!"
"He…?" For the first time, Sango noticed Miroku standing outside the cell.
The smile she gave him would be forever imprinted in his memory: he could've sworn the whole hallway brightened by a good one-hundred watts.
Author's Notes: beth1685, you are a genius. Do you analyze stories for a living? And thanks so much to everyone else who reviews—GAC's reached over 150! I love you guys! Though SORRY for making you wait so long for this chapter… and then giving it a rather dark theme with no romance. But it had to be done. And I promise I won't wait so long to update nexttime, hee. (; Next chapter WILL have romance in it. Yes yes.