AN: I had written this out almost to completion before I realized that I didn't like the feel of it and scrapped the entire chapter. This is the product of that second attempt, which I like much more (and I hope you do too).

Chapter 6: So Take Me (The End!)

Warnings: Some adult materiel. A little steamy but nothing explicit.

All your life, you've waited
For love to come and stay
And now that I have found you, you must not slip away
I know it's hard believing
The words you've heard
But, darling, you must trust them just once more

- Rumer


1 week later

In spite of the random turn of events since her fateful encounter with Naraku, Sango had done her best to plot a he course. She wanted revenge for her people, her brother's freedom, and somewhere lurking in her heart the desire to fall in love and start a family. Her resolve began to wane as none of these seemed even remotely possible. At every turn, Naraku would elude them. They would come close, only to find that he had constructed some elaborate trick and they had willingly walked into it. She had not been raised with such ignorance. Her father would be ashamed, she knew, if he could see how well her plans for vengeance were progressing. She could not even manage to rip her own brother from that cursed demon's grasp. In light of these tremendous errors, her heart would have to wait.

They were between villages now, traveling rather slowly to keep up with Kagome. She had been ill as of late, although most of them guessed it had more to do with her mind than her body. She and Inuyasha had been sparring verbally almost every moment, and Sango guessed that something terrible had transpired between the two. They were never a picture of bliss, but they certainly didn't hate each other. Sango supposed that Kagome was rather lucky, despite her woes. At least Inuyasha was speaking to her.

Miroku had continued his kind but relative silence, answering only when directly spoken to. She had heard furious whispers between both he and Inuyasha late into the night, when she and Kagome curled into their pallets with the kitsune. She had never figured out the nature of their arguments, but something told her it revolved around Inuyasha's sudden interest in her welfare. When she lost focus, concerned with the disbanding of her group, and tripped over her own feet, he was there to grab her arm. She never knew how he did it so swiftly, aside from his demon blood. It disturbed her to admit that she cherished every touch, even when he lightly brushed her shoulder with his in passing. Sometimes she was convinced she had the fever, some horrible disease that was irreversible. Her cheeks would flame, stomach would turn, and every moment was her happiest and worst.

She wouldn't call it love. It was too early for that commitment. Was it fascination? Obsession? All she knew was that the emotions she kept bottled up for the half demon were straining to be let loose. One day she was certain they would escape. Only she wouldn't be inebriated, and thus without excuse.

Inuyasha watched her, hoping that she wouldn't injure herself by doing such deep thinking while attempting to walk down a beaten path. Kagome's harping became a subtle hum as he took every opportunity to observe the slayer, wondering where this fascination came from. Was it fascination? He couldn't decide. Such feeling ran deep, reminding him of the tree he had been bound to so long ago. He knew that his attentions were wearing her down, due to the fact that everyone else seemed to have also noticed. Which explained the shrill voice in his ear.

"Are you listening? Hey!" Kagome roughly clutched his shoulder, attempting to spin him around to face her. "You're not! You jerk!" She punched his shoulder, surprisingly not utilizing the powers of the band around his neck. Something was different about him lately. She could tell in the way his attention strayed when she was talking to him, and not in his usual way of lack of interest. Kagome admitted that she didn't mind when he drifted off into his own thoughts as she rambled on about school or her family. She knew that boys were like that. Especially boys like Inuyasha. No, this distraction wasn't the same. He remained alert now. She was drowned out, but his senses were still focused on something else. Something of more importance.

"Why should I bother listenin' when you've said all of that before?" Inuyasha glanced down at the girl, but his ears twitched and he looked behind her.

Kagome almost tested to see if steam was actually shooting out of her nose. "You-you…bastard!" She wanted to hit him again, but suddenly felt drained. Was this worth it? She didn't even know what she was fighting. She followed the direction of gaze, which went far behind her, and caught sight of the Sango wearily dragging her feet.


The sky was turning dark and Inuyasha made the decision to stop for the night. While the boys set up camp, Kagome invited Sango to join her for a dip in the hotspring. Inuyasha had smelled water nearby, and scoped out the perfect place for both women to bathe uninterrupted. Sango was hesitant, noticing that her young friend had been watching her all day. Usually, Kagome was completely absorbed in Inuyasha or Shippou. It was rare to find herself under such scrutiny, unless the girl was asking questions about Miroku.

The water was deliciously warm and extremely soothing for her tired muscles. Sango knew that she had been pushing herself harder than necessary, perhaps to relieve her aggravation. She dipped her head back, enjoying the liquid as it drenched her hair.

"Inuyasha likes you."

Sango dipped her head back to far and water ran up her nose. She choked and snorted, pinching the burning bridge between her fingers. "What?"

"You know what I said." Kagome's gaze was cool, but not entirely unkind. "When did that happen?"

Sango didn't know how to answer her. She doubted the truth would suffice, but she tried anyway. "I don't know. Honestly, if you are surprised then I am equally so."

Kagome let her fingers play with the surface of the water, her pale breasts floating beneath and obscured in the darkness. Her hair hung over one shoulder, pooling into the water like a liquid itself. She was beautiful, and Sango wondered, not for the first time, why Inuyasha would be at all interested in anyone else.

"You like him too. Don't you?"

It wasn't a question. Sango knew that much. "I respect him. We've fought together, we protect each other."

Kagome snorted. "I'm not an idiot. Or a child. You know what I'm asking you. Tell me the truth."

Truthfully, Sango wished that she could disappear. It had never been her intention to find Inuyasha appealing, or to hurt Kagome because of it. Happiness had never been her lot in life, but Kagome seemed to be the best candidate for it. She should have never interfered. She should have kept her feelings to herself. "Yes. I think…I love him."

Kagome wailed. It was an unexpected sound, but not an unexpected response. She covered her eyes with her hands, shoulders shaking in her grief. Sango knew not to make a move toward her, knowing she would be pushed away. "I-I knew…" The girl hiccuped, catching a whine in her throat. "It makes sense….y-you two. But I hate it." Her breathing grew labored and she attempted to wipe her eyes, only they grew damp a second after. "I-I have to g-go home some time. Y-you will stay w-with him." Her tormented eyes met Sango's. "Maybe this was meant to be." She wiped her eyes again. "But I still hate it."

Sango could understand that sentiment. Life had never been very fair to her, and she was beginning to hate herself for causing such luck for Kagome. But what could she honestly say to console the girl? She wouldn't apologize for her feelings, figuring that would make them seem less meaningful. "I'm sorry for hurting you. I never intended it."

"I know." Kagome nodded, discreetly wiping her nose on her wrist. "That must be why Miroku's being an asshole."

The slayer knew something was brewing there, but hadn't wanted to speculate too much. "I had assumed…" She was partly angry at herself for disrupting the flow that everyone had shared until months ago; angry that these feelings couldn't have erupted sooner, when it might have been easier for the group to digest. But when was anything easy?

"I think I'm going to dry off." Kagome pulled herself onto the bank and wrapped her towel around her shivering body. She had prepared herself for this conversation; had been preparing all afternoon. Although, the reality that her future was taking a sharp turn unsettled her stomach. She wanted to hate Sango. She wanted to hate Inuyasha. But their journey so far had been long and treacherous, each having to depend on the other, and such ties ran too deep to break. If she was completely honest, her anger was partially directed at herself for not noticing sooner. Perhaps not noticing how convenient a relationship between the two would be, and how unconventional her relationship with Inuyasha was. But she did love him, she thought.

Sango watched Kagome leave the springs in her night clothes, feeling that ache of guilt in her gut. Their camaraderie was probably ruined forever, and she didn't know what she had to show for it. Of course Inuyasha liked her. They were friends and comrades. 'Liking' had never been a question, nor had silly crushes. Sango was more concerned with deeper feelings. If she was going to ruin perhaps the best friendship she had ever had with a fellow female, it better be for the 'love of a lifetime'. Kagome had often talked about such love, and even brought a romance novel back from her world. Sango had been rather scandalized by a few of the topics, but found it relatively enjoyable as she and Kagome discussed it. She was suddenly saddened, wondering if such evenings would be a thing of the past.

"Well, that was strangely easy."

Sango jerked, her skin prickling from fear and the cool air touching her limbs. She had wrapped them around her chest instinctively, while whipping her head to where the speaker stood, damp tendrils of hair sticking to her face. "Inuyasha! What are you doing here?" He had shown up at the springs before, although Kagome was generally present. Sango pulled her body almost completely beneath the water, her chin resting on its surface, arms still hiding her chest.

Inuyasha looked away, seeing her discomfort by the way of the furious flush developing over her cheeks. "I heard Kagome screeching and decided to check on you guys." He didn't bother to mention that he had heard a large handful of the conversation.

Sango stared at him curiously, wondering why he had chosen to show himself now when he had clearly shown up not long after Kagome began audibly showing her displeasure. She was in a completely vulnerable position, and wasn't happy about it. "Could you turn around while I change?"

The hanyou snorted and turned his back to her. "Whatever." With his advanced senses, he could hear the water slipping over her skin as she pulled her body onto the rocks behind her. He knew when she began to dry her skin, practically counting the strokes she made. He could hear her shudder at the chill in the air. The scent of her skin, her own individual musk, filled the air quickly due to the added warmth the springs gave her body. It took every inch of his will to not take her where she stood. He assumed that she had no idea how she was affecting him. Although, as a demon slayer, she just might.

Sango wrapped the towel around herself, noting that it was now too damp to provide any sort of warmth. Where were her clothes? She thought that she had placed them next to the towel, but perhaps Kagome had moved them when she changed. Sango trotted carefully over the slick rocks, looking in every nook and cranny for her kimono. She almost sighed in relief when she spotted a corner of pink fabric. Being unclothed while Inuyasha was so close completely unnerved her. She doubted he would ever take advantage, but she knew the intensity with which he could smell and hear. He may not be facing her, but she hoped her discreet methods of drying herself were enough to keep him from-

"You're taking too fuckin' long."

Two large hands grasped her waist, the claws lightly pressing into the cloth to her skin. She squeaked when he pulled her closer, his nose running up her neck from clavicle to chin, his tongue lightly licking the slight scar she had there. Sango shuddered, almost losing her balance if not for his hold. "Inuyasha!" She put her hands to his chest, hoping he would release her long enough to return to his senses. "We shouldn't-"

He snarled, nuzzling her neck before suckling lightly on her pulse point. His hands moved up her ribs, claws extended and making light trails as me moved. "You love me. I heard you say it."

Sango gasped when his hands pulled at the towel. She could feel his mouth at the dip between her breasts. "Would you-…wait a second...Inuyasha!"

Inuyasha pulled back, regarding her as she tried to readjust the garment that hid her from his gaze. "Change your mind already?"

Sango scowled, "No, I-"

He sent her a cocky grin.

"Now isn't the time." She sighed. "We really shouldn't-"

"You say that a lot." Inuyasha massaged his fingers into her hips.

Sango whined, still pushing at his chest. "Well it's true! And I don't even know if you-"

He paused, his eyelids grew heavy so only the slight gleam of his gold irises peaked through. "If I what?"

The slayer flushed. "You know what I mean."

Inuyasha appraised her, noting the anxiety and fear. "You don't have to worry about that."

Sango blinked. What? His head filled her vision, moving close enough to brush her nose with his. She felt the warmth pooling in her stomach and her eyes partially closed, still wanting to see what he would do. His lips lightly pressed against hers, seeking permission before moving forward. Sango felt her fingers dig into his haori, pulling him closer. She could feel the warmth of his breath against her cheek, and his lips pressed against hers hungrily. He grasped the back of her head with his palm, adjusting her to where he liked, bending her backward while his form pushed down on her. She squeaked and he let up, giving her a moment to breathe, although keeping a firm hold on her body.

Inuyasha had been waiting for that moment. It hadn't occurred to him until it happened, but the feeling of completion overwhelmed him. It was unexplainable, how good she felt. Not just the touch of their bodies, but the breath and knowledge they shared. He had never felt like he belonged anywhere until he stood next to her. The slight pressure of her head rested against his heart and he glanced down at her.

"You know," she mumbled, "we really sh-"

Inuyasha chuckled, finding her lips with his finger before she could finish. He brushed them lightly with thumb. "Fuck that."


FINIS


ANx2: Of course, the messy business of how to carry on a relationship when you have significant others following you around all day is left to your imagination. That's always been the one tricky issue when writing counter-canon pairings. We've briefly seen Miroku's response to Sango and Inuyasha in earlier chapters, although Kagome wasn't given much time to discover her feelings. I hoped her moment of sorrow was realistic. It is definitely a situation that might never mend, given the strength of bitterness. Although, I always wondered how Kagome dealt with the knowledge that she might have to leave Inuyasha for good. So I played on that thought here. As far as our main couple is concerned, I wanted to keep a playfulness despite the serious quality of the piece as a whole. Initially I had planned for them to pine away while keeping up the illusion that they were still devoted to Kagome and Miroku. But, where's the fun in that?

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Please let me know how you enjoyed this fic as a whole!