2004.12.19 — Midterms start tomorrow. So what does Misa go do? Write a one-shot, of course. xD I know the first few paragraphs will be confusing, but just humor me and read until the end, okay?

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Addiction

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Miroku was vaguely aware that someone was trying to talk to him, but at the moment, all he heard was a muffled droning in the background. The group of traveling companions were taking a quick lunch break (thanks to Kagome's persistent badgering of the irritable hanyou) and for the present, everyone was relaxed. The sun was shining, the sky was a brilliant blue, and the air had a hint of chill in it.

All he saw was Sango.

She was sprawled out on the ground, as carefree as he'd ever seen her, her head tilted towards the sky, soaking up sunlight with a slight smile on her face. The sun's rays fell on her hair in such a way that reddish highlights shone from the dark brown and the reflection formed a kind of halo around her head.

He was mesmerized.

He imagined himself walking up to her and plunging his hands into the flowing mass of hair, inhaling its sweet scent and whispering words of love to the woman who drove him absolutely insane…

"Miroku! Oi, are you even listening to me?"

"Huh?" Annoyed to be startled out of his pleasant daydream, he turned to faced Inuyasha. "What?" he answered curtly.

"Geez, what insect demon crawled up your butt? I said, come with me to get some water. Little Miss I'm-too-tired-to-do-anything needs some to do the cooking."

Miroku released a heartfelt sigh and cast a longing glance towards Sango before rising. Kagome-sama was a saint to put up with Inuyasha every day—she deserved to have things done for her.

Sango hadn't moved from her spot. Like an angel—or perhaps an enchanting devil—she sat there, temping him, taunting him.

He resolutely took a breath and let it out, forcing his mind to focus on more… pure… things.

-----

Breathe it in and breathe it out

And pass it on, it's almost out

-----

The Signal. Miyoko's eyes flicked towards Sanako, who was casually leaning back against the wall, tapping her foot against the floor in a steady beat. He stared intently at her, waiting for her eyes to meet his… but they didn't. She was staring off into space, looking preoccupied.

What was this?

She blinked and shook herself out of her daze, just then realizing what she'd been doing. She looked at Miyoko guiltily and grinned sheepishly, shaking her head no.

Damn. Disappointed, he leaned back into his chair, returning to his reading. The pages of anatomy diagrams and medical terms swam before his eyes. He couldn't concentrate. He flipped a few pages, forcing his mind to memorize the terms for his exam tomorrow.

He became aware of Sanako's soft humming, her unconcerned breathing, and the look of concentration on her face as she reviewed her notes for her literature class.

Maybe it had been a mistake to suggest they study together…?

He turned the page in his textbook and physically flinched when he saw the diagram on the next page. The fates are out to get me…

It'd been over four days already. He…needed it…

Sanako looked up questioningly. "Miyoko…?" Then her eyes widened with realization. "Oh." She sighed. "Can't you wait another hour or two? I really need to study for this—if I don't pass, then I'll have to retake it next semester…"

"Of course you'll pass. It's your best subject and you have the highest percentage in the class."

She shrugged. "That doesn't mean I can't screw things up with one exam."

Wrong choice of words…

She realized her mistake and laughed at the look on his face. "Kami-sama," she said, shutting her textbook and carefully tucking her notes inside the pages. "You really are an addict, aren't you? What're you going to do when you're on ER rotation and get called out in the middle of the night? 'Sorry, nurse, I can't come right now—I'm busy'?"

He got to his feet and walked over to her, pulling her to her feet and wrapping her in his arms. "We'll deal with that bridge when we cross it."

She tucked her head into the crook of his neck. "Anything you say, Miyoko."

-----

We're so creative, so much more

We're high above, but on the floor

-----

Sanako sighed gently and traced circles on Miyoko's bare back. "What time is it?"

"Sometime after dark, I think," he said, smiling softly at her.

"Do you realize how much precious time we waste like this?" she said lazily. "We could be studying, researching at the library, helping the community…"

"It's not a waste if we're assuring each other of our love."

"If that's what you want to call it."

"It is." He kissed her softly, tasting the sweetness of her lips, reveling in the love he felt for her.

They lay there in silence for a moment, then Sanako said, "Miyoko… do you ever wonder if we're doing the right thing?"

"The right thing?"

"I mean… how do we really know we love each other? What if… what if one day something happens and we… lose each other. The pain will only be worse."

"How could we possibly lose each other? Maybe I should tie you to my wrist?" he joked.

"I'm being serious," she frowned. "Things happen. People break up."

"Not us."

"Why not us? How are we different from anyone else?"

"Because we are."

"That's the problem with civilization today," she said angrily, sitting up and wrapping herself in the sheet. "Every generation thinks they're so much better, so much more advanced, so… different and new. I'll bet our grandparents were worried about the same things we were. I'll bet that five-hundred years ago two lovers in this very area were worrying about life, worrying about if what they were doing was the right thing."

Miyoko looked at her, his violet eyes sad and contemplating. "Can't we just accept what we have… and enjoy it while it's there?"

Sanako's breath was stolen away for a moment. She'd never seen that look before. That look of desperation, of ache, of angst. "What's the matter?"

Then the look was gone. "Nothing. Just… honey, you analyze too much. Sometimes we can't understand everything in life—and we just have to take it as it comes. Appreciate it for what it is."

"So sex is the answer to everything?"

"Did I say that?"

"It's what you implied."

"You misunderstand me." He also sat up and drew her close to him, resting his chin on her head. "And I do believe there is a difference between fucking and making love."

"It's the same term—"

"But with different connotations," he swiftly said. "I love you, Sanako. But we can't get married now. I'm still in medical school. You won't graduate until April. I have no way to support you, and who knows what might happen between now and then?"

"That doesn't make it right," she mumbled.

"Don't listen to what the world says is right. Listen to what your heart tells you is right."

-----

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive

If you don't have it you're on the other side

-----

"Sango…" Miroku murmured, capturing her lips with his.

She clung to him with her arms around his neck. Her breathing went ragged as he kissed her mouth, her face, her neck. "What if someone finds us…?"

"It's after midnight. We're in a forest. Inuyasha won't leave Kagome-sama's side as long as she has that fever, and Shippo and Kirara are dead asleep."

"I was thinking more along the lines of Naraku."

He groaned in frustration and captured her lips again, more fiercely this time. "I wish," he ground out, "that I could have one happiness in life without it being overshadowed by that bastard."

"Houshi-sama, such harsh words," she chided gently, stroking her fingers through his hair.

"When, Sango?" he asked desperately, her eyes searching hers. "It's been two years since Kagome-sama first came through the well, and one since we've become engaged. How long must I wait to make you my wife?"

"Until it's safe—for both of us."

"What about the kazaana? What if it absorbs me before—"

Now it was her turn to kiss him with a fierce intensity. "Don't say that," she whispered. "Please."

"Someone has to think logically."

"I do think logically," she retorted angrily. "I just don't see the need to think morbidly every time we try and rendezvous. Why can't we just be content with each other's presence for a while?"

"Is that all you want?"

"What do you mean?"

"Is that enough for you? Just being together? Do you never lust, Sango? Do you never want to act like husband and wife?"

Her fingers tightened on his kesa, her knuckles turning white. "Lust is not love."

"But it's still a part of it."

"Yes, but…" She hesitated for a moment. "If it'll make you feel better, there are some days when I wish I could just drag you off the side of the road and throw you to the ground, without having to worry what Inuyasha and Kagome-chan and Shippo and passersby would say. Sometimes you're so sweet and caring that all I want is that you could hold me. But I know that such actions could cause unforeseen consequences that could put both of us in danger. Maybe even Inuyasha and Kagome. Do they deserve that, Houshi-sama? Does their happiness deserve to be affected because we have no self-control?"

He pulled her closer to him, breathing in the scent of her hair. "I don't want to wait anymore," he mumbled.

"Neither do I, Miroku. Neither do I." She held him tighter. "But we have no choice if we ever want to be happy."

-----

The deeper you stick it in your vein

The deeper the thoughts, there's no more pain

-----

The stars twinkled above them, a rarity in the busy city. Sanako leaned against Miyoko's shoulder, her long brown hair stirring lightly in the wind. She shivered and tucked her hands into the pockets of her jacket.

"Beautiful, aren't they?" she commented.

"Mmm. Just like you."

"Flattery will get you nowhere, lecher."

"On the contrary…"

"I don't think you want to finish that statement."

"Probably not," he conceded, tickling her a bit.

She smiled contentedly. "So what errand did you have to run today instead of meeting me at the library like we'd planned."

He stiffened.

"Yeah, forgot about that, hmm?"

"I'm sorry," he said, looking morose. "I completely forgot."

"I figured as much. So what happened?"

"What do you mean, what happened?"

"You never forget anything—be it an enemy's comment, a night we spent together, or the number of your junior high school girlfriend. What was so extraordinary that it made you forget an everyday occurrence?"

"Nothing. Just… I, uh, ran into another intern at the hospital and we got to talking, and I kind of lost track of time."

She frowned. "Must've been some pretty deep conversation."

"Uh, yeah, it was," he mumbled, withdrawing a bit. "How was your lunch date with Kagari?"

She searched his face with her eyes and finally answered. "It was fine."

"Are you mad at me?"

"No. Just disappointed that you can't be completely honest with me."

"That's not it—"

"Then what is it?"

He raked a hand through his hair. "I'm trying to protect you."

"From what?"

"It's not important." He got to his feet and offered her a hand up. "Let's go. It's getting cold out here."

She looked at him, incredulous. "If you think you're going to be getting something tonight after that, you are greatly mistaken."

He looked mildly chastised. "Even if I'm doing this in your best interest?"

"Why don't you let me decide what is in my best interest?"

He heaved a sigh and looked down at her forlornly. "I was tested for cancer today."

She startled violently. "You were what?"

"There—you see? I knew you'd overreact."

She shot to her feet. "You can't be serious! Cancer? Where? When? Is it serious?"

"Sanako!" He grabbed hold of her shoulders and looked hard into her eyes. "I said I was tested. I haven't be diagnosed—yet—but they just want to be careful. Cancer runs in my family. It's just a precaution."

"No…" she whimpered, throwing her arms around him. "You can't have cancer."

"Okay."

"You just can't. You're going to be a doctor. You're going to save lots of people and marry me and help raise our six children."

"Three."

"Five."

"Four."

"Fine. Four. But still—!"

"Shhh, Sanako." He rubbed her back. "You see why I didn't want to tell you?"

"No! You should have told me straight off the bat!"

"You worry too much."

"You don't worry enough. 'Don't worry about that test tomorrow, Sanako—let's have sex and that will make it all better! Don't worry about not being able to pay rent… maybe if we have sex all our problems will be solved.'"

"I do not sound like that."

"You do too," she said, looking angry. "And do you know how weird life would be without you and your perverseness? You can't have cancer."

"Okay, honey, okay," he soothed. "I don't."

She stood up on her tiptoes, kissing him savagely. He responded, his blood pounding in his ears. What this woman did to him…

-----

I'm in heaven, I'm a god,

I'm everywhere, I feel so hot

-----

"Oi, bouzo."

Miroku looked up from where he was preparing dinner. "Yes, Inuyasha?"

"Have you seen Kagome?"

"No lately," he lied, knowing full well that the girl had snuck off to go back to her time.

Inuyasha made a noise of impatience. "She's snuck off again to try and go home, hasn't she?"

Anyone who said Inuyasha was stupid didn't know him. Sure, he was impulsive and rather tactless, but he was more intelligent than most people realized.

"Um…what makes you say that?"

"I knew it." With a flash of red and silver, Inuyasha was suddenly a mere speck in the distance. "I'll be back soon with Kagome!" his voice carried on the wind.

Miroku shook his head. Inuyasha was in for an unpleasant surprise when he found Kagome. It was the girl's seventeen birthday today… and Inuyasha had seemed to have forgotten. Miroku could sense a countless number of sits.

Sango wandered into their campsite with her boomerang slung loosely over her shoulder and an untransformed Kirara on her shoulder. "Where'd everybody go?"

"Kagome-sama went home, and Inuyasha went after her. Shippo's off playing somewhere."

"Oh." She gracefully folded her legs beneath her and sat next to him. "That smells good; I'm starved."

"Worked up an appetite with that youkai?"

"Hardly. It barely took three swings before it was dead. Speaking of which, Inuyasha must have been really intent on finding Kagome to have missed a fight—no matter how small it was."

"Ah well," Miroku lifted a shoulder, "everyone knows it's only a matter of time before they declare their love. Stubborn fools. They think the world is oblivious."

Sango smiled. "They're cute. Especially when they fight."

"It's said that the more they fight, the more fiery they are in bed."

She gave him a slanted look. "Only you would say something like that, Houshi-sama. And where did you hear that, anyway?"

"Oh, around. I can't remember."

"Uh-huh. A forgetful mind is the sign of a guilty conscience."

He spluttered. "Where did you hear that?"

"Oh… around," she grinned.

"Cheeky." He reached over and squeezed her waist… and then let his hand travel a little farther down…

She whacked him with her hand. "Save it. Geez, you couldn't wait another hour or two?"

"No, I— what do you mean 'another hour or two'?"

"Well, I was going to say that since Inuyasha and Kagome most likely won't be returning tonight, and Shippo and Kirara always sleep deeply after a day of traveling and fighting, we could indulge ourselves in a little…fun…"

Miroku stared at her. "Is this my Sango? What the hell did that demon do to you?"

She whacked him again. "You must really want to sleep alone tonight."

"No, no! I mean—" He stopped. "I'll get you for that. Later."

She laughed, throwing her arms around him. "I love you, Miroku."

He stiffened for a minute, and then relaxed into her embrace. Even only said lightly, the words had an effect on him. "Me too, Sango," he said. "Me too…"

-----

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive

If you don't have it you're on the other side

I'm not an addict (maybe that's the lie)

-----

Sanako dragged her feet as she shuffled down the sidewalk, her saddlebag bumping against her knee. She was going to graduate tomorrow without him because he was stuck in the hospital, his life force draining away little by little.

It wasn't cancer; it was terminal pneumonia. Pneumonia! The love of her life was dying not by an incurable disease, but an everyday cold that his body happened to lack the immunity to destroy it!

It was extremely warm out for April—she was only wearing a light jacket and khaki pants—but the day felt bitterly cold to her.

That morning, she'd tied her hair back without much emotion, threw on some clothes and dragged herself to class. The bags under her eyes were big enough to shop with.

Sanako shook her bangs out of her eyes and glared at anyone who looked at her funny. She realized that she looked almost feral today, but at the moment she didn't really care.

"Sanako-san?"

Sango startled and looked up at the face of Kuranosuke, one of her classmates she'd be graduating with today. "Hey…"

He frowned, taking in her gaunt face and tired eyes. "Are you all right?"

She shook her head 'yes', although it must not have been very convincing, for he wrapped her in a warm hug. "What's the matter?"

She should pull away. She should tell him never to touch her never again, but she couldn't. She was too tired, too weary. "Miyoko's in the hospital."

"With what?" he asked, genuinely shocked.

"Pneumonia."

He frowned. "It must be very serious if it's affected you this badly."

"He's dying."

His arms tightened around her. "Sanako-san…"

She burst into tears, her entire body wracking with sobs.

-----

It's over now, I'm cold, alone

I'm just a person on my own

Nothing means a thing to me

-----

Sango turned and walked back towards Kaede's hut, retracing the path that she'd been pacing for nearly an hour. It looked as if it had been cleared that way.

"Sango."

"What, Inuyasha?" she snapped.

"Cut it out. You're driving me insane."

"I'm driving you insane? Forgive me, O Heavenly One, for being worried about my fiancé because he's just up and disappeared during the middle of the night!"

He just blinked at her with those golden eyes and sighed. "Calm down, the bouzo knows how to take care of himself. He probably just saw a pretty face—"

"OSUWARI!" Kagome screamed. "Osuwari osuwari osuwari! You have no tact!"

"Damn it, bitch, I was just trying to make her feel better—"

"Well, you failed miserably!"

"I'm sure she'd rather hear that than 'sorry, he's run off because he's about to be absorbed by his kazaana'—"

"He's what?" Kagome exclaimed.

"Is that where he's gone?" demanded Sango.

Inuyasha shrugged. "Damned if I know. That's probably what happened though. And before you yell at me again—" He grabbed Kagome and pulled her into his arms, locking them securely around her waist. "There. You say it and you're going down with me." He turned back to Sango. "You'd probably want to know the truth rather than some watered down version."

"So… it's the kazaana?"

"That's my guess. It's been bothering him these past few days." Kagome was struggling to get out of his arms, mostly likely aching to give him the "sit" of his life. "But I don't know for sure."

Sango sat down hard on the ground. "That…idiot. Just leaving me here to go crazy with worry."

"Most likely sparing you from inadvertently committing suicide."

"What?" She looked up at him.

He regarded her with a sympathetic expression—a rare occurrence for Inuyasha. "If there is trouble with his kazaana, he probably didn't want you to be absorbed as well."

-

Three days later, Miroku still hadn't returned. Heart heavy and head aching, Sango begged her companions to go search for him. They agreed readily since they were worried themselves.

The forest was dim and silent as they ventured into it, knowing that this would be the place Miroku would've gone if his kazaana threatened to get out of control. The only noticeable noise was the sound of grass crunching beneath their feet.

Inuyasha, who was in the lead so that he could "protect the girls" if anything jumped out at them, suddenly stopped short. Kagome peered around him, and Sango around her.

They all stared at the pit in the middle of the forest, a perfect semicircle that dipped lightly into the ground about eight feet in diameter.

Sango felt the ground move beneath her before the dim forest suddenly grew darker.

-----

Free me, leave me

Watch me as I'm going down

-----

"Tadaima," Kuranosuke called, dropping his briefcase onto the chair.

"Welcome home," Sanako called back, smiling lightly from where she was making coffee. "How was your day?"

"Not bad." He came up to her and moved to put his arms around her waist, but pulled back at the last minute, remembering that she didn't respond positively to such affections. "We won the case."

"Congratulations." She took a sip of the bitter drink and took another mug out of the cupboard. "Want a cup?"

"Please. It's been a tiring day."

She turned and began to work the coffeemaker.

Kuranosuke studied her profile from the back, admiring her long, shiny brown hair and trim figure. It'd been five years since Miroku died, but other than her sad eyes, she hadn't aged a bit.

He'd waited a few years before asking her to move in with him, and was pleasantly surprised when she agreed. He'd hoped that after a while, he could ask her to marry him… but after a few months she realized she'd only agreed to his proposition to please him. She really didn't care one way or the other. She was still in love with Miroku—anyone knew that—and she was only acting as Kuranosuke's sex partner.

As much as the knowledge killed him, he couldn't bring himself to let her go. Something was better than nothing, right?

Sanako had no objections to the arrangement. She had companionship, only had to pay half of the rent, and got sex out of the deal.

But anyone that looked at her could see that she wasn't really happy…

He set down his coffee cup. It didn't help him any to think of such things. Why couldn't he just be content with what he had? And yet…was it too much to wish for the person he loved to return the feelings?

"Sanako."

She half turned and looked at him with raised eyebrows. "Yes?"

He walked toward her, his arm outstretched. "It's been a long day…"

She measured him with a look and shot him a teasing smile. It was the closest she ever got to looking completely happy. "Let me finish my coffee first…"

-----

Free me, see me

Look at me, I'm falling and I'm falling

-----

Sango knelt next to Miroku's grave like she did every year. Five years. It had been five years since Miroku's disappearance… or death. No one really knew. Except for her small group of friends and the women he'd promised to sleep with, almost everyone had forgotten about the flirtatious, lecherous, yet loving monk.

Naraku had been destroyed nearly three years ago… but he'd left plenty of minions to finish his dirty work. Sango was never without an exterminating job, and she often lost herself in her work to force out the memories.

Miroku was gone. Kohaku had vanished along with Naraku. Inuyasha had finally let go of Kikyo and taken Kagome as his mate a couple of years ago, and those two now split their time between the Sengoku Jidai and Kagome's time (although the time spent in the future had dwindled down to major holidays after their first child came). She knew they didn't mean to exclude her; she loved them dearly, and them her… but there were times that she knew she was intruding on their private life, and without Miroku, she always felt like a third wheel.

Miroku. Not Houshi-sama. If only he'd come back, she'd call him Miroku till her lungs gave out.

She sat there and thought. Thought about all that could have been. Regretted.

Eventually, she sat back on her heels and got to her feet. There were probably already a million people lined up outside her door, waiting for extermination services. She made her way down the familiar path of the forest, her eyes adjusting from the dimness to the brightness once she was out of the forest.

It was early in the morning, so she was rather surprised to see another traveler coming towards her on the road. She frowned and shifted Hiraikotsu on her back. She was in her yukuta, but if necessary, she would fight in it.

The form seemed to be human. She tightened her grip on the boomerang and kept a careful eye on the traveler, waiting until he came into sight to attack.

He had the garb of a daimyo, and the stance of one as well. On her guard, Sango quickened her step so as to pass the man quicker—

Before gasping and whirling around the familiar face registered in her mind. "Houshi-sama?"

Miroku turned and looked at her inquisitively. "Pardon, ma'am?"

She nearly fainted at the sight of him. Miroku… it was him! The boyish smile, the dancing purple eyes, the roguishly disheveled hair… "What are you doing here, idiot?" She launched herself into his arms, nearly knocking him over. The tears that she didn't allow to show in years past flowed freely now. "Where did you go? Do you know how worried we were about you? And what's with this getup?" She fingered the collar and said, "Oh well, you still look hot in it."

Miroku was staring at her intently, as if trying to figure out a complicated equation. "You knew me before, didn't you?"

She startled. " 'Before'?"

"Before I lost my memory."

"Lost your… what?" She whacked him on the side of the head. "You stupid hentai! What the hell was that hole in the middle of the forest, then? We all thought you'd been sucked in by your kazaana… five damn years I've been alone, wishing you were with me, wondering what happened to you—"

He tentatively raised a hand to touch her face. "You look…and sound… so familiar."

She bit her lip. "You don't even remember my name, do you."

He regretfully shook his head. "I'm sorry…"

Sango turned away for a moment, unable to control herself. All this time… all this time he'd been alive—and now he didn't even remember her.

"What's that?" he suddenly asked, touching Hiraikotsu.

"This? My boomerang." That which I pummeled you with many, many times.

"What's it for?" Then, as if a memory struck him, he blinked. "You're a taijiya, aren't you?"

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

"We are in desperate need of extermination at the castle," he said. "The demons keep feeding off the villagers surrounding it, and people are afraid to emerge from their houses. Are you up for hire?" He was staring at her again.

"I…" How on earth did you become a daimyo? Are you really Miroku? No… there was no doubt about it. It was him. "Yes. I am." She could virtually go for weeks without seeing Inuyasha and Kagome, anyhow, between her jobs and their parenting obligations. "It shouldn't take me more than a week or two."

"Fine," he said breezily. "Do you need to get anything?"

She hesitated. "Yes. Let me return to my village—I'll meet you back here in an hour."

"Done." He bowed lightly to her and went on his way, heading towards the forest.

Sango stared after him, utterly exhausted. What now?

-

"Taijiya-san, I must say you've done an admirable job. I haven't seen a demon for days. Before, I counted myself lucky to not see one for a few hours."

She inclined her head a bit, acknowledging the praise, but not commenting. She slowly moved her chopsticks around her rice, not feeling very hungry.

Three weeks in Miroku's presence and he still wasn't able to recall her name. She refused to give it to him—consequently, the entire village called her "Taijiya-san." It felt impersonal and it broke her heart to have Miroku call her as such, but it was necessary. Until he was able to remember her name, she wasn't going to tell him.

He insisted that she join him for dinner every night, and daily badgered her to tell him about himself. So far, she'd explained that he'd been a monk—and a lecher and a playboy—and had traveled with her, a girl from a very strange place, and a half-demon for a couple of years in search of an evil creation called Naraku.

"And why were we searching for this Naraku person?" he asked once again, his purple eyes drilling into hers.

"Because he had put a curse on your grandfather that created a wind tunnel in your hand; if we didn't destroy Naraku soon, it would eventually obliterate you." She shuddered as she said the words, recalling memories of grief, disbelief, denial, and anger.

He stared hard into her eyes, like he always did when trying to remember. Then he finally sighed. "No. Nothing."

"It's okay." She'd given up on any hope of him remembering by now. Did it really matter, anyway? He was kazaana-less, the leader of a rich village, powerful, charming, self-assured, and had access to any woman he'd ever want. What she couldn't understand is why he suddenly seemed unsusceptible to their charms. Had his memory loss affected his outlook on life? He took women, to be sure—she'd seen many a woman disappear into his chambers and not emerge till morning—but he didn't chase after them like he'd done previously. He waited for them to come to him now.

She wasn't sure what she thought of the change.

"Will your companions miss you?" he abruptly said.

Sango shrugged. "They're used to me being gone on assignments. Besides, they're plenty busy with their family."

"And these are the half-demon and girl I used to travel with?"

She nodded slightly.

He sighed. "You have an air of credibility about you… and everything you've said and done has been truthful. But I just don't know what to believe."

"It's okay." And it was. It was like he'd come back form the dead… after five years of adjusting to his absence, it felt… awkward to have him back.

Not to say that she wasn't still in love with him. She was. More than ever. But it was more like she was in love with his twin… basically the same person, but mild differences that struck wrong chords once in a while.

"Did I ever sleep with you?"

She flushed bright red and whacked him on the head. "That's none of your business!"

"I think it is," he laughed, holding her hands captive in his own to avoid further abuse. "It's about me, isn't it?"

She refused to dignify him with an answer. Just glared.

"I should think I would have," he said thoughtfully, rubbing his thumbs against her wrists. "You're beautiful, intelligent, independent… why didn't I fall I love with you?"

She averted her gaze.

He took hold of her chin and dragged her face forward, forcing her eyes to meet his. "Or did I?"

She looked at him helplessly, not even trying to hide her emotions.

Miroku gently stroked her cheek, his expression pained. "I did fall in love with you. I slept with you."

"Yes," she whispered, barely audible.

"And I don't even know your name…"

"No…" another whisper.

He leaned forward and brushed her lips with his own. Her eyes fluttered at his touch. She remembered all too well…

His breath quickened and he leaned forward again, capturing her lips with a fierce need. She leaned into it, tasting him, her salty tears mixing with their exploring tongues.

"Sango," he moaned.

Her eyes flew open and she jerked back. "What?" she gasped.

Miroku's eyes had gone wide as well. "Sango?" he said softly. "Is that your name?"

She didn't answer. Couldn't answer.

"How did I know that name…?" He tasted her lips again, murmuring her name against her lips. "Sango… Sango… the taijiya, my taijiya. My love."

"Yes," she cried, the tears spilling down her cheeks.

"I can't remember anything else…" he said in frustration. "I can't. Just—just you."

"It's okay. It'll come." Would it?

"Sango." He grabbed her hand and gripped it tightly. "Stay here. Please. You… I need you. You complete me. I don't know why—but you do."

Was it just a line?

She didn't care.

It felt so right in his embrace, their breaths merging as one, the blood pounding in her ears, the clothes shedding as their passion rose…

It wasn't her. It wasn't men. It was him.

She was addicted to him.

-----

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive

If you don't have it you're on the other side

-----

Sanako was awake when the dawn first broke. This was a new record for her: staying up the entire night. After their session of lovemaking, Kuranosuke had fallen into a peaceful and satisfied sleep, his arm hooked lightly around her waist. She'd quickly shifted so that she was free from his touch.

Why couldn't she just love him? It'd been seven years, damn it, and she still couldn't forget Miyoko. Was this normal? Was it okay that she couldn't forget him? Was her love so blasted strong that it forbade her from loving another man—ever?

Maybe it wasn't her. Maybe it was Kuranosuke.

But no—he was every woman's dream. Sweet, doting, hard-working, intelligent, handsome… it couldn't be that.

Perhaps it was Miyoko. Perhaps he'd spoiled her for everyone else… Perhaps it was a curse to find true love. Once you had it, you could never be satisfied once it was gone. It was an addiction. Addictions last a lifetime. Think how long it takes alcoholics to free themselves of the drink.

Something told her love was an addiction much, much harder to break than alcoholism.

She sighed, watching the light from the rising sun slowly fill the gaps between the blinds, the light photons forming beams that made little patterns of stripes on their bedspread.

She wished life was like a fairy tale. What would she feel like if Miyoko hadn't really died… but only had amnesia and was wandering around, oblivious of her love? Like that story from feudal history. About the monk, Miroku, who was being absorbed by his cursed wind tunnel, but the love in his soul for Sango was so strong that instead of absorbing him, the kazaana merely stole him memory and left him unscathed. The man who rescued him was a daimyo who took him under his wing; when the warlord died, Miroku had taken his place… and by a chance turn of events, had met his old love while traveling one day.

He hadn't remembered her… but in time, his memory had returned to him.

She sighed and rolled over on her side. Dreams. Nothing but dreams. She'd seen Miyoko's cold, lifeless body with her own eyes, devoid of life, his soul gone…

Sanako shuddered. No, don't think of that.

Why the hell was she still with Kuranosuke? She should just leave him. It was unfair to him to torture him this way—dangle the idea of love in front of his face, just out of his reach. She slipped out of bed, but stopped in the middle of her movement.

But was it really fair to leave him like this either? Either way she'd be hurting him. Leave with no notice—break his heart. Stay and deny him love—break his heart. Kami-sama

She slid back in bed. She'd stay. For him. For Miyoko. Miyoko would have wanted her to move on… to be happy.

She wasn't happy. But maybe…eventually…she would be? Miyoko would want her to make Kuranosuke happy. She could try to love him.

Burying her face in her pillow, Sanako let her body succumb to the sobs that racked her body. At least they provided temporary relief from her rampant thoughts.

Why, oh why, couldn't she forget him?

-----

I'm not an addict (maybe that's the lie)

I'm not an addict…

-----

The early rays of morning light shone through the uncovered window. Sango turned and found herself face-to-face with a sleeping Miroku, a slight smile on his face, his short hair disheveled. She smiled and brushed the bangs off his face. Like this, he didn't look like the daimyo—he looked like the old perverted monk.

It had been over a year since the day she'd agreed to stay with him. Outside their bedchamber, he was a more serious, self-absorbed Miroku. When they were alone, the teasing, groping, flirting, sweet Miroku came out. But it had taken a long time for him to warm up to her. She loved him, but she hated the duplicity.

She sighed and snuggled closer to him. At least he was faithful. He hadn't touched another woman since he'd recalled her name. And he'd mentioned marriage once or twice.

But he still wasn't able remember a thing. He tolerated her calling him "Miroku" (everyone else called him a warlord's name), and he knew her name (though he still couldn't figure out how or why), but their companions, Kohaku, their adventures… all gone.

What exactly had happened? His kazaana was gone and the hole in the ground was the exact image of his father's grave. Yet here he was—alive and kazaana-free. But his memory was gone.

How did one explain that? Naraku left no loopholes; Miroku, by all rights, should have been dead.

"Oh well," she murmured, touching his face once again. Even if he never remembered her, she would be content to live the rest of her life here, traveling to slay demons and then returning to Miroku each night.

Because she loved him.

And because an addiction this strong was impossible to cure.

-

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A/N: If you ask me "Who are Sanako and Miyoko?" I will throw sandballs at you (only because there are no such things as snowballs in Florida). What did you think of it? Review, please!