Disclaimer: All right! I admit it! The Inuyasha characters/universe/basic ideas are not my own. And don't think it doesn't piss me off!

Dedication: I dedicate this story to my puppy dog who gets so neglected because of my fanfiction obsession, er, focus, but loves me anyway. (Hugs on puppy)

Now switching gears: Here's a nice angsty story for all of the Miroku/Sango angst whores out there.

O Loving Hate (Treasures)

By Starzki

- - -

I never thought that I would love hating someone so much. I never thought I was that kind of a person.

Now, I treasure my hate.

This thought used to comfort me. I see now that I must move on.

Takeda will no doubt be sending for me shortly. I want so badly to stay, to have the confrontation that must come following my behavior in the village. I want him to be hurt, to vacillate, to forgive me. That way, I can hate him all the more for his simpering weakness when it comes to matters concerning me.

God, how I hate that man. He's shown me nothing but kindness and goodwill and faith.

So I must go.

I realize now that I won't be able to live with myself if I only stay because I love my hate.

I hate him because he isn't the monk.

It didn't start out that way. I came to him after the monk died because I didn't have any other place to go. Kagome and Inuyasha would have let me stay with them, but after losing the monk, after all the intense feelings of loving and losing and despairing and relief that it was all truly over, I needed some place that was stable.

Takeda offered me that.

I was glad for it at first.

Takeda knew how I felt about the monk. He had known since he saw us fighting the demon spirit that haunted his village. He knew that my love for the monk had only grown since then, to impossible heights. The evidence was physical: on my face, my body, in my very being.

The first thing that Takeda did was to offer to marry me. So I began to hate him.

The monk had died for me. For all of us, really. He had hidden that his wind tunnel was expanding. He had known his time was near.

I hate that stupid monk, too. But in a way that is fed by love. The hate is a side effect of his death. It wouldn't exist if the love wasn't there, too.

The same cannot be said of my hate for Takeda.

When I refused to marry him, he took me on as a mistress. He has since married. He also has other women.

I am his favorite.

He dresses me in finery and sees to my every desire. He knows nothing about me and I'm not sure if he even cares. He sees in me what he wants to see. And I hate him the more for it.

The monk knew that I cared nothing for riches. Family and friends were what I treasured. Baubles and silks are useless ornamentation. Yet, here I stand, adorned, shiny, soft, and beautiful. I almost hate myself.

The monk had liked, loved, who I was. And I had always secretly liked the way he looked at me. Even when it irritated me. There was no hidden agenda in his appraisal of me. Only honest desire. I knew that his eyes saw me as desirable, sometimes beautiful, even when I was unwashed, sullen, withdrawn, and stubborn. Takeda is always trying to change those things about me.

And I had loved that damned monk.

He had known that his death was near. The night before he left us, he woke me in the early morning hours by curling up with me on my bedroll. I think he just wanted some human contact on that last night, even if it was the brutal punishment I usually gave.

But, somehow, I must have known, too. As soon as I had awoken, I couldn't stop touching him. I still remember his delighted surprise when I didn't refuse him. As I led him away into a nearby clearing in the forest where the grass was soft and the breeze was sweet, he grinned with such unabashed mirth that I wanted to kiss him until he no longer smiled. Then kiss him until he was smiling once more.

We made love that night. Twice, actually. I was so nervous and excited the first time that I barely remember it. But the second time, I remember every detail. It was great. I was glad that the monk had had some experience

That night, after I had fallen back asleep, the monk slipped away from us. But not before hiding a reminder of himself for me before he left to take out our enemy.

We never discovered how the monk had figured out where Naraku had been hiding. After discovering his absence, we raced to find him. We arrived just in time to see the vortex of winds expanding. The violent purple winds enveloped Naraku as he tried to get away. That bastard had the gall to give us a look of pleading fear before the violet ripping forces that he had created overtook him.

Ironic, I suppose, when I think about it. Which I try not to do. Better to think about the night before. To dwell on the pleasure and happiness of that night. Not that moment the next day where I felt as though my guts were being ripped from me as I saw the monk's demise.

Yet, I somehow feel honored to have witnessed it.

In front of the mirror, I scoff at my primped reflection. I strip and dig up my old clothing. I will leave with what I came with.

After dressing, another glimpse in the mirror takes me back eight years. I am still young. I'm growing wiser.

I was so lost right after I monk died and freed us all of our obligations that I didn't know what direction to choose. I tagged along after Kagome and Inuyasha, feeding off of their kindness and patience. I refused to cry.

Strangely enough, it was Kagome that noticed the unusual bulge in my yukata. Cleverly hidden in its folds (my monk was always the clever one), I discovered the tiny treasure that the monk had left behind. It was small and personal, like a heartfelt love note on old parchment paper that is special to only two people. I knew instantly that I never wanted to be parted with it.

But it was hard to have a reminder of the monk. When I realized that I now had something of his that had been spared the void that took him and all he had, I began to laugh. I laughed until my stomach knotted and roiled. I laughed until I began to shriek with a peculiar elated agony. I shrieked until Kagome was sobbing and begging Inuyasha to make me stop, make me stop, for the love of God, I had to stop.

So Inuyasha hauled off and punched me in the face. Hard.

Kagome was so mortified that she sat him at once. But I had been shocked back into myself. I could finally cry for the monk and my loss.

And I had never had any more love and respect for Inuyasha than in that exact moment.

When he was recovered from the sitting, I embraced the half-demon hard and kissed his mouth because the monk wasn't there for me to thank properly for my new treasure. I curled up next to Inuyasha to be comforted by him that night. I slept under his left arm while Kagome slept and was comforted under his right.

The monk would have been so jealous.

The next day I left them. I tried for a few weeks to find my brother, but he had disappeared. Every village and every traveler I questioned knew nothing of a boy without a home looking for his sister. None of them knew of a boy without a memory.

I've never really stopped searching for him, but I had to stop traveling. I felt like every nerve in my body was exposed to open air and every disappointment abraded them further.

And I was so tired.

I left for Takeda's.

He took me in.

I began to miss the monk and hate Takeda because he was such a poor replacement for him in every sense.

It's unfair, I suppose, to continue to make comparisons. No one can compete with the dead. But I cannot help making the comparisons any more than I can prevent the sun from rising tomorrow morning.

I make up the bed before leaving. I am not an inconsiderate guest, even after eight years. It's my bed, our bed, Takeda's and mine.

Even though he likes me more than his other women, he does not visit me much. He knows I do not love him. And after what went on in the village, he may now know how much I actually hate him.

One of the main reasons I hate Takeda so fiercely, I guess, is because he only desires me because I'm a kind of undomesticated pet to him. Sure, I take him in this bed. But I'll never love him. I'm like a stubborn foal for him to break.

I'm his personal mirror.

When he looks at me, all he sees is himself. If I ever come to love him he will be, in his mind, the great lover, the man who could tame the wild beast in the girl he saw. He cares for me as he cares for his other possessions. Who I am means nothing to him.

And although he'd never admit it, he's jealous of the monk.

I know because, once, a few years ago, after leaving the bed we had shared, Takeda made the comment, "I still smell him on you." I know he meant the monk. It's the only thing that Takeda has ever said that has made me happy.

He's completely aware of the monk's gift to me. He catches me tracing its lines with gentle caresses. I don't hide my love for this treasure. It would be pointless.

While I've stayed here, I've stopped fighting, exterminating. It's my choice, not Takeda's. It's interesting. At a time when I most needed to vent my frustrations at something Takeda had said or done, I chose instead to nurture the hate instead of sublimating it into another form of acceptable violence.

Yet despite my hate for Takeda, I'm growing happy in my life. I'm getting used to missing the monk. I'm learning to let him go and hold him closer at the same time. I can still experience joy and happiness.

But I miss fighting.

I can make a good living becoming a demon exterminator again. I'll have to start training. I look forward to it.

Only last week, I heard tenuous rumors of a young man in the Northern Lands who does not remember his past. I will go there. Even if it is not my brother, I will renew my searches. I will find my brother and we will hunt together.

I stealthily slip out of my door. No one is coming, but they will soon. I only have to step lightly enough not to wake Takeda's other women. None of us has borne him a child. For that, I am now thankful. A child of his would be an excuse to stay.

I will not stay and love my hate. I am not that kind of person.

I pause as I think I hear footsteps. It was nothing. I will be sent for soon, but they will find only my empty chamber.

Everyone in the house is angry with me. I took a lover in the village last week. Now, Takeda's whole house knows of it and it's been decided I need a stern talking to.

The boy in the village reminded me of the monk. The boy, younger than me, probably about twenty years old, is full of silly bravado and confidence. I caught his eye as I shopped in the square and he boldly propositioned me. I laughed in remembrance. And I agreed.

I didn't particularly want the boy. I was missing the monk. I was missing who I used to be before I loved to hate. And then there he was, the monk's spiritual twin. So I agreed. The boy nearly choked in surprise.

I don't think I did it for the boy. I don't think I did it for myself. I did it for the boy's future love. His Sango. I wanted his Sango to be as satisfied with her first experience as I was with mine.

I went to the boy again today and we were discovered.

It's just as well. It's the catalyst for me to move on.

But I will not leave without the monk's little treasure.

I duck into the room where Takeda keeps it for me. The separate room serves a double purpose for Takeda. He does this to look as though he honors my treasure, too. He also wants to keep distanced from me.

I rifle through the grand and ornate chest to pull out suitable wrappings. My little treasure has grown. I creep up to the bed and kiss the warm forehead of my seven-year-old son. "Miroku. Wake up. We're leaving."

He doesn't argue. He blinks up at me with the monk's eyes and smiles. He doesn't like Takeda much either.

As he dresses, I'm taken aback at the resemblance between our little treasure and not the monk, but my brother: freckled and kind. The monk was able to give me a part of my brother back to me, even if I never end up finding him.

With his death and by taking Naraku with him, the monk spared me the agony of losing little Miroku. He has no wind tunnel. He has spared our son.

My life is not over. I will move on to the Northern Lands. I will care for and love our son. I will leave my love of hating behind. I will be happy with the life and the love the monk was able to give.

Little Miroku clasps my hand as we move into the night and into our future.

Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
O anything of nothing first create;
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.

(Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, Act I, Scene I, 169-175)

Author's Note: As strange as this may sound, I wrote this while in a really good mood. I was at work, listening to Dido's "Hunter," and the whole story just popped into my head, start to finish. Yeah, the story is cliché. It's been done 850 thousand times. But I still wanted to write it. If you're moved to comment, reviews are greatly appreciated!