Repost, follows chapters 88 through 111.

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When Sango was still young - and that was such a short time ago - her father told her she should be the best. Not good, not better. The Best.

Sango always makes the best mistakes. Picking up the tiny sliver of precious jewel and bringing it with her to her precious home. Clawing her way up through dirt and worms to precious, precious air. Listening to precious Naraku.

Sango hates, has hated, Inuyasha since she was a little girl - and that seems like such a long time ago - because he is a demon and that is what her father told her she should hate. Hated him more when she had a name and a vendetta. Hated him most when he saved her life and turned out to be innocent.

Inuyasha infuriated her. Next to him, she was not the Best anymore. She was the weak one, the second fiddler, the decoy. He told her as much, then simply dismissed her while he ripped off the arm of the false water god. He saved her life, again, and I hate you I hate you I hate you pulsed against the inside of her head like one of Naraku's angry hornets. Sango has never been, never needed to be, saved before.

She used to do the saving, but now she can't even save her own brother, her flesh and blood and life. She wants to, needs to, and when Naraku offers her a chance she accepts it like another tainted shard to the back. She is impervious to the pain, just as before, and she collapses, just as before, and Sango is bested, just as before.

Sango really doesn't like Inuyasha. He is rude, and thoughtless, and dangerous. She seethes at his condescending attitude toward herself and her brother, as if he could ever comprehend losing everything. As if he could even comprehend finding something worth keeping. She is not deaf; she heard his frank appraisal of her wounds, his annoyed grumblings when she could not remember the castle, his suspicion of her actions, his threats of violence to find out her motives. Inuyasha is a demon, and she knows that is all she'll see, ever, because that is all that is there.

But then he is standing there, simply watching while everyone else tries to get her to stay, and she is determined to go. She is about to, she really is, and then he opens his big fat mouth and tells her she is useful. Not the Best, but Good Enough, and it suddenly dawns on her that he is not the Best, nor the Worst, either.

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