Sango never checked her mail that much. Normally she made a point to try it once a week or every other. She simply didn't get enough to warrant any extra trips to the post office. Having that time and one less worry in her life allowed for a more uncomplicated schedule to live by. She could get home faster, get more homework done on free nights, and have more time to use for eating before leaving for work. Suffice to say, this vague, future appointment put her off and the daily routine Sango was so comfortable with had to get altered until she had a confirmation and could stop checking.

There wasn't anything she could do but worry and ponder the whole time she was forced to wait. Each day she prayed there would be a letter in her mailbox to end her suffering, but there was nothing. Aside from the occasional electronic or clothing ad, Sango was left empty-handed.

She wrote him the same night she finished working with a list of her free days for two weeks. She knew two weeks was good enough, but they were far between. Not figuring something like this would come up, Sango tried to take as much work as possible for extra cash. There were summer semester books to get after all.

She was put off for four days until a plain, white letter broke the monotony of metal interior. Sango gulped as she slowly extracted it and stared at Enzen-san's name. It was finally here...but she was no less a wreck than before. The actual day would come now that she got affirmation.

Sango didn't open it until she was home. She didn't want to worry about any reaction which could occur if she was in public. She set her bag in its normal spot before heading for the roof for privacy. She was given a shock at seeing Kagome-chan and a pile of laundry, but couldn't turn around for someplace else now that she was spotted.

"Sango-chan, what're you doing up here?"

Sango smiled and headed over, folding the letter and sticking it in her jeans pocket. "I didn't know we needed to do laundry so soon. Didn't you do some just last week?" She sidestepped.

Kagome grinned over an arm in the process of pinning a sheet to the line. "You would be amazed at how much can accrue from even four people living here full time."

Sango looked to the basket. "Would you like some help?"

"Oh no, you came up here for something didn't you? I'll let you get back to it and get this finished."

Sango nodded, anxiety coming back in reminder of her fate. She headed to the opposite corner of the area and sat on the concrete. She slit the top open with a finger and picked out a single piece of paper. It wasn't heavily written on.

0-0

To Tsuyoi-san,

How are you? I hope you are well. I have been rather busy at work, so sorry for the lack of earlier contact. I have found a half day of work which matches your time off. I wanted to make it far enough in advance when you could get this. Let's meet at seven at the same train station in Harajuku where we saw each other last time. I know of a place we can go to that's quiet and will be perfect.

See you then, Miroku

0-0

The date was circled on the bottom of the page. Sango resisted a groan. She only had two days to mentally get ready. 'Damn.' Sango noted with irony that he signed his first name only. Even after telling him she didn't want first names, he still put it down. But he didn't use hers when starting the letter, so maybe he would abide by her wish.

Heaving a sigh, knowing she had little time before she had to expose herself, Sango folded the paper and put it under her foot. The urge to move was far away and her head craned up to stare at the sky.

Kagome finished putting everything to dry and made to go in when she looked around for her friend. She was ready to suggest they head in together if Sango-chan was finished, but stopped. Brows furrowed, pondering what the change in expression was, Kagome walked away from the mass of flapping cotton. "Sango-chan?" There was no answer and Kagome called louder, finally getting a pair of listless eyes. Kagome kneeled in front of her friend, concern on her face. "What's wrong Sango-chan? You don't look so good."

"I don't feel so good." She echoed.

Kagome blinked, eventually looking down when a foot shifted. Taking the invite, Kagome grabbed the envelope before it could fly away and stared at the unknown address. "This is..." Sango merely sighed, positioning herself to pay more attention to her friend. Kagome opened it and read the short letter. Brows disappeared into her bangs, mouth gaping open a little at the insinuation. "Sango-chan...this is -"

"My first date in over half a decade."

Kagome stared at her friend, meeting unhappy brown and gave an encouraging smile. "Is that what the problem is? You're nervous about going out in so long? Are you concerned over your clothing and hair?"

If only it was that simple. Sango liked keeping some of the things in her life to herself, but one blunder and she ended up involving someone. It wasn't easy to let a person in and since starting college, Sango lost touch with a lot of upper-secondary school friends who were busy with a family or another college. Sango didn't think many she went to school with now that could be close friends would approve of her living and working in a glorified whore house, and didn't need to be looked down upon or talked about. She slowly resolved to only get along with people with a hectic four years looming and somewhere along the way, it became natural to do so. Joking and talking on the surface level of generic topics or petty issues with a person was safer than confiding something big. It became a fear which eventually ruled her on an unconscious level until she accepted that she couldn't let anyone in for worry of being cast out.

"Three days from now... Do you have any idea where you're going or what you'll be doing?"

Sango blinked and focused on her friend's questioning gaze. She gave a shrug and shake of her head. "He said he'd cater to my every whim and be a complete gentleman, but I don't have any idea with that. I suppose I should just wear what I always wear and hope he doesn't get too insulted that I didn't dress up."

"Oh Sango-chan, you shouldn't do that." Kagome waved a playful finger in her friend's face, handing the letter back. "You always want to impress someone the first time you go out with them. Don't worry, I'll help you get ready when the time comes. Just trust me and leave it to me."

Sango smiled at her friend's exuberance. "Arigatou Kagome-chan, but it's just a date. I don't even intend on taking it seriously to be honest with you. This man just wants to talk to me."

"You should always take a date seriously Sango-chan. Who knows? Maybe you'll be able to find something with this guy."

Sango mentally pictured Enzen-san and his flirting grins, the insistence to a simple outing, the odd interest, and their first encounter and tried not to roll her eyes. "I doubt it."

"You don't know what the future will bring so don't be so pessimistic. Now come on, why don't you come inside with me and have some tea with me. I don't have anything to do until the laundry dries and Kikyou-sama is downstairs working on her plants."

Sango obeyed and sat in her normal spot. The balcony doors were open to let in fresh air, and cool down the area due to warm temperatures, which allowed Sango stared at the sky again. She wanted to have Kagome-chan's enthusiasm and optimism, but she already knew enough of Enzen-san to not want to give him a chance. He wasn't her type anyway, she couldn't stand guys who had no pride and flirted with anything they saw. He did it from the first night they met and the last time they spent together. Even though he knew her on some level, he didn't stop. It was annoying.

At least a time was fixed and Sango could stop worrying. She now needed to pick and choose the things she wanted to make public. It wouldn't be a whole lot of anything and she intended on slipping by with as little as possible.

Despite what Enzen-san thought, Sango could handle this issue well enough on her own. Of course there were moments of weakness - usually after a day spent with Kohaku - and Enzen-san happened to be in her presence when she broke down. Sango always allowed herself a little bit of sadness whenever the train took her brother to Nihonbashi(1). Why shouldn't she? She never got to be around him enough after they initially went their separate ways and she harbored a lot of guilt over it, being the elder sibling. It was her responsibility to take care of her ototo and watch out for him. He had a kind and sweet personality and she smiled just being around him. Moments like those in the subways reminded her of what she could be having instead of what she was working toward.

-.-.-.-

One thing Sango didn't like was people who said they were going to do something and then never made good on it. It was a pet peeve of hers and she tried not to be a hypocrite. Sango was careful when she said she would do something because in her mind, that was as good as making a promise. She had been around a few people who wanted to hang out with her for something or another but ended up making excuses, or never showing up at all. The times Sango was left hanging, she was forced to play it cool and later nicely inquire why she was stood up. Those few times taught her well and from that she learned to think before she easily agreed to do something.

That was why she refused to not show up and stand up Enzen-san. She didn't want to be like those wishy-washy people, but this wasn't something she wanted to do either. A lot of her mind was screaming at her to back out, to write him with some lame excuse, but she kept reminding herself she all but gave her word. A promise was a promise and not something to take lightly.

A date. Sango hadn't been on one since the few in high school. She only had maybe a dozen that she could remember in her life, most of them when she was around Kohaku's age. College was not the time to start seeking someone to go out with...and then there was the hotel rule. It was not strictly enforced to the point of a person getting fired if they disobeyed, but it was definitely kept in mind. Unmarried women who worked in a soaplady hotel couldn't have connections to a boyfriend or fiancé if they wanted the money - the reaction by their men could be quite severe and Sango knew men would get jealous and angry at hearing their girlfriend working in such a place. For everyone's emotional - and sometimes physical - safety, dating was frowned upon.

Sango could see the logic in it. Dating in itself was no big deal, so long as two people went out to have fun and not be serious about it. But if there was attraction by either person, one date could lead to more and then a relationship. Knowing that, Sango hadn't dated anyone since moving in.

If she remembered rightly, her last date was with a classmate in her second year of upper-secondary school. She only went out once before her chichiue found out and urged her to put more time toward her studies. That was seven years ago. Sango almost groaned at her old-maid attitude, but found something even more pressing.

She had no clue what to WEAR to this thing!

It was good to be presentable if nothing else. There was no point in wearing shabby clothes and being rude. But Sango didn't want to fully dress up and be overdone if they were going to any cafe for something small. With the attitude she gave, she suppose it was too much to think he was considering any extravagance on this date. He said he would cater to her every need, so it was possible she shouldn't expect much. As far as she knew, they were going to sit down somewhere mildly private so she could spill her guts. Sango surmised with a person like Enzen-san, he would want to treat her to something else, so feared she would have to spend at least a few hours with him.

"I don't know about this Kagome-chan..." Sango's nose wrinkled as a hand picked at the skirt. It was too short for her tastes, but the woman insisted.

"Nonsense Sango-chan, it looks good on you. You have long legs so it just makes the skirt look shorter." Kagome circled her friend, surveying everything with a critical eye.

WHY did she ask her friend for help? Pants and a mildly nice top would've been good enough in Sango's mind, but her friend contended that she should put some oomph into it. Of course Sango didn't own any nice clothing that was modern, so Kagome-chan dug into her stash and started making her try things on. They were about the same size despite Sango being ten centimeters taller, though Kagome-chan had a slimmer waist and the skirt rode up a few centimeters past her comfort level. "I just don't know Kagome-chan. I feel really weird in this." A hand patted her rear, uncomfortable at feeling air caress that high. Though the skirt went almost to her knees, the lack of clothing wrapped around each leg made Sango feel like the skirt was bunched to her waist and she was giving the world a peep show.

"Trust me Sango-chan; you look very pretty in it. Highly lady-like."

Sango smirked. "That I find hard to believe."

The woman waved a finger at her. "Tsk, tsk, Sango-chan. You shouldn't be so negative about yourself. If you dismiss your good qualities, how can someone else like them?"

That wasn't the part that worried her. The fabric was tight enough so any stray wind wouldn't show the world the color of her underwear, but Sango knew Enzen-san was going to take this as a sign of interest. She didn't want to lead him on in the slightest and the earlier rudeness versus this style of dress was going to confuse him. She mentally noted that she would have to make herself clear in the beginning and before they parted so he wouldn't try anything funny.

She was eventually convinced to dress up extra special this one night and go back to normality in the morning, or at least as soon as she got home, but Sango was running out of time and so relented due to that. She refused makeup and just threw her hair into her routine high ponytail, settling for a solid button-up blouse. She didn't have pierced ears and didn't want a necklace, so ended up borrowing one of Kagome-chan's purses since the skirt had no pockets and headed for her shoes. Fortunately, she had a pair of black sandals that managed to do the trick, but still be comfortable and ignored the need for something a little fancier. This wasn't a date, it was a meeting.

Somewhere in her thoughts of what to say and how to phrase it, Sango recognized that she wasn't doing anything special. She was going to sit down someplace quiet with this guy and tell him a few things about her life. She had a little something to eat before getting dressed, so wasn't that hungry. She would order something to drink and maybe have a dessert to placate him, but that was it.

"Good luck Sango-chan! Ganbatte!"

Sango waved as she left the hotel, a grin pasted on her face. She hardly paid any attention to her smiling friend, too occupied with reassuring her skirt wasn't blowing up with as much air as she was feeling. After reaching the street, Sango checked her time with a wristwatch and decided to jog to the station. One hand idly gripped the side of her skirt for extra measure and piece of mind.

0-0

When meeting someone, it was only polite to get there on time or a little early. It didn't matter if the man hung around, but the woman must not be kept waiting. Miroku was ten minutes early for Sango's train as a result of that belief. He knew of her hesitance concerning tonight, but couldn't resist the urge to dress up somewhat. A pair of grey slacks, a white button-up shirt, and a dark blue vest made him stand out in the middle of the train station. It was too early for most businessmen to be around and most students were heading home. He almost blended in and was amused at that realization.

His attention focused ahead as a horn sounded in the distance. Crowds of teenagers snatched bags from their feet and slowly gravitated toward the edge to be assured a spot. Miroku was happy to wait next to the far wall and use it for support as the metal cars screeched to a stop for the masses. Everyone was allowed off first before positions were switched. Only after most people threaded through each other did Miroku leave his comfortable stance and start searching.

'Sheesh, I'll never find him with all these students!' Sango ambled around the youngsters, eyes exploring the area. She didn't know what he'd be wearing, but constant worry about tonight wouldn't allow her to forget his face this time. She was mildly thankful for that because it was the only thing she had to rely on. The train was filled and gone, leaving her with a smaller crowd waiting for the next district. A bored look attached itself to her face when she searched the exit areas fruitlessly.

Miroku was definitely startled and pleasantly surprised once the stunning creature managed to cross the last human barrier to his eyes and he saw what she had on. He didn't know what he expected, but definitely not a purse and skirt! They were so feminine and she seemed like the type not to care about those things. Her outfit was a simple brown skirt and mint green shirt, but she looked great. 'Of course,' He mused, 'she'd look good in just about anything that would show off legs like that!'

With a playful grin, figuring this was going to be more fun than anticipated, Miroku rounded the area before they could lock eyes and made to get behind her. The first thing he did was take a look at the back and appreciated whoever made the skirt she was wearing. After that, hands floated up and plopped down on her shoulders. "Boo!"

Sango jumped and screamed, whipping around with her borrowed purse as a weapon. "Pervert!"

"Hey!" Miroku skirted away from the whap on his arm. He met shocked eyes and grinned bashfully. "Sorry, perhaps that wasn't the best way to get your attention." So much for an original hello...

Sango blinked, then realized she just assaulted this man for the second - or was it third? - time since she kept meeting him outside work. She backed away a step and bowed. "Sorry! I didn't mean that one - you startled me!"

Miroku waved her off, forcing her to rise by raising her chin to meet him. "That was my fault - don't worry yourself over it."

Sango's eyes widened a little as she stared at his friendly look. Her skin tingled a little in awareness to his touch and she quickly backed away in discomfort from it. "W - well...I'm here. Sorry if you had to wait for me. Where is it that we're headed?"

Miroku's mouth twitched and he fought it, not wanting her to see she entertained him. He could read right through that move she made, also the fact that she was heading for the exit without him. He jogged to catch up with her and fell in stride. "I was thinking a little spot near here, if you don't mind the walk."

Brown eyes stared after her companion as he took the lead and was a step or two ahead of her. She tried probing his words and picked through her memory to see his reaction to her clothes, but figured she dissipated anything he could've seen with that little counterattack. Mentally berating herself, Sango got angry for thinking she was about to hit anyone - though it was way too forward of someone to just touch her like that - and even angrier at Enzen-san for instigating it and mortifying her.

"Tsuyoi-san?"

Sango snapped to attention, trying not to show she wasn't paying attention to her host. "Ah, hai?"

"We can cross the street now."

Brown eyes looked to the green light and noticed the outstretched hand in the side of her vision. She looked to him before sidestepping his offer to help pull her forward. "Ah, yes..." She hurried past, blending in with the mass of people also going to the other side.

This was as funny as it was irritating. Miroku didn't know which one he wanted to be really. Sango was so easy to read in her eyes and body language, but it was annoying that so many small advances were so readily turned down. This girl would be a hard one to crack and worm his way into her graces. Miroku suddenly felt an unconscious challenge as he found the minx waiting for him under the streetlight. Sure she wasn't presenting one, but Miroku considered himself a regular Casanova with the ladies and to know someone could resist him as if he weren't even there nudged his pride. Since she hadn't done anything yet - other than the subway and that was definitely his fault - from so much blatant flirting, Miroku wondered what he could get away with the rest of tonight. He said he would cater to her every need, but she certainly didn't seem to need that much from him at this present time. When he could see she was in need of his help, he would give it without thought, but until then he was going to think of himself a tad.

0-0

Ai Ai turned out to be the place.(2) Sango couldn't remember ever eating here, considering the place was underground. It was quaint despite its small size, but area just opened and was practically deserted. At least there was privacy. They were led to a spot and Sango took in the amount of general oriental food listed. It seemed to house a little bit from every eastern country, but that was fine because she had no clue what to have.

Since the crowd hadn't arrived yet, their order was taken and in no time, the food was set before them. Sango ordered rice noodles, not in the mood for more than ramen, but Miroku decided he wanted to have Thai food. Sango was content to eat slowly against the amount he ordered, anxiety also taking her appetite down. She assumed he wanted to talk the second they sat down, but perhaps the timing was off due to waitressing speed. She didn't know whether to be thankful that it was delayed or uneasy because she still had to face him.

Nothing was said as they ate, but Miroku covertly studied his company. There had to be something going on in her head because - whether she even knew she was doing it or not - there were stress lines at the corners of her eyes and her brows knit together a little as if in deep concentration. An easy guess was their fated conversation, but Miroku never wanted to assume anything that went on in the mind of a woman.

After their drinks were refilled for a while and the plates were taken away, Miroku propped his head up on the table and looked into brown eyes. "You don't have to be afraid you know."

Sango tried not to fiddle and looked away. She leaned back in the seat as if to put distance between them and stared at the wall across the way.

She had a nice side profile. Miroku almost felt like letting her stay the way she was so he could just gaze upon her until they decided to leave. But, business was business and there was something to be done. "Where would you like to start? Or should I just ask questions?"

It was better for her to say something because she didn't want him asking something she didn't want to answer. But Sango's mouth wouldn't form words in her stubbornness to keep from exposing herself. As shameful as working for the Gachi sisters could be, it was nothing compared to what she was feeling right now. How was it that job was less of a problem than words? Sango tried to find a comfortable place to start, but it was harder than she thought.

Taking the silence that option two was the one to go with; Miroku leaned back and tried to pick one of the many questions in his head. There were so many since he first met Sango, but he couldn't figure what to find out first. "I suppose we can start with the most obvious... What's your deal with not wanting to tell your brother about where you and I met?"

Was he that dense? Sango folded her hands over the table and stared at them. "Would you like to tell anyone in your family you were in kind of profession? It's good pay, but it's the worst thing a woman can do. I'm not proud of it, but I do what I must."

Thoughtfulness and seriousness donned his face as he stared at her downcast profile. "I can see that I suppose. But is it really necessary to take a job like that if you hate it so much? I saw you working in a restaurant - surely you can do something like that instead..."

Sango smirked, but it lacked humor. "Do you know how much it would cost to house and feed myself AND my brother, plus pay for books and tuition every semester if I kept taking part-time jobs like those?(3) I would be hungry and on the street, let alone forced to find some other means. Believe me, I thought it through a lot and was left with no other choice. But for the most part, I've grown accustomed to dealing with the hotel and what it stands for."

Miroku hummed. "You definitely sacrifice a lot for your brother, but why can't any of your other relatives help you out? Surely they wouldn't be so cruel to force you to do such a job."

The smirk disappeared and Sango's eyes turned sad. "Do you think I haven't tried that? My parents aren't in this world anymore and I don't know who my other relatives are. My father had friends of course, but I didn't want to rely on them for four years."

"Why go to college then? I can see why you forfeit so your brother and you have the basic needs, but if it's taxing you so much, perhaps it would be better to try something else?"

"I want to graduate college so I can take care of my brother without us worrying about money. If I take any old job, I don't know if it'll be enough to allow him to go to school. He's in upper secondary school after all and can go into the work force, but I forbid it. He needs to concentrate on his studies so he can get a good job and live well."

"You could always skip school and get married. Then you could live with your brother and have income." Sango gave him a dry look on that one, which surprised him a little. "Or not..."

"Any woman can take the easy way out and find a husband...and be confined to taking care of the home and raising the children for the rest of her days. I was raised to make the most of my life and I don't intend on wasting it by getting married so soon."(4)

"So why nursing school? That's pretty hard, but I admire the fact that you could get into Tokyo U."

"I want to help people and it not only makes good money, but there will never be a way I can get fired with the knowledge I possess. I could've done other things I like, but I don't want to be in trouble if there is a change in the economy."

"It sounds like you have things well planned out."

"Then, is that enough to satisfy you? I'm uncomfortable speaking about these things, but I owed you answers after all."

Miroku leaned forward and rested a hand over hers with a smile. "But Tsuyoi-san, there is still so much I want to know about you. How can you ask me to stop and leave it at that when you've only irked my curiosity further?"

Warning bells went off in her head as she extracted her hands. She met brown eyes and tried to read them, but the look was congenial and lacking any hidden motives from what she saw. "Why do you want to know so much about me? What's with this odd interest? I don't understand it...unless you have it because of that one night. I'm sorry, but it was business."

Miroku feigned a pained look as if she crushed him with words. "Hidoi Tsuyoi-san! I thought that night was very special to both of us and it still remains in my memory."

Sango snuck a quick look to the area. There were a few more people of course, but they didn't seem to be listening. "Will you stop with that tone? It's not clever at all and I'm not amused. I came here because of a promise and to me; I've fulfilled that well enough. I won't sit here and stand your advances that won't work and aren't necessary."

Miroku stood as Sango did. Okay, that had gone worse than he thought. He grasped an arm and met her eyes. "Please sit back down. After all, I haven't paid the bill yet. We can't have either of us looking like a couple of thieves, ne?"

Sango plopped down, not wanting that either. Arms crossed as she stared at the table, shadowing eyes with her bangs. The pleasantries were over with and she let hostility seep into her. His flirting was annoying and now that he turned it on, Sango felt no compulsions to be nice to him. This was supposed to be a talk and he just threw that out the door.

Miroku sighed and decided that he wasn't going to get his way with anything for now, so dropped the quirkiness. Arms crossed over the table as he stared at them, trying to keep from annoying her further. The night was still young after all. "You seem to have a hard life from what I can tell. You have no family at such a young age, separated from your brother, you keep secrets from him, you take on jobs you don't like, and you hate to let anyone share in your problems. Do you know how isolated that sounds? Are you afraid to open up to someone?"

Fists clenched. She tried not to let it get to her, but it was hard. The words cut into her with his sincere tone and, oddly enough, it sounded like he sympathized with her by those words. She couldn't ignore the change in demeanor, though it confused her and spun her head at how quickly his personality changed. It irritated her a little because she couldn't keep up or figure him out and deal with it.

"I don't...I don't know what you want from me." She murmured. Eyes squeezed shut as they burned. She felt defeated against his insistence and knew she couldn't escape someone like him. He would keep showing up in her life and wanting her time until she broke. She could only deny him and push him away so much, but it wouldn't make any difference to this guy. "I don't need your pity or your attention. I have a nice routine to live by and I don't like it being interrupted. This situation is only temporary, I don't intend on always living like this. I only have a few more years after all and then I'll be fine." She solemnly met his eyes, unable to shield her emotions inside. "Please...I'm asking you not to contact me anymore."

She stood up despite the last time she tried that and grabbed the purse. Before Miroku could pick up his brain from not only her words but her actions, a bunch of bills were tossed on the table before she hurried from the room. He quickly waved someone over and handed over his money, taking hers and sticking it in his shirt pocket. Since this was his idea, he wasn't about to let her pay her half and this would give the excuse to chase after her and make things right at least.

Miroku feared Sango would've taken off the second she left, but to his shock, she stood only a few meters from the entrance. She was staring at the night sky and keeping out of the evening traffic of young people, but still looking disgruntled. He stopped and stared, taking her in to best decide how to approach her. Delicacy was vital, but Miroku was getting tired of her keeping to herself and pushing him away. How could she go without so much human contact? Despite what her job was like at the hotel, she didn't take in other people's emotions when they tried to assist. It was like she was forcing everyone away and although he didn't understand her reasoning for that, he couldn't help but push her a little to make her see doing that was wrong.

Resolve came almost instantly and Miroku strode right up. He caught her attention within arm's reach, but stopped mere centimeters away. Sango faced him and backed away, but his hand shot out and grasped her hand. "Nope, not this time."

Sango looked to the street, a flush starting to form. "Let go of me. Haven't I embarrassed myself in front of you enough, or would you like more? What else do you want from me?"

Miroku stared at her face, listened to her words, and suddenly gained an epiphany on something. Her words were harsh, but her face spoke of fear and conflict. She used words to push him away, especially when it was extremely personal and something she didn't want to handle. It was a defense mechanism. It all made sense; every action and word she threw at him since he saw her at the gym. She didn't hate him, she was protecting herself.

Miroku couldn't take the pain and fright in her eyes, couldn't allow her to throw away anyone that wanted to lend a hand. He was suddenly reminded of sticking his nose into Inuyasha's business and saw those two as similar in a lot of ways. Perhaps that's why he was so interested in her; he was so used to picking on Inuyasha to get him to lighten up that he added this person to his attentions naturally.

Without thought, Miroku pulled her to him. She easily off-balanced and using her surprise to his advantage, wrapped his arms around her. Of course she resisted, but he held firm and wouldn't let her off. He ignored all protests and kept at it. "I'm sorry if I've offended you or caused you sorrow Tsuyoi-san. I don't pity you in the slightest, but I do respect your way of life and the choices you make. I must say that my 'odd interest' as you put it is purely selfish. I find you very attractive and lively and I only wanted to get to know you better. You are quite captivating and probably don't realize it. I hope you can forgive me for asking so many personal questions for my own benefit."

If her face wasn't a tomato, it would be a miracle. Sango couldn't move or say anything. It was like her limbs refused to move. This wasn't the first time she was ever held by a man, but it was the first time like this and with such innocent intentions. His hands weren't straying to anywhere inappropriate, even though they were in public, and he wasn't moving.(5) They were just standing there and an idle thought admitted how warm he was despite the cool night air...and that it didn't feel all that bad.

Sango snapped to with that thought, not wanting to take it in beyond admittance, and successfully pushed herself apart. She wanted to yell at the idiot for being so personal, but couldn't do more than stare at him in silent demand for an answer. His eyes were soft but oddly entrancing and she couldn't pull away. Her mind slowly melted all thought and she felt something odd inside as the seconds ticked by.

Miroku was encouraged by her response, or lack thereof, but knew she would easily snap once she came to. He decided enough was enough for now and to let her go home. He didn't know the time, but knew they had duties tomorrow and that staying out too late was a bad idea. His eyes closed with a small smile. "I think it's time you got home. Come on, I'll walk you to the subway."

Sango blinked when he turned for the direction, mouth gaping open. Her emotions were all mixed up and she didn't know what to feel right now and it was frustrating. But she silently accepted his offer by catching up and falling in step next to him.

There was nothing but general hum of night crowds all the way to the subway. Sango didn't know what to say and Miroku didn't want to ruin anything by opening his mouth. Behaving like that to someone who clearly didn't want him interfering in her life? He didn't know how to take that either and wasn't sure whether he should be embarrassed for his behavior. 'So much for catering to her every need you baka.' He scoffed, brows lowering in annoyance. 'I don't think I could've been any more selfish than I just was.'

The next train was checked and they had a relatively short wait. Sango was thankful because it was highly awkward and she didn't know how to break it, nor did she particularly want to. She stared at the open tunnel, mind thankfully blank but overly aware of the dreaded presence centimeters away. He was keeping hands and words to himself and she was relieved at that. Perhaps she could leave in silence as well and call it a night.

Just as a familiar screech of tracks sounded in the distance, Miroku turned to his left and started reaching for his pocket. "Tsuyoi-san..." He murmured.

Sango almost cringed, but told herself she was practically home free and turned to face him. Her mouth was open to ask what he wanted, but wasn't given the chance as she stared at a small wad of bills. "Th - this is..."

Miroku smiled gently. "Don't worry, this is yours. I asked you to come with me despite your oath so I am paying for tonight."

Sango refused to take her money back. "You can keep it. I don't feel right with you paying for me."

A raven brow rose, but his hand never retracted. The rumble of the train was drawing ever closer. "I insist. I don't mind this time for having put you through so much. Please think of it as part of my apology."

Even so, Sango didn't like people handing over money for something when she didn't care. Going to dinner with a guy she treated so badly didn't allow her to accept such generosity. She didn't think she was going to get it through to someone like this and didn't know how to put it properly so he'd understand. "Don't worry, you've apologized enough." She turned for the cars as it stopped for everyone, doors swishing open. "I have to go."

Miroku grabbed her hand again and stopped her. "You're a hard one to bend Tsuyoi-san, but I'm just as bad." He deposited the cash into her hand and curled fingers around it. He immediately stepped back before she could let go and keep from taking it. "Just because I said I was sorry doesn't mean you've accepted it. I have a feeling you won't either, so I'll do what I can in the meantime to show I mean it."

The thought was nice, but Sango didn't like the implications. She took her hand away, complete with money, and made to put it in the purse. Though she could fight with him or throw the money on the ground for anyone to take to hold up her convictions, it was a waste. "You don't need to do so. Don't fret yourself over it." Managing a quick nod, Sango turned and headed for the cars.

Miroku was forced to watch her board and leave him again. What a disaster the night turned out, but he shouldn't have expected less really. He did feel guilty for putting her through so much, but that hug came back to him. She felt nice and it plus their conversation were on his mind the entire walk back to his apartment.

-

I am a BEGINNER Japanese learner, so if these are not 100 correct, please let me know if you care to do so. I only have a web page and a dictionary to learn from. This spot dedicated to new vocabulary only.

Translations: Chichiue- - Ganbatte- - Hidoi- - Baka- -

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Having done much research, this story will be highly Japanese orientated and probably confusing at points. Numbers at the end of sentences will describe the whole sentence, while numbers next to a word will describe only that. If any of these are wrong, please correct me.

1:Nihonbashi: District in Tokyo, about straight east from Shinjuku. North of Ginza district.

2:Ai Ai turned out to be the place: Restaurant in Harajuku that serves Okinawa, Thai and other Asian dishes along with assorted cocktails.

3:Do you know how much it would cost to house and feed myself AND my brother, plus pay for books and tuition every semester if I kept taking part-time jobs like those: Japan is expensive in a lot of things, housing especially.

4:I was raised to make the most of my life and I don't intend on wasting it by getting married so soon.: Women in Japan are revolting from the traditional 'get married, start a family' shtick. Most women now get married in their late 20s to early 30s, possibly later.

5:His hands weren't straying to anywhere inappropriate, even though they were in public, and he wasn't moving.: Japanese don't show much of any affection in public, so what Miroku is doing is pretty forward on more than one level.