You always knew you'd be alone in the end, didn't you, Sango.

Because you're the strongest. You die last, which means you die alone. When everyone else went to the grave, only you crawled out with your blood still flowing. It wasn't your time yet, no matter how much you wanted it to be.

It isn't time now. You know that because those you love are still alive.

No, they're alive. Don't think otherwise. Keep running. They'll be there, and you won't have to die yet.

That was stupid, Sango, even for you. Running off after Kohaku like that. How many times do you need to get your face ground into the dirt before you get the idea?

Jealousy doesn't suit you, Sango. You want things to go back to the way they were, no Kagura, no Kikyou, no one to love but you, no one else to cling to. Make you feel strong, make you feel needed, make you feel immortal. As long as you're not alone…

You're still strong.

And there's Kikyou. No Kohaku. How you hate her! Does she think she knows better than you? That she loves Kohaku more than you do? Who does she think she is, to—

Yet, as you see her standing there, and catch your breath, there is sympathy. She's not like you. She died willingly. She gave her life, stupid girl, doesn't she know that you cling to that above all else? Above virtue and honor, above all hope of happiness. You would have done very differently. You would have spared Inuyasha, traitor or not. You would not have died.

And you would never, never have stood by and let Kohaku go back.

Jealousy doesn't suit you, and neither does honesty. Come now, smooth things over with a lie. Things are gonna get better. No way you'll be alone. They love you too much. Yeah, that's the spirit. Only it—

"I'm sorry."

An apology from Kikyou. You didn't see that coming. It must be sincere, too, she doesn't just say these things. Doesn't mean you accept it. Not in your heart.

"Just help me find him." No, no, don't cry. Not now. Why are you acting like it hurts, it doesn't feel like anything.

That look on her face. She thinks you're weak. You know you'll outlast her, too. Crying makes you weak? You'll cry on all their graves, before the end. Strength is a little understood curse.

"No one but me can handle this. Go back to Inuyasha and all the others left who love you." Your imagination, or did she stress the 'you' a little? As in, 'They love you, not me. I'm the martyr, I'm the only one who can sacrifice enough to do this.' Spare me. You know that there is no guarantee of profit for sacrifice. There is no give and take, only take. They take, you take. Everyone loses.

You can't stop shaking. It's not fear, you know what fear feels like, and you know what this is. It's rage. Frustration. It's so strong it hurts. It would go away if only you could fight, if only there was something to hate enough in front of you. But Kikyou doesn't deserve that.

You never knew how reliant on hate you were. A hateful being like that… how could Miroku love you? Is he so blind, is he so desperate? How can you be the only person to see your true ugliness? Every thought is full of violence. You couldn't live in peace if you tried, you're more weapon than girl, a freak specialized in war.

Kikyou came back from the grave with a soul that could only hate, but she looks so calm. Are we the same inside? Does she only hide it, as you do, or has she learned something?

"I want to come with you." You wait for her response, seeing annoyance flicker across her face, then something else you can't quite place. It's an expression you're not used to seeing on a young face.

"We are not equals." You have to admire her bluntness, even if it does make your blood seethe. "If you come, it is with the understanding that I am in charge. I may ask you to do things that you do not understand, of you feel to be wrong. You must do them without question, because anything less from you would put us both in mortal peril. If I tell you not to do something, you must abide by that as well. Do you accept these terms?"

How can she ask that? It's practically slavery. She of all people should know better. How dare she expect you to give yourself to her, without question?

Yet… yet you understand it perfectly. It was the same with your father. You expect no less of Kohaku, though you love him more than you love yourself. It's battle strategy. There has to be hierarchy. You would do what Miroku says, even if it didn't make sense at the time, as he would do what Inuyasha says, and Inuyasha would do what Kagome says.

It's not like you'll never see them again. You'll save Kohaku, save Miroku, save all the poor little kitties stuck in trees, and live happily ever after. Kikyou has made every sacrifice for what she's gained, and she knows things no one else does. You may not like her, but she's worthy. This is the way of battle hierarchy. The weapon that is bigger than the girl understands it.

"I accept."

Kikyou understands it only as sacrifice. Give something to get something, right? That's all she knows. You know you didn't give up a thing. You let her take the lead, because you know she'd be better at it than you are for now. You did it because you can't go back to them after another failure and watch them die, and isolating yourself is just asking for death.

You accept.

You're not sacrificing. You're bargaining. There's a difference.