No Matter What

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

This one-shot has spoilers regarding Kohaku's memory from episode 153. (the one where he slaughters the villagers holding the baby) Major spoiler warning. If you do not know what I'm talking about, read no further.

This is based on Sango, Kohaku, and Kirara: The Secret Garden (163). What would have happened if Kohaku had not chosen to hide from his sister?

I wrote this one-shot because I felt that Sango deserved a moment alone with her brother, since there are literally none in the anime.


"KOHAKU!"

Her desperate scream echoed throughout the forest, alerting me. I wanted to see Ane-ue so badly… I wanted to reassure her that I was alright, that even if things did not go as planned, I still loved her. Although I was not sure if she would forgive me, I still wanted to see her. To calm her down, and to be able to touch her. She did not know I had regained my memory.

I got up quickly, looking around for someplace to hide so that she wouldn't see me. I ran across the path, certain that I could hide behind at tree in time, but she saw me cross the path, and the expression on her face made me freeze.

It was anguish.

"Kohaku!" she cried again, increasing her pace even more.

I struggled to make my legs move, to run away again to spare her any more harm if the Saimyoushou had found out, but I couldn't. Not this time.

Ane-ue…

"Kohaku!" Breathing hard, she finally caught up to me, leaving a few feet of distance between us. It was obvious that she wasn't sure if I would attack her or not. She had seen me freak out at the castle when I had regained my memories, and she remained cautious. But I could tell she wanted to reach out to me and make things right again between us.

What do I do? I can't just tell her that I remember everything… she would never let me go. And I cannot allow any of them to know what has happened… if Naraku finds out that I ran off, he will start to suspect me, as I'm sure Kagura already does.

But I can't just run off either. That would hurt Ane-ue even more, and I don't want to keep hurting her.

I looked away as she hesitantly approached me, stretching her hand out. I could tell that she was close to tears, and I had to clench my fists to remember not to say anything that would make her figure out I had retained all my memories. Just one word, and she would know.

"Kohaku… please…"

She was trying to tell me to not leave her again. I wasn't sure whether to stay and explain my predicament to her, or to run off and leave her thinking that I hadn't remembered her.

"Please… Kohaku, try - try to remember," she begged, her voice trembling. "You're my little brother, remember?"

And you're my Ane-ue.

I tried to hold back my emotions back, not to say anything, but a single tear trailed its way down my cheek, telling her what I could not say, what I must not say.

"Kohaku?" This time, she seemed to be more confident as she took a few more steps towards me. Her hand reached my face and touched it. "Kohaku, do you - do you recognize me?" The faintest hint of hope was in her voice. I could not lie to her.

"Ane-ue," I whispered, and her eyes widened. "Ane-ue." Now I've done it.

"Kohaku… you… you know who I am?" she asked, still being cautious.

"I… " I took a deep breath, internally debating on whether or not to tell her. "I remember… I remember everything. Father, our comrades, and… you. I hurt you, Ane-ue," I continued, and for a moment, it felt as though the invisible wall of suspicious, desperation, and solitude between us had been breached. For a moment, we were allowed to be siblings again.

"No…" she said, although her voice was barely audible. Unshed tears shimmered in her eyes, but she wasn't crying. "No, you didn't… it wasn't…"

My instincts were shouting at me to back away, to keep the distance between us. For the first time since I had regained my memories, I ignored them and reached to gently tug her hand away from my face. Her fingers tightened slightly on my hand, and I knew she would most likely not let go. "Ane-ue… I'm sorry."

Her voice became stronger. "You didn't do anything… " A glimmer of hatred shone in her eyes, and I knew she was thinking the same thing as I was.

Naraku has to pay.

"It was Naraku. You were under his control… you didn't do anything," she repeated, her voice just above a whisper. "In some way, I know I should blame you for it, but…" She came closer, still not letting go, and I fought the urge to go closer to her. I could not allow this to happen. I could not let her become emotionally attached to me until after.

"… I can't. I just… you're my little brother, no matter what."

Now she was crying, although they were tears of relief and happiness that she had finally gotten a chance to talk to me alone. I didn't realize that tears had spilled down my cheeks until she wiped away my tears, her sisterly touch just as caring as that time when she had taken care of me after that youkai bear attacked me.

As I looked at her, her desperate expression mirroring my own, a single word stopped her, made her look at me in confusion. "No."

"Kohaku?" She looked at me questioningly. I don't think she knew she was crying, but I backed away, and her hand fell back to her side. Hurt flickered in her eyes.

"I can't stay with you, Ane-ue," I told her.

"Why?" Her voice lowered to a whisper. "We can destroy Naraku…"

"No," I repeated, trying to sound firm. "We can't. Not together." I took a few more steps away from her, although she didn't make any move to try and keep me from leaving. "I can't stay with you. If Naraku knows that I have regained my memory… " I hesitated, not wanting to hurt her with my next words, but still knowing that the bitter truth of them could take effect, I spoke them anyway. "… he will kill me. That's why."

I casually took my scythe and held it in position, ready to strike it out at her if she came too close. "Go back to the others, Ane-ue. I have… to do something."

Her shoulders shook and her bangs momentarily obscured her eyes, but she wiped them and looked back up at me. "Can I… can I hold you? Just - just this once."

The desperate, pleading emotion in her eyes, the way she nearly begged me to let her hold me without having to worry about feeling the pain of the blade dig into her skin, or to see how much she suffered when she saw that I had killed more innocent people, tore through my defence, and I dropped the weapon.

She ran over to me, and kneeling down, took me in her arms. As she placed her chin on my shoulder, her arms surrounding me with that familiar feeling of love, her entire body trembled and I knew she was trying to hold back more tears. She buried her head in my shoulder, her voice muffled as she relished this moment of peace with me.

"Kohaku… I'm sorry."

After a short while, she looked back up at me, her face still streaked with tears. Our gazes connected and a flash of understanding passed in hers, although it was accompanied by the same look of longing and anguish that appeared in her eyes every time I had to run away.

"Ane-ue… this is it," I told her, and I stood up, breaking her hold on me. She didn't move or say anything, but the expression on her face nearly broke the composure I had built up. I picked up the scythe and tucked it behind me, taking off at a run. I needed to head back to Kagura and the others before they started to suspect me.

This is the only way. Forgive me.


I know I said that I would not be reposting any of fics that I had removed, but I just finished watching the Secret Garden episode again, and I felt like posting it again. Just because.

Written sometime during February/March, 2005.