Gift-fic for Dark'n'Devious aka darkprincess19. I hope you like.


Ephemeral
Mir/San

Their lives are very busy:

"What now?" Sango asks every morning, like clock-work. Two simple words. They fence around him like one-sided walls, like cages with no doors, like the breathless fear of malicious laughter. It is a hundred different questions that bite with a thousand different accusations, ("What do we do now?" "What should we do now?" "What can you do now?" "What do you want?") all of which mold him, her, them into the lives they were made to lead.

He used to always have an answer for her. ("Time to wake up," he'd joke; "Time to work," he'd groan; Time to live) Now he just keeps silent. He acts. (Because he's not sure what to say, and its always easier to act.) He has long since come to believe that words are no longer necessary between them, that meaningless conversation often distracts from the true clarity of their actions. In each lingering touch, in each fleeting glance, there is a balance between them, an equilibrium that breaks and creates them, shapes them. The few words they do say are the bridges that connect them in the places they have no desire to meet.

"Our day begins," Miroku mutters to himself, as Sango flits like a shadow from his side, to begin the cycle. An ache builds on his tongue, in the empty space his words leave, and he pretends not to notice that he is still talking as if Sango was there beside him.

He gets up to follow, faithfully.

(In everything they do, they work in synchrony: like two (scarred) hands from one body, drifting in the hollows that exist between their souls, in the breath between their mouths. Her thousand questions need corresponding answers, and where she begins, he hastens to complete.)

His first answer is the least important, but the one that never changes. Bandages upon bandages wrapped on pink puffy scars; where ridged flesh now silhouettes the remaining pieces of a past struggle, one that once consumed their entire realities. (She bandages his back, where he was cut to shreds for protecting her. He wraps the hand she crippled to keep him from being impaled.) In a way, it reminds them that they are made to come together, that they share the scars that remind them of the memories they can never forget.

(It is hard to tell whether or not they love or hate each other for it. Between the two of them, there are no such differences.)

His second answer is never intentional, but the one that means the most. They live in a graveyard, where dust and ash have no distinction, where their neighbors are the bones and soil from yester-years. They pick their way around rusted metal blades and fresh bunches of flowers, depart at a crossroad that meets at their doorstep. Here, they separate, taking back the pieces they borrowed, they lent, they replaced, hobbling unbalanced down different paths, where it gets harder and harder to bear being apart.

(Suddenly, they is a he and she. That is perhaps the hardest thing to comprehend.)

From there, the answers unravel, one by one. Miroku turns to the village down the road, as the local healer, the local protector, where the once-trickles of gossip about Sango have given way to raging rapids of contempt. There, he is the handsome, kind man spellbound by a demon woman, the resident killer, the stain to her family name, the shameful girl living out of wedlock, no better then a common whore. He used to get angry when ever he heard such things, but doing so never changed their anger or her reputation, so now he just ignores it. The girls, thinking his silence is agreement, giggle when he comes, flock to him over every cut and scratch, swoon over his polite smiles and exaggerate his carefully professional touch.

"What now?" they ask, kneeling between his legs in the dirt, loosening their dresses, licking their lips, pressing up against him, wanting, hoping, needing him to burn their ache away. He ignores them, doesn't even bother to reply; they serve only to remind him of all the questions he's forgot to answer.

When he returns home to the crossroads, ten, twelve answers since their last meeting, he finds her standing there waiting. When he reaches her, a fire consumes them both (because being apart is like leaving with half a lung, half a heart). With a wet, slick slip and cry, they come together again.

(Fifteenth, he counts frantically, as he leans powerfully above her, sweating. Somehow, she hears him. Their gazes lock and they pitch over.)

And then it starts up again. They clean up their home. Sixteenth. They eat. Seventeenth. They do something (anything). Their lives are ephemeral and repetitive, like a broken recorder playing the same line over and over, like the numbers they tally to replace the loss of purpose in their existence. And in the gaps between their fractures, inside their skin, they drift and meet and drift all over again.

"What now?" she asks quietly in the dark, as they lay back to back, piece to piece, hand to hand. He is unprepared.

Twenty, twenty, where is twenty? he thinks frantically.

And suddenly, like a lightening strike, like a surprise blow, it comes to him. And with painful clarity, as if he was seeing for the first time, Miroku finally finds the right thing to say.

"I don't know," he answers. Despairs.

Because it's such a simple question.