Disclaimer: Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and associated publishers/licensers.
Summary: Sango finally gets sick of Miroku's lecherous ways, and she storms off. On her own, she fights a giant bear demon and loses. She goes and collapses in the woods, badly injured. Guess who finds her? Sesshoumaru, Rin, and Jaken. Rin pleads with Sesshoumaru to help Sango, and he (grudgingly) agrees. One thing leads to another, and suddenly Sango and Sesshoumaru are at each other's throats.
Heart of Darkness
"HIRAIKOTSU!" Sango bellowed as she threw her weapon with as much force as she could muster. At the same moment as when the giant bone flew through the air, Sango leapt up and delivered a mighty kick to the bear youkai's forehead. It stumbled, but did not fall. Instead, it whipped out its hand and caught Sango in mid air. Moving with terrible speed, it flung the taiji-ya down toward the ground with astonishing force.
Far below her, Miroku yelped in surprise and ran to catch her. She landed safely in his arms, but under the weight, the monk crashed to the ground.
"Thank you, houshi-sama," Sango said gratefully.
"It's quite fine, Sango," Miroku said pleasantly. His hand was stretching toward her butt as he said this, but Sango noticed.
"Thank you, houshi-sama," Sango said pointedly, standing up and getting ready to attack again.
"Kaze no Kizu!" Inuyasha roared, and the attack promptly obliterated the youkai with its demonic wind. The dust scattered, and floating peacefully to the ground was yet another shard of the Shikon-no-Tama.
"Yay!" From the side, Kagome and Shippo energetically jumped up and down in celebration of the victory.
Grinning despite himself, Inuyasha snatched the shard out of the dirt and brought it to Kagome. Sango and Miroku followed after a moment; the taiji-ya had been examining the youkai corpse to see if there was anything she could make a weapon out of, and Miroku had waited for her.
"Good job, guys!" Shippo chirped once the five were gathered again.
"Let's set up camp," Kagome suggested, smiling. "I bet you guys are exhausted."
Inuyasha simply shrugged, but Sango and Miroku offered grateful smiles.
"Where shall we set up camp?" Kagome asked, and as soon as the words had left her mouth Inuyasha began to lead them into the woods, into a clearing where you could no longer smell the scent of death. Once there, he leapt up into the nearest tree and sat there stubbornly.
"Okay then," Kagome said amiably, looking around the site, "we'll sleep here." She got out her sleeping bag from her backpack, and dropped to the ground. Shippo cuddled next to her, obviously content, and it was a moment before anything broke the silence that had settled over them like a blanket.
"Good night, Sango," Miroku whispered to taiji-ya placed not too far from him on the cold ground.
Sango blushed, and was thankful that the monk could not see her red face in the dark. "Goodnight, houshi-sama," she said, curling up with the comforting ball of fur that was Kirara by her head.
They were just settling down to sleep when the sound of frantic footfalls reached their ears. Then, into their campsite stumbled a girl. She must have been no older than seventeen, and her round, pale face was streaked with tears.
Kagome shot up, waking Shippo. Sango and Miroku had been awake for a long time, waiting, listening. Inuyasha peered down from above, uninterested.
Miroku immediately got up and clasped the weeping girl's hands in his. "What is wrong, miss?"
With Kirara on her shoulder, Sango followed, keeping an eye on the perverted monk. "Yes, why are you crying?"
"M-my father was killed! By a bear youkai!" the girl sobbed, and couldn't stop herself from telling the whole story. "I—I'd been out all day, a-and when I got back to my village, everything was destroyed and my f-father was dead! The youkai was gone, but the remaining villagers told me what had h-happened!"
"Oh, dear," Kagome, who had just joined them, said, putting a hand to her mouth.
Another bear youkai? Sango thought to herself. That's strange. But she said nothing more than, "That's horrible," as she placed a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Is there anything we can do?"
"Yes, is there anything we can do?" Miroku asked, keeping the pretty girl's hands in a tight hold.
She tried to pull out of his grasp, a little bewildered by the fact that he seemed to have more on his mind then her dead father and the sudden influx of bear youkai. "Sir," she whispered, her face red as she pulled away.
"I have a question, Miss…" Miroku said beguilingly, as he put the hand that had been banished from her hand onto her shoulder.
Behind the two, Sango was furious. Kagome, who knew if Sango were released she would tear her precious monk to shreds, was holding her back.
"Will you bear my child?" Miroku asked seriously.
Ryomi reddened and squeaked, "Sir, I—"
Sango's hands curled into angry fists, and her face flushed an angry red. She effortlessly broke out of Kagome's hold and charged toward Miroku, whirling him around with one arm as the other punched him in the face without holding back at all.
Shocked, Ryomi glanced between the fallen monk and the furious girl.
Looking down at Miroku, Sango's anger turned to sorrow. She recalled that time, not long ago, when he had said that she was the one woman he truly cared about; when he practically asked her for her hand in marriage. Had he been joking? Looking down at him, barely conscious but still smiling crookedly at Ryomi, she felt as if everything had been a lie.
Then, more anger clouded the sorrow, and Sango screamed at Miroku before she could stop herself, "I hate you! I hate you!" Then, she turned on her heel and disappeared into the forest. Kirara, a little puzzled, followed obediently.
Miroku shot up into a sitting position, knocking the extremely confused Ryomi aside. "Sango…" he whispered, obviously horrified. "You… you hate me?"
Inuyasha jumped down beside them all, giving Ryomi quite a fright, as she had not known that he was there. "You've really done it this time. She's not gonna forgive you again," he declared.
Kagome closed her eyes in sheer defeat, totally astounded by Inuyasha's bluntness. "Sit, boy!" she said loudly, smiling in satisfaction when Inuyasha crashed to the ground.
Ryomi looked around in absolute confusion, a little frantic now. "What is going on?"
"Stupid lech," Inuyasha said simply, getting back on his feet with a little difficulty and pulling twigs out of his hair.
Miroku wasn't listening to any of them anymore. He had gotten up and was stumbling, as if in a drunken stupor, in the direction Sango had run away too.
Kagome stepped after him. "Miroku-sama?" she said hesitantly.
"Do you really think she hates me?" the monk asked.
"No, of course she doesn't, Miroku-sama," Kagome said, making a futile attempt to cheer him up. "Why don't we let her have some space, and go after her in the morning? She probably won't be angry then."
"No!" Miroku exclaimed fiercely. "Let's go find her now!"
Kagome rubbed her forehead tiredly. "You need sleep if you want to find her. Come on."
"Fine," Miroku said reluctantly. He allowed himself to be led to back to bed, and they found that Ryomi was nowhere to be seen, and Inuyasha and Shippo were already asleep again.
To Kagome's surprise, she saw that Inuyasha had not gone back up the tree, but had fallen asleep leaning against the trunk. The futuristic miko crept up to him and brushed a lock of silvery hair out of his face, peering at him fondly. His expression was peaceful, similar to the expression he had worn when Kagome found him pinned to the tree. "Beautiful," she breathed.
"Eh-hem!" Miroku cleared his throat loudly, and Kagome jumped away from Inuyasha.
"Er… uhm…" Kagome, on impulse, cried, "Sit, boy!" Inuyasha hit the ground with a loud crash, and Kagome covered her mouth with her hand, horrified that that had slipped out purely by accident.
"Owww," Inuyasha growled. He stood, towering over Kagome. "What was that for?"
"It… it was an accident," Kagome squeaked.
"Feh," Inuyasha muttered. He scowled at her and hopped up into the upper branches of the tree. "Stupid wench."
Sango stumbled through the forest, refusing to cry. She had seen the shock pass across Miroku's face when she had told him that she hated him. And she had gotten satisfaction from that look of utmost horror. Now he felt the pain that she felt every time he flirted with a girl that wasn't herself. She hid that pain with the cover of anger, and the only one who saw through her charade was Kagome.
"Kirara?" Sango called softly. The small cat youkai, striding patiently along beside Sango, made a mewing sound and looked up at her, and Sango continued, "Shall we sleep? Tomorrow, I… well, I don't know if I'll be able to face houshi-sama…"
Kirara blinked attentively, as if she had understood every word.
"Oh, Kirara…" Sango murmured, squatting down and stroking her fur. "Thank you for sticking by me. I'm grateful." The taiji-ya then stood up and was about to walk on when she heard screams and throaty growling noises—that of a youkai. Kirara quickly changed into her larger form, Sango mounted her, and they leapt into the sky, following the noise. Soon, they found a village under attack by yet another bear youkai, and this one was huge; it had taken out a whole set of houses in one swoop of its arm.
Sango jumped off Kirara and landed deftly on the ground. "Hiraikotsu!" she shouted, hurling the giant boomerang at the creature. The bone struck the target, but the bear youkai merely turned around as if the weapon had not just lodged itself in the its side, wrenched the bone out with a sickening crunch, and flung Sango's weapon back at her. "It didn't hurt it," Sango gasped, to Kirara. But still, the taiji-ya was determined to defeat this foe, and she knew she could find a weak spot. "There!" she exclaimed after mere moments of searching, having spotted a deep wound on its left shoulder that it must have received from an attempted attack beforehand.
Carefully, she aimed her weapon, but, before she could throw it, one of the youkai's claws caught her on the arm and tossed her aside. Sango hit the ground hard, and pain told her that she had not escaped unharmed. Expecting the worst, she glanced at her shoulder and found it to be a bloody, bleeding mess. In the upper arm, there was a deep cut that, she suspected, had almost severed her arm. The taiji-ya was gushing torrents of blood, and she knew she had to stem the flow of blood; otherwise she might die of blood loss.
Sango ripped part of her kimono off and wrapped it tightly around her arm. It hurt, yes, it hurt like hell, but it would have to do for now. Determined to kill, or at least injure this creature, Sango threw the boomerang once more. It hit its mark and the bear youkai crashed to the ground. The taiji-ya thought it was defeated, but then, suddenly, a paw whipped around and pinned her to the ground. She could not breathe; the huge thing was crushing her. Sango was just starting to lose consciousness when Kirara clamped onto the collar of her kimono and dragged her out from under the bear's paw.
"Thanks, Kirara," Sango rasped, barely conscious. She knew her ribs were broken. "The youkai… it will lie there for a while… now it's important to just… rest." Sango managed to walk to a shaded spot in the woods. "Heh," she muttered, wobbling and resisting the urge to vomit. "I guess I'm not as strong as I thought." Then, she collapsed in the grass, unconscious.
Not far off, the dark-haired girl-child Rin ambled along, singing happily a song about Jaken, who was following close behind, skeptical as always of Rin's carefree attitude. The taiyoukai Sesshoumaru came last, silent and somber.
Suddenly, Rin gasped and ran forward.
"Rin! Rin! Where are you going?" croaked Jaken. "Come back!"
Frowning, Sesshoumaru swept past the reptilian youkai, moving quickly toward the young human girl.
"Milord! Come back!" Jaken cried, running after them. He tripped over a rock and fell flat on his face, allowing his companions to disappear further into the woods. "No!" he shouted desperately, sprinting after them. "Wait for meee!"
But Rin had stopped next to a young woman lying in blood-soaked grass. A small, cute-looking feline youkai stood next to her, but when Rin came close, the creature grew larger and became quite formidable indeed. The youkai growled menacingly at the little girl, and Rin took a frightened step back.
Sesshoumaru walked up to stand next to Rin, and the young human hid behind him, crowing, "Sesshoumaru-sama," she tugged on his sleeve and pointed to the girl in the grass, "that girl is hurt!"
Sesshoumaru observed the valiant cat youkai and the injured woman lying unconscious on the ground. Then, suddenly, he recognized her. She traveled with his stupid hanyou half-brother, Inuyasha. If he remembered correctly, she was a successful taiji-ya. Her name was Sango.
"Sesshoumaru-sama! That girl will die if we leave her here! Please! Can we take her with us?" Rin pleaded.
"No, Rin," Sesshoumaru said firmly.
"Oh, please, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin implored, and Sesshoumaru consented with a sigh.
Reluctantly, the taiyoukai picked up Sango (completely ignoring the snarling Kirara) and continued walking. He did not notice the piece of cloth that had been tied around her arm falling to the ground, and kept moving. Sesshoumaru knew there was an abandoned village nearby; they could tend to her wounds and then leave her there. She could then make her way back to the scum she traveled with.
Soon they arrived at the ghost of a town; the houses were all plundered, obviously by demons. Rin dashed into the first house that was not a complete wreck, and Sesshoumaru followed her in there. He lay Sango down on a thin straw futon and sent a grumbling Jaken to search for medicine.
"Isn't she pretty, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin asked as they both looked down on Sango.
Sesshoumaru was silent as he looked at Sango's face. There was a long pause, but eventually Sesshoumaru said curtly, "She is human." His expression was one of disgust, but his golden eyes betrayed him. In truth, he was not repulsed by this dying human; he was intrigued. This confused him, and he shook his head to clear his thoughts.
Just then, Sesshoumaru realized Rin had been talking. His attention darted back to her, eyes focusing on the girl's huge, innocent brown eyes.
"Rin is human, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin exclaimed, frowning up at him.
"Yes, but you are different."
"No, Rin is not!" Rin protested. She let silence reign for a couple minutes and then she repeated her question, "Isn't she pretty?"
Sesshoumaru was silent. But then one thought flitted across his mind. It was what he truly felt, beyond his initial feeling of disgust for humans and their weaknesses. Yes, she is pretty. But she is also human.
Finally, Jaken arrived back armed with bandages and other medicines to help Sango's poor condition. "Here, Milord," Jaken said, dropping the remedies at his lord's feet with a sigh of relief.
Wordlessly, Sesshoumaru bandaged Sango as best he could and applied the proper creams and other helpful things to her wounds. When they were done, Sesshoumaru stood up and said, "Now we leave."
Rin wasn't about to obey. "No, Sesshoumaru-sama! We have to stay till she wakes up," she explained firmly. "Besides," she yawned, "I'm really tired."
Sesshoumaru sighed. He sat down against the wall and Rin curled up beside him, instantly asleep. Jaken opened his mouth to say something, but the taiyoukai glared at him and Jaken decided against talking.
"Sesshoumaru-sama! Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin whispered. "The pretty lady is waking up!"
Sesshoumaru woke with a start. I fell asleep? What has possessed me on this day? he thought, angrily.
"Look, look!" Rin took her lord's arm and all but dragged him over to where Sango was. The taiyoukai saw that the taiji-ya was indeed stirring.
"What? Where am I?" Sango asked once she awoke properly, and looked around. Her eyes fell on Sesshoumaru and she breathed, "It's you…"
Sesshoumaru immediately stood up, towering over Sango. "Where is my nuisance of a half-brother?" he snarled.
"I—I don't know," she admitted. They could be anywhere by now, but secretly she hoped they were waiting for her, back at the campsite.
"What do you mean you don't know?" piped in the annoyingly piercing voice of Jaken. "You travel with them, don't you, wench?"
The taiji-ya shot Jaken a dirty look but admitted, "I ran away… and fought the bear youkai. Then you found me, I suppose, passed out in the dirt."
No one affirmed or denied her guess, and suddenly the Rin exclaimed energetically, "Hi! I'm Rin!"
"H-hello," Sango said, surprised that Sesshoumaru seemed to have a charge that was a mere human child—for she had never seen Rin up close, and had always assumed she was a young youkai. Inuyasha had told her this was wrong long ago, but Sango had been somewhat reluctant to believe his words. Sesshoumaru did, after all, hate humans. "You travel with," she motioned toward Sesshoumaru, "him?"
"With Sesshoumaru-sama? Yes, Rin does! Sesshoumaru-sama made Rin live again!"
The taiji-ya sitting in front of the girl started in surprise and turned to the taiyoukai. "You resurrected her?" Sango asked curiously.
"Yes," Sesshoumaru said curtly, all the while wondering why he was even lowering himself enough to talk to a human—one that was not Rin—and a taiji-ya at that. "Let's go, Rin. Jaken."
"Wait!" Sango exclaimed then, leaning forward and stopping the three at the exit. Sesshoumaru turned around, as did Jaken, who was fairly frothing at the mouth with annoyance. Rin whirled around too, still grinning from ear to ear. "I… wanted to thank you. You tended to my wounds. I am very grateful."
Sesshoumaru didn't respond, but he, Rin, and Jaken turned back toward the door.
"Wait!" Sango repeated.
Sesshoumaru didn't turn around again, but it was obvious he was still listening.
"I never told Rin my name—"
"It's Sango," Sesshoumaru cut in flatly. "Rin, her name is Sango." They left, and Sango stared after them, one thought running through her mind.
How did he know my name?
Sango stepped out of the cottage a few minutes later with Kirara at her side, fully clothed, fully energized, but not quite fully healed. She was, however, feeling better, and at this the taiji-ya smiled and was about to say something to Kirara when the feline youkai grew into her full form and tensed.
"Kirara!" Sango said, surprised. "What is it?" It was obvious Kirara wanted Sango to get on, and the taiji-ya mounted the youkai carefully—as to not aggravate her injuries—and they took off. Kirara knew where she was going, but Sango didn't, and she gripped Kirara's ruff and asked softly, "Is it Kohaku, Kirara? Do you sense Kohaku?"
Kirara gave a ferocious meow that couldn't be determined as either a yes or a no in response, and soon landed. In the trees, Sango saw her little brother. "Kohaku!" she cried. He turned toward her and Sango saw Naraku's Saimyousho around him. So he was still under Naraku's control, and now Sango saw that his eyes were dark and dull. She ran toward him, hopping through the trees, when suddenly, something grabbed both his and her attention.
Sango reached the ground under the tree that Kohaku was perched on, and saw someone had beat her to it! It was Sesshoumaru, Rin and Jaken.
"What are you doing here?" Sango cried, coming to a stop next to Rin.
"Yay! Sango-sama!" Rin squealed, pleased.
"I have to kill that boy," Sesshoumaru said, though it was not as if he was answering Sango.
Rin grew serious then; she whirled around to face her lord and pleaded, "No! Sesshoumaru-sama, please don't kill Kohaku!"
"You are not going to hurt my brother!" Sango said fiercely, inwardly wondering why Rin was so animated. As far as she knew—Kagome had told her this—Kohaku had tried to kill the child; why would Rin want him to be saved if that was the case?
"Your brother?" Jaken wondered aloud.
"Huh," Sesshoumaru said, boredly. He motioned with his hand toward the boy as Kohaku had readied his weapon. "Look, taiji-ya. If I do not kill him, he will kill you." Kohaku was about to leap off the branch to where Sango stood, defenseless, and the young woman saw this with a twinge of hurt. Thus, she was off-guard a moment later when he jumped toward her. His mind was yelling at him to stop, but his body wouldn't obey.
Please no I don't want to fight her oh please no run please…!
"Kohaku! No! Stop! Please!" Sango shouted as she tried to protect herself with her arms, weaponless. Instinctively, she closed her eyes.
But then, when she should have felt her little brother's blade in her heart, she felt nothing and heard the clang of metal against metal. She peeked open an eye and saw Sesshoumaru had jumped in front of her and blocked Kohaku's weapon.
Why did he save me?
"You tried to kill Rin," Sesshoumaru growled. "Die, boy." He charged forward and struck at Kohaku, but the boy deftly blocked it, Naraku's skill and influence controlling his movements to make him a capable fighter.
"No! Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin cried.
"Stop it!" Sango shrieked. "You'll kill him!"
"Do not forget; he tried to kill you," Sesshoumaru reminded the taiji-ya calmly as he threw off another of Kohaku's attacks as easily as if Kohaku had attacked him with a lone blade of grass.
"No! Stop!" Just Sango leapt onto Sesshoumaru's back and held on for dear life. This threw Sesshoumaru off balance and left him open and defenseless.
Kohaku went in to strike, but Sesshoumaru flung himself and Sango aside, into the bushes. Jaken distracted Kohaku by waving the Staff of Two Heads, so the boy couldn't attack Sesshoumaru, who was picking himself up out of the dirt, his eyes dark with fury.
Sango still lay on the ground where they had fallen, knowing what was in store for her.
Sesshoumaru was fairly purple with rage. Neither Rin nor Jaken had seen him this angry before. "Idiot human!" the taiyoukai roared. "You could have gotten me killed with your actions!" The inuyoukai was fuming. If looks could kill, Sango would have been long dead and buried in the ground by then. "Stay there," he then ordered, and ventured out of the nest of trees to find Kohaku gone.
"The boy ran away. Naraku must have called to him," Jaken explained, frightened of the anger on Sesshoumaru's face.
As he tried to calm himself down, Sesshoumaru strode back to where Sango was sitting. "I could have killed that boy," Sesshoumaru snarled at her.
"I'm glad you didn't," Sango said.
Sesshoumaru was mildly shocked at the amount of relief in her voice, and said, "He tried to kill you. I had to save you. He's under Naraku's control. Why do you still want him to live?"
"He's my brother," Sango said simply. You… had to save me? What?
"He's a bastard," Sesshoumaru replied, turning his back on the girl. Suddenly, something very sharp hit him in the arm. Gently, he eased it out and saw it was a shuriken covered in his blood. "How dare you attack me when my back is turned," he said darkly, his voice dripping with malice.
"If you ever, ever call my brother a bastard again, I'll—"
"You'll what? You'll fight me, defeat me, and come out unscathed like you did when you fought that bear youkai?"
Sango felt as if Sesshoumaru had bitten her. She went to speak, but he wasn't done.
"Face it, taiji-ya. You can't fight and win even the easiest battle without the assistance of your worthless friends," Sesshoumaru growled.
Sango scowled at him, but then her composure crumbled, and she buried her face in her hands and took a deep, calming breath.
Sesshoumaru, in thinking that she was crying, was satisfied. He turned to leave, but Sango's voice rang out behind him and stopped him in his tracks.
"Sesshoumaru, you bastard. You know you are not as good as Inuyasha. InuTaishou knew you weren't good enough. There was a reason that Inuyasha inherited Tetsusaiga." Sesshoumaru whirled around to strike her, but she caught his hand an inch from her face, her face blank. "Every time you and Inuyasha have fought, you have, in the end, lost, have you not? You have had to run away in defeat. Sesshoumaru, you say Inuyasha is so worthless and so weak… what does that make you?"
"Filthy human!" Sesshoumaru roared, rearing back and striking her. She didn't know even a quarter of his true power, and yet she made such ridiculous claims! He ought to kill the insolent human now, but…
…something stopped him.
Perhaps it was that at that moment, Rin and Jaken raced over. "Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin shrieked. "You hurt Sango-san!"
Sesshoumaru lost the lust for the taiji-ya's blood then, and just wanted to get out of there. "We're leaving," Sesshoumaru said curtly. "Come."
"You've admitted your defeat, Sesshoumaru," Sango said, her voice shaking. Her hand was on her red cheek, and she continued, "You know I am right. That is why you want to get away from me. That's right, isn't it?"
Sesshoumaru flexed his claws angrily. "Hold your tongue, taiji-ya, unless you think you can do without it."