Giftfic for prpl pen.
The most dangerous youkai are those that wear a human face.
Because humans want to emphasize with other humans, and things that look human. Humans strive to understand everything, and youkai can never understand anything, and that's why they are dangerous. They destroy houses and families and villages and they don't see the cost of it all.
Or rather, they do, and they just don't care, because you can't care about things you don't understand.
Sango had thought she'd understood Inuyasha, and Sango had thought she'd cared. Of course, that is not an odd thing to say about the man who'd - who'd she'd believed - had decimated her village. Caring, after all, does not have to mean loving. Caring could mean hating, and she had cared about Inuyasha with every inch of her flesh.
But then she'd discovered just how grievously she had misunderstood, and her caring was replaced with apathy, and this seemed to greatly piss Inuyasha off.
"Just what sort of houshi is he?" she asked Kagome, as they walked down the muddy trail. The sky was dimming quickly and the insects were starting to sing from the reeds, a nice background noise to accompany the creaking of the wagon wheels and Miroku and Inuyasha's bickering.
"His own kind," Kagome said with a high, carefree laugh. Sango glanced at her, noted the way she kept one hand on her bright yellow backpack casually and kicked up her feet when she walked, and it struck Sango of how absurd it was to think she'd been fighting a false God just that afternoon. Life, she has found, very rarely makes sense.
"Hurry up, boys!" Kagome calls back at them brightly, grinning as though she were joking. Inuyasha glares at her, and grumbles, and stuffs his hands in his sleeves and marches past them. Sango hears him growl, "Am I the only one that remembers we are on a quest?", and she sympathizes, because it is a very human thing to do, and Sango has always been very human.
"It's getting dark," Shippou complains, huddled on Miroku's shoulder. Miroku smiles and suggests they sell the items he exploited from the headman and find a room for the night. Shippou cheers; Inuyasha protests and is quickly overruled.
The next village happens to be a sparse one, nestled in a valley and full of eager buyers. They get more for the horse than they should, Sango notes, and keeps her mouth shut. The room they receive is bigger than it should be, as well, and the dinner they are served is of a much higher quality.
Being the head of a village's daughter herself, she is not so perturbed by better treatment; Kagome does not seem to realize she is eating better than many, and in fact digs around in her great backpack for what she calls 'condiments'; Shippou is a child and Miroku is a con man so neither have quite the conscience required to feel guilty; but somewhere between her second bowl of rice and third fish Sango looks across at Inuyasha, and sees the way he shifts uncomfortably as he eats, and her throat sticks and she has to put down her utensils.
Kagome, Sango thinks, is the sort of person who expects to make friends wherever she goes. She had thus far ignored the way Sango slept away from the group, curled up in Kirara, and when Sango tells her she will not be sleeping in the inn with them she acts shocked.
"But!" she says, as if they is all the argument she needs. "But, Sango, we're a team now."
"I'm sleeping outside," Sango merely repeats, and picks up her things on her way out the door.
"Oh, wait," Kagome calls, and hurries after her, skirt flapping indecently. "Sango," she begins, and then lowers her voice to a discreet whisper, "if you're worried about sharing a room with Inuyasha and Miroku..."
"That's not it," Sango says, putting up a hand to stop her reassurances.
"Then why?" Kagome asks, and employs her doe eyes to give her a pleading look. "We're a team now. We rely on each other."
Sango simply shakes her head and continues on her way. The fact is, simply, that she does not need these people, does not rely on them, does not view them as a team, and really doesn't know any of them at all.
Later Sango walks the perimeter of the inn, stopping here and there to listen to the walls, and in this way walks nearly straight into Inuyasha.
"What are you doing?" she says, taking a step back, her grip on her weapon tightening reflexively.
"What are you doing?" he flings back. "You're the one wandering around at night."
She frowns at him and doesn't take her hand off the boomerang. She uses her other hand to gesture, instead, and waves at the wall. "There is an infestation of rat youkai in this inn. We should exterminate them tomorrow, as an expression of our gratitude for their... generosity."
She waits, wondering if Inuyasha will agree, or perhaps protest that the special treatment made him uncomfortable. He does neither, as it turns out, but instead makes a noise in his throat and nod vaguely.
Then he says, "You hurt Kagome's feelings."
Sango narrows her eyes a little. "She was being... rude. She was assuming things about me I don't want to be assumed."
"Whatever," Inuyasha grunted. "Look, I don't give a damn if you trust us or not. I sure as hell don't trust you. But don't be rude to Kagome."
He gave her a somewhat threatening look, kicked up a little dirt, and then left her in the dark.
Nothing significant changed. None of Sango's feelings changed. But the next evening she slept next to Kagome, under the expensive blankets that had been provided for them.
"Is he always like that?" she questioned Kagome, when Miroku was gone after some woman and the extermination was done. Kagome turned her full attention on her, looking overjoyed that Sango had actually begun a conversation. Kagome always carried a desperate, let-me-in air about her. "Chase after women, I mean."
"Asking for love."
"Oh no!" Kagome laughs in a young, embarrassed way. "Oh, no, Sango, he's asking for- well," she said, and colored a little. "You know."
She gives her a knowing look, and it strikes Sango that Kagome believes she is dense, or naive, or awash with maidenly modesty. None are true, of course, but she humors Kagome with a smile.
Of course, the houshi is asking for love. He's all but screaming for it with every inch of his body, really, and Sango would feel for him if he weren't so bent on feeling her rear. He strikes her as man who longs for connections, for things to keep him grounded, and she wonders. After all, there has been no show-and-tell. She has no idea why they are seeking Naraku, only that they are bound and determined to fit her into it somehow.
She thinks Miroku's need to just be loved might explain how he integrated himself into the group so quickly, so smoothly. But she has no such need, and so can not relate.
It was Inuyasha that made her break down in sobs.
Because he didn't trust her, and hardly seemed to want her, and clearly didn't need her, but was still there.
Inuyasha was the one who carried her back to their camp, because it was practical. Shippou was a child and Miroku was leaning heavily on his staff and Kagome was the perfect girl, slim and small in all the right places, and she wouldn't have been able to support anyone's weight.
He carried her, not as one would a bride, but as he had before, on his back. It was a long way, and Sango dozed and thought, and thought and dozed, and somewhere halfway between the two she curled her hand around Inuyasha's shoulder and squeezed briefly, then relaxed.
She didn't need Inuyasha's kindness, nor his approval, nor even his attention, but she still ached with the want of it.
As Shippou assured her that Kagome had left him behind to ensure Miroku didn't try anything, she was once again struck of how modest and womanly Kagome seemed to think she was. It was almost nice, because she'd always been viewed as very unwomanly by her village, but then, she'd never wanted to be viewed as modest. As something that needed protection.
She glanced at Miroku's dejected frame and licked her lips once, sampling her words. "Do they do that often?"
Miroku looked at her, perplexed, and she elaborated. "Inuyasha and Kagome. Do they go places together often?"
Miroku grinned roguishly at her and said, "Yes. It is obvious, isn't it?" Sango considered answering but rejected it, instead turning her back on him without reply. She tucked her blanket around her side and she heard Miroku sigh, again. Not the dramatic, faked sighs he'd given when she and Shippou had all but accused him of the most immoral of behavior, but a real one. Light and quiet. Sango would have felt sorry for him if she didn't feel so sorry for herself.
Because Inuyasha apparently needed Kagome, and all her wanting wouldn't change that.