Yes, this is a modern AU. Which makes little sense, since I don't write those. But here it is.


Sango walks down the side of the highway, thinking dark thoughts that will remain untold. What drove her there is a story whose only marks are the girl wandering the highway at night, truly alone for the first time in her life, and the stains blacker than her black clothes where her own blood still flows from fresh wounds.

A car pulls up beside her; it would have been a black car in daytime, but at night it shines with the reflected glory of the modern world. People don't just pull over on the highway, and Sango looks into the car with the dull fatalism of a dying girl that has been honked and leered at by countless strangers on her last journey. Her hope that the driver would be a woman is disappointed, for despite his long hair, the person inside is unmistakably male.

It is an expensive car, though the inside is a mess. Wires and coils of tubes lie in the open, as if the car's engine were spilling into the interior. The driver himself sits in a pool of the intestine-like parts, which in the shadows, seem to blend seamlessly into his waves of dark hair. The passenger-side window rolls down with electric ease, and the man inside says, "I'll take you wherever you're going."

Knowing where she's headed, Sango doubts that. Her common sense tells her to just go on her way, but despite the seasonable temperatures, she's getting so cold, and she's so tired. Longingly, she looks at the passenger seat, and without really knowing what she's doing, she gets in.

"My name is Kagewaki," he tells her calmly. "Which way should I go?"

"Anywhere, anywhere."

"You're underage, aren't you," he says, sparing only a quick glance off the road in her direction, as he speeds off back into the flow of the highway. Sango marvels at how effortlessly they gain ground now, and at how, now that it's easy, the miles seem to have no meaning, whereas every step she took under her own power had seemed laden with deep significance.

It occurs to her: there's nowhere to go. The miles are all the same, now.

And nowhere for her to sleep, save for that last repose beneath the ground.

"Don't take me to the police station," is all she says. She has her reasons.

"A runaway, huh. It's all right. I won't rat you out."

"I'm not a runaway. There's nothing left to run away from."

"A criminal, then. You won't kill me and take my car, will you?" Sango shivers at the way he says that. Such delight at thinking her a criminal. And such mocking confidence as he feigns fear for himself.

"I need gas," he tells her at length, pulling over into a service station. He hands her a credit card. "Will you?"

Sango looks dully at the card, amazed that he would trust her with it, (but then where would she go, even assuming the money on the card was limitless) and also reluctant to move her aching body. But what will she tell him? If he sees her wounds, he will want to take her to a hospital, and then it will all be over.

She gets out of the car, and begins to pump the gas. Kagewaki rolls his window down and watches her, intensely, like a voyeur, as she fumbles with the pump and spills gasoline on the fine lacerations on her hands. The meter clicks and clicks away, the pump radio turns on and spews forth staticy trivia, and under the powerful lights of the service station their eyes meet, and each sees the other's secrets. Kagewaki cannot help but see the reddish tinge now poorly hidden by her black clothing, the stiffness of her hair, the red crescents under her fingernails where the blood on her hands did not wash away, and her weak stance which tells of more serious injuries. Sango sees the bloodlessly pale face and red eyes of her benefactor, sees the locks of hair that move with no wind, and the waves of pleasure that come over his features as she refuels the expensive but messy car, and knows without a doubt that Kagewaki isn't human.

It's the blood loss, she tells herself. I'm going mad.

The tank is full, and Sango gulps before slowly pulling out the nozzle. She finishes the transaction and climbs back into the car, her heart racing fast enough to make her dizzy. "I'm losing my mind," she tells him, her voice tinged with fear. She wants to, needs to believe that she is crazy and that she can trust him. She's not used to having no one there for her. "I thought you were..."

His answer is a smile that cannot come from pure thoughts. Sango pushes some of the debris inside the car aside, but does not search for her seatbelt.

"It doesn't matter anyway," he tells her. "You're dying."

"I know."

"If I took you to the hospital, you might be saved."

"Maybe. But that isn't a world I want to live in."

"You're protecting someone."

"Yes."

"Who will bury you then, when you're gone?"

Sango falters. "I don't know."

"I'll tell you what. We'll drive around for the rest of your life, and when that's over, I'll dig a grave for you."

Sango nods, slipping away. It seems reasonable.

"The only thing you have to do is come back for me when I'm done, okay?"

It's getting too late for the hospital. She doesn't even feel the sting of the gasoline on her hands anymore; her extremities have gone numb.

"Okay," she breathes, almost relieved.

Before her last breath, his hand slips up the back of her shirt, to where the bullet shot into her chest exited. "After you come back," he says to her gently, "I want you to meet a friend of mine. His name is Naraku. He will help you."

She doesn't answer, but her eyes remain open, gazing at the highway stretching out before her at impossible speeds, the light of dawn that fills the sky already years away from the place where she got into a stranger's car. She feels removed, immortal in this isolated world where no wind blows, and the fresh air of dawn cannot be smelt.

Her head fills with dark thoughts, she is cluttered, suffocated, and snuffed out.