Disclaimer: Inuyasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi.


There was silence at the camp for a long time after Kagome stormed off into the night. Inuyasha huffed, but everyone knew it was only a matter of time before he went off after her; and when he did finally slink away, Sango was prudently looking away, the monk appeared to be deep in meditation, and both Kirara and Shippo were to all appearances sound asleep on Sango's lap. Not a one of them so much as twitched as the hanyou disappeared into the darkness beyond the fire's light.

Sango's face held a strange mix of emotions as she clandestinely watched Inuyasha leave. There was gladness, that the hanyou was finally going to Kagome and the rest of their group would have some peace and quiet. But there was also, more disconcertingly, jealousy and more than a little loneliness. Miroku pretended not to see these things, the way he pretended not to know what Kagome and Inuyasha were doing together in the woods, out of earshot.

He kept up a carefully neutral façade and was glad of Shippo's presence that handily prevented any detailed conversation regarding the obvious topic at hand. Then again, without the distraction of Shippo, he would have been free to commence more important pursuits, like seducing Sango. So they sat in more or less companionable silence until at last the young demon fell asleep; Miroku was content to let it wait a while longer, no perverted comments just yet, but it seemed Sango was not.

She had been clearly agitated all evening, quiet and withdrawn even by her own standards. This he had carefully ignored, though he had wondered at the cause. At first he had been sure it was something to do with Kohaku, but the look in her eyes and the way she stared out into the darkness where first Kagome and then Inuyasha had vanished told a somewhat different story. Was it worry for her friends, or something else entirely that brought about that look?

"How long do you think they'll keep this up?" Sango asked suddenly, catching him off guard. He looked at her in surprise. That sour tone was usually reserved for him, when she caught his hand wandering where she did not want it. To hear it directed at Kagome and Inuyasha was something of a shock.

"Keep what up, Sango?" he pressed, knowing the answer, really just trying to see if he could fluster her. It was a loaded question, one he rather suspected would discomfit her. The slayer grew embarrassed at the slightest mention of intimate activities, though the rosy tint it lent her cheeks was quite endearing. He wanted to see if she would become nervous or angry. Shippo was momentarily sleeping, but he might come awake at any moment if their voices grew too loud, and Kirara was staring at them with her huge red eyes. The demon cat seemed oddly aware of what was being said.

Sango looked away, though the redness creeping across her cheeks was still obvious. "Running off after a fight, so they can be alone together," she answered finally. Frustrated, she added, "You know what I mean."

It was difficult to maintain an image of innocence under her scrutiny. "I believe they will continue to take refuge in the darkness until they become more comfortable displaying their feelings. They must first come to terms with each other," he said, sincerely.

"It's not safe to split up like this," she protested. It was true enough. Somewhat guiltily, Miroku was aware that he would do the same thing if they would let him get away with it. Kagome's, and especially Sango's enforcement of his chastity was beginning to grate on his nerves. That Sango not only refused to allow him to partake of other women but also denied him from touching her was often infuriating. To an extent he understood that he deserved reprimand for his actions, but he was beginning to wonder if Sango had any sort of urges at all.

Having been silent too long, he sighed. "You know that Inuyasha will protect her, Sango, and we can more than hold our own." Nothing he said seemed to soothe her worry.

Kirara mewed, blinking at her mistress. "I know that," Sango admitted finally. "It's just –"

If she was that upset by Kagome's actions, Miroku thought she needed to discuss it with the other girl. Rather than say this, however, he sought to distract her from her problems. Grinning with deliberate lecherousness, he murmured, "Would you rather they explore their relationship here, rather than running off? I didn't realize you liked to watch, Sango."

"Pervert." Her voice was strained, angry. Shippo stirred uneasily. Miroku was glad that Shippo was sleeping on Sango's lap, preventing her from lashing out at him or shouting. It didn't stop her hands from clenching into angry fists.

"Now, now, Sango, I did not mean to offend." Except that he had, and they both knew it. Throwing her off balance was one of his favorite pastimes.

"Then stop being such a pervert."

"Yeah, Miroku, stop being such a pervert," piped up Shippo, startling both the humans simply by being awake.

They lapsed into silence then, Sango settling into her bedroll with both the demons after a last baleful glare in Miroku's direction. The crackling of the fire did little to distract him from his mental meanderings; though it was something of a treat to have at least a semblance of solitude, he was rather distracted. Sango's reaction to his hints and advances was frustrating, even more so when he knew that Inuyasha and Kagome were off doing what he would have very much liked to do. Pretty words and blushes were all very enticing, but if she kept slapping him and calling him a pervert every time he so much as touched her, he was fairly certain he would lose his mind.

And yet, even as this threatened to drive him mad, he was reluctant to make the changes that would win him a place in Sango's bed. It was a somewhat frightening idea, to give up other women forever, but with Sango constantly on the lookout lest he 'take advantage' of some unsuspecting girl, his prospects were growing slim. It wasn't that he was not attracted to Sango, quite the opposite. She was everything he could have wanted in a woman, except for that damnable avoidance of any sort of physical contact. Still, she had hinted more than once that she would be more willing to accept his advances should the 'perverted' behavior cease. Maybe it was time to give in before his time ran out.

Not quite so resolute in his decision as he might have liked, the monk settled down to keep watch over his companions until morning.