Hide me inside your heart let me wash away
Hold me beneath your body all night and day
I pray that the morning comes and with me you'll stay
Oh hide me inside your heart let me wash away

Love is the Only Soldier – Jann Arden

The night was thick and warm, nearly uncomfortably so. Looking outside the simple window of the hut he currently occupied, he couldn't put a number to the lightening bugs hovering on the ground. There was no breeze, just heavy warm air, and he was stifling.

It took a lot to make the monk sweat, and their arrival to Sango's new home was just enough to set him off. He could admit to himself that the peace of the last year had been as kind to Sango as it had to Kagome, however as the passed time had made Kagome into more of a woman, Sango had gained some – well innocence. During their travels Sango had always been the adult, and now, watching her from a distance as she shyly introduced Kagome to Hirohito, holding his hands and blushing shyly, she looked more like a little girl than he'd ever guessed she could.

This Hirohito was good for her, better than he ever could have been, but he still found himself hanging back from the warm welcomes the girls exchanged. He was painfully aware he shouldn't be there, and judging by the size and obvious strength of Sango's new paramour, he was sure his removal from the village would in fact, be very painful.

Sango's eyes had been hell to look at, still carrying a trace of pain, but worse was the forgiveness there. She had honestly forgiven him, she'd hugged him of all things, and welcomed him. Hirohito-san was a different story. Standing uncomfortably taller than the monk, his eyes were a warning. Apparently his reputation proceeded him, and the hunter was not amused. He had stiffly offered his abode for the monk's shelter, and from that moment on, awkwardness had reigned supreme.

But now, well into the night, Hirohito slept peacefully while Miroku was irritatingly awake. Oh he'd tried to sleep, gotten close, but true slumber had eluded him. The humidity made him itchy and listless, and his conscious state was driving him insane. He was nearly willing to allow Sango another crack at his head if it meant she'd knock him out. He just wasn't sure how to achieve that end without angering the sleeping bear in the corner.

In the end, he decided to take a walk – far safer than angering the tajia. Slightly less muggy outside than in, he sighed quietly in relief, setting out for his stroll. The village was silent, sleeping the eve of the wedding away. It was peaceful and it didn't take a lot of imagination to understand the home that Sango had found here. He could imagine such a place for his own home, if he allowed himself such fantasies, but he squelched that thought, knowing he'd blown whatever chance he'd had at a home a long time ago.

Trying desperately to shake his mood, he wandered closer to the fields he'd seen villagers in the previous day, leaving the village, and hopefully his embarrassing juvenile angst in the dust. It had taken a few steps, but eventually he felt the niggling presence – he was not alone.

"Has Hirohito-san kicked you out already?" She was smiling as she matched her strides to his. There was mischief in Kagome's eyes when she caught up with him, knocking into him playfully. "By the gods its stifling in Sango's hut. I don't know how she can sleep through this nonsense!"

He smiled at that, "Strangely, I find myself grateful that my host as well is immune to the weather."

Kagome grunted in a very un-lady like fashion, "It's just so gross out here, and I have no idea where I can find some sort of water, anything would be nice about now."

"Perhaps, Kagome-sama, removing some superfluous garments would serve to cool both of us." Schooling his features into as innocent mask as possible, spreading his arms wide he added, "After all, there's no need to keep warm in this weather."

He expected the slap, braced himself for it instinctively. Imagine his surprise when he heard only laughter, "A year hasn't changed you at all has it, Miroku? Do you still ask girls to bear your child too?"

He recovered quickly from his surprise, "Why do you ask, Kagome-sama? Have you started to reconsider my offer?"

Her eyes narrowed playfully, "Would you even know what to do if a girl said yes?"

Something in him stilled, wondering how far the girl was going take this joke, and wondering if he had the fortitude to keep his hands to himself. Yet, he found he couldn't resist, "Was my performance lacking in your dream last night, Kagome-sama? I could try to improve if you'd enlighten me to my short comings."

She smiled this time, genuinely and Miroku found himself wondering what strange substance had been slipped in his food. Perhaps he should have been more suspicious of the mushrooms served at dinner, "I've missed you Miroku... I never thought there'd be a time that you being a pervert would make me so happy, but I've missed you."

He stopped, his hand reaching out to still her by grabbing her arm, "I've missed you too, Kagome-sama." His hand brushed her cheek, spurred into action by some strange forwardness he hadn't known he'd possessed, "I've missed you a great deal."

Her eyes were like lakes in the moonlight, deep, mysterious and watery, her voice was almost too soft to hear, "Hasn't it been long enough for you to just call me Kagome?"

The hand on her cheek slid of its own volition to her chin, cupping it gently, "Kagome." He gave into temptation, just once letting himself do what he'd been pining for for years. He kissed her.

She stiffened briefly before she softened to his chest. He took it as all the invitation he needed, wrapping his arms around her, needing to feel her body against his own. He felt like a starving man, deepening the kiss out of near desperation. He couldn't keep the satisfied moan from slipping out when her lips parted. When the kiss ended, her eyes were glowing, her lips were swollen, and her cheeks were dusted with a rosy blush. He wanted her – badly. Kagome was fumbling with his outer robe, her fingers slipping while she tried to divest him of the offending garment.

His mind was numb As dumb as he knew it was to open his mouth, he had to... he had to know. "Kagome, are you sure?"

Her smile was inviting, "I'm sure."


"Does it matter?"


He shot up with a gasp, his heartbeat racing. He was soaked with sweat, his robes clinging to him like an obnoxious second skin. Tossing about for some sort of explanation, he found himself flopping like a fish on Hirohito-san's floor. Kagome was no where to be found. He slumped back on the mat, groaning as he blew the hair out of his face.

Writing this chapter was like pulling teeth. Other than writing a fifteen page report on a one hundred and fifty page book about Shinto Meditation, this is by far the most painful experience I've ever had at a keyboard. I'm really not happy with the way this chapter turned out and I apologize for the delay in posting for such a crap chapter.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed .