Author's Note: This was written for iyflashfic, for a prompt asking for Sango-centric angst. It's a song fic, loosely (you've been warned, though song lyrics only appear at the beginning of the fic). Contains spoilers for chapters 543-558 of the InuYasha manga.
If these two hands of mine were beautiful and pure
And sinless as the moon as it shined with its white splendour
Then could it somehow be, that you'd have needed me?
That I could be something to you?
-Kaya, Silvery Dark ((Translation by Faith))
She is marked.
It is not a mark that other people can see, but she is tainted by it nonetheless. It is a beacon, and she is astonished that no one else can see the message it has emblazoned upon her soul. Her life is no longer her own.
In defiance of her training and her honor, Sango tried to take an innocent life. The noblest of intentions could not excuse her actions. And for that she knows she has no right to a life of her own.
Naraku is dead. Her family is avenged; her brother yet lives. The man she loves is finally safe. She is a breath away from peace, but she cannot reach it. Every time she tries she can feel the grip of clawed fingers closing around her heart like a vise.
She owes him his vengeance for the crime she committed, but he has disappeared from her life like a specter.
And, like a specter, he continues to haunt her dreams.
She is powerless.
In the daylight she almost feels safe. She surrounds herself with what friends she has left and deludes herself that maybe he won't take her away after all. That maybe, just maybe, the demon lord is not so concerned with revenge as she feared. She failed. The girl lives, even now. Maybe that could be enough.
But when the sun sets and the shadows emerge, she sees silver in every darkened corner, in the soft, slippery darkness that surrounds every tree in the forest; she smells the wretched stench of a demon's presence. It is enough to make her breath catch in her throat and her heart skip a beat.
And when she lies alone at night she dreams that he comes to her. He is both beautiful and terrible, his fury hidden by a calm, emotionless exterior. But she can see anger's turmoil bubbling just below the surface.
It's in his eyes, golden eyes that terrify and entice.
Sometimes she dreams that he is gentle and kind, and ends her suffering quickly. Other times she dreams that he is cruel and that she must suffer his torments for hours before he is done with her.
And though others may call him Lord Sesshomaru, to her his name is Death.
As much as she fears his punishment, she yearns for it: an end to this miserable existence, at last.
She is lost.
The demon lord has left but the girl remains. The very same little girl that Sango once tried to kill. And now sometimes it's guilt that gnaws at her heart, instead of just the fear.
It's as if he knows that this is far worse than any other punishment he could have devised. But the demon lord doesn't return, and when he does, it's bearing gifts for his girlchild, not vengeance against Sango.
Sometimes she wonders if he's forgotten her transgression, and then she laughs bitterly and wishes it could be so easy.
Rin laughs and plays with the village children, and tries to help with the chores as best she can. She is made of smiles and sunshine, it seems, and is everything that Sango pretends so desperately to be.
This is a chance to redeem herself, perhaps.
She steels her heart and swears silently to try, irredeemably flawed creature that she is.
She is unworthy.
She is as deceitful and disgusting as women come, and though she knows it she carries on anyway. And Miroku does not know, and loves her.
When they are married, she swears to love him and stand by him until the end of both their days and casts furtive glances into the shadows to make sure that the one that hunts her has not yet come to take his revenge.
What should be the happiest day of her life is marked more by stark terror than joy.
Miroku sees her nervousness, but is oblivious. It might be jitters.
She is terrified of losing him, of seeing her happy ending ripped away just as she is finally beginning to accept it. But days pass slowly by and he, the other he in her life, does not come for her. The demon lord has vanished as if he never existed, but for the dark stain on her heart where the fear eats away at her daily.
The dreams still come, whether she sleeps alone or enfolded in the comforting arms of her husband. Slumber is no sanctuary but the place where her fear thrives, near the tattered edges of her consciousness. With her eyes open, she can see the proof that she still lives, that her happy ending has not collapsed around her.
She is forgotten.
The years have drifted by almost unnoticed, and the demon has never yet returned to exact his revenge. When he comes, it is to bring gifts to the girlchild Rin, though she is less girl and more woman these days. He pays no mind to the demon slayer's plight and makes no move toward her.
The fear still haunts her, but if she digs down deep into her psyche, she knows that he never will. It is enough that she has lived her life with honor and done her best to atone for her actions, for the mistake she made.
If she has to admit it, she knows it was simply a mistake, made in a desperate attempt to save the man she loved more than life itself. For all that he is a demon, and rumored heartless, Lord Sesshomaru must have somehow divined this.
In all these years she has been unable to believe that another could understand the pain of that decision. Perhaps, just a bit, the demon lord does. Maybe this was never punishment. Maybe this was... simply moving forward. She can find no other explanation for his actions or lack thereof, but suspicions and intuitions conjured up alone in the dark of night bring her little comfort.
After all, she could be wrong. She has been wrong before.
In an even deeper dark, even later in the night, her husband feels her shudder and wakes and whispers a question. It is surrounded by warmth and words of love, but she hears two words uttered harsh and very nearly unfeeling. He still does not understand, not really, though she knows he would dearly love to. Two words echo, the rest fall forgotten in their meaninglessness. What's wrong?
A voice that sounds like hers whispers back that it's nothing, just a bad memory, forged long ago and faded now with time. But it's a lie.