Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
Author's Note: This is a companion piece to my one-shot Sango/Kikyo AU fic "Forever". You don't have to read it to understand this. All you need to know, in a nutshell, is that in this version of the story Sango is kept alive by a jewel shard and she met Kikyo instead of Inuyasha and his group.
A Little Pain
Sango has grown weaker every day.
It wasn't so bad, not at first. Sometimes she'd trip while walking in a straight line, only to keep walking as if she'd never done it. Eventually she starts weaving and stumbling as though she's gone blind. She continues to push on as if it means nothing, and Kikyo quietly lets her go on her way.
Kikyo has been monitoring the shard embedded in Sango's back.
She knows that its pure glow, over the last few weeks, has become dark and tainted. It's been that way since their increasing encounters with Naraku and his puppets.
Sango is dying slowly, and Kikyo can only watch.
Sango goes to bed one night and when Kikyo wakes, she doesn't rise. Her shard is at the height of its corruption; at this point, it's only a matter of time.
The darkness isn't something Kikyo can purify—she's tried numerous times while Sango sleeps. This is a deep, dark, all-consuming darkness that took root in Sango's soul a long time ago.
The shard has robbed Sango of her strength and of her speech, and she makes a valiant plea with her eyes. She watches every movement Kikyo makes, tracking her as she lies on her back because she isn't strong enough to follow her anymore. She accepts the food and water the miko offers her every day, and she struggles to draw every breath.
One day, Kikyo gently washes Sango's face because the afternoon sun has made it sweaty and warm to the touch, even for her hands. As she brushes Sango's hair with her fingers, the younger girl slowly opens her eyes, meeting Kikyo's gaze.
And she smiles.
The sob that forms in Kikyo's throat leaves her lips as only a choked, anguished whimper. Her current form doesn't allow her to shed tears. She reaches blindly for Sango's hand, holding on tightly, and rests her forehead against hers as she draws ragged, shallow breaths that only grow softer.
"Don't leave me," she pleads, and it's only a hoarse, ragged whisper. "Please, Sango, don't leave me now."
Sango squeezes Kikyo's hand gently and mouths the words she isn't strong enough to speak.
Kikyo alone isn't strong enough to purify Sango's jewel shard.
Kagome probably isn't strong enough, either. Her spiritual power is greater than Kikyo's, she will admit that much, but Sango's shard has reached a state of corruption that the miko has never seen before. If she has never dealt with corruption of this magnitude, she doubts Kagome has, either.
But maybe, between the two of them, they'll be strong enough.
Kikyo leaves as soon as the sun rises to search for Inuyasha and his group.
She finds them by midday, and after convincing them that she isn't about to hurl Kagome off the nearest available cliff, they agree to accompany her. They return to Sango by sundown.
Sango opens her eyes as she hears them approach, and her eyes immediately light up as Kikyo kneels at her side, gently taking her hand. Her fingertips weakly stroke Kikyo's palm, and her eyes tell the older woman what she can't put into words.
I was beginning to worry, Kikyo.
Kikyo laughs softly. "I promised I'd come back safely, didn't I?"
"We need to remove the jewel shard." Her face slick with sweat, Kagome pulls her hand away from Sango's bare back. She wipes absently at her forehead with her sleeve. "At this point, it's the only way to save her."
"But removing the jewel shard will kill her!"
"Not if we time it right." Kagome narrows her eyes stubbornly. "Between the two of us we can do it, Kikyo, I know we can." She meets the older woman's gaze evenly.
Kikyo glances down briefly at Sango before looking at Kagome again; she nods once, quickly.
Kagome smiles; she swiftly pushes her sleeves back to the elbows, yanking a hair band from her wrist and tying her hair back. "Okay then," she murmurs. "Let's do this."
Kikyo scoots closer. "Just tell me what I need to do."
The younger miko lays her hand back on Sango's back again. "I'm going to focus on purifying the jewel shard and removing it from her body." She looks at Kikyo. "During this time, you'll need to supply her with as much spiritual power as you possibly can. Her soul is linked to this shard; that's what will kill her, in the end. If you can keep it stable while I'm removing the shard, she should make it out of this in one piece."
Kikyo nods again, covering Kagome's hand with her own. Kagome speaks again, but this time her voice is directed to Sango. "Sango-chan? Can you hear me?"
A quick shiver runs down Sango's spine; she closes her eyes to show she's listening.
"Good. I won't lie to you—this is going to hurt a lot. It won't last long, but you'll definitely be feeling what I'm about to do."
Sango grits her teeth and opens her eyes. Kagome takes it as a sign of acceptance.
Sango nearly dies twice during the procedure.
The first time, it's when the pain fully hits her. Her body starts shaking and her eyes go wide, her fingers flailing desperately for some support as her breathing becomes short and quick. Kikyo grabs her with her free hand and presses it to her lips, closing her eyes as the younger girl whimpers and gasps in agony. "Forgive me," she whispers. "Please forgive me, Sango."
The second time is when Kagome removes the shard from Sango's back. For a horrific moment Sango goes deathly still; her heart ceases to beat and her breathing quiets. It only lasts for a few seconds before she jerks back to life, coughing and gasping for air, her fingers tightening around Kikyo's hand so tightly it's a miracle her fingers don't break. Panting for breath, aching all over but alive, Sango slowly meets Kikyo's gaze and grins.
Kikyo smiles back.
Then she collapses. Her fingers go limp around Sango's hand and her eyes close.
Kikyo wakes gradually, squinting against the bright rays of the afternoon sun; removing the shard from Sango's back took all morning. She blinks several times and grimaces, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand.
Sango kneels in front of her, her gaze worried. She's back in her customary kimono, her choice of clothing when she isn't on the hunt. Kikyo leans back slightly against the tree and smiles, utterly exhausted. "You can talk again," she says.
"My strength returned as soon as you and Kagome-chan removed the jewel shard. I'll be completely healed by tomorrow."
"That's… that's good."
"You pushed yourself too hard." Sango frowns. "You poured too much spiritual energy into me, Kikyo."
"Says the girl who once pushed me out of a youkai's path…"
Sango chuckles, and Kikyo smiles slightly. She closes her eyes, taking a deep breath. She doesn't need to ask about Inuyasha and the others. She knows they're gone.
"… You could have gone with them, you know."
Sango blinks and tilts her head to the side, smirking. "And why would I want to do that?" she asks innocently. Kikyo slowly opens her eyes, meeting Sango's gaze. Her eyes softening slightly, Sango holds out her hand, palm facing Kikyo. Understanding what she wants, the miko gently presses their hands together, sighing softly as Sango twines their fingers together and rests her forehead against the older girl's.
"Don't leave me," the brown-haired girl murmurs. "That's what you told me once, isn't it, Kikyo?"
"Yes." Kikyo sighs again. "And I meant it."
"Good." Sango grins. "Because you're stuck with me for a long, long time."
I've fallen in love with this little AU, I must admit.
Read and review, please!