Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this set of circumstances… especially for the unhappy one. A nod of recognition is bent towards Rumiko Takahashi for her creative prowess.

A Debt of Gratitude: With thanks to Fenikkusuken for the spot check!

A Note of Explanation: This is the first in what will be a set of four drabbles, following the prompts of a special drabble challenge at the Live Journal community mirsanficart. They'll work together to tell a simple story about endurance… and the things that endure.


Chapter 1
Infuriating

The constant drone of cicadas was almost as oppressive as the heavy heat that presaged the storm gathering low on the horizon. Miroku had picked up the pace since their last break, but Sango didn't complain. Airing any grievance was out of the question because she wasn't speaking to the monk. Why did he have to invite himself along? I don't need an escort; I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself.

When Kagome announced her plans to take an extended break to observe Obon with her family, they all understood; when Inuyasha put their quest on hold to follow her into the future, Sango saw her opportunity. Months had passed since the taijiya village fell, and she wanted to honor those who had died—light lanterns, tend the graves, say her goodbyes.

However, her solitary plans were sideswiped by Miroku, who'd been eager to 'pair off' with her. In spite of her assurances that his presence was neither required nor desired, here he was. Casting a dark look at the monk, Sango lagged a little further behind, allowing the distance between them to widen. At least he's not walking behind me. For once, she didn't have to endure the feel of his eyes—or his palm—caressing her curves.

Instead, she had to watch him… and Kirara. The little neko-youkai had abandoned her earlier and now perched on the monk's shoulder, robbing Sango of the only companionship that might have helped soothe her prickly mood. A trickle of sweat slipped between her shoulder blades, only to be trapped in already-damp bindings; her clothing clung with sticky familiarity, making her restless in her own skin. Hefting Hiraikotsu into a more comfortable position, she turned her attention to the changing landscape. We're near the crossroads; there's still a chance we'll beat the storm.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, rolling towards them on scudding clouds, and all at once, there was wind. Sango stopped and turned her face into the sudden bluster. Thunderheads were piling ominously, heat lightning licking their underbellies. Why doesn't he understand that I need to be alone for this?

"Sango?"

Miroku was waiting for her. He's paying closer attention than I thought. She started walking again, and still he waited. Go on… say something lecherous. Give me a reason. She wanted to lash out—like the wind, like a storm.

"Do you need a break?" he politely asked once she was nearer.

She curtly shook her head, and Miroku nodded amiably. Turning his back, he resumed their journey, and Sango felt cheated. She wanted to rail against him, to make him pay for imposing on her privacy, but he offered no openings. With him along, she'd expected a constant barrage of indecent insinuations, flirtatious comments, and suggestive glances, but he was showing uncharacteristic restraint. He's leaving me alone, but he won't let me be alone. Sango stared suspiciously after him, sure that his compromise would somehow lead to a compromising situation. After all, this was Miroku.


End Note: This drabble was written for the Live Journal community mirsanficart and their Miroku x Sango Summer Challenge. They issued a 4-part drabble challenge, with entries due each week in June. The prompt for Week 1 was Heat. 500 words. Posted on June 7, 2009.