Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this simple conclusion… especially for the one who endured to the end, which is really just the beginning. A nod of recognition is bent towards Rumiko Takahashi for her creative prowess.

Chapter 4

With the passing of the storm, the wind changed. Something about the way it ruffled through her hair, lifted her clothing, and slid across her skin reminded Sango of Miroku, and she straightened to check on him. The monk labored under the weight of a yoke, ferrying two more buckets of rocks from the slope beside Midoriko's cave. He's stronger than he looks, she mused, quickly dropping her gaze when he noticed her scrutiny.

They still worked without speaking, but the atmosphere had changed. Sango stopped imposing silence upon Miroku; they shared it instead. The bitterness of her silence was tempered somewhat by the melancholy sweetness of memories. Lost in the past, she made monuments to those who had no one else to remember them. At the head of each settling mound, she stacked stones for markers, creating low pillars amidst the flowers. I will endure for your sakes. I will fight on your behalf. I will live in your stead.

"There weren't flowers before," she commented, bridging the space between them with words.

"Kagome-sama scattered seeds the last time we were here," Miroku shared, stooping to tickle Kirara's ears.

How like her; I must thank her.

"Shippo helped, and he was hoping to check on them," he added quietly. "I was able to talk him out of making the trip, but only just."

The thought of bearing up under the kitsune's scrutiny as well made Sango cringe, and gratitude for the monk's persuasion flooded her. With a shy glance, she managed a soft, "Thank you."

His answering look was like a caress.

Under the light of innumerable stars, Sango set a flickering lantern in the lee of the largest stone marker. She was weary… and worried. One tiny light for so many souls. Is it enough? Did I do enough? Standing with bowed head and bowed shoulders, her soul whispered an agonized apology for the meagerness of this Obon observance.

"Sango," Miroku murmured, calling her from the mire of her regrets. Warm hands pressed down upon her slender shoulders, as he said, "You're strong, but you were never meant to bear the weight of an entire village."

"They don't have anyone else," she protested brokenly.

"But you have me," he countered, winding his arms around her shoulders and pulling her back against him. "If you are determined not to relinquish this burden, at least let me share it."

She stiffened in his embrace. "Why are you doing this?"

"This… what?"

"You're not being a pervert," she muttered accusingly.

He hummed thoughtfully, resting his cheek against her hair. "Sango, you're here to confront your grief, and a good ally doesn't distract their partner in the midst of a battle."

"Battle?" she asked stiffly.

There was a smile in his voice when he replied, "You are a fighter."

Slowly, she surrendered, leaning into his insistent support. "You, too," she whispered. Sango lifted her face to the sky, letting sweeter tears fall, and Miroku met no resistance when he kissed them away.

The End

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 4 was Wind. Thanks, ladies! It was fun! 500 words. Posted on June 28, 2009.