Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Rumiko Takashi. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No copyright infringement is intended.

Short Shrift

Chapter Five: Only

She wandered away on her own again. She found herself doing it more and more often. Perhaps it was the freedom from the pressures of being part of a group that pulls her or maybe she sought the privacy, the silence, in which she is able to ease into the hollowness that seems to define her. Maybe it is neither. Maybe she wanted only to feel the soothing presence that has been so constant as of late.

It is its company with whom she keeps during these times which she can manage to find a reasonable excuse to get away. Into isolated parts of the forest, her feet would lead her or in the open banks of easy-flowing streams. Like an ever-watchful guardian the youkai would always be there.

Upon sensing it, a chill would run down her spine as her years of training would warn her of the danger such a presence can bring. Then she would relax and a faint smile would cross her lips because she knew—somehow she knew—that it understood her. A lonesome presence, so dark and pained; it would sometimes stay with her for hours as she merely remained in one spot. No words would pass to break the silence.

There is only the orchestra of nature to remind them that they are still of the earthly world, the awareness of danger that is just beyond their reach and the growing trust between them that is difficult to explain.

They are only two lonely hearts.

For that is what they are—two lonely hearts who find solace in one another in these secret moments that is theirs to hold dear.

"Please show yourself," she called out into the deep darkness of the night. It was slowly becoming that its presence was not enough. She wanted to put a face to the trust and peace that she feels. A desire burned within her for a comforting touch—someone to hold her and accept her for the broken person she is now. "Please," she begged. "I need you."

Only further silence answered her. The cicadas continued their song and the endless blanket of stars watched passively as their lives unfolded and entwined. Only disappointed filled her as it did not heed her prayer. Hot tears were pushed back as she fought against rejection that gnawed at her.

Sango was prepared to convince herself that it would be fruitless to continue on this routine. She was prepared to accept there is to be nothing more to these private encounters than what it is at present. But she cannot bring herself to do so.

Only it can soothe her sorrow.

A/N: Well, aren't I on a roll! Second update today—I'm very proud of me. This chapter is not the greatest but it needs to be written to get the cobwebs of my keyboard.

I hope you enjoyed it! Reviews would be greatly appreciated.