Disclaimer: Inuyasha is the creation of Rumiko Takahashi. I don't own any of the characters.

Author's note: This is a gift fic for LuxKen27 as a part of the MiroSan(ta) Christmas fic exchange. Sorry that I couldn't incorporate more of your prompts, but I hope that you still like this little fic. Also, I need to say thanks to my wonderful beta, ScribeFigaro. You always make my stories better.


Bandits

By Starzki

---

Miroku felt the cold bite of the knife's tip pressed under his jaw. He and Sango hadn't expected bandits so close to their village.

He stole a glance at his wife. She looked like she had been carved out of stone – out of ice – frozen, not with fear, but with pure rage. The other bandit stood behind her holding a long sword across her neck.

Sango's eyes contained no expression. She didn't want to betray her fear or broadcast her next actions so that the bandits could take advantage. However, she did focus her eyes on Miroku long enough to shoot him a look that he understood completely.

Protect my babies.

The two toddlers babbled at Miroku's feet and played in the long folds of his robe. They didn't yet understand how this new game was played.

-x-

Miroku had been unsurprised when Sango had told him that she was expecting. He was fantastically elated, happy beyond all description at the news, but he was unsurprised. After all, he and Sango had been involved in activities conducive to baby-making almost as soon as Naraku had been defeated.

Though Miroku and Sango had been saddened by Kagome's sudden departure, they had had one another to turn to for solace and comfort. And it turned out that they were really good at comforting one another.

So, while Miroku was unsurprised at the fact that Sango would, indeed, bear his child, everything else about her pregnancy was a bit of a revelation. Miroku had grown up amongst men and knew little of the reality of pregnant women. He was, however, a quick study.

Miroku's first instinct had been to coddle and pamper his wife in her "delicate condition." His first effort to do so (unburdening her from carrying an armful of firewood the day she had told him of her pregnancy) had been met with laughter, then a playful-but-not-too-light slap.

"I've never been fragile," Sango chided. "Don't you dare start acting like I am now. Believe me, I'll let you know if you can do anything for me."

-x-

Protect my babies.

This was not a turn that either Miroku or Sango had expected their afternoon walk to take. The girls, just a little older than a year, could not walk far, but they appreciated new stimulating adventures outside of their home. Ever since the girls had started walking, they had made it their mission to get into as much trouble as possible. They had Sango's boundless energy and Miroku's sense of mischief, which was an exhausting combination for new parents. Miroku and Sango had incorporated an afternoon exploration in areas around the village to help dissipate some of their energy so the girls could nap soundly and so they could have some quiet time together.

Miroku wanted this encounter with the bandits over quickly. "I only have a little money, but please take it and leave us alone." He quickly handed over the little he had to the man who held a knife to his throat.

The bandit laughed at the small sum. "Oy, he thinks he can get rid of us so easy for this little?" the man called out to his partner, who chuckled as well.

"Guess again," said the bandit in a low, threatening voice.

Miroku kept his eyes on Sango. Her deceptively dead stare took in Miroku as well as the children at his feet. He knew that she didn't fear for her own life. Her entire being was focused on protecting her family. He knew that if it had just been him and Sango on the road and confronted by bandits, the bandits would be subdued, bound, and delivered to the village council before you could blink. And they'd laugh for hours about it later. But the girls made this a far more dangerous situation.

Sango's eyes suddenly focused again to the right of Miroku's feet. One of the twins, he couldn't tell which one from his peripheral vision, had noticed that her daddy's staff had been knocked over and she went to investigate, leaving the protection of Miroku's robes.

The little one was suddenly the focus of the bandits' attention.

-x-

Sango reveled in her pregnancy. Kaede was always on hand to help keep Sango at optimum health and to give advice. The brief sickness associated with pregnancy was over almost as soon as Sango had told Miroku of her condition.

Miroku also discovered that pregnancy also had other delightful side effects. While Sango had always been enthusiastic when it had come to "alone time" as husband and wife, pregnancy had made her almost aggressive in that respect.

There was an instance where Miroku had been gone overnight to exterminate a demon a few villages away. When he had returned home, he could do nothing but submit when she literally pounced on him, tearing at his clothes, and do what he could to quell her desire. That particular encounter had left him dazed for hours and eternally thankful for whatever being, wisdom, or fate had helped him to see that Sango was the one and only woman for him in his life.

It was Inuyasha, talking without thinking as usual, who had pointed out late in Sango's pregnancy that she was unusually large for a pregnant woman. Sango had laughed, but almost immediately had burst into tears and fled the room. Miroku frowned at Inuyasha, ready to tell his friend to leave, when Sango had re-entered the room swinging her hiraikotsu at the hanyou.

It was Inuyasha's turn to flee.

Later that night, a fretting Sango asked Miroku to fetch Kaede to find out if her pregnancy was progressing as normal. It was then that the old miko had informed the couple that they were actually expecting twins.

Sango felt relief, then anxiety at the thought of having to be responsible for not one but two new lives. Miroku, on the other hand, was nothing but overjoyed. He told all who would listen to him that his new wife was pregnant with twins and that he would have the largest family in the village in a few short years.

Sango's small body was more than strong enough to support the developing twins for the rest of her pregnancy. In fact, she carried in the day's load of firewood all on her own the day before she went into labor. It took several trips, but she wanted to show her new children just how strong their mother was as soon as they were born. That way, they'd always know that she would protect them, no matter the danger.

-x-

Sango wasn't fragile. She had proved to Miroku, over and over, that she could battle back against even the harshest injuries. Miroku worried, though, that a serious injury to either of the girls would devastate Sango.

Miroku understood her fear and devotion. He'd rather lose a limb than see one of his lovely girls injured. When the toddler walked unsteadily towards his staff, dropped at the bandits' demand when his wife was threatened with a sharp sword, Miroku risked stooping to grab her arm and draw her back to him.

The child, yanked too forcefully by her normally gentle and devoted father, became scared and began to whimper. This reaction scared her sister, and both began to clutch adamantly at their father's robes, asking to be lifted and comforted.

For his efforts, Miroku was awarded with a cut to his neck from the bandit's knife. The ugly thief also cuffed Miroku on the back of the head. "Stupid monk! If you want to see the rest of your family survive, you'll stand still!"

Miroku made a show of acting hurt by the bandit to draw attention away from the children at his feet. "Ow," he moaned, lifting his hand to rub where he'd just been hit. "Look, you've gotten all of our money. Just leave us now. Please."

The bandits exchanged glances. Miroku caught them looking at his children and felt his blood run cold.

The man pulled back Sango's head by her hair, exposing her neck to the length of his blade. He spoke to his partner, "Those two little ones there: they'll fetch a nice price in the slave market. They're even better when brought in as babies. None of those thoughts or remembrances of life away from the mines. We'll have to do in these two, though."

The man behind Miroku laughed in agreement. Miroku almost felt sorry for them. He had noticed Sango's eyes had gone completely black.

-x-

The day the twins were born was a hectic day wherein Miroku did exactly nothing. When Sango began experiencing the labor pains in the middle of the night, Miroku had run to Kaede's hut. Once home again, Kaede had shooed Miroku out of their little cottage and suggested he find something to do during the next day. Instead, Miroku had camped outside, pacing and peeking in the window to see what there was to see.

Inuyasha came by, glad for his friend and willing to keep the monk company. While Inuyasha knew that Kaede wouldn't let Miroku anywhere near Sango as she progressed through giving birth, he also let Miroku go through the motions of finding a way to sneak inside so that he could be with Sango at this exciting time.

It even worked once. As instructed by Miroku, Inuyasha told Kaede of a man in the village with severe dyspepsia who needed her help. It was true, but it was the old, stingy man at the edge of the village who was well-known to eat vegetables out of season. He was always complaining of a stomach ache, yet would never follow any of Kaede's advice. Miroku stole a few moments with his wife before a grumpy Kaede returned.

Later, Miroku told Inuyasha that it didn't seem as though he was missing much. Sango was preoccupied with the pain and physical exertion of birth and Kaede was doing a great job of coaching her through it.

Eighteen hours after her pains began, Sango delivered the second baby girl. Miroku burst through the door of his house the second that Kaede gave him permission and he beheld his new family.

The girls were both already sleeping, swaddled in soft blankets, on the mat next to Sango. Sango looked exhausted but happy. She was sitting up and beckoned to Miroku to come and meet his daughters.

He joined them on the mat and gazed into the squished and red faces of his children. He felt like he could stare at them for hours. They were beautiful.

He looked up at Sango with an unashamed grin. He couldn't even speak because the happiness bubbling within his chest wouldn't allow for words to escape his throat.

"Both girls," said Sango. "I hope that's all right with you."

Miroku looked back down at his daughters. "I wouldn't have it any other way." He looked up at Sango with a wink, "I knew it was my destiny to be surrounded by beautiful women."

She laughed weakly, wanting to sleep. Miroku looked more carefully at Sango. Something was different. It wasn't her outward appearance so much as something that only those who knew her could pinpoint. She looked... settled. She had been relieved when Kohaku's life had been spared, but now she seemed anchored in a way that not even a brother or even a husband could keep her. She had a family, a legacy. She was now secure with her place in the world. Now the memories of her village that no longer existed could be passed down and learned from. Now there was a new generation of slayers to teach.

Now, Sango was truly at peace. She had her children, her daughters, to carry on with their lives and memories.

-x-

Sango looked peaceful. She had the air of a woman resigned to death. To the bandits, her black eyes appeared unfocused and dim with fear. Miroku was not fooled. Her eyes weren't dull. They could cut you in two with how sharp they were slicing the world around her. Her children had been threatened. There would be repercussions.

Miroku knew his role in this situation. He had to keep the children safe and to keep them from seeing things they were too young to see.

"The little ones can't work right away," said the bandit who held Miroku, "but they're still good money because they grow up strong and don't have to be re-taught everything."

Miroku let it seem that he stiffened with the thought of his girls being taken from him while he eased a small, exploding, smoke pellet – one of the tajiya tricks Sango had taught him to use – from a secret pocket in the sleeve of his robe. A glance to Sango let her know the time was right, and she let out a keening wail that surprised both bandits.

Miroku flicked the pellet with two fingers toward the brush at the base of a nearby tree. It exploded on contact, sending twigs and bark scattering through the air.

The bandits were dumbstruck at the explosion. Miroku took advantage. He broke the hold his bandit had on him with ease, spun away while simultaneously scooping up his girls. Once they were secure, one in the crook of each elbow, Miroku bounded away with them, over a nearby hill and behind some hedges.

The twins were surprised, but cautiously delighted at the turn in this particular game. They liked it when Daddy scooped them up and ran around fast with them. However, this time, Daddy seemed unhappy.

Over the hill, Miroku and the girls could only hear Sango's encounter with the bandits. Only a brief few cries of the men echoed in the late afternoon. No sound came from Sango.

Long seconds later, footsteps through the brush announced someone coming. Miroku could tell by the sound of the footfalls that it was Sango. She soon stood before her crouched husband and two confused daughters. One arm, fingertips to elbow, was drenched in blood. In the other hand, she held the blade she always secreted beneath the wrappings of her forearm.

She let the blade fall to the ground, dropped to her knees, and held out her arms for her daughters. Both instantly began crying and flung themselves at their mother.

Miroku was relieved to see her. "Are you hurt?" he asked.

"The blood's not mine," Sango answered. "I'm fine." She hugged her girls tight to her.

"The bandits?" asked Miroku. He too dropped to his knees and embraced both Sango and the girls.

"They'll live," replied Sango. "But I can guarantee they'll never try this again. It just won't be physically possible for them to this any more."

Miroku smiled at Sango and kissed her temple and didn't ask for any further details. He again marveled at his luck at finding such a beautiful, strong, and devoted woman as Sango. She would defend him and their children no matter what.

Miroku stood, pulled Sango to her feet, and each took a daughter to carry on their hip as they returned to the village to summon those who would deal with the incapacitated bandits.

Both sang silly songs and put their daughters at ease as they trekked back to the village. Both were secure in the knowledge that as long as they breathed, they would protect their family from anyone or anything that threatened it. Desiring a family is what made them face down a threat like Naraku. It's what made them prevail. Now that they actually had met two of their children (the first among many, they were sure), they were confident that they the love they had for them could strengthen their resolve overcome any menace or danger to their family. The two ugly bandits on the road near the village had never really stood a chance.


A/N2: Merry Christmas LuxKen27!