Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or its characters. I am not making money out of this.
The night had come and Sango had decided to walk down to the river. The moonlight transformed the plainness of the site, used daily for the most mundane of tasks, into a mysterious brilliance that teased with glimpses of something Sango preferred not to think of. As she moved to sit on the ground near the spot where she usually did the laundry, she noticed a rock and reconsidered.
It was probably best to pick a spot from where she could get up on her own afterwards, after all.
Slowly, inch by inch, she brought her eyes down to her swollen stomach. It constantly attracted her eyes, but she constantly resisted. It sucked her in, like a delicious treat that feels like it's bad for you, and Sango felt her duty-bound spirit take control each time.
It's not bad for you, he would say, laughing. It's the best thing for you. It's the best thing in the world.
Miroku validated her every chance he got, tried to reassure her – although she didn't know whether or not he realised that was what he was doing. Even Inuyasha offered the occasional comment – casual, natural, unquestioning – about their life and how right it was.
She guessed she did not really trust them, then. No surprise there.
Sango had believed the same, before – when they were still bound to a hopeless and self-righteous revenge mission. She would think of this – fleetingly, a tad scared of thinking of it too much and dissipating it forever. Yes, life together; yes, children children children; yes, husband, wife, home, family – family. It was all a bit too much back then, for her poor warrior heart.
I am not a regular woman, she would muse. But perhaps I deserve this. Perhaps my dues have been paid for not being who I'm supposed to be, and now I can collect my rewards even without doing it right even once. She hoped she might be allowed to be happy, even a little bit.
When they found themselves without Kagome, Sango felt her foundations waver. She had not admitted it to herself yet, but she had expected Kagome to validate her. Kagome, the beautiful woman with a perfect, pure heart and delicate manners – and with a temper that somehow only enhanced everything else. Kagome, who attracted male attention (good and bad) everywhere she went.
She had hoped. Sango, there isn't anything more right than this, she had been waiting for Kagome to say. But there was no Kagome, and Sango had been left to make her own decisions – no Father, no Kagome to give her the conclusions she had drawn herself but was scared to claim.
Miroku betrayed no second thoughts of any kind. But he was careful with her, in the beginning, she noticed – did he somehow sense this hesitance? –; waiting for her to make a move.
She did. Sango, the warrior, had dominated her fears like she did when battling a terrifying youkai.
This was a rather pretty one, she thought, smirking.
She had walked up to him, chin up, eyes determined. He had looked almost alarmed. So, she had said, calmer, struggling not to smirk or kiss his adorable face (she had never been so bold), are we doing this or not?
He had smiled beautifully, openly. Where exactly would you like to live, my dear? His hand had slipped to the small of her back, hoping to go lower, and she hadn't even minded. They had walked towards the edge of the forest, close to the river and to Kaede's herb garden, and built a house – a home – from scratch. The villagers helped them. They all approved of the monk and the slayer, that strange and wonderful pair. Who knew heroes also did laundry and made babies?
Under the moonlight, Sango felt her face grow hotter. She laughed at herself; other married women mentioned sex with some vulgarity, even, and she still blushed when thinking of her husband's careful attentions.
She had been scared to touch this matter in her mind, and did manage to avoid doing so until the very last moment. A warrior must deal with crises as they come to him, her father had once taught her. So she pushed away all thoughts of him and his wandering eyes and hands, all considerations of the possibility of being awful at it and boring him, or of him being less thoughtful in bed than he was out of it. The downside of deciding to ignore something until the last minute was that when the time came, every emotion rushed to the surface at once and sank slimy claws on her lungs, hoping to drown her. Sango had long learned to deal with this; she used the adrenaline of despair to perform at her best, and came out a winner on most emotional battles.
After all, how could one be emotionless to fight emotions? She threw them against each other instead, and watched with hot determination as the sun rose and things calmed down once again.
Her method was usually successful, if slightly unorthodox. So Sango considered herself good at dealing with crises.
But this one had come slowly, sneakily, disguised as slightly scary good things. And Sango thought she had been dealing with it all along, when truthfully it had been dealing her a series of tiny blows to the head, heart, to her confidence.
As she recalled the ludicrously tiny blow she had received that very afternoon, and which had felt like some kind of last straw, Sango felt her eyes suspiciously begin to well up. As she debated whether or not to indulge them, the sound of heavy footsteps reached her.
She still jumped when he touched her shoulder.
"There you are. I was getting worried; you don't usually stay out this late so far from home. I even..."
At his silence, she finally turned her face towards him. "You even what?"
"Ah, so you were listening." His voice was extremely soft and calm, but she knew the intense look in his eyes. The I'm-going-to-pretend-I'm-as-calm-as-ever-so-I-don't-freak-you-out-while-I-observe-you-almost-creepily-to-try-and-figure-out-what-I'm-dealing-with look. It had always unsettled her, because she did not want him knowing more about her than she did.
Ha, that ship has sailed, she heard herself smirk. She sighed and stood, holding back a dirty look when she noticed his hands ready to help her. It was no use ignoring it any longer; now the time had come to face the mother of all crises. He had to know.
"Husband, there is something you need to know. Something I need to make sure you know."
He also stood, and she knew he had noticed the slight formality in her tone by the small crease newly formed on his brow. His own tone was carefully neutral. "I am listening."
Suddenly at a loss for what exactly to say, she found herself looking down. Yes, okay; start with this.
"Erm, soon the babies will come."
"I..." Eyes looking straight at him, chin up. "...will try my very best to be a good mother for them."
The crease was replaced by the intense look he had been giving her before. "Yes...yes, I know you will." He seemed to hesitate only a little before adding, "We will both try our very best to be good parents."
She fought the urge to sigh. He was not getting it.
She hoped he wouldn't say anything else as she gathered her wits. He was silent, but when she brought her eyes back to his, they were more intense than ever and she nearly stepped back.
"You need to be prepared. I will try my best, but this is not like fighting youkai..."
"No, it most certainly is not..." She could hear the smirk in his voice, but as she turned sharp eyes back to him, his face was neutral.
"I mean to say that I…will not excel at this. At all, probably. I won't know what to do and I'll probably end up using my battle wound lotions on their scraped knees, and bathing them every time they soil themselves, and being too tough when they need love, and being soft when they need discipline. I know you wouldn't...leave me and pick someone else at this point, and I realise I should have been honest with you long ago, but I tend to avoid crises until the very last moment and this is it for this one. So I ask you to forgive me. And to be prepared. To be the good parent."
He was silent for a rather long time. Sango felt her own heartbeat on the tip of each finger.
"I forgive you," he finally said. The urge to see his expression and put together the pieces of his reaction was too strong: she glanced at him and quickly looked down again, only to immediately bring her eyes to his once again.
His face was neutral, of course. But his eyes laughed at her. She would recognise that expression anywhere.
Dread was slowly being replaced by anger.
"I have to say, though, that I don't really see anything wrong with applying battle wound lotion to scraped knees. In fact, what else would we apply to scraped knees? And, erm, bathing is healthy. As for discipline, hmm...perhaps we should behave alternately; when you discipline them, I am loving, and when I discipline them, you are. That way one of us will always be right and our children will not be emotionally damaged." Straight face.
She glared at him, hoping to bully him out of mocking her. He held on until her eyes welled up once again, and this time it wasn't really possible to hold the tears in. His eyes widened as he reached for her shoulders.
"Sango... Sango-chan, I didn't mean to upset you," he said, quietly. It only made her want to cry harder. She could feel his despair increase with the speed of his tapping on her back.
"All right... all right. We'll deal with this. What happened? Why this, all of a sudden? I saw you playing with Michiko's child just a few hours ago. You seemed... fine..." he trailed off as she moved to look up at him.
"It's... not really sudden; I had just been ignoring it. And today, Michiko's mother mentioned... anyway, it just made me realise how unfit I am for this and how crazy it is. I never get into battles I am not prepared for."
His eyes got intense once again; he lifted his chin; he pursed his lips just a little. Yes, he had finally gotten it. Unconsciously, Sango relaxed slightly.
"The villagers... know some things very well, so I don't mean to demean them. But, Sango... their lives will never be like ours has been so far. They will never see the things we saw. We are like... red rice grains trying to fit in with the white rice grains, and the white rice grains like us well enough, but we will never be them, even though we live in the same rice barrel, and that is a great thing. Sango, I truly believe there is nothing they can do for their children that is more amazing than applying battle wound lotion to scraped knees. Scraped knees are their tiny battle wounds. And our children will also, inevitably, be red rice grains."
When the early morning peace was disrupted, ten years later, by a battle scream and bloody chaos, Sango watched as her daughters protected children younger and older than themselves, their agile movements the only visible difference between them and the ones huddling behind them. She knew the emotional impact of slaying youkai would have to be dealt with later, and that the trauma of a first battle could never be truly forgotten. But at that moment, the purpose of what she had been doing hit her, and pride – that old friend – filled her heart once again; pride for her ever-growing tribe of warriors, those tiny crisis-solvers who were going to be there for those people.