Unrepentent Miroku and Sango romance.  A little bitterness, a little hope, flavored with a tiny dash of desperation and lime. Mmm. Lime.

Intimacy

By Amanda 'Seifergrrl' Lever

A year.

The hollow words of his mentor rang in Miroku's ears; not even the roar of the falls under which he sat could drown out Mushin's flat tone as he laid out his diagnosis.

You can buy yourself more time, if you stop using the rip. If you settle down, sire your heir, and stop hunting Naraku, you might last two, three more years.

His dark eyes opened ,despite the water that pounded against his shoulders, drenching his form with it's purifying chill. He could not bring himself to do anything except frown.

You've worked hard. You've accomplished much. Now... stop. Take what time you can and prepare.

The falls did nothing to ease the tension in his shoulders, the meditation fleeting and ephermeral. Finally, he faced the facts: He had no focus, and rose from his seat, moving from the stones so that he could move over to his clothing.

His right hand was still bandaged from the earlier surgery. He wondered if Naraku had seeded his Cloud of Youkai with things with razor sharp scales on purpose.

Probably.

Trying not to dwell on the darkness that had plagued his family for three generations, he began to strip out of his wet gi and grabbed the rough towel that he had set with his robes. His mending hand was a little awkward in use, but he still managed to get himself dry, even if it did take a little longer then it should.

A dry fundoshi was wound around his hips, and his underrobe was as being tied when he heard footsteps in the distance.

"Who's there?"

"Sango, houshi-sama."

He paused for a moment, before completely the final knot. "I'm, ah, decent, Sango." His lips quirked at his choice of words. "You can come closer."

The young woman turned around one of the trees, coming into view; the clench of his heart at her appearance was sharper then normal, but it was a pleasent pain -- he smiled all the same.

She stopped there, and swayed back to lean against a tree, he hands clasped together low before her. She would not look up.

"Did... you have something on your mind, Sango?" Miroku asked gently.

"I... I was wondering what houshi-sama intends to do," she said, her fingers begining to twist. She toyed with a delicate finger nail, still not looking up.

He had expected that question; he'd been asking the same thing of himself for the last few hours.

"I don't know," he said. "The abandonme--"

"It's not abandonment!" Sango interrupted him sharply, finally looking up at him with wide eyes. "Houshi-sama has done so much, and helped us all so greatly! He has done... many admirable things, in so short a time."

"I still have not completed my duty," Miroku reminded her, though not ungently. "Naraku still lives. And I still have no heir."

Her face tightened at his last words, and she looked away.

Silence stretched out, filling up the space between them. Miroku took up his outer robe and wrapped it around himself, trying to tie it's knot clumsily.

Sango gathered her wits as he worked, before she pushed away from the tree to come and help him; her hands were both functional,and without a word she brushed his away so he could work.

"Houshi-sama should carefully consider," she said, as the violet cloth was knoted securely against his chest. "If Houshi-sama lives two, three extra years -- that gives us time to do what we need to, to defeat Naraku. With that, houshi-sama could live as long as life allows him."

"And what will you do without him?"

"Hope for the best."

"Not enough." Miroku said, and smiled again. "I would prefer, I think, to go with the companions that have fought beside me, rather then wait in safety, and wonder, 'Has Inu-Yasha broken Kagome-sama's heart?', or 'Is Shippou safe?', or, 'Has Kagome-sama accepted her destiny?'"

"And what would you wonder about me?" Sango asked.

Two answers sprung to his lips -- but the honest one did not make it past them. "'Has Sango saved her most-precious brother?'"

Their eyes met, dragging out the moment of dishonesty between them -- and for a split second, he wondered if she had been seeking his other answer. But then her eyes dropped, and she smoothed her hands against his chest, chasing away the ripples from his clothes. With a tiny moment of hesitation, she moved away from him.

Her lack of touch left a distinct emptiness in it's wake.

The silence returned; spreading between them, this time it was choking. He fussed with his wet hair, she would not watch him.

It was not until he had reached for his staff that she looked back at him again.

"Would houshi-sama grant me one request?"

"What would that be, Sango?" he asked curiously. "If it is in my power, I will surely give it."

"His honest answer."

"Aa..."

"His -honest- answer."

"Sango..."

"To my question."

The clench returned.

"What would houshi-sama wonder, were he far away?"

The clench tightened.

"What would you wonder?"

"'Does she miss me, like I miss her?'"

Sango turned back to him, her expression like a stone mask. He had only seconds to contemplate her, before he caught the familiar arc of her hand, just before it cracked against his face. The red welt left in it's wake was a familiar sting, but in the two seconds of complete shock that followed, he was unprepared for her body to be thrown against him, her arms sliding around him to grip him tightly.

"Baka!" she sobbed as she buried herself against her chest. "Baka! To be so stupid!"

He was still reeling; he wasn't sure if it was the smack or her sobs that has shocked him more. He hadn't even done anything to deserve either! She gripped his robes, turning her face up to him.

"Why?" she demanded. "Why couldn't you be honest with us? With me? Why must it always be a smile that lied? We knew! We knew after the first time we found you here, half-addled and nearly lost to us, that you were lying to us, in our own faces! And we let you, because we thought it too cruel to strip away your guards--but can't you, now, just be honest with me? Honest with me just this once? Now?"

"Sa-sango..." he stuttered through her name, his own hands finally lifting to grip her arms even as she held him.

"Please," she murmured, face wet with tears. "Please. Give me this one thing. Give me your honesty."

Her face was open, pleading -- not the moment of stone she'd shown him just before she struck him. His cheek still stung -- but he risked another slap to give her an honest answer.

His head dipped in a sudden motion, and his lips closed briefly over hers. He thought it would be enough, and drew back hastily--hoping he was not going to be struck again.

She stared at him a moment, and then lifted her hands to cup his face, and then drew him down to her.

The kiss she gave wasn't hasty or light. He discovered what it was like to be devoured by the hunger of another, their mouths parting and tongue sweeping against his teeth.

And he liked it.

He stumbled into her, his arms sliding around her to draw him to his chest; her hands were mussing his just-straightened, wet hair, and he didn't care. When her fingers tightened in his dark locks, tugging against his scalp until it hurt -- he still didn't care.

She didn't break away when one hand dipped down her back to cup her butt -- it was a moment or two later when she released her lock on his mouth with a gasp; she didn't make a murmur of protest that he'd drawn her close, that his hand was somewhere she normally didn't allow him to touch without pain following shortly after...

She pushed him against the tree and kissed him harder!

Rational thought was devoured by the lizard brain; soon between the rushing hands, the sharp tugs at the robe she'd just tied, the skirt torn away, kimono parted, mouths still meeting skin, they lost all sense of anything except each other.

Her hands dragged him down, the soft folds of his robes spread upon the grass to create a bed for them. His hand found her breasts, her nails raked down his back. Gasped names and soft cries were all they exchanged.

It was more then desire, it was affirmation. He lived. She lived. The act could create life.

And that's what froze him above her, as she drew him down atop her, skin pale against the black and indigo of his robes, dark hair fanning out beneath her.

"I can't," he finally said in a rush, still propped above her body, her legs tangled with his. "I want to – gods, I want to. But – Sango, we can't. We can't."

She looked up at him with a lack of comprehension, eyes clouded with her need to complete what she'd started, to assure both of the roar of blood in both their hearts.

"Why?" she finally stammered out, as he sat up, carefully disengaging their limbs and turning his gaze away from her.

"I couldn't," he breathed. "Your mission, Sango. I can't let you sacrifice that for mine."

"My mission?" she mouthed in return, and then glanced away.

"Would we name our son Kohaku, Sango?" His barb struck true; she flinched, and he immediately regretted that moment of harshness. He drew her up, wrapping his robe around them both; he felt her arms slide around his shoulders, holding him to her shoulder.

"Sango, I can no more ask you to abandon your mission then you can properly assist me in mine," he murmured as he rested his head against her shoulder. "My heart would be burdened; I could never give you true happiness," he explained gently, while her silence remained. He did not dare look up at her. Would she feel he'd rejected her because she couldn't give him an heir?

Did she think he didn't love her?

Clutching his cursed hand to his chest, his good palm laid over it, he carefully contemplated his next words.

However, she kissed his brow, one hand reaching up to smooth back the hair she'd mussed.

"You understand?" he said, quaver in his voice betraying him.

"Yes," she said gently. "But you do know, if there… there wasn't Kohaku…"

"And no kazaana…" He smiled slightly, trying to ease the brief moment of fear from his voice, placing a kiss to her neck. "Perhaps, Gods willing, in the future, we can explore those dreams then, Sango."

His smile broadened, a crescent of mirth against her skin.

"Providing you're willing to throw me against a tree and tear my robes off then."

"Aa!" Her shocked outrage was only matched by the flush that went from brow to collarbone, and he reveled in it. Closing his eyes, he nestled close against her, relaxing his grip over his cursed hand, allowing his palm to lay over her breast, feeling the beat of her heart.

"I do love you, though," he admitted hesitantly.

"I know," she replied. "I was just waiting... for..."

"For what?"

"For a little intimacy."

He arched a brow. "If you wanted intimacy, Sango—"

"Not that kind of intimacy, Miroku." Sango said with a flush. "I meant, being honest with me... Letting me know…" She floundered for a moment, and then sighed, "Something. Anything. Anything at all."

"Ah," he uttered softly. "Perhaps I should improve upon my verbal communication skills," he noted.

Silence lingered between them, and Sango did not seem inclined to leave the warm cocoon of his robes, and Miroku would not relinquish the circle of her embrace. But finally, Sango broke the silence with a wary question.

"Are you truly going to stay with us?"

"Yes."

"Even though..."

"Yes, Sango." He smiled slightly, and then added, "Three years apart is nothing compared to a year at your side."

She smiled slightly, and then said, "See? You can speak how you feel, if you try."

"Perhaps," he said.

The silence returned, for as long it was safe. Both knew they couldn't stray too much longer; while Inu-Yasha and Kagome were hardly known for being respectful of the pair's privacy, they knew they had a little time alone. And they made it last, as much as they could.