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The price of a brother's love, the fall of a sister's tear. Sometimes what is lost isn't meant to be regained.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They are the property of Rumiko Takahashi and any others that she has sold the legal rights to.
This was written in response to the iyfic_contest prompt of "Sango" over at that LJ community. It was originally posted there on 2/5/07.
The night forest breathed and swayed with a life of its own. A gentle breeze created a soothing rustle in the leaves, a rustle that was appreciated by the young woman who stalked the night on the forest floor. Her companion, a two-tailed demon cat now in her smaller form, also appreciated that little breeze. It brought her the scent of the one the pair sought.
The hunter, a young woman of medium build, garbed in the skin-tight black suit of her demon slayer calling, flicked her long brown pony-tail over her shoulder as she took stock of her surroundings and tried in vain to hold her memories at bay. The bright moonlight on the leaves and the gentle rustle and clatter from trees’ branches brought to her mind another midnight hunt, one that had ended in gentle correction and quite praise.
Tonight there would be no father to praise and instruct her, no brother to tease and wrestle with as they made their way home. Tonight there was only her sorrow and the desire to avenge what was lost. Tonight she would save her brother. She would get him to finally see her, and then she would free him from the control of a monster.
Sango glanced up and identified the pale blob Kirara’s cream coat made on a nearby branch. The cat looked down on her mistress and flicked her tails; the way ahead was clear. On cat-quiet feet, the slayer continued on, sure that this time she would find her quarry. The headman of a nearby village had spoken of a young boy of 12 garbed in an outfit similar to her own, who had traveled that road just yesterday. Her companions hadn't made too much of a fuss when she had insisted on going on alone, save her faithful feline, to search for one who was lost.
It had surprised and warmed her that they had seemed to understand her need. There had been very little in the way of protest, except for the insistence that she at least take Kirara and she expect them to follow her when they had finished their bargaining. That last had truly shocked her. In the past, when her brother appeared, they had all chased after him; but that had been more in the hope that Naraku would be waiting at the end of the chase. This time there would be no villain, and she desperately hoped that she would be able to reach him.
That understanding had touched her deeply, as had the help they had given in pressing on her the last of their supplies, should they not catch up to her quickly. The late afternoon of their arrival had turned to early evening before she was able to take her leave of them. She had accepted the houshi's embrace, returned Kagome's encouraging smile, and nodded in response to the hanyou's rough admonition of care before making her way to the outskirts of the village. She had followed as Kirara led her into the depths of the night shrouded forest.
A deep-throated growl from above made her look up and spot Kirara as she jumped down from her tree branch and assumed her larger form. Listening intently, Sango picked out the sounds of a fierce battle that raged a short distance away. Without a word, she threw herself onto the cat's back; and they took to the air, remaining just beneath the trees so as to hide their approach.
The rising sun illuminated a clearing in front of them, and the pair paused briefly just within the shielding forest to assess the situation. Sango could only make out vague shapes in the ever-brightening gloom, but at least one fighter was positively identified when a bone sickle thudded point first into the tree below them. Finally, a ray of sunlight penetrated the pre-dawn air, and she could see that her brother was putting up a valiant effort against desperate odds.
Directing Kirara out enough to give her clearance, Sango hefted and swung her weapon before sending it in a devastating arc toward the demon hoard that surrounded Kohaku. The boomerang's unexpected arrival caused a momentary pause in the battle that cost a portion of the combatants their lives. The rest were a swirling blob that jostled and pushed as they made to get out of Hiriakotsu's return-path.
Sango watched as Kohaku jumped up and over the nearest of his attackers and took to the trees. Catching and flinging her weapon once again, she was dismayed when one the demons lashed out with its long tail, knocking Hiriakotsu out of the air at the farthest point in its flight. Cursing under her breath, Sango signaled Kirara to land and drew her sword as a giant insect-like demon reared up on four of its six legs to face her.
A slash to its face caused it to rear up and a thrust to its chest got it out of her way, only for it to be replaced by another. This one went for her face with gaping jaws and only her sword catching in its teeth saved her from a vicious and deadly bite. With a mighty heave, she threw it off of her. A roar from behind was her only warning as she ducked and watched as Kirara leaped on and dispatched it.
Turning her back to the cat, Sango searched the clearing for any signs of her brother. Spotting him engaged in a battle of his own, she ran to his side, slashing and hacking at anything that stood in her way. As she fought off a frilled serpent, she stumbled. Looking down, she saw to her surprise that she had made her way to where Hiriakotsu lay.
Thrusting her sword through the serpent's heart, she bent to retrieve it as her opponent fell. Her momentary distraction almost cost her dearly. It was only when she heard the rattle of chain as it came at her back that she twisted around to see teeth and the darkness beyond them. Using the giant bone as a shield, she thrust upward, hoping to deflect the inevitable.
She was very lucky. The jaws of the beast snapped closed just inches from the boomerang's edge. As she peered out from around it, she was startled to see that the demon seemed to hang in the air. Looking beyond the creature, Sango saw that Kohaku had used the weighted end of his sickle and lassoed the demon, holding it immobile until she could escape.
For less than the time it took to blink, their eyes met; and in that moment Sango saw recognition and a firm resolve that she didn't understand. Twisting lithely, she wrenched herself from beneath the demon and in one fluid motion took its head. Spinning around, she put her back to her brothers and took stock of their situation. While Kohaku had been holding her enemy, the rest of the hellish band had moved in to surround them.
As one, the siblings lashed out and bone and metal rent flesh and cleaved bone until, finally, there was nothing left save a few ragged bits that splattered wetly as they settled to the ground. The two stood tensely, every nerve singing and every sense alert, scanning the clearing; but there were no more monsters to battle. With a sigh of relief, Sango turned to her brother.
"No," he said as he backed away from her. "I can't."
She watched in disbelief that bordered on despair as her brother, the only blood family she had left, turned on his heel and fled. Sango didn't notice as the tears started down her face, didn't flinch at the rush of displaced air when Kirara landed beside her and butted her gently with her head.
She didn't even realize that she had reached out her hand and taken several faltering steps after him until she stumbled and found herself supported in Miroku's arms. When had he arrived? Were the rest of their companions with him? She didn't know; nor, in that moment, did she care.
All that penetrated her pain-filled mind was that Kohaku had recognized her, known her for whom and what she was; and still he had run from her. She had failed, and she didn't know why. How could he leave her like this?
He watched as his sister reached out in the direction he had fled and stumbled as she chased after him. He would be forever grateful that the houshi was there to catch and comfort her. Desperately, he wished he could deafen his ears to the sounds of her heartbroken sobs. It was better this way, surely. In the end, she would suffer less if she was not forced to see him in this state, neither truly alive nor fully dead.
As he turned to head back to the miko, he caught the hanyou's eye; and for one gut-wrenching moment, he was sure he would be given away. He realized, then, that Inuyasha had been watching him since entering the clearing and had not yet revealed his location. Their gazes locked and held for a minute before Inuyasha gave a slow, deliberate nod and turned his attention back to his companion.
Kohaku knew then that at least one of their number understood why he was doing this, and he found himself grateful that someone would be able to explain to his sister when the time came. He knew that it had to feel like a knife thrust to her heart, to have him so close yet so far. How could it be less, when he himself felt its bitter bite?
With one last, longing look over his shoulder at the sister he would never again have, he continued on his way. "I will protect you, Sango, even if it's from myself. Be well, Ane-ue."
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