Sango wasn’t quite sure what compelled her; all she knew was that she couldn’t seem to help herself. Slowly, she inched forward on her hands and knees, careful not to disturb the man slumbering with his back to the tree. At least, she was fairly positive he was asleep now. She had been watching him for the past ten minutes, observing the steady cadence of his breath, the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest that spoke of sleep.
She paused, holding her breath as her mind backtracked to earlier.
Miroku had been watching the stars with her that evening, and she’d taken solace in his presence. Evening became night, but neither Kagome nor Inuyasha came to look for them. Sango simply assumed that was because they figured Miroku was the best person to comfort her. And she had needed his comfort, something that despite his perverted nature, he was surprisingly good at.
She didn’t know if she had the right to call him perverted anymore, not after what she was about to do.
After another run in with her brother involving more of Naraku’s nefarious plots, Sango had been feeling more than a little disheartened. It was hard to keep a brave face when the emotional wounds kept opening. Miroku was like a balm to her soul, helping her heal by giving her exactly what she needed, every time. Sometimes, like today, she didn’t want reassuring words that everything was going to be okay. She just needed him to be there by her side. He always asked her what he could do for her in those moments, and Sango loved him for that.
She loved Miroku.
That thought shouldn’t have caused her heart to pound so hard, or her cheeks to heat with a blush. They were engaged, after all. He had asked her to come live with him when this was all over, to bear his children. And she had said yes. So wasn’t it only natural that she loved him?
Yet, she hadn’t actually said the words to him. Nor had he given her any heartfelt declarations, either.
Which made what she was about to do all the more daring.
They had sat together for a while, mostly in silence, his arm around her shoulders and her pressed up against his side. At one point, she had stood up to stretch, and when she turned back around again, Miroku's eyes were closed. Her own eyes had traced the lines of his face, inevitably landing on the tempting curve of his firm lips.
And now all Sango could think about was kissing him.
Once the idea had taken root in her mind she could think of nothing else. The force of her need to press her lips against his was surprising. She was not like Miroku, who was much more free in his displays of...physical affection; she kept a tight lid on her more intimate desires. Just the thought of expressing them was enough to embarrass her. Nor had there ever really been an opportunity. However, Miroku was asleep now and she suddenly wanted nothing more than to indulge them just the slightest bit.
Her feelings for him always brimmed just below the surface but now they threatened to overflow and consume her. A warm glow settled in her chest, growing in intensity, as painful as it was addictive. It became an ache within her that could only be alleviated by acting on those desires. Kissing him would force those feelings back into submission, she decided.
Briefly, she wondered if this was how Miroku felt every time he groped her or if she was giving him too much credit. If so, she might understand him a little better; it was almost unbearable. Not that he had done so much lately, and, truthfully, not that she minded as much anymore. Her slaps were more habit now than a sign of any actual annoyance with him.
Miroku shifted slightly, and Sango froze, fearing that he would wake up. But his eyes remained closed, the slow and deep rhythm of his breathing unbroken. Slowly, she relaxed.
Just a single kiss. That was all she wanted. All she needed. Scarcely daring to breathe herself, Sango leaned forward, her knees almost touching his.
And then she kissed him.
As softly as she could, Sango brushed her lips over Miroku’s. It was a light press of lips, and she marveled at the softness of them. That strange but wonderful feeling inside her bloomed, warmth exploding through her at the contact, and she suddenly wanted more. A single kiss wasn’t nearly enough. But she didn’t dare wake him, either, and after a moment more she pulled away.
One day, she would be brave enough to kiss him while he was awake, and she was sure he would no doubt welcome such a gesture. But for now, she wanted to keep the depth of her true feelings for him secret a little while longer. The audacity of what she’d just done hit her, and she suppressed a giggle, feeling a little wicked. While that kiss hadn’t been enough, it had still helped to satisfy some of the emotions stirring within her.
Settling herself against him once more, Sango curled into his side, laying her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes. A deep sense of contentment filled her and she smiled. In the darkness she didn’t notice the corner of Miroku’s lips tilting up in the slightest of smiles, too.
The next day the sun was beating down on all of them and Sango was beginning to sweat profusely. Between all the layers of her clothing and the weight of Hiraikotsu at her back, she felt stifled. Miroku was walking along beside her with a pleasant expression, but she was sure the heat was beginning to get to him, too. Those heavy monk robes of his had to be hot and she felt a pang of sympathy for him.
“What I wouldn’t give for a dip in a swimming pool right now,” Kagome groaned.
“‘Swimming pool’?” Shippo repeated from his perch on the priestess’ shoulder.
“The hell is that?” Inuyasha grumbled.
“It must be one of her modern world things,” Miroku mused.
“Well, it’s just what it sounds like. A pool of fresh, clean, refreshingly cool water to swim around and play in. It’s perfect for a hot day like this. Ahhh, it sounds like heaven!” Kagome closed her eyes in longing.
“That does sound rather nice,” Sango admitted.
“It sounds dumb, more like,” Inuyasha scoffed. “What’s so fun about swimmin’ around in a bunch of clothes?”
“You don’t swim around in your clothes, silly. There’s actually something called a ‘bathing suit’ that you wear,” Kagome informed him.
As Kagome explained what exactly a ‘bathing suit’ was, Sango couldn’t help but to blush as she pictured wearing one. She blushed harder as she envisioned a certain monk’s reaction to seeing her in something so...scandalous. Kagome’s time really is a different world, she thought. For women to wear such things so boldly and openly, and around men, no less…
“Oh, I know!” Kagome went on, “I bet our measurements are about the same, Sango. When I go to my time I’ll bring back a couple of bathing suits for us and we can go swimming next time we’re at the ocean!”
“That is a sight I would like to see,” Miroku said, stealing a glance Sango’s way.
“Of course you would, you pervert,” Sango huffed. Kirara mewled her agreement with her mistress from the circle of Kagome’s arms.
“Bold words from a woman who kisses a defenseless man while he sleeps,” Miroku replied, so casually that it took a moment for his words to register. When they did, Sango stumbled, missing her next step and nearly face-planting into the ground. The only thing that saved her from that particular embarrassment was Miroku’s arm catching her snugly around the middle.
It did nothing to save her from the embarrassment his words had caused, however. Everyone fell silent, and without looking up she could feel their stares. She was scared to look at Miroku, but she was sure that if she did he would be looking amused, his indigo eyes sparkling mischievously. He released her after a moment, his hand lingering around her waist, and as much as she relished in that small touch she was quick to put distance between them.
Oh my God, oh my God. Sango’s eyes flew wide while her face burned from a blush that crept all the way down to her toes, until she was completely red. When she opened her mouth to speak, she could only manage an undignified squeak. Her panicked mind had blanked from the adrenaline shooting through her system, but when her ability to form words returned she could only seem to sputter out a single sentence.
“I--I--that is...you were awake?!”
“Most definitely,” Miroku said.
And now she had just admitted to it. Sango mentally kicked herself. If only the ground would open up and swallow her whole.
“Gross,” Shippo said, wrinkling his nose.
“You mean that lecher is tellin’ the truth?” Inuyasha’s voice was incredulous.
“Oh, my gosh, Sango!” Kagome gasped, her face breaking out into a joyous grin. “You kissed him?? Ahhh, how exciting!” she squealed, clapping her hands together in delight.
Sango struggled to collect herself. This...this was too much.
Miroku had been awake, the sneaky bastard! Why, oh why, had she given in to her feelings? And why was she so embarrassed over them? They were engaged. Perhaps it was because she had acted without his permission. It could have been that, despite the way she prided herself on her control, she had been completely unable to help herself. Or maybe it was because she was afraid her emotions ran deeper for him than his own did for her. At any rate, Sango couldn't do this with an audience.
Miroku was surprised when Sango suddenly lunged forward and firmly grasped his wrist.
“Miroku? May...may I speak with you? Privately?”
“Of course,” Miroku said, looking down into her adorably flushed face. She’s so cute, he thought, biting back a smile. She was beyond flustered, refusing to meet his eyes, and he didn’t think he had ever seen anything more endearing in his life. There was a determined set to her mouth, however, and he wasn’t sure what that boded for him. He was both nervous and excited to find out.
“We’ll be back. And don’t follow us ,” Sango hissed the last part at her companions with a deadly glare that promised retribution should they disobey. Inuyasha gulped and instinctively ducked behind Kagome’s shoulder, causing the priestess to roll her eyes.
“Scary,” Shippo commented with a shudder.
Kirara mewed, voicing her agreement.
“Hey, wait! It’s the middle of the day, we can’t just stop so they can go be all mushy with each other!” Inuyasha protested as Sango tugged Miroku into the forest of trees lining the path they were traveling. “It’s too early to make camp!”
“We can and we are, ” Kagome returned in a tone that brooked no argument.
“Whatever they have to talk about, it can wait!” Inuyasha snapped back. “I’m going after--”
“Inuyasha…” Kagome’s voice was laced with warning. “Don’t make me say it.”
Miroku was silent as Sango pulled him along through the trees. At some point, her hand had slipped from his wrist into his own hand, and he held it tightly, suppressing a small smile. The minutes ticked by as they walked deeper, and his curiosity began to grow. He wondered if she had a plan or she had just been seeking escape, her hunter’s instinct of fight or flight kicking in.
He hadn't meant to embarrass her so much, but her comments of him being a pervert wore thin sometimes. So when she had called him one, he hadn’t been able to pass up the opportunity to call her out on her own perversion. Part of him had feared her anger, but she surprised him by flushing crimson and losing her ability to speak for a moment, those beautiful brown eyes of hers going impossibly wide. Yes, her reaction had been worth more than all the riches in Japan.
Sango was worth more than all the riches in Japan. She was everything and more, to him.
It had taken all of Miroku’s Buddhist training to remain still and seemingly unphased when she’d kissed him the previous night. The feather-light touch of her lips against his had caused a fire to ignite within him, a response both emotional and physical, entwining together into something indescribably sweet. But Sango was a woman who held tightly to her emotions, reserved and in denial half the time. So he had pretended to be asleep, not wanting to scare her off or ruin the moment.
Miroku wasn’t sure why she hadn’t acted on her desire to kiss him while he had been awake, however. If it had simply been that she wasn’t ready, then she wouldn't have kissed him at all, asleep or not. Did she still doubt him? That possibility seemed the most likely, and yet it confused him. They were engaged. He had asked her to come live with him after Naraku’s defeat, to bear his children. He had confessed things to her, things he had never said to any other woman before.
Surely Sango knew that she was the only woman he could ever truly desire or love. The only woman who had ever made him want to be a better man. Who gave him hope for a future.
She was it for him.
At last, Sango came to a stop, releasing his hand. He let her go reluctantly, already missing the warmth the connection had provided, a warmth that had nothing to do with the heat of the day.
They had reached a small clearing, covered in grass and soft green moss, the surrounding trees providing an umbrella of shade. The cool reprieve was a welcome relief after hours of the sun beating down on them. Only the smallest bit of sunlight dappled through the breaks in the leaves. In the shadows, it was hard for Miroku to see what kind of expression Sango’s face wore. It was made more difficult by the fact that she was still refusing to look directly at him, her dark bangs hiding her eyes. Her lips parted, then closed, as if she couldn’t find the words she was searching for.
“Am I to be scolded or taken advantage of again?” Miroku teased when she remained silent.
“I'm sorry!” Sango finally burst out, shocking him. She was facing him now, distress written all over her beautiful face.
Of all the things Miroku had been expecting from her, an apology was not one of them. He blinked.
“Sorry? What for?”
“Like you said, I-- I took advantage of you! That was wrong of me! If you had done such a thing to me I would have called you all sorts of names. I make such a big deal about you touching me without permission but I’m...I’m no better than you. I have no right to say such things about you.” Sango looked close to tears, fidgeting with her hands. “I always get on your case for your lack of self-control, but I couldn’t even control myself.”
Ah, so that’s it, Miroku thought, understanding dawning. That control she so prided herself on had broken, if only for a moment, and now she was feeling embarrassed and vulnerable. Embarrassed for having let her control slip, and vulnerable for having been overcome by her desire for him. And probably a combination of the two over what that said about her feelings for him.
If only she knew how much he desired her, too. Miroku tried to reassure her.
“You don’t need to apologize,” he started.
“But I do!” Sango insisted, her voice rising. “I couldn’t control myself! My feelings were just so--so--overwhelming, and I thought--”
Miroku placed a finger over her lips and Sango went quiet. She flushed with a fresh wave of embarrassment. This wasn’t like her, rambling on and making excuses. We’re engaged, so why am I making this such a big deal?
Because despite all his other confessions, he hadn’t said he loved her. Maybe it was silly to place so much value on such a small word, especially when his actions proved how much he cared. Everything he had risked and done for her...it all spoke volumes. But what if she was misinterpreting them? Or what if he had only proposed to give her something good to hold onto amidst the despair of losing her family, the hunt for Naraku, and the uncertainty over her brother's fate?
Over the course of their journey, Miroku had become everything to her and it was impossible to imagine a life without him. Sango needed to know he loved her because of how desperately she loved him. Maybe it was selfish, but she didn’t want to be the only one so consumed by her feelings.
“Sango, you can relax; I wasn’t offended. And it wasn’t my intention to make you feel so distraught. I only meant to tease. Please, don’t be upset.” Letting his shakujo fall to the ground, Miroku reached out and clasped her hands tightly in his.
After a moment of hesitation, Sango nodded. “I’m sorry for calling you a pervert. Even if you were teasing, you were right. After I--I kissed...while you...” She bit her lip, suddenly too shy to finish the sentence.
Miroku chuckled, and his voice took on a playful note. “You know, if you wanted a kiss you didn’t have to resort to stealing one. All you had to do was ask.”
“It’s quite alright. In fact, I very much enjoyed it,” he smiled at her. “But do you know how much self-control it took for me to just sit there, pretending to sleep? To not instantly pull you in?”
“I...no, I’m sorry.”
“Well, if you truly wish to atone, there is one thing…”
“What?” she asked nervously.
There was a wicked edge to his smile now, or maybe it was the look in his eyes. As if she was all he wanted, all he could see. It made her heart pound and she swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry.
“Kiss me again. Right now.”
Miroku’s voice was low, quiet, sending a delicious tingle through her body. Sango knew her eyes had gone wide at his request, her lips parting in both surprise and invitation. Blush stained her cheeks once more, coloring them an attractive shade of pink. Using his grip on her hands Miroku gently tugged her closer, and Sango instinctively leaned in. The warm glow of her feelings for him rose up, the intensity almost stealing her breath as her anticipation grew.
She wanted this. She wanted to kiss him again so badly that it was an ache. Only the feel of his lips could soothe the sudden and sharp need welling up inside of her. But she needed something else from him, first.
“Wait,” she whispered.
Miroku paused, his lips a mere inch from hers. His eyes were almost closed and focused intently on her mouth.
“What is it?” he murmured in a husky voice. His own breathing had deepened noticeably, and there was a slight shudder to it.
“When...when you asked me to marry you when this was all over...did you mean it?”
Miroku’s gaze moved from her lips to her eyes, taking in her uncertainty. While he didn’t know the reason he also didn’t hesitate to lay her fears to rest. There were few choices he had been as certain of as asking Sango to make a life with him.
“Of course I did.”
Miroku’s eyebrows lowered in confusion. “Sango?”
“Do you...do you love me?”
That barely audible question caused some of the desire fogging his brain to disappear and Miroku blinked, pulling back a little. He instantly regretted it when he saw her cringe slightly and look away, and he knew she had misinterpreted his actions as a rejection. He couldn’t help his surprise, though. She wants to know if I love her? Miroku thought he had made his feelings for the demon slayer clear, but obviously not clear enough.
“Have I done something to make you believe otherwise?” he asked carefully.
“No, you just...you’ve never said it.”
“You’ve never said it, either.”
And he was absolutely correct about that. She hung her head in shame. “You’re right. I’m sorry, it was a stupid--”
“I love you.”
Sango froze, letting his words hang in the air between them. And then she gasped, her heart fluttering as pure happiness suffused her. He said it. Eyes flying to his face, she took in his expression, as if to confirm that she hadn’t imagined it. The pure affection on Miroku’s face, the tenderness in his eyes, and that infuriating smug little smirk told her everything she needed to know. He really had said it.
The words she had been longing to hear from him.
“I love you,” he repeated, bringing her hands up and brushing a kiss over her knuckles.
The gesture was sweet and the words made her breath catch. Reminding herself to breathe, Sango struggled to contain the pounding of her heart. Emotion was thick, causing tears to well up in her eyes. She rapidly blinked them away, feeling foolish.
“Thank you for...indulging me. I know it’s probably childish, but I just...”
“I understand. You need to hear the actual words to put your heart at ease.”
“Yes,” Sango whispered. “I-I’m sorry, it’s--”
One of Miroku’s hands came up to cup her face, his thumb gently pressing against her lips to halt the flow of words. Softly, he traced the outline of her bottom lip and Sango scarcely dared to breathe.
“I meant it when I said you’re a very special woman to me, Sango. I never imagined falling in love, but then I met you. You’ve become everything to me. I love you. ”
He tilted her face up towards him and this time when he leaned down Sango didn’t stop him from pressing his lips to hers. She welcomed it, closing her eyes in bliss as that ache for him became a delightful warmth blooming in her chest. It was a chaste kiss, soft and light, and when Miroku pulled away he made it barely an inch before he couldn’t seem to resist tasting her again. And so he did.
This time when he broke away it was Sango who pulled him back in for another kiss. Then another, as if one more couldn’t ever possibly be enough, each one more lingering than the last. After a few minutes they broke apart, both breathing heavily.
Miroku waited for his wits to return to him as the desire racing through his veins slowly abated. Kissing Sango was what he imagined nirvana was like: Transcendent.
“I’ll tell you every day if that’s what you need,” he said when he could speak again, “especially if you’ll kiss me like that every time.”
“Well, maybe not every day,” Sango breathed a little laugh.
Miroku grinned. “Perhaps every few days, then. Now, I do believe it’s your turn, Sango.”
“My turn?” She blinked in confusion.
“I’ve just confessed my love for you three times now, but you have yet to say it once.”
Sango’s eyes widened as she realized he was right. “Oh! I’m sorry...I haven’t been very fair, have I?”
“No. But I know of a way you can make it up to me,” Miroku replied, indigo eyes sparkling at her.
“And that is?”
“Kiss me again.”
Sango laughed. “Is that your answer to everything now?”
“It’s the most enjoyable option.”
She smiled and brought a hand up, placing it over the hand he was still cradling her face with. It was his covered hand, the one with the wind tunnel. She leaned into it, turning her face into his touch. Miroku held his breath, nervous but also touched at her show of faith.
“You know...I do, too, Miroku. I love you. I love you so much sometimes it feels like my body can’t possibly contain all of my feelings. I’ve never felt anything like it before, and I never want to give it up.
Miroku’s heart raced at Sango’s confession, her words stirring to life all the deep emotions he had been keeping under careful control. Love, elation, desire...they all rose up, demanding to be acted upon. So he did the only thing he could.
He kissed her again.
This time when he crashed his lips against hers he wasn’t soft or chaste. Sango let out a small sound of surprise that he quickly kissed away, his mouth claiming hers. She had never experienced anything quite like it before, almost feeling like she was in a daze. At the hot press of his lips, her own parted in invitation.
With an effort, Miroku forced himself to slow down. But he didn’t stop. He ran a hand down her back as they kissed, stopping as it reached the top of her rear. As tempting as it was, he wasn’t going to ruin this moment by copping a feel. Not when her lips were the sweetest thing he had ever tasted and she was returning his kisses with equal fervor.
Sango noticed the southern direction his hand had taken and giggled, pulling away.
“Just this once, it’s okay,” she said, meeting his eyes and giving a shy smile.
Miroku was stunned for a moment, then slowly grinned. “Sango, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“If I can steal a kiss, you’re allowed to take a feel,” she answered. “You have permission...just this once.”
“...This isn’t a trick?”
“No, you idiot. Just don’t get too carried away.”
“Well...if you insist.”
Miroku held her close, pulling her in for another kiss. And this time when his hand trailed its way down her back he let it firmly grasp her flawless ass, stroking its perfect roundness.
Sango sighed in bliss. She would never admit it to him, but she was pretty sure she was enjoying it just as much as he was. And her heart secretly thrilled at the idea of him ‘getting too carried away’ and everything that would entail.
One day, she would let him.