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Small Moments

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InuYasha, Kagome, and Miroku spent the better part of the day digging a massive grave for the slain villagers. Sango did not join them, but worked alone to gather the bodies.

In some ways, it felt like atonement.

In others, cowardice.

It was easier to throw herself into the physical labor of burying the villagers than it was to think about what had happened here, and what had happened in the forest not far from here. The repetition and the sheer effort of hoisting bodies onto mats and dragging them to their final, proper resting places helped drown out the memory of Naraku's offer. InuYasha's sword for her brother...

Sango shuddered.

InuYasha, Kagome, Shippou, even the monk... they had taken her in when they could have left her all alone. They had believed in her when they had no reason to do so; they had borne her up and cared for her when she would have died otherwise. Could she really betray them so easily, and for a boy that could not possibly be her brother?

But she couldn't shed the certainty that the boy beside Naraku had been her brother. There was no mistaking Kohaku's face, she would have recognized him anywhere. That he had not responded to her presence only meant that he didn't remember her, or that Naraku had gained control over him. She had vague memories that Naraku had done the same to her and then pitted her against InuYasha, but her memories from that time were misty at best.

The scars on her body, however... those were still fresh, only beginning to truly heal.

It can't be Kohaku. She repeated it to herself for each lifeless villager she helped bury. It can't. Kohaku was kind and gentle and sweet. He would never do something like this. It can't be him.

But it was. She knew it. And, knowing it, she couldn't ignore Naraku's offer. How could she choose InuYasha and Kagome and Shippou over her brother? They were all but strangers to her, but Kohaku...

She gently lowered her burden to the ground, the mat slipping out of her numb fingers. The man she had been pulling toward the mass grave wouldn't notice the difference anyway. She knelt beside him, looking into his face, wondering what kind of man this had been, what kind of life her brother's actions had cut short.

They were talking about her, Kagome and the monk. She could hear the soft murmur of their voices, but the words were lost to her.

She didn't care. Let them talk.

She wasn't really one of them, anyway, it seemed.

InuYasha was more difficult to ignore. He was loud, and less concerned for her feelings than the others, and he wanted answers. "I'm going to beat it out of her!" she heard him declare loudly, his voice obnoxiously clear, and decided that he could try.

A moment later, a clearly frustrated Kagome shouted, "InuYasha, sit!"

Sango was so startled that Kagome had so forcefully stood up for her that she forgot to wonder why on earth InuYasha had just plunged face-first to the ground.

"What is wrong with you?" Kagome went on. "Don't you have any sense of decency at all?"

"No need to be impatient," the monk chided gently. "All we have to do now is wait, and Naraku will return on his own."

He was even more perceptive than she had realized, if he had guessed that much already. Sango wondered if that was all he'd figured out, or if he guessed that Naraku had given her an impossible choice, too. He knew her enemy better than any of the others. Did he also know that her enemy wanted her to betray them?

Looking at him now, she couldn't be sure. For once, she envied his ability to so completely mask his inner thoughts. It would have been much easier if she could hide her feelings from him and the others, instead of showing them so plainly on her face.

And if I could hide all my thoughts from them, what then? What would I choose to do?

In the depths of her heart, she already knew the answer.