(A/N- See author. See responsibilities. See author shirk responsibilities. Shirk, author, shirk! And watch the odd pairings grow.)


She has not slept.

Her eyes float up, lashes fluttering, and she wants it to end.

"No," she whispers, "it hurts when you do that."

Naraku pulls his arm back, folds it against his chest like a wounded thing.

But he is staring at her; he will not let her sleep.

Sleep is not a thing he needs. She is.

"You want," he says in a soft whisper like thunder to her in her lightheaded state, "what I have to offer."

"Only what is mine, no more."

"You will want what I want," he says, and she wants to smash him with Hiraikotsu for his arrogance. Crush him like the demon he is, the way it should be.

"Because what is yours, is mine," he continues. "Everything." And his hand is back, slipping under her clothes, pushing her last protections down off her shoulders.

"He's alive?" Sango asks, reluctant.

"Very," Naraku curls off his tongue, moving in to scent her neck.

And she is dreaming.

His soft lips brush against her, and it seems somehow wrong that such a tainted being should feel soft and warm like a person. He nips at her, not hard enough to hurt, but drawing just enough breath to mark.

"Dreaming," she murmurs.

Awake, she would never allow this.

He stops, and for a moment she thinks he's sympathetic, but there's something too cold about it.

Everything about him is cold. Except his flesh, for some inexplicable reason. There alone, he is hot and senseless.

"Do you want to go home?" he asks, trying to be gentle.

It doesn't suit him, Sango thinks.

"What home?" she responds bitterly.

No home without family. Which is why she is here.

Oh, but that was cruel.

She feels his hands again, but this time they're not searching, he pulls her towards him, lays her down in his lap, and strokes her hair, just like Daddy always used to.

For one, terrible, guilty moment, she imagines she is with her father, that he is back and safe, he has to be; no one else ever held her like this.

She hates herself for that weakness. She knows that this is Naraku, who killed everyone whose life she had touched, but it's easier not to know.

She understands Kohaku, then, too.

It doesn't matter anyway, because she is dreaming.

Daddy's only alive in dreams.

Only in dreams would she allow herself to be this foolish.

So when he kisses her temples, she allows that, too.

She's waiting for him to be the nice guy and just hold her, but she'll never stay awake that long.

He is slow and deliberate, as in all things, and she wishes he'd take her taijiya uniform all the way off, because taijiya and demons aren't supposed to touch this way.

If he took it all the way off, she could cease to be. But he keeps it bunched around her calves, dangling from her wrists as she covers her eyes, tethering her to what she should be and isn't.

But he stops.

He's still the same animal that stole the jewel, and put it back for Inuyasha to find.

Sango dreamt she was a jewel, once...

He could be anything for her. He could even be her Miroku, to make things easier.

Or he could take other forms, if he really wanted to hurt her so much.

But he is the same prince, the one that deceived her in her grief.

The one she dreamed of so frequently. Hitomi Kagewaki.

He'd been kind to her village, hadn't he?

She moves up to her knees, strokes the warm face with the cold expression. Wonders.

When they kiss, it's actually tender. It's her first, but she doesn't know that, she thinks she's kissed in dreams before.

She'd gone further than that in dreams, but it had always hurt, so she is afraid.

It's raining outside. Steady, rhythmic.

She runs her fingers along the skin of his chest, more curious than anything else, and finds the pulse he has no right to.

Dreams are for meeting dead people and making love.

This isn't quite love, but it isn't hate, either, and she'll take it. Shoulder it along with Hiraikotsu and her shovel for digging graves.

Kagome's lucky, she carries books and candy, and occasionally Shippou.

But she isn't Kagome, and she isn't lucky, she's a taijiya, he made sure of that, so she has to overpower him and crush him, and beat down like the rain.

Naraku does not resist. She suspects this is really what he wanted all along.

And it strikes her that he must be tired, he's been awake far longer than she has, and look what it's already done to her.

He grows hotter beneath her, and she imagines it is a fever trying to burn away the demons.

Inside, nothing changes.

So she tries to claw her way into his other self, beat a path, grind a hole. Find out why he ever wanted her, why he wants anything, if he is still a prince, and maybe, if she's lucky, she'll find the answers to herself, too.

And then they wake up.

He's still hot, but he's shivering, and even though their faces are almost touching, she thinks his eyes are the mountains through the rain, liquid clear, but distant.

Or maybe that was the bottom of a pond. She doesn't know. The rain's in her ears, and the world will be real the rest of her life, no more dreaming, though he'll let her sleep after this.

She pulls up the uniform she doesn't deserve, and goes off to wake her brother.

It's been a long road home.