A/N: I do not own Inuyasha OR Rurouni Kenshin. I do however own a big DVD collection of each and horrendous amounts of merchandise, so please don't sue I'm a loyal customer.

An Eternal Conflict

Chapter 1. Lucky?

Sanosuke stood in front of the temple praying. I really, REALLY, need to get some good rolls today. Please let this be my lucky day. If I don't Tae's going to kill me over the tab I've run up. Please, some good luck for once, a good luck charm, SOMETHING! Sanosuke stood up suddenly as he felt something. It felt like someone had just walked across his grave. He wasn't any good at reading chi like Kenshin, but he could pick up things occasionally.

Not knowing exactly what to think after sensing something like that after a prayer, Sanosuke walked around the temple and stopped dead in his tracks. A young woman was sitting on the dried up old well behind the temple looking into it. From where he was standing, Sanosuke could see she had some VERY nice legs. Sanosuke smiled, maybe today WAS turning out to be his lucky day.

He pulled himself back from the wall for a moment to make sure he didn't startle her and walked around the wall just as she was getting up and smoothing out her kimono. "Excuse me little lady, what are you doing here?" He said sauntering up to the attractive young woman.

The young woman barely noticed him until he was nearly on top of her when finally she looked up with a distant look in her eyes. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you approach."

Sanosuke shrugged and tried his most winning smile. "I was just wondering what a beautiful young girl like yourself was doing hanging around behind this old temple."

The young woman gave him what appeared to be a melancholy smile and picked up a sizable pack that she hoisted onto her back. "I come here occasionally to think about things is all." The young woman said sweetly. "I'm sorry, my manners seem a bit lacking today. My name is Kagome. Kagome Higurashi."

"Sanosuke, Sanosuke Segara. You can call me Sano though." Sanosuke smiled down at the young girl. "Well Kagome, I guess fate must have brought you here."

Kagome's brows came together quite nicely he decided. "I'm sorry, I don't quite follow you. Was that supposed to be a pick-up line?"

Sanosuke grinned widely to mask his embarrassment. "Well, not exactly." He stammered trying to explain himself. "It's just that I think you might be the answer to my prayers." Sanosuke tried his best to make an innocent face, a decidedly difficult thing for him to do.

"Your first one was better." Kagome said sourly. "I swear, if you ask me to bear you a son I'm leaving."

"No, it's not like that! I was just praying for a good luck charm and then I felt someone nearby. I looked around and there you were." Sano said hastily.

Kagome didn't look entirely convinced. "You felt me nearby? Odd, you don't look like a swordsman. I thought only sword masters had that kind of sensitivity."

Sano look like he'd just gotten one of Kenshin's prize techniques square on the jaw. "I'm not. I just sense things sometimes. Kenshin's the one that does all the chi reading and stuff."

"I see. So why don't you go ask this Kenshin fellow to help you?" Kagome said irritably.

"I've tried that before. I lost even more money that way. Kenshin told me that his ability to read chi doesn't give him any insights into which way the dice are going to fall." Sano said desperately.

"He's lying." Kagome said distractedly. She was looking around the temple grounds as if searching for something.

"What?" Sanosuke said in shock.

"I said he's lying. Any swordsman who can read chi should be able to anticipate the way dice will fall at least to some extent. Anticipating the way an enemy will attack is twice as difficult. Two small pieces of painted wood should be child's play by comparison." Kagome finally looked like she was starting to relax.

"I'll have to ask Kenshin about that one." Sano said suspiciously. "Say, why are you looking around like you're expecting someone to jump out at you at any minute, and how do you know so much about sensing chi? You don't look like a sword master either."

"I'm just being careful is all, if you sensed something I may have been too distracted and missed it. I can sense chi too, it's a pretty handy skill to have around, and no, I'm not a sword master, I'm a… priestess." Kagome said finally turning back to look at Sanosuke.

"A priestess?" Sano said slowly. He remembered his thoughts while he was looking at her legs and mentally begged forgiveness to whatever gods might be listening. "Then why aren't you wearing the clothes of a priestess? You aren't in any sort of trouble are you, because if you are I'd be happy to pound in a few heads if somebody's bothering you."

Kagome smiled. Sano decided he liked the look of it. "No trouble. At least none you could help me with. I haven't served as a priestess in a while though."

Sano smiled for a moment. It wasn't often that inspiration came to him, he was a pretty straightforward kind of guy, but this opportunity couldn't be passed up. "Well, I was wondering then, could you help ME then?" Sanosuke tried to put on his most helpless puppy dog expression. It worked on Kaoru occasionally, and Tae too, unfortunately the fox was apparently immune to it.

Kagome shook her head sadly, but she was still smiling which was a good sign. "So you want me to help you cheat at gambling?"

"Yeah, basically." Sanosuke admitted. "Or if you could teach me to sense chi that would be a great help. Then you wouldn't have to go to the places I go to, being a priestess and all."

Kagome was shaking her head again. "It takes years to learn that type of skill, I can't just wave my hands and say here you go."

"You can't tell by looking, but I'm a pretty quick learner. I learned the Futai no Kawami technique in only a week, though I nearly died from that experience though." Sano said thoughtfully. "Besides it couldn't have taken that long if you can do it, right?"

Sano backed up for a minute, as flames seemed to surround Kagome as she looked up at him dangerously. If it had been Kaoru he'd have been whacked by now. "And what exactly is that supposed to mean?" Kagome said dangerously.

"Nothing!" Sano said desperately. "It's just that you can't be more than what, fifteen, and I doubt you learned the ability while you were still a kid."

Sano watched as Kagome deflated and became much calmer. She got the far away look in her eyes again and looked back at the well. "You have no idea." She said mysteriously.

Sano looked at the young woman casually. She might be a little older than fifteen, but she was definitely younger than he was and was probably younger than Kaoru too. Finally, Sanosuke sighed in defeat. This girl was obviously lost in thought over something and she wasn't about to let him in on it. I guess today isn't my lucky day after all.

"Well, I'm sorry I bothered you Kagome. I guess I'll leave you to your thoughts and go try to win my money the hard way." Sano said sadly and turned to go. He looked down one last time but noticed that Kagome wasn't looking anywhere near him. She was looking behind him toward the stairs leading down from the temple.

"Yeah, you better get going Sano, quickly." Kagome said looking increasingly worried by the moment.

Sano turned around and followed her gaze as a large man stepped into view on top of the stairs. "That's weird, I thought Shinomori had the only overcoat in Japan." Sano said. He didn't like the look of this guy either. For some reason he couldn't make out his face very well.

Kagome stepped in front of Sanosuke and slowly set her pack down. "They're becoming more popular by the day it seems." Kagome said with an obvious irritation in her voice.

"Higurashi!" the man croaked in a voice that sounded to Sano like a frog's death rattle. Sano stepped protectively in front of Kagome and raised his fists.

"Sano, what are you doing?" Kagome asked.

"I don't like the looks of this guy Kagome and I'm not about to walk away and leave a young girl alone with the likes of him, especially if she's a priestess." Sano said as he settled into his fighting stance.

Just as Sano suspected the man pulled a sword from under his coat and unsheathed it slowly. "Does this belong to you, Higurashi?"

"I thought you didn't use swords." Sano said.

"He's talking about you, stupid." Kagome said with even more irritation in her voice. "Get out of the way."

The man lurched forward and Sano pushed Kagome back out of the way as he charged. He ducked quickly under a stroke that was meant for his head and punched for the stomach with a quick left.

Sano's fist impacted into his stomach. Sano nearly swore from the pain, as his fist seemed to slam into a solid rock wall. Correction, rocks were softer. Sano tried to spin around as the man swept past him headed straight for Kagome.

Sano decided it was time to break out the heavy artillery and threw his Futai no Kawami into the kidneys of the retreating figure. Sano heard a satisfying crunch until he realized it was his knuckles cracking. He did however achieve one goal. He now had the man's undivided attention.

Sano looked up as the elbow came crashing back down towards his face. He was usually pretty quick, but this guy was faster. He caught the full force of the elbow square on the jaw and reeled from the force of it. It wasn't until he slammed into the ground that he realized he'd been airborne.

Sano looked up as the man walked casually over to him. Behind him he could see Kagome praying. Stupid girl should be running. I'd hate to think I went through this for nothing.

The man stood over him for a moment and Sano looked up. This guy has no FACE! Sano lay there for a moment stunned by the realization. That was unfortunately all the time the man needed to drive his sword through his chest.

Sano looked down at his chest with the blade sticking out of it. It was strange. It was a warm sensation, as if he was drinking warm sake. Sano looked up for one last time before the darkness raced in to claim him.

Kagome finished her chant as the demon pulled his sword free from the unfortunate boy she had just met and turned back towards her. "Is that the best protector you could find, witch?"

"He wasn't my protector, but he managed to give me the time I needed." Kagome said seriously. The energy around her began to coalesce as the demon rushed forward to kill her. Kagome didn't move as the demon struck the shield she had erected. Thank you, Miroku!

"You can't stay in there forever witch!" the demon said howling in frustration.

"I don't have to, I just need to finish a not-so-quick spell." Kagome said smiling.

Kagome began to chant her spell pulling her hands in front of her as she began the casting. The demon clawed at her shield for a few moments before it recognized the spell. By then it was too late. The demon ran for the stairs as Kagome released her spell at the demon. The energy from her shield arced out at the demon and swept it up into the air as it tried to run. It was held fast as the energy began to rip at its body, slicing into the demon.

Kagome stepped closer to the demon as she pulled in the power as Inuyasha had shown her. "IRON REAVER, SOUL STEALER!" She screamed letting out the energy into controlled arcs that sliced into the helpless demon. The demon exploded into a shower of flaming pieces and sparks.

Kagome got up and looked at the poor boy that had thought he was rescuing her. She turned towards the stairs to run. If she was lucky she could get clear before any police arrived to investigate the commotion. She stopped before she could take the first step.

I can't do it. Kagome turned and ran over to the young man and knelt down beside him. He'd lost a lot of blood, and his heart had obviously stopped. She opened herself and saw the spirits ready to claim his soul and carry it to the underworld. Kagome reached into her pack, pulled out her sword, and slashed Sano with it.

The spirits were destroyed immediately, and she replaced the blade in her pack quickly. She could just hear the sound of someone coming as the young man began to rouse.

"What? What happened?" Sano said shaken from the fight.

"The man with the sword stabbed you. You almost died." Kagome said seriously. "He's gone now."

Kagome tried to help Sano up as some people came running into the temple grounds. Kagome looked up to see two men come running with a young woman following close behind. They ran over to Kagome as she put Sano's head in her lap and tried to look the damsel in distress.

"What's going on here?" The taller of the two men said as he stopped in front of the two of them.

"Can it Saitoh, I just saved this young lady is all." Sano said heatedly. He tried to sit up and winced before falling back to leave his head in Kagome's lap.

"You don't look like you could have saved a drowned kitten." Saitoh said derisively. "There's enough blood here to fill a bucket."

"Sano was hurt when a swordsman attacked us. He managed to drive him off, but he was hurt in the process." Kagome lied. If this kid wanted to take the credit, it was fine in her book. It meant less she'd have to be involved with the police.

The tall officer obviously found it hard to believe, but let the matter drop. He looked around and finally retrieved the sword that the demon had been carrying. "I guess the rooster did get lucky." He said offhandedly.

Kagome believed that if Sano could have stood he would have gone for the cop right there. Fortunately, he was weak enough for her to gently hold him down with out raising a ruckus.

"Let me take a look at your wound there Sano." The smaller of the two men was saying. Kagome nearly jumped out of her skin as he opened Sano's jacket and looked at the wound. Kagome couldn't sense anything from him as he looked at it. If he was surprised, he hid it well.

"It isn't that deep." He said finally. "Saitoh, we're going to take Sano back to the dojo and send for Ms. Megumi."

"Fine. First, though, what did the swordsman look like?" Saitoh said striking up a cigarette.

Sano jumped as memory started flooding back to him. "The guy didn't have a face!" Sano said. His eyes seemed to be making a valiant effort to leave the vicinity of his skull as his memory returned to him.

"Uh, what he means is that the guy was moving too fast for anyone to see him clearly." Kagome said quickly. "He was actually pretty non-descript. He had black hair, and looked pretty mean but otherwise he could have been anyone." Literally, Kagome thought.

Saitoh nodded before setting out. "I'll be sure to have the police patrols keep a look out for trouble then."

The tall policeman left and Kagome started to feel somewhat relieved when the young woman touched her shoulder. "We're going to take Sanosuke to my dojo now. You're welcome to come along miss…"

"Kagome. Kagome Higurashi. Thank you, but no, I really must be going." Kagome said apologetically.

"I would really appreciate it if you would come with us Ms. Kagome." The small swordsman said. "My name is Kenshin and this is Ms. Kaoru. I would like to ask you a few more questions about the swordsman if you don't mind."

Kagome started to resist, but then she saw the sword on the man's side. Kenshin. Sano's friend that can read chi. Great, the guy is probably reading me like a book right now.

Kagome sighed in defeat. "Sure, lead the way."

Kagome squeezed the water out of the cloth and tried to make her patient comfortable. She had the equivalent of a doctor's training and could heal things that most physicians of this time period thought were incurable, except this. Her patient groaned and rolled his head in her direction.

"I'm not going to make it out of this alive, am I?" He said between the pains that wracked his body.

"Lay still and try not to move, you'll only make it worse." Kagome said as she replaced the damp cloth on his forehead.

"You never could hide anything from me Kagome. I guess there are some things that even the Tensaiga can't cure." He said coughing.

Kagome put a soft hand on his cheek until he closed his eyes. She then moved over to the door to look out into the cold night of winter. It was nearly midnight, and he had pneumonia. The Bakumatsu was nearly over, that at least was good news, but it would be a hollow victory if she lost him.

Instead of growing old together, he had grown old and she had remained the same age. At first, they had traveled together as spouses, then as the years had passed they slowly started posing as father and daughter, and finally as grandfather and granddaughter. Now he lay dying, as she stayed the same age.

She had known this day would come but the circumstances were the worst she could have imagined. They had been delivering some medicines she had prepared to some friends when the soldiers ambushed them. He had fought bravely, but his age had finally caught up with him. She was standing out of the way when she saw one of the men was carrying a musket. He had fired at her. The bullet had been meant for her, but he had gotten in the way of it.

It should have killed him. She remembered him falling into her arms after he turned and rent the soldier in half with his claws. She had healed his gunshot wound, but the pneumonia had set in. Now they were here in this abandoned cabin and he was dying.

His coughing pulled her out of her sorrow long enough to move back to his side. He awoke again and his breathing was becoming more labored. "Kagome, promise me something."

"Anything." She said to her dying love.

"Promise me you won't try to carry this burden by yourself. I've watched you recently. You look like you're preparing yourself for being alone." He held up his hand and stopped her before she could speak. "Please, these may be my last words. I've tried to teach you all that I know so that after I'm gone you'll be able to do anything I could have, and your skills are already vast, but that doesn't mean anything if you have to wander all alone. You've got to let someone help you; otherwise you'll die, if not from the demons, then from loneliness. Please… promise… me…"

His last words escaped as a whisper from his lips as Kagome's tears fell on his hand that she held clutched in her own. "I promise Shippou, someday."

Kagome awoke on the futon that had been given her. She was in the room that Ms. Kaoru had given her. She hadn't slept in years, but the presence outside her door told her that if she didn't the swordsman outside her door would have thought something was wrong.

Kagome extended her awareness until it reached the closed door. The porch outside was empty except for a few crickets out in the grass. It was sometime around midnight.

Great, I thought he'd never go to bed. Kagome thought as she sat up and dressed. She disliked sleeping. It shut down the body too much. If you were shut down that completely it left your mind and body open for attack from demons for one thing. Some nightmares you don't wake up from if the right demon gets its claws on you.

Kagome sat up and went into meditation. She greatly preferred meditation. Not only could she awaken herself within the space of a heartbeat, she could extend her awareness even better than when she was awake. She could also control what her visions focused on. She didn't like remembering her friends as they died, like she often did when she dreamed. Instead she would sit for hours remembering the wonderful times they had experienced. Yoda was right 'Things you will see. Friends long gone.'

She had lost the first of her friends centuries ago and the last of them ten years ago. She tried not to interact with other people too often, for their own protection. Still remembering her promise to Shippou before he died left her feeling a little bit guilty. She had told him someday, but it had been ten years. She really should be getting on with her life.

Kagome roused herself from her introspection and tuned her awareness around her. In this state, she could feel nearly everyone around her for several streets. There weren't any demons around that much was good, and there weren't many people near the dojo. She sensed the police officer she had met before lurking outside the dojo with another officer, but they didn't stay long before they continued on their patrol. She sensed the ability to read chi in that one.

Kagome focused her senses in to the dojo itself and started scanning its occupants. With Sano's injuries the conversation had been limited. She had met them only this morning, and they had seemed decent enough people, but Kagome still liked understanding the people she was around. She had met a young boy that apparently was a student at this dojo, a female doctor, and then there were the woman, swordsman, and Sano of course.

Kagome took a deep breath and concentrated on Sano. She trusted him, he had tried to save her after all, but she didn't know if she would be so quick as to turn her back on him. After all, she had learned to trust Miroku with her life, just not her bottom.

Sano's dreams were replaying the events of that morning when he had been stabbed. She watched the scene through his eyes from the beginning. So he likes my legs, does he? Well, at least he felt bad when I told him I was a priestess.

Kagome watched the stabbing. It was terrifying to watch, but she'd seen and felt worse. The sight of the blade sticking in so deep was confusing to Sano though. He couldn't understand why he wasn't dead. Kagome smiled inwardly and went to work. She manipulated Sano's memory, a surprisingly easy thing to do, until he remembered the blade being a little further to the right and not quite as deep. 'Well, I'm still alive so the thing must have just missed my heart by a hair' Kagome added for good measure.

Kagome moved to the boy, Yahiko, next. She looked into his dreams and quickly pulled back blushing. Nothing too complicated there, just your average red-blooded, virile, teenage boy. She didn't know who this Tsubame girl was, but if she thought of him the same way he thought of her, they'd probably have a dozen kids before thirty.

Next, she went to the young woman Kaoru. She was having a dream that was also romantic, but it was a great deal more subdued than Yahiko. She was with this swordsman, Kenshin. They were in her room, and they were together in her futon. Kagome was glad she hadn't arrived a few minutes earlier. Kagome watched as Kenshin got up and began to dress. Hmm, a surprisingly detailed image of his body she has there.

"Kenshin, where are you going?" Kaoru asked with fear creeping into her voice.

"I'm sorry Ms. Kaoru, but I can't stay here any longer. I have to leave you now." Kenshin said as he put on his sword and walked out. Kagome found herself standing in a grove of trees next to the river as sakura petals began to fall. She watched Kenshin walk away. She looked at Kaoru and saw her collapse. "Kenshin, can't you see I love you?"

With that Kaoru's dream ended and she was still. Kagome felt sorry for her and reached deeper into her mind. The trouble she had was deep. This woman had been through a lot in her short life. She had the resilience of stone, but she wasn't flawless. She could withstand nearly anything except loosing the ones she loved and she obviously loved this Kenshin greatly. It also appeared as if she'd nearly lost him once before. This apparently stemmed from loosing her father, and would probably explain why she had fallen for a man much older than herself.

Kagome sighed. She wished there was more she could do to help, but she didn't plan on hanging around that long. She left and visited the doctor next. This woman was a little more difficult to read. She wasn't dreaming, but images of Sano drifted through her thoughts occasionally. Usually with him being hurt and lying in front of her helpless. Slightly alarmed, Kagome looked a little deeper.

Great, here's ANOTHER woman with man issues. Kagome thought dryly. She'd gone through the same thing with Sango and Miroku. Some women just couldn't surrender themselves to a man no matter how much they wanted too. Now if the man was under their control somehow they were more content. Sango had just been lucky that Miroku had enjoyed that sort of thing. Kagome left and went to the last stop she had on her list.

She had not been looking forward to this. She had to be very careful. Swordsmen typically had powerful senses, and if she weren't careful her mind would be at his mercy until he awoke. He also might realize she had been in his dreams.

Kagome picked her way in carefully. The mind of a swordsman was a maze. The lifestyle they led typically left them jaded with plenty of mental barriers, and this one was worse than most. He was also dreaming. If he had not been she doubted she would have been able to enter in.

Finally, Kagome stepped out into a snowy forest. She looked around and found herself looking at a young boy chained to the ground. He was looking away from her and he was screaming. "NO DON'T DO IT!" He cried as he tried to get free, he was also crying.

Kagome looked up to see Kenshin, or at least some part of Kenshin. It radiated evil and Kagome began to get concerned. This man thinks of himself as evil? He was injured and walking through the snow towards another man. The two of them began to fight and Kagome watched as a young woman jumped between them to protect the evil Kenshin and was struck down. The woman lay there dying, and Kagome watched as she transformed in to Kaoru, her dead eyes staring up at the stars.

Kagome could feel the waves of guilt and pain coming from the little boy. Suddenly her surroundings shifted. She was standing in the dojo. "What are you doing here?" A small voice commanded behind her.

Kagome turned around to see the little boy standing behind her. Busted. Kagome thought to herself. "I'm only a dream. We met today and now you're dreaming about me Kenshin."

"I'M NOT KENSHIN!" The little boy yelled. Kagome flinched as she felt the sting in her own mind. "My name is Shinta. HE'S Kenshin." The boy said pointing.

Kagome looked to the wall where she saw Kenshin chained. He looked evil and menacing and his ponytail was pulled high on his scalp while the ponytail on Shinta was much lower. "Let me out of here you little wretch!"

"No, you aren't going to hurt Ms. Kaoru!" Shinta said fiercely.

Kagome looked from one of them to the other. "You want to hurt Kaoru?" She said to the chained Kenshin.

"She's MINE, I'll do what ever I want to her!" Kenshin said with a growl.

"I'll never let you hurt her!" Shinta said fiercely again. "I can't kill you, but I'm not letting you go free again. Not after what you did to Tomoe."

"Who's Tomoe?" Kagome asked Shinta.

Kagome watched as the boy started to cry. "It's OK Shinta, you can tell me. Come on. Let's go sit on the porch OK?" Kagome led the young boy out onto the porch. She was discovered and she was sure Shinta could stop her from leaving if she tried so she decided to ride it out. He'd either wake up soon or let her go. "So, who's Tomoe?"

"No, I don't trust you." Shinta said stubbornly. "I saw that wound on Sano's chest. It was lethal. Why didn't he die?"

"Alright, I saved him. He was going to die and I saved him. I have a few talents that most other people don't have. I'm a priestess." Kagome tried to give him her most reassuring voice possible.

"Who was after you and are they going to hurt Ms. Kaoru?" Shinta asked.

"He was a demon and he won't be able to hurt Ms. Kaoru now. I destroyed him." Kagome said softly.

"Really?" Shinta said excitedly. "Can you destroy Kenshin?" The boy jumped up and pointed into the dojo where Kenshin still struggled to free himself.

"I don't think so. At least I wouldn't try until I was sure what would happen to you." Kagome said slowly.

"I don't care what happens to me! He can't be allowed to kill anyone again." Shinta said hotly.

Kagome held up her hands. Getting the boy upset could be lethal here. She pulled in her breath and made a flat out leap of faith. "I promise I'll look into it OK? What about Ms. Kaoru? Wouldn't she be sad if something happened to you?"

Kagome could tell she had struck home as the boy looked down guiltily. "It would be better for her." He said miserably.

"I'll look into it Shinta, but only if you tell me who Tomoe was." Kagome said with a stern motherly tone that had taken her about forty years to master.

Shinta sat down next to her and kicked his feet over the edge of the porch. "She was his wife." He said pointing his thumb back toward Kenshin.

"DON'T YOU DARE TELL HER ANYTHING YOU LITTLE WRETCH!" Kagome could hear bellowed from inside the dojo. "SHE'LL BE ABLE TO USE IT AGAINST US!"

"You shut up! If it gets rid of you I'll do anything!" Shinta yelled back. "He was an assassin for the Meiji government, and he went into hiding with Tomoe and fell in love with her. I thought he could be trusted with Tomoe, but then he killed her."

Kagome pulled Shinta into her lap as he began to cry and held him close. "He should have stopped himself, he should have been able to save her but he didn't. They tried to make me think she had betrayed me, but I didn't believe it. I tried to make him understand that, and he said he didn't believe it either, but then why did he kill her?"

Kagome tried to hold back her own tears as she rocked the little boy in her arms. "Have you been like this since then?"

"Yeah. I chained him to the wall. He's stronger than I am, but I can trick him when I need to. We've been like this for ten years now. It's been a lot easier for me since I came to the dojo. I won't let him try to intimidate me into letting him free here." Shinta said quietly. "Every night, I keep him here at bay and stand watch."

"Don't you ever sleep?" Kagome asked.

"It is sleep to a degree, but if I ever let myself go I'm afraid that he'll get free." Shinta said with a yawn. "You sure are warm. You smell nice too."

Kagome smiled at the little boy nuzzled against her and hugged him closer. "Shinta, do you trust me?" Kagome asked softly.

"I do now." Shinta said quietly.

"Do you trust me to keep watch over Kenshin while you sleep?" Kagome asked.

"He's too powerful, he might kill you too." Shinta said with worry in his voice. It was a loosing battle for him though, because he was yawning. Ten years of this kind of sleep would have put a lesser man in his grave by now. "Besides I have to go make breakfast soon."

"I'm pretty powerful myself Shinta, after all, I came in here didn't I?" Kagome lied. "And don't worry about breakfast, I'll take care of it."

"OK, if you think you can handle it. I'll be right here in case anything goes wrong." Shinta said with his eyes sliding shut.

"It'll be OK Shinta, you sleep now and have rose scented dreams." Kagome said. She held the boy and sang him a lullaby until she felt him breathing steadily. She then got up and carried him to his room and put him in the futon. Normally, as someone's psyche lost control the dream state would dissolve and she'd be free. However this dream state was still firmly in place.

Kagome looked around and then went back into the dojo. Kenshin was there, pulling frantically against the chains. He stopped as Kagome came in and he slowly let out a feral growl. "I guess I should thank you for putting the brat to sleep. Now I can finally get out of these chains and get something accomplished."

"What are you going to do once you get free?" Kagome asked.

"Well, maybe I might have some fun with you for starters." Kenshin said looking Kagome over with a look that made her feel very uncomfortable. "It's been ten years since I've had a woman and I think I'm overdue. Then I'm going to go kill that bastard Saitoh, he's been asking for it enough here lately."

"Well you can stop struggling, because I'm not letting you out of those chains and if you do try to get out I'm going to go wake up Shinta." Kagome said seriously.

The snarl that escaped from Kenshin was guttural. Right now he looked more demon than man. "You think that little shrimp can protect you from me?"

"Yes, I do. You're here after all, but I have something that'll make you want to listen." Kagome said seriously.

"What could you possibly have that I would want?" Kenshin asked before giving her another significant ogle. "Or rather, what else could you possibly have?"

"You'd rather have Kaoru right?" Kagome asked.

The reaction from Kenshin was immediate. He nearly burst his chains as he strained to close the distance between the two of them. "Yes. I want her. Now!"

"Patience. You strike me as one that can be patient if it means getting what you want." Kagome said trying to placate the man.

"I can be." Kenshin said with a sidelong glance. "I thought you promised the brat you'd find a way to kill me?"

"I did, but I don't really think that there's any way for me to do that without destroying both of you. I might be able to find a way to help though. The two of you are obviously different parts of the same personality. How did Freud put it, you're the Id and he's the Ego, or something like that. You two need each other." Kagome said looking Kenshin over.

"So what are you proposing?" Kenshin said suspiciously.

"Let me try to find a way for you to be released. In return, I want you to sleep. Quit trying to escape from Shinta for a few days and I may be able to get him relaxed enough to let you free. You have to promise me that you won't try to break free." Kagome said sternly.

"I might be attacked if I'm asleep. That brat can't stop anything from happening." Kenshin said fiercely.

"I'll help. I'll make sure nobody tries to kill you." Kagome said leaning close to Kenshin and putting a seductive hand on his chest. "And while you're asleep you can dream about Kaoru and all the things you'll do once you're free."

Kenshin's leer was almost as menacing as his growls. He relaxed and sat down against the wall. "Alright, we'll play it your way for a few days. I'll stay quiet, but if you double cross me lady that brat won't be able to save you from all the things I'll do to you."

"It's a deal then." Kagome said. She gulped as Kenshin relaxed. The dream state finally dissolved and she awoke in her own body. It was still hours before dawn, so she meditated for another hour before rising. She dressed in her white gi and red hakama before making her way towards the kitchen; she might as well look like a priestess.