Disclaimer: I don't own Yuyu Hakusho or Inuyasha—if only…


The Reikai Tantei looked up when it seemed as if all the lights in reikai flickered and dimmed, the sound like thunderstorms and the smell of lightning filling their senses with panic and confusion; the doors crashed open and a biting gale blew the paper of alliances and profiles to the walls of the room. Bursts of dull light illuminated the shadows though no windows proved their existence, and the curl of foreign youki shivered along their senses in warning of what was to come.

The tantei stood to attention when the doors were thrown open violently and a stalking demon roared into the room. "Koenma! You get your damn white woman here now!" What followed next was a flurry of emotions and movement, Hiei and his comrades roughly jostled to the side as the silver demon snarled and stalked further into the room to grab the chair reserved for honored guests—Koenma moved to make a spluttering protest before the gold eyes reddened and a clawed hand swung to knock all the remaining papers off the desk in a bout of rage.

"Prince Inuyasha!"

Koenma stilled under the furious eyes of the demon, and he watched with wide eyes as he snarled again. "I asked for your damn healer, Prince, why are you not moving." The quieter rage was perhaps more frightening, and Prince Enma jumped to action, calling on his communicator for Botan if she could get there as fast as she could with medical supplies.

The team startled back as the demon shook his head and splatters of blood and rain flung off his hair, his face snarling. He proceeded in clearing room for whoever next was coming through the violent portal by shoving aside chairs and growling at Kuwabara until he moved into the corner.

Koenma spluttered before the demon turned to him. "I requested your healer, Enma-ouji," was growled out at such a low decibel that the tantei bristled and backed up a step to each other's sides, uniting to watch the proceedings with a wary eye. Koenma hadn't made a move to try defending himself—so the rash individual might be ally…

Koenma opened his mouth again before an abrupt roar of thunder announced the next presence. A regal youkai of high birth stormed in, his hair floating in the air due to the youki circulating about him as his chin tucked menacingly towards his neck—his eyes flashing between red and gold. The supernatural wind he brought with him threw papers about, Koenma gasping as his eyes widened and he stared at the occupied arms of the lord.

"Sesshoumaru-sama!" he exclaimed as he stood abruptly. Inuyasha growled again as he stepped between him and the lord, his claws unsheathing themselves with a dry metallic sound.

"The healer, prince."

There was a subdued whimper, barely heard in the rushing chaos of the room with the thunderous youki clashing and the rage of the two foreign demons. Hiei took in a deep breath of air that was chilled and dense with powers swirling, and his eyes flashed as the new arrival took the guest chair to gently set his burden upon the cushions. He quietly observed the way her body limply conformed to the seat's contours, the way her head lolled on her neck.

He grimaced and lowered his chin to glare out from under the shadows of his bangs.

Botan rushed in, her usually collected chirpiness more harried worry and frantic hands as she moved to the female and checked her pulse. The taller silver demon growled when she gripped her neck to right it and moved to open her eyes—Botan nervously flicked a glance his way before swallowing and gently setting the girl's head back down.

She proceeded to examine her joints and softly speak to the unaware woman.

Koenma shifted nervously and quietly spoke, "What happened?"

The rough demon snarled, his lip trembling with aggression before he sighed out a subdued word and then spun as he crossed his arms, his dark scowl and heavy aura pulsing into a falling silence.

The aristocratic male stiffened and sent a glare to the uncouth one. "There was a battle, their mind bender got to her."

Botan gasped and drew back from the female, her hand raised as if in placation. Hiei narrowed his eyes and tilted his face as the rest of the room tensed and froze.

"What's it?" snarled the first silver.

Botan swallowed and laughed nervously, "I can't heal that. I shouldn't even be touching her if it has to do with her mind." She turned watery eyes to them. "The most I can do is heal the physical wounds—I have no idea what should be done about her mind."

"Then do so," came the commanding voice of Sesshoumaru.

Botan swallowed and nodded, her eyes closing in pain before she returned to the woman and settled her hands upon her delicate neck.

As her white magic flowed into the woman the men turned to regard each other, the interrupted meeting forgotten in the presence of the damaged woman and her protectors.

"You were attacked?"

"The vile hanyou surprised us during the children's playing; we were unprepared to be attacked while in the stronghold."

"Are the little one's alright?"

Inuyasha snorted—"That's why she wasn't paying attention. Too much focus on the brats."

Sesshoumaru growled, "She treats them like her own; they are safe."

"Stupid," Inuyasha muttered.

"Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru growled lowly, a warning to the other silver.

"Does this mean…"

"Yes, the reikai guards have failed."

Koenma nodded his head and pulled his lip into his mouth. "Then it is our duty to give you reparation—how extensive is the damage."

Sesshoumaru sneered; "The stone can be rebuilt at a later date—find me a mind healer prince."

Koenma swallowed and started going through files that the ogres had been busy gathering back onto his desk, murmuring as he searched names and profiles. Hiei raised an eyebrow as his teammates stiffened but remained silent, their eyes narrowing as the Prince floundered and appeared to forget.

Then he snapped his fingers and pointed at the fire apparition. "Hiei! We need you to get in her mind."

Hiei canted his head as he regarded the stony strangers, their growling and tense forms not his type of incentive to work around in some foolish onna's mind. He lifted his brows, unimpressed, in the direction of the Reikai Prince; keeping his position leaning against the far wall.

The others took his silence for what it was and spoke back and forth tersely, suggestions and objections dashing through the stifling air of the office. Hiei sniffed as he listened to them and refused to say anything—they didn't want his help anyways. He was the Forbidden One; it would be a cold day in hell before such high level youkai, especially possessive ones such as these appeared to be, let him touch one of their treasured.

And that was what she had to be. The lord had deigned to carry her himself—she would be nothing short of phenomenal to them.

Botan whimpered and fretted, "I can't heal most of it."

"What?!" snarled the rougher of the two, leaning over her threateningly. Yusuke growled and stepped between them while bunching his muscles in preparation for a scuffle.

Sesshoumaru barked out a snappy note to the other before he glared to the spirit guide. "Explain."

Botan tittered nervously and stepped around Yusuke. "Her energy is rejecting mine, when I start healing it slows and then the area is wounded again. I'm wasting her energy."

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and straightened to a taller stance. "You weren't expecting this?"

Botan hunched her shoulders. "No. I thought white magic was the purest healing magic possible…it shouldn't have reacted like…"

"But it did."

Botan licked her lips and could only nod.

Hiei shook his head and scoffed. The brasher one whirled to him at the sound, his claws out and clicking together with his rage as he took steps to him. "Do you know something hybrid?" he growled lowly, his teeth clacking together and his tongue slurring over his enlarged fangs.

Hiei rolled his eyes. "If her mind was damaged, her body will reflect her spirit," he raised a sardonic eyebrow, "hence the wounds."

Kurama raised a brow and canted his head. "Her mind is using her physical wounds to indicate the state of her inner self?"

Hiei snorted, leave it to the fox to repeat what he said. "Her body can be healed, but it can't be done with soul magic." The fools should have been aware of this. Instead they had wasted some of the onna's magic in their attempt. Not that Hiei really cared how quickly she recovered, but he couldn't in any way let them kill her off with their stupidity.

Not while he was watching.

Enough people had died because of stupidity, stupid dreams and reasons that never worked out, he was certain this woman didn't need to be added to the list.

Koenma sputtered, "Then Kurama, you know healing aids. Won't they help?"

The red fox tilted his head and drew his hand up to his hair, pulling out a group of seeds and displaying them on his palm. (Inuyasha muttered something about kitsune and their hair…) "All my remedies have my youki in them." He slid a glance over to the woman. "If she rejected Botan's white magic it will be worse if she reacts to my treatments."

The hanyou settled and glowered. "Probably won't react like you expect…"

"We're not taking the chance:" Sesshoumaru cut in swiftly, his eyes flashing over their motley group before he closed his eyes and settled a hand upon the woman's thick hair. He murmured something as her head rolled on her neck, her whole body twitching and her mouth gaping in a silent gasp, and then the regal taiyoukai cursed. Spinning to the shadows Hiei had claimed his gold eyes flashed. "Hybrid, if you dare harm her I'll have your head. But if you bring her back to this Sesshoumaru consider your debt to Reikai paid."

Hiei's eyes widened, his stance shifting as his balance left him.

Koenma stood up, outraged and spluttering only to be quelled by a glare from both princes.

"We have that power, princeling." The younger one sneered, "Your father granted us this capacity when we declared we'd never interfere in another's death."

"And you've been weaseling around the agreement ever since," Koenma gritted out from between his clenched teeth.

Sesshoumaru sent him a predatory superior look before turning to entirely ignore him and regard Hiei. "Do you accept?"

He narrowed his large eyes as he thought over his response. Kurama narrowed his green eyes and watched him. It was something they'd discussed before, for all rights and purposes their debt had been paid off long ago and their continued 'employment' was blight to their honor.

Hiei drew up his shoulders and stepped into the glaring overhead lights—"I will bring her back."

Inuyasha crossed his arms with a huff, glaring at him as he made his way to the seated female (if you could call the loose way she rested sitting in any sense) and took up her hands in his.

The restless snarling demons were easy to ignore as the jagan immediately pulled at its bindings, its power flaring against his own before he even commanded it to fulfill this request.

Suddenly he was in that curious no space that was indicative of his mind carrying over to another's—the dizzying disappointment of not existing as an integral part of a whole being hitting him before he was pulled from reality.

Hiei sneered in disgust as he entered her psyche slowly, the sense of the two men glaring and growling fading from him as he entered the vagueness of mindscape. He remained still for a moment, aware of how crucial it would be for her mind to think of him as a natural part of it—he couldn't startle her now.

From what he could gather they'd been in battle and had left the woman unguarded—for a mind bender to work their magic they needed a subdued and stilled victim.

And she was clearly a victim—he carefully weaved his way past her broken shield, avoiding the sharp edges of raw memories and the snapping synapses struggling to repair themselves.

He took in a deep breath as the stinging alertness of her mind settled—it seemed that she was very aware of her mind space. Originally, he mused as he took the first cautious step, she must have been an incredibly independent girl.

He released his breath as her initial curiosity faded, her mind settling down to black shadows and wisps of memories.

He adroitly jumped over a black area of nightmares, his eyes tracking it as he moved—it was so large.

The scar he came upon was red and angry, a blight upon her mindscape that was raw and hurting. He paused and regarded it, softly feeling for the break in her mental shields that had been the result of this crass invasion (the Mindbender, Hiei snorted at the undeserved title, must have had no true skill and made his way with brute mental force).

To his consternation the mental shields wouldn't mend at this area, and he growled out his ire as he pulled back his energies and spun on the spot.

He abruptly froze as her mindscape wavered and snapped out to him, the weak attack fading before it hit as pain rocked her.

His wide eyes blinked as his third eye rounded, very interested. Hiei had thought she was simply a normal girl, expendable save for the fact that it would go on his record if he refused to attend to her.

But that power must have been great at one point…it had been so bright before it had faded.

He carefully restrained his snort, uttering a sigh instead and watching the surroundings just in case she would react.

She didn't.

He blinked and furrowed his brow, feeling the tight pull of his jagan. It seemed she had reacted to his aggressiveness—and had been trying to defend herself. But her mind was too overwrought for her to access her power…

Hiei scrunched up his nose and spun to regard the scar again, his head canted with thought as he wondered.

He shook his head and then spread out his power, closing his mortal eyes to further stretch his senses.

He stumbled back with a cry.

Righting himself he held his head, a hiss escaping his lips. The sound muffled to nothing in the vast void he found of her mind. His eyes canted open carefully, to keep from experiencing that splitting pain in his head, only for him to spot her power solidifying into a wispy form of the woman—crafted from her memories.

He stood straight to regard it as the waif tentatively stepped forward, its feet not really there and its body very smoke like and ethereal.

She swallowed and shyly reached out, her eyes worried and practically glowing.

He shook his head.

It nodded and drifted away, its form falling from sight because it was never anything more than memories…

But even her recollections had been worried for him—an intruder in her mind. He sighed and cracked his neck. This would be trouble; for such a caring and independent woman as she appeared to be, so portrayed by her memory form and her mindscape…

There had to be something he couldn't see.

Something he couldn't heal.

He grimaced and set off walking another direction, going towards that faint area of pain that had staggered him earlier.

He swallowed as more memories became thick and heavy, their silver threads sagging between constructs and associations with a weight that shouldn't be. The gray vagueness of her mind became black and foreboding…his senses alight at the change, the hair on the back of his neck stood on end even as he never touched a memory thread—he shouldn't be affected by a recollection he wasn't in.

But he was.

"Just what happened to you?" he whispered, but the vagueness and shadows swallowed it up before it could travel. That's what he hated about minds—they were so lonely and restricting—once in you felt like you could never leave. Even sound was lost in the vast emptiness of broken minds and tangled in the complex system.

This was why he was starting to worry. If the woman had retreated into her mind from shock…and her mind was in this condition…he had one heck of a job to get done.

He silenced himself as he came upon the next scar, this one festering and practically oozing infection as the red flared violently, the color of dried blood.

He swallowed and didn't try to reach out to it—he knew he couldn't completely heal that until he'd gone further into her mind and found the next he had sensed.

It was a shorter distance before he found the other, a set of two or three slashes intercrossing the other. He closed his eyes and shook his head, unable to believe the girl had survived so many wounds on her mind.

He opened all three eyes wide, straightening his spine as he prepared for the pain that would come when he opened his senses.

But he stopped, startled, when the memory-waif slowly formed beside him, its eyes worried before crinkling in a smile.

It nodded to him—the silence of mind waifs was a strange thing… but true memories couldn't create the voice of their outward appearance.

He carefully watched it as he proceeded, it leaning forward intently and watching him. There was a stalemate—neither finding what they wanted in the other—before he let his powers emerge in a rush, and he found no threat but its rapid grasping of the pain before it took him.

He watched the waif strain and pull at the ache, its eyes closing so it could concentrate; he took the chance and let out all his senses in a rush, feeling an ache that should be there but wasn't—the waif crumpled from the withheld pain and dissipated as he finished and pulled away from the woman's scars.

He stood panting for a moment, eyes wide and lungs seizing as he realized that this would be more than a few minutes of his skill. And he didn't want to have to work his way in past her mangled barriers again.

He sighed and seated himself, closing his eyes and trying to relax, all the while knowing that, though her mind waif had accepted him, he was still a foreign entity and might be rejected when he tried to help. And being rejected would completely wreck her mind and damage his, connected as they were.

It might take some time, but he would stay to see it through—his pride in his skill and his honor would make sure of it. He'd said he'd bring her back.

So he settled and slowly set to working mind magic, netting in the pain and scars under one attempt and carefully weaving out the damage. It was tedious and dangerous—there were instances where her mind screamed and her pain thrashed at him…

He bore it all with a grimace.

Once he was sure the festering of her wounds had passed he opened his eyes to regard the permanent scars someone had left behind—more scars than he'd been expecting.

The waif slowly wavered into existence, misty and far less corporeal than it had been before.

Its eyes blinked back tears as it looked to the crossed scars, its form dejected before it turned to him and approached. It bowed in appreciation before gently reaching out and pushing on his forehead—its hands cool against his overworked jagan as he was suddenly expelled from her mind.

He sat up with a jerk and a growl.

The occupants of the room half stood at his sudden awareness, his eyes wide and weary as he gaped at the woman still passed out on the couch. He shook himself to return his senses to normal, unable to fully shake off the feel of her soul and her mind.

He rolled his shoulders and turned to the regarding audience—carefully staring at the two silver demons. "She should be better—but the scarring was more extensive than it should be. There were other wounds on her mind."

The hanyou cursed and turned.

"Will she be alright though?" Koenma questioned, "I mean; she'll not be changed?"

Hiei turned to him. "Seriously, I have no idea how she survived with the past invasions. She's entirely too independent to take someone's control nicely."

The tall silver sneered and took a step to the woman, carefully cradling her neck and shifting her body so she sat more upright in a comfortable position. "My miko will not fall under such base intrusions."

Hiei watched quietly. "It's been happening for a while, her mind has been festering—I could only take away the rawness before she pushed me out of her mind."

Everyone's eyes snapped to him as he shifted and stared at the woman.

"She didn't want me to overexert myself working on repairing her mindscape."

"Is it that bad?" Kurama asked softly; approaching and reaching out to feel the woman's forehead.

The silvers stiffened and watched him with their careful eyes.

"It's bad. Underlying it all is a loss of her confidence and security—she also pushed me out because she believed she wasn't worth it." He stared straight at the regal demon as he focused on him, gold eyes flashing and meeting crimson.

"My miko has always been that selfless, it has nothing to do with her attacks."

Hiei narrowed his eyes and lifted his lip slightly, staring straight at the taller demon while tilting his chin up. The man straightened before nodding slightly, his lips parting in a sneer as his eyes flickered over to the other silver.

"Regardless, if you want her to survive like she was before you'll need to work on her confidence, build it up so that she really believes she's worth taking care of."

"That's what Kagome does; she always takes care of everyone else first," the smaller silver growled out and crossed his arms.

Kurama cupped his chin in his hand and regarded the comatose woman—"Yes, it may have started that way, but over time it can change to her doing it because she believes others have more worth. It's a psychological response when one perceives that their behavior is expected and not simply appreciated."

The elder silver snarled and growled at the younger.

His ears laid flat against his head and he lifted his lip to reveal a fang but otherwise voiced no displeasure.

"The mindbender was indelicate then?" Kurama turned to him in inquiry.

Hiei snorted—"He blasted open the part of her mind he wanted access to. I'm surprised she's aware enough to form a mind waif."

Koenma placed his hands flat on his desk in worry—"How torn?"

Yusuke shifted and gave the woman an inscrutable glance, his eyes flashing with curses. Hiei felt a kin regard build for him, he wanted to beat the Bender senseless too.

"Jagged, and the further scars had tried to close over a foreign taint."

"Just how many are we talking about?"

"The initial one that caused this," he gestured to the woman with a tilt of his head, "one previous to that, and three scars crossed just further."

Inuyasha growled lowly, "Tsubaki and Goshinki, and Kanna with Akago…

"You forgot yourself, dear brother, now silence."

Inuyasha became quiet and subdued, and his brother glared with golden eyes at him while turning to the prince of the spirit world.

Hiei eyed the smoldering prince as he carefully paced the room, great pains taken to ensure he appeared nonchalant and in control. The wounded demon brooded as he made his way to a chair in a forgotten corner of the office, their auras tense as the rest felt the oppression of Kagome's slumber.

Her brow furrowed under the press, and Hiei cocked his head as the two silvers startled. If they weren't aware of how truly sensitive she was then how was it they were allies? There was purity about the woman that made her keen to the shifts of negative emotions—it was also why she couldn't put up with the intrusions of such base creatures on her mind.

It made her very soul ill.

So as her eyes fluttered open Hiei was not surprised to see her struggle to right herself and look around worriedly.


Hiei was surprised by the color of her eyes; the mind waif hadn't done them justice.

He cleared his throat as the men startled and made her pull into herself. Her wide blue eyes turned to him, and he inclined his head to her in some respect. She deserved it—and watching her confused eyes widen more with shock brought a little twist to his heart even as he delighted in making her react to him.

He stepped forward while mentally shaking his head.

"I want to try again," he intoned firmly. Her shocked intake of breath was only more incentive—she had such a strong mind that her waif had communicated with her overall psyche. Hiei needed, was honor bound, to restore her mind to its former glory.

He'd personally been in there.

The woman shivered.

Hiei continued to stare into her eyes, willing her to accept the fact that he personally felt responsible for her recovery. He wanted to see what a spirited woman she would be—wanted to see her mind intact after viscerally experiencing it broken.

Her breath caught, she understood the dangers to him, and she closed her eyes as she nodded her head lightly.

Taking a deep breath, Hiei focused on her and mentally connected to her broken mind. Infiltrating the defenses of a conscious person was entirely different than slipping through a slumbering mind.

Even with her mind broken and shattered there was a stronger pull at his psyche. But Hiei had already noticed how powerful she was, and he carefully wove his conscious into her mind.

Once again he waited for her mind to become accustomed to him—but without his reticent stillness from before. His head moved about curiously, searching for any indication of the further scarring within.

The moving storm of nightmares was the only trace he could find (he shuddered when it passed near him, close enough for him to feel that invitation that had gone along with her memories—as if her very mind wanted him to feel what she did, to experience it).

Almost as soon as his presence had become naturalized, adopting the feel of her own psyche, the mind waif appeared.

Its ghostly hands waved about in apprehension, its posture very supplicant and entreating. But Hiei would have none of it. The real Kagome had accepted his need to fix her mind, despite every indication that she'd really not wanted him to risk himself a second time (as the Mind Waif broadcasted).

If anything, this internal thoughtfulness made him all the more determined.

He ignored the mind creature and thoughtfully closed his eyes.

To heal the scarring, having already removed the taint, would take something that he hadn't done previously. Yet his previous actions had been a complex taxing process that had not provided results. Hiei, having had no real experience healing minds with his powers, didn't quite know how to go about performing it now.

But he'd try whatever he could.

Being resealed recently the scars would be tender, much easier to manipulate in the mind space but so much more sensitive to tainted magic. Hell, she'd reacted to Botan's white magic.

He hoped her mind was very used to him—being a Forbidden Child he was irrevocably tainted since birth, his very magics fighting against each other. And his life hadn't redeemed him in any way. Hiei was proud to say he'd survived everything thrown at him, but in instances like this he feared the ruthless edge of his soul would hinder him and he would fail in healing Kagome's mind—he almost thought that failing Kagome, being rejected by her conscious mind, would be some kind of punishment for his bloody survival.

He took in a deep breath through his teeth, letting his shoulders rise and settle before he opened his determined eyes. The waif, strangely crying clear droplets of memories (he could see the flashing images contained), gave one last pathetic entreaty.

Hiei tried to stand stolidly under her wide eyes gaze, her eyebrows furrowing and her corporeal form wavering before finally solidifying. He gave in with a curse, stepping forward to the startled waif. Those wide grey eyes she had (nothing like her real sapphire ones, but so beautiful in their own sad way) flickered with a hesitancy.

Hiei extended his hand.

It seemed, as much as she wanted him to leave, she was feeling lonely. He could understand that. He'd spent most of his life maintaining a careful distance.

He let out a grand sigh as his fingers trailed along her cheek. "I'm helping you," he said firmly though uselessly, lowering his chin and staring into her face.

Her shoulders lifted in an imitation of a steeling breath.

And then his hand cupped her cheek and her tears (memories) fell over his fingers.

His sharp intake of breath was lost in the mind space as he felt a very familiar pull and he was lost in her memories.

This was unusual, to be pulled into them. But he understood that the waif was trying to help him help her. It was still disconcerting to feel like he was a part of her in a memory while he observed from a distance.

The scream died in her throat, as she couldn't get air, a curious floating sensation not doing anything to stifle the terror rising up in her.

The arms wrapped around her were unforgiving and cold, colder than the still air around her as she tried to breath and tried to blink—but there were lights in soothing colors and she knew something beyond her was occurring.

When the floating sensation stopped she regained herself and panicked, that initial warm blast of energy throwing away the creature so she could escape. Escape only to be captured again: tied up and vilified. And then she was putting them in danger, and she despaired.

She ran, trying to draw the attention of the beast as it screamed about a jewel. She ended up near the goshinboku, and she desired with every fiber of her being to hide within its comforting boughs…but there was someone there. He awoke and yelled at her, belittled her, hated her. She didn't understand how that could be; she didn't even know him.

But he made a deal when the creature was back, and she had to accept to gain her breath—she didn't want to be cold this time. But the jewel, oh that hurt. Her flesh ripped and tore, and something felt like it was missing.

She wasn't whole.

Hiei growled at the hanyou, watching him shun Kagome in the mistaken assumption that she was someone else and then ridicule her for not being that person. He watched as the legends became truth in front of his eyes, but feeling from Kagome that integral loss of self he ached.

She couldn't move again, she was numb and cold and despairing. She smelled strong herbs, and felt lapping water—but she didn't hear Inuyasha calling for her. He didn't care.

The witch chanted and pulled at something inside of her, and Kagome cried in her mind but could do nothing else. She wasn't strong enough—and this witch was pulling more pieces away from her, too many pieces.

She felt hazy and dizzy, but she knew she was lying down and that was absurd.

Still, she felt broken.

Then she heard a little desperate voice calling for her. She needed to be there for Shippou. She screamed in her mind and tried to pull back everything that was herself, to restore herself as much as she could.

But she couldn't, not really.

Somehow she was Kikyou and Kagome in one moment, and that hurt her, scared her, and scarred her.

And Inuyasha was distracted by this doll living only with pieces of her, this wretch that had stolen another part of her. She felt cold and broken as little Shippou tried to help her.

Hiei emerged from the memory of Urusae with heaving breaths and a chill. He knew these were Kagome's symptoms, and he logically shouldn't be so affected, but he was. Losing a part of her, while feeling like a part of her, was terrifying.

This was a level wholly separate from losing the shikon from her body.

He shuddered and the tears brought him into the next memory before he had recovered.

The first rush of adrenaline faded and despair set in, the pain in her neck wouldn't go away and her mind railed and scored itself in an attempt to gain some control. But there was none. There was no Kagome right now, and that frightened her. She'd always been independent, strong and herself. But now she was nothing, she was a floating entity watching something else control her.

Watch and feel her body move as if she was an alien part or not a part of herself at all.

Still she knew the tensing of those specific muscles was her arming herself; aiming—and only Inuyasha was in sight.

She cried out and tried to stop this but that only resulted in that painfully dark entity moving from her neck to press her back into her mind. She struggled with it, desperate and still despairing.

Oh God she was Kikyou! She was that priestess in this moment, aiming at her friend so callously.

She near broke at the thought, her mind and herself falling further under that oppressive black mass.

Hiei swallowed as he watched the cruel incident with Tsubaki, but his connection to Kagome gave him more insight. She'd been so pure that the tainted shards in her neck hadn't completely subdued her will—and yet she felt tainted, a failure. She'd felt like she hadn't any power or control, and she hadn't been herself but someone else.

It was no wonder the woman had such a strong independent mind; she was forever trying to convince herself that she was no one else.

The large looming demon scared her, and she knew it knew that. Naraku had gone all out, and he'd done his job well. And this was probably the worst she'd experienced, because while she was still herself she knew that she wasn't wholly herself. The demon was inside her mind, had infiltrated it and she couldn't discern what was him and what was her.

That scared her on such a terrific level that she was useless.

Hiei took a deep breath as the quick memory flew past. It had scared him too.

Being part of Kagome and yet not, he had felt like that large demon, and yet had felt like the vulnerable woman at the same time.

Hiei hated being the victim, but in this memory, he also couldn't reconcile himself with the villain. He shuddered.

The weight of the babe in her arms was comforting, but the cold tendrils of his power inside of her weren't. A part of her longed to cuddle the baby up and kiss his forehead, but she knew she couldn't.

He was trying to draw out her darkness, to discover her taint. Didn't he know she was already a roiling mass of brokenness? Didn't he know she was already imperfect? She wasn't worthy.

She wasn't whole.

But the babe, the poor babe, did find her taint. He found it and exposed it and taunted her.

Inuyasha had left her for Kikyou, to seek out confirmation of a rumor. She had encouraged him because she didn't want to give in to her darkness. But Akago had found it, was drawing it out.

She was jealous.

She was jealous and bitter and angry…and so, so broken.

She cried inside her mind, Akago controlled the rest of her while he rested in her arms. This felt tainted too, that Naraku would twist such a defenseless perfect form for his own uses.

She sobbed, the broken pieces of her jagged and damning. But then she stopped. She was broken, and she knew it. She was already imperfect.

She calmed and accepted that part of her that wasn't what she wanted to be—she could be jealous, she was only mortal.

She sighed as it felt like a piece of her returned, almost falsely feeling entirely whole before she realized she was still broken. Now she was broken and trying to deal with her negative emotions, trying to reconcile pieces of her that she'd had all along but been too scared to face.

Akago lost his hold on her.

Somehow, being closer to whole, she still felt worthless.

Hiei snorted out an incensed breath as he emerged from the memories, the waif motionless under his stiff hand as she gazed at him.

Hiei regarded her strongly, all three of his eyes open and trying to figure out how she had lived as she was. The waif smiled in some small humor, waving her hand about before touching his jagan. Hiei gasped in a breath as he was pulled into an abrupt rush of memories.

The jewel was back—they thought it'd disappeared, gone and done with. No, she felt it in her veins, another piece of her back. It was like her soul after Kanna, completely retrieved and so welcome yet somehow not enough. But she was happy—it felt so warm.

Hiei shook himself as he left the memory, the entirety of his senses feeling like he'd stood under the spray of a waterfall. The waif 'laughed' at him, but he stood amazed.

Feeling a happy memory of hers was…uplifting. His lips curved up on one side as the waif danced about on her feet, trying to convey how happy she'd been at being that one step closer to whole.

Hiei looked around, watching her whole mind light up with her delight. His breath caught as he watched one of those scars flash under the light before healing further to look like it had sealed long ago.

The waif continued laughing gaily, her head thrown back and her arms flung out as she twirled in the euphoria. His red eyes carefully watched her, entranced by her trailing sleeves and swirling hair.

He caught her as she passed, his eyes solemn as he held one of her hands and bowed over it. Her whole mind seemed to still from the twirling brightness it had been, and Hiei held his respectful bow. Since she couldn't hear his words, and they'd be swallowed in the mindscape, he'd be certain to broadcast his thoughts.

He straightened and looked straight into her grey eyes. Her posture softened to him, and she smiled gently.

Hiei grinned and took a step back. She didn't need him to heal her mind—at least she didn't need him in her mind to do it. It would occur when she realized she was slowly becoming whole, as she once had been—to simply accept her pieces back and realize she was worthy enough to be that whole and accepted.

The waif waved enthusiastically, near shaking her whole body, as he slowly focused on retreating to his own psyche. He grinned as he entered his own mind—familiar and whole.

He sighed inwardly as he took a moment to appreciate that wholeness—and then he felt it. The waif reached out and touched his mind, marveling at its completeness. Hiei blinked in shock and opened his physical eyes, wondering at the sensation of her giddiness even as she drew back from his mind.

He felt dizzy at a sudden emptiness, but then he recognized that his mind was whole and the emptiness was coming from the woman. The image of the waif raising her hand to her head slowly left him as he recovered.

One was never to enter a mind twice—it just wasn't done. Hiei felt different, standing in Koenma's office in the silence. He was connected to the woman. This was probably why they said it was dangerous, but Hiei didn't actually mind.

Kagome needed another connection to anchor her still broken soul.

Her eyes fluttered open and she drew in a sharp breath. He stared into those blue eyes as she recovered, blinking. Hiei held back a smile as she raised a hand to her dizzy head—it was exactly as the waif had done.

With such an odd experience with the waif—twice within the hour—Hiei had half expected this to be some illusionary dream. But that gesture was exactly like her mind waif had mimicked, and it served to combine both it and the woman in front of him until he could not doubt his experience.

Hiei licked his lips and turned to his boss—"Koenma, a piece of her soul is missing."

The prince gaped at him.

Both silvers turned sharp eyes on him, calculating and wrathful.

In the chair the woman turned wide eyes to him, confused.

Of course she didn't know where she was, not really. They'd brought her here unconscious and Koenma hadn't even known of her so she'd never visited before.

Sesshoumaru turned those sharp eyes onto the prince of reikai, and Koenma drew in a deep breath that pulled his shoulders back before shaking his head in disbelief. "How did this happen?" he inquired quietly, turning to stare at the small woman in his guest chair.

Sesshoumaru shifted and turned hard eyes on the princeling. "A witch tried to use her soul to revive a dead priestess."

Kurama coughed politely instead of voicing his disbelief.

The smaller prince growled and took a threatening step forward, blocking the woman from their sight. "It is no lie!"

Yusuke shifted and glared, among the tense powers gathered in the office it seemed his mazoku instincts were calling for the brash demon's blood—Hiei found it ironic that the hotheaded mazoku was irritated with this demon that was as hotheaded and loud as him.

But Kagome was shivering as their powers rose, and her powers struggled to rise in defense.

Koenma stood in the sharp silence, and while placing his hands carefully down on his desk released a hard sigh. "It will not do to argue—if a part of her soul is missing and still retrievable, we should find it quickly."

His team looked at him in consternation—not fully understanding how a soul could stay apart.

"Okay, Koenma. That's just ridiculous; if her soul is broken and a piece hasn't returned to her then it's been devoured. There's no way that a soul would remain separate for so long."

Kagome looked away from them.

"Not so," Koenma said softly, glancing at the quiet woman. "If her soul was threatened in such a way that a witch could have access to it a taint might have carried onto the pieces. If that were the case the soul pieces would have been locked away in reikai strongholds.

I'm just surprised that we were not alerted of any recent additions that were incomplete."

Kagome coughed politely, "Excuse me," she said softly, stiffening when every pair of eyes turned to her abruptly. "Um, This piece of me…ah, well," she blushed.

Inuyasha snorted and quirked a smile. "This piece has been missing since the Sengoku Jidai," he said plainly.

Hiei watched Kagome blink and her eyes skitter away. Koenma sunk into his chair and the team stiffened. Hiei believed them, but having been in Kagome's mind he was aware of certain experiences of hers that required a suspension of disbelief.

Koenma sighed aggressively as he ran a hand through his hair, irritated. He threw up his hands and said something down to the ogres that were still chasing papers about in the office. Immediately they stilled and fled the room, barking out instructions to each other and calling out strange codes.

Sesshoumaru glared at the prince, but Inuyasha sniffed as he shuffled and watched the little creatures leave.

Kagome sighed heavily and tilted her head to gaze imploringly up at Sesshoumaru. The demon turned his eyes to her and then settled a large hand on her shoulder, Kagome brought up her own hand to cover his, and beyond the comfort they were offering each other Hiei was startled by the diminutive size of her.

In her mindscape she'd seemed so much larger, seemed strong and able to fight for herself despite how many times her soul had been broken and her mind violated. He swallowed as all his attention focused on that small hand, his vision blurring until he was preoccupied with the idea that this woman, as strong as she was, still needed protection.

And it wasn't simply physical protection, as this attack had begun with, but a protection from the demons that would tear apart her mind and make her less than what she was.

Inuyasha shifted as a trio of ogres rushed through the door to the prince of reikai, their excited babble hardly distinguishable from squeaks.

Koenma calmly listened to them, his hands folded in front of him before he turned grave eyes upon the trio of strangers.

"They've found what they think is her soul…are you sure it would be so old?"

Hiei narrowed his eyes at how serious and cautious the Prince was being.

Inuyasha growled but Sesshoumaru merely nodded while his eyes were sharp and focused upon the Prince.

Koenma sighed and then gestured in the affirmative to the ogres who then rushed out of the room.

It was quiet in their wake, an expectant silence adding to the previous tensions.

Kagome kept on fidgeting, and Hiei understood her need for it but wished she wasn't so uncomfortable and sensitive.

The ogres returned, telling slow directions to their mates and backing into the room.

Kagome started to stand, her eyes large and expression stunned—she only made it halfway up from the chair before she froze.

The team was all staring at the entity the ogres were carting in; a roiling black mass of soul surrounded by ofudas and spells, still sparking and fighting against the barrier that held it.

Inuyasha sucked in a loud breath, Sesshoumaru stiffened and his hand went to the hilt of one of his swords. Kurama snarled and raised his shoulders, and Yusuke lowered his center of gravity. Kuwabara stumbled back and leaned against the wall, looking as if he would be sick.

Hiei stared at the angry piece of soul, wondering at its taint when Kagome, even broken, had felt so pure.

Koenma gestured feebly. "This is the only soul retained from that era; every other has been purified and recovered."

Kagome swallowed and finally managed to stand.

Inuyasha's nostrils flared and his attention stayed on the black mass, but Sesshoumaru's eyes cut to her and his hand shifted. She ignored him, her eyes sad and hurt as she stared at this piece of her that had grown darker while separated.

The team, though strangers and certainly not connected to her mind like he was, stiffened and prepared to move her away from the angry soul.

Kagome stopped a few feet before it, biting her lip and taking in a steeling breath. She closed her eyes and loosed the breath from her lungs, breathing out continually as she simply stepped into the roiling mass. Yusuke shouted and made to stop her, but she was already in the center of the soul.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and straightened, watching closely as Kagome's form was covered by the black mass. Inuyasha shifted closer, his angry worried eyes taking in the silhouette of Kagome.

Yusuke reached out tentatively after a few frozen moments only to be shocked back by the electric power.

They could do nothing else.

Koenma closed his eyes in despair.

But Hiei watched intently, saw as Kagome's hands lifted and she started to pray. The resulting flash of power pushed everyone in the room back, their clothes whipping into their bodies and stinging their skin. Kagome stood at the center of a hurricane, a vacuum of power shielded by an angry soul.

As the power struggled the roiling mass of black soul started to weaken, its darkness being drawn out in flashes of white until it seemed that the darkness was swirling into luminescent lights.

When all the darkness had disappeared, Kagome swayed and then collapsed to the ground. Her whole glowing body was shaking, trembling and sweating. Sesshoumaru took a step forward, reaching out to right the priestess but then she laughed.

It was a breathy quiet laugh, but when she threw her head back and looked at them there was no doubting that, if she had the breath, she would be laughing the hardest she'd ever in her life.

Hiei's eyes fluttered before he closed them firmly—her joy coursing through his body. Kagome's mind was screaming in delight, all too easily broadcasted to his; and he was there as her waif seemed to shout: whole! Whole, WHOLE!!!

The euphoria of feeling complete lit up her mind like nothing he'd ever seen or felt before, and he grinned.

Opening his eyes he was greeted by the sight of everyone gaping at the glowing girl, her posture relaxed and content yet her power lapping at her. He swallowed as he felt a pull, a call to hold her and feel that power washing over him like ocean waves.

He shook the feeling off, if only because there were witnesses. He couldn't even fathom distancing himself from the woman—her mind was now so inextricably twined with his. And it wasn't even just this connection between their minds; it was also empathy, an understanding. This woman, this Kagome, would understand his past while opening hers to him—she would share her joys with him and hope that he took joy in them with her. She'd share her life and hope his was richer for it.

That welcome, that wholly honest and unfettered openness was Hiei's undoing.

He didn't think he could ever part from her.

That was a connection far beyond their minds, far beyond what the others had seen in this office. He wanted a chance to explore it, to talk with Kagome, to get to the point where he could hold her and not think anything of it.

The heady rush of her power along his senses only encouraged him to do so—though his teammates were all shifting uncomfortably at the feel of it.

Sesshoumaru growled out—a pleased undertone to it as he watched the luminescent power wrap around the miko.

Koenma sat down heavily in his chair, his mouth opening and closing with no sound as he shuddered. He finally recovered and managed to squeak out, "She's a miko?!"

Inuyasha snarled at him and Kagome opened her eyes at the sound. She turned a bemused expression down at her hands to watch the power display, but otherwise gave no indication that this wasn't normal.

"Has her power always displayed itself in this way?" Kurama inquired in a carefully controlled voice, his entire form tense and his hairs on end.

"No, the wench never had enough to waste it like this," Inuyasha barked out lowly.

Kagome's eyes flickered up to him quickly before darting down and hiding her expression under her long eyelashes.

Sesshoumaru growled at his brother and kneeled in front of the woman. "Kagome, you need to pull in your powers."

She blushed heavily and clenched her fingers together—"I can't."

Sesshoumaru rocked back on his heels, regarding the miko before his expression softened minutely. Hiei watched this with rapt attention, willing the old demon to understand and deal with the woman rightly. She'd never experienced her powers when they were whole; she was thrust into the supernatural untrained and unaware. And after that she'd never been herself.

She couldn't control them now that they were complete.

Koenma fidgeted. "We can keep her here until her powers settle, and our healers will see to it that nothing goes wrong. It's the least we can do for keeping her soul apart."

Kagome moved to reach out, her fingers just brushing the sleeve of Sesshoumaru's haori before she curled them back into her palm.

Sesshoumaru turned and stood facing the reikai prince, but his hand strayed and brushed the bangs on the miko's forehead. Kagome closed her eyes at the affectionate gesture and Hiei straightened to regard the tall silver with speculation.

His mind was still curiously and blatantly linked with Kagome, and feeling the affection and seeing it before him was like an explosion on his senses. This was how Yukina and he could have been—siblings that looked out for one another, brother and sister that acknowledged their connection.

Shifting in his shadows Hiei watched the green clad healers make their way into the office, quickly checking Kagome's vitals and starting to escort her from the room.

Hiei felt her brief flare of panic and heard the two silvers growl. Everyone stopped and the healers gave the two brothers cautious looks as they joined Kagome. Koenma sighed and made his way around his desk, moving to escort the entire group.

Hiei followed his unspoken request, if only because he hadn't completely recovered his awareness—a part of him was still vague and void with a presence in Kagome's mind.

As they got her settled in a bed of the medical ward the team milled around the two princes. Cautiously, everyone started feeling out the demons from the office. Hiei disregarded all of this, knowing from Kagome that they were really no threat. Instead he focused on the strange woman who awoke his senses and drew his mind.

Hiei wasted no time. He was staying close to her, watching out for her while they'd kept her in observation—the fusing of her mind fragments had made her act oddly, and had caused her powers to flare up strangely (that certain glow about her remained long enough that the others couldn't ignore it; she could become a danger to herself and others).

(Hiei rather liked that glow.)

He rather thought he'd officially ask her if he could start courting her—for her mind, while whole and separate, still somehow called to his. And because he knew her mind so intimately it felt like part of him.

He kept her company in the sterile halls of Reikai, and later, while he was sorting out his debt to reikai in the halls of the Prince of the West. It was strange to realize there were parts of the makai still undiscovered by the general populace, but Hiei had patrolled with Sesshoumaru and seen the extreme measures taken to guard the little haven.

All for the miko.

This was how they'd cornered Reikai in their dealings, they'd made a promise to never interfere with Enma, and somehow wrangled it so that it also meant they'd have the best protection so no one ever interfered with them. Hiei found it a particularly cunning treatise, especially when he'd been allowed to look over it and confirm that they did have to power to release him from Reikai debt—they needed Hiei, and since no outsider could be involved in their business Hiei had to be made one of them, which removed him from reikai control.

This security against outsiders and the treatise had required Reikai to set up the furthermost borders, and these are what had been breeched for the attack on the miko. This meant the whole reikai team was present and watching over the resetting of the wards and building of the walls—and to ensure that reikai wasn't accused of reneging on the treaty.

Kurama looked especially flummoxed to find this hidden kingdom. Hiei took a small measure of pleasure in that, since the fox was so old that most things didn't really surprise him, or if they did he didn't show it. The hidden Castle of the West had shocked him enough that the whole team knew he'd been ignorant of it.

The fox was also quite befuddled by the miko's reaction to him. Or rather her lack of reaction to him. The team got quite a few laughs out of it, and even Hiei took an interest. While Botan's white magic still received a defensive response from the miko's ki, Kurama could easily use his herbal remedies. And despite his abilities as her healer she paid little to no attention to his pretty face.

Instead she talked to him as if he was a normal person, no blushes or stammers or coquettish looks. She did tell him about the hidden castle though, and solved that little mystery for them.

Apparently, Enma had been gathering power long before the barriers were in place, and the Kingdom of the West had been hidden over a thousand years ago when the deal was made.

It was startling to realize this was done because Sesshoumaru could challenge King Enma and hold his own, if only because Sesshoumaru didn't broadcast his power like most were prone to do.

Hiei had made some strong allies.

And he especially enjoyed the company of Kagome. It might be due to their strange mind bond, but even when he was simply watching her play with the children he was…content.

And the times they were alone, in the garden or library or happening upon each other in the halls, they were open. Maybe not in a way that meant they would suddenly confess their entire lives, but in such a way that they built on the previous stories and encounters.

Hiei learned that she had time-traveled (as the legends said) but that on one trip home she'd discovered a massacre and therefore had nothing for her in her proper time. She'd stayed in the Castle of the West ever since.

She had joked about her age, but Hiei had only been grateful she'd lived with demons long enough to understand their ways, his ways.

He'd told her of his life easily then, not receiving any horror or terror—just Kagome and her strangely calm accepting eyes no matter what he told.

On one of his patrols of the halls (a habit he couldn't break himself from, especially since Kagome lived in these halls and they had already been breeched once) the Dog Prince Sesshoumaru paced beside him.

Hiei slanted his eyes to look at the imposing demon, having never patrolled with him. It was strangely…intimidating; which made Hiei all the more wary.

Sesshoumaru's sharp eyes never seemed to dart about; but he caught the little servant boy before he turned the corner and broke a vase, and the one kitchen help who'd ventured out of her realm to gawk at the nobility and decorations. Hiei hadn't really noticed them—not while he had the powerhouse standing next to him at least.

Sesshoumaru finally canted his eyes to him, speaking in his slow voice, "You are paying much attention to my miko."

Hiei's eyes widened at such a blatant start to a conversation, especially coming from the regal taiyoukai. He straightened his spine and turned to fully face the demon.

Before he could even open his mouth to speak the man smiled, a twist of pale lips and flashing teeth. "I find no problem with this, but if you dare to harm her know that retribution will be swift despite her protest."

"I would never harm Kagome."

"Even those who are close can injure each other," Sesshoumaru replied to his quick and firm defense.

Hiei's eyes flashed at the notion that he would hurt the priestess; that he'd dishonor himself in this way, but then Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes in satisfaction and he realized he'd passed some sort of test.

He'd healed the miko and wanted to protect her, and this was all now very clear to the prince.

Hiei watched the Lord of the castle walk away with wide eyes. The pieces rapidly formed together in his mind until he felt a rage boil in his blood. Inuyasha; Inuyasha was the reason, the catalyst, the filth. He was the reason Sesshoumaru hadn't mentioned the jewel scarring Kagome's mind and instead assumed Inuyasha had part in it. Inuyasha had made Kagome doubt herself, and failed to protect her while her soul was broken and her mind shattered. Inuyasha was the reason her beautiful mind was so jagged and dark, why her soul still roiled about her instead of caressing her form in familiarity.

He was the reason Sesshoumaru had been unsure of his advances on the miko.

As Hiei stepped out into the garden he felt the rise of burning ire flashing though his blood and inciting both sides of his youki. He glowered at the silver hanyou as he approached the miko, and Hiei wondered if the dog would mind terribly if his ears were frozen then burnt off and the miko rescued from him.

Hiei quickened his step and arrived in time to witness the leer the hanyou gave her as she glanced away briefly to greet him. Hiei responded, but turned a glower to the hanyou that surpassed the one he was receiving. The hanyou had no right to private time with the delicate miko—Hiei would protect her from him and his unwanted advances.

After that, many times Hiei found his patrol accompanied by the stoic inu lord.

Slowly he learned of the miko's travels from this third source, stray comments cementing images in his mind that the jagan had somehow drawn from his bond to Kagome.

As serious as the adventures were, he still found delight in these stories. It was like a fairytale come to life—everyone in makai knew of the Legend of the Shikon Jewel, and here pieces of it were coming alive around him. He felt slightly like a child hearing the story for the first time.

It was on one of these patrols that Sesshoumaru and Hiei walked the gardens within the wards, feigning inspection of the herbs and flowering shrubbery while keeping an eye on the weary Kagome as she sat in the sun.

"My miko is happy," the Taiyoukai threw out abruptly without looking at his companion.

Hiei snorted and turned his head slightly. "Her mind is completed, and she is appreciated."

Golden eyes blinked lazily as a face slowly turned to him, a mocking stillness in his expression. "You believe this?"

Red eyes flashed and turned back to the woman, a silent answer.

Sesshoumaru nodded his head, silver hair skittering along his back and making a small noise against the cloth of his haori. A breath hissed through his fangs before he spoke, "My miko has lived a long while believing she was nothing. This Sesshoumaru has done his best to ensure she has been cared for, but as I do reside in the makai her existence has been isolated."

"Her family is gone—and her friends?"

"Her family was killed in a stray demon attack, combined with Reikai paranoia about the stagnant power on their shrine. She went home from her travels to a massacre." Hiei canted eyes to the Lord, already knowing this, but Sesshoumaru didn't know that. "Her friends were hardly that, and their shallow ways hurt her the few times she did attempt to visit."

Hiei swallowed. "Why are you telling me this?"

The inu tossed his head and looked down his long nose at him. "You helped my miko—now I will help you."

"You've dismissed my debt to Reikai," Hiei said fierily, unable to agree with this further dealing as it made it seem like he wouldn't have helped Kagome otherwise. And maybe he wouldn't have, but he had. And now there was no doubt that he'd help her again, do anything within his power to ensure that no one scarred her again…even if the scars were ones only he could see.

Gold eyes softened upon the miko before turning back to him. "No. You brought her back and I dismissed your debt. What you did now was make her happy—and this Sesshoumaru offers aid only to propagate that joy in his miko." Those gold eyes hardened again, daring him to disagree.

Hiei pressed his lips together and straightened. "What is it then?"

A cold smile moved the taiyoukai's feral markings. "Her favorite flowers are violets." And the stoic man walked away.

Hiei stared after him, a little perplexed.

His attention was caught as Kagome made some noise, and he turned to spot the pup approaching her with his cocky swagger. Hiei's eyes narrowed as he growled.

That stupid idiot, while ignorant, had been causing the most damage to the miko—he was in every one of her memories where she lost a piece of her.

He'd not have any of it.

Striding forward, he hesitated and turned his gaze to a small bush, the delicate and small flowers sweetly beckoning him. With a grimace he stooped and picked one of the blossoms. Resuming his stride he found himself coming upon the pair just as Kagome gave Inuyasha an irritated look.

"You're lucky you don't wear those beads anymore."

The hanyou grinned and moved to say something but Hiei interrupted.

Almost casually he held out the simple purple flower and watched Kagome's confused face light up. Her lips parted slightly; her cheeks colored pink; her eyes sparkled in their widened state before being veiled by thick eyelashes when she brought the single blossom to her nose to scent it.

Hiei swallowed.

Her smile rounded her cheeks and squinted her eyes, but Hiei didn't feel bereft at losing sight of them. Instead he heard the acceleration of her heart and the quickening of her breath, saw the sparkle of tears on her lashes, watched her bite her lip and brush the petals from her nose to her cheek before she carefully tucked the blossom behind her ear—the simple flower tangled in her mass of hair and somehow became part of it.

"Thank you," she said breathily.

Hiei bowed his head slightly but stood stoic. His own heart had sped up, and he knew the pup was watching them in irritated confusion. But Hiei didn't care for his witness, or that he even had one in what could be considered a vulnerable moment.

The pup would never understand.

Hiei might not have understood, had doubted Sesshoumaru's advice, but he had taken the lord at his word and now he would never be ignorant. It was the same as fixing her mind and building her confidence—it was the simple steps that mattered.

Kagome's response to the flower was consuming, for her and for him. She'd delighted in such a simple display, such a small attempt at getting closer. She understood.

Her eyes opened and turned up to him, and Hiei's breath caught. She slowly smiled, a knowing appreciative smile, and Hiei grinned back at her. She cleared her throat and looked away with a blush, sweeping a hand over her kimono before she stood and looked at him shyly.

Looking down at her, still finding it slightly humorous that she was smaller than him, he grinned as she tilted her head and then slid her hand into his arm. Hiei gave the hanyou a look as he turned and led the miko away. The hanyou was frozen from that look (some small part of Hiei carefully hid the use of his submissive powers) and didn't interrupt as he led the miko on a walk of the gardens.

He had a taiyoukai's encouragement, and the forbidden one needed no other hint. The miko was his—all her beauty and heart and independence were meant for him. He'd protect her, his sword and skills were for her and his heart was made for her.

Their minds were so similar they still easily felt their connection, they still felt isolation and strength and desperation and affection. Hiei didn't really believe in soulmates, but if he did Kagome would be the woman made for his eternity.

As if to confirm this, she was the only woman he knew that would delight in simple things, such as the violets, to communicate his affections. Hiei was a man made for simple gestures.

He smiled and tugged her closer, feeling her warmth against his side and the delight coursing through her that he'd given her a flower and held her so close. Perversely, her enjoyment of the simple things made him want to give her much larger and more significant gestures—diamonds and castles.

Kagome leaned her head against his shoulder and he decided he'd just keep bringing her violets.

Sometimes it was best to keep it simple.


Since madmiko is super awesome and always makes me go butterfly-giddy inside when I read her brilliant work...I wrote her favorite pairing.

I have edited the crap out of this--if there are typos I would appreciate a polite notice...and I will go over it again muuuuu~uch later. XD

I hope you enjoyed this super long addition to my one-shot collection!