For Deadliest Sin prompt: Icicles

Disclaimer: Not no way, not no how.

Embracing the Ice Knife

Ever since she was a child Kagome had always been rather fascinated with icicles, their beauty, their dangerous potential. In her younger years she could spend hours in winter staring at them from her bedroom window. Watching the mammoth formations hang precariously from their places on the eaves of her home or the smaller more dainty beauties that were birthed by fences and tree limbs, had provided her with endless entertainment.

Her mother had always cautioned her about the winter hobby. "Be careful of becoming entranced with something so beautiful and yet deadly dear, you tend to not notice them falling until the pain hits you."

Her grandfather had always told her stories about ice youkai and spirits that would entice and enchant you if given the opportunity. "True danger," he had always told her, "is often hidden behind a beautiful façade."

It wasn't until the winter of her fourteenth year that she finally understood what they had been trying to tell her. She had been walking home from school, lost in idle chatter with Eri, Yuka and Ayumi when her attention had suddenly been arrested by the most beautiful icicle she had ever seen. It had been perfect in her eyes. Almost as thick as her wrist it had hung stubbornly from a low-lying tree branch, shading a part of the walkway near her shrine steps, its body so crystal clear it almost appeared to be glass instead of ice.

Mesmerized and unable to stop herself she had approached it, slowly as if somehow it would flee from her presence if she startled it. Finally she stopped directly underneath it, staring straight up at its needle sharp point despite the protests of her friends. A soft breeze ruffled through the trees, sending the nearby leaves to dancing and the icicle swaying upon its branch. An artic drop of water fell lazily from the tip and landed strangely heavy upon her forehead. It had been so cold when it first made contact and the suddenly the bone biting chill was replace with a fluttering warmth, a sense of comfort and contented peace , and for some unknown reason what seemed to be an apology.

It was Aymui's hand upon her shoulder that seemed to trigger what happened next. Kagome turned to the right, shaking her head to try and dispel any lingering feelings over what had just happened. In the next heartbeat as her eyes had connected with that of her friends' Yuka's voice had rent the air, filled with urgency and horror.

"Kagome watch out!!"

Her first reaction had been to turn and face her friend, to discover what was distressing her so badly, however the split second used to register Yuka's voice had been all the time her friends warning had given her. A heavy feeling slammed down upon her shoulder and the two other females' cries of horror rang out through the street. For a moment she was puzzled wondering what was happening since it only felt as if snow had fallen upon her jacket, and while that was uncomfortable it was in no way the tragedy they seemed to think it was.

"You guys what's wrong!? It's only a bit of snow!" She exclaimed, a little puzzled, a little amused. Her hand reached upwards automatically to brush the cold substance from her jacket only to brought up short as instead of wet powder her hand encountered freezing ice. Startled she jerked her head around to stare at her shoulder, her eyes widening in horror and disbelief at what she saw.

There, protruding from her shoulder, sunken into her skin about an inch or so was her beautiful icicle. Shock coursed through her, followed quickly by a sort of stunned puzzlement. The ice had pierced her jacket and embedded itself into her skin and yet she felt no pain, only a deep chill and a strange sense of humming. Dazed she reached for the shaft, telling herself that she needed to remove it from her body, that the ice might not be clean, that she could get an infection. So she wrapped her fingers around the thickest part and heaved her hand upwards, expecting to have to yank to remove the ice, instead it slipped up and out of her without much protest.

She studied the object in her hand, vaguely registering Yuka's voice as she sobbed frantically into her cell phone. The icicle was still perfect to her, still beautiful despite the fact that her blood now stained its surface and the tip end of it, the sharpest point was no longer attached. She supposed that it may have melted away from the heat of her body but another part of her, some deep part whispered that it was not true, that the icicle was now a part of her and her a part of it. That feeling stayed with her through the ride to the hospital, through the stitches and the shots to prevent infection, and all the way through her mothers' rather tearful entrance to the emergency department.

It was a feeling that she had never forgotten, even all these years later. She was twenty-one now, a full seven years older and wiser than she had been that day. She had learned the hard way that her grandfather's stories were not so crazy, that the legends were not so far fetched after all. Yet even after all that had happened, after all that she had experienced in the past she had never gotten over her favorite pastime. Even now she would stare out her window, her ears absorbing the sounds of silence that blanketed the shrine grounds as her eyes focused on another exceptionally well formed icicle that hung from the boughs of the Goshinboku.

Absently her hand came up to cup her shoulder; fingers caressing the odd shaped scar that decorated her otherwise unmarred shoulder. It was funny how the situation had turned out. The doctors had stitched her skin in their precise, almost military fashion, ensuring that the scar would heal quickly and smoothly. There should have been only a small faint white line to show for her brush with icy peril. Yet for some strange reason the wound had healed and instead of the dainty imperfection there was what appeared to be an odd shaped snow flake. The arms were jagged and rough looking, having the appearance of brutally sharp glass. Overall it appeared as if someone had planted a fist into a mirror and the resulting pattern had been branded onto her skin.

Her grandfather had raved that she had been marked by a youkai, and spirits were trying to steal away his granddaughter. After her initial puzzlement over the scar shape she had never really had an interest in digging too deep into the situation. It was almost as if each time she began to ponder it a small voice would whisper to her, 'It's unimportant, just a scar. No need to wonder about it too much.' So she had just gone along with her daily life and everything had been normal.

Then her adventure in the past had happened and she had always meant to show the wound to Miroku or Kaede, to get their input on the matter yet other things had always over shadowed it in importance. There had been bigger things to wonder about besides a silly scar. So time had passed, lives had ended and quests had been completed, yet through it all she still found herself fascinated by icicles, indeed her love for them had seemed to grow over time.

It was this love of the beautiful ice that had led her to meeting the others. She had been standing outside a ice cream shop sometime in May earlier that year, staring with what she realized was unsettling fascination at the little plastic icicle cutouts that decorated the shop window. She had been captivated like always by the sight and yet another part of her had been disgusted and angered that something so beautiful had been reduced to the mere state of an advertisement.

In the moment when her glare had threatened to burn straight through the store front that a large hand had descended onto her shoulder, directly over the scar, shooting hot bolts of pain out into her body. Startled she had gasped; too many beatings, kidnappings and murder attempts in the feudal era aiding her in not screaming out at the pain in her body. Warrior instincts and miko powers created and sharpened in those same situations had sprung into action. Her body moving on auto pilot she had shoved her elbow backwards into the unprepared body that she knew loomed behind her and spinning she had lashed out with a solid right hook, aimed in the general area her would be attacker stood. With a satisfying grunt her assaulter went down.

Breathing heavily and unable to see straight due to the pain still coursing through her body she had turned to fully face her opponent her outstretched fist beginning to radiate with the spiritual energy of her kind that she had worked so hard over the years to master. Forest green eyes, widened in shock had greeted her along with a mass of crimson hair encasing the startled face of the man that she had just harmed. Stricken she stared at the individual, dimly away of her outstretched hand falling limply to her side, the hum of her own energy dissipating and replaced with more of that awful coursing pain.

Unable to help herself she had dropped to her knees beside him, her hands coming up to trace the contours of his face, her wavering eyesight taking in all that it could. The hair was more vibrant, the eyes less innocent and carefree, the face mature and strong, yet she could see the resemblance, could see the similarities. Tears filled her eyes as she cupped the jaw of the man still watching her in utter confusion.

Timidly she had whispered the name that had teased her tongue for so long, that drifted in and out of her mind at odd times during the day and haunted her dreams at night.

"Shippou?"

As if activating some ingrained switch in her mind she fell forward into the man's laps, darkness slipping over her like a veil as soon as the word had slipped past her lips.

She had awakened sometime later to find herself staring up into deep brown eyes set in the face of a girl who was no doubt around her own age. Startled she had jerked herself upright; barely avoiding a collision with whomever it was that watched her. Swiftly her eyes had darted around the room, taking in the normal everyday living room she seemed to be in before coming to rest suspiciously on the woman who was staring at her with open worry and curiosity.

"Hey you shouldn't be moving around like that! You've been unconscious for a couple of hours and we don't know what happened." Kagome had immediately picked up on the use of 'we' implying that there were others in the house. Quickly she had gained her feet, ignoring the other girl's protests and opened her mouth to begin demanding answers when the door to the right swung open and her memory hit her like a tidal wave.

Tears of sorrow filled her eyes again as she took in his form. With eyes cleared from their pain induced fog she could easily tell that this was not her kit. Yes the similarities were there, the eyes and hair, the shape of his face and the inquisitive streak that flashed in his gaze. Yet the major differences were in his aura. Shippou's had felt like cool light rain on a hot summers day, joyful and welcoming, almost playful. This one had an aura that fairly screamed of calculation that reminded her of puzzles and questions, of hidden truths and the deceptive beauty of a thorn filled rose. This wasn't Shippou and she had been a fool to hope she could find him after all this time.

Embarrassment filled her at the memory of her actions with and towards this particular man. She seriously owed him an apology.

"I am very sorry for hitting you. I hope that I didn't injure you in any way?" She questioned him, studiously ignoring the female that continued to gaze at them in a rather curious manner.

The male tilted his head to the side, crimson tresses whispering softly as they slide against the fabric of his shirt. "No harm was done I assure you, though I would like a bit of an explanation. I simply wished to know if you needed help and instead the situation progressed in a manner I had certainly not anticipated."

She had drawn a deep breath and steadied herself, before looking at the other female in the room. "I don't think this would be the best time to explain everything." She had always been cautious about speaking of the supernatural around normal humans and this girl would be no exception.

He had smirked then, seemingly amused at her hesitation. "Trust me, Keiko is a very close friend and I am sure nothing you have to say would be much of a surprise to her."

Slightly startled and yet slightly relived she had briefly spoken of Shippou and the fact that they had been separated long ago and she still could not stop herself from looking for him. As they had listened to her she had felt a curious lightening situation inside, as if finally her soul felt lighter after speaking candidly with someone outside of her family. She had known then it would be the beginning of a rather interesting friendship.

She had not been wrong in her assumptions. That conversation had prompted the exchange of phone numbers, then visits from all parties and then finally introductions to others. She had introduced Keiko and Kurama to her family a couple of months later and in return had met Yusuke who was Keiko's fiancé, and Kazuma and his sister Shizuru who were mutual friends of all three. Shortly after that she had been formally introduced to the Master Genkai and the young ice apparition that resided with her named Yukina.

She had immediately fallen in love with Genkai's temple grounds and it had been a slip of the tongue regarding how much the woods felt just as they did in the feudal era that had prompted the entire group to exchange full unedited stories. She had been fascinated by their lives just as they in turn had been fascinated with hers and for the first time in too many years she felt as if she finally belonged somewhere.

They all became close and with each passing day they wormed their ways deeper into her heart, she herself sharing a particularly close bond with both Yukina and Kurama. The young koorime had been the object of her undivided attention as soon as they had been introduced and Kagome much to her own embarrassment had been unable to keep herself from asking the young woman if she could produce icicles.

The resulting puzzlement and hesitant yes had birthed many days of the two sitting side by side on the porch as Yukina created icicles of all sizes for Kagome and she in turn told her more detailed stories of her past. Yukina listened intently to all of her tales, the bone chilling fights, the love triangles, her relationship with Shippou and the separation once the Shikon had been completed It had been a wonderful feeling to connect with someone in such a manner again, almost as if she once again had Sango by her side.

Yet in all of their stories, and all of their times together there had always been something missing. After spending months together almost everyday she had yet to even lay eyes upon, much less meet the one they called Hiei. He was in all of their stories of their times together and she could clearly see the genuine care each member had for him, Kurama in particular. Kazuma's light-hearted teasing of their absent friend had also been apparent. She often imagined what he was truly like, if Kazuma, Yusuke, Kurama or Yukina had done him the most justice. Yet after all of their descriptions, all of the time spent talking about his physical appearance and his attitude she was far from prepared on the day they actually did meet.

It had been warm, in a way that only the last dying days of summer can truly be and playfully she had suggested that Yukina be the groups very own air conditioner. The others had all laughed good naturedly, well aware that she was joking and was in reality the last person who would ever consider using someone in such a manner.

The cold and cutting voice that had sliced through the merriment had not.

"You should watch who you order about onna before you find yourself without a tongue." Startled Kagome had spun around, coming face to face with less than pleased scarlet eyes. The exclamations from the others had clued her in quickly to whom this mysterious figure was, although identification was not truly necessary.

Kurama's physical description had been the most accurate, which given his kitsune eye for living detail had not been all that surprising. Standing only a inch or so shorter than her own five foot one he possessed an aura that traced firm fingers across her spiritual awareness. Covered from his neck down with a long black cloak and white scarf her eyes had not missed the barely concealed ripple of well defined muscles. His hair a shock of gravity defying black and white with the faintest hint of blue and underneath was the bandana that concealed what she knew to be the Jagan.

She knew so much of him, had heard so many stories that described him in various ways, from vicious enemy to courageous warrior and friend. She had wanted to meet him, to finally become acquainted with the missing member of the group that she had come to value so much. So she in her typical fashion had pushed aside his comment and her responding flare of anger and approached the surly individual.

"It's great to finally get the chance to meet you face to face Hiei. I've heard so very much about you." Aware that the others were watching their interactions closely she sketched a small bow of greeting to him. "My name is Higurashi Kagome." Smiling softly her eyes connected with his once again across the short distance that separated them.

She watched as his eyes narrowed further till they were mere slivers of color, a feat that she thought should surely be impossible. He seemed to dismiss her then for his attention quickly zeroed in on Kurama. He sent the kitsune a deep glare before his eyes flickered slightly in her direction. She and all the others could tell that he was far from pleased with her presence.

"The company you keep is as lacking as always Kurama." His baritone was practically dripping with ice.

"Well Hiei I assure you that no one else has found fault in Kagome's company. She is rather pleasant to be around." Kurama was smooth as always, his words designed to soothe ruffled feathers and to calm anger.

"Hn." In what she would later come to recognize as a typical Hiei maneuver the apparition seemed to disappear from his place and reappear in a tree branch some distance above them. "Doubtful Kurama."

She glared at his spiky haired form from her position on the ground. That apparition was seriously annoying; it looked as if Kuwabara and Yusuke had described his personality best out of anyone. He wasn't just rude, he was practically acidic and since she had her fair share of experience with acid she knew what she was talking about.

Still she thought to herself, her gaze softening without her knowledge, there was something intriguing about him. Something that neither Kurama nor Yusuke had ever mentioned. His aura was overwhelming, touching her senses like nothing she had experienced since facing Sesshoumaru himself. It was dark and blazing, stifling in its hot intensity like the deepest fires of hell, yet it possessed the clear chilling bite that she had come to associate with Yukina, with snow and frost covered trees, with icicles. So she figured if he reminded her of icicles then perhaps he was not so bad after all. Just perhaps.

Time passed from that moment with the creeping speed that only it could possibly possess. Every minute seemed like hours and yet the days flew by with haste. Then before she knew it almost a year had passed, a beautiful, horrible year since the day that she had met them all. It was April and her birthday was upon her in the blink of an eye. That voice that had always whispered to her throughout her life returned, telling her to be on her guard, that this year would be different, and unable to help herself Hiei's face had flashed before her eyes. At first she shook it off, chalking it up to trepidation about how she would spend the occasion this year since she had acquired new friends. Would they want to spend it with her? Would they ignore it as InuYasha had done so many years ago?

Her worries were all for nothing it seemed as a knock sounded upon her door early that morning. She was greeted by the smiling faces of Keiko and Shizuru both having taken the day off school and work respectively in order to surprise her with a day out in town and later a trip to Genkai's where Yukina, still slightly wary of traveling, was preparing food.

The day was glorious, filled with husky laughter and girlish giggling, with shopping and ice cream and talks of school and work. It felt almost as if she were back with Eri, Ayumi, and Yuka, back in the days before her quest when such idle chatter was all that was important and she was easily happy with her life. Yet at the same time it was a deeper camaraderie than what she had ever shared with them. It was almost like what she had shared with Sango, that soul deep sister hood that only the fires of battle could forge. In those moments she admitted to herself that these people had come to mean so much to her in so short a time, that even without the battles she loved them on such as level as to give her life for them as she had been willing to do for her companions in the past.

Then in a truly adolescent and wholly feminine manner the talk had turned to men. Shizuru was unrepentant in her lewd and yet distractingly amusing questions about Kurama and the many uses for his plants, while Keiko in her own slightly reserved yet straightforward manner had praised the advantages of Yusuke and his strength, along with all of that glorious hair. Yet when they had turned towards her she had been at a loss, she had no real relationship history. Hojo and Kouga stalking her hardly counted and the gruff handling of InuYasha barely warranted mentioning. Instead she had filled her part of the conversation with amusing side notes about Sesshoumaru and his beautiful hair and what she was sure would have been a divine ass because really everything else on the youkai was perfect.

Her commentary had worked for a while and yet on the walk to the bus stop that would take them in the direction of Genkai's compound Shizuru had posed a rather difficult question.

"I know that you and InuYasha's relationship wasn't the best thing in the world but you do realize that not all men are the same right?" The two females eyed Kagome with unprecedented interest. "Is there really no one that you find yourself interested in even after all this time?"

The question was startling and yet not wholly unexpected, she figured they would eventually get around to asking her one of these days. Yet hearing it put into words, hearing the actual question asked aloud was an entirely different matter. Yes there was someone who had captured her eye and yet in typical Kagome fashion it was a relationship doomed to failure from the start. She had a gift for becoming infatuated with the one male in a group that a relationship would never work out with.

"Yeah there's someone I'm interested in, but it would never work out. He wouldn't give me the time of day." Her answer was low and morose, entirely opposite of the mood that had set the entire day.

Her companions were puzzled. Kagome was the kind of girl that drew men to her. Her beauty and the innocence that she had managed to retain where like a beacon shining past the fake beauty and grating giggles of many of the women of their age. So who was this mystery man who ignored her so?

"It-It's not Yusuke is it Kagome?" Keiko was unable to hold back the question. She was secure in her relationship with him but she was also a female and knew that Kagome turned even her devoted fiancé's head.

The question wrenched a startled laugh from Kagome. "While Yusuke is an extremely attractive male, no I promise you it's not him." She turned and placed a loving hand on the other girls shoulder. "Besides a blind girl could see how in love that man is with you. The two of you have the kind of love that makes a girl envious." Plus she admitted to herself as she watched a soft and mysterious smile settle on Keiko's lips, Yusuke in all of his charming glory reminded her a little too much of InuYasha and Miroku put together.

"Then is it our resident pretty boy kitsune?" The ever tactical Shizuru questioned as their bus stop came into view just around the corner.

Kagome could not stop the soft smile that spread across her face that time. She always smiled a little when she thought of Kurama, she just could not help herself, but it was for an entirely different reason than what they were sure to assume.

"No it's not Kurama. I am deeply fond of him but not in that way. He looks so much like what I always imagined Shippou would when grown that it would be like dating my son. That's a road that I don't want to travel down."

'A pity,' Shizuru thought, 'since I doubt Kurama feels the same. Not with the way he watches your ass when you walk by. Pretty boy isn't as slick as he thinks he is.'

"Well then that only leaves Kazuma and Hiei in our group though there is the possibility that it is someone we don't know." Keiko stated her eyes occupied in their search for any sight of their upcoming bus.

Shizuru on the other hand had devoted her entire attention to Kagome and managed just barely to catch the flicker of her friend's eyes at the mention of their less then sociable group member. Suddenly it all seemed to make sense, the hopelessness of the situation in Kagome's opinion, the way the other girl's eyes seemed to follow the apparition around whenever they crossed paths, the way Hiei could so easily rouse her anger and her tears. The girl had it bad for one of the sourest men she had ever met. Damn of all the luck.

"Kagome?" Shizuru's soft voice captured the attention of both of her companions.

"Yeah?"

"It's Hiei isn't it? The one that you like?" Her question sparked an exclamation of disbelief from Keiko and a widening of the eyes from the other female.

Kagome searched her friends gaze with her own, looking for any signs of disgust or mockery. Finding none she felt safe in being honest as a self-deprecating smile spread across her face and her free hand combed itself through her hair.

"Yes. It's Hiei." She laughed a humorless and sad sound. "I have the worst luck when it comes to men. I always seem to want the one man who simply can't or won't ever love me." She sighed, a wealth of frustration and resignation in the sound. "But it's a habit I can't seem to break."

Keiko and Shizuru's eyes connected and as one the two moved forward to engulf their companion in a warm circle of feminine understanding and sympathy.

"Don't worry Kagome. These things have a way of working out in the end, you'll see." Keiko soothed the girl with gentle words of encouragement.

"She's right kid. So lighten up and let's enjoy the rest of the day. Yukina has more than likely out done herself for your birthday dinner." Shizuru squeezed the girls shoulder one last time as their bus finally came into view and they gathered their purchases in order to board. Kagome smiled gratefully as she fell into line behind Keiko.

'Besides,' Shizuru thought with no small amount of humor, 'Kurama isn't the only one who watches her ass when she strolls around the temple grounds.'

An hour or two later they arrived at the compound, their entrance greeted with the wonderful smell of a busy kitchen and the sounds of another one of Yusuke and Kazuma's lighthearted and yet loud arguments about some video game or another.

Kurama and Genkai greeted them with a smile and a nod respectively as the girls lugged their purchases inside and placed them by the door with relieved sighs.

"Happy birthday Kagome." Kurama called out, a sentiment that was echoed by the others in the house, Yukina popping out of the kitchen to gift the girl with a sweet smile. Kagome smiled at the others in the house, her heart full to bursting at the love she felt for all of them, even as she ignored the ache inside of her that longed for something else.

"All this to celebrate another meaningless day?" Hiei questioned from his place in the corner, eyes narrowed and shielded against the inquisitive gazes of the others in the room at his open hostility towards the girl.

"Now Hiei it's hardly meaningless. It's Kagome's birthday after all." Kurama stated his eyes narrowed slightly in warning at the apparition, telling him to at least for today lay off the miko.

Brow arching at the subtle hint in Kurama's face and voice Hiei scoffed not so quietly. "Like I said meaningless."

Kagome's own eyes narrowed slightly. True she cared deeply for the apparition, far deeper than he ever would for her, but that did not mean that she would stand by and let him call her worthless. She had far enough of that from InuYasha and would not take it from Hiei no matter how much he reminded her of icicles.

"Hiei can you just for once shut up?" The question was delivered in a bland tone of voice and so shockingly simple that the rest of the group simply gapped at her in surprise.

"Onna you would be wise to take your own advice before your tombstone is extremely easy to carve." His eyes glinted at her in challenge and anger.

"Oh a death threat for my birthday! Hiei you shouldn't have. I just can't wait for Christmas this year then." Sarcasm and false joy practically dripped from her lips.

"With your personality it is little wonder that your kit stayed in the past. I would not wish to be burdened with you further either."

She swallowed a pain-filled gasp at that particularly cruel comment as everyone else in the room turned to Hiei in shock. Tears filled her eyes at the mere possibility that Shippou had chosen to be parted from her, that it had been choice and not fate that had separated them.

"Hiei! That was fucking cruel man." Yusuke was unable to stop himself from calling out to the smaller youkai.

"Yusuke." Kagome held up a hand to halt the flow of words that she was sure were on the verge of erupting from his mouth. "It's alright. Hiei is entitled to his own opinion after all."

"Kagome…" Keiko stepped forward, hand outstretched to embrace the wounded girl only to drop it uselessly as she sidestepped the attempt to comfort with a shaky smile and eyes glistening with unshed tears.

"I'm just going to go take a shower and change before the party alright. So I'll be back in an hour or so." She left the room and headed down the hall to the bedroom that had been unofficially dubbed as hers whenever she was on the property, head high and heart held together by pride alone. Quietly she clicked the door shut.

Kurama turned upon the quiet apparition in a rare display of temper, his words low and coated with poison. "Hiei was such a cruel comment really necessary? Why must you torment the girl so?"

Hiei stared at the kitsune, refusing to justify his actions towards the onna. Truthfully he had no problem with the female; she was loud at times but was unfailingly kind to Yukina and the others. She was also strangely attentive to him when ever he wasn't spitting insults at her. Yet he despised the desire she roused in him, the urge to be gentle with her that he had never felt with another besides Yukina. The urge to wrap himself around her and burn anyone who came to close. The compelling pull to go back and rip the hanyou's spine from his body for hurting her and to bring the kit that she so adored forward through time and place him in her arms.

Most of all he despised the hint of ice that flowed in her scent. The delicate chill he could not explain that paralleled her subtle fragrance of apples and spicy cinnamon. She reminded him of snowflakes and snow covered flowers and it made him want her all the more. Yet she also reminded him of those icy bitches that abandoned him and of the home he had never knew.

He hated those memories.

Still he acknowledged to himself, that barb had been particularly cruel of him. Not that he would ever tell them that he felt even the slightest remorse for his taunt.

"I can't believe you would say something like that! Poor Kagome! To hear that and from Hiei of all people!" Keiko exclaimed.

"Keiko! It's not our place to talk about that." Shizuru warned, her mind screaming at her to stop her friends words before she revealed something that Kagome would not feel comfortable being public knowledge.

"But Shizuru he was so cruel and she cares so much!" Keiko was passionate in her upset on Kagome's behalf.

The older girl sighed and closed her eyes, shaking her head at the situation before them. "Look we told Kagome it would work itself out so we should just stay out of that part of everything alright. It's not our place to put her out there like that."

Keiko seemed to visibly grip her temper at Shizuru's statement, agreement and understanding flashing across her face as she realized she would not be doing her friend a favor by flaunting their earlier conversation for all to see.

Hiei gazed at the two women, eyes narrowed and filled with contemplationg. He wondered about the comment Keiko had made, about Kagome caring so much about what he said. Her words implied a deeper meaning, a hidden truth between the three women that he was not sure he was translating right.

Kurama on the other hand had no problem taking Keiko and Shizuru's small conversation and inferring what it could really mean. It seemed to him as if Kagome held some sort of special affection for the temperamental hybrid. That was the only explanation he could find that would explain why Hiei's words would affect her more than any others. He felt his own chances dwindling as he realized not for the first time the depth of the tension between the two. Kagome spent half of her time watching Hiei when he wasn't looking and the other half defending herself from his barbs when he was. Hiei on the other hand spent the majority of his time watching her, even when he was insulting everything about her.

The group as a whole had never been able to figure out the tension that pulsated between the two but Kurama found that it was obvious now. Kagome wanted Hiei but was scared of rejection and placing her tender heart out on the line again. Hiei on the other hand wanted Kagome but hated that wanting. Perhaps some meddling was in order.

"Hiei perhaps an apology would not be too much to ask for this time. That was an excessively cruel comment." His voice soft, he spoke to his companion so that the others could not hear. It would not be wise to put him on the spot, his pride would rise and no progress would ever be made.

"Hn." The reply was gruff and harsh, the idea of apologizing was not wholly unappealing, but he would be damned if they would have any knowledge of him doing it. So with a glance at the others in the room he flitted outside and into his customary tree branch, which coincidentally happened to look directly into the little miko's room.

Curious he hid himself amongst the branches and peered into the room, staring at the onna's form and trying desperately to deny the guilt that was currently assaulting him. She looked so helpless there, curled up on the top of the bed that was nestled in the room's corner, and even from here he could hear her sobbing as if her heart was breaking. Guilt bared its ugly fangs and sank them straight into his breast. It was rare for him to regret anything he did but seeing the aftermath of his cruelly placed taunt made his gut clench in self-hatred. He had hurt her far deeper than he had meant to.

Sighing to himself he prepared to flitter off when the door to her room suddenly opened and Yukina stepped inside. Worry lined her pretty face as she stared at the form of the sobbing young woman. Softly she padded forward and placed herself upon the end of the bed, one hand reaching forward and running soothingly across the top of her friends head. She watched with saddened eyes as Kagome's face lifted to look into her eyes and even outside Hiei could see the misery that swam in their depths.

"I'm so sorry Kagome. So very sorry." Her voice was gentle and her look was sympathetic.

With a sob Kagome launched herself into the smaller girls arms, face buried in the crook of her neck as she cried great tears of sorrow and pain.

"Why does he hate me Yukina? Why is he always so mean? What is wrong with me that I always care for the one person who will never care for me?" Her sobbing sentences carried heartbreak in their words.

Yukina and Hiei both sucked in a startled breath, both shocked at what she was admitting. Yukina's face softened as her arms cradled her dearest friend. "Hiei doesn't hate you Kagome; he just isn't very good with interacting with others. Things will work out I promise you." She lightly patted her friend's back before leaning back and looking into her face. "Now how about you take a shower and get some rest. We'll have the party tomorrow night instead alright?"

Misery swam in her gaze. "Oh Yukina I'm sorry. I've ruined everything. You worked so hard and now I'm spoiling it by crying my eyes out."

She shushed her friend. "Trust me no one will mind a bit." She stood and made her way to the door to give the other girl some privacy. "Just rest now." Opening the door she turned one last time as she made her way from the room, her eyes connecting with Hiei's through the branches of the tree that he hid in her gaze narrowing as she mouth a single phrase.

'Fix this.' With a barely perceptible nod she shut the door behind her.

Kagome stayed in her place for a few more moments before, still crying, she gathered some things and left to sneak into the bathroom. Hiei lost himself in his thoughts and wonderings about what had just happened. So deep was he in his own mind, that the opening of the miko's bedroom door startled him slightly. Perking up he watched as she dragged herself into the room and wearily deposited her body, clad in the thin pajamas she favored, upon the bed, exhaustion leaking from her form.

Slowly she wriggled her way beneath the covers, her head cradled upon the pillow, and with sadness coating her features she drifted off to sleep his name upon her lips.

"Hiei."

Silently he gazed at her, his heart and mind eating away at him until finally he could stand it no longer. Stealthily he flittered to her window and opened it soundlessly before darting inside and closing it behind him again. Moving forward he perched himself upon the corner of her bed, much in the way Yukina had and ghosted a gentle hand across her still damp hair.

She sighed and seeming to sense his warmth moved slightly in his direction, a single crystalline tear seeping from behind her closed lids. Softly he extended a finger and caught the bead of moisture before it could be absorbed into the mattress and brought it to his lips, tasting her sorrow. A soft sigh crept from him before he could stop it as he bent his head and placed a gentle kiss upon the nape of her neck.

"I'm sorry."

She shifted again, one dainty yet strong hand curling in the fabric of his pants as her brow furrowed in her sleep.

"Hiei….stay…. "She mumbled uneasily in her sleep.

The heart he swore he did not possess turned over just a little in his chest at her sleeping plea. So after carefully removing his boots and shirt he gathered her to him and laid back upon the bed his head taking up the pillow while her face was cradled sweetly in the curve of his neck. Her sweet breath whooshing in his ear. Silently he studied her, his eyes taking in the sweep of her brows, the delicate skin that shielded her eyes, the sweet curve of her mouth and the glorious fall of her hair. He didn't want to feel for her but he was tired of denying himself. He decided that the chill in her scent was not enough to keep him from what he wanted, and what he wanted was her.

Softly he stroked a hand through her hair, content for the moment to hold her. Slowly he allowed his body to relax, falling for the first time in his existence into a light sleep in the presence of another.

It was her restless movements that awoke him from his doze some time later, the irregular beat of her heart and the rate of her breathing that alerted him to the fact that she was waking up. Part of him screamed to leave before she woke, to not admit this weakness that had driven him to hold her. The other half refused to consider letting her go. So against his better judgment he stayed there upon her bed, her form clasped firmly to his chest.

Kagome stirred, waking in layers from one of the best night's sleep she had in years. She was so very warm. Warm in a way she had not been since the last night she held Shippou in her arms and drifted off to sleep. Yet the warmth that was with her now was greater than that her kit had ever produced. It was like the dream she had been having, the one where Hiei held her tight in the dark and kissed away her tears. That she knew was one dream that would never come true. The tears from the night before began to worm their way to the surface of her still sleep laden brain as thoughts of Hiei once again surfaced.

She was shocked completely out of her semi-sleeping state as the first tear to overflow was met by a low growl of disapporoval and captured by a sword calloused fingertip.

"I would have thought you had stopped these by now onna." Hiei's gravelly voice cut through the still air of the bedroom.

She gasped as reality hit her head on and jerked her body up and away from his, or at least she would have if not for the iron grip he currently had upon her arm preventing her from getting too far away from him.

"Hiei. What are you doing in here?" Her visage hardened. "Back to tell me how worthless I am again?"

His eyes flickered for a brief second, an expression she would have classified as remorse on anyone else but not on Hiei, never on Hiei.

"Your kit loved you and would have never wanted to be separated from you as you well know." It was the closest thing to an apology she would ever get while conscious.

"Hiei? Why do you hate me so much? What did I do?" Her question was softly spoken and yet he knew the answer was important to her even as she hid her eyes from him by staring with some degree of facsination at his bare chest.

His fingertip gentely touched the underside of her chin and lifted her face so that she had no choice but to stare into his eyes.

"I do not hate you. You simply unsettle me." That was as much as he was willing to admit and already that was too much in his opinion. There was no possible way he would tell her that she frightened him in some ways, that he was afraid to touch her. Of giving her the power to destroy him.

"Oh. I-I'm sorry." Her reply was steeped in misery and an underlying degree of hurt.

His thumb brushed lightly across her lower lip as his eyes took in her face. He was tired of denying himself. Slowly so as not to startle her he leaned forward, taking in the widening of her eyes as she realized what he was about. Then far more gently than one would think he was capable of his lips brushed against hers. Once. Twice. Her hand rose to cradle the side of his face as her eyes drifted closed and his lips connected with hers again, this time stopping and settling upon her own firmly. She sighed softly, her breath floating across his lips and slowly, so slowly, he opened his own mouth and extended his tounge, brushing it firmly against her slightly parted lips asking in his own way for entrance.

She whimpered slightly as her mouth opened and his tounge swept inside, her taste exploding inside of his mind. She tasted like rain and winter mint, cool and refreshing. The shock of it had him pulling back slightly before he realized it.

"Hiei. Kiss me again please. Just once more…" Her voice was a plea.

Unable to help himself his lips stole her words and took them for his own as his tounge swept inside once again, igniting a fire inside them both. Her hand moved from his face to his neck and her fingers curled around his skin desperate to pull him closer to her, to keep him there as he sipped from her lips, licked at them, nipped until she was begging him for more. Desire swirled in the air between them heating their bodies and whipping around them quicker than either thought possible.

His kiss roughened turning rugged and demanding. He wanted every part of her, wanted to taste all that she was. She intoxicated him. He was, he decided, going to have her again and again until only a glance from him had her teetering on the edge of need. His hand lifted higher to tangle in her hair tilting her head to better angel his kiss as the other drifted down and skimmed across her shoulder, stilling suddenly when it came in contact with a patch of skin that was shockingly cold.

She moaned when his fingers brushed her ice scar, a heat unlike any she had ever known flowing through her. It burned so sweetly, not like the pain when Kurama had touched it but with a fire that heated her blood and softened her flesh with desire.

He was intrigued with that freezing patch of skin and her response to it and yet it took back seat to the desire that ran through him, it was something that needed to be investigated but it did not really matter in the long run, nothing would bar him from her. He was going to sink into her until all she could do was scream his name. His hand brushed against the hem of her shirt and found its way underneath. She had the softest skin he had ever touched and with every touch he only wanted more.

He tore his lips from hers, his eyes shifting to stare down at her. Her lips were swollen with desire, her eyes clouded and cheeks flushed. He wanted her like that for the rest of eternity. Hungry for him and the pleasure that only he would give her. Within seconds he was tumbling her backwards onto the bed, her back against the mattress and his body firmly between her thighs. Her eyes held a question then, an unmistakable need for reassurances and care. He smiled at her then, barely a lifting of his lips but a smile nonetheless. She in return gifted him with a smile so sweet it glowed and lifted her arms to wrap around his neck and gave him a slow soft kiss that knotted his stomach.

A single well placed tug ended the life of her rather abbreviated pajamas and his eyes feasted on the sight of her milky breasts and dusky nipples. Unable to help himself his lips zeroed in on her turgid peaks and her taste once again filled his mouth. She was sweet, arching into him and mewling with desire as his tounge and teeth tugged at her flesh. Her body twisted beneath him and her heat caressed the tight length of his cock through the material of his pants. He couldn't wait to get inside of her, to feel her silken depths clasping him as he took her.

He abandoned her breasts, shooshing her cries of dissapointment with firm licking kisses to her abdomen as he moved his way down her body and to the apex of her thighs. Quickly he spread her legs giving her no time to adjust as he sunk his tounge straight into the heart of her. Her cries echoed off the walls as he enjoyed the taste and feel of her. He could easily drown in her. Softly his fingers teased her opening, tempting her before working their way inside of her. The slick tightness that he encountered was almost his undoing.

He licked at her straining clit unable to surpress his growl as her pussy tightened around his fingers; she was tight, just begging him to sink inside. He pulled his fingers back, pressed them deeper and worked her nub with his tounge as she begged him for more. He pulled back from her unwilling to admit what it cost him to leave her long enough to shuck his pants before reclaiming his place between her thighs.

Rising to his knees he positioned himself so that the head of his cock just brushed against her burning entrance, then leaning forward he whispered darkly into her ear. "You're mine."

She moaned, his possessiveness doing more to her senses than she ever wished to admit. He pressed in the barest fraction of an inch, his breath catching at the heat that surrounded him. He could smell her arousal, how wet and slick she was as he slowly began to work himself inside of her. There was no barrier to stop him; it had long been sacrificed to harsh physical activity. Shaking his head he plunged in the last inches, growling at the tightness, her suckling heat as he gave her a moment to adjust.

She loved the feel of him filling her to the point of pain, thick and hard inside of her body. Yet it wasn't enough, she needed something else, she needed strokes and taking. She needed him.

"Hiei…please…" Her words were barely distinguishable from her moans. She felt it coming before it happened, his muscles tightening beneath her hands before he gave her that first delicious stroke. It wasn't the soft easy love making of candlelight and romance; it was the heady wickedly wild taking of something primative and needy.

His lips touched her everywhere, her neck, and her shoulder, suckling her skin and leaving bright red marks upon her skin so that the entire world would know she belonged to him. His hips drove him deeper within her and she accepted with cries for more.

"So giving." He rasped into her ear.

The tension was gathering within her womb, flexing and spasming outwards and across her body, tearing through her, stripping her control and flinging her towards the edge of ecstasy. He stroked inside her demandingly, ignighting devouring flames of lust. It rippled and burned, tearing her apart and melting her back together again. Her nails dug into his shoulders as his lips returned to her ice scar as she moaned out her pleasure. The orgasm exploded through her, lit her soul with fireworks and tightened her body around him to the point of pain. His release built and she felt it explode seconds before he sunk his fangs deep into the scar, the action sending her tumbling back over the edge again.

The taste of her blood exploded upon his tounge with icy fierceness and as he pumped his seed deep inside of her sealing the mating he finally understood everything. The Jagan flared to life, burning through the ward as all the images of her life passed before his eyes. He saw it then, the reason for the ice in her blood, the icicle that had pierced her, marked her flesh and caught his attention. He closed his eyes to stem the images and shuddered in pleasure as his body finally stopped coating her with his essence.

Slightly dazed he stared down at her spent form before rolling to the side and wrapping her close to his chest, drawing the previously discarded blanket upwards over their nude forms. There would be no life for him without her after this; she was inside of him now, in his mind and in his blood. They were mated and nothing would ever change that. For the first time in his existence he found himself happy with his fate.

As his eyes drifted closed and his body relaxed beside that of his new found mate his thoughts drifted to his mother. Hina had loved him, that he knew from the way she had begged to have him returned to her yet he had never really thought about it before. It seemed that whenever the time came for him to pass into the next world he would have to thank her for marking this particular woman for him so long ago. It was he decided the greatest gift any mother could ever give her child.

Kagome wrapped her arms around his form as they lay so sweetly beside each other. Hiei was like her own personal icicle. So beautiful and fascinating he captivated her. 'No.' She thought, 'He wasn't an icicle. He was an ice knife, a deadly, beautiful ice knife that could freeze and burn her in an instance.' She snuggled even closer to him and smiled slightly. That was perfectly alright with her. So she drifted off to sleep tightly embracing her very own ice knife.