I don't own anything Inuyasha.

A/N: Unedited, because I am tired. I will go through later this week and fix things as I see them. If something truly bothers you, shoot me a message. I am not offended by the Grammar Police.

"There's a fine edge to new grief, it severs nerves, disconnects reality-there's mercy in a sharp blade. Only with time, as the edge wears, does the real ache begin."
-Christopher Moore

Kagome resigned to being securely restrained now that her captor was more welcoming than her possessor. Although, as the miko struggled internally and sweat dripped from her bangs, Sesshoumaru still proved to be a rather unrelenting devotee to her reiki training. He sat stone-faced during her torment and offered little encouragement, but much criticism. The youkai's pushing and prodding ignited the irritated anger she needed to fuel her continued attempts. Stars began to dance in her eyes and, after hours of fighting the amused spider inside, Kagome wilted into the stiff futon and let the frustrated tears vein down her face.

Sesshoumaru eyed her speculatively, but she did not think it was out of concern. "Are you unable to continue?"

Somehow, she managed to find the energy to laugh contemptuously through the heavy pants that burned her lungs. "You're a real dick, you know that?"

His shoulders slumped, figuring she was only taking out her aggression on him because they were having such trouble accessing Naraku, but was still scathed at the idea that the priestess was comfortable enough around him to afford such colorful pet names. "I only ask that you perform your duty, miko."

"Is it too much for me to ask for a break?"

He blinked. "I was not aware you required one."

Her mouth dropped opened. "I did not think you would let me!"

"Do not place blame on my judgment. Mind-reading is not one of my abilities."

Kagome wanted to remain angry, but the parallels between their current conversation and an argument she once had with an ex-boyfriend became too evident not to notice, and she began to giggle. Perhaps it was because her mind was over-tired, but, other than the former lover lacking Sesshoumaru's eloquence- and let's not forget the chains- Kagome was thrown into a sense of normalcy that she believed would never be afforded to her again.

"I was unaware humans found demon possession so entertaining," Sesshoumaru observed critically, unsure of how else to act to her random reactions.

"Luckily for me," she teased back, "I have known about your lack of humor for years."

He stared down at her, but was not threatening, and she took another deep breath through a victorious grin. Her skin felt sticky and mouth dry. The trials of her training ached at her confined muscles and the thin clothes weighed heavy on her tired bones. Even though Kagome was lying down, her body still suffered as if she was exerting herself more than she was capable of.

Verbally sparring with the demon lord was really the only pleasure she got out of her days anymore.

The comfortable silence that followed was only broken once her breaths finally calmed.

"Sesshoumaru," she asked quietly, knowing full well she was once again prying into his personal past. "Where are we?"

"My mother's oshiro," he responded gravely, but made no other motion.

"Oh… Um… no offense, but that really doesn't answer my question."

Kagome swore she heard him growl in exasperation. "It is probably best if you did not know."

Annoyed herself, the bound woman's face wrinkled. "And have you been in this Mysterious Castle this whole time?"

"I assume."

"I am just saying, it's really curious that you could have been here for centuries and not be noticed by anyone."

Sesshoumaru remained silent, so she sighed. "Myoga told me a little bit already. He said that we are floating in the sky and that this place reacts to your bloodline."

"To our youki."

She paused her urging only to acknowledge his correction with a tired nod. "This is where your mother lived."

His expression remained sterile, but his hands briefly fidgeted. "Upon my parents' mating this castle was gifted to my mother. However, before the youkai perished below, she suffered the demise of her mate until her mind was lost as well. One day, she walked into the courtyard and did not stop until she was over the edge. I doubt she had slowed her descent, as no one has seen her since."

The tragedy constricted her throat. She had always fought for Inuyasha and sided with his father's decision to bear a hanyou with a human woman, but, until now, she never considered the consequences outside of Sesshoumaru's petulance. She never saw his anger as anything other than jealousy over Tetsusaiga. "And the other youkai," Kagome began to ask cautiously. "Is it as Myoga had said?"

"I assume." Sesshoumaru did not elaborate more, but his clipped tone spoke volumes.

Ashamed, Kagome faced away from him. "I'm sorry."

"We have already established that you have the least to apologize for."

The miko weakly rattled her chains and pointedly ribbed, "Is that your form of an apology?"

She meant it as playful taunting for her manacles, but it had triggered a leveled stare from cold eyes and he masked the regret in his voice before answering. "No one is left to receive one if I was so inclined to offer."

Her heart clenched and heavy eyelids slid shut as she understood his meaning; even if he was repentant, there was no one left to offer him forgiveness.

Whether it was becoming late in the day or their conversation had shadowed Sesshoumaru's mood, the dim lighting and youkai's steady breathing lulled Kagome into a well-deserved, but fitful, nap.

.

His continuous attentions were necessary, but remained deeply embarrassing. The bathing barrel was placed in the middle of the room, and with the extended chains she was careful to keep only the back of her bare shoulders visible, yet being naked in the same room with Sesshoumaru stained a heated blush across her cheeks. They attempted modesty, but he had to help her dress and dry. During these uncomfortable moments, Kagome always tried to distract herself with conversation.

"What happened to Rin?"

"She died."

"How old was she?" the question took her mind from his heavy hands slipping the thin robe onto her shoulders from behind.

"Not very." His voice sounded almost wounded, but quickly changed back to calm recollection. "She loved the spring. Her last wish was to make it through one more, but the winter was particularly harsh and she was already so ill."

Kagome frowned, still facing away, and secured the tie tight around her waist. "You know a lot about it."

Neither moved in the pause, and did not seem to notice how close they lingered. "… I was there," he finally replied.

Her next deep breath shook. "Did you love her?"

It was silent for a long moment before Kagome braved a glance over her shoulder. He remained directly behind her, but was now regarding her with raised brow and leading glare.

"You obviously cared for her." She turned fully to him, not completely unaware of the tension between them. It was not sexual, but it was heavy, and the close proximity offered a comfort no amount of banter could replace.

He looked over Kagome, expectant for her to correctly define what Rin had meant to him.

Unsure, her head tilted slightly. "You trusted her…"

"Thoroughly."

The deep timbre of his voice professed that trust, to Sesshoumaru, was the greatest compliment he could give to another.

Her hand reached out and rested innocently on his chest. They were both fallen, out of place, and alone, but they were in it together. Because there was truly no one else who could recognize her for all she had been, for who she once was, and for the strength she was required to have in the future, his recognition unexpectedly became very important. "Sesshoumaru… Do you trust me?"

The castle grew quiet as they stared at each other. In the small space that separated them, Kagome noticed how tired the inuyoukai appeared. Since she had grabbed onto Naraku's Meidou Blade- No, before that- Since he had returned home from the Shikon quest and was unable to travel past in time again, the priestess had felt lost. Although now, looking into the depths of Sesshoumaru's weariness and guilt that danced in the amber in her eyes, her loneliness felt petty. He was strong, but was fading, and Kagome knew she could be the support he needed. She shifted, taking a small step forward, and her hand slid up his brood chest to the heated skin at his neck. He made no reaction, but did not back away either. Their eyes remained locked as Kagome lifted herself to the balls of her feet and brought her face to his. Only up this close could she sense his breathing had become shallower. Licking her dry lips, she offered him a warm smirk and brushed her cheek against his before placing a chaste kiss between the magenta stripes that adorned his skin. Minutely, he leaned into the touch.

The cold that had permanently settled into her limbs warmed as they innocently relished in the small contact. She was about to thank him for the consolation when Sesshoumaru suddenly grabbed her wrist and twisted it away harshly. Betrayal iced through her veins until her stomach turned and black ink swarmed into her bright blue eyes. The moment she understood Kagome was back in the empty blackness as Naraku overtook her yet again.

The calm he felt only a moment before burned away as he attempted to restrain her arms. Naraku curled Kagome's lips as her arms were twisted behind her back breasts pressed against the hard expanse of the taiyoukai's chest. "Well, this is an interesting development. The girl sure loves her dogs."

He growled and tasted poison on the tips of his fangs. The priestess's damp hair waved, climbing its way around his tense forearms, but Sesshoumaru could not rip the offending strands away without releasing his hold on the hanyou.

"Do not fight me, Sesshoumaru, I have a proposition."

"Silence."

"Is that any way to speak to one of your own?"

His youki lashed out. "You are but a mere infection."

"Ah, but I might also have the cure." Kagome's pupils were completely transformed to the spider's beady, devious crimson. "Keep me bound, but find someone worthy and I will leave this woman."

If his snarl wasn't so prominent in his ragged breathing, the inu would have scoffed. "Am I to believe you would let the miko go free?"

"Of course not. I would not insult you with such claims, but I would also not ask without repaying you in some way." Naraku leaned in closer until Kagome's lips were once again flittering over his markings. "Find me a body and I will replace this one with Rin's soul."

The rumbling in Sesshoumaru's chest cut off abruptly and the villain continued with a victorious tenor. "Imagine- she could have another life and live in an age where she would be respected by many, not just by you. She will be able to have a second chance and that last springtime you could never give her." The hanyou pulled back and the hair gripping his arms fell away. "Think about it."

Kagome's body wilted in his grasp, but he kept his secure hold while she came back to her senses. She was reluctant to meet his eyes and he expected her suspicion as the question hung in the air; would he sacrifice Kagome for Rin's return?

But when she looked up and smiled sympatheticly, he knew regardless of his esteem she trusted him fully.

He passively observed her fragile appearance until a familiar aura crawled into his awareness. Sesshoumaru did not bother to suppress his shock when Tensaiga stole the beat his heart skipped as the blade awoke and pulsed at his side.

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