It was not the cold that bothered her. It wrapped around her, invaded her, held her as if some violent lover intent on possession.
Nor was it the darkness that clung so to her mind, pressing so firmly as to feel suffocating in its relentlessness.
Neither was it the arcs of electric fire that flashed through that icy grip causing unending tension that would not leave her. Overtaxed muscles cramping under the continuous barrage, burning from the exertion that would not stop.
It was the sense of being two different people. A being set under the torture of such inescapable, agonizing sensations. And another that watched insisting that none of it was real. That it could not be real except in some inner ring of damnation which had not been earned.
It isn't real.
A break in the tide of sensations. A sanity that could not be reached on her own. She attempted to hold onto it, to grasp it feverishly but it slipped from her into the torrents.
Pathetic human. Is that the best you have to offer?
A flash of anger giving her another respite, enough to draw air into lungs that were both there and not really there at all. Clearing eyes that saw both the darkness and a foggy reality just beyond her ability to touch.
Crimson eyes bore into her's beyond that fog, grim expectation on the face of the demon that stared back.
A smirk came to his lips and she wanted to strike out of him. To erase that look from his face. To ease some of the coiling inside of her that swam beneath it all screaming for release of some kind.
Who was he anyway to enjoy her suffering? This demon that hovered over her that she craved to bloody?
You know who I am Shizuru.
Was that who she was? Maybe before the pain, before the darkness that was who she had been. Now she was only the agony, a part of the shadowy nothing that swirled and pulled at her.
No one is only pain. Stop this foolishness before you pull me in as well.
Her nonexistent heart stuttered with abrupt panic, drawing another breath through those pretend lungs. It forced away the madness a little, yanked her from the deeper pool of sensations to one only a step above that allowed the veil of her eyes to see more clearly of the secondary reality.
She could hear things now though it was muffled, sounds filtered through strangely echoing cloth that made it difficult to understand.
"Is she improving at all?"
The demon above her shifted, tilting his head to glance at the person who had spoken.
"I can hold her here Kurama if that's what you mean." the dark haired demon replied his tone just shy of civilized, "I'm surprised she's lived this long as it is."
"But she has. That must count for something." said the gentle voice.
He snorted indelicately, "None of it should have happened."
It was drawing her away again. The glacial and stygian touch. The sear and tension. The flood that seemed intent on ripping her apart, grinding her down until there was nothing left but fine powder to acknowledge that her soul had existed at all.
PLEASE DON'T LET...
I'm here human. You may not always know but I am here.
His eyes were on her again this time she could see the surprise in his features though they had barely changed at all. A slight widening of his eyes the only real outward sign.
She felt a sense of accomplishment that she had shocked him. He was always so difficult to read, his mask one of the most perfect she had ever come across except maybe Kurama's. There was something to be said to finding amusement in that action, the tendril of dark satisfaction in breaking the unbreakable.
His eyes narrowed in annoyance with her. Maybe her amusement had traveled outward to that place he was in. She was certain he was not where she was. He did not exist in those dark, terrifying ocean currents that were driving at her. That knowledge made the agony bearable for the moment.
She would have laughed if she was in any way a reality.
"How could you not exist?" he demanded angrily through that muted rebound of sound, "You feel pain. That should be proof enough."
Another eddy of panic only this time in concern that if the agony ever did stop then she would as well.
I will not allow you to die.
That was better, that inner voice so close to her she could almost feel it. Not the muffled reflection she had to strain to understand. It was comforting even in the midst of torment, a rush of warmth far different from the other sensations.
Why did you do it?
Her eyes had been half closed, she knew this only because in reaction to his voice the world widened then centered on him again.
Was he the world? Was that all there was to this dual creation of her? Eyes that burned no matter what the reaction. Confusion and anger warring in those same seas of red. A feverish presence that could not be denied.
Was it that hard to understand? How the world would be less if he was not there? Her world most definitely because he was all there was to it.
Hiei and the things that clawed at her trying to take her from this partial awareness of something outside of herself.
Was it real?
She was so tired. Exhausted in ways she had never encountered before. It was so hard to stay in this half awareness. So hard to focus on those eyes that would not let her go.
She was afraid to sleep, to release this semi existing state. She was afraid she would never find her way back to even this if she allowed it.
I will not let you die Shizuru. Rest if you can.
She trusted the voice, trusted him since he would never lie to her. If she was going to die he would be the first to tell her so and to care less that it would happen. There was something comforting in knowing that as well. He may hate humans but that was why he would not bother to lie.
She allowed her eyes to close, to release their window into that other world, sank into the shrieking anguish, then past it into oblivion.
Hiei leaned back closing the Jagan before replacing the band of cloth that he used to cover it. The heavy sigh that had escaped Shizuru Kuwabara would have worried anyone. There had been the slightest tremor of a death rattle in it that at first had caused a spike of concern in him as well.
"She's asleep." he assured Kurama leaning against the wall the bed was positioned next to.
"You should get some rest as well."
He snorted already in the act of closing his eyes, "I don't require a babysitter Kurama. Just make sure that moron stays out of the room."
"He's understandably concerned for his sister." Kurama censured though his tone was soft.
"He does more harm then good." Hiei returned gruffly, unfazed by Kurama's disapproval, "I could care less what the oaf feels as long as he keeps his distance."
"You seem to be taking this very personally Hiei."
He opened his eyes to glare balefully at the fox demon whose only response was to watch him with interest and some small amusement in his expression.
"Do not overestimate how little I want to see your blood spilled Kurama. It could change very easily." he warned before shutting his eyes again.
"Yes I am sure it can, especially while you take on such a demeaning project as watching over a human." he replied almost smugly.
He refrained from commenting. After a long silence he heard Kurama leave the room. He sighed inwardly. He would rather be anywhere else but here. He would rather be tending to anything else then the human female sleeping on the bed near him.
I should have stayed in the Demon World to begin with.
That was no longer an option for him. Shizuru's actions the day prior had ensured he would be exactly where he was, doing exactly what he was doing.
He still did not understand any of it, least of all her actions.
He was exhausted but his mind would not slow down enough for actual rest. He settled for a state of half sleep that would allow him to know if Shizuru was in need of him. It sent his thoughts churning into previously ignored territory to care even that much for the woman.