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Soul Mates

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He'd first experienced it when lazing one quiet evening in a hot spring.

Crickets had softly chirped, surrounding trees silent and still, nocturnal animals keeping their distance while the lord of the west tipped his head back. His golden half-lidded gaze slid over the stars, the humidity dampening pale bangs, long hair trailing around him in the water, steam licking at the surface. Muscles coiled and pulled taut as Sesshoumaru stretched languidly, in the middle of a sigh- when his relaxed noise abruptly cut off.

Pain lashed through his side, like that of claws ripping through the skin under his ribs. A plume of red leaked into the water. Automatically pressing a hand to his side, furious youki swamped the area. No matter how much he probed and searched with his energy however, no foe was unearthed. Rising from the pool, Sesshoumaru pulled his hand away, noting the blood with mounting outrage. As suspected, several slashes had cut into his flesh, though from the indents he suspected teeth were at play, not claws.

Some lowly demon saw fit to bite this one? I should answer with their death, he mused darkly. The moment he thought this, however, Sesshoumaru witnessed the blood fade. Even his flesh returned to normal, unmarked and unmarred.

It was as though nothing had happened.

Sesshoumaru blinked, frowning to himself. He possessed divine skills, rapid healing among them, but even a Daiyoukai such as he knew the limits of his power and Sesshoumaru had never healed so quickly before.

Curling his hands into fists, the demon waded out of the hot springs.

As the days crawled on and Sesshoumaru and his vassal pursued directions from the staff of two heads, the incident fell to the back of his mind. Without a foe to fight, no leads and no serious repercussions from the bite, it fell beneath his immediate notice.

She'd first noticed it while standing upon the bones of Inuyasha's father, a few weeks into her feudal era adventure. A stabbing pain had stung her eye, but Kagome had dismissed it as a consequence of the fumes filling the tomb. No, what really made her take notice was something much larger.

"You should shut up and let me protect you!"

Kagome stared, watching as Inuyasha padded towards his murderous elder brother. Her breathing had hitched, something stirring within her chest at those words. Inwardly, she cheered him on as he'd begun to fight, swinging Tetsusaiga at the inuyoukai. Her cheers soon snuffed out, however.

A hot, burning sensation carved up the inside of her arm- causing the girl to throw her head back and scream. The slash dragged up and up- slicing through skin and bone like butter and cleaving off. She'd never experienced pain like it. Her nerves exploded as bare knees hit the ground. Clutching her arm and crying out in agony, her body writhed and twitched. Kagome could barely breathe it hurt so much, choking on tear laced sobs. Blood soaked her skin under her shirt but she barely noticed. Nothing else registered except the burning sensation of having her arm cut off.

Inuyasha slashed the blade in a wide arc, hitting Sesshoumaru in the chest, once twice, then three times. She knew because she felt every hit, despite not knowing entirely where the pain was coming from or why. With a whimper, the world turned dark, Kagome's head hitting bone.

After taking her back to Kaede's hut, Inuyasha had scoffed.

"Didn't expect ya to pass out from the sight of me cutting off that bastard's arm. Kinda delicate, ain't ya?" He sneered almost teasingly.

Kagome didn't rise to the bait, leaning heavily against the wall. Her fingers remained clamped around her very real, very whole and connected left arm. Inuyasha blinked, ears flicking. Kaede sent him a hard look from the irori, stirring a pot.

"Whatever. You better toughen up if you're gonna hang around here," he grunted moodily.

"Hey, Inuyasha," Kagome said quietly. It was the first time she'd spoken since the ordeal. Neither the old miko nor the hanyou had seen her so withdrawn before, nothing like her usual sassy, hardheaded and chipper self. "Your brother…" she murmured, "does he have some kind of…psychic abilities?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

She stared at the wall, voice soft. "Can he share his pain with others? Force them to feel what he's feeling?"

Inuyasha frowned, hesitating, before shaking it off. "Keh, sounds too emotional for him. Nah he's not capable of that. You hit your head or somethin? Sleep off that weird attitude you have right now, it's creepy," he muttered, storming out of the hut.

Kagome shifted, placing a hand over her chest where she could vividly recall muscle and bone tearing, those sharp slashes leaving aftershocks. Strangely enough, her clothes hadn't been stained with any blood.

But it had felt so real…

"Are ye well, child?"

Kagome looked up at Kaede shakily. "Ah, yeah I'm fine," she forced a smile and waved it off.

The old woman's single eye remained upon her, sliding a cup of tea over the tatami mat.

Picking it up, Kagome watched it tremble in her hand, the contents sloshing violently until it spilt over one side. Kagome set it down, hugging her arms and fidgeting absentmindedly.

Kaede's brows drew together. "... Why do ye keep pinching your left arm like that?"

Pulling her fingers away from her skin, Kagome rubbed the abused flesh a little awkwardly. She watched her worried reflection trapped within the teacup. "I just want to remind myself that it's there," she mumbled.

Laying in a reclined position against a tree, Sesshoumaru panted. Hissing out a breath, long fingers clutched at the empty sleeve of his left side. The tremors started again, as they usually did at night when he attempted to sleep.

Phantom limb pain had been a foreign concept to the proud Lord, but he was not so certain it was meant to feel like this.

He could still 'feel' the need to twitch his fingers that no longer existed on that side, wince at the blazing wound of his stump, but the worst part revealed itself to be the little pinches. The invisible twinges along his phantom arm, like the missing limb remained as some invisible spectre. It taunted what he did not have anymore mockingly. He hated it.

The twinge came again, like thumb and forefinger had twisted the flesh of his elbow. Growling, Sesshoumaru dragged sharp claws over his shoulder, biting them into his flesh and burrowing his face into mokomoko's warmth in frustration. The twinges abruptly stopped, and Sesshoumaru breathed out shakily, resting a little easier.

During the following month, he continued to experience various twinges of pain. They were strange, minor wounds for the most part: scuffs on his single palm and knees like he'd taken a fall, a throbbing at the back of his skull, various cuts and bruises, all soon fading the moment he paid them any notice. By far the most unsettling moment came when mid-step, Sesshoumaru's body flared alive, a gasp caught in his throat, eyes flying wide.

"Mi Lord? Ah-! Lord Sesshoumaru!" Jaken's surprise turned into horror as his lord's eyes flashed red and sharp rattling noises of pain escaped him.

Sesshoumaru shamefully steadied himself against a tree, face pale, sweat beading on his temples. It felt as though someone had reached inside his chest and ripped out something essential. Instinct grappled to seize back the puzzle piece, but he could not fight something invisible and formless. Loud ringing deafened elfin ears, a scream caught up in the back of his throat.


His energy flared and rippled, thunderous growls hissing out of his throat, teeth bared.

But the unknown foe did not show itself, and soon Sesshoumaru was left with rippling aftershocks. Whatever had occurred, it did not seem to have left any long-lasting damage to himself, just as always.

Straightening, Sesshoumaru caught his breath. Twitching a little, his youki sank back into his body. Feeling oddly bereft, he tilted his chin up. "We will not speak of what just occurred," he uttered.

"V-very well sire, but… does it not trouble you?"

Sesshoumaru continued walking as though nothing had happened, instincts prodding at him that something was wrong, missing.

"Ridiculous," was all he said, voice crisp and sharp. Nonetheless, unlike what had transpired at the hot springs, Sesshoumaru felt himself continually root around within himself for that missing something, like he'd left an essential item at home.

When they came face to face with Inuyasha's older brother once more, their duo had become a group. Shippo and Miroku looked at the demon with a mix of wariness and curiosity. Kagome stared with mild fear. Not of Sesshoumaru, though he warranted it, but of experiencing the same pain she had last time.

Since then, Kagome hadn't felt any significant amount of unknown pain, just some claw marks on her shoulder one evening. Her own experiences with very real danger had taken up all her attention.

The crippling sensation of part of her soul being ripped out to animate Kikyo's body hadn't been something easily shaken.

Still, the sensation of having her arm hacked off remained the single most awful thing she'd ever experienced. Deep down, a part of her somewhat felt sympathy towards the proud lord. If that pain had indeed been his and not a random burst of torture, Kagome couldn't be entirely indifferent towards him even if he did look ready to murder them all.

They fought him as before, Sesshoumaru somehow having two arms instead of one- until Kagome clicked that it was being animated by a jewel shard.

While Inuyasha scrambled and slashed at him, Sesshoumaru taunted his brother with quiet, silky words. Kagome nocked her bow from the sidelines, hesitating for a moment.

If she did hit Sesshoumaru, would she feel it? Maybe that pain had just been a weird one-off. Shaking herself, Kagome noticed the dire situation at hand- Sesshoumaru holding Tetsusaiga aloft, steady to strike his brother down.

It didn't matter if she got hurt, she had to help!

Letting the arrow fly free, it pinged off the mighty sword's blade, causing it to revert back to it's usual dulled, thin shape.

"Sesshoumaru!" she yelled, quickly nocking another arrow and aiming it at his still figure. "The next one is aimed at your heart!"

His handsome features were drawn into a mild frown, frustration seeming to tick his jaw.

"Inuyasha, make your escape! Hurry!" Kagome barked, trying to get across to just move already. Her gaze remained locked with Sesshoumaru's, not about to risk looking away. "I'll shoot at your left arm," she threatened. "I know there's a shard of the jewel embedded there!"

Surprise and anger flashed in Sesshoumaru's flinty gaze.

With Inuyasha not budging and still in danger, she fired unprovoked. Dodging and raising a deadly hand, the Killing Perfection blurred through the air towards her.

Gasping, Kagome stumbled back on her heels. His speed was phenomenal- and he was surely going to kill her if she didn't do something!

Inuyasha, ever her knight in dulled armour, leapt up behind Sesshoumaru and snarled, swiping his claws. Forced to move aside, Sesshoumaru didn't get the chance to strike, silently sneering as he floated out of reach. Inuyasha dropped down protectively before her.

"Get out of here, Kagome!"

She blinked, a little high off the power of commanding the Daiyoukai's presence and wielding a weapon, (both new and concerning sensations she'd never experienced before; she was not bloodthirsty) but decided to listen. A strange pressure weighed in her stomach, skin pricking with the awareness of eyes upon her. As she ran off to find Shippo and Miroku, she glanced back out of curiosity and stiffened. Sesshoumaru stared after her. He'd looked as if he could have cheerfully strangled her right there and then.

Shivering in delicious shock, Kagome faced forward and smiled to herself, hurrying off with a rather triumphant skip in her step.

However, the strange magnetism between them pulled demon and miko together again not long after.

Kagome grit her teeth and fired, her arrow shattering his spiked shoulder armour into pieces.

Once again it was in service of protecting Inuyasha. Kagome stood with Shippo beside her, adrenalin coursing through her veins. She liked it. She liked the power of staring into his wide, disbelieving eyes as his armour crumbled like broken clay to his feet.

Slowly, Sesshoumaru collected himself, expression frosty.

"Inuyasha, make her stop," he quietly demanded.

Inuyasha yelled something about backing off but Kagome didn't listen, high on the hubris of fighting. She let another arrow fly- and this time Sesshoumaru lifted a hand, catching it deftly between his claws mid-air.

The smoothness with which he'd acted knocked her world off its axis.

Her reiki coursing through the arrow was snuffed out by the dominating coat of green, deadly acid hissing out of his fingers. Soon enough the arrow was melted.

The colour drained from Kagome's face. Shit.

With his own arrogant look, Sesshoumaru's heel scraped over the earth, drawing his arm high and swinging Tetsusaiga down, hissing out; "now I will put an end to your interference."

Kagome froze upon seeing the blast of golden energy skittering towards her like a fissure cleaving through the earth. She could vaguely hear Inuyasha shouting and feel him grabbing hold of her, but squeezed blue eyes shut. They were flung through the air- her head striking the earth soon after and causing everything to drain away into darkness.

Sesshoumaru grunted, hissing and lifting a hand to the back of his skull and feeling slight wetness. It was the same type of sensation that had scuffed his knees and hand, and bitten into his skin- so he did not intend to heed it. However… he could not stop staring at where the miko had fallen. She lay unconscious. Her dark hair looked slightly damp at the back of her head.

Inhaling, he caught the scent of blood.

No… it couldn't be.

Sesshoumaru stared.

Could it?

Taking a few steps closer, he frowned. He sought to scratch her skin, to see if there would be some sort of impact on his own body- but Inuyasha soon blocked his view of the woman.

"Leave her alone!"

Irritated, Sesshoumaru fought his brother, losing himself in scrapping until the subject of the miko was at the back of his mind for the time being.

Instead, he thought of the sword. It was his reason for being there, after all. Foolish girls in short garments with blazing, somewhat bewitching eyes were beneath his notice. Father's sword took precedence, always.

Striking his hand through his brother's chest, Sesshoumaru stiffened as Inuyasha took the opportunity to rip his artificial hand from his body- claiming the sword back. Even as the whelp bled out, he did not yield the blade.

Soon understanding that Tetsusaiga was beyond his reach now that the wounded, unconscious Inuyasha kept a death grip on it, Sesshoumaru gave a sigh of frustration.

Summoning clouds to his feet, he and Jaken ascended into the air and left the battlefield. As they flew, his thoughts inevitably began to stray back to the coincidence of his head hurting the same time the miko had been knocked out.

"Gah! Mi Lord!"

Sesshoumaru blinked and calmly shifted the parting of his silks open, baring his shoulder.

The stump of his left arm was currently ablaze.

"It burns at the joint!" Jaken fussed, gawking at the burning mortal arm Sesshoumaru had attached at Naraku's suggestion.

His brow twitched, lips thinning. "This wretched arm threatens to burn me alive," he stated lowly, grabbing it and ripping the limb away from him.

Sesshoumaru quietly decided Naraku would pay with his life for the offence.

Kagome gasped, crying out and clutching her left arm while sitting atop a youkai giving them transport. Miroku's friend, Hachi, had graciously given them a lift from the battlefield. Not again, damn it.

"Kagome, what's going on?" Shippo asked, putting his hand on her arm and quickly ripping it away. "Ah! Why's it feel hot?!"

Gritting her teeth, Kagome forced a wobbly smile even as what felt like flames licked at her flesh.

"I-I'm okay," she hissed.

Shippo eyed her with concern, but she could barely focus on him. The flames felt like they were a concentrated ring around her upper arm. Like she had a stump. It felt just like before, when Sesshoumaru's arm had been severed.

"Is everything alright?" Miroku weakly croaked from the front of the youkai, while Inuyasha lay silent, still passed out.

Concentrating on breathing while sweat dotted her brow, eventually, the pain subsided. "'s fine," she mumbled.

Kagome was once again left in the dark on her situation.

The next time they faced one another, dread pooled in her stomach while vague intrigue sparked within his. Nonetheless, Sesshoumaru ignored it. He antagonised his whelp of a brother, sneering about his superior knowledge of the wind-scar technique mere moments before Inuyasha unlocked it.

And then Kagome lay screaming, her cries mingling with Sesshoumaru's as his form became consumed in pure golden light.

By the time she regained consciousness, Shippo had blabbed about the incident with Kagome's burning hot arm the last time they'd encountered Sesshoumaru.

Sitting up from the make-shift futon they'd placed her on outside, she looked between Sango, the new addition to their group, and Totosai. Both looked to be deep in thought, sitting by the fire while sunset painted the sky in gentle, firey hues.

The proverbial cat was out of the bag.

"I-I'm fine. Nothing to get worked up over," Kagome squeaked in vain, waving her hands.

"Passing out for no reason isn't nothing," Sango gently chided.

Miroku hummed, stroking his chin. "Passing out makes it sound peaceful. What I saw was our dear friend screaming with agony and collapsing, almost like her brain couldn't take the amount of pain it was feeling and briefly shut down to save itself."

Inspecting Tetsusaiga, the old swordsmith clicked his tongue, bulbous eyes raising to Kagome. "And from what this old codger saw, Sesshoumaru was screaming at the same time. Funny that."

Wincing, she held her tongue. A thrill of unease and panic raced down the miko's spine. She hadn't wanted anyone to know about her weird connection with the demon lord.

Totosai rolled his shoulders, making a dusty grunt. "But what do I know? Probably seein' things."


Of all people, Inuyasha spoke up. While frowning hard at the ground, white ears pressed down against his head. "This kind of thing has happened before. When I cut Sesshoumaru's arm off- Kagome, you were…"

Biting her lip, she opened her mouth to protest but Shippo beat her to it. "Ah, and it was Kagome's left arm that was burning hot when I touched it after Sesshoumaru fled from battle that one time Inuyasha got a hole in his chest! There must be a connection!"

This seemed to solidify everyone's opinions on the matter. Silently screaming, Kagome curled trembling fingers into the material of her skirt.

Inuyasha stood, walking away from the group.

Heart fluttering, the miko quickly rose and followed. She didn't exactly know how she felt about Inuyasha but at the very least a small crush had been blossoming in her chest. Sesshoumaru having any kind of link with her felt like a death sentence on their possible relationship! They'd had enough hurdles so far what with the resurrection of his ex-lover and wow…

Kagome stopped beside a stream, staring at Inuyasha's back.

It looked sturdy and strong, reliable. But a lot of evidence was starting to pile up for why she should wisely consider that back her friend and not something to wrap her arms around. This Sesshoumaru stuff is just one more thing in the way. If I keep trying to bridge the distance between us, I know I'm going to get exhausted. And you even want me to reach you?

White triangular ears twitched. Inuyasha glanced over one shoulder, scratching his cheek. "Listen, Kagome-"

"It's okay," she cut in softly. From the look in those golden eyes, it was easy to see he'd placed an invisible barrier between whatever they'd almost been. A line drawn in the sand.

"I'm gonna see if it's possible to break whatever connection that bastard has to you," Inuyasha muttered, curling his hands into fists. "But I've heard of somethin' like this before. This pain connection thing. I remember Myoga talkin' about it. If it's anything like what he said, then…"

"Then what?"

His ears lay flat. "I don't wanna talk about it anymore. It ain't that. It can't be that."

Kagome relented, deciding not to ask any more questions. Not if it meant seeing that torn, harrowed look in his eyes.

Despite not wanting to discuss it, Inuyasha had dragged the group around the country on a detour. It proved extremely irritating and difficult to find Myoga since he usually found them. Looking for him was like searching for a...well, flea in a haystack.

They happened upon some information on his whereabouts after some time and headed in the direction of a village. Upon reaching it, however, all plans for talking to the flea demon fled, Kagome whisked away by a wolf demon instead.

Derailed, any thoughts concerning Sesshoumaru's link with Kagome were abandoned until they happened upon the Daiyoukai again.

The rest of the group may have briefly forgotten but the miko hadn't.

During their time apart, a peculiar flicker had been warming her chest. She'd experienced it for herself when hugging Shippo and squeezing him tight, laughing at his jokes and ruffling his mess of wild red hair. Fondness. Cherishing something small.

Except this warm glow had been happening when Shippo wasn't around. The only conclusion Kagome could draw was that the flicker belonged to Sesshoumaru. His feelings, not hers. And they weren't that of pain or distress, but contentment.

Kagome panted, staring up at him.

Inuyasha had lost control of his demon blood, going on a murderous rampage and facing Sesshoumaru in a fight- but now he lay silent and still. Kagome's leg's had carried her forward, blind to everything. Throwing herself atop her unconscious friend and acting as a shield, Kagome now glared over her shoulder at the approaching Daiyoukai.

"Stay away, stupid!" She snarled, tears pricking her eyes. "Don't come any closer!"

The sword he held glinted, catching the light of afternoon sun. Her back remained open and vulnerable to attack. Sesshoumaru could easily cleave her in two in order to slay his brother. Kagome knew that, but she remained on all fours, braced in a protective stance.

He watched her for what felt like an eternity. Golden, inhuman hues, so much colder than Inuyasha's fierce gold eyes- slid over the fall of hair from her shoulders. They roved down her arched back, then travelled further still over the curve of her ass. Kagome stiffened, heat creeping up her neck.

What the hell is he doing?!

Her blue eyes hardened, fingers curling tighter around Tetsusaiga in one hand, the other in Inuyasha's robe. Sesshoumaru's cool stare seemed to crinkle, those eyes appearing to smile. Amused.

Since he didn't look like he planned to kill her, (a conclusion she wasn't so sure about) then there had to be some other reason. He didn't like her, didn't understand her. And that, she suspected, was why he watched her. He looked considering, briefly frustrated, before tilting his chin up and settling on 'haughty' as an emotion.

"If you wish to reverse the transformation, use Tetsusaiga."

Blue eyes snapped wide, breath freezing in her lungs. It was Kagome's turn to stare, heart swaying. He doesn't intend to kill?

An invisible thread tugged, wanting her to rise, to move closer- but Sango and Miroku quickly rushed between them.

"You could've killed him just now," Miroku questioned. "Tell me, why didn't you?"

Sesshoumaru's attention slid away. "I will slay him," he dismissed impassively. "Some other time. There is no point when he does not know himself," pivoting on one heel, he smoothly turned and began walking away.

Kagome peered between her friends, watching him go thoughtfully. It's almost like...he came here with the intention of helping Inuyasha.

Prin pricks tickled and scraped her palm. Jolting, her dazed attention locked on Sesshoumaru's single hand resting at his side- sharp claws imperceptibly twitching and dragging over calloused skin.

They met again one humid afternoon, golden with sun and rich with the smell of honeysuckle. It was an experience neither would share with another soul. Undocumented in even her diary.

Whether or not Kagome happening upon Sesshoumaru within the forest on her way to the village after briefly returning home had been a coincidence, she did not know. The timing seemed just a little too perfect to be happenstance.

He stood, a pure white figure save for the bloom of red patterning his shoulder like blood. Armour suspiciously absent. He seemed languid, not intense like the boys who'd sought her affections before- those loud, snarling, bickering wolf princes and hanyou's who talked of rescuing her like she were a maiden to be protected.

Between one moment and the next, he'd cornered her, the miko's back meeting a tree. Kagome snarled, fumbling with her bow, an arrow- anything- but Sesshoumaru knocked them aside. A firm hand locked on her chin, hot breath fanning over her parted lips and causing them to sweetly sting.

Twin pools of molten hues stared at her, a blaze of rich colour amidst the humble greens and browns of the forest.

"This one will never accept it. I refuse," he uttered, calm voice feeling like a physical caress of the inner thigh. She'd never been so close to him before, not since their first meeting when he'd curiously but intently asked 'what are you?'

Kagome resurfaced from her thoughts to hear; "A bratty miko cannot be my other half. My Soul Mate."

Her throat turned dry. "W-what?" Kagome grit her teeth. "No way is that what we are! Whatever this weird connection is between us, you can't call it something romantic! I'm literally feeling your pain!"

Sesshoumaru tightened his grip, the heat from his body looming closer, pressing against her own. The luxurious silk felt rich and warm and exuded an intoxicating, complex concentrate of his scent, making her head reel.

"Hn, precisely. That is evidence of a mating link. Something belonging to demons. That you should be experiencing it is unthinkable-"

Kagome lurched her head and sank blunt teeth into the skin between his thumb and forefinger, squeaking as her own hand hurt. Snarling, Sesshoumaru ripped it free and tightly wound his arm around her, lifting the miko's feet from the ground- his own teeth biting down into the shell of her ear.

Yelping, she squirmed and growled, heart thundering. Unseen, golden eyes cracked slightly wider as he felt teeth close over his own ear.

His large frame eased forward, parting her legs so that they scrambled and hooked over his hips for purchase. For all the wrong reasons, excitement and heat churned in her abdomen, feeling pressure between her thighs. Or was that emotion his? She couldn't tell, but her body felt hot, burning wherever he touched.

"Let go!" She burst, breath shuddering. What the hell?

Pressing both hands against Sesshoumaru's silk covered chest, she tried to summon her powers. Unlike Kikyo however, brilliant, skilled, trained Kikyo, Kagome couldn't grasp her reiki with finesse. The teenager needed her bow, an arrow, something to follow the pathway of wood like a conductor and allow her power to spill forth. Directly burning demonic flesh with her hands wasn't something she knew how to do.

"Having trouble, miko?"

"Shut up," she sneered.

"Unsurprising that you remain untrained. A barbarian swinging a sword blindly would not take the time to polish a valuable asset in his group."

"Well it's no wonder Inuyasha doesn't know how to use it! From what I've heard, you didn't take the time to teach him either!" She got in his face, practically vibrating from fury. It didn't make her taller than him, and she regretted it instantly, as he caught her gaze and leaned in a little too close, aristocratic nose brushing her humble human one.

How had it gotten this far? How had her wanting to avoid him turned into him pinning her against a tree?

"Inuyasha is a blight upon my blood. Why would this Sesshoumaru train him?" He purred in soft, dulcet tones.

Kagome tried to move her head back- but her skull pressed against the rough bark. Her lips felt dry, aching. For some reason, her cheeks were burning with the need for contact, like two slits were pulsing on either side of her face.

"That's what it all comes down to, isn't it? That's why you're here. You're just frustrated," she muttered, fists pushing uselessly against his chest. "You hate this connection between us because I'm human. It's got nothing to do with me or the fact that I'm a miko," a smirk came to her mouth, fueled by bravado. "Must be humiliating, feeling my cuts and bruises. Does the mighty Sesshoumaru hate feeling so weak? So mortal."

Thin lips drew back, revealing fangs as he panted out a warm puff of air. "I remain largely unaffected by you, do not insult me with such a suggestion."

"A 'blight' isn't something you can just brush off," Kagome gritted out. "Since I'm not exactly thrilled by my connection to you either, let's just resolve to break whatever is pulling us together, deal? And while you're at it, maybe don't take your frustrations out on me, buster."

Sesshoumaru let out a low noise, but Kagome kept her eyes on his, refusing to give in to the instinctual urge to tilt her head to the side and allow him access to her neck, to cower. Instead, she glared, panting softly for no discernable reason as her heart hammered wildly.

He chuckled, softly, so warm against her. Golden eyes flashed.

And then he stepped back. He held her firmly, so that when her feet touched the ground again, it was feather-light. She had no scrapes or bruises, and yet felt rattled like she'd been roughly shaken.

"Very well. Something we can agree on is the utter ruination of this connection."

Kagome folded her arms, clearing her throat. "Right. If anything, you've demonstrated how completely wrong for each other we are. Ha! Soul mates...what a hoot," she muttered dryly.

"Indeed," Sesshoumaru's jaw ticked.

She felt her teeth ache from the action and unthinkingly reached up to touch his cheek. "Stop gritting your teeth so hard-"

A low noise escaped into the air between them, having crooned out from none other than the demon lord. It was almost as if he froze her. Both her hand and her breath stopped for one awful heartbeat.

That hadn't been a noise of disgust.

Kagome stared. His cheek felt smooth under her palm. Touching him for a prolonged period of time felt surreal. A livewire ran down from the pads of her fingers, racing through her bloodstream and kickstarting her heart into overdrive. Her own cheeks blazed again, sweetly pulsing, and she realised they felt in her mind's eye just like Sesshoumaru's twin magenta stripes upon her face.

Sesshoumaru blinked, lifting his one remaining hand and tightly grasping her wrist. Her bone's protested and she grit her teeth. With his thumb resting over her pulse, she knew he could feel it fluttering.

"...There was a pain, many months ago now..." he uttered slowly, gentling his hold. "This one has not experienced anything of the like. As though I were being ripped apart."

Swallowing, she glanced away. "It wasn't as bad as your arm being cleaved off," she admitted.

"At least this one knew what was happening then- could identify the source of the pain. What was it that dug into the very fabric of your being and pulled a chunk loose?"

Kagome lifted her hand from his cheek slightly, curling shaking fingers into her palm. "There was an oni sorceress called Urasue. She...kind of split some of my soul and put it into a fake body, resurrecting someone and animating her. K-kikyo...Inuyasha's lost love. Turns out I'm her reincarnation, so it was kinda like a blood transfusion. Or maybe more accurately an organ donation- an unwilling organ transplant? A-anyway-" she shook her head. "I'm not entirely whole now."

The steel band of his grip loosened and fell away.

Golden eyes narrowed, not comprehending her talk of transferring blood or organs but understanding enough. If he were honest with himself, he'd been irritated ever since that day. A small, niggling sensation in the back of his head, seeking- feeling around for something in the dark. Now he understood why. He'd been looking for her missing piece, discontent with her fractured state.

"Hn," Sesshoumaru tilted his chin up to regard her with half-lidded eyes. "This one will find information on how to sever the soul bond. That will at least be one irritation out of your life. Unless of'd like the other removed as well."

Kagome's eyes widened and her voice turned sharp. "What are you talking about? Don't hurt Kikyo!" she growled, confusion muddling her scent. Neither bridged the distance between them again yet they also did not move back.

"I-I don't get you," she muttered. "Why would you do that? My soul isn't any of your business if you're about to cut off the connection between us."

"Indeed," he snipped, frowning slightly as though agreeing with her. Turning gracefully to stalk away, silver tresses fanned out behind him.

Kagome let out an aggravated noise, stamping her foot. "You didn't answer my question!" she yelled.

The Daiyoukai remained conveniently deaf to her observation, walking back into the greenery of the woods from whence he came. With every step, both registered their auras straining out to reach for the other. Kagome flushed red and quickly hurried away in the opposite direction, touching her burning mouth.