Hours, days, possibly weeks passed in a white daze.  Kurama was starting to understand what Hiei had meant when he'd said he had no sense of time.  His
own internal clock had been set so he'd get a minimum four hours' sleep per day.  Now he slept whenever his eyes felt heavy.  He napped.  He started to think
he was spending more time napping than he was awake.  The only measurement he could find was Hiei's visits.  He was always awake when Hiei came, and he
didn't sleep until he left again.  If Hiei came once a day, that would mean he'd been in the place for at least two weeks.

Two weeks.  The thought frustrated him.  He wasn't making progress.  If anything, Hiei's visits seemed to be getting shorter.  The second Kurama saw him he
wanted to attack, to vent, to order him to help, because Hiei was clearly the only person who could.  But he couldn't lash out at all because the moment his
temper started to flare Hiei would tense up, glower at him, and leave.  And each time he left Kurama had the feeling more hours passed before he finally came

How long before Hiei stopped coming at all?  Kurama had found that the dark alcove was somehow always filled with food.  He didn't need Hiei to feed him.  
They wouldn't starve him to death.  But complete isolation...he didn't think he could handle that.

Kurama was lying on the bed when that white curtain lifted.  He filed the number away, seventeen, and turned resentful eyes on Hiei.  He'd stopped greeting
him a while back, the tenth visit maybe, and they'd gotten into the habit of glowering resentfully at each other as soon as Hiei entered his room.  This time Hiei
didn't meet his eyes.  He didn't go over to sit by the fire, either.  He walked to the edge of the bed, sat on the floor and tossed a heavy black box in Kurama's

"What's this?" Kurama asked.  He sat up and frowned from the box to Hiei.

"A threat," said Hiei.  He sounded tired, irritated like usual, but more tired than anything.  

"What kind of threat?" asked Kurama, his frown deepening.

He didn't get a response.  Hiei was bent over his folded legs with his chin propped on the back of his hands, his dark eyes heavy and half-lidded.  He flicked
an emotionless look at Kurama and closed his eyes completely.  Kurama scowled down at him for a moment before opening that heavy box.  He promptly

The box seemed normal enough.  It opened on dark hinges.  The interior was lined in black cloth.  What made Kurama growl was the contents.  A threat,
indeed.  The bitch.

Kurama's teeth gnashed tightly and he glared at Hiei's bowed head.  "Is this for me or you?"

Hiei flicked another of those dead looks at him, not bothering to lift or turn his head.  "The collar's for me.  The drink's for you."

"And what, exactly, will they do?" asked Kurama, with a malicious grin.  "Does she think some pretty crystal collar will make me more eager to have sex with
you?  Or is that what the drink's for?  Will you drug me?"

Hiei sighed and finally looked at him with a real expression.  Annoyance.  "I don't know what you want.  If it were just a matter of me not knowing what to do to
please you, you could use the jagan.  You won't.  If you're hesitating because you don't trust my submission, the collar will render me immobile."  He sneered
in distaste, "There's no need for that, but it's there if you want it.  There's nothing else I can do.  As for the drink...I refused to give it to you unaware.  That's
the threat.  You can take it by choice or wait for it to be added to everything you consume."

"So that's it," said Kurama.  "Do it, be drugged into doing it, or starve to death."

"No," said Hiei, his eyes narrowing sharply.  "You won't die.  I won't let you.  If it comes to that I will drug you by force."

Kurama's tail bristled at that, something he no longer bothered to be embarrassed by.  He glared down at Hiei with a dangerous smile.  "Really?"

"If I have to," Hiei spat.  "I don't see why you're fighting so much.  You told me your people take two to reproduce, so you know how.  It isn't forbidden for you.  
If I'm the reason you find the idea repulsive, take the drink.  It will stop your hesitation, but it won't hurt you in any way.  You said you wanted me to help you
get out of here.  Finish this and you'll be free.  How can I make this easier for you?"

"You can't," said Kurama.  "That's just it.  I don't want you to make it 'easy for me' - I don't want it at all.  I wouldn't make babies to keep my mother happy, I'm
sure as hell not going to do it for some alien strangers who keep me locked up like a prisoner.  Especially if you're resorting to threats now.  What happened to
keeping me happy?  That 'if you want anything, just ask' thing - what happened to that?"

"You didn't ask for anything I could give you.  She has decided you never will."

Kurama stared at Hiei's tired eyes for a moment before shoving the box to the floor.  He'd hoped that hateful black bottle might break on contact, but it simply
rolled a few inches and lay still.  Kurama dropped onto his back, one arm thrown over his eyes.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this," Hiei said quietly.

"Really," Kurama muttered.

"You were supposed to be eager, but you're not," Hiei continued.  "The elder said you would be repulsive, but you're not.  I thought it would be finished
quickly.  All I was taught was to wait and obey until it was done.  She never thought I'd have to convince you to do it.  Even she doesn't know what I should do
to make you want me.  She thinks it's something I've purposely done wrong, or refused to do.  I think it's you.  You're not the one."

Kurama lifted his arm so he could look at Hiei.  "I've said that since the beginning."

"I know," Hiei frowned.  "But you're the only one to come here.  It doesn't matter what I think or what you say, she believes you're the one.  She's tired of
watching me fail to convince you."  He snorted softly and dropped his chin back onto his hands, "I'm tired of it, too."

"Is she back to watching us, then?" Kurama asked sharply.  He shot a glare at that white curtain.  "Is she watching now?"

"No," said Hiei, "not now.  I was told to drug you and I refused.  That's why I was allowed to bring the threat openly.  If you choose to drink, she won't interfere
anymore.  If you refuse, I'm to remain here until the drug is added to your food.  Either way, this will be finished."

There really wasn't a point getting angry with Hiei.  Kurama did anyway.  He couldn't help it.  All of this was easy for Hiei to accept because Hiei wanted it to
happen as much as that old woman did.  Why should he look so tired and frustrated?  Kurama was the one being forced into a corner.  Kurama glowered at

"So you're staying here all the time," said Kurama.  "And what happens when they do start drugging the food?  I could order you to test it before I eat any of it."

Hiei frowned, "Why would you do that?"

"So I know if it's drugged or not, obviously."  Kurama paused at Hiei's confused expression.  "What, are you immune to it?"

"I don't know," said Hiei, "but it wouldn't matter.  Even if I wanted to hurt you, the jagan would stop me.  I can't attack you any more than I can watch you starve
yourself.  No drug will change that."

Kurama really didn't know which of them was the most stubborn.  Hiei reminded him of a religious martyr, fitting, since he was playing the part of virgin prude.  
It wasn't that he had that much trouble considering sex with Hiei.  His features were exotic, and the more they argued the more Kurama found himself
struggling with attraction.  It was a matter of principle.  And the potential offspring.  The whole point was to produce a child - a child Kurama wouldn't even be
around to see, let alone raise as his own.  All these people really wanted was a sperm donor.  Why should he have to be intimate with someone he'd never
see again when he could jerk off in a cup instead?  Ridiculous.

Kurama scowled down at Hiei's curved back.  "Do you even know what sex is?"

"Disgusting, painful, and forbidden."

Kurama blinked.  "What?"  

"I've known since I was born," Hiei shrugged.  "It destroyed my mother and was the curse that stopped all births from then on.  I was born from it and when I
give birth from it, the cycle will close and the curse will be lifted.  That's my purpose."

Kurama stared at him.  He felt frustrated, bemused, and sad for him, but more than that he felt tired.  Defeated.  God help him, he just wanted to go home.  
And he knew what that meant...

"You don't understand how strange it is for me to listen to you," Kurama sighed.  "All you know is that it's some taboo act, that woman out there," he waved at
the curtain, "thinks it's degrading like only lower lifeforms would even consider it, and yet you've been pushing me to do it from the moment I showed up here -
just because I showed up here.  Every time one of you demeans sex, you're insulting me because you think I engage in it freely with random strangers.  And
you don't even think about that because as far as you're concerned, your purpose is to give birth and my purpose is to knock you up.  It's ridiculous.  I'm not
some ignorant animal."

"I'm glad for that," Hiei commented.

Kurama blinked again.  "What?"

"It would have been finished quicker with an animal," Hiei shrugged.  "That's what I was told you'd be, mindless, disgusting.  But you're beautiful.  I'm glad for
that, even if it means you're more difficult than an animal would be."

A bemused expression fell over Kurama's face.  That was a backhanded compliment if he'd ever heard one.  He didn't know whether to admire Hiei's resolve to
submit to whatever male showed up, animal or humanoid, or to be flattered that Hiei liked his appearance.  It wasn't as if Hiei had good taste, not if he'd have
been just as willing to have sex with a mindless disgusting animal.  No, he was helplessly amused, slightly sickened, and not the least bit flattered.

"Beautiful?" asked Kurama.  Okay, maybe a tiny bit flattered.

"To me," said Hiei, with another shrug.  "The elder finds you disgusting."

And right back to being insulted.  Kurama glowered at the white curtain.  As if he cared what that bigoted old bitch thought of him, anyway.  He shook his head,
flexed his back, fluffed that tail of his - it felt good, whether it looked dignified or not - and gave Hiei a determined look.  

"So," Kurama said sharply.  "I have sex with you, I get sent home.  That's it?"

Hiei straightened out of his tired slump and blinked in surprise.  "Yes.  You're considering it?"

"I'm considering," Kurama nodded.  "Just considering, mind you.  Come here."

He moved so their faces were at the same level, Hiei kneeling at the side of the bed.  It was a test, he decided firmly, just a test.  He put a light hand on Hiei's
shoulder and stopped cold.  The moment he touched him, Hiei tensed up and that blank expression from their first meeting swept over his face.  Kurama
grimaced and pulled his hand back.

"There you go," Kurama muttered.  "It might be fine for you, but I can't have sex with a 'mindless animal'.  I'm the one who has to be aroused for any fertilization
to take place and that's not going to happen if I'm in bed with someone as expressionless as a corpse.  You could at least try to look like you want to do this."

Hiei flinched and sent him a strange look.  Frustrated?  Confused?  A little of both, Kurama thought.

"Then it's me," Hiei murmured, with a thoughtful frown.  "My expression.  Can you do it without looking at me?  I could cover my face-"

"No!" Kurama blurted.  "No, that would make it even worse!  A headless corpse..."

Hiei shifted with a frustrated little growl and Kurama felt a helpless laugh building in his chest.  It was ridiculous.  Utterly.

Kurama smiled and slid over so he was sitting on the edge of the bed.  "Listen, Hiei.  Where I come from people don't have impersonal sex.  There used to be
places they could go where they'd have sex with strangers in the dark, just warm faceless bodies, anonymous pleasure.  But that sort of thing stopped a long
time ago.  Even if it was going on now, I wouldn't take part in it.  What you're suggesting is quite possibly the least arousing thing I can think of."

Hiei frowned at him, as if he were thinking about what he'd said.  "Arousing is important?"

Kurama couldn't help it.  He laughed and winced and smacked a hand over his eyes.  He was so innocent!  This was beyond ridiculous.  "It's very important,
Hiei.  It's vital.  There's no sex unless at least one participant is aroused - and there's no sex with me unless both participants are aroused."

He lifted his hand a little so he could peak down at Hiei.  "Didn't that woman tell you anything about the act itself?"

Hiei glowered and managed to look both embarrassed and insulted.  "Of course," he snapped.

"What did she tell you?" Kurama prodded.  He probably shouldn't have been enjoying this so much, but Hiei's belligerent expression was very cute.

Hiei opened his mouth and stared for a long while.  Then he grimaced and looked horrified.  "You want to talk about it..?"

"Why not?" Kurama wondered.  "You're willing to do it, is talking about it any worse?"

"Yes," Hiei said sharply.  He closed his mouth, dropped back on his heels, and folded his arms over his chest.

"So stubborn," said Kurama.  He smirked at Hiei's glowering eyes and gave a slow, careless shrug.  "Well, if you want me to keep considering this, you'll tell me
what she told you.  If you can't talk about it, you certainly aren't ready to do it.  I'm not interested in having sex with a child.  Not even a drug will change that."

"I'm not a child," Hiei growled.

"Really," Kurama scoffed.  "How do you know?"

"I stopped growing."

That was a pretty good sign, Kurama had to admit.  Still.  "You don't have to tell me what she said, but you'd probably be better off forgetting it.  If she's as
asexual as the rest of those koorime, she knows less about sex than you do."

"She knows enough," Hiei muttered.  He glared at his lap and put a hand over his stomach.  "The child will grow here.  In order for it to grow there," and he
waved a hand at Kurama's crotch, "you have to stick that inside me.  It's not hard or sharp, so stabbing won't work.  I only have two natural openings big
enough and what I swallow is digested.  It's isn't difficult to figure out what that leaves."

Hiei grimaced and shook his head in disgust at having to talk about it.  A long bout of silence passed before he glanced up and scowled at Kurama's
expression.  "What?" he growled.  "You're the one who asked."

Kurama swallowed and choked and finally erupted in snickers.  He flopped back on the bed and laughed in a way that sounded suspiciously like giggling
sobs.  "Oh, God, help us.  I think you need that drug more than I do...!"

"Are you laughing at me?" asked Hiei.  "Stop it."

He sounded surprised, insulted, and maybe even hurt.  Kurama choked and smothered louder laughter behind his hands.  It was too much, it was just too
much.  He heard Hiei rise to his feet, a low growl rumbling through clenched teeth.  And he sputtered harder than ever.

"Oh, Hiei, I'm sorry," Kurama choked out, "really.  It's just...you..."

"Stop laughing," Hiei growled.

"I-can't," Kurama whined, teary eyes glittering on Hiei's furious expression.  "You-"  He gasped and gave a cough-like laugh, "It's not hard or sharp?  Maybe
not sharp, but hard - and stabbing - you, oh, God...!  You've never had an erection in your life and I was - I was here trying to teach - tell you about the
importance of a-arousal...!"

Hiei turned on his heel and dropped out of sight.  Kurama swallowed some more of that convulsive laughter.  Then he pushed himself up on his elbows so he
could see what Hiei was doing.  "Hiei?"

"I changed my mind," Hiei said coldly.  He walked back to the bed and thrust the black bottle at Kurama.  "Drink it."

"Hiei," Kurama winced, "I didn't mean anything by it.  It's just-"

"Drink it," said Hiei.  "No more of this."

Kurama accepted the bottle just so Hiei would stop leaning so close to him.  He sounded so cold, but there was a shuttered look in those red eyes that told
Kurama he'd struck harder than he'd meant to.  Hiei didn't understand why he'd laughed at him.  Of course he didn't.  How could he?  He'd reluctantly told him
what he'd been too uncomfortable to talk about, because Kurama had pushed, and how did he react?  Uncontrollable laughter.  Kurama winced and fingered
the heavy bottle, not quite looking up to meet Hiei's ragged stare.

"I'm sorry," said Kurama.  "I'll...I'll consider drinking this.  Why don't you, um..."  He glanced up to find Hiei watching him, arms folded over his chest.  This time
the stance looked more defensive than belligerent.  Kurama forced a weak smile onto his face.  "Why don't you take a bath.  If we do end up doing something
together, you'd want to be clean first."

Hiei sent a wary look into the bathroom and Kurama guessed the problem immediately.  He'd never seen Hiei step foot in the room, no matter how long he'd
visited him.  The koorime probably didn't have facilities like that - like the fire made only for Kurama.  Convenient distraction, Kurama decided.

"Here," said Kurama.  "I'll show you how to work the knobs.  No need to hesitate.  It's really quite simple..."