AN: Started a new story... but it won't be an incredibly long one. Just a break from writing AU's really ^_^ Hope you enjoy!

(and I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth and I haven't forgotten about my other fics - the last chapters of Soul Exchange and 28 Days are nearly done (just taking a bit longer than usual to finish))

Father Figure

Holiday Break

"One... two... three..." Kagome set her little metal shoe down and sighed while glowering at the Monopoly board. "Oh bugger..."

"Yes!" Inuyasha crowed with delight. "I can't believe you landed on May Street again! That'll be thirty thousand 'yen' please."

Kagome grumbled under her breath as she leafed out the fake money bills and slapped them into Inuyasha's eagerly awaiting hand. "There. You happy? Now I'm bankrupt."

"Then you just lost the game." Inuyasha happily chuckled as he sorted out his payment into separate piles. By now he owned most of the money and properties that had come in the board game.

"Fine... I just let you win..." Kagome folded her arms with a huff.

Sango mirrored Kagome's action. "Great... now who'll bail me out of prison?"

Miroku shuffled closer. "Oh come on Sango, you know you like it here with me. You know... you and me... in this small cell together..."

Sango stared at him. "You do realise there is actually NO cell whatsoever?"

Miroku shrugged and went back to passing his one remaining bill between his hands. "In that case I'm out..."

"Me too." Sango sighed. "I don't have any chance of getting out of prison on my income... unless..."

She gave Inuyasha a sweet look. He looked up from counting his bills and snorted. "Dream on."

She rolled her eyes. "That's it. I quit the game."

Kagome looked on in disbelief. "I can't believe you won again." She told Inuyasha with a shake of the head. "You don't even know what Income tax is!"

"Well I didn't this morning." He grinned at her. "Damn, I could probably go to your time right now and work my way into business executive position before the day was over."

"What's a Business Executioner?" Shippo questioned Kagome.

"I'm not... entirely sure..." Kagome stared at Inuyasha hard. It was beginning to worry her about Inuyasha's ability to learn so fast.

"Oh that's the easy part - the hard part is calculating the tax that you have to pay at the end of every financial year - which you should probably go to a self-assessment tax company that could calculate it for you. And you know a great way to make money with no work?" he asked Kagome.

"Steal?" she guessed.

"No. Stick it in the bank and wait for interest - but then you have to watch out for the interest rates falling and rising, that can be a tricky business." He nodded knowledgeably. "A great way would be if you got stuck in jail and you put ALL your money into a current account, I hear those get the best interest rates. So by the time you come out again your money would have double at least."

"Inuyasha?" Kagome gave him a peculiar look. "You didn't just learn that from monopoly."

"Nah... I was talking with your Grandfather a few days ago." Inuyasha paused as he put his dog piece back in the box. "Or more like he was talking AT me..."

Shippo quietly made a crazy gesture with his fingers beside his ear. He quickly changed to scratching his neck when Inuyasha glanced down at him in annoyance.

Well... since Inuyasha seemed to be in an enlightened, if not pleasant mood, Kagome made her move. "Inuyasha... can I ask a huge favour...?"

"Depends..." he said carefully, obviously not trusting the tone of her voice.

Sango and Miroku both got their cue with a short look from Kagome and headed back inside Kaede's hut with Shippo, leaving Kagome and Inuyasha on the porch.

"Well... here's the thing..." Kagome twiddled her fingers on her lap. "I have to go back to my time for slightly longer than usual."

"How long?"

At least he was considering, which encouraged Kagome slightly. "Um... four or five days. It's half term break, so we get a two week holiday - and I swear I'll spend the rest of the holiday here, but I have to stay in my time for a couple of days."

"Well... that's not so strange." Inuyasha shrugged. "As long as I can check up on you and make sure you're actually doing what you say you're-"

"That's the problem." Kagome intercepted him quickly. "You won't be able to check up on me daily... or drag me back."

Inuyasha sat up straighter all of a sudden, an angry frown gracing his expression. "Why not?"

"I'm going to visit my dad on the other side of Tokyo." Kagome said in a gush. "Please don't make this difficult Inuyasha - I don't get to see my dad a lot these days - the last time I saw him was a year ago! It's the first holiday he's getting as well and if I miss my chance to see him then I have to wait another whole year until the next time I can see him."

She looked up at Inuyasha pleadingly, noticing he had a strange expression on his face. Half a frown, and half confused. "You have a dad?"

"Yeah... he's divorced from my mother, he moved out when I was six." Kagome said quietly. "What, did you think I never had a father?"

"Never really thought about it." He answered. Though it was fairly logical to assume human Mrs Higurashi did NOT reproduce asexually.

Kagome lapsed into silence, waiting for him to shoot her request down in flames. Surprisingly, he said nothing. "So... can I go?"

Inuyasha glanced across at her with a vague 'I don't really care' kind of shrug and cock of the head. "Sure. Whatever."

"Thanks Inuyasha." Kagome smiled with a flush of relief. She'd expected something short of a brawl and verbal gunfire. This was a nice change... though she had to wonder why it had been so easy this time.

"It's not fair is it?"

Inuyasha's comment brought her out of her thoughts. "Sorry?"

"It's not fair growing up without a father." He flashed her a brief, fake smile. "You gotta make the most of whatever you have given to you."

Kagome watched him with surprise as he suddenly stood up and went back inside. For a moment she just sat contemplating what he'd said... until she looked around and realised if she wanted to make it back to her own time in time (no pun intended there) then she'd have to start packing straight away.


"Hey, Inuyasha?" Shippo yawned that evening as the others got ready for bed. "Where the heck did Kagome go? Did you scare her off again?"

"Kagome's never been scared off by me ever." Inuyasha snapped back and pushed Shippo off his chest - and effectively - out of the tree.

Shippo landed on his head with an indignant squeak. He righted himself after a few moments and glared up at the hanyou. "Bull. You scare her off all the time."

Inuyasha snorted and turned onto his side on the branch. "Kagome won't get scared by anything around here. She does have a life through the well you know. And a family."

Shippo pulled a face at Inuyasha as he righted himself after his fall. "Well done Inuyasha. That's the first time you've admitted that. I think a blue rose just sprouted under your branch."

Inuyasha peaked down under his tree limb before growling at Shippo in annoyance. "There's no rose!"

Shippo stared at him. "Of course there's no rose! It's just an expression!"

"I knew that! Leave me alone - I want to sleep already!" Inuyasha snapped.

Sango banged on the hut wall from inside. "Guys! Keep it down out there!"

Inuyasha twisted again so Shippo was out of his line of sight, and so he wouldn't be tempted to throttle the little parasite.

"Night, Inuyasha." Shippo called up before dashing off inside.

Inuyasha didn't return the farewell as he grouchily glared straight ahead... off into the night. He had a killer of a week ahead of him... a whole week without seeing Kagome's face... or having her presence nearby to... to...

He shifted positions, trying to get comfortable, but it didn't seem to be working. He growled in faint annoyance as he tried again and ended up lolling on his stomach, arms and legs dangling off the branch... no... that wasn't particularly comfortable either... better change.

No Kagome... no ramen... no shard hunting... no demons to take his frustration out on...

"God... I have no life..." He muttered to himself. Well... no life without Kagome to make things fresh and spontaneous for him. Life was pointless without a complete soul... and every time Kagome left him... disappeared from existence like she was dead and gone... she took a piece of him with her.

Not in the literal sense of course...

Inuyasha sighed and rolled over on his branch. For once his mind was preoccupied and he failed to judge how wide the branch was... and so slipped off with a muffled curse and landed with a thud on his back.

He blinked for a moment, looking up at the tree in bemusement before rolling his eyes. Oh yeah... dogs weren't made to climb trees...


"How many channels do you get?!" Kagome gaped at the television screen as she rapidly flicked through the stations, barely spending enough time to take in all the programs and advertisements. Not that what she was looking at was an actual average TV screen... more like a large home cinema sized plasma screen, complete with DVD player and digital satellite hook ups.

"Over five hundred... I lost count." Mr Higurashi smiled as his daughter took such simple delight in the remote control.

"This is... wow... this is..." Kagome struggled for words as she forced herself to put the flicker down and look around her father's apartment... it was more like a penthouse actually. "This is different from the cockroach infested stink hole Mom said you lived in..."

"Mari really has helped straighten me out." He nodded, idly resting a hand on her shoulder.

"Mari?" Kagome glanced at him quizzically.

"New girlfriend... fiancée... I hope you don't mind."

Kagome blinked in surprise before spluttering quickly. "No - not at all! I mean - it's been years - you're allowed to move on!" she looked around the room. "She helped you get all this?"

"She pointed me out in the direction of a psychology degree... now I'm a practising psychiatrist..." he grinned at her. "She helped me get the apartment and even helped furnish it with me. She's great."

"That's nice." Kagome was genuinely glad for him and gave him a smile. "Does she live here too?"


"Where is she?"

"I asked her to take a week out, I thought you might be uncomfortable..." he told her hesitantly.

"No I wouldn't!" Kagome jumped to face him quickly with an eager smile. "I'd love to meet her - if she's done so much good in your life how could I find her uncomfortable? As long as she hasn't got two heads then I'm ok with her living here while I visit."

"And if she does have two heads?" her father asked in a serious tone.

"Don't joke about that!" she laughed... but it was true, she'd met plenty of women with two heads... the last thing she needed was her father dating one of them.

This would be a nice holiday, she thought. No worries, no school, no shard hunting and no demons to run away from. And most of all, no Inuyasha to make her nervous and perspire whenever he demanded the impossible of her. She wasn't like Sango and Miroku... she hadn't been living in the feudal age all her life... she hadn't been fighting demons all her life...

Inuyasha was demanding...

So this was a break. She'd be able to put her feet up, live like a rich slob and watch anything from reality shows about ant colonies to some English cockney soap drama thing. She'd get to spend time with her father... who had really changed from the unemployed, flat broke writer he'd been...

Now he was writing books on psychology... and SELLING them!

Wait till her friends heard about this!


"The place looks great - Mari's got such taste!" Kagome gushed over the phone to her mother. "The kitchen has a Mediterranean theme and the living areas have Indian and African colours and art - it's amazing - you should really come up and visit some time."

"So you like it there?" she heard her mother chuckle. "I may have to fight tooth and nail to drag you back home."

"Don't worry, I'll be coming back soon." Kagome grinned. "This is like a real holiday! And Mari is SO nice... have you met her?"

"No... can't say I have..." her mother's tone was slightly odd... and Kagome heard it at once and mentally slapped herself. Well done Kagome! Rubbing it in her mother's face that Dad had a new fiancée and was earning more money in a week than her mother earned in six months.

"Mom... I..." she struggled to find something to say.

"It's ok, Kagome - I just didn't realise your father was being open with you about his relationships." Mrs Higurashi sounded surprised.

"Well... he is..." Kagome frowned slightly. "Did you know?"

"Yes... but we agreed to keep it quiet from you and Souta..." she heard her mother sigh. "He went against our deal."

"Well... I don't mind if he's dating someone new. She's nice. She'll be a good step mother to have around when we need her in an emergency." Kagome told her.

"Well since we're being all open about this I better-" she broke off as Kagome heard her Grandfather's muffled talking in the background. "Oh not again... I've got to go Kagome, I'll see you on Friday!"

"Yeah - bye!" Kagome offered as well and hung up. She stood over the phone in the lounge for a while, thinking about what her mother had been about to say. Oh well... she could just ask her later on if she remembered.


"Twenty six?" Shippo asked flatly.

"No..." Inuyasha chucked another stone at the river and watched it skip a couple of times before sinking.


"No." Inuyasha hunted around his feet for another smooth pebble to throw.

"Uh..." Shippo peered at Inuyasha closely. "One?"

"Bingo!" Inuyasha threw another stone and watched it skip across the entire river. "Ok - now I'm thinking of an animal-"

"Bird." Shippo said without hesitation.

"Ok... that was lucky..." Inuyasha scowled. "What type of bird?"

"A phoenix?" Shippo guessed.

Inuyasha turned to him abruptly. "What are you - half telepath?"

"No... it's just that you're so predictable. We play this game every time she leaves and you always think of the same numbers and animals." Shippo rolled his eyes and flopped onto his back. "I'm bored!"

Inuyasha clenched his fists and went back to skipping rocks.

"Look at those two..." Sango nodded to Miroku, distracting him from whatever he'd been about to do with his hand involving her behind. "It's like the world ends when Kagome goes home for longer than an hour."

"Well... to them... it does." Miroku shrugged lightly. "Poor sods..."

Sango sighed and went back to maintaining Hiraikotsu. Actually... it did get kinda dull when Kagome wasn't around...


4 Days Later...

"Thanks Mrs Keisuki!" Kagome waved cheerfully as her friend and her mother drove off. Once they were out of sight she turned back with a deep, revitalising sigh.

She was all relaxed now... and she couldn't help the absent smile that caught on her lips as she trotted up the stairs to the shrine. A whole week away from work - and now she was fully ready to get back to it. She'd finished all her homework assignments and the tension was all gone from her body (mostly thanks to Mari who had a special degree in massaging).

Life was a doddle from here on out...

Kagome pushed open the door and set her suitcase and bags down beside the shoe rack. "Hey everyone! I'm home!" she shut the door behind her and started towards the living room where she heard the TV going. "You'll never guess what happened on the way over - there was this dog and an ice creamer cart vendor thing and-"

"If you insist on walking your shoes into the house, at least have the decency to wipe them on the mat?"

Kagome spun around to face the stairs and stared openly at the man who'd stopped halfway down to regard her. A total stranger had just reprimanded her on her own habits in her own home... now THAT was rude. What was more, he'd been totally serious, he hadn't even cracked a smile.

"Who are you?" Kagome asked pointedly.

"Kagome - don't be so rude!" she glanced towards the living room as her mother came towards them. She half held out her arms, expecting to be embraced at once like they usually did when Kagome had been away for a few days, on holiday or in the well, whatever the case.

That's why Kagome was completely stupefied when her mother moved straight past her, heading towards the stairs and the stranger. Kagome self- consciously moved her hands to tucked her hair behind her ears, as though she'd never intended to receive a hug in the first place. She watched as her mother went and gave a short embrace to the man.

Kagome froze... what the hell was going on?

"Kagome - allow me to introduce Denji." Mrs Higurashi said as the man slipped an arm around her shoulder, he now smiled at Kagome like he'd never been rude to her. "He's my fiancé... he'll be staying with us in the shrine from now on."

Kagome glanced between the two of them, a slight worried feeling nagging at her mind. This hadn't been the welcome home she'd been expecting... She looked at Denji a little more closely and made a quick assessment.

He looked nice and friendly now, with a dimpled smile and dark eyes. He was good-looking, even more so than her father perhaps... But that accounted for nothing. First impressions were all that mattered... and he'd not given a very good impression at all.

"That's... nice..." Kagome could only muster a weak smile of congratulations. When in truth... she felt a little queasy...

AN: Well there you go - dedicated to all the girls and boys who want to kill their step fathers and step mothers. Here's to you Cinderella!