Disclaimer: Nope, no Fushigi Yuugi in my ownership's manual... okay, yeah, that was pretty lame.
IMPORTANT – This is NOT exactly the same as the one-shot I posted, as a Christmas Special. There ARE slight differences, mainly dealing with the date this occurs. If you've read the one shot, I'm sorry for givin' you something you've already read a part of. (SS:ACS portion begins later in the chapter...)

Chapter Nine: Suzaku Shichisei! PARTY!

She fought a yawn as she danced with a perfectly nice, perfectly groomed, perfectly drunk accountant. And accountants who were drunk were perfectly boring.
"So I was sitting there, trying to work out all these tax deductibles, and three more clients came in—"
Boring. Boring. Boring. And it was all Nuriko's fault, pushing her into his arms. She glanced around, hunting down that familiar head of purple. Where was she?
So intent was she on finding her friend, that Miaka accepted a sudden change of partner with an absent smile. The accountant faded into the crowd as two hard arms pulled her close, and warm breath feathered over her ear. "I think I'm a li'l tipsy, Mia."
She gasped and turned her head, blinking into warm amber eyes. Her lips curved into an extremely amused smile at the sight of Angel firmly ensconced on his shoulder. She was surprised the kitten hadn't fallen off, though...
Her eyes narrowed as she moved closer, sniffing at the cat. "Why does she smell like beer?" she asked accusingly. Tasuki blinked and turned his head slowly to ponder the mystery. Then the lightbulb hit.
"Ohhhhh. She drank some, of course," he explained reasonably. As though it were a perfectly normal thing for a cat to drink alcohol.
She nearly choked, certainly stumbled, at the words. "Oops. Gotta be careful," he muttered, pulling her closer. Her hands were squished between their chests as she was nearly plastered against him.
Who has to be careful... me, or him? she thought wryly, shaking her head slightly in amusement. Although she should probably yell at him for getting her poor baby drunk, she decided not to. After all, he probably wouldn't really remember it in the morning.
Sighing, content, she rested her head against his chest and wrapped her arms slowly around his waist. He dropped his chin to rest against her hair, loose and flowing. That's what he liked about her—she didn't put on a bunch of gunk to look pretty. She certainly didn't need it.
"Thanks for saving me from the accountant," she mumbled against his chest.
"No prob. Guy's too perfect for ya anyway. Probably plans every second o'sex, too." He snorted. "Spontan-eeity's better fer ya."
She rolled her eyes, but had to admit to his assessment of the man. He'd been wearing a suit and tie at a casual party, after all. And she thought she'd felt the outline of a toothbrush in his jacket, though she wasn't certain. He probably brushed and flossed after every meal. Maybe even every drink.
Now, Tasuki wouldn't do such things. He was wonderfully spontaneous. And he wouldn't make sex a planned event. In fact, he would probably be the type of guy to pin her up against the counter while she was making dinner. Even if they'd made love for hours not twenty minutes before...
Miaka! You're not supposed to think of him that way...
A second voice in her head murmured thoughtfully, Why am I thinking of him this way? ... I loved Taka with heart and soul. I don't think I'll ever love anyone the same way again. I've never even looked at another man.
A third voice argued, Taka's been dead for three years. He wouldn't begrudge you time spent with another man, or even you falling in love with someone else. And he knows and respects Tasuki, despite their differences.
The first came back with a vengeance. STOP thinking like that, Sukunami Miaka! No more drinks for you!
"Right," she sighed into his chest, snuggling closer. Nice, warm, hard chest. Wonderful embrace. Wonderful everything, really. She smiled. It would be okay to just grab this one dance, after all. They were best friends, and cared for each other. What was one dance?
Especially as she was only thinking those thoughts because she hadn't been with a man since Taka. She conveniently ignored the fact that she'd never wanted to before, either.
"Ouch." She blinked as he stepped on her toes.
"Sorry, Mia-chan," he apologized, loosening his hold slightly. She tightened hers.
"That's fine. Don't let me go, please," she requested. Yes, she would have this one dance.
He obediently returned her embrace, nuzzling against her hair. Melons? Well, she likes food. Mmm, and she's warm. Don't make any moves, though. Don't scare her off. Gotta work on her li'l by li'l. She'll warm up to me soon enough... she's already starting to, and doesn't even know it yet.
They didn't notice as the slow, moving music switched to a fast techno pace. They were in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by couples who followed the tune. Lost in their own little world, they didn't see Yui and Chichiri, or Shannon and Hotohori, dancing slowly near them.
Nuriko, however, did. She smiled in very real amusement as the faintest idea came to her mind. Slipping through the crowd, she tapped on Shannon's shoulder. "Hey, girl, get outta your dream world for a minute!"
The American jerked, and pulled sharply from Andy's embrace, her cheeks red as she finally noticed the huge difference in songs. "Oh—hi, Nuriko," she muttered, trying to hide her embarrassment with a glare in her partner's direction. The man simply smiled at her, gently and warmly.
She flushed hotter and made a vague excuse of thirst before escaping her humiliation. Nuriko smiled in satisfaction as she grabbed her friend's arm and pulled him away from the strangers, and the two couples dancing close by. "Hey, look. I was planning on going over to Miaka's tonight, you know, so she could get to know me a little better. But I was thinking... I don't think I want to go alone. The three of them know each other and all, but none of them know me, and it might get a little... awkward. So I was wondering if you could get Tasuki and Chichiri to maybe come with you and we could make it into a little party of our own..." She let the words trail off. As Nuriko was often the first one to suggest attending or hosting a party, the idea didn't strike him strangely in the least.
"Good idea," he agreed amiably. Of course, the two beers he'd downed earlier might also be his reason for easily accepting it. "I'll go ask Shan—"
"Hmm, no, maybe I should do that," she interrupted quickly. If he asked her, there was a high chance of her saying 'no'—vociferously and at the top of her lungs. His eyes gleamed.
"Don't worry. She won't say no if it's a bet," he pointed out smoothly. Perhaps he wasn't as affected as she thought.
"A bet?" she echoed, feeling suddenly worried. Sometimes these bets could get out of hand...
"Yep. Whoever loses buys Christmas dinner. That way we'll all be together for Christmas." His brows rose wickedly. "You won't be the only girl at the party anymore!"
"Oh, stop that," Nuriko snapped, though she wasn't nearly as annoyed as she played out to be. It was a very good idea—though she wasn't so certain she could afford to feed everyone for Christmas.
Before she could voice her misgivings, he'd sauntered off.
And what kind of bet was it going to be, anyway? She felt suddenly nervous. Knowing him, it would be girls against guys. And he could come up with some of the oddest terms. As long as it wasn't dancing naked in this room, with all these strangers, though...
She grimaced, remembering a dare that had been made once, very similar to this one. She'd refused adamantly. It was surprising that someone as innately courteous as Hotohori could have such an odd quirk.
Shaking her head at herself, she glanced over at the two couples. They were still dancing obliviously, though that was about to be broken, considering Shannon rushing over to them with an angry glint in her eye. And her stride was too determined.
That man certainly moved fast. She grinned and made her entrance as the three girls began to talk fervently. Chichiri and Tasuki were being dragged to the side by Andy and Mitsukake.
"I think I prefer the all-night with pajamas," Miaka was saying quickly. "I'm definitely not playing strip poker or walking into a busy store with only lingerie. It's less embarrassing."
"I agree!" Yui said anxiously. "I just couldn't do the others... oh, Shannon, why did you have to put us in this position anyway?"
"It's all his fault!" the accused protested quickly. "Besides, if we win, they get to buy us Christmas dinner."
"I think I like the all-night/pajamas choice, too," Nuriko offered, stepping in to complete the semicircle. She smiled brightly at Shannon. "You can't leave me out of this!"
"Of course not," Miaka laughed, pulling on a long violet braid. "We'd never hear the end of it!"
"The only problem with the all-nighter is that our dates are buying the pajamas we're going to wear," Shannon pointed out with a sigh. "I guess you're right though. It's definitely the least embarrassing..."

*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`

"Nuuuriiiiiiikooooooooooooooooooo," Miaka groaned. "I am not wearing this out there!"
"Oh, come on—it looks adorable. And it's in your favorite color, though I just don't see how a redhead should be able to pull it off. Though it is a little lame, wearing red during Christmas season." The purple-haired seishi tilted her head thoughtful as she looked said girl over. "Really, Mia-chan, have you been eating a little much? Is that just a bit of pudge—right there?" A slender finger reached out to poke her in the hip. For her efforts, she received a Death Glare.
"No."
Short, sweet, and to the point, Nuriko mused. "I know Tasuki would love to see you in it." Slyly.
"For the fifteenth time today, we are not like that!" Miaka yelled. "I don't get where you're getting these ideas, for crying out loud! Yui, stop laughing and tell her to go out and buy me something less... less..."
"I think the word you mean is more," the blonde giggled. "Certainly you don't want to wear less than what you are right now. Though I admit, the color is blinding—maybe a little bit less of that."
"The color is the only thing I like about it!" her friend groused, crossing her arms over her chest and pouting.
"Oh please—Nuriko and I show more than you do," Shannon scoffed. "At least your legs are covered, though those hideous toes... what on Earth made you wear orange polish?" The raven-clad girl sauntered over, arching a brow inquiringly at her friend. Miaka bared her teeth.
"I like the color," she retorted with mock irritation. She took another glance in the mirror and sighed. "Why on Earth did we take that bet, Yui?"
"Because they were smart enough to make Andy Wong put it to Shannon," came the cheerful answer. Despite its complete validity—no, certainly because of it—she, too, received a Death Glare, though from a different person than Nuriko had. "Oh, come on, you know it's true. If Hotohori dares you to do anything, you snap it right up—"
"So that I can show him what an insignificant ass he is!" The dark-haired girl sniffed and tossed her hair, miffed. "Really, he has such a huge ego, and... and..." her fingers twitched.
"And he's in love with Miaka?" Yui slipped in quickly.
"That too—hey!" The American looked around, an embarrassed flush coloring her cheeks. "I mean..."
"Don't worry." The redhead smiled kindly, reaching out to hug her shoulders. "It's good that he's paying attention to you. I could never be for him what he wants me to be."
"I know." She sighed and lowered her head slightly, shoulders slumping. "And I'm never going to be what you are for him—not that it matters," she added hastily, suddenly straightening. Three pairs of knowing looks locked on her. "Really! It doesn't. I've only known him a couple days, for crying out loud!"
"Methinks she protesteth too much...eth." Miaka frowned. "Oh, shoot, I always mess up Old English."
"Methinks she doth protest too much," Yui grinned. Her best friend rolled her eyes.
"Sure, sure, one-up the redhead... You've got to be the only smart blonde in America, Hongo Yui!"
"Now, now. Chiriko is pretty intelligent too," Nuriko pointed out, plaiting her hair into its usual braid. "Too bad he isn't here tonight, or we could have fun playing Cranium."
"What's Cranium? Oh, wait, it's that one... uh, with the four categories with questions and stuff, right?" Shannon tilted her head slightly. "I used to play that in high school with my English teacher! It was fun, but it takes hours to win."
"I'm at a disadvantage in America," Yui replied primly. All three women rolled their eyes this time.
"Sure."
"Right."
"Modesty doesn't become you, Hongo Yui!"
"Neither does it become you, Yuuki Miaka!" the blonde mocked. "So just wear it, will you?" She pointed to the crimson pajamas with a pointed look.
"You only feel safe saying that because you are comfortably covered." She pouted. It wasn't fair that Yui had been bought pajamas with a button-up, overly-long-sleeved shirt in addition to the loose pants. And they were blue velvet—she would be warm. Miaka, on the other hand...
"Please," Nuriko sniffed. "You've shown more with regular clothes than you are with those."
That was true. Really, the outfit was quite similar to her favorite pair of red cotton pajamas... but these were silk, and just a tad skimpier. She looked down dubiously to poke her belly button. "I've never shown my stomach to public before," she half-whined, knowing that she would wear this out there, whether she liked it or not. Tasuki had bought it for her, and rules were that they wore what their dates bought them.
Shannon, of course, had the worst end of the deal, being paired with Hotohori. And Mitsukake, it seemed, had been shopping with Andy, if Nuriko's outfit was any judge. They both were clad in lingerie that had to be taken straight off the Victoria's Secret cover, and only barely covered the essentials. How they managed to have the courage to walk out there, she would never know.
And how the men had been able to buy pajamas, in their exact sizes, at ten at night was a mystery as well.
Thinking about it, though... Nuriko was hardly shy, and none of the men were ones she had romantic interest in. Though sometimes she would glance at Andy in a certain way reminiscent of Nuriko from the book. Either way, she would saunter out there with courage and flair, as in everything else she did.
Shannon... Miaka's eyes narrowed as she studied the American. She would walk out there defiant. That was it. The lingerie was nothing more than another dare, and she went through every dare without flinching. (In the space of seven days, there had been at least ten dares; she'd never expected the emperor to be capable of such a thing... but perhaps Shannon had that effect on him. Certainly he wasn't different with anyone else! Except maybe Nuriko, judging by her complete acceptance of the entire thing.)
Me, on the other hand... I'm going to turn as red as my pajamas as soon as Tasuki looks at me. Sure, it's one thing to sleep on your best friend in them, but this? Oh Lord, I'm going to die of humiliation. She shook her head slightly. "So we have to get through this entire night until noon tomorrow without sleeping, right? That's all the dare is?"
"Pretty simple, compared to the others," Yui noted thoughtfully. Shannon sighed.
"Not as simple as you'd think. He knows I had no sleep last night." Dark eyes hardened. "I'm still going to win, though. He gets sleepy after drinking."
"Hey! I thought I said there wasn't going to be any alcohol tonight!" Miaka yelped. "I don't want this place smelling like cheap beer!"
"Don't worry, I'm sure he only bought the best," Nuriko smirked. She received her second Death Glare of the night and only blinked, completely unfazed.
"I'm going to kill them," her priestess growled.

*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`

"Don' think thaz right," Miaka slurred, falling slowly to her side. She bumped up against Mitsukake's shoulder, apologized, straightened, and started falling to her other side. When she bumped up against Tasuki, he simply dragged her into his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and thanked him prettily.
"What isn't right?" Shannon queried, swirling her glass idly. She had to be the only sober person in the room, but—the ex-bandit's eyes narrowed slightly—there was some glaze in her eyes. Perhaps she wasn't as sober as she managed to seem.
"Strip poker... aren't y..y..yooooouuu," she concentrated on her words, "s'posed to strip before play?" She paused, and added slowly, "ing pow-ker." Then she hiccupped. Tasuki winced as the top of her head bumped against his chin.
"No, no, after playing poker..." The American's brow knitted.
"Like her idea," Andy piped up—unsurprisingly. Shannon glared at him.
"We're not playing strip poker." Yui managed to sound as cool and collected as usual, though she swayed slightly.
"I d—" Andy began, only to have a hand slapped over his mouth. Nuriko glared at him.
"No more dares." Her stern words were belied by the sudden giggle erupting from her. "Did 'nuff damage... wif dares."
Everyone had been forced to down two cans of beer because of Andy daring Shannon—who wouldn't do it alone. Now at least twenty cans were spilled all over the floor.
"Dares don' cause injuries," Mitsukake mumbled, taking her words a little too literally. He was sprawled against the couch, a can of beer resting on his belly. The picture of her quiet, strong, responsible healer in that position caused Miaka to fall off Tasuki's lap, laughing hysterically.
Nuriko crawled toward her and tripped as her knee caught on her hair. She swore half-heartedly and tried again, finally managing to rest her head on the redhead's leg. "Tired... sleepy," she mumbled.
"No sleep!" Yui said suddenly, panicked. "Can't sleep... lose bet." Her wide blue eyes blinked slowly. "Too bright," she mumbled suddenly, obviously having lost her train of thought. She brightened suddenly and stood slowly, tottering to the light switch. She flicked it off.
Being after midnight, the room was dark. The only illumination came from the four-foot fake tree in one corner of the room, multicolored lights radiant and in a state of constant change.
All eight people in the room fell to awed silence as they stared at the tree, a vision much more amazing in their drunken states. Chichiri was the first to speak, though he'd been silent most of the afternoon. "Hot'hori... she's on my other side," he mumbled.
The former pop star mumbled a garbled thanks, just moments before Shannon shrieked. "Ohmigodthattickles... who the hell is touching my thigh?" A pause, then a bewildered, "My arm's too heavy to move..."
A grunt, though Miaka couldn't tell who it came from. Then, "Sorry—was laying on it." She squinted, able to see shapes now that her eyes had adjusted. That deep voice was probably Mitsukake's.
She squeaked as someone's hand flailed against her, grabbing onto a very female portion of her anatomy. "Oops—Mia, s'rry," Nuriko muttered, though her grip tightened as she tried to sit up. Tears came to the redhead's eyes.
"Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" she half-shouted, smacking her friend's hand away. Then two more hands were moving over her back.
"Where's it hurt, honey? I'll help—"
When those hands began to move to her front, she slapped whoever it was behind her. The voice had been nearly unrecognizable, as soft and slurred as it was. But a growled, "Andy, get your hands off my friend," told her all she needed to know.
"HOTOHORI NO HENTAI!" she screamed, and bolted forward, tripping over Nuriko's still-prone form. She squeaked and closed her eyes tightly, waiting to feel the floor hit her nose any moment.
It didn't happen. She pried her eyes open slowly, realizing then that someone had lifted her up. And now she was being pulled into a nice, warm embrace... she snuggled close with a little purr. Very nice. Very warm. Sleepy...
Why was the world shaking?
Oh, of course. She was being rocked like a baby. Miaka nuzzled against a shoulder, wrapping her arms around the unknown person's waist. Very comfortable.
The squeaks going around the room didn't register through her happy haze.
"Ohmigod stop doin' what you're doin', Andy!"
"Ahh! Whose hand is that on my—Chiri? Why is your head here?"
"Fell—too tired to move. But I'm moving... umm. What are you doing?"
"I'm not doing—OW! Who pulled my hair?"
"Sorry Yui—ow, Andy, get your hands off my breasts or I will hurt you!"
"Oh, is that what these are... sorry, Sharon..."
"Shannon, damm—gah! Mitsukake?! Pervert!"
"Sorry—huh. What's this..."
"Mitsukake, you're a great date, but it doesn't mean I'm gonna fall into bed with you." Miaka stirred as Nuriko's voice, different from the others, woke her. She'd spoken smoothly, calmly, without the urgency/annoyance/fury of the others.
"Oops, sorry Riko."
"Umm... Andy? You can get off me now."
"Mmf."
"...Shan, can you get Chichiri off?"
Miaka blinked as the words finally registered. What the hell—she shifted and shook her head. Really, they could at least get their own rooms to do what they were doing. Just wrong to do it in public.
The lights suddenly blinked on, causing more than one groan of pain. Very slowly, she raised her head to look around the room.
There was an odd tangle on the floor just two feet away from her couch. It looked like Andy was sprawled on Shannon—sleeping? Definitely sleeping. His eyes were closed.
Then again, the American's were too. And her hands were very gently stroking his back.
And Chichiri was—good Lord.
"Wow, didn't know you were kinky, Chiri!"
Tasuki's cheerful voice boomed in her ear, and she winced slightly as she stared in fascination. Yui was sprawled on her stomach, and Chichiri was laying on top of her. That had to be what was called a 'compromising position', even if they DID have their clothes on.
"He's... heavy," Yui puffed.
Miaka looked around for the other two. Mitsukake was safely ensconced on the armchair, looking around with vague amusement. And Nuriko was—at that damned light switch. Evil woman.
"My eyes are throbbing," she grumbled. The purple-haired seishi snickered.
Oh, if they were all accounted for then—it was Tasuki's lap she was in. Very slowly, she raised her head to blink into cloudy eyes. "'Ello," she offered weakly.
"Just friends, eh, Mia?" Nuriko was... smirking?
"Huh?" Miaka responded cleverly.
"Well, let's see... one hand on your butt, other between—"
"TASUKI NO HENTAI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Well—we won."
Tasuki winced slightly as Miaka's voice aggravated his god-forsaken headache. "Umf."
"Feeling bad, are we?" she inquired with deadly sweetness. He pulled a pillow over his ear.
Laughing unkindly, she sat on the edge of her bed, watching the man occupying it with the faintest of smiles on her face. She was still drunk, the women having stayed up a little later than the men. "You owe me dinner," she pointed out gleefully. He threw out his arm, searching for another pillow to put over his ear. Giggling, Miaka collapsed on the bed behind him, snuggling up to his back warmly. "We're all gonna go to the China Star."
"Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmf." He turned onto his back with a sigh, wincing at the pain throbbing behind his right eye. Damn, who was it that had given him the first drink?
She rested her head on his shoulder and inched closer, yawning. "I'm tired," she admitted. His eyebrow twitched; it took too much energy to lift it entirely. "'M gonna sleep with you. Riko an' Shan an' Yui crowded th'other bed."
Why were they—oh. The other men had taken over Yui's bed. Tasuki had his own thanks to him being the last man to sleep. "Umm," he finally said.
"Sorry for hitting you. Know you didn't mean to put your hand there," she yawned. "Wasn't s'bad anyway." He grunted. "Sleepy... 'sit cold?"
She pulled away briefly to burrow under the covers, then threw her arm over his chest and snuggled closely once again. "Ni' Tasu-chan."
Carefully, he placed his arm around her, pulling her close. "Night, love," he whispered. Only her even breathing answered; she'd fallen asleep.



CJ's Blurb: Hewwo ^_^ The offer from the standalone stands here as well; the first person to guess correctly *who* says *what* during the 'lights-out' scene will be given a cameo! -grin- Anyway, I'm sorry for the long wait. This chapter is slightly longer to make up for it, even though most of it was already posted in the standalone. :p This chapter was a little hard to write because, well, I've already written it .;; but ah well. Hope you all enjoyed. Told you the Christmas special would be out by the end of the week. It's only 2:11am!

KittyLynne: I was waiting for your review of the standalone to figure out if it would fit well enough in FW! Hehe, glad you thought it did though, because I REALLY wanted to put it in. It was the most fun chapter to actually write! ;) Anyway, YAY FOR REVIEW! I love getting your reviews. I hope you read chapter seven, too, since you didn't mention it in your review o.o;; not sure if you missed it or not. Anyway! I hope this chapter meets with your approval. *grins* Miaka's slowly coming out of her oblivious state, and Yui and Chichiri have a nice vague little moment in here! :P Of course Nuriko's the one to start all the trouble *rolls her eyes at everyone's favorite crossdressing seishi* Silly woman!
You're welcome for the shout-out and credit. You so deserve it. -nods firmly!- And thank you for noticing the typo *winces* I hate making typos. I normally realize when I do it, too. *sighs* Getting me worried about what other typos I've missed. I don't check over my own chapters. I just post after I write, because I miss everything when I look them over anyway. =P I hope your holiday has been wonderful! It sounds like it has, since you've been so busy. Or it could mean the opposite, but hey, I'm an optimist! -grins-
*much huggles for KL for letting her into Banditscribe, too!* ^_^ *bounces around her in kitten form, batting at her hair*

Please read and review, everyone! ^_^ Tell me what you think.
-CJ