Author's Notes: This is my first Inuyasha fiction *published*. There are other -- larger -- fictions on my computer that I will be publishing at a future date. I'm not a fan of leaving my readers hanging, so as soon as the entire thing is proofed, I'll post. Most of my works are 'shipper stories, particularly covering Paris/Torres from Star Trek: Voyager and Inuyasha/Kagome from Inuyasha.

Disclaimer: I'll save the silliness for my story. As usual -- the characters and settings are not my own, I am merely borrowing them with gratitude from Rumiko Takahashi.

Stress Relief
by arisu-the-pink

This wouldn't do. Kagome looked around the small village hut, glancing from one world-weary friend to the other. Even the normally boisterous Shippou appeared to have an invisible weight bearing on his shoulders. No, this wouldn't do at all.

And I only have myself to blame, Kagome thought. After the way I acted, and then returning so suddenly, of course they are all uncomfortable. They probably hated Inuyasha for hurting me, and now they're confused. They don't know how to act around us. We need to lighten the mood.

She stood up, receiving barely a notice from Inuyasha, who sat in a corner brushing Tetsusaiga. "I'm going home for a moment," she held up her hand, stalling any protest the hanyou could offer, "just a moment. I'll be right back."

Kaede, who'd been unnaturally occupied with the stewpot before her, suddenly drew her attention to the young woman. "Dinner will be ready shortly, Kagome. Please don't stay out long."

She nodded, "Hai!" and left into the sunset.

* * * *

"There it is." Kagome smiled as she withdrew the small pack of playing cards from her desk drawer, placing it into her yellow backpack. She idly wondered if they had such games in Sengoku Jidai as she walked downstairs to the kitchen.


"Yes Kagome?" The elder Higurashi woman peeped around the corner from the living room.

"May I bring some of our sake with me?"

Kagome's mother nodded, the ever-present smile on her face. "Yes, and don't forget the ramen, I picked some up this afternoon."

"Hai, Arigatou!" She gathered her supplies quickly, slinging the now bulging bag over her shoulder. "Good bye!"

* * * *

"Kagome-chan?" Sango eyed the small stack of rough paper her younger friend was currently -- shuffling? was that the word? -- and watched as Kagome passed out several pieces to each of them.

"It's a game, I thought we could use some entertainment around here." All the cards were laid out before them, but something was missing.

"Inuyasha, are you coming?"

"Keh! Not interested."

She didn't want to press, but Kagome really wanted him there. After all, the whole point of the venture was to repair the group's strained friendship. "All right, Inuyasha," she finally agreed. "We'll play a few rounds without you."

She turned back to the group, and proceeded to explain the complicated rules of poker.

"Ha, Inuyasha, maybe it's better you don't play," Miroku called to the sulking adolescent. "This is pretty complicated..."

"Are you saying I'm stupid, Monk?" Inuyasha jumped up from his crouch, and strode over the the small circle.

Miroku shrugged. "Care to prove me wrong?"

He knew he was being tricked, but Inuyasha couldn't back down from a challege. He grabbed the cards Kagome'd placed beside herself and plopped down. "Pass me some of that sake, and let's stop wasting time."

* * * *

"Straight." Sango laid out her hand -- five through nine. The rest groaned, dropping their

losing hands. She grinned, rare for the demon exterminator, and gathered up the small stones they'd been using as chips.

"I'm getting bored," Inuyasha complained.

"That's only because you keep losing," Miroku taunted. "But if you want to make it interesting, how about we stop betting pebbles?"

Kagome blinked, fighting back the fog in her head. That sake was strong. "What -- erp! -- what are you proposing, Miroku?"

He smiled his lecherous grin, quickly replacing it with innocence at a glare from Inuyasha. "I say we play for dares. Winner gets to chooose their victim. And just to make it a little more exciting, you have to declare your victim up front."

Sango shrunk back a little, wary of what the lecherous monk might ask of her should she become the 'victim'. But as the others nodded their agreement, she felt herself going along with the group.

"I choose you, Bouzu!" Inuyasha crossed his arms. This was going to be fun.

"I choose Sango," Kagome decided, hoping the other girl would come to her rescue in return.

"Arigato, Kagome-chan, I choose you as well."

"Ha, Inuyasha, prepare to lose!" Miroku took the cards from Kagome and dealt them out.

First round went quickly to Kagome, who dared Sango to serenade them with a song from her village. The taijiya blushed a deep crimson, but complied, sending the red-clad hanyou across from her into fits of laughter.

"I choose Inuyasha," she declared for round two, eager to put him in his place.

Miroku waggled an eyebrow, downed another cup of sake, and announced his bet, "Sango."

Inuyasha chose Miroku again, eager to exact his well-planned torture, and Kagome selected the monk as well.

"Full House!" Kagome stood, wobbling a little, and began to giggle. "Sango, do you have that extra kimono of yours handy?" The woman nodded, a look of confusion on her face. "Then hand it over to Miroku. I think he needs a change of clothes."

The smirk Miroku had been wearing faded quickly. "Eh? You expect me to wear women's clothing?" At her nod, he sighed. "All right, Sango, hand it over."

Barely hiding a smile, Sango thrust the bundle of fabric toward him, and waved him outdoors.

"Kagome-chan, you've won twice already, maybe you are using those miko powers of yours to sway the game?" she teased.

"Me? Cheat? Never!" Kagome sat back down before she stumbled. No more sake for me tonight, she told herself. At that moment, a humbled Miroku entered the hut, tripping over the unfamiliar attire he'd clumsily bound around his waist.

They all laughed heartily, and continued with the game.

* * * *

An hour had passed, and Kagome felt her eyes beginning to droop from the alcohol coursing through her blood. Inuyasha, she noted, seemed completely immune to the chemicals. Perhaps his demon blood kept him from getting drunk. "I'm out," she announced, scooting back toward the wall. A brief looking of concern passed over Inuyasha's eyes which she waved away. "I'd just rather watch," she explained.

"I'm out too," Sango agreed, placing her cards on the deck in the center, yawning. Why she'd agreed to down 3 cups of sake in a row escaped her. However, it was the dare Miroku gave her.

"You tired too, Miroku?" Inuyasha challenged.

"Ha, you dream," he threw back at the hanyou. "I already know exactly what you will be doing when I win this round."

He dealt, and studied his cards carefully, drinking from his sixth cup of sake. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Miroku knew he was giving up his advantage by becoming so inebriated. He pushed the thought out of his mind and adjusted his hand. This was good.

Inuyasha studied his cards, a frown on his face. If the monk was bluffing, he thought, he was doing a good job of it. The half-demon was not one to back down from danger, though. He could win with a one pair. Maybe.

Miroku grinned devilishly as he lay his hand before Inuyasha's weak set. "Royal Flush." He began to cackle. Inuyasha paled.

"Finally, I get to exact my revenge," the monk announced, remembering the indignity of allowing Sango to repay him for so many inappropriate gropes. His rear was still quite tender...



"I want you..."


"to be Kagome's dog for the rest of the night."

Inuyasha started. "Her -- her what?"

Kagome was suddenly wide awake.

Miroku repeated his dare with total nonchalance. "I want you to be Kagome's dog for the night. Fetch, beg, SIT... whatever she commands." He sat back, surveying the scene before him. Inuyasha was ready to kill him, and Kagome... Kagome was just shocked.

The hanyou started to growl.

"Kagome, I suggest you control your animal," Miroku suggested casually.

A hint of a blush crept across her cheeks, but Kagome complied. "Down, boy."

Inuyasha glared from Miroku to Kagome and back to Miroku.

"You aren't going to back down now, are you?" Miroku closed his eyes, trying hard to keep the laughter out of his voice. He succceded with great difficulty. You may be a two-timing louse of a boyfriend, he thought, but at least you can be a faithful pet for one night.

Grumbling under his breath, Inuyasha finally hushed and walked over to Kagome. It was late, surely this little game would end soon. "Keh. Fine."

The blush still on her cheeks, Kagome reached up to touch his velvety ears. Oh how she'd longed to have free access. Somewhere a voice nagged to her that she was taking advantage of him, but she didn't care. And, she realized, it didn't seem he actually minded that much. Almost imperceptibly, he leaned into her gentle massage.

Just for today, he thought, I can let her do this. Inuyasha decided maybe his punishment wasn't quite as bad as he'd expected.

Miroku grew bored. "Kagome-sama, doesn't your pet do any tricks?"

Inuyasha growled again, earning himself another "Down boy." The ear massage stopped.

"Inu-chan," Kagome dared to allow herself this intimacy with him. After all, he was supposed to be her beloved pet, right? "Beg."

He rolled his eyes, but complied. "You're going to pay for this, Bouzu," he grunted.

"Wow, your dog talks!"

Kagome laughed, then patted Inuyasha's head. "Good boy. Now roll over."

Inuyasha rolled to a prone position, opening up his stomach to her.

Kagome drew a blank. Now what?

Another lecherous look swept over the monk's face. "Kagome, you should give your doggie a tummy rub for being so obedient."

Her already pink face grew pinker and hotter. "Eh? I- I don't think..."

Inuyasha saw his chance to share the indignity. "Woof!" He gave her a sad puppy-dog look, and shook a 'paw' at her. Damned if I'm going to suffer alone, Wench, he thought.

Tentatively, Kagome placed a hand on the front of his yukata, and began to rub in a circular motion. Inuyasha struggled to hide his discomfort as she manipulated his ticklish spots. If anyone found out he was ticklish...

Miroku snorted a laugh, then turned away from the pair. "It's late, I'm going to bed." He turned to his bedroll and sank down into it, studiously avoiding the two teens behind him. Maybe Inuyasha will get some sense knocked into him, he thought before allowing the alcohol to claim him in a deep sleep.

Kagome was still petting him, Inuyasha realized. Even more, it didn't feel all that bad. He blushed crimson. "Ahem..."

The girl shrank back suddenly, allowing him to roll up into a more dignified position. "Gomen," she apologized, looking away.

The silence in the previously animated room wore heavy on her, forcing Kagome to look up. Why was he still sitting there?

Inuyasha's eyes gleamed with an evil thought. He'd never gotten the chance to dare her, but that didn't mean he couldn't have any fun. Quick as a flash, he leaned forward and licked her cheek. "Goodnight, Kagome." And just as quickly, he dashed out the door to sleep in his favorite tree.

Kagome fainted.