Author's Note: Okay, to those of you who are waiting for me to update Missing in Action and are thinking 'What the hell are you doing?!' please, don't kill me. I assure you that I will not abandon MIA, nor have I any intention of letting it lie dormant. I just couldn't resist – what can I say? Inspiration struck.
And to those of you not reading MIA, welcome to my new fic (and read MIA too! It's really cool, I promise).
Anyway, so far my fics have tended to be more on the dramatic side, so I thought a nice romantic comedy would be, well…nice, for a change! So please, enjoy, and I will update as soon as I can.
Disclaimer: Consider this warning for the duration of the fic (because I'll probably forget this part anyway) – I do not own, nor have I ever owned in any way shape or form, Inuyasha. 'Nuff said. ;)Alter Ego
Chapter 1: Gentleman's Wager
"Gotcha." Inuyasha turned to retrieve a pair of glasses from the shelf and fill them from the tap while Sango leaned against the bar, giving her aching feet a much deserved rest.
"God I'm tired. What time is it?" she asked.
Inuyasha glanced up at the clock before turning back to the woman, beers in hand. "Midnight. Only two more hours," he said with a light smirk.
She groaned, heaved the tray with its liquid cargo and gave him a weary, "See ya," as she set off to deliver the drinks.
"Hey bartender, can I get another Manhattan?" someone called from down the bar and Inuyasha nodded, going to refill the woman's drink.
The club was packed tonight, not surprising seeing as it was a Friday. People were milling about in between the tables, where others sat and talked with friends and strangers alike, laughing, flirting, trying to score a few points with the opposite sex. The dance floor was full to overflowing with gyrating bodies, moving to the beat of the music that pulsed throughout the relatively dark room, lit mainly by multi-colored lights and the occasional strobe.
The distinctive sound of a slap came from the other end of the bar, and Inuyasha turned his head just in time to see Miroku nursing an injured cheek, the woman he'd apparently tried to grope storming off in a huff. The hanyou had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing at his co-worker's plight. And to think the man's family had wanted him to become a Buddhist monk! Idiot. When's he gonna learn that grabbing some chick's ass is not a good pick-up.
"Inuyasha," Kagome's voice called him back to the present as she set her tray down on the bar.
He turned to face her across the bar. "What is it, bitch."
She shot him a glare, to which he only grinned in a self-satisfied sort of way. Tormenting 'little miss goody-two-shoes' had become his favorite pass time -- and she knew it. "Give me a scotch on the rocks with a twist, a strawberry daiquiri, and two bloody marys," she ground out, trying to keep a rein on her temper. She refused to let him win this round.
"Quite the drinker, aren't we? Wouldn't want to see you do something you'd regret under the influence of such potent stuff..." he said, mockingly.
"Shut up and fix the drinks, you jackass," her patience was wearing thin. He'd been at it all night.
He smirked at her triumphantly, but did as she bade...slowly.
"Come on, I don't have all night," she said impatiently, "I'm getting off early for a date."
He snorted. "Feh, who'd you sucker into taking you out, bitch? And it's a bit late to be going out, don't you think? I mean, you wouldn't want to break curfew."
She glowered dangerously at him, her resolve slipping. Placing both hands on the bar, she leaned over toward him as he put the drinks on the tray between them. "Listen you arrogant son of a bitch, that's none of your business. But if you must know, Hojo's taking me out after work, okay? And I do not have a curfew!"
"Hojo?!" he scoffed, contemptuously, "That little runt of a waiter with the poofy hair? No wonder you don't have a curfew; you could be out all night with that bozo and your mother wouldn't worry a lick!"
"Now just what the hell is that supposed to mean?" she asked him suspiciously.
"I mean the kids probably less 'experienced' than you are, if that's possible," he shot back.
"Ooooh, you jackass! How dare you say something like that! For your information, I'm not some little child who's never had a date in her life! I've been out with men -- real men. Nice men, who have more to offer a girl than a pretty face and, well, that. Unlike some people I know."
He scowled. This was getting personal. "Hey, I'm not just some pervert out to get laid all the time either. I'm not Miroku, you know!"
"Ha! Getting laid seems to be all guys like you think about! That's why I make it a rule never to date arrogant hentai jerks like you." With that parting shot she hefted the tray and left the silver-haired hanyou fuming after her.
"Bitch," he muttered under his breath, his mood turning sour as it often did after a conversation with Kagome. He'd lost again. The wench somehow had a way of turning every one of his victories into a defeat in the end. Damn that little bitch. Oooh how he'd love to make her eat those words of hers. Nothing could give him greater satisfaction.
Inuyasha went on serving drinks as they were requested, and managed to push the argument to the back of his mind...most of the time. But due to his grouchy disposition, the minutes seemed to tick by at an agonizingly slow pace from then on. He needed someone to torment, someone upon which to unleash his pent up frustration.
It was like music to his ears. He'd know that voice anywhere. Apparently Miroku had made the mistake of trying to grope Sango yet again. At last, someone for him to harass!
He ambled down the bar to where the would-be monk stood staring wistfully after the enraged waitress as she disappeared into the oscillating crowd.
"Good one," he sneered.
Miroku cocked an eyebrow at him and said sarcastically, in that perfect dead pan of his, "Thanks, I thought so."
"Feh," Inuyasha smirked at his friend and crossed his arms, then shook his head disparagingly. "When are you gonna learn monk?"
"Well its not as if you were doing much better. Wasn't it you that Kagome called a...what was it..." he frowned and scratched his chin as though deep in thought, "Ah yes, an 'arrogant hentai jackass,' just a little while ago?"
The dog-demon glared at him, baring a fang, but Miroku merely continued to smile placidly. "It was 'jerk,' not 'jackass,'" he said menacingly.
"Oh, well that's entirely different then," the man replied, amusement lighting his eyes.
How did every conversation he had manage to turn against him? "What the hell does that little bitch know anyway? I'm still better off than you."
"Is that so?" Miroku raised his eyebrows, "How would you like to put your money where your mouth is?"
Inuyasha regarded his friend carefully. It was a well-known fact that Miroku was quite the con artist. Betting against him on anything was rarely a good idea. But then, Inuyasha was not exactly lauded for his shrewdness. His pride had a way of superseding his judgment. "How exactly?"
"I'll give you two weeks. If, in that time, you can get a woman of my choosing to sleep with you -- willingly, of course -- I'll pay you...a hundred-and-fifty bucks. If not, you'll owe me the same."
Inuyasha considered for a moment before saying, "Two hundred."
"Who's the girl?" he questioned.
The hanyou's eyes widened, "What! Fuck that, I'm not-" but he paused, glancing out across the crowd to where the woman in question was taking down another order. 'That's why I make it a rule never to date arrogant hentai jerks like you...' The words echoed in his memory, and an evil sort of grin crept across his face as a plan began to form in the back of his mind.
He turned back to Miroku. "You're on."
* * *
Kagome untied her apron and slipped it into her locker in the back room of the club. She stifled a yawn with the back of her hand. Mmm, do I really have to go out tonight? I'm so tired...
As if in answer to her question, Hojo soon appeared in the doorway. "You ready Higurashi?"
"Coming Hojo," she answered, carefully hiding her fatigue and grabbing her purse, before closing the locker. Then she fixed a smile on her face and turned to join him. They made their way out the back exit, to avoid the crowds still entering and leaving the club, and onto the street.
"So, where do you want to go?" he asked as they strolled down the sidewalk. The area was still pretty crowded, even at this hour, as they were in the 'nightlife' district of Tokyo, where all the popular nightclubs were. Groups and couples, many of them already drunk to varying degrees, made their way from bar to bar, and their voices mingled with the muffled sounds of music coming from within each of the many buildings.
"Someplace quiet," she replied, and he smiled at her, completely understanding her reasoning.
"I agree. Funny, ever since I started working at that club I find I never really want to go to one for fun anymore. I get enough of it, you know?"
"Believe me, I know. I've been working there even longer than you, remember? Right now I just want to have something to eat and put my feet up for awhile," she said, leaning into him a bit more.
"How about we pick up some chinese from this all night place I know of and then go back to my place and watch a movie?" he suggested.
Recalling her conversation earlier with Inuyasha, she paused to look at the man appraisingly. But all she saw was an innocent offer; there was no sign of any 'ulterior motive,' so she smiled and said, "Sounds perfect."
* * *
Inuyasha turned the key in the lock, making his way back into his apartment around three a.m. The club had closed at two, but it had been his and Miroku's turn to clean and lock the place up for the night. It wasn't too bad really -- it only took them about forty-five minutes -- but by the time he got home the hanyou was dead tired.
His apartment wasn't large; it consisted mainly of a hardwood-floored living room with a big, comfy couch, an overstuffed armchair, and a television. Off to the left side of the room, as you come in the door, was a dining table. The couch faced three windows along the brick outer wall of the building, directly across from the door. Behind the couch was a small kitchen, separated from the living room by only a counter. Just to the left when facing the kitchen was a bathroom, and on the left-hand wall was the door to the bedroom. It was nothing fancy, but it suited him and the rent was good.
He slung his jacket over the back of the couch and sank into it, leaning his head back and seriously considering just falling asleep right there. Thank god he didn't have to work at all tomorrow. But the thought of work reminded him suddenly of the plan he'd begun to conceive earlier that night, the plan to finally beat the smug smiles off both Kagome and Miroku, and he found himself wide awake.
Getting up from the couch he walked into the bedroom, narrowing his eyes in thought as he struggled to remember where he'd put it. It had been years since he'd used the thing; frankly he hadn't been able to think of a very good reason to -- until now.
Finally it came to him and he went to his closet to begin fishing around the upper shelves for that old wooden lockbox he'd put it in. He had to step on the bottom shelf in order to reach the back of the very top, but he was soon rewarded when his hand brushed the dusty wooden surface of the box. In his haste to grab at it, however, his grip on the shelves failed and he fell spectacularly on his ass, along with most of the contents of the closet.
"Sonofa- dammit," he grumbled, rubbing his head where it had hit the floor and picking himself up from the mess. He looked irritably at the pile of junk now covering his floor, but made a dismissive gesture and muttered impatiently, "Oh hell, I'll clean it up later."
Ignoring the mess, he took a seat on his bed, putting the lockbox in front of him. As he reached for the dial on the front to unlock it, he cursed with a sudden thought.
"Fuck, I don't remember the combination." At once he dropped the box and got up to pace. Wasn't it 22-34-16? No, no that was his locker combination at work. 221-78-8368? Nope, social security number. 579-9232? No, that was that chick's phone number -- which reminded him, he should probably call her back someday. Dammit, what was it?
In a fit of frustration he sat down again and grabbed the box to shake it. But when he did so, the lid flipped up easily -- apparently he'd forgotten to lock it last time.
Grrr, "Why the fuck didn't you do that when I fell off the shelves?" he growled at it, not really expecting an answer. After all, he was talking to a box -- it was very late at night.
Thankfully, the box did not reply -- it wasn't quite that late at night. Inuyasha proceeded to open the little compartments until finally he found the thing he was looking for.
It was small, and at first glance seemed hardly worth all the trouble he'd gone through to find it, but the hanyou knew better. The little ring, given to him by his mother when he was very young, had embedded within it a shard of the Shikon no Tama, which gave it some very special properties. He smiled almost menacingly at the plain gold band, strung on a simple chain, since it was too small to fit on his finger. But to wear it around his neck would be sufficient for his purposes.
He stood and crossed the room to face the mirrored dresser opposite. Once there he slipped the chain over his head and pulled his hair through it. All at once he could feel the change beginning to take place. It was a strange sort of tingling sensation, but he was used to it by now. After all he experienced it once a month with or without the ring, whether he liked it or not. He watched triumphantly as black seeped down his normally silver hair from the roots and his amber eyes dissolved into a deep brown. Holding his hands out before him, he observed his claws as they shrank to regular, blunt human nails, and finally the pointed ears on top of his head slipped down to the sides and morphed into human ones. Perfect.
Inuyasha had always kept the secret of his transformation closely guarded, so he had certainly never told Kagome about it. With the help of the ring, he could change back and forth as he pleased. There was no way she would be able to recognize him like this. He would be able to charm her easily, without concern for her dislike toward him. And when she found out who she'd been with...
He smirked at his human reflection. It was the ultimate revenge.
"I guess this thing came in handy after all."
* * *
Kagome blinked awake and squinted against the morning light shining through the curtains. For a moment she didn't remember where she was or why she was sleeping sitting up with her head resting on someone's shoulder, but then she recalled her date with Hojo the night before and realized she must have fallen asleep during the movie.
With a yawn she lifted her head to sit up and stretch out her cramping legs, which had been curled beneath her all night. She smiled back at the young man sleeping with his chin on his chest, one arm on the back of the couch where she had been before. He's such a sweet guy, she thought fondly. Too bad I'm not all that attracted to him. I really should be -- we had such a nice time -- but I don't know; there's just something missing.
When she stood up to stretch, her shifting weight caused the man to stir awake as well and he yawned too, looking up at her sleepily.
"Hey," he said with a smile.
She smiled back. "Why didn't you wake me up?"
"Well you just looked so peaceful I didn't want to disturb you. Besides, the movie was almost over and I figured you'd wake up when it ended." He looked somewhat sheepishly at her, "I guess I fell asleep too. Sorry."
"That's okay, I don't mind," she replied sweetly. "I should get going, okay? Thanks though, this was fun."
He nodded and stood up. "I had fun too. Maybe we could go out again sometime -- perhaps on a night when we don't work."
"Mm-hmm," she murmured noncommittally, "Maybe." She gathered her purse and jacket and he walked her to the door.
"See you later," he said with a wave, and she answered with another smile and nod.
"Bye." When the door had closed behind her, the smile slipped into a more thoughtful expression. What's wrong with me? she thought. Why don't I want to go out with him again? I mean he's nice and honorable and intelligent -- he even has money, not that that really matters, but still. Why am I not interested?
Once she was out on the street, she turned right to head back to her place. Soon her pondering on Hojo led her to a slightly different and far less welcome train of thought.
At least Hojo's not so possessive and domineering, like Kouga always was. I can't believe I put up with that for an entire year. Sure he was handsome and strong and quite smart, but that attitude of his was unbearable. And then he had the gall to dump me! He was the reason I resolved only to date nice guys from now on -- guys like Hojo. Maybe if I give the guy a chance he'll start to grow on me...or maybe I should just give up on men altogether. Seems like they're all either sweet but dull, or interesting but obnoxious. What's a girl supposed to do?
If only there were someone in between...
* * *
A/N: Bet you can't guess what I'm gonna say next!
(everyone in unison): Please review!
Hey, how'd you know? All right, who told?!