Author's Notes: During the course of this chapter there is a flashback that is noted with the use of italics. So, just be aware.

The Red String of Fate

Chapter 6

Too early, Too late

It was too early, Kagome decided whole-heartedly as she heaved her bike out of the rack and steered it towards the narrow street that would eventually lead to the inner recesses of the college.

The sun had barely begun to peak over the edges of the grey Tokyo buildings and once again, Kagome grumbled to herself about the hour at which she had been forced to awake.

Why did I sign up for such early classes? She continued to berate herself as she peddled down the nearly deserted street towards campus (and in the direction of the college gymnasium for her first archery class of the year.)

She didn't really have any preconceived notions, and locking her bike firmly to a nearby pole, she made her way towards the back lot where the classes were to take place.

Closing her eyes, Kagome took a steadying breath and turned the corner to face the class.

It wasn't that she was nervous about the class. No, far from that. Archery was something Kagome could handle.

It was her thoughts of that night still lingered in the mind like the early morning mist of Tokyo.

---------

Naraku awoke groggily that morning to his room, which for the first time in several days, was empty. It struck him as odd, he noticed blearily, idly sipping a cup of room-temperature tea that had been sitting out from the night before, that Kagome shouldn't be there.

Maybe it was because he was half awake that he didn't remember her classes started early than his.

Damn, she was quiet getting dressed this morning, he pondered to himself as he hoisted his tense body out of the futon and in the general direction of the kitchenette, I didn't hear a single sound.

Maybe she didn't want to make a sound. After all, they had rather—how would you say—been on edge for the past couple of days. Ever since that day he had accompanied her to college for class registration.

The following night had not been one of his best moments, that was undeniably for sure.

Popping some leftovers into the microwave he contemplated his reflection in the glossy surface of the glass door.

He had a feeling that an apology was in order. And damn it, apologies were one of the things he hated above all things. That and stale caramel.

That reminds me, I'm nearly out…

Sure the confession was late in coming, but better an earnest late apology rather than an early false apology, he supposed.

He had over-reacted. He admitted it! But if anyone had known the circumstances would they have blamed him? It was Sesshoumaru—the most annoying bloke to ever walk the face of the planet, besides that creepy American, Michael Jackson....

Naraku shuddered.

The microwave bleeped, and with his mouth half full of food, he grumbled, "I didn't over react, damn it."

He kept telling himself that all through the morning; in the shower, at the computer, on his bike, and in his first two classes of the day.

But he still didn't believe it.

---------

Crap, crap, crap…! Kagome wheezed mentally, swerving dangerously through gaps in the crowd. She was going to be late. On her first day of class! And not only her first day of class—an upperclassman one at that!

The blue eyed girl hoped she would still be able to get a good seat as the campus' bell tower chimed ominously. It was 9'oclock and she was a good five minutes away from the hall.

How was she ever going to manage this? With only ten minutes to spare in-between classes it seemed almost ridiculous that she had to traipse through the entire campus.

Upon making it to the nearest bike-rack to the hall she locked her bike as quickly as she could possibly manage (which wasn't that quick) before running off in the direction of the building, glancing over her shoulder to make sure the bike was still there and—

--ran smack into a person.

Well, maybe she just sort of collided with his shoulder, but still, it did them both some damage, namely knocking the man's satchel out of his grasp.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry," she practically squealed, looking nervously down at the stooped figure of a brown-haired gentleman, "I really, I mean, I'm really really sorry—but I sort of have to go and—,"

But the man interrupted her and explained, not harshly, but more with assurance, "You must be a first year. It's alright. Go on and get to class." He then cast a glance Kagome didn't see and said nothing.

Kagome was not quite sure what to say, but quickly bowed and spirited off towards the hall.

As it turned out she arrived ten minutes late to class—but no one really noticed. No one except Sesshoumaru, that was…

----------

Kagome had become worried when Naraku was abnormally late. Surely his photo-shoot couldn't have taken so long? But then again who was she to know photo-shoots? After all, she was hardly a model and didn't know the world in which Naraku lived half the time. All she knew was the man who she had known as a child, who liked caramel, and was very protective of her.

Still, clicking off the T.V. and glancing through some of her books she had purchased, debating if she should start reading them now or later, she was worried.

'But it's not like I'm dating him, or he's my boyfriend or anything,' she thought to herself oddly, finding some crackers on which to snack on. She had delayed eating dinner in hopes that maybe she could treat Naraku to a sort of—Last Week Before College celebration.

Ten minutes later she heard the key in the lock, and trying to look as though she had actually been productive for the last three hours she buried her nose in a book and pretended not to notice Naraku walk in.

Yet Naraku said nothing, he didn't even greet her, and peeking her nose over the brim of the book she found that he had plopped himself down onto his futon (now in couch mode) and was staring at her from across the room.

"What?" she questioned, not nervously, for at the moment she didn't particularly know she needed to be nervous. Kagome just assumed that Naraku-in addition to his fondness for caramels- sometimes had a problem with staring.

Not that she minded, really. Although it was quite annoying blushing every time someone looked at you.

"You lied." Naraku whispered at length, unzipping his boots and chucking them into the corner—most unusual.

Kagome, closed her book and placed it behind her and questioned, her tone still full of jest, "What are you talking about, Naraku?"

"You lied. That is what I am talking about."

"What did I lie about?"

Naraku began to unbutton his shirt and Kagome looked away. What was wrong with him? She sneaked a glance and paled. She hadn't noticed the bottle of alcohol residing next to him on the futon. That certainly hadn't been there before he arrived.

'He's drunk,' she thought to herself nervously. And, from the looks of it, Naraku was not a 'happy drunk' at that.

She gulped, hoping the walls were thin and one of the neighbors were home should things 'get out of hand'. Kagome figured she could handle her child-hood friend for now, but…but she was not so innocent as to imagine the man could not over-power her.

"Sesshoumaru," Naraku mumbled to himself, tossing the shirt in the corner along with the boots, and nibbling on an elaborate cross that had been chained about his neck.

Kagome paled. Sesshoumaru? What? How did he know?

"Why do you say that?" she whispered, trying to remain calm, tucking her knees close to her body.

"Come on, my little sparrow, we're friends, right? You didn't have to keep it from me. I would have found out sooner or later. I always do."

Those words sounded morbid in the twilight hours. And watching him half in fear, half in hynopitism, she followed his body as he stood up and began to walk towards her across the carpet, his form seeming almost like a giant compared to hers sitting.

The girl didn't know whether to be afraid or not.

"What do you mean?" she whispered.

Naraku kneeled, "Cut the crap. He told me."

"Who told you?"

"Sesshoumaru"

"What did he tell you?"

"You went drinking."

Naraku moved closer to her now and picked up her right hand and brought it to his lips and kissed it softly, "You taste like fruit-cake."

"I'm sure I don't," Kagome chattered, wanting to withdraw her hand from his grasp but somehow finding it unable to.

She couldn't recognize the alcohol he smelled like, but then again, it wasn't that important.

"Did he kiss you?"

The question caught her off guard.

"Certainly not!"

"How can you be sure? You were drunk that night."

"I know he wouldn't kiss me. He hates me. Even you know that."

"Indeed?"

Naraku returned her hand to her lap and continued, "How can you be sure you two didn't 'do' anything?"

"He wouldn't try."

"You aren't a man, Kagome. You don't know what men are capable of doing."

Kagome could not find an answer to that.

"How could you? With Sesshoumaru of all people!" His voice had gone hoarse and ragged and he grabbed a first of her hair, though not pulling it tight enough to cause her pain. His eyes danced with her reflection, Kagome's scared face, "I know what that bastard is capable of. I'm capable of it too. But know this, Kagome, I don't want you anywhere near that guy…He's dangerous. He could destroy everything for you."

The girl shivered, suddenly feeling very small. Naraku's body and warmth seemed to be everywhere. This entire scene was too surreal. It was a movie that she was watching. She felt no emotion.

But the fear would come later.

"Did he kiss you?" he repeated.

Once again Kagome didn't answer.

"Did he kiss you…?" he whispered darkly, releasing her hair from his grip and roughly, this time, grabbing her chin and tilting her face painfully upwards so that it was fully facing his own.

"No…," she whispered, finding tears beginning to prick her eyes.

"Did he hold you close—did he tell you?"

And suddenly, there was hardly any space between their lips. Naraku had moved in with such intensity that before she knew it his skin was nearly pressed against her own flushed cheeks.

A tear fell and splashed down her face and onto his left hand that had cupped her cheek.

It shattered Naraku's intentions—his lips hovered over Kagome's own, desire flickering in his eyes—but the moisture stopped him half heartedly. Not yet recovered from his outburst, but still on the edges of the dark realm. His intentions still remained, but now abated.

But the storm had passed.

He moved away.

And the two did not talk for two days.

-------

Class had certainly proved interesting, regardless of the fact that she was in the back row and could hardly see the overhead projector. From what she had caught (and read on the syllabus) this was no class to be tampered with. There was quite a lot of reading, four books from what she had counted so far, but the professor had been nice enough to outline a schedule at which she could reasonably follow.

The chimes from the campus clock-tower hummed softly in the distance beyond the doors and Professor Kaede announced, "Well, I have been informed by the powers that be that this class is to come to a close."

There was a shuffling of papers and bodies, and slipping out the back door Kagome hurried to her bike, unaware of the figure that was following her closely from behind.

Her thoughts were so distracted by the time—and was beginning to feel rather lightheaded, considering she hadn't eaten breakfast that morning—that she hardly her the call of her name some few meters behind.

In fact, she missed the call twice.

Sesshoumaru, who had been the maker of the call grumbled to himself and sighed. Either the girl was purposefully avoiding him or she had the hearing of his great grandmother. So, taking desperate matters before she got on her bike and sailed away, he hurried his pace and managed to tap her shoulder gently. Gently.

The girl whirled to face him in a flurry of business and anxiety, but all that seemed to fall away when she saw Sesshoumaru before her.

"What are you doing here?" She questioned, amazed. Tokyo U was quite a large campus, so why did it seem that they always ran into one another?

Sesshoumaru blinked and in turn answered her with a question, "Didn't you know we had the same class?"

"What class?"

"The one we just came from."

"I didn't see you there."

"I was there."

"You know, it's pretty hard to overlook a silver-haired college student."

"I was sitting in the front row."

"Oh."

The two either glared or stared at each other before Kagome—realizing she had to go to class, and completely forgetting she had to yell at Sesshoumaru about telling Naraku about their 'night out' exclaimed, "What am I doing standing here talking to you! I have a class in Mori Hall in less than ten minutes."

"Mori Hall?"

"Yes, why?" She questioned, swinging herself onto the frame of the bike.

"It's right over there," Sesshoumaru announced, pointing to the closest building not 100 meters away.

Kagome squinted at the placard outside the building that indeed read Mori Hall.

But Sesshoumaru, having singled out Kagome for a purpose, continued, "Why were you late?"

"I had a class that was far away."

"I see," he hissed, his eyes squinting as he looked up into the sun, decidedly avoiding looking into her pretty eyes, "Well do you want me to save you a seat?"

"What?" Kagome goggled, incredulous that Sesshoumaru was actually being—being—decent…!

"I have no problem getting to the class on time, you see. I could very easily save you a seat I the front row." The silver haired man continued indifferently.

Kagome wanted to hug him, and she probably would have had, although she knew Sesshoumaru would say something about her being 'crude' or some such thing. So, instead, she smiled and thanked him very kindly—completely forgetting she had to yell at him.

But that could come later.

As he watched Kagome walk towards Mori Hall, a slight smile stuck his lips. But he quickly threw any emotion such as 'happiness' away. What had he done? This of course meant that she would be sitting by him during that class for the rest of the semester.

How revolting.

Shrugging, Sesshoumaru tried not to think about it too much as he hurried towards his next class.

-----------

By the time Kagome had finished her classes for the day she had hence forgotten she hadn't eaten breakfast, let alone she was hungry. It was her first day, of course she was too nervous to eat.

All her classes had been interesting, she reflected as she made her way towards the sea of bikes—a sea she would have to swim through to find her own contraption.

English definitely seemed challenging—but why did the language have to be so irregular and full of exceptions? Japanese seemed the easiest language in the world compared to the western ones—although kanji weren't exactly the easiest, she admitted silently.

Tomorrow would bring her Japanese Classics class—full of extensive reading that she supposed she ought to get down to before the deadlines mounted up on her.

It was early afternoon, and although still autumn, the sun pounded down on her back. But for the time being it went unnoticed.

For the first time she breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. Her first day of college. She had survived it. So what if she had been late to class—now that Sesshoumaru would be saving her a spot that made things considerably easier.

Her expression grew stormy.

Yes. Sesshoumaru. She had forgotten about that. It hadn't struck her until half way through English that she had forgotten to yell obscenely at the man for telling Naraku about getting drunk! How could she have forgotten? Still, she supposed logically, if she yelled at the evil-bloke-that-he-was about the situation he wouldn't be saving her a seat anymore and she would get stuck sitting in the back, on the floor, straining to see the overhead.

So, she decided, for the time being she would let it slide. Kagome hardly admitted that Sesshoumaru was her friend or anything like that. Hardly. Still, he had shown himself to be 'somewhat decent' on understanding the time constraints she was undergoing.

And remembering that—how was it that Sesshoumaru always managed to be so calm and cool? How was it that he wasn't scampering about campus as she was? How was it that his hair was never 'wind blown' unless he intended it that way?

Grumbling, she peddled quickly around the turn, licking her lips. She was suddenly very thirsty, however she was not a mile away from the apartment and she was sure she could last till then.

Or so she thought.

It came upon quite suddenly, not a block away. She felt as if she might throw up, as though she was suffering from food poisoning…then her tongue went dry, and still peddling, although not as quickly now she blinked. The world was suddenly going black—or maybe that wasn't the correct way to explain it. It was like going from a very bright room to a very dark room, or vice versa. There were block splotches everywhere as though things were solarized.

She stopped peddling and coasted, very slowly, hugging the side of the road. Her legs were tingling now—the sort of sensation one achieved if they had been sitting for a long time and then stood and the blood suddenly rushed to their legs.

Kagome cried out in pain, softly, not able to find her voice.

The bike lost balance and she fell, not particularly hard, against the side of the building.

"Help…," she whispered again, finding how stupid it sounded. It was early afternoon. Everyone was inside due to the heat of the day.

----------

Sesshoumaru Okuda was not particularly hungry, he decided. He had breakfasted rather well that morning—allowing himself a momentarily splurge considering it was his first day of college and he would need all the strength he could get. Still, the refrigerator was bare and this required doing a bit of shopping before the late nights studying kicked in.

So, after ceremoniously tossing his book bag on his futon, gulping down a glass of water, he grabbed his keys and headed down the stairs (the long way) out onto the side entrance of the typical narrow streets of Tokyo.

Reflecting upon the days events he found his thoughts annoyingly traveling back to those brief moments in which he had spoken to Kagome. What the devil was happening to him? He certainly didn't care if the girl was early or late to class—but why had he gone and offered the symbolic olive branch?

On the other hand, he supposed, it spared him from getting yelled at as frequently by the girl—this favor he had granted her. It wasn't like the girl's words actually 'hurt' him—but they did grow tiresome and gave him a headache if she persisted for too long.

Deciding to make his way down to the convenience stores and pick up some energy drinks he stopped half way in a step and gaped. Or, rather, stared. Sesshoumaru did not gape. That was something that was left to his idiotic half-brother.

But he was caught off guard.

He rushed forward; not quite knowing what he was doing—not quite sure who it was who had fallen. His fair skin palled even more when he saw who lay against the pavement. It was none other than the girl his thoughts had been previously resting upon.

Kagome Higurashi.

Whether or not he was to curse or praise fortune he didn't know, but crouching down he gently tapped the girl's face and whispered, "Hey,"

She stirred. Well, that concluded that she was alive—not that he had any doubt. From the looks of it the girl had suffered from a mild case of heat exhaustion.

"Kagome?"

She opened her eyes and blinked; yet she was unable to form words or recognized her helper.

Sesshoumaru released a long sigh. This was a situation to take charge of, so, wrapping his arms about Kagome he helped her up. And very slowly at that. She was conscious enough to attempt to stand although his hand remained about her waist as he guided her through the streets wishing yet again he knew where she lived.

It proved quite awkward holding Kagome about the waist with one arm and guiding the bike with another while simultaneously trying to walk normally. He knew that Kagome needed to find somewhere dark and cool in which to rest. And not a moment later his eyes flashed to a small empty café that was still open in the afternoon hours.

He hoped Kagome could make it the building. He was growing quite worried. She wasn't really say anything but sort of limping along, stumbling every few feet.

After what seemed like several years they arrived at the café and opening the door Sesshoumaru called out—unaware that he was so distraught, "Hello? Is anyone here?"

No one answered.

"Is anyone here, damn it?!" He shouted again, ushering the girl into a chair and putting the bike towards the rear of the shop.

There was the sound of footsteps and a sleek brown-haired man appeared out of the back room.

"Hey, you can't have that bike inside," he began, a frown tugging on his lips.

"I couldn't bloody care. Not now, at least. Can you get us some water?"

"Just for you? Does the lady want water?"

"Are you an idiot? Can't you see the state she's in? Of course I don't want the water!"

The man, observing the girl for the first time paled and then quickly rushed into the back room from whence he had come and returned with a pitcher of water and three glasses. The cool darkened atmosphere of the shop seemed to be helping Kagome and Sesshoumaru poured her a glass of water and instructed, "Here, drink it all."

Surprising him, the girl did just that. And so, he poured her another.

In the mean time, the waiter, who was still starring at the girl his brown eyes full of seriousness questioned, "Do you want to order anything to eat for her?"

"Do you have anything in here--," Sesshoumaru glanced to the display of cakes in the front of the shop, "—besides sweets?"

"The lunch specialty was Quiche Lorraine. We still have some." And without being told, the man disappeared in the back and remained there for five minutes or so while Kagome drank two more glasses of water.

By the time the brown-haired man returned from the recesses she managed a feebly 'thank you' and idly nibbled at the food while the two men just breathed a sigh of relief.

The waiter, pulling up a chair—most unprofessional, Sesshoumaru noted with disdain, questioned gently towards Kagome.

"What happened?"

She looked up, tired and exhausted and she managed, "I don't really know. I just felt really sick, and in pain, and then weak…I guess it was a combination of the sun and lack of food."

"You mean you didn't eat anything this morning?" The silver-haired man questioned in ardent dismay.

"I was nervous!" she shouted, surprising the party present, "It was my first of college. Not everyone can be calm and collected like you, you know."

The waiter smirked and chided, "Well well, I'd never heard of a first year fainting—but I suppose wonder's never cease. You did look pretty upset earlier today."

Looking towards the waiter at this remark, Sesshoumaru kept his mouth shut (finding that he suddenly wanted to strangle the man for talking or being anywhere around Kagome) and let the girl handle the conversation for the time being.

"What do you mean? How do you know me?"

The waiter chuckled again, scratching his head and stretching his legs calmly, "You forget the poor injured party so soon?"

Realization dawned upon Kagome's pretty features, and Sesshoumaru continued to be tight-lipped. How dare the bloke make fun of her in such a weakened state!?

"You're the man I bumped into this morning."

"Ah, it seems there is hope for her recovery," the brown-haired man chuckled, scratching the back of his neck, "Indeed I was, fair thing."

"I'm very sorry about that, I was just really pressed for time," she apologized earnestly, finishing of the miniature Quiche.

"It's quite forgiven. A first year is allowed to be a nervous wretch for at least the first week. Wouldn't you agree?" He turned to Sesshoumaru, his thick eyebrows raised in question.

"I wouldn't know," the silver-haired gentleman replied tersely, "I, too, am a first year."

"Indeed?" The waiter asked archly, looking suddenly devious. What the devil was the man insinuating!?

"So you two are boyfriend and girlfriend then?" the upperclassman pried innocently, grabbing a nearby cup and pouring himself a glass from the still half-full pitcher and sipping it most delicately, a small grin twitching on his lips.

Kagome, who had seemed to recover from 'whatever it had been' nearly spit out her water. Sesshoumaru just gave no reaction and instead poured himself his own glass and crunched on the ice irritably.

"What?" Kagome gasped, nearly choking on the water, goggling at the man in credulity.

The waiter just shrugged and explained, "Well, I mean, you guys obviously know each other, right? And he—(motioning to Sesshoumaru)—is acting the knight in shining armor by bringing you here. So, what was I to presume?"

Sesshoumaru just continued to crunch the ice between his teeth, and Kagome just looked at her plate and flushed, exclaiming a bit too profusely, "It was just a coincidence, is all."

"A four letter word for coincidence is fate, you know. F-A-T-E." the waiter continued to tease.

Finally, being able to take no more of the heckling, Sesshoumaru demanded quite sternly, "Could we have the check, please?"

The man didn't move but only scratched his chin and contemplated the quiet scene outside the shop, "Well, the water is free of charge, and the quiche will be about 570 yen…and anything else?"

Without stuttering, the silver haired man turned to Kagome and demanded, "What is your favorite desert?"

"What? Why?" she questioned, still flustered by the waiter's heckling.

"Just answer the damn question, woman." He groaned annoyed, getting out his pocketbook.

The waiter just innocently whistled a tune as Kagome glanced nervously from him to Sesshoumaru, and finally, sighing in defeat admitted, "Fruit Cake. I like Fruit Cake."

"So in addition to the Quiche I would like a piece of Fruit Cake and the Dark Chocolate Cake."

The waiter, nodding, mentally calculated as he made his way towards the display and extracted the slices, "That'll be 1550 yen then."

The brown haired man took his time getting the cake in individual bags, every now and then glancing over his shoulder and shaking his head.

Wasting no time, Kagome seethed, "I can't let you buy everything! It's so expensive! We're college students now, we can't afford it."

Sesshoumaru—wanting very much to say something along the lines of 'Maybe you can't afford it, but I can' spared the girl the comment and just took out two 1000 yen bills and handed them unceremoniously to the waiter who handed them the two white take-out bags in some gusto.

Sparing formalities, Sesshoumaru grabbed Kagome's hand as he was standing with the nearly forgotten bike and steered her quickly out of the shop, only sparing a nod to the accommodating waiter, who, as they walked away murmured, "I can spot it a mile away. A mile away."

Still grinning, he turned to the mirror where he absently polished his name tag that read Kanagawa Miroku.

"Another day, another yen…"

And so he began to clean the table. But, he had a feeling in his gut, and his gut feelings were never wrong—that this was not the last he had seen of this 'Kagome' and her 'Sesshoumaru'.

--------------

Outside, it being somewhat cooler now that the street was covered in the shadows of the mid afternoon, Sesshoumaru sighed and demanded, "I'm not letting you walk home alone. If you fall down in the middle of the road and some rapists get to you I don't want to be blamed. Or sued."

Actually suppressing a chuckle—wondering if Sesshoumaru was attempting to be amusing, or he was naturally this dry, she sighed in defeat and admitted, "It looks like you'll find out sooner or later if rescuing me from the effects of alcohol and sun keep on repeating—,"

"—Which I hope they won't." Sesshoumaru interrupted, casting her an impatient glance, his golden eyes meeting her own. "It's dangerous."

He paused and licked his lips wondering if he should continue. But, he supposed, Kagome was apt to overlook the comment anyway—because he doubted if the girl listened to most of what he said as it was.

"When I saw you, I didn't quite know what to think. I thought you might have gotten hit by a car and some bastard had left you out there to die."

Kagome displayed her shock quite unobtrusively—but inside she was a fury of questions and uncertainties that she promised herself she would have to study at a later time. Right now wasn't the time to be dwelling on the day's events. As she kept reminding herself she had reading to do and, and, and other important college like responsibilities to take care of!

And then there was Naraku's demand: to stay away from Sesshoumaru.

So, she said nothing, and continued to walk with Sesshoumaru down the street, until finally, after five minutes or so they reached the off-campus housing. The neighborhood was painfully quiet and memories of that murky wet night conjured images that she couldn't quite see to filter to her head.

The smell of wet pavement wafted about them. Someone had been watering the plants. She liked the smell of wet asphalt—and just rain in general. It was calming.

"Well, thanks, Sesshoumaru," Kagome began, nervously, obviously embarrassed. Twice today Sesshoumaru had done her a great favor—and she was beginning to wonder if her child-hood memory served as a correct testimony to his nature? Sure, he was sort of an ass, but he obviously had his soft underside like everyone else.

And even Naraku had proved to be just as scary, if not more so, than the man who stood in front of her now, leaning very disinterestedly against the bike.

"Just don't do it again." He replied sternly, steering the bike in her direction.

"I'll try not to make a habit of it." Kagome joked.

Sesshoumaru, heaving a sigh, grimaced and continued tentatively, "You always did have the ability to get yourself into trouble, Higurashi Kagome. Now that you are in Tokyo it has increased ten-fold."

Kagome just smiled cheekily, though still avoiding Sesshoumaru's stern gaze.

"In any case," he continued affirmatively, "Should you ever get yourself into any more trouble, here's my number. I'm usually up late so," he paused, and wondered why he was being so idiotic about this all, "—So don't hesitate to call."

Taking a very professional card that he offered Kagome was, once again, dumb struck. She couldn't find words to either thank or ridicule him. Somehow, everything felt strained when Sesshoumaru became edgy—which always seemed to be whenever he was becoming nice. Whenever he was pleasant he would realize he was being agreeable and then became cold and rude.

Kagome slipped it into her purse and smiled softly and just settled upon, "Thanks."

Wheeling the bike towards the rack, Sesshoumaru watched Kagome disappear from sight for the second time that day. But this time he didn't hide his smile.