Kurama spent the whole week convincing Shawna that he wasn't doing anything to Robin. Shawna continuously blamed Kurama for Robin acting so paranoid and looking over her shoulder so often. Then, on Thursday, Kurama pointed out that Robin wasn't even looking vaguely in his direction during one of these actions, and so proved his innocence.

Not only did Kurama prove his innocence, but Shawna also became used to his presence. The morning bathroom routine was now not nearly so awkward, nor were any other bathroom-related incidences, and on Wednesday Shawna finally felt bad enough that she went to the library during lunch and checked out a book Kurama showed interest in. She set it on the corner of her desk in each classroom so that Kurama had something to do instead of listening to everything he already knew, turning the pages for him each time he tapped the book. The teachers could not prove she was not paying attention, although her English teacher still made her put the book away.

After school on Friday Shawna, Robin, and Rachel joined JoAnn on her bus ride home. They had permission slips from their parents prepared, just in case the bus driver refused to take them, but he didn't even give them a second glance. The spent the ride squished three to a seat (Robin had to sit with two others across the isle) and telling dirty jokes. Shawna grew to respect Kurama just a little bit more when, just as she was doomed with no more jokes to one-up her friends with, he sighed at her panicked deer-in-the-headlights-and-puppy-dog-eyes-rolled-i nto-one expression and told her the dirtiest joke she'd ever heard. She repeated it verbatim to her friends, and they were suitably entertained. They dubbed her Queen of Dirty Jokes and Shawna felt satisfied for the first time since a fox demon . . . spirit . . . whatever had become inconvertibly attached to her.

They reached JoAnn's house well before the other invitees and danced and sang not-bad-but-not-good-either to a playlist filled with various pop artists and some oldies, classical, and alternative slipped in just for fun. Shawna felt self-conscious of Kurama sitting beside her staring at the playing teenagers in amusement (Rachel liked going into handstands, and JoAnn did an excellent Robot) and spent most of her time on a chair drinking Coke and eating. She managed to eat a bag of popcorn, some chips and dip, and had just started to pick through the old Halloween candy when Hannah arrived.

Hannah seemed to mark the start of the welcoming process, as for the next ten minutes people kept showing up right after the other until everyone was present. JoAnn's parents set out more food for the hungry teenagers, told everyone that the fridge was completely off limits except for the drinks, and then left to go on a date to the movies.

After that the party went into full swing. Everyone had fun playing games (truth or dare was a favorite, along with, surprisingly, Twister and Jenga), talking, eating, and dancing (for those who weren't too self conscious). As people became less enthusiastic JoAnn said, "Let's go swimming!" Everyone agreed and went outside to walk around the corner where the outside pool for all the residents in the neighborhood resided. They all (except Shawna) stripped down to their underwear and jumped in at the same time. Shawna stood off to the side, too embarrassed to strip down with a demon (sorry—fox spirit) standing right beside her.

"Having fun?" she muttered to him, not worried about anyone paying any attention to her. They were all too busy shouting out suggestions on what game they should play.

"Yes, actually." She stared at him out of the corner of her eye and noticed his slight smile. "I've never been to a party comprised of only young teenagers. It's strangely innocent." And this said as one of the guys stole a girl's bra. She shrieked and covered herself, and her friends laughingly attempted to get her top back for her, which led to one of them (somehow) stealing the boy's swim trunks in retaliation.

Shawna turned away from Kurama and wondered what kinds of parties he'd been to in his many years of living.

After a rousing game of Marco Polo everyone put their clothes back on and headed back to JoAnn's house. JoAnn's parents had just returned and bid everyone goodnight before going upstairs to sleep. JoAnn started up the music again in case people wanted to dance some more, but by that time the energy was winding down and people started leaving.

In less than half an hour only the girls who were spending the night were still there and awake. That's when the alcoholic beverages were brought out. JoAnn and Shawna, along with Lindsay, Robin, and Rachel, all took one drink of a margarita mix from shot glasses before JoAnn refilled everyone's glass and they began to play Never Have I Ever.

"Alright," JoAnn started. "Never have I ever kissed a boy."

Every other person in the room took a drink like it was a shot of vodka and made disgusted faces. JoAnn smirked at them.

Shawna said, "Never have I ever been able to do the splits," causing JoAnn and Rachel to drink.

Robin bit her lip. "Um, okay, never have I ever . . . oh, I don't know." She looked around. "A little help here, guys?"

"The third person and we're already running out of ideas?" Lindsay snorted with a smile.

"What about rock climbing?" asked JoAnn. "Have you ever been rock climbing?"

"Yes. . . . But never have I ever climbed a mountain."

Shawna, JoAnn, and Rachel drank to that one.

Rachel started complaining. "C'mon, guys. Stop choosing stuff that I've done!"

At this point Kurama hovered in closer to Shawna and said quietly, "I thought that the legal drinking age in America was 21?"

She glared at him and his raised eyebrows and curious smile, completely missing what Lindsay had said. She turned away from the stupid fox and his curiosity and asked, "Sorry, what did you say?" even as JoAnn, Robin, and Rachel drank (Rachel cursing as she did so.)

"Never have I ever had a sibling," Lindsay dutifully repeated. Shawna had to drink for that one, as she had a twenty-two-year-old sister in college in Chicago.

Then it was Rachel's turn. "Never have I ever worn ankle socks," she said with a smile, and crowed in triumph as everyone else drank.

They played 12 more rounds, getting through the tipsy stage. JoAnn took out some whiskey from the fridge before coming back to join the girls as they tried to get ready for bed. They were all giggling and crawling around as they tried to unroll their sleeping bags and brush their teeth. They were talking about things of no consequence when the topic of guys came up.

"So . . . Jeremy?"

"Too much acne," Rachel pointed out with a yawn as she snuggled up to her sleeping bag without getting inside of it. "Although he's a redhead."

"Red hair is so amazing," Lindsay agreed. "My cousin has red hair, too. He's pretty hot."

"Hey!" Robin yelled, scandalized. "He's your cousin!"

"But he's hot! He works on a farm."

"On a farm?" Robin considered as she took another sip of soda now that the margaritas were gone. "He does sound hot. . . ." JoAnn handed her a cup of whiskey and she accepted it, draining the last of her coke and putting the can on a nearby counter.

"What about Darren?" asked Shawna.

"Oh God!" Robin started coughing.

Shawna frowned and defended, "He's not that ugly."

"What is this?" Robin asked, waving around her drink.

JoAnn said, "Whiskey."

"Oh God. . . ." She coughed some more before taking another drink. Rachel giggled some more and took a drink from her own glass of whiskey.

"Whiskey, huh?" Lindsay took her own swallow and almost spit it out. She managed to keep it down and immediately coughed once she could breathe again without causing a stain on the carpet. "Dude. . . ."

And so the whiskey came and passed. Shawna tried not to drink much, since she knew there was someone watching them with a certain amount of amusement (every time Shawna glanced at a drink but didn't partake, Kurama gave her this knowing look that made her want to hit him), but gave in when JoAnn kept telling her to "chug it." Rachel was no longer sleepy and kept cursing every other word, especially since her torso was stuck in her sleeping bag and she complained that she couldn't get out. Robin kept trying to help by poking her head and asking, "Are you free now?" Lindsay kept giggling at the oddest things, but seemed to find words with an X in them extremely hilarious.

As the whiskey dwindled, the party-goers talked about everything from periods ("It hurts so much! And it's so gross!") to books ("Have you guys read The Only Alien on the Planet? No, really, you oughta give it a try—") to shoes ("And I found this really great pair of Ugg boots for only thirty dollars!") to nothing in particular as they continued drinking ("And then I was . . . I was . . . what was I saying?").

Kurama looked at Shawna with a strange expression on his face and asked, "Is this really what girls talk about at sleepovers?"

Shawna leaned over to swipe at him, forgetting that not only could she not touch him and even if she could he wouldn't just allow her to hit him, but that the other couldn't even see him. "Shut up!" she half yelled, making everyone else stop what they were doing to look at her. "You're just a stupid boy!"

"Shawna," asked JoAnn, "who 're you talkin' to?"

"Kurama," Shawna said, as if that was the most normal thing in the world.

Rachel said, "Wow, you're really drunk." Then she giggled and fell over.

Shawna had to defend herself at that, so she turned herself fully to face her friends and stopped herself from face-planting on the carpet. "No, see, that poster you guys got me was actually Kurama!"

Kurama frowned, and wondered why his spiritual senses were acting like danger was approaching.

"We know," said Lindsey dully, looking at her empty glass with a frown.

"No, like, the spirit of Kurama totally came out! And fell on me!"

Kurama tried to get Shawna's attention as the feeling of danger grew stronger. "Shawna—"

"And now he follows me around all the time for no good reason!"

Kurama heard a great CRACK, and his hair stood on end as he tried to discover the source of the sound.

And the rest of the girls laughed at Shawna, and jokingly agreed. "Sure. Sure."

Shawna scrunched up her face and growled playfully, jumping and tackling Robin's leg in a great show of strength (her body didn't seem to be working right—but she didn't feel that drunk, really, she couldn't be that drunk) before climbing up to her stomach and lifting her shirt to blow raspberries.

Robin laughed and tried to push her away. "Oh, God, Shawna, stop!"

The others were of no help, only laughing harder.

And Kurama's spirits fell as he saw thin threads of dark energy loop themselves from Shawna form into the other girls in the room before fading out of sight.


AN: Underage drinking happens, and it's important to the story, so I added it. This does not mean I support it.