This Simple Life

By: Keito-chan

Rating: PG-13. Mild/strong cursing and some sexual references. No likey—don't read or complain!

Summary: There is only one question tumbling around in Kagome Higurashi's mind and that is: "Is Inuyasha a cheating bastard or isn't he?" It certainly looks so—but not all appearances are what they appear. So with some heart-to-hearts with some unlikely people, even more introductions into a certainly confusing bunch of elite people, and serious contemplation, Kagome stumbles further onto hidden secrets and hidden agendas!

Chapter Seven: Just Slightly Mad

Kagome had never hated Kikyo. Yeah, sure the girl got on her nerves. A lot. But she was her sister, her flesh and blood. And that, above all the other annoying traits, prevailed far most in Kagome's mind. Kikyo wasn't the easiest person to deal with, she wasn't the sister that Kagome could have heart-to-hearts with, but Kikyo…in her own way (not recently of course) had always shown her love for her youngest sister. Like the time back in fourth grade when she was being teased by this kid a year older than her—Kikyo had punched him. Yup, punched him, pretty much broke his nose actually. Then there was the time when Kagome was late for school—well, both of them had been late—but Kikyo, knowing that if Kagome got one more late slip would get a detention, placed the blame on herself and ended up with the detention.

These memories came back to Kagome—those memories and many more when Kikyo had been there for her. No, she definitely couldn't stand there and watch as this…this bastard trampled whatever love Kikyo thought they had shared.

Kagome was her sister and being a sister a sense of duty to protect kicked in.

Kagome completely forgot all else as she started her approach toward Inuyasha. She didn't know what she was going to say, but it didn't matter then—the words would come when she reached the man. The words, or more possibly the actions. A swift kick somewhere painful seemed in favor in Kagome's mind.

But—drat it—something—someone—grabbed her arm and pulled her back. She was hardly in the mood for this! It was urgent that she lay her hands upon Inuyasha and harm him. Very much.

Kagome turned around, her intent to tell the person to buzz off—the person being Sesshoumaru. Was he making it a habit to keep her from her destination? First to escape his presence and now to seriously damage Inuyasha in whatever way she found to be most painful. Her four inch-heel shoes were itching to shed some blood tonight.

"Get off me, Sesshoumaru." Kagome's voice was deathly cold—almost matching Sesshoumaru's own. No, she was definitely not in the mood for this.

Anyone other than Sesshoumaru would have taken her warning very seriously. But Sesshoumaru had noticed where her gaze had traveled—toward his half-brother and Kagura Mizu. And it did look very conspicuous, with Kagura practically sprawled on top of a soon to be married man. A man who was marrying the sister of the girl he was currently trying to detain from her evidently clear purpose in dealing with this the wrong way. For if she reached Inuyasha before Kikyo had the chance to see this badly (in Sesshoumaru's words, perfectly) timed coincidence then the plan would be ruined. And it was the perfect plan. Soon Naraku would lead the lovely Kikyo toward this unfortunate scene and viola!

His half-brother would look like a cheating liar and Kikyo would forever hate him. Their love would vanish and hence no marriage and hence hence no dishonorable relatives.


His answer angered her, he could tell. Her eyes flashed and darkened to reveal an ocean of anger swimming in their depths. And she struggled. How she struggled to get out of his grasp he would laugh about later.

Kagome realized that he had too strong a grip and struggling was doing nothing but elevating her anger and her despair—and his amusement. Why had he grabbed her arm anyway? There was no point—unless he saw what she saw and was only trying to protect his disgusting brother. That had to be it! This sisterly bond she felt for Kikyo at this moment must be something to what Sesshoumaru felt—it was a very possible explanation, and a very horrible one.

How could he protect such a person—even if he was his brother?

They must share a common bond of depravity. Kagome thought as she wrenched one last time at her arm—not succeeding in freeing it.

"Don't you dare try to protect him, Sesshoumaru—not when he's hurting my sister like this!" Kagome exclaimed, using her other hand to shake a finger at him.

But Sesshoumaru did not answer her; he just stood there—silent. It was his silence that angered her this time. His silence spoke the truth—he was protecting him! Kagome glowered at him, her eyes sparking in a way that was sure to have an electric current. The only question was how long had he known? How long had he known of his brother's infidelity? How long had he been hiding it?

"How long, Sesshoumaru?" Kagome spat his name—for it was something that should be spat—spat out like a rotten piece of food that had looked appetizing—a deceivingly beautiful piece of fruit rotten to the core. If Sesshoumaru even had a core.

He did not speak, but his eyes grew distant—it was the same look he had given her when she had told him earlier to leave and go back to the people who loved him. A look of superiority edged with extreme dislike. A look that looked down on her.

Kagome couldn't remember a single time so much uncontrolled hate filled her soul—her heart—as it did now.

"How long have you known of your brother and this…" Kagome took an intake of breath to steady her voice, which was shaking with a raw emotion of aggravation and revulsion, before she spoke again "this…whore!"

It was amazing. She was a pure idiot. Yes, she seemingly seemed to have a brain with her big words and talkative nature, but other than that it was all fluff and cotton between her ears. It was obvious to anyone with half her intelligence (which wasn't a lot at all) that he completely abhorred his half-brother. Half-brother. She failed to recognize that the word brother and half-brother presented a great difference. A very great difference.

But it seemed her stupidity would serve him very well in this situation—yes, very well indeed. Lying was never something he liked to reduce himself too—in all honesty he hated liars…but what he hated more than liars was she and her family. And if lying would rid him of their presence than it was something he was willing to do. It was then that Sesshoumaru decided that it would be prudent—for both his plan and extermination of the unwanted in-laws—to play along with her assumptions.

"Kagura." He stated, loosening his grip on her, yet not letting go.

Her eyes flashed as she asked, "Who?"

He resisted a smile at how easily she was manipulated. She truly did believe that he was protecting Inuyasha!

"Her name is Kagura Mizu…She was once a very close personal acquaintance of Inuyasha's." He answered her, keeping his tone a perfected neutral.

Kagome realizing that her arm was no longer being gripped tightly, yanked it away, "Well," she spat, "it looks like she's still pretty close to me!"

It wasn't sarcastic the way she had said it. No, it was spiteful. Sesshoumaru re-looked her at that moment. She may have been ignorant, but she was still definitely one unique individual. She certainly had courage—to even talk to him the way she did.

A courageous fool. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. A fool nonetheless, just a more brash and probably easily duped one. Example? Such as this very moment.

Kagome, hardly knowing that she was, in fact, being played like a fiddle, kept her glare stonily solid.

"Don't stop me, Sesshoumaru. I won't be nice this time if you do."

Hah. Nice, she says. Sesshoumaru thought, bemused. If that witch was 'nice' than he was the most magnanimous, most adorable, cuddliest human being alive. Nice was a way to describe a deaf mute when compared to Kagome Higurashi. She was certainly neither deaf nor mute, a shame in Sesshoumaru's opinion.

"I wouldn't dare to intervene when faced with such an ultimatum." But instead of an unobtrusive tone of voice in response to her warning, which would have made this statement at least a whit believable, there lacked any hint of fear or incredulity, except a heavily laced mockery that seemed to set flight Sesshoumaru's words.

Luckily Kagome, although a claimed fool by Sesshoumaru, albeit a courageous fool, and perhaps more acclaimed than most, was not fool enough to miss the sarcasm.

Kagome ended her killer-glare as she sighed, exasperated. He wasn't going to relent, and, truthfully, she'd never let him ever get the last word in, so seeing as how this would be a circling argument decided to end it along with retaining her dignity: acting like he was an immature sod.

"You know, I don't have time for this—I don't have time for you and your unfriendly, depressing ways—so, please, shut the hell up and let me go castrate your brother." And with this brief-ish statement, including just a hint of immaturity, Kagome Higurashi turned her back upon the man she so abhorred to face another which was closely gaining, if not succeeding, his brother on her chart of despicable evil.

It had been just a moment, a brief moment of indecision on Sesshoumaru's part: should he or should he not stop her approach? Grabbing her again seemed revolting, almost comparable to touching a leprous sore—and he had already been forced to touch her twice: first to dance, and just a few minutes ago to prevent her from attacking his half-brother (although Sesshoumaru had to admit he would very much had liked to see that). But just before he had to make this very dire decision of whether or not to touch Kagome Higurashi or let her roam her way toward his half-brother—everything suddenly fell into place.

It was scary how perfect it was, in all honesty, even to Sesshoumaru.

Kagome had to have been ten paces from Inuyasha when a sudden gasp halted her steps. But it wasn't just the gasp that surprised her, but the sudden wrenching of Kagura from Inuyasha's arms—by Inuyasha himself!

Hmph! Acting innocent when caught in the act…! Kagome thought heatedly, as she looked around for the source of Inuyasha's anxiety.

And what she saw was Kikyo. Her sister's face a unflattering portrait of smeared mascara and tears, a red and running nose, and smudged lipstick, the vibrant red making a haze around her lips—her body shaking with a sadness and anger that was highly understandable. Her appearance made Kagome feel so much anger at a certain man. Her sister was not a toy! She was a human being with feelings, with a heart, with tears enough to cry! Just like any other person. But that was just the thing…She wasn't any other person—she was her sister.

Kagome's hands clenched but she prevented herself from moving forward. It was an appalling sight, but it was necessary that Kikyo saw and handled this situation on her own—despite how much Kagome wanted to intervene. Besides, it was as good a retribution as any to have Inuyasha's own fiancée catch him playing dirty Harry.

Kikyo had been saying something, her mouth had been moving, but to Kagome it was just a rush of sound next to the pounding of blood in her ears. But it was apparent from the look on both Inuyasha's face and Kikyo's that it was something not very pleasant.

Inuyasha made a move to go forward, but hesitated as Kikyo dropped something at her feet—something shiny, golden, and expensive. Her engagement ring.

Kagome felt her hand rise to her mouth, a subconscious action to suppress a sudden gasp or groan if one felt the need to rise. One did not, but her hand still stayed—clammy and cold despite the heat she felt surging through her body. Kikyo had left in an ungraceful, tearful mess as Inuyasha remained looking horribly and extremely…

"Sad?" Kagome whispered to herself, frowning. Since when did a guilty perverted cheat look sad?

Ahh…sad to be caught! Stillll an asshole. Kagome had come to a decent conclusion, but on closer inspection this idea became ridiculous.

Kagura stepped forward, closer to Inuyasha, but he seemed to not even notice her—his eyes still gazing at the ring which Kikyo had dropped.

"Inuyasha…" Kagura's sultry voice murmured his name…her body coming closer to his own. But he was intent on the ring and Kagome's frown deepened when he walked over and stood staring at the piece of jewelry. His hand reached out for a moment—seeming to hesitate slightly before he followed through with the motion and picked it up.

He held it between his forefinger and thumb—staring at it with eyes so…so depressed and desolate that Kagome found it hard to believe that this was just an act. His hands were shaking as he pocketed the ring.

Inuyasha spoke, turning his head slightly in Kagura's direction, but his eyes did not look at her; they remained staring in the direction where his fiancée had retreated.

"It was nice seeing you again, Kagura, and I'm afraid it shall be the last." Kagome felt the tiny seed of confusion sprout into a full grown tree of massive proportions.

What is going on??! Okay…if he's acting—it's a damn good act, and one thing I know—Inuyasha does not have so much control to play any part but stubborn and brash, not a romantically floundering moron… Kagome, having watched the entire episode, also had to wonder about the look of shock on Kagura's face. The woman was clearly surprised by Inuyasha's statement—surprised and angry. Her eyes darkened to a red so deep that they looked black.

"Wha-what?" She sputtered, drawing herself back a step.

Kagome smirked. To see such a self-assured bimbo so struck with uncertainty was a very heightening thing to witness. So how did she feel, knowing she wasn't wanted anymore?

Kagome felt tempted to ask.

Inuyasha's smile was soft…and soft was the only word Kagome could think of to describe it; not mocking, not annoying, not stupid, not…well, anything that at all attributed to the moronic man she knew and hated. This was a…different Inuyasha than she had ever known.

"Goodbye, Kagura." Was his simple answer—not, "Don't you understand you idiot??!" or anything else harsh or unforgiving. Kagura seemed just as confused and surprised as Kagome as she quickly snapped,

"Goodbye? Goodbye to me?! How—how dare you assume you can say that! After what you put me through!!" Her eyes were livid—her voice high and shrill.

Kagome really wanted to hit her. Like, badly. Her statement was so self-absorbed that she seriously hoped Inuyasha would revert back into a sarcasm-ridden and biting-remarks bigot—and that had to speak for something. She absolutely hated Kagura Mizu.

But Inuyasha denied Kagome her slightly evil wish and just turned and smiled at Kagura—once again throwing the poor woman off track. Her eyes instantly lost their anger to be replaced with such confusion that Kagome wanted to shout, "HAHAHA." And point a finger in the process just to be evil.

Kagome did not.

Inuyasha, just after giving the woman a most…unexpected smile, turned once again and briskly walked away, his body vanishing back into the ballroom. Kagura's face contorted into a mess of frowns and her hands clenched and unclenched as she slammed a manicured fist down on the balcony railing letting out a "UGHHHHHRRRH!" That had many heads turning and looking with either annoyance or gossipy interest.

Kagome's own head was turned in amusement and she couldn't help but respond to the action with some verbal stingers.

"Ohh…So it would seem that the Inuyasha Sukido left you for such a simple and unimportant woman." Kagura's body whipped around to glare so frostily at Kagome that the girl gulped at the force of the stare and could swear she even felt a draft.

"Who the fuck are you to evaluate my business?" Kagura snapped, her eyes such a vivid red that they glowed eerily. But Kagome ignored her remark and continued with her own.

"It really must suck…I mean—geez to be ditched like that and then have to come crawling back on your knees…" Kagome looked over Kagura, "And in that dress. Can we say, desperate??"

The woman's eyes had widened and widened in such unadulterated HATE, that after her last verbal whammy Kagome felt a very gargantuan need to escape to a place more populated with people. She seriously believed that the woman would kill her. So with a calm and highly sarcastic smirk Kagome turned tail and fled in the direction of Kikyo and Inuyasha.


The easy part was leading Kikyo Higurashi to the scene of unfortunate devastation.

The hard part was the fact that he had to be the least sociable person at the party. There had already been quite a number of gorgeous women he had to purposely ignore to keep his presence just a brief memory in the eyes of potential witnesses. His current employer had a very trying case of paranoia.

…But he was a man of simple actions and of certain lusts, and he just couldn't deny the tempting confrontation of the youngest Higurashi sister. He had danced with her, he had potentially made this business of tearing apart Kikyo and Inuyasha much more difficult, he had given her his first name, he had seriously angered Sesshoumaru, and he in no way whatsoever regretted it in the slightest. He was a man who bought and sold his wealth and reputation, he was a man with such integrity and passions that he just couldn't ignore the temptation of confusion and the added thrill of controversy. It was possible the girl would discover his true nature and Sesshoumaru's—it was possible, but he did not care. It would have been an otherwise boring and extremely easy task if he had not heated things up a little.

And Naraku Onigumo most certainly had.

He smiled into his champagne glass before he took a sip, winking seductively at a curiously glancing blonde bombshell across the room. She returned the gesture as her soft pink tongue flicked out over her bottom lip. Naraku felt himself smirk.

Too bad all I can do is look. He thought as he nodded in approval and turned his attention back to scanning the room for any signs of the woman Sesshoumaru was so eager to have far away from him—and for good reason. Naraku knew he was jeopardizing the 'plan' by confronting her, by talking to her, by making his presence known. But this Kagome Higurashi was so…there and a maddening interest.

Perhaps it's the eyes…? Naraku pondered over his new interest in the woman. Or her dancing skills…But Naraku had to smile at that. She was a lethal dancer—but he happened to like lethal and he happened to like the color blue. So it made perfect sense to him why he happened to like her: the blueness of her eyes and her fatal dancing.

He was a simple creature, truly. Such simple things could win his attention. Maybe his mother had been right—he was too 'wishy washy' when it came to any topic of any subject; a Jack of all trades.

Little did she know how he lived up to her maternal conclusions about his nature. As far as she knew he was still a dedicated Priest of the Roman Catholic Church doing missionary work in Zimbabwe…it still amazed him how he had pulled that one off.

His trail of thought was redirected when he happened to turn ever so slightly to his left, his eyes briefly catching a glimpse of silver.

"Could it be…?" he spoke to himself quietly as his brows knitted together slightly in consideration, and upon turning fully once more to re-scan the slightly packed left wall of the ballroom he discovered her. Kagome Higurashi pulling and pushing herself in what seemed frantic haste to a predetermined destination. He noticed the annoyance in which people received her shoving and the way in which she completely ignored them and smiled.

So it would seem she witnessed Kikyo's misery.

He had witnessed Kikyo's dramatic exit from the direction of the balconies toward the bathroom area of the house, but…he didn't think he'd let this information meander it's way to Miss. Kagome's ears. It wasn't his problem and it wasn't his place to know anything about the Higurashi family. Sure, he had already slightly butchered a clean getaway, but this he'd leave intact. He could bend and squirm his way through the complications he purposely raised, but if he let this slip…there would be too much suspicion and too many questions.

He really didn't like questions. He was an anti-question type of person, so he decided to currently forget the girl and focus his attention toward looking primly disinterested in the world around him…more correctly the females around him. Sesshoumaru was probably lurking somewhere, anyhow, glaring pins and needles and other sharp paraphernalia at his figure.

So sighing dejectedly, slightly aggravated at the fact that his employer held such little faith in him, Naraku went back to sipping delicately at his alcoholic beverage and looking—to the unsuspecting eye—like some cuddly, slightly mysterious hottie that one would seriously consider 'getting jiggy with.'

Except, perhaps, Sesshoumaru. He wasn't very fond of getting jiggy with anything—except, perhaps, himself.

Naraku chuckled at the thought.


Meanwhile Kagome Higurashi was hardly chuckling at anything as she hurried her way over toward her sister. She had spied Midoriko a little while after she had left Kagura contemplating murder by her scapegoat of a railing. Kagome had to do some serious shoving to work her way through the mob of people that separated her from the only person she really needed to talk to. Some of the people who were victimized by her speedy trek across the packed ballroom gave her very blatant and very evil glares, some decided upon worse and attempted to verbally spar with her, but as soon as they opened their mouths they found their would-be partner gone and off pushing more bystanders from her path—but of course they had to yell something less than flattering after the one who had so horribly disturbed them. Kagome absorbed the comments like parched soil would water and hastened her steps. She did not have time to waste throwing back a witty retort or two.

She needed to find Kikyo and she needed more than herself to accomplish the task. Kikyo was very dramatic—Kagome would not put it past the girl to contemplate suicide in the heat of the moment…besides that she really didn't want to be the only one to deal with a—most likely—sobbing and teary eyed Kikyo. It was a little much, and Midoriko was much better at these types of situations.

Midoriko was talking to an elderly woman when Kagome approached her sister in a light sheen of sweat, panting ever so slightly from her wild escapade across a, now considered, ridiculously huge ballroom.

I mean, really. Is it so necessary to have it so big…I mean, think of a fire; what would you do in case of a fire? Toss people over the balconies and cross your fingers and hope they don't die??

Midoriko was laughing at something the elderly woman had said once Kagome reached her. But before Midoriko had time to finish relishing in whatever humorous bit of drabble had been exchanged, Kagome's voice intervened.

"Midoriko—it's important." Well, that's all she could think of to say, really. She wanted Midoriko's attention—thus saying her name—and she wanted her to know that it was important—thus saying 'it's important.'

Okay. Maybe it was a little rude. Kagome conceded mentally, but she didn't think it was a situation in which one had time to be polite.

Midoriko's frown was ever so slightly disapproving as she snapped a little hastily, "What is it, Kagome?" Before smiling and nodding apologetically toward the elderly woman, who was looking royally miffed and glaring just slightly at Kagome.

What's with the glares Kagome thought a little bit naively—considering glares were quite common if one rudely shoved their way through a crowd or even rudely interrupted a conversation. But Kagome didn't feel like thinking too hard on it, and just came to the conclusion that people were mean.

Kagome considered, briefly, sticking her tongue out at the woman when she caught her eye and the elder woman proceeded to darken her glare to a withering glower.

"Well, what is it, Kagome?" Midoriko prompted—a hand on hip and another gesturing toward her to spit out what she had to say.

Kagome's eyes snapped away from the woman and toward her sister.

"It's Kikyo. And it's something bad." Kagome saw Midoriko's face crease slightly in an unsure frown before Kagome jerked her chin in a manner that clearly said 'let's discuss this privately.'

Midoriko understood the action and turned once again toward the elderly woman and excused herself before following after her youngest sister.

Once they reached a barren looking area near an open window, Kagome deemed it safe to continue the conversation.

"Kikyo and Inuyasha had a fight," Kagome began, wetting her lips—which had suddenly become suspiciously dry—before continuing quickly after catching a glimpse of annoyance in her sister's eyes.

"And it's not like their normal fights…which are quite stupidly annoying enough as it is…" Kagome added the second part as an afterthought before continuing, "Inuyasha…he—he…might be…"

But Kagome couldn't bring herself to use the word cheating. It just didn't seem…right. All she could picture over and over again in her head as she related the incident to Midoriko was the look on his face. It was so…pale, so ghostly, so lost. He looked half-dead, to tell the truth—so drained and pitiful.

Midoriko's eyes were searching her younger sister's face as she spoke in measured tones, "What happened, Kagome?"

Kagome's eyes glanced away a moment, still trying to find a satisfactory word to describe Inuyasha's possible…affair. Kagome's eyes returned to her sister's as she sighed.

"Inuyasha may not be a loyal fiancé." Kagome finished; picking the first word that came to her mind. And it seemed enough, for Midoriko's frown was not one of confusion, but of deep concern.

"Where's Kikyo now?"

"I don't know. We need to find her."

"Oh…" Midoriko's reply ended in an abrupt halt of breath, almost like a sudden darkening of a summer's day. There was hanging a still and transparent acknowledgement that this wasn't a very good situation. Midoriko knew Kikyo's lack of…balanced emotions when things upset her. She was either at the very brink of a depression or so joyful that one would highly suggest a sedative.

"Yeah, oh. Now let's find her." Kagome turned in a circle, trying to decide where to start first when Midoriko's hand on her arm halted her.

"The bathroom…"

She spoke it so softly it was barely a whisper.

"The…?" Kagome stopped her sentence and turned in the general direction of the bathroom wondering how dense she could be.

Of course it would be a bathroom! Kagome thought vehemently. Kikyo was always (no matter the situation) so conscious of the fact that she'd be a slobbering mess. It was no wonder she darted off toward the bathroom…what other place could one cry and throw tantrums without much publicity?

"Let's go." Midoriko didn't give Kagome time to nod or reply as she started a brusque pace to the bathrooms. Kagome groaned and wished (not for the first time) that she wasn't in such a constricting dress. The skirt hugged her legs, so any movement other than a slow leisurely one would be difficult. She was now struggling bowleggedly after her elder sister.

I look like a goddamn idiot. Kagome thought distantly as her elegantly simple shoes 'klack klack klacked' across the dance floor loudly with her rushed steps.

"She better be attempting suicide…" Kagome mumbled—starting to feel very, very, very much the social reject as her footfalls drew some attention and amused smiles.

I did not just retard my way across the entire room if she is smiling and giggling about how freaking hot Inuyasha is.

Kagome could imagine—for it happened many times before with Kikyo and Inuyasha when they had fights—that her sister would be swooning over how wonderful her fiancé was and how she could never hate him.


The fact that if the reason she nearly split her dress to listen to hours upon hours of sappy romantic bullshit she'd most likely hope that Inuyasha was indeed a cheating, dirty, slut-hole.

Kagome sighed—somewhat happily and somewhat resentfully—as she reached the bathroom door labeled 'Ladies'. Her hand rested on the doorknob a minute as she smoothed back her hair and shifted her dress, but it was enough time to hear high halting sobs, and the murmuring voice of Midoriko.

Kikyo was truly upset.

Half of Kagome was relieved—the half not very keen on listening to stories upon stories of Inuyasha Sukido's cuteness—and the other half deeply, seriously pissed off. How the hell could he do this? To Kikyo? To their family?

"I'll kill him." Kagome hissed between clenched teeth as she wrenched open the bathroom door and hustled her way in.

Kagome's eyes swiveled around frantically searching for the sight of her two sisters—mostly just for Kikyo. She found them sitting on the floor of a fashionable sitting room that was connected to the bathrooms.

Kikyo had a role of toilet paper tightly grasped in one hand as her other held a wad of the soft paper that looked relatively dry and unused despite the dampness of her tear and make-up streaked face—a sure sign that Midoriko had just recently supplied them as temporary tissues. Her nose was running speedily and her eyes were pouring out vast quantities of salty liquid that coursed down her face and splashed upon her beige dress. Her chest was heaving with sobs that she half-finished before letting out a frustrated scream or something along the lines of 'How could he?' or 'I loved him—LOVED him!'

Midoriko was crying as well, but it was just slightly, with a few tears every once in a while tumbling softly down her face to vanish under her chin as if they had never been there at all. She was kneeling next to Kikyo with her arm draped around the girl's shoulders, fingers lightly toying with the hair near them.

"Kikyo, honey, it's okay…shhh, shhh." Midoriko kept saying as her other hand clasped Kikyo's—the one with the wad of toilet paper—and squeezed reassuringly.

Kagome felt herself grow cold as her eyes finally fell on them. It was like every mental and emotional bone in her body was being crushed together like a flimsy piece of paper into just a solid broken jumble of frustrated agony.

Ten steps and she was kneeling beside Kikyo, grabbing the loosely held toilet role from her sister's hand and unwinding a wad of its paper herself.

Kikyo stopped her sobbing to sniffle a bit and look toward Kagome with bloodshot and tearing eyes, her nose didn't pause in its leaking.

"H-hey, Ka-Kagome…" Kikyo attempted a shaking smile that would at any moment fold into a delicate line of quivering flesh in which less-than-delicate sobs would escape. The smile had Kagome's own eyes growing moist and her own lips quivering with a sudden urge to cry.

You aren't supposed to be the one crying! Kagome berated herself internally, as she forced her own smile to her face and willed her eyes to remain dry. It wouldn't do to have three Higurashi sisters collectively sobbing in Mr. Yamagato's public bathrooms.

"Hey Kikyo…" Kagome replied after she mentally stoned down the emotional tendency to become emotional before raising the wad of paper toward her sister's water soaked and make-up stained face and patted it dry.

Kikyo's forced smile collapsed into a shaking frown.

"Ho-how, did y-you guys…?" Kikyo questioned before her face fell into a wrinkled design and more tears fell and a sob escaped.

Midoriko's hand had moved from Kikyo's shoulder to rubbing soothing—however ineffective the action was—circles into her sister's back. Midoriko's eyes flicked toward Kagome before once again resting on Kikyo.

"Kagome saw…"

Kikyo had taken a brief respite from sobbing.

"…So you know." She whispered, her eyes staring vacantly at her hands—tears still wove their way down her face.

"…Yes, I do." Kagome barely spoke it—speaking it made it so much more vivid than any memory.

Kikyo's vacant look did not last for long as her face began to wither once again into a soggy mess of tears, snot, and sobs.

"I hate him!!!" She yelled it—her voice was brushed with harshness, like the splash of vivid red upon a white canvas.

Kikyo's fist pounded her leg with the proclamation, before her sobs grew even louder and more unrestrained. A woman hurriedly left a bathroom stall, but not before glancing curiously toward the three women.

Midoriko's voice resounded over Kikyo's cries, "Kagome, find mom."

Kagome understood the situation all too perfectly. Kikyo's crying—her engagement—her celebrity status—and the simple fact that women fed off of gossip would result in nothing pleasant. Kikyo needed to get out of here. She needed to leave the party and go home.

"Right." Kagome answered as she stood and left the bathroom, but not before pausing to glance back at Kikyo, mentally swearing to harm the person who caused this to happen.


Mrs. Higurashi was the least pleased to see her beautiful daughter a sobbing, icky mess in Mr. Yamagato's public bathrooms—she was even more displeased with her soon-to-be or (and hopefully not!) soon-not-to-be son-in-law, Inuyasha Sukido. The only thing she found comforting at this moment was the massive supply of paper-towels and water. Kikyo was definitely not leaving this bathroom looking like that.

So deciding quite rationally—a word not always quite associated toward Hitomi Higurashi—she figured they'd discuss/bash this Inuyasha dilemma later, and in the sanctuary of their home.

Mrs. Higurashi turned toward her youngest daughter, a hand placed delicately on her shoulder, "Thank you for getting me, Kagome. This is truly a very unfortunate occurrence."

Really? Kagome thought sarcastically while another faceless woman popped from another stall and glanced curiously at the sobbing Kikyo before shuffling from the bathroom.

Kagome seriously wanted to barricade the lavatory door with toilet rolls and/or (on a more realistic side) spray incoming women with the faucet water, while yelling like a lunatic.

"Ok," Kagome mumbled, after eyeing down the last woman who left the bathroom and then turned her attention back toward her mother who was ringing her hands anxiously, "Let's just get her to the car and out of here."

Mrs. Higurashi glanced regretfully around the bathroom (taking in the finely crafted tilling and cleanliness), "Such a shame! She'll miss the fireworks!"

Kagome found it hard to compare missing fireworks to losing a fiancé who was supposedly madly in love with you and (to top it off) amazingly rich. Oh, and it somewhat, Kagome assumed, hurt—massively hurt—to have witnessed such a fiancé cheating (or supposedly cheating) on you with another woman.

"Oh, yes." Kagome fluttered a dramatic hand to her forehead, "The fireworks!—how will my precious sister ever survive?" A wondering finger to her chin, "But I do guess that just potentially losing your fiancé is just slightly more important than fireworks." Then a slight shrug of the shoulders, "I think you almost had a point there, mother."

Mrs. Higurashi glared, Kagome blinked back innocently, "Oh, stop it. Kikyo might just complain later—and maybe, just maybe they would cheer her up? It doesn't hurt to ask, now does it?" And with another frosty glare at her daughter Mrs. Higurashi approached her second eldest child and placed a motherly hand upon her head.

Kagome wished the metal towel dispensers were detachable from the walls. She was itching to hurl one at a certain woman.

Friggin' fireworks?! Kagome hissed inwardly as she heard her mother ask,

"Kikyo, honey—would you want to stay for the fireworks?—they're supposed to be beauti—"

More heaving sobs were enough of an answer—that and then a glass-shattering (seriously disturbing) scream of, "I HATE HIS F—KING GUTS!!!"

"I guess she doesn't much want to watch the fireworks." Kagome intoned lightly—Mrs. Higurashi ignored her and quickly readied about a pound of paper towels to start on project "Kikyo Removal From Yamagato's Public Bathrooms"—lengthy, perhaps, but straight to the point.

Kagome on the other hand had currently deployed herself in acting as a bathroom sentry to keep any more snooping ears/eyes from her sister's display until she was thoroughly removed from her current location on the bathroom lobby's floor. Violence was clearly out of the question—Kagome knew that instantly; of course she could always incapacitate someone by pelting them with toilet paper rolls repeatedly and for a lengthy amount of time, but that seemed too tedious. Among other ridiculous ideas Kagome just settled on going with the flow and acting upon instinct…and whatever came to her mind.

Kagome didn't have to wait long to employ her creativity as another woman hustled in.

Kagome was standing near the door when the woman popped in—and Kagome in front of her.

The woman looked up tentatively, somewhat annoyed at being stopped so suddenly in her tracks to relive herself. Kagome went out on a limb and placed her hands on the woman's shoulders keeping her in place and obstructing her view from Kikyo.

The woman's unsure annoyance faded quickly as a frown creased her forehead and she proceeded to remove Kagome's hands from her shoulders, "Excuse me!—what do you think you are doing…" The woman started before Kagome interrupted, "You really don't want to be in here." Kagome stated it, a little frantically (partly from true franticness and partly faked).

The woman's frown darkened further, before craning her neck to look over Kagome's shoulder, "Is…is that someone…crying?" She asked, curiosity taking the better of her.

Kagome huffed inwardly—What to say! What to say?!

And then it hit her.
Okay, no, no it wasn't the best of lies—in all honesty in was a very stupid one, but at the time—at this most dire time—Kagome could hardly count on one finger why it would be wrong to use it.

So she did.

"Shhh!" Kagome hissed, leaning in further toward the woman—her nose just a mere six inches away from the woman's own, "She just barfed everywhere—each stall…and missed entirely. It's pretty nasty."

The woman looked unphased—just blinking slightly and stepping back a few paces to create space between herself and Kagome.

"I'll just wipe it off with some paper towels. I mean I really have to go."

What the hell. Who the hell is willing to pee when someone has just barfed all over the place—on and around all the toilets?

"The vomit was projectile. It's like—really I mean this in all the literal sense—all over the walls—"

"Each stall?" The woman asked, a tone of utter disbelief in her voice.

Just take the goddamn lie and leave, woman! Kagome rasped mentally—who was willing to stay after being told someone puked all over the place—WHO?!

"She worked her way down."

"Really?" The woman rolled the word out, slowly and sarcastically.

"She was drunk—she kept losing direction—"

"I'll take my chances."

"She has STDS."

The woman blinked at her. Kagome blinked at herself.

"Umm..yeah…" Kagome trailed off. Riiiight…so that wasn't an obvious lie or anything…

The woman shifted uncomfortably, her steps taking her closer to the exit—which was a good thing in Kagome's opinion, all she needed to do was keep freaking her out.

"You do know what those letters stand for?" the woman asked, her eyes squinting uncertainly at Kagome.

"Well, duh. I've had more than half my share of them throughout my life," Kagome hesitated before she pointed toward a random bathroom stall out of the five, "I used that one by the way."

The woman wrinkled her nose, but still didn't leave the bathroom.

"What are you stupid?" She chastised, "Don't you use protection?"

Okay. This was just getting too fruity and Kagome was seriously regretting bringing her sexuality into this. Not only that, but this woman was too strange—who would have stayed past ten seconds after being revealed this information, true or not?

"I was raped multiple times by horny men carrying very painful diseases." Kagome remarked—her sarcastic and slightly dark humor fluttering to light.

Oh sweet Jesus just LEAVE.

"How horrible!"

"Yes. Very traumatic."

"How did you survive?"

"Snickers bar."





"You are entirely too strange."

Wow! I was just thinking the same!

Kagome sighed. Alright. She had given up this little charade—she was going to be blunt, harsh, and unforgiving—the woman had her chance.

"Listen…" Kagome began, glancing back quickly to see how the progress went with Kikyo—her sobs had subsided about two minutes ago, "Could you just leave?"

The woman's glare hardened.

"Please. Please! Please."

The woman sighed, shifting her weight, "Ugh. Fine. But I think I'm going to alert Mr. Yamagato about this so he knows to clean it up pronto…" The woman turned toward the door, then back around, "It was nice…" Pausing she shook her head, "Oh fuck it, never mind."

Kagome nodded, "Agreed. Later."

Shortly after the woman left to tattle to Mr. Yamagato, Kagome turned back toward Kikyo, Midoriko, and her mother. They had cleaned Kikyo's face up and the only signs of her previous sob fest were the puffy and swollen eyes and a reddened nose. Kikyo was standing, slightly slumping against the bathroom wall for support—her right arm resting around Midoriko's shoulders.

"Hey guys, we better hurry up and get Kikyo out of here." Kagome didn't really fancy being caught when Mr. Yamagato's work force came in to inspect the fabled damage of vomit and sexually transmitted diseases.

"We're about ready to leave." Midoriko replied while dusting the wrinkles from Kikyo's dress—Mrs. Higurashi still glancing around the marbled bathroom silently lamenting their leaving early.

As Kikyo, Midoriko, and her mother approached the door Kagome held it open toward the ballroom—the lights had gone dim and people had seated themselves back in their chairs watching an entertaining display of two dancers in the center of the room, the spot light illuminating their fluid and graceful moves, the music absorbing the air.

"Perfect timing, huh?" Midoriko remarked, smiling slight at Kagome as they moved slowly toward the parted double-doors of the staircase that led down toward the entrance hall.

When they reached the landing after traversing down the unnecessarily lengthy steps, a doorman greeted them and offered to get their coats if they had brought any and to call a valet to retrieve their car for them.

"Oh, no, we didn't bring a car." Mrs. Higurashi replied—her face flushed with embarrassment. What would he think of her!

"Could you call a taxi?" Kagome asked, embarrassment the farthest thing from her mind as Kikyo's eyes started to pool again. The doorman nodded quickly and turned to do so. He returned slightly later and told them ten minutes and the taxi would be right out front.

They rejected his offer to stay inside as they started the climb down the mansion's front steps—which was entirely too much fun. So much fun they never wanted to do it again.

And then there they were…sitting on the last step of the stone staircase waiting...waiting...waiting.

Kikyo's sniffles were the only communication they had. Mrs. Higurashi's hands were a nice red color from her ringing them, Midoriko's hand still systematically ran 'soothing' circles on Kikyo's back, and Kagome plucked idly at the freshly misted grass of the Yamagato's front lawn.

"How long has it been?" Mrs. Higurashi questioned, checking her wrists for any watch—finding none.

"About six minutes." Midoriko replied.

The silence continued. Kagome's consistent personal mowing of the Yamagato's lawn, Kikyo's muffled sobs, Midoriko's tapping of her fingers on the cold cement, and Mrs. Higurashi's fiddling of her dress's hem line continued with the silence, trimming it with expression, setting it with personality.

And finally the taxi rolled up—Kagome was relieved, Midoriko grim, Mrs. Higurashi socially depressed—to miss such a party! Kikyo was…well not really thinking coherently.

As they opened the taxi door and loaded their human cargo on, Mrs. Higurashi got in herself along with Midoriko. Kagome made to situate herself beside her sister when her mother's voice broke through the frolicking silence—the agreeable silence.

"What do you think you are doing, young lady?" Mrs. Higurashi's voice was incredulous—accusing.

Kagome hesitated, somewhat bewildered, but further more annoyed.

"I'm getting in the taxi." Kagome stated as she once again moved to situate herself next to her sister—again being delayed as her mother's hand slapped at her.

"Oh no you don't!"

"Why?" Kagome asked, now the one incredulous.

"Because you have to stay and let Mr. and Mrs. Sukido know that…umm…Kikyo wasn't feeling well—don't mention anything—and I do mean anything—about Inuyasha." Mrs. Higurashi finished sensibly as the taxi driver snapped an irritated,

"Lady, are ya gonna take all night, eh?"

Kagome felt a twitch coming on. So she was to stay and do the dirty work, huh? How ironic was it that she—the one who wanted the most to leave—had to stay in the blasted mansion, while the ones who either really didn't mind staying or absolutely loved it were slinking off!

Kagome shook her head, "Mom…" Pausing to take a deep, steadying breath, "Why don't you stay and I'll go home with Kikyo and Midoriko?"

But Mrs. Higurashi would hear none of it. Her one daughter might have lost any chance at a rich marriage—a nice marriage—to Inuyasha Sukido, but Kagome was certainly not going to spoil anything with Koga Ookami.

"You have a date, remember—and two friends still here—Kagome! You can't be so rude! What will people think?" And with that the taxi door snapped shut (almost taking off Kagome's arm in the process) and started down the long driveway.

Kagome remained where she was, very bitter. Her mother held some sense with the Koga, Sango, and Miroku bit, but really. They would have certainly understood if they were told Kikyo was sick. But no, it wasn't just that. It was the underlying meaning of the whole thing! Her mother was plotting something—Koga Ookami; that was what she was plotting.

And despite her tremendous annoyance Kagome smiled. Her mother was so transparent. Koga was hardly anything to her but a very nice acquaintance, perhaps a potential friend. Nothing more.

Eh. She'll figure it out eventually. Kagome reasoned as she shrugged back around toward the towering staircase that seemed to stare beadily at her.

"And to think I almost forgot about you." Kagome sighed—the yawning doorway to the mansion about one hundred steps up. One hundred steps she would have to climb—again.

So glancing around suspiciously, checking for any life forms, (and finding none) Kagome hiked up her skirt, slipped off her heels, and started the trudge up the mocking, cold cement stairs.

Hmm…perhaps they're a relation of Sesshoumaru's?

Kagome giggled at the thought.

"His mother was probably a stone."

And with that one sentence the complexity of a certain individual seemed to clear almost instantly. But Kagome had already learned from experience that nothing is quite that simple—nothing at all.


All the women were so beautiful! So gorgeous! So well…groomed.

He loved it. Absolutely loved it. Every minute, every second—every millisecond!

How could he not?—With rich, willing, beauties around him—accepting his seducing remarks and look-overs with nothing but a sultry smile or a wink. Miroku had to appreciate the rich businessmen's lack of attention toward their fawning wives—for they truly weren't playing hard to get at all—the most trouble someone would have with them would be getting their Victoria Secret bras off them. And Miroku was an expert at those babies—from the Midnight Satin to the Passion Pink.

"You pig."

So perhaps his eyes lingered a bit longer than necessary on a passing woman's (ample) chest? He wasn't hurting anyone! And in some ways he was actually helping!

Miroku sighed. Ah—she was the reason he had had no chance at getting to know these wonderful women any better! To entertain them for perhaps a night or two—give them some well-deserved love! Love that their home life probably didn't offer them…He was helping, serving his community—

"Sango, dear, do not interrupt me while I'm—"

"Working?—Oh dear! I'm so, so, so…"

While Sango was in mid-rant (a rant he very much was ignoring) a passing server breezed by with some tasty looking margaritas—margaritas that were certainly welcomed right about now. Perhaps it was an anxiety to acquire something delightful in the midst of this verbal bashing? Perhaps it was a subconscious urge to distract himself from this nagging feeling of…guilt? But whatever it was, it inspired the least wise of actions—Miroku hastily reached across Sango's figure to snatch at the beverage—the server seemed to be purposely taunting him with his tray of delectables, for Miroku could have sworn that right when his fingers grasped the stem of a glass the waiter jerked away—and the liquid—that evil liquid—sloshed happily onto Sango's dress.

A sudden gasp and a quick draw back of her person from near him was Sango's reaction—along with the usual, "I'm going to so kill you!" at any slight mistake that he happened to be the cause of…but mostly it was just when his eyes and/or hands wandered…

Miroku sipped tenderly at his alcohol, eyes glancing at Sango over the rim, cautiously, wearily—"Right. Before you hurt me know this…" He paused, taking another quick sip from the salted rim of his glass, the drink giving him courage (and more time to prepare for the physical abuse he was about to endure), "That…" Miroku pointed at the dampness of her dress, eyebrows raised in an expression of honesty, "was not intended."

Sango's hands were clenching at her sides—"It's not the dress, you idiot!" She shouted, shaking a fist (Miroku flinched, shielding his drink).

"It's that!" Sango exploded, as she pointed toward a woman standing not two feet away.

"Excuse me?" The woman snapped as she turned from her conversation—Miroku looked on innocently as Sango continued with her rant (he didn't see the point in pointing something out—interruptions caused more beatings…).

So mouthing a 'I'm sorry' toward the extremely (sexy) offended lady—Miroku turned back around to a Sango who's fingers were pointing all over the ballroom at random women proclaiming "and that! And that! And that! That! That! That that that that!"

Miroku continued to sip his drink—You know this is really quite yummy. Hmph. And usually I hate the salt.

Sometimes just ignoring something seemed to make it go away…

"…But you don't even care—do you?! You self-centered, womanizing—"

Or at least fade a little into the background…

"UGH! If Kagome was here she'd kill you along with me already killing you!!"

What the hell was he thinking!—He couldn't ignore this woman—He simply could not, she was just so irritating! So…so…so…


She was just so Sango.

And the realization was…amazing. He blinked—and he looked. At everything about Sango—her livid eyes (lovely eyes), her pointed nose (a cute nose), her rounded face (a very pretty face), her small ears (very lick—likable ears), her midnight black hair (midnight tousled hair), her. Just her (a completely naked her) He didn't even have to look at her breast size (he already knew it was in the low Cs), her (shapely) legs—it was like she wasn't even a woman.

I mean… Miroku thought, distractedly as he slurped up the last of his margarita, Sango's voice the background theme to this amazing discovery, She's a person!

"…But nooooo!!! It's always what you feel—" Her face was already so red…as red as her dress—her nice, attractively formfitting dress.

And his drink was all gone, and his mouth was already dry—from what?—and his hands were restless, his feet tapping oddly, and his…his thoughts…on—her.

"Hey, Sango?" Miroku carelessly dropped his glass—tables were too far away to care—"You want to dance?"

"Would I want to dance!? After what you put me through!?" She paused, whirling away from him, then back—her face a mesh of anger, resentment…and…

She shrugged.


And they danced.

And—surprisingly—he loved it. Sango was beautiful, she smelled beautiful, and she felt beautiful in his arms.

Perfect. Was this what one called perfect?

Sango's head was snug under his chin, her breath faint on his throat, her arms lazily resting around his shoulders—her breasts brushing against his chest—

"Miroku…?" He heard her mumble, felt the vibration of her voice.

"Hmm?" He didn't feel right with words at the moment, he didn't feel the need for them.

Sango looked up at him, drawing their bodies apart, "Thanks for asking me to dance." While Miroku was barely enduring the loss of physical contact, he certainly was pleased that Sango was pleased—For some reason he always found life so much more enjoyable when she wasn't mad or angry or wanted to murder something—even when he wasn't the cause of it.

And she seemed happy. Here. With him.

He was happy—Here. With her.

Miroku didn't answer her as he smiled one of his rare smiles—the one that held nothing of lecherous intent, but pure contentment. He knew Sango loved that smile; she loved it because she knew it for what it was. It was a smile of memories, friendship, trust, and the love that binds it all—the honest love of a friend, a person who cares.

"I love that smile." Sango laughed, feeling something warm, pleasant, and deserved spreading through her as slow and sweet as maple syrup (the Aunt Jemima kind).

Miroku pulled her close again, the so loved smile still in place, "I know." And he loved how he felt her smile against his throat, her lips brushing soft, intruding—tempting.

His hands slightly tightened their grip on her waist, and if Sango noticed she gave no indication. Miroku searched his mind desperately for something to distract him from…from—her.

But why did he need to be distracted from Sango? He loved the distraction she presented—then…then what?

What made him feel this way around her? The friendship was still there, yes, but something…else. It was strange—it was new, and it scared him to think that he felt it had always been there, just waiting for the perfect moment—the exact time to jump—

To be honest he wasn't sure if he liked it—this, this feeling.

It felt like everything he knew about women were theories upon theories of nothing. Nothing—and he liked to think he knew a good deal about women—he had made it his business to know since he could walk! But around—Sango! Of all women!—he felt…

His eyes widened with the realization of it—the shock—

I'm…nervous? And he was.

Down to the very marrow of his bones he was ridden with anxiety. What should he say, what shouldn't he say?—That seemed more likely of a question.

The music was relaxing, calming, slow—he decided to concentrate on it for the moment…His thoughts were too much to ponder on—and the physical temptations encased in reddened silk were just beneath his fingertips—literally.

He couldn't quite eliminate Sango from his mind, although—her presence made it maddenly hard to do so. Her soft intrusions as she twisted in his grasp—the dance—his footsteps leading her where he pleased—What do I please?—and then for a moment—a brief, agonizing moment, she'd turn in a spin from him, slow, beautiful—and then flesh would once again meet flesh (Oh how he wished it was flesh).

Right. How about not thinking thatMiroku tried to mentally reassert his disobedient mind onto paths of the less destructive possibilities. But the exasperating thing about trying to pointedly forget something is that you'll always remember it—Miroku sighed horribly frustrated as Sango shifted in his arms, her own delicate hands traveling smoothly down his back—

And then he was looking at her—her beautiful eyes looking into his, her…her lips just below his, and they were so soft looking, so moist—and he was thirsty—But his thirst was for something entirely different.

Entirely confusing, tempting—oh hell…

Giving in was so easy—so simple…but it was wrong. And, unfortunately, hell was the farthest place from where he was currently standing. She was the keeper of heaven's magnificent gates…and past her—inside herthere lay heaven.


And his nose, it kissed hers—her smile widening, her white teeth amazing, her breath like a taunting, playful push upon his lips, and the moment…the moment…it was—

Her eyes moved, they lost his, and she glanced to the side—and her breath was no longer the one pushing, but her hands—beautiful hands

The dancing stopped—but they hadn't been dancing anymore, had they?—and the moment—that precious, precious moment—was gone. It was gone.

Sango's hand clasped his as she turned; her smile had faded slightly, her voice raised in a happy greeting.

"Kagome!" She called—he hardly cared—He hated Kagome; hated, yet loved her for her intrusion.

Kagome's own easy voice echoed Sango's call, "Sango!" Kagome cried, not having seen her friends—dancing, together?!—until this very moment. But relief swept through her as she smiled and hurried over toward Sango and Miroku. After her family had abandoned her in the front yard of the Yamagato's, Kagome had made it her goal: A.) to successfully climb up the monster staircase yet a third time, B.) to find a decent refreshment (also known as water) after accomplishing goal A, and C.) to find her two compadres and vent annoyingly.

Goal A and B had been packed away and C was now in sight of completion. Kagome Higurashi decided that now, at this very moment, she could have died a decently content soul. What would have made her seriously content would have been a certain silver-haired prig brutally molested by heterosexual males seriously drunk and seriously confused. But Kagome was willing to compromise and took the pleasantries that life offered her with a grateful heart.

That and she secretly knew Sesshoumaru's day would come.

Oh yes. It will come indeed.

"Hello there, Kagome." Miroku answered dutifully to Kagome's quick smile in his direction. His nerves no longer felt like electric wires being doused in water and his wits were slowly returning. The sensation of normalcy felt as wonderful as a steamy bath after emerging from a snowstorm—a very, very beautiful snowstorm. These new emotions were frightening and exciting—he needed time to be away. Just to think…to ponder…to relax. But before he could act upon this new idea of fleeing a potentially awkward occurrence, Kagome had his upper arm in a grip that was hard enough to break bone.

Miroku winced as the pressure increased, glancing from his left arm toward Kagome's face, looking for any trace of malice. Miroku found none, but a delicate crease of wrinkles on her forehead—like one would have from thinking too hard on something. Miroku let his eyes wander toward Sango's own figure about a step or two away from him. Kagome had an equally painful grip on her shoulder and Sango's face was a mix of forced pleasantness and serious pain.

Kagome took her time not to notice their agony, but to increase it as she forcibly marched her two friends wincing and wondering to a barren-ish section of the massive ballroom. There she released them and glanced around for any potentially destructive ears and/or eyes, finding none she turned again toward her friends who were both rubbing at least one sore spot on their upper body.

"I do not know what I could have possibly done to ever anger you, but trust me, I am sorry." Miroku replied grumpily as he masseused his left upper arm.

Sango was less ignorant about what caused Kagome to move them so urgently over toward a less populated part of the massive room and asked, "What's up Kagome? No really—because you seriously killed my shoulder."

Sango looked toward said shoulder and poked it tentatively.

"Yeah…ouch." Sango confirmed, as she glanced back to Kagome.

"Ouch" Miroku reinforced, kindly reminding them of his own hurt as he pointed at his arm repeating, "Yeah—this. Ouch."

Kagome had enough decency to look sheepish from her rather extreme display of secrecy, and after about one minute of apologizing and promising to pay medical bills she got to talking. The talking mainly revolved around Kikyo, Kagome's rather lethal feelings about the Sukido brothers, and her potential homicide of the one whom she called 'mother'. All in all in about ten minutes of the twenty/twenty-five minute conversation lay the basic outline of her night up until now and the rest was a colorful bashing of the Sukidos, her family, and the Yamagato's ridiculously huge staircase.

Miroku remembered to look at least half interested by the time Kagome was done and to keep his eyes away from feminine bodies. Sango was thoroughly interested in the parts containing the Sukido brothers, and the Kikyo gossip with Inuyasha being a maybe-asshole. But when Kagome started to drift into no-man's-land with the hardly comprehensible rants of suppressed anger, Sango just went on autopilot as she trained her eyes to Kagome's face and nodded her head tolerantly.

"So basically…" Miroku started out, eyes narrowed and a hand placed on his chin in concentration, "After a rather argumentative discussion with—"

"Fight. It was a fight." Kagome corrected and then hurriedly added, "And I won."

"Right." Miroku replied easily, "So you had a fight with Sesshoumaru, he sought you out—"

"Hunted. He hunted me down."

"Right. So he hunted you down, forced you to dance with him, he ticked you off, you scampered to the balcony—"

"I did NOT scamper anywhe—" Kagome began indignantly, before Miroku raised a hand and said a rather snippy "Shush."

"And you scampered off to the balcony and there witnessed Inuyasha's display of male testosterone and Kikyo's display of emotional agony." Miroku had been ticking the events off mentally in his mind, rather surprised how well he had half-listened to Kagome, "Am I right?"

"Ididnotscamp—" Kagome began before Sango's interference into the conversation.

"Okay. It does not matter—Miroku rephrased what happened pretty much word-for-word. The second part is what I'm confused about."

Kagome sighed; slightly annoyed that Sango didn't understand. What was there not to understand? Inuyasha and his villainous brother were assholes.

Let's just grasp the notion, Sango—let's just grasp it. Kagome thought, exasperated. Of course Sango wouldn't understand! She was obsessed with the Sukidos! She didn't want to understand that they were both insanely spoiled little white-haired monkeys.

"Which part?" Kagome asked, a little snippily, "The part were Inuyasha was a complete idiot or where Sesshoumaru needed to be wired with bombs, strapped to his convertible, and blown up to—"

Sango took this moment to interrupt.

"No, what I don't understand is why Inuyasha would…'cheat' with this Kagura Mizu, when…when…well…" Sango paused, thinking of a way to phrase what she wanted to say—which was basically, despite Inuyasha's flaws, what she knew of Kikyo and Inuyasha's relationship was that he just couldn't get enough. He was like a puppy dog around Kikyo—couldn't stand to see her cry (and plenty of times Kikyo had used that to her advantage), couldn't stand to see her depressed, not smiling, not laughing—the root of the matter was…they did seem grossly in love with one another.

Sango looked from her hands to Kagome's face, "You know what I mean—Kikyo and Inuyasha are inseparable. I've never seen Inuyasha…not in love with her." And that's really the best way to say it—in love. One would look at them and just…feel it, know it.

All in all it seemed to Sango highly unlikely that he would cheat. The vibe just wasn't right.

Kagome's indignant rage quieted. She knew exactly where Sango was coming from. She felt the same thing when she witnessed the incident. Actually, the way Inuyasha reacted to Kagura's seduction attempts had been placid severity. At first he had seemed awkward, embarrassed—then guilty…but after Kikyo had appeared…there seemed to be a soft realization. A realization that, that…

"He loves Kikyo." Kagome whispered. It had been nagging her repeatedly the whole evening. But now it was clear. Thinking back Inuyasha hadn't been encouraging anything...and she did turn around to see them embracing, perhaps a little closely, but she could almost bet that Kagura had been the one to induce the physical contact.

"Yeah." Sango nodded her head in solemn agreement, "He truly loves her. And I don't know much about this Kagura Mizu...but if I was dumped by the hottest, richest guy around I wouldn't be too keen on him marrying this new girl he just found six months ago. I could see her desperately trying to win him back."

Kagome had a nagging suspicion that Sango wasn't just sympathizing with Kagura, but almost agreeing with the witch (minus the w, plus the b). But she refrained from caring much. Sango was definitely not anything remotely close to the iniquitous Miss. Mizu she had encountered earlier (and never ever wanted to encounter again). The girl would really probably murder her.

—And Kagome was the one who would prefer to do the murdering, not the one being murdered.

Miroku had been a silent bystander during Sango and Kagome's 'feeling-it-out' of why Inuyasha was most likely not a cheat. It mainly involved the word 'love' a handful of times and then the solidified agreement of the couple being completely and irretrievably in love. Hence, Inuyasha couldn't have been a cheat, and his poor ex-girlfriend (this Mizu) had failed in her brash attempt to win him over.

"Well that's just wonderful we figured that tid-bit of info out." Miroku's tone really wasn't anything but a statement. Would it make him a bad person not to care?

Because he really didn't.

Sango and Kagome seemed to take his blasé tone a little bit too personal as they turned to him with disdainful faces, "You're horrible." Kagome said, rather not kindly at all.

"You really suck." Sango agreed seconds later, her eyebrows raised in a blatant expression.

Miroku just smiled easily, bringing his hands together in a prayer-like way, "Peace, love, and possibly sex. Let's just all get along, huh?" He truly was pleading and hoping not to get hit, but generally whenever he said the starts with a 's' and ends in an 'x' word, he did. Quite brutally.

But they both seemed too tired too care, with all the chaos that had happened tonight. Kagome and Sango just rolled their eyes and turned away—and Miroku instantly grew comfortable with the idea of being a loner for the rest of the evening. He knew when the roll of the eyes came so did their resolve to shun him for a decided upon period of time.

Needless to say Miroku was gone when the next sizable pair of breasts with legs sauntered by.

Needless to say Kagome and Sango purposely did not notice Miroku leave them and the little meeting between the trio quickly ended.

"Hmm…so what now?" Sango asked, boredom already starting to fill her with its itching desire to find something entertaining to do. The gossip and, before that, Miroku's confusing presence had helped to keep the creeping uninterest at bay, but now it was quite clear that things were starting to dwindle.

Kagome shrugged. "I don't know. My mom said something about fireworks later on, but who knows?"

Really, all that could be said was 'perfect timing' for in that instant the lights grew dim and both girls turned themselves to look at the clearing in the center of the room.

Mr. Yamagato stood regally with a microphone grasped in his hand, his other arm raised in a presenting way.

"Since the evening is coming to a unfortunate, but nonetheless exciting, close I am happy to tell you that there shall be an awesome display of fireworks for those of you who wish to stay and enjoy. The balconies, which are located to the left of myself," Mr. Yamagato's arm swept in the intended direction, "Are a recommended viewing platform. Other than this, I just wanted to thank all of you who attended tonight and supported Inutaisho and I in our decision to join our companies…"

With this Mr. Yamagato smiled, took a graceful bow and happy, polite, and in some cases, drunken applause filled the air. Kagome and Sango were among the polite.

Once the clapping had died down Sango turned toward Kagome, "You want to watch them?" At this point Sango didn't really care if Kagome's answer was a yes or a no. Fireworks were fireworks, she had seen them a gazillion times in her twenty years of existence. But she had to say that she was tired—the dimmed lights were truly making her head nod in an effort to stay awake. Partying took a lot out of a person!

"Hmm…I don't really think we have a choice, Sango." Kagome answered her, "I mean we came with Mrs. Sukido and I don't think she intends to leave early."

Kagome could tell Sango was about ready to call it quits, hell—she had been ready to call it quits from the first time she set foot in the mall to find a dress to wear. And with all the excitement with Kikyo about two hours ago it was enough to tire any person out. All she wanted was to go home, strip down into some nice, comfortable shorts and a t-shirt and curl up in her comfy, fluffy bed and fall asleep.

But, no. She was stuck here for about another hour and a half…maybe more.

"What time is it anyway?" Sango questioned, disappointed in Kagome's response and the fact that it was true. They couldn't leave until Mrs. Sukido left.

"I'd have to say about one thirty in the morning." Kagome replied just before the first boom of a firework went off, the sparkling white glow illuminating the now completely dark ballroom. The guests 'ooos' and 'awwws' could be heard all around. That and some scattered talking and laughing from the least interested in the flashy show of chemicals.

People from all directions started to move to the balconies, not having considered the idea before the fireworks actually started. Kagome and Sango gave each other looks before shrugging and following the herd of bodies to the terrace to watch the fireworks in silence.

It will help to pass the time, anyway. Kagome thought reasonably.

Sango made her own way toward the glass French double doors that led to their destination as Kagome followed. The crowd grew tighter as they neared the exit to the terrace. Someone's elbow jabbed painfully in Kagome's side as another person shoved their way in front of Kagome, successfully separating Sango and herself.

"Excuse me!" Kagome snapped, annoyed. She just hoped Sango knew that she was no longer behind her. Damn people! Now not only would she have to find Miroku after this blasted party, but also Sango. Not to mention Mrs. Sukido who was their ride home.

This night just keeps getting worse and worse and—

Someone grabbed her arm and yanked, not enough to hurt, but enough to piss her off. People needed to chill! They were just fireworks! Kagome attempted to pull her arm away, but the grip tightened.

Exasperated, annoyed, and fully ticked, Kagome whipped her head around to verbally attack and, if need be, physically assault the person responsible for her irritation. Her eyes came to rest on a face that she had completely forgotten about until this very exact moment in time.

"Naraku?" She questioned, her eyes narrowed as she remembered their last conversation and the increasing confusion and creepiness this individual seemed to exude. She felt it now; the unsure hesitation in which she took a step back.

"Heya, hot stuff…" Naraku responded with a suave, sarcastic little wink and a smirk that any other girl with lesser expectations would have swooned at. Kagome was hardly the swooning type. And Naraku was hardly the person she wanted to be talking to in a dark ballroom with almost all of the guests outside viewing the fireworks.

Kagome found the pressing crowd no longer surrounding them as in most had already exited through the glass balcony doors. Moments before she had longed to have the jostling bodies and pointy elbows far from her—now she wanted them back.

More than ever.

"What do you want?" She asked cattily, her eyes narrowed further—her one hand placed on her hip, the other still in Naraku's unrelenting grip.

His hand slid up her forearm to rest on her bicep as he positioned himself next to her; his smile was sickening.

"Oh…why to talk to you, of course," He paused, bringing his face closer to hers—his lips nearly brushing against her outer ear, "Did I forget to mention you look absolutely beautiful this evening?"

"It seems you got around to it…" Kagome hissed, pulling herself away. He was too close for comfort.

Naraku's devilish little smile widened as Kagome drew away from him. Oh, he knew she hated his presence this close to her, he didn't hold any disillusions about her liking him in the slightest. But he knew she didn't hate him. Not yet, anyhow. He was willing to test his limits—Naraku had always been willing to test his limits.

He chuckled. It was a light bit of laughter that seemed to float upon the air, "Ah, yes it would seem I did." He purred, his arm now linking hers with his other hand resting comfortably on her wrist. Effectively making it difficult to pull away from him. Kagome didn't like it, and she liked it less when he started walking them back further into the emptied room.

"H-hey! What do you think you are—?!!"

Naraku turned his face toward her again, his features etched romantically across his face in the darkened room, his red eyes unnoticeable as the darkness stole their color. They were just inky pools, and Kagome wished to high heaven that they certainly were not windows to his soul.

"Let us just take a little stroll, hmm?" His tone was a purr; a deep, masculine purr and she felt the vibration of his voice creep up her arm like some type of tickling spider. She looked back toward his face; the shadows hiding the left half of it perfectly from view, his lips still twitched in their seducing smirk. And in that moment—the moment when another crack of firework filled the air, it's red glow bursting full upon his face—she regretted ever having let her eyes wander. The red filled his features, painted them anew, marked them in satanic glory. His eyes—their red, vibrant color—now throbbed like two embers popped from a fire, and as his smirk widened it almost seemed fangs started to grow, to prick his lower lip.

Kagome must have jumped from the noise the firework had created for she found Naraku's smiling face split with laughter. She felt her heart slamming itself against her chest, her face lined with the cold sweat of fear.

This is ridiculous! I have nothing to fear! But that thought hardly helped. Her imagination was betraying.

"Are you alright?" Naraku asked, his tone still that horrible purr, but concern could be heard.

Kagome tried removing her arm from his grip at his side, but he wouldn't have it and continued walking toward an empty table. She gave up her struggle with a desperate roll of her eyes.

"I'd be a lot better if you just let me go!" Kagome's voice had meant to be sarcastic and heated, but her nervousness and fright had betrayed her as it came out in a high whine.

Naraku turned to her, surprised. Was she truly that upset at this moment? But her magnetic blue eyes conveyed her fear, her discomfort, and he let his hold on her loosen and fall away. His smile softened into something less threatening, less voracious.

"I'm truly sorry to have disturbed you so. It was just my intention to talk." Naraku explained himself, his voice quiet and diplomatic. His whole body was relaxed in an easy, amenable way as he pulled out a chair and gestured for her to sit.

Kagome looked at him. It was a nicer turn of events having him a little less forceful, but she couldn't help but feel shame burn her cheeks. He was a man—a man who was invited to a millionaire's house to celebrate, a man who was wearing something as expensive as Gucci, a man who most likely would not cause her any harm. He had absolutely no grounds too—and she had acted like a frightened child, and he—Naraku—had noticed. She felt like such an idiot!

It's just been a long, long, long and very stressful night. Kagome concluded mentally. That was probably why she was acting so jumpy.

Kagome forced her own smile to her face and sighed, resigned. "I am so sorry," She started, taking the seat Naraku had offered, "But tonight hasn't been the best of nights…"

If he just wants to talk, I'll talk. What was the harm, anyway? There wasn't really any place else she could be, and she really didn't feel like finding Sango out in the milling crowd.

Kagome had relaxed, quieted herself down—her heart rate returning to normal, but still a queasy, niggling feeling remained at the pit of her stomach. And it had something to do with Naraku, she knew it. It was like an impermeable instinct she couldn't escape.

Naraku settled himself next to her, his chair about a foot away.

"Ah, yes tonight was quite disappointing." Naraku agreed.

The night had been disappointing to him. Disappointing because he could not enjoy it, he could not mingle, he could not talk with Sesshoumaru's eyes boring him down. But he had a feeling Kagome's disappointment had stemmed from something completely different—a difference he had caused. He couldn't help but feel a sense of pride.

I am such a terrible person. The thought would have come out in an understanding sigh if he had voiced it.

Kagome didn't question him as to why his night wasn't up to par—to be honest she really didn't care.

So she settled on a noncommittal, "Hmm…" Which was meant to sound like some type of agreement.

Naraku smiled slightly at her answer. She truly wasn't going to start any conversations, he could tell. Kagome sat ankles crossed, arms resting on her lap—eyes staring at the firework display partially interested. Naraku's own form was leaning forward, his elbows resting on his knees, hands clasped together. His eyes momentarily drifted back to the showy display of entertainment that had distracted most of the other guests.

"If you don't mind me asking," Naraku's voice broke the silence, his eyes turned back toward her, "How did this night end so poorly for you?"

Oh, he was evil. He knew it. He knew why everything was a mess for her…or at least he had a pretty good guess as to what had caused such misery to mar the evening for this Higurashi daughter. But it would tickle him pink to hear her admit it, speak of the disaster.

You are sick, Onigumo. So sick. He almost caught himself nodding sympathetically with his mental noting of perversion. Still, he couldn't help but love it—love himself for it.

Kagome glanced away from the distraction those glowing, sparkling lights presented to look at Naraku, unsure how to answer.

Well, I certainly can't tell him about Kikyo and Inuyasha.

But Sesshoumaru wasn't out of the reach. Actually, her evening had started turning sour the minute she had to encounter him and his overwhelming, stifling, pitying self. If she had to trace back the timeline of despair that marked the evening it would have been birthed with him.

Bashing Sesshoumaru, murdering his memory with those of unpleasantness to other unknowing minds seemed like a little piece of revenge she'd execute willingly.

So, Kagome thought, Why the hell not?

"Sesshoumaru Sukido," Her voice was gruff with distaste, "You know him?"

Disappointment showed its face for a brief second before intrigue took over. It seemed she either didn't care much about her sister's grief or she simply wasn't going to tell him. Understandable, but he still felt the pulling emotion of regret. Although this answer was less desirable, he would take it.

Anything she had to say about Sesshoumaru he would willingly listen and willingly agree.

"Hmm…" Naraku leaned back into his seat, unfolding his clasped hands, "I know him."

Kagome grunted, with the characteristic roll of her eyes, "Who doesn't know of him?" She snapped a little too forcefully.

That would have been a better question. She thought sourly.

Naraku ventured to explore her distaste for Sesshoumaru—her silence wasn't a welcomed guest.

"So…this is the man who has made such beauty hateful?"

There he was again! Saying corny stuff like that. Oh, yes, he was being sarcastic, but it in no way lessened her agitation—those comments.

"Alright." Kagome said curtly, "Before I continue any form of conversation, cut the complement crap. It's annoying."

Naraku's smile widened.

Kagome fiddled with the strap of her purse, ignoring Naraku's gaze and trying to ignore his silence to her ultimatum.

"And it's stupid."

Talk! Talk, asshole, talk! Why wasn't he answering her? What? Did she insult him? Well! She hardly gave a damn! Complements forged with fake, ulterior motives hardly were complements to her! They were insults!

What? He meets me just this night, hardly knows anything about me and thinks it's okay to say shit like that to me? I'm not some piece of ass who's going to sleep with him just because he can gush out junk like that!

And that, really, was her entire sentiment toward this Naraku. Something about him just felt slimy.

Kagome, growing tired of the silence (and Naraku finding her vexation entirely too amusing), turned to him with her resolve set on yelling at him…just because she felt like it.

But she caught him smiling, biting his lower lip to keep from laughing!


"What the HELL is your—!!"

Naraku's chuckle overflowed from his faulty barricade of lip and teeth, "I'm sorry…" Another batch of chuckles escaped, "You're just too cute when you're angry."

Oh, and it was true! She was entirely too adorable. Did she really think she presented a threat? Physically? Socially? He could beat her at whatever game she wanted to play. He knew it, but the fact that she didn't was entirely amusing.

Kagome's mouth dropped. Cute? CUTE?

In NO way was this situation (or herself) cute.

"I can't believe you said that." Kagome stated, drawing herself back into her seat, setting a firm and slightly perplexed gaze on Naraku. He continued to smile, and nonchalantly waved his hand to and fro.

"Don't mind it, really. I'm practically never threatened whenever someone's mad at me. Their anger just excites my more humorous side. I tend to laugh when someone starts to yell. But you," Naraku's laughter graced the air once again, "You are just too adorable."

Did most people think she was adorable/cute when she was angry? Was that the impression she pulled off?

Well that sucks! Kagome thought, contemptuously. She'd like to have the effect of a Satan rising from hell with fire at her back—scaring the crap out of people. When she was ticked, she wanted people to KNOW it. Not LAUGH.


She wasn't mad…(anymore) at Naraku. For some strange reason he lifted the tension just by admitting that he couldn't take her anger seriously. Perhaps because of that her anger had faded? What was the point of that emotion with a man who didn't take it the intended way?

"Am I really not threatening at…all?" Kagome asked with an air of disappointment, slouching downward in her seat.

Naraku leaned conversationally to her, "No. Not at all."

Kagome frowned, but before she could reply Naraku quickly continued.

"But, you see, I'm not threatened by anyone. That's just me. I'm sure to others you are quite imposing at times," And feeling sly, added: "I'm sure Sesshoumaru has found that out."

Kagome laughed, her frown dissolved. "I sure hope so."

Naraku now knew he hit upon something. Something he could explore perhaps a bit further—with the tension fading and the atmosphere more relaxed.

AN: Yeah. You guys want to kill me, I know. I seriously would have taken another year to completely finish this chapter cause life as a senior in high school, as you will find out, or already know, is kinda crazy. Ahhhh…but, as uncomplete as it is, this is chapter seven. The long-waited chapter seven.

I'm sorry to all my reviewers who will probably groan and restart this story from the beginning and I'm sorry to everyone who finishes this chapter and are like "what the fk??" to the ify ending.

A little red-haired boy will most definitely be present in the next chapter (he was supposed to be in this chapter, but I was taking too damn long.) I do NOT know when I will update next…(do I ever know?)…But hopefully it will not be as long a wait as this chapter! If it is, you can murder me, I promise.

I will give you my phone number and the address to my house for those of you who are serious in your anger. But I will not promise that I will still be living there…heh heh heh…

Now……….(and even if it IS underserved) please review?