Chapter Thirty Two
After our so called celebratory night on the town, I went home and got on my knees beside my bed. I reached my hand under the frame and over a stray pair of shoes before reaching a box. I slid it out from under the bed and sat crossed legged with the box across my lap. I opened the box and pulled out the katana. It was a work of art. The blade was thin and it had miniscule details honed into the surface. The cold metal warmed to my touch seemingly like a living thing.
I ran my finger down the blade and promptly cut myself.
"Damnit." I swore softly then sucked on the cut. The metallic taste of my own blood assured me it was still very much a weapon not a toy or even a collectible.
So why the hell did he give it to me if he had no intention of coming back for it?
Or for me?
It wasn't as though Bergdorf's would be having a sale on antique mystical katanas anytime soon. This had to be a priceless family heirloom. Giving it to me meant something. It simply had to. At the very least if he runs into any pesky dead folks, he's going to need to borrow it… right?
But for all I knew he had a whole closet full of life giving swords. Hell maybe he'd already given Chloe a pair of magical katana earrings he just happened to have laying around.
GODDAMNIT! Why did everything have to be so confusing?
I stood up and tossed the katana onto my bed, which probably wasn't the wisest of ideas, lest I forget where I left it and sat on it. Oh well, I'm sure I could always do with a smaller ass.
I clicked off the light and wandered into the kitchen. Sushi was happy to see me in his somewhat non judgmental fishy way. Everything was quiet. Even my neighbor's television sets.
On the lighter side of this hell, Jaken hadn't come by to install that security system and I wasn't going to miss that troll.
Then I felt bad about being so damned unhappy. Compared to what my life had been before the sword, things were doing pretty good. There was nothing growling at my front door. No oggie boogies to shake my bed.
Even Sushi the fish was more relaxed. The other day I think I caught him sleeping. I opened the fridge door and the light startled him sending him zipping around the bowl.
Last week I brought home a house plant and today it was even in bloom. No plant had ever survived in my apartment before. I paused to check it's soil for moisture. I couldn't forget to water it, if it died this time it would be on me.
My sketches sat in a pile on the floor next to the couch. Each page was of a dead person or Sesshomaru, who I kinda felt like strangling, so I did the only wise thing and jumped up and down on the papers until the guy who lived in the apartment below started banging on his ceiling with a broomstick.
Oh shit. "Sorry!" I yelled at the vent.
The banging stopped and I pulled out the paper shredder I use for junk mail. I plugged it in, revved it up and shredded every drawing I could find.
When I ran out of things to shred I got out my Victoria Secret's Angel credit card and shredded that too. I wasn't sure the machine was up to it at first but it pulled through. Then I shredded my Victoria Secret catalogs for good measure. I bagged up the mess and hauled it to my front door.
Afterwards I was still restless, the apartment walls were closing in and there wasn't jack shit on TV, unless of course you counted the Victoria Secret coverage recaps.
I put on my coat, grabbed my faithful Wild Turkey bottle and shimmied up the fire escape to the rooftop. I flopped down on the old squeaky lawn chair and stared at the sky.
I don't know why I bothered, the lights of the city drowned out any hope a star had of showing through the night sky. I took a long drink but the warm bourbon did nothing to silence my thoughts. I sat the bottle next to me and kept the cork in my hand. It was going to be a long night.
The next day found me opening my store after a hearty breakfast of diet coke and Tylenol. One of the cool things about being my own boss meant I now opened at 11 instead of 9am. It was a Godsend because I think I had an entire high school drum section pounding away in my head.
The website was paying off in a big way. I was getting orders from all over the globe. I had to hand it to Bill's keen instincts, I had no idea so many youki would use an online bookstore. I wasn't going to be rich anytime soon but Bill had estimated it would take me 3-4 months before I started operating in the black and at this rate, it looked like it might be half that.
I was in the back sorting through internet orders when I heard the bell on the front door jingle.
I peered out and saw the top of a silver head breezing by one of my bookshelves. A female giggle followed and my heart dropped in my chest.
Sesshomaru and Rin! Here. Now.
Oh my God, he was here for the sword.
But he had the kid with him. And he wouldn't bring Rin unless he was here for a good reason. Like fun or a movie. But we weren't exactly on movie terms, so why the hell was he here anyway?
I paused to make sure my hair and clothes passed inspection. I wasn't Victoria Secret bitch model material but I still had my pride. Or at least I used to, until he'd stomped all over it and left it for dead.
I pushed open the saloon door at the back of the counter and made my way to the front counter, pretending everything was perfectly normal. Yup, there was no reason to look panicked or even worried. I kept chanting my new mantra, just act normal, over and over in my head.
I took a deep breath and said, "Can I help you?"
And Kagome not Rin stepped out from the aisle. "Kagura, the store looks great!"
What the hell? All my fantasies of Sesshomaru coming to plead for my forgiveness dissolved into thin air.
Kagome was once again in a short skirt and knit sweater, under a black wool coat. You would never guess we were in the middle of January in New York City with a fresh coat of snow on the ground. Honestly, I will never understand that girl. At the very least you would think she'd wear tights.
Of course Inuyasha was right behind her, his silver hair brushing across the shoulders of his red leather jacket. He gave a low whistle and jerked his thumb towards my new pink beta fish, "Nice digs ya got here. Who's the gills?"
I put my hand on top of the fishbowl. "This is Wasabi. He's my Watch Fish." What was the fun of being self employed if I didn't have a shop pet? His bowl was next to the cash register, he was the guardian of the money.
"Watch fish." Inuyasha repeated dubiously. "He'll watch all right, as everything's carried out the door."
I shrugged, "Hey he's pretty ferocious as fish go." Wasabi defended his honor by puffing out his gills and following my hand as my fingers skated over his bowl.
Inuyasha slid his hands into his pockets as he looked around. "Kohaku did this place a favor. It used to be such a dump."
"Thank you I think…" Then I remembered something that had been bothering me for the past few weeks. "Inuyasha, I never got the chance to thank you for what you did for Kohaku."
He leaned forward trying to hide his slight blush behind his hair. "Sure… He was just a kid…"
Kagome jumped to his aid, "We're just glad he's okay."
Inuyasha ran a fast hand through his hair, "How is the punk?"
I smiled; it was nice to have something positive to focus on. "He's doing great. He's back in school. He's supposed to help out here on weekends. He needs the money to help Miroku pay the fire marshal's fine. Miroku was going to let the whole thing go, but it was Kohaku's idea."
Kagome dropped one of her dazzling tooth whitening commercial smiles, "That is so wonderful! Isn't that wonderful Inuyasha?" She tugged on his sleeve.
Inuyasha picked up a random book and began turning the pages. "Yeah, who knew that stuck up asshole had it in him."
Kagome elbowed him in the side, which had to hurt considering her sharp and skinny elbows. "He means Sesshomaru is an asshole… not Kohaku."
Okay now this is entertainment, I raised a slow brow and said "I did realize that."
I knew Sesshomaru only came to the hospital because of Inuyasha. They had some sort of fight earlier that day but he still went back to see if Sesshomaru would save Kohaku. And in my book that was just as big as Sesshomaru's magical sword.
I waited a moment giving the awkward silence time to settle in then asked what I'd been dying to know. "So how did you two meet?" I knew they were partners and were up to God only knows what down in San Francisco but there was more. I could feel it.
Kagome's eyes lit up and she turned towards her Hanyou. "Inuyasha, why don't you go to Starbucks for me?"
His furry ears twitched like an aggravated cat. He picked up one of my gel filled stress balls and began squeezing. "Kagome, you don't drink coffee."
She frowned, "Sometimes I do. And you hate retelling this story."
Inuyasha groaned, "Feh, Kagura probably has a coffee maker in the back. I hate waiting in line at those places even more than I hate listening to you yammer."
Kagome batted her eyelashes at him and he turned to me for help. I shrugged, "Sorry I'm fresh out of coffee." Of course that was a complete lie but something was afoot.
He rolled his golden eyes and tossed his head back. "Fine. What do you want?"
She pursed her lips in thought, "Ummm hot chocolate."
Inuyasha growled in protest, "That's not coffee."
She dropped a smug smile, "But they do have it."
"Damnit woman." Inuyasha growled as he pushed through my front door.
Alone at last! I glanced down to my bucket of stress balls and saw one had been popped and well mangled. Someone had goo all over his claws. "Sooo… How did you two meet?"
Kagome answered brightly, "That is such an interesting story."
Oh I just bet it is! "Well hit me"
She clasped her hands together in front of her skirt and swayed as she spoke. "A few years ago, I was walking through these woods and found him tied to a tree."
Whoa Nellie! This was even crazier than I'd expected.
Kagome continued, "He was asleep. I woke him up, freed him and we've worked together ever since."
I waited but she was done. I shook my head, "That's it? Kagome, you can't just tell me you found a guy with fangs and furry ears tied to a tree and leave it at that!"
She just stood there so I couldn't resist adding, "Did you at least poke him with a stick first?"
Kagome was puzzled, "No, why would I do that?"
I leaned forward, "Did he look dead?"
She answered, "Well yeah…"
How did she know he wouldn't hurt her? Untying strange youki in the woods! How very Red Riding of her. I pushed, "And you just walked right up to him without even poking him with a stick first? My God how is it you are still sucking air?"
Kagome blinked, "I only breathe through my nose."
What on earth was she talking about? "Huh?"
Kagome laughed, "You can't suck air unless you breathe through your mouth."
"Oh". I wanted to pound my forehead into my new Formica countertop. "I've never thought about it that way." Only later would it occur to me that she was being sarcastic and I'd fallen right into her trap, allowing her to change the subject.
"Anyway," Kagome sat her blue Vera Bradley purse on the sales counter, "I came here because I need your help."
Perhaps she needed some fashion advice; the pattern on that purse was scary. But after all Inuyasha had helped Kohaku so I was willing to listen. "Sure. What's up?"
"Well this is going to seem a bit strange…" She picked up my pen and started nervously twisting the cap. Boy had she come to the right person. These days strange might as well be my middle name.
Kagome bit her bottom lip, "Inuyasha doesn't know I'm doing this. But Sesshomaru has his sword and I need you to help us get it back." She glanced at me to see if I thought she was a lunatic.
But I was too busy worrying about myself to question her sanity. My stomach was in knots worthy of an Eagle Scout. Kagome was here because Inuyasha needed me to give up the katana; the only thing standing between me and the gates of Hell. But it wasn't my sword and Inuyasha was the only reason Sesshomaru came to save Kohaku.
Okay, one thing at a time, I decided to hear Kagome out first. "Okay?"
She continued, "I doubt he's shown it to you. He sort of stole it from the sword smith's shop weeks ago. It's a broken scuffed up katana, you can't miss it."
Holy crap! I had no idea there were sword smiths here in New York City. Damn, this town really does have everything!
Not to mention, the sword I have is ordinary looking but in good shape. I was safe. Relief poured through me. Until I remembered Sesshomaru and I were a thing of the past. "Kagome, I don't think I can help you."
Her face fell, "Why?"
"Ummm… Sesshomaru and I aren't together anymore. He's seeing someone else." I pretended to be intently watching the pigeons that were sitting outside the shop window. The stupid things were little better than feathered shit machines.
"Really?" She seemed honestly surprised. How could she not have known? I suppose she was less of a Victoria Secret girl and more of a JC Penny's person.
"Yeah that model…" I bit my lip.
Kagome's mouth formed an O. "Kagura, I'm so sorry I had no idea."
Then she reached across the counter and hugged me. It was awkward but sweet in a total invasion of space kind of way.
She finally released me, "When did you break up?"
Now it was my turn to play with the pen cap, "Back on New Years eve."
"I've never seen Sesshomaru so stuck on anyone before that wasn't himself. What happened?"
I avoided Kagome's wide eye stare. "I wasn't… I couldn't be what he wanted to me to be. Let's just say we had different world views."
Then I realized I was missing a golden opportunity. "How is he?"
Kagome said, "I haven't seen him since New Year's Eve either. We left and moved to a hotel. The only reason we're still here is because of that sword."
What was it with this family and swords? How ridiculously phallic!
"That sword must be pretty damn special." I was glad to be talking about something other than me and Sesshomaru.
Kagome nodded, "You have no idea. You have to help us get it back."
Okay, how many times was I going to have to say it? "I can't help you."
She sighed and put both hands on my counter, "Kagura, please you don't understand. Inuyasha must have that sword. We… need it. It's a mystical thing."
"Mystical…" I repeated. There seemed to be allot of that going around these days. Perhaps the guy at the end of my block was right and the end really is nigh. "Kagome, he's dating a Victoria Secret model for fuck sake!"
Her jaw dropped. "Sesshomaru? Are you sure?"
"I saw it live on television. He was at her exhibition… uhh I mean show." I felt as though I needed to make a flashing sign; Dumped for skinny underwear model. Please stare and feel free to take pictures.
Kagome wasn't convinced. "That doesn't seem right, he hates places like that."
I groaned, "Kagome let me paint you a picture. It's a free show with lots of beautiful skinny, nearly buck ass naked women parading about a catwalk. What's there to understand? He's a guy!"
She shook her head, "That I do not doubt; but Sesshomaru hates humans!"
I sat on my stool and rested my head on my arms. "Yeah but this bitch is an Inu-youki. That's why I knew it had to be true." How could I ever compete?
"Oh Kagura, I had no idea. I'm so sorry." Her voice was muffled because I still had my face pressed into my arms.
I mumbled into the counter, "Yeah well fuck him."
I heard Kagome's heels clicking on my wood floor as she paced. Oh no… she was thinking and that wasn't a good sign. "Kagome, whatever it is you are getting ready to ask me to do, forget it."
The click of her shoes stopped right in front of me. "So you don't care about Sesshomaru?"
I pressed my nose into the counter giving my voice a nasal twinge, "Nope. I could give a flying rat's ass about him." Rat butts flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Now thatwas a visual I always appreciated.
I lifted my head off the counter and saw Kagome frowning at me. "You have an impression of the counter seam on your forehead."
"So?" Why couldn't the broad take a hint already?
Kagome leaned over the counter to inspect my outfit and then had the absolute nerve to touch my hair.
"Hey!" I jumped out of her reach. "What the hell?"
Her answer was smug. "You came to work in jeans, a black t-shirt, tennis shoes and a pony tail?"
So? Yesterday sucked and I just didn't care anymore. That and this morning had not gone well. Last night I drank more than I should've and was still paying dearly. I crossed my arms in front of my chest and asked, "And who died and made you the boss of my wardrobe?"
Kagome dug a pot of perky pink lip gloss from her bag, "No one who owns the boots I've seen you wear would skip doing her hair. You do care about Sesshomaru. You've just given up!"
I wanted to slap that lip gloss out of her hand. "Yeah so what if I did?"
She paused to dip her finger into the gloss and ran it over her lips. Great, now she was perky and shiny. How much more could I take? "Kagura, you can't give up."
I yawned, "Oh yes I can. See?" I threw my hands up in the air. "You can't expect me to change my mind just because you think it'll help you get that sword back." Why doesn't anyone ever fucking listen to me? "It's pointless. It's over. Capiche?"
Kagome paused then said, "Wuss."
Oh no, that's where I draw the line. "Kagome I don't think you understand. No means no! Besides he's with that bitch, Chloe Le Faire!"
I snatched up the dictionary we kept on the counter and tossed it against the wall behind me. It bounced off the wall and landed on the floor with a SMACK! "She's on the cover of every major magazine! Not to mention she has the pedigree. He's a dog and she's a bitch, they are perfect for each other!"
Kagome was unimpressed by my temper tantrum, perhaps she'd spent too much time with the Inu-family. "Chloe Le Faire, I've heard of her! I saw her on E TV when they interviewed her, I don't know, maybe a few months ago."
I hopped over my counter to retrieve my abused dictionary and while my back was turned, tried to use a touch of my own winds to dry my treacherous tears. "So?"
I heard the click of her tongue against her teeth. "She's not Sesshomaru's type."
I fought the urge to throw the dictionary again, this time at her head. "She's every man's type."
Kagome giggled, "She's really stupid."
Lucky me, this wasn't going to end anytime soon. All of my available cash was tied up in the bookstore so if I strangled her, I couldn't afford bail. I dropped the dictionary on the counter and shimmied back to my side of it. "Yeah so?"
"You don't get it. She's really stupid. Sesshomaru hates stupid people. And she has this fake accent, which is hilarious because I heard she was from Jersey."
I had no idea Kagome was so up on her gossip. "Good. I hope she makes him miserable." He deserves it for giving me hope then dumping me like a hot potato. Okay maybe I pushed him away, but then he came back! What was I supposed to think?
Kagome pushed on. "Oh she will. If he is with her, then it's got to be out of desperation."
I sighed, "And why should I listen to you? Sesshomaru and Inuyasha don't… get along, to say the least. What makes you an expert on a man you rarely see and barely know?"
"Trust me," Kagome held up her right hand, "this family is big on dysfunctional. I've listened to Inuyasha bitch about him for years!"
It was true Sesshomaru was fast to judge people and didn't like wasting his time. If Chloe was as horrible as Kagome said, he would be completely miserable.
A slow smile worked its way to my lips. Good. Serves him right.
Kagome interrupted my thoughts, "You know… it ain't over till the fat lady sings."
I scoffed, "Yeah but the new season of American Idol starts soon enough."
"Knock it off Kagura and listen." Kagome pulled a white envelope from her pocket. "There's a party tomorrow night at the Waldorf. He's going to be there and I need you to come."
My heart pulled a reverse Grinch and tried to shrink. "No. I want NO part of this."
She dropped the envelope onto the counter next to my hand. "Please?"
I shifted my weight to my right foot and then stepped on it with my left. I pressed down hard hoping the pain would help me keep my resolve. "Kagome no."
Then Kagome did something completely unexpected. She put both hands down on the counter and leaned over it putting her face only inches from mine, giving me a lovely whiff of mango lip gloss. "Kagura, Inuyasha helped save that boy. Now I need you to help Inuyasha. You are going to convince Sesshomaru to give up that sword. Capiche?"
I accidentally stomped my foot too hard and let out a yelp. Kagome smiled and straightened up. "I'll take that as a yes."
I thought fast and realized she was right. Inuyasha had done me a huge favor. I should've known the goblins were interested in Kohaku, after that one slobbered all over his favorite jean jacket. But I fucked up and if it wasn't for Inuyasha, Kohaku would be dead, a consequence I wouldn't have been able to live with. "Okay, I'll go."
Kagome smiled, "I knew you would."
The bell on my door rang announcing Inuyasha's arrival.
I said softly, "But he doesn't want me anymore. When your plan fails, you aren't holding me accountable!"
Inuyasha rounded the bookcase carrying a cardboard holder with three dinks. "When what plan fails?"
Kagome saw his hands were full and took advantage of it by tweaking a furry ear. Inuyasha tried to duck but was out of luck. "Kagura's going to the party with us."
Inuyasha shuffled out of her reach and managed to set the coffees on the counter, all without spilling one drop. "Awww Kagome! You know I don't wanna to go to that party."
"We have to go. I bought a dress." She pulled the top off a cup and sniffed. "Mmmmm smells good."
Inuyasha took the cup from her hand, "That's mine, yours is in the cup marked cocoa. And wench… you bought three dresses!"
Kagome shrugged, "Hey there was a sale."
He took a drink of coffee and huffed around the rim of his paper cup, "This is New York; nothing is ever really on sale. It just costs my arm instead of my leg."
Kagome picked up her cocoa and I saw the third cup was marked espresso double shot. "For me?"
Inuyasha snorted, "Trust me, you need it. You look like something dead the cat dragged in and then took a shit on."
"Thanks… dog boy." I tilted my head back to take in the life giving bitter coffee shot.
Inuyasha's ears twitched and I could tell he was searching for a scathing comeback but Kagome cut him off, "Kagura, meet me at our suite two hours before the party. I wrote the room number on the back of the ticket."
I rolled my eyes, "Why?"
"I have a surprise for you." Her smug smile reminded me of the aforementioned three party dresses. I looked at her God awful purse and shivered.
Inuyasha groaned, "Damnit woman! That's it. I want my credit card back."
Kagome gave him a sideways glance, then slipped a gold card from her coat pocket and slowly dropped it down the front of her sweater into her bra. Inuyasha's eyes almost burst out of his skull.
Kagome said nothing as she buttoned up the woolen coat. I was impressed.
Inuyasha followed her out of the door so closely; he was nearly riding on her back.
Kagome called to me as the door swung shut, "See you tomorrow."
I stood behind the safety of my counter feeling as though I'd been plowed down by a Mac truck in a short skirt
The Devil's Dictionary:
CIRCUS,n.A place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.
DISCUSSION,n.A method of confirming others in their errors.
Notes:Once again someone has been nice enough to do a wonderful piece of fanart for this story! Stop by Deviant Art dot com and look up Stormbringer246 Bewitched-7917021. Many thanks to Stormbringer246! She has also done one of Mark Darcy for those of you who are fellow Pride and Prejudice fans.
Harley Hedgehog tried to help with this update but he's in his teenager phase and got bored. He's more of a Samurai Champloo guy. And yes he is still adorable. And he sends everyone prickly greetings.