The Seduction Game

To everyone upset with my position on the war: Right, I've been getting complaints that I'm insulting friends and family members fighting in Iraq . I'd like to remind people that supporting the war and the people in it are two entirely different things. Yes, Hussein is a terrible person, but that's not the reason why the US went to Iraq - the real reason was a belief in threats to national security and weapons of mass destruction. Yes, I do support the troops and every other poor soul on this mission. They are not the ones the debate last chapter was arguing against, but rather the government officials that made this terrible decision! I hope they come home soon, alive and well, without being traumatized by what's happening there. Also, there are three reason I did not site resources: 1) it would have been too much like a report, 2) I've been highly interested and involved in the anti-war movement since junior year in high school (that was over 4 years ago) and citing every magazine, newspaper, radio station, book, and internet site I've been reading concerning the war would be a nearly impossible task, and 3) To those of you who have sited where you've gotten your information, I think it would be really beneficial to check who is writing, to whom it is written, the authenticity of the site, and of course, read up on the opposition view. And to Charging Handles Forward, may God be with you. I'll remember you in my prayers.

And to those of you who are pissed at me for expressing my opinion: First of all, let me remind you people that there is something called reality, and as much as we like to ignore it, I refuse to simply think up an issue to discuss. Second, those of you who called me 'ignorant', be nice and look at the answer above. It will tell you where I got my information, and accusing me of not doing my research just shows how much you know. Thirdly, I did not simply make Kagome the head of the Debate team because I had nothing better to do, but because it's relevant to the story. And lastly, I am sincerely sorry that you do not care that lives are being lost over something so vile and greedy that it makes any creature with emotions retch, but I believe that people should have the right to be educated. If you choose to close your eyes and live in la-la land, then by all means, go ahead. However, I'd appreciate it if you'd stay there and away from me and anybody relatively sane.

To Fed up of Mediaminer: While your review was certainly interesting, it was also very unpleasant. First of all, here's a point I give all my reviewers who use their title as their name - if you're so adamant about reading fanfiction, how can you lack the enthusiasm to even think up a name? Or are you just that chicken that I'll blast your story? Rest assured, I won't stoop to your level! And I'm sure you are unaware, but I am a Political Science Mayor who has gotten straight A's in every political science (I've finished all my major classes and with a double concentration, no less, in international relations and comparative politics) so my so-called misguided fallacies are facts that have been scientifically proven and accounted for by authoritative eye-witnesses and academics. Just because you are so narrow-minded and uneducated that you're - unconsciously, I'm sure - practicing selective retention, doesn't give you the right to close your eyes and believe any information which does not confirm to your ideas as false. And for your comment calling me 'the type of person who helped American soldiers lose the war in Vietnam', is simply idiotic. First of all, if you have been reading carefully - something you seem to be incapable of doing - I was not even born before the war ended. Second, if you look at historical sources, the war was lost before it even began. The US lost Vietnam due to a series to unwise decisions. I'm just naming the couple of most obvious ones before you start saying that I have no sources to back it up: 1) Kennedy broke the Geneva Agreement by sending advisors to the South Vietnamese government, 2) The US supported South Vietnam because they believed that Diem would hold free elections, which he refused, and because the North Vietnamese were communists - something the US feared because they did not understand it, even though Minh was first a nationalist (something the US supported) and was educated in the US, and 3) Diem was so unpopular that events like Buddhist monks lighting themselves on fire in 1963 resulted in a coup of Diem, including 7 coups alone in 1964. 'A House divided against itself cannot stand' - the only way for the US to win the war was to eliminate the entire country, something no one with a human heart would agree to. And most importantly, the US had to no reason to get into the war. Yes, I know the Congressional story about attacks on the destroyer Maddox on August 2nd and 4th, 1964, later named the Gulf of Token incident, but evidence shows that the second attack didn't really occurs, as the weather forecast's radar only picked up a weather interference rather than missiles, and also, the US destroyer was not attacked in international waters, but it was trying to locate North Vietnamese radars, thus breaking the Geneva Agreement, an action that gave North Vietnam the right, under international law, to attack. As for last comment, show some common sense and look above. So next time, before you start accusing me and anyone, do your research! I felt the review insulting enough to address, but I would rather not waste my time with people like you in the future.

To my reviewers on fanfiction . net:
xXDancingxwithDestinyXx: You're the first reviewer for chapter 9! Thank you!
Kurinju-sama: Yes! You agree with me (you have no idea how encouraging it is to read that – I thought I braced myself for a whole lot of ugly coming my way when I wrote the debate… let's just say I was so not prepared). Shippou will continue to make appearances, though he'll skip out for a few chapters before popping up again. I have so many scenes in store for him. laughs evilly
Ivellios: Your review made me smile! Thank you for your lovely review; it made my day. I love the quote, and I agree with it totally. I know this update literally took forever, but I hope it was worth the wait. Heaven knows how many times I re-wrote and revised it.
xsallyen: As long as you got the gist of what she was arguing for, then it shouldn't be a problem in the later chapters.
Takagouzawa Hikari-san: Thanks! Glad to know that you read it laughs
localsamurai: So do I! I bet I would have paid better attention in class… I really enjoyed the paragraph – it shows you have a good grasp on what's going on and care about current events. And you're right, I'm definitely stepping on people's toes with the debate, but as mentioned before, it will become relevant later on. Not necessary the topic itself, but rather what it reveals about Kagome's character. I decided to show, rather than tell.
Chibes: Thanks for the praise.
magpup4: Yes, I have updated.
EireVerde: Good one! I haven't heard that one yet; usually, the T-shirts just rearrange the three letters into something that describes a motion utilized when drinking from a straw. Ha ha. Interesting to see that you felt sorry for Watanabe-san… I was going for being annoyed, but I suppose some of us have more compassion than others (or that could just mean that I'm bad at convening emotions).
ixchen: No, thank you for reviewing.
Inu Girl for Life: Here it this! Hope you enjoy this chapter as well.
liteonit: Thanks.
xXKimiko SakakiXx: Enjoy.
formaly known as: Thanks for the praise – I hope I can live up to it. And yes, your review definitely made me feel better. They say laughter and encouragement are the best medicines ever discovered…
Inukagchick11: Glad I made you smile.
tiny-flames: I must have smashed through at least two dozen writer's blocks in the last 12 months…
Kag-15-neko: Thank you.
Shadow Caster Ravina: Inuyasha will be plenty nice when he wants to be, though it will to be tricky to keep him IC. But I will try, just for you.
Enchanted-Princess: Your wish, my command.
Angel of Agony: He's up and about, thank you for your concern.
Ro0tin4Kagome: Love your name… I just had to say that! And thank you so much for the support; I would have loved to join your debate myself. I did try to write it on paper first and then to type it, but I change things around so much that it was really difficult to read between all the things that are crossed out and added and changed – and that's really not good for my eyes.
Inu-yasha's1gurl16: As you wish.
CloverBabe: I definitely will.
CloudsAaeris909: Sure thing!
PrincessKeylolo: Thank you for your concern; actually, the surgery wasn't that bad. I had it done at UCLA and it was very well done and they were very professional and efficient. What was bad was actually the period after-ward when I felt pretty much like an invalid since I couldn't do anything I wanted do: like writing, reading, running, swimming, cooking… And the surgery was absolutely necessary. Without it, I'd be completely blind now. I do try to make the story a bit more realistic; unless they live in a hole, it is very difficult to be unaffected by everything that goes on around them. The whole idea of nature vs. nurture, and I believe that nurture and environment plays a larger role in developing the path of life and opportunities in their ages. Thanks for agreeing with me. How can I not update after a heartfelt review like that?
MandooMandoo: Thanks, I do feel a lot better. Sorry for the long wait – this update took more than a year.
Avelyn Lauren: First, Inuyasha has to convince both sides that he likes her, and given his history (which will be slowly revealed), that will probably be the toughest part.
mysterychild: Thanks! I liked that line, too.
Qui: What a reaction! I love it! Good luck on your school, though. I hated Latin, too.
Kamen Disguise: Yep, I'm surprised, too. Think of all the ways I could have died in the last year, and I'm shocked that anyone is alive. There is the possibility of earthquakes, rampant predators, car accidents, houses collapsing…. You get the drift. As said before, the debate is relevant. So, I suppose I prefer to show rather than tell, though the dialogue is just because of my own personal style. If you got the main idea of what Kagome is arguing for, though, you should be okay in the later chapters. Hope you like this chapter better.
crazykiss: I'll definitely continue this story. There's no way I'll leave this piece unfinished.
Jessica s: Here's the next chapter. Hope you like it.
devilshadows: Here it is!
ancim: I hope this chapter meets your expectations.
phoenixwings37: Then I'm sorry for updating this late.
Foxy Love: Good to hear from you again.
Fyawkes and Leo: That mist will take a few chapters to explain. Be patient.
Invisible Rain: I totally know what you mean – midterms are a nightmare. My whole body feels drained like I'm been magically transported into some magical universe where something has an energy-sucking ability.
SuChAbAKa: 'Updating' and 'soon' are two words that have trouble fitting into the same sentence for me.
makeitadream: I love the world, but my eyes don't like the laptop screen.
bmcs: Thanks.
xXbleedingXheartzxX: Try a mournful kitty look and I might. With the exception of hunky inu demons, I'm really not that found of dogs or puppies.
Say0mi Saki: If you find anybody plagiarizing me, please let me know.
Buckeyesuperstar: Pun intended?
ItsInMyBlood: I hope I'm less harmful than your 'own brand of heroin' (quoted from Twilight, my new addiction).
ItsinMyBlood: Thank you.
AlternativePunk: I will try my hardest.
2Dream: Thanks.
Harteramo: Here it is.
RockTheRave: I just gotta say, I love your name!
Celestiana: There is no idea new on the face of the planet. The playboy Inuyasha and good girl Kagome plot line has been done over and over again; it's the intricacies and complications that makes an old story new. Like the idea of vampires is old as time, yet the Twilight Saga draws new readers by the thousands. Also, right now, I'd lacking betas since I spent so much time in-between updates. Yeah, I kind of overdid the lectures a bit in chapter 5, and there will be more in this chapter. If you think it's tedious, you might want to skip it. It's not really necessary, but it shows class and besides, they are at a university, so the storyline needs to be modified to make them seem like they belong there. Besides, speaking from personal experiences, study dates and discussing class materials is the best ways to bond. Thanks for the praise, though; I've gotten quite a bit of grief because of the debates – I'm glad to see that some people like it. And don't worry, I love getting constructive criticism; it makes me write better and allows me to appreciate that some people are really reading everything and are kind enough to point out any fallacies.
itsinmyblood: I try to develop the characters a bit and allow it to follow a more realistic course. People, generally, don't just sleep with someone after knowing them for a week. I'd like this story to contain more class and complications than just a PWP. I've spent too much time developing and writing for it to end so abruptly.
sweetest angel: Misunderstandings usually lead to humiliation and pain and anger. There will be more confusions coming up, but there will be a time when all uncertainties will be explained.
xiDoreyoux and CrimsonTears: Good to hear.
emuhleeishazn: That mist is quite ominous, yes. I'll have a lot of fun with that... ha ha.
Kono Mayotteru Hoshi: Here is the next chapter.
kagome313: Another familiar name! Good for hear from you again.
.rose: Yeah, I'm alive. Just barely, though. I'm completely exhausted, but I've managed to finish this chapter.
blackdaggerbrotherhood: Thanks.
Etar: Yeah, I use the same excuse with my parents – writing fanfics are is almost like reviewing for midterms and finals. I, however, love HSM, especially when they fit the story-line. And Zac Efron is very charming. Anyway, thanks for your concern, my eyes have gone through surgeries, so it's all right now, I'm just not supposed to stare at screen too much. And my friend is much better.
AKEMI SHIKON: Great to know. Thanks.
DontHateMeCuzI'mBeautiful: Thank you; and your name sounds like something that Rosalie Cullen (from Twilight) would say.
xOxOkIsSmYaSsXoXo: To each her own, I'd say. And I do try to update quickly, but my schedule is pretty hectic. Sorry this one took so long.
chocoGONEsushi: Thanks! My friend is in tip-top shape, and my cataract surgery was very successful. Again, thanks for the support. Maybe we should talk politics sometime…
KittyKaiya: Here it is.
Song Bird55: I believe I've seen that line before, but I like his voice.
deia maximilian: Thank you. Printing in school is pretty expensive, I'd recommend Kinko's instead.
Melis2a: Glad you liked it.
pApAw: I'd say Merry Christmas, but I'd guess it would be more appropriate to say Happy Easter! I personally think the flow sometimes gets interrupted because of where the chapter gets cut off, but nice to know that you like it.
Tara Valentine: My goal is to finish chapter 11 before 2009 ends. Sorry, life gets in the way.
: Here's the next chapter.
JK42: Hope you enjoy this one, then. It's extra long to make up for the wait.
blondeix: Thanks.
anneypants: Was this worth the wait?
Jessie: Thank you.
Jeato: I'll try to be faster with the next update.
ClanCrusher: Wow, longest review I ever got. Good one, though. You managed to express your views very diplomatically and very courteously. I'm impressed, not many people get to convey their dissatisfaction without yelling at me, in all capital letters, no less. Well, first of all, the absence of the lemon tag was the reason why the first five chapters I uploaded on my last account was deleted, so that's the reason I have added it to the summary. Keep reading, I'll address all your points. I'm not refuting most of what you say, just trying to point out a few things of why I did what I did. First of all, I do agree with you that fanfiction is not a place to express political views, unless it is fundamental to the story, and the position that Kagome argues for reveals one of her very basic characteristics, and it will explain some of her later actions – which would be confusing and abrupt without this little scene, and especially her passionate little outburst at the end when talking to Inuyasha. Second, this is not high school, but college. And also, it would be a good idea to follow up on the news. While the War on Iraq has been a very "American" issue, there has been much fear that having an army in the Middle East may very well be only the first step, and that the US may be soon determined to control other 'unstable' areas. And rest assured, this will most likely be the last political message in this story, though I might slip in some news now and then again, but nothing that expresses my own political agenda. And I wasn't trying to be subtle; Kagome's character behind it was where the subtleness came into play. To be absolutely honest, I don't expect this piece to last till the next decade, but history never fades away, not matter how years span between then and now. Also, you'll notice that Asia censors a lot of political issues, and the animes you mentioned are very fantastic and unrealistic.
On another point, I am slightly confused of why you brought up the number of fatal casualties of alcohol related accidents – these people made a conscious choice to drink and drive and endanger themselves and any other poor soul unfortunate enough to be on the road then. As for volunteering… there is no such thing as choice of whether you'll go or not once you're in the army. I am quite aware of what happened in Vietnam, but looking back at history, Vietnam would have been much off better had the US never gone in. Diem would have been killed (he actually ended up getting assassinated by his own bodyguards), there would have been some changes, and the government would have changed its policies with most of the public untouched by the terrors of war. And look at Vietnam now, it's so much better and advanced then it was then, and you have to realize that much of the prosperity is thanks to the North Vietnamese government and the reforms instigated. The North Vietnamese did not try to slaughter "all the South Vietnamese who had fought with the Americans"; if they did, they would have no body left to rule over. No, the Vietnam War would have been much better and less bloody if the US had left them be. And I completely agree with your last statement, our credibility has been taking a nose-dive. It used to be that people admired the US, and now, the word United States is used in some conjunction with a disgraced term. Overall, I enjoyed your review immensely. Intellect, coherency, and open-mindedness are qualities that I value in a reader.
jeanime: It's the battle of wills that makes this story interesting.
sweetp92: Does that mean I'll get a full-length review this time?
Mair: Chapter Ten, coming up, served with dialogue and a fresh slice of revelation.
bobs: Presently, my mind is set to finish this.
LunarWolf32: I'm confused, why does your brain hurt? Was it because last chapter sounded to much like a lecture instead of a story? IKO24390: Will you start from the beginning again?
the_random_obsessor: Glad you liked it.
lovefighter: Then you should definitely check out my Favorite Stories list.
Affinitive: Here is the next chapter:
cecita16: Lemons… tough to write. I don't think I'm quite ready for that, and I know the story definitely is not ready, either.
zukee18: Here is the next chapter.
breaking-midnight: Thanks! Like your first two pairs, but I'm a Yuki and Zero fan, and proud of it! Nice picture, by the way!
Kimmi-chanLovesAnime: Here is chapter 10! Yeah!
haipa-chan: Hope you like this chapter.
jakenthebest: I love Rin, too! I really hope your name contains a healthy dose of sarcasm, otherwise I'd be a little scared.
jakenthebest: Over-protective is one of the defining characteristics of a inu.
charu: Yes, I'm alive, so here's chapter 10.
brakken (chapter 1): Wow, 'too funny and too wrong and too right and too good'. I can't help but laugh.
brakken (chapter 2): Thanks!
brakken (chapter 3): Sorry for the typos, this kind of hard to catch them when I'm proof-reading it myself. And I have to, since I think my beta-readers have gone on strike.
brakken (chapter 4): History was never my favorite subject – I prefer the future, which is why I majored in Political Science. Thanks for pointing that out, though. The torture was probably invented in the Qin, and the Han dynasty is where I first read about it, so I attributed it to that dynasty.
brakken (chapter 5): I loved writing the Kanna part, too. And I'd love to have you as a beta.
brakken (chapter 6): Yep, I think it worked out quite well. And I have to admit, your profile is hilarious! I wish I had that talent…
brakken (chapter 7): Thank you. Your reviews are always so encouraging.
brakken (chapter 8): I usually enjoy fluff, too, but I thought it seemed a little out-of-the-blue for this story…
brakken (chapter 9): I love politics, too – it's my passion. And it is actually necessary to the story; not so much the subject itself, but what it reveals about Kagome's character. It indicates and clears up some of the otherwise rather strange decisions she'll make. The whole 'show do not tell' idea they cram into innocent children's heads in English class… Yes, you're right, I keep getting presidents and their ideas (if it's not current) mixed up. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll get to revising it, sometime. But I promise that everything in the debate has been double-checked and verified by experts (in other words, I ran some of the facts by my political science teachers to confirm them), so rest assured, that these facts are correct. And thank you for everything; I look forward to working with you in the future.
Hithereyou: Hi, to you, too. Hope you enjoy this chapter as well!
inukag-lover1600: Pretty picture, I really like it. Glad you liked the story.
Sakuras Magic: Gotta love the family.
Victoria-Fortis-Elegit: The cliffy will get dragged out, so don't expect an explanation just yet. Maybe in a few chapters.
Orange in the Gray: Here it is.
InuKoishii: Sorry, I don't write fluff, much. But there will be instances where it is appropriate.
Sexy-Sammie: Extra long chapter, just for you.
Matylda Tyler: Thanks, I'm doing well. Hope you long chapter made up for the wait.
Enoxemy: Thank you for the praise – I hope I can live up to it!
gothicfreak90: I will.
jade h.: Thank you. Hope this chapter meets your expectations.
QueenMag: Here it the next chapter!

To my reviewers on mediaminer . org:
Drake Clawfang: Hey, thanks! Out of plain curiosity, what are the other top 3 disasters to happen to the US this decade? And when will you update "The Fallen Angel Chronicles"? I'm absolutely in love with that story!
joellllll: Oh my goodness, you actually counted? I'm lucky to have such devoted fans. Thank you for your support.
kagome123: Glad you know that you're still reading.
sexxiigurrll0204: Girls can be strong, too! We shouldn't leave everything to the guys – though they do have redeeming characters. Will I get another round of applause for this chapter?
BlackMamba07: Another beloved author! Yes, Inu-chan will break, though you might be surprised by who actually ends up breaking him.
Akihana: Well, like the slogan says "My favorite team is UCLA and any team that is against USC." Okay, that's probably taking school rivalry a little too far… Anyway, I sincerely hope that you like this chapter.
darkangel105: I do try to update frequently, but life tends to get in the way.
Fed up: See above please. I spent time trying to make you see reason, and I do not appreciate having my precious time wasted.
Tink2kagome: Glad to hear!
Tink2kagome: Thank you. I know some people don't like it, but it's something I'm passionate about and it is also important to the story. So, two birds with one stone, right?
adara205: I'll repeat it one more time. I'm against the war; but I fully support the troops! I'll be praying for a save return for your cousin, and thank you for leaving your name. It shows courage, and I value bravery. For the rest of your comment, please see above.
future author: Yep, Naraku will be involved, sometime in the next few chapters.
cassandralynn30: Such a pretty ring your name has… Thanks for your continued support. I hope you like this chapter.
redney: I'm proud that I don't fall to insults from people like you. As for a answer, see above.
CherishSerenity: Thanks!
ChibiRin: Do you like this one?
alexus: I apologize that this chapter took so long, but it fought me every step of the way. I hope the end result was worth the wait.
kagome85: I'm glad to know that I brightened your day. I makes me happy to hear that. One of my wise friends told me that the more happiness we distribute, the more returns to our own hearts. I hope this chapter brightened another a day.
SailorEarth: Another returning reviewer. It makes my happy to see that people like you are so faithfully following the updates. I know that it's quite a hassle to review, especially on mediaminer, but I really enjoy reading reviews. And yep, Kagome and Inuyasha are definitely getting closer. However, you'll have to wait another chapter for the Journalist Ball. There will be some things that will have to come before, some big revelations…
ageisalie: Sorry this chapter took so long, but I hope it was worth the wait.
inuyashacutie: I'm alive... I can't believe it either. I hope this chapter meets your expectations.
oOSilverKyuubiOo: Priestess powers… let's just say everyone has some kind of power, emotional or physical, it's all a matter of honing and discovering it within oneself. Okay, that's sound very ambiguous and like something out of the philosophy, so I'll shut up – for now.
SummerNightsxxx: Complete? I'm confused – it's definitely not complete. I'll see it I can go back and change the setting.
BrokenAngle1219: Your name is so poetic… I bet your stories are even better, if your name is any indication.
LiZzArD: Please, don't be in pain. Will this chapter be a good remedy?
animeangel47: Here is the next chapter.
Lynzi18: Sorry for the long wait.
SailorEarth:Thanks for your continuous support.

To my reviewers on adultfanfiction . net:
Charging Handles Forward: Thank you for your very honest review. Most people who don't agree with me tend to spent their time screaming; not many people can talk to me so civilly as another being with just a difference in what is a very controversial issue. And as said before, I'll be praying for your save return.
DarkNeko17: Yes, I'll definitely continue to update.
evars: Thank you. My cataracts have all but vanished. And Kagome and Inuyasha definitely do have an easy road ahead of them, but a love that survives hardships is so much the stronger and lasting.
FourShotChild: What an interesting name, but I like it. Keep reading, please. Your curiosity will be answered.
Foxy_Love: Good to hear from you again. I hope you like this chapter!

Shizuka Kaze is proud to continue the presentation of:

The Seduction Game
Summary: Inuyasha Takahashi is the guy no girl can resist, but when he sets his sights on Kagome Higurashi, he has met his match. When the young girl outright refuses him and angers him, he swore that he would break her and ruin her life. But neither can deny their attraction, nor were they prepared for the burning passion that threatened to consume them both. Yet can love be born out of hate and a need to dominate?

The Seduction Game

Chapter Ten: Unanswered Confusions!

Blowing her bangs out of her eyes, Kagome felt her heart speed up as she anxiously checked her answers with the back of the book, letting out of a happy sigh at the result. She turned smiling eyes upon the hanyou lounging casually on her bed.

"I finally got it!" She said excitedly. "I got all the answers right!"

Inuyasha smirked at her, refusing to halt the listless flapping of a random magazine as he answered offhandedly. "Keh. I told you it wasn't hard."

Kagome rolled her eyes. "Not for you, maybe, Mr. I-passed-the-Bar-Exam-after-a-three-months-crash-course, but logical games has always been difficult for me."

"Apparently as difficult as everything else." He snorted, finally snapping the magazine shut, and propping himself up on his elbows.

Too delighted at her success to argue with him, she turned back to her exercises, full of fire to tackle another question. Ignoring Inuyasha's golden gaze - which she could feel clearly boring into her back - she uttered another small cry of victory as her diagrams yielded the correct answer for the following three sets of Logical Games.

"I think I'm finally getting the hang fo this." She said, brandishing her answer sheet with all the notes and models at him. "Look, I haven't made a single mistake for the last 25 questions!"

Inuyasha slipped off the bed, peering closely at the sheet. "You need to work on your speed." He informed, pointing to the top of the page at the time 10:22 and then again at the clock on her dresser that read 11:14. "You're only supposed to use 35 minutes for this section, but you used fifty-two minutes. Also, here" his claws stopped over one of her diagrams, "it would have been quicker and easier if you had used the In/Out setting rather than trying to muddle through. And at this problem, you would have achieved the result quicker if you had remembered to play the numbers to determine the set of different combinations of possible results to find the number of lizards and snakes in each cage. And on this last one, you missed to fill in a possible solution for this blank; you're just lucky it never came up."

Kagome snatched her paper back, thoroughly irritated. "Geez, must you point out a mistake with everything I do?"

Inuyasha blinked. "I was just trying to help. If you wanna fail the test because you weren't as lucky or because you didn't have enough time, then be my guest!" He snapped, clearly stung.

Kagome's gaze immediately softened. "I'm sorry, Inuyasha." She murmured, running a weary hand along her hair. "I guess I'm just a little tired and a bit grumpy." She offered a wan smile.

"Feh." He dismissed, striding toward the connecting door. "You better get rid of that attitude real soon, bitch, or you'll never get anywhere in life by pissing off everyone that tries to help you." Slamming the ornate door behind him, he silently breathed in relief at having placed something solid between himself and the smothering glare she'd sent his way after that scathing remark.

Kagome turned and tossed on her comforter, unable to a find a soft position in what had been a most comfortable bed only two days prior. But now, the mattress seemed to be made of bumpy rocks that dug into her back and twisted her body into unnatural positions. Letting out an irritated sigh, she tried to mentally slaughter the feelings of a cold bed. She had an exam tomorrow, and she needed sleep.

Oh, it wasn't like she had no idea for her sudden dislike of her downy bed, but the reason was one she refused to contemplate. 'Tough to like cookies after a taste of ice-cream?' A sing-song voice taunted in her head. Biting her lip in frustration, she swung her legs over the side furiously, and trotted to the bathroom where she proceeded to rip every drawer open violently. Finally letting out a mental sigh of relief, she held up the rubbery bag, and filled it with hot water. After making sure that the lid was good and secure, she hurried back to bed. Standing at the headboard for a second, she prayed, before diving into the covers and snuggling against the bottle in her hand.

Three seconds later, she fought against the urge to curse - the bottle, though warm, was small, lacked the steady movement of up and down, and most importantly, did not have a heartbeat! 'No!' She mentally cried. The previous thought had made her achingly conscious of exactly why she couldn't sleep. Slamming her pillow against the headboard, she sat up, her hands curled into fist, and mouth pressed into a grim line as she tried to wiggle into a solution of her current predicament that did not involve crawling into bed with Inuyasha.

"Some of us are trying to sleep, ya know." A low voice drawled from the connecting door. Kagome's head shot up. She had been drowning so deeply in her own thoughts that she'd missed the tell-tale click of the door.

"Get out!" She growled, very unhappy to see the object of her frustrations at that moment. He was already the reason she couldn't sleep, and seeing him only reinforced the memory of his warmth. "And you keep that door locked!"

Inuyasha just sighed, causing further irritation as he calmly closed the door, locking it with a master key casually tied around his wrist.

"Hey! That's an invasion of privacy!" Kagome protested, not liking the idea that he could enter her room with his key anytime he desired.

He shrugged; she pouted. When he remained unmoved, she gave him the cold shoulder, turning her face forcibly away, and crossed her arms under her chest in the universally-recognized 'pissed-off' position, unconsciously pushing her straining breasts against the gaping neckline of her pajamas. Inuyasha's mouth went dry.

"Scoot over." His next sentence sounded much huskier and closer, right next to ear. She turned, her eyes calculating and cold, but promptly squeaked as she realized that he had removed his shirt, and was working on the drawstrings of his pants.

"What are you doing?" She whined, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

"Scoot over!" He repeated, sounding impatient. This time, she complied immediately, scurrying across the mattress in an effort to be far from him, very far – until she was trying to make a dent into the wall.

Kagome carefully cracked an eye open as there was silence for a moment, and realized Inuyasha had paused in his movements. But in a flash he was facing her again, an inch from her startled orbs, and was watching her expression carefully. Kagome was devoutly thankful he had the grace to leave his pants on, though it looked very loose – too loose, as if about to fall of his hips any moment. After a small eternity, he sat back on his haunches, his face as impassive as Sesshoumaru's.

"Why are you afraid?"

The question caught her off guard. "You are in my room, in the middle of the night, having discarded your shirt, and are currently working on your pants." She replied tartly, eyeing him cynically. "Do tell, when should I start being unafraid?"

Inuyasha snorted. "Because I haven't pounced yet."

Kagome turned white. "Yet?" She repeated. "You mean you will?" And before Inuyasha could come up with a response, she'd snatched the nearest object – the huge LSAT review book lying on her nightstand – and held it like a weapon in front of her body. Twin suns gazed at the brightly colored picture of blue covered fields of the cover, stunned.

"Bitch, have I ever expressed an interest in wanting to ravish you within an inch of your life?"

"Yes?" She peeked at him from behind the large words spelling every aspiring Law student's worst nightmare.

Inuyasha mentally cursed himself. That sentence had slipped out without being processed through his head. What was about Kagome that caused him to lose his suaveness when charming women?

"Keh, Stupid woman." He rolled his eyes. "I am above bedding unwilling bitches."

The thoroughly distrustful look she shot him plainly spoke of her doubts.

"What do you take me for? An animal?" Inuyasha snapped. He was tired, cranky, and there was no way in hell he'd tell her his inability to sleep was sorely due to the lack of her scent. That was just asking to get hurt.

Her muffled response forced a reluctant chuckle from his throat. "You tell me what those things on top of your head are and I'll answer the previous question."

"Those are ears, dear. Even humans have ears; it's what enables them to hear." He offered patronizingly.

She glared at him. "Not dog ears!"

Inuyasha opened his mouth for a retort, but she cut him off. "You know what, I don't care what you have to say." She stared at him with all the indignation as that of a woman scorned, sitting upright stiffly and discarding the LSAT review book. "I want you out, now!"

Inuyasha remained where he was, impassive.

Kagome sighed. "Please, we both have classes and an exam tomorrow; can you at least attempt to allow me some time for a little shut-eye?"

"Keh. Like you'd be in dreamland without me here." A dark brow furrowed. That had come off a lot more suggestive that he'd intended.

"That's not the point!" Kagome retorted, trying to keep a tight rein on her control. It would do her no good to start a shouting match, and rouse all the other members of the household. She shuddered at the prospect of explaining just exactly why the hanyou was in her room, during the middle of the night, minus his shirt, no less! "Just… just leave!"

When Inuyasha didn't move fast enough for her liking, she snatched up her pillow, and sent it soaring swiftly toward his head. Inuyasha caught the soft missile in a reflexive movement, without even sparing the pillow a glance, though a slow smirk appeared.

"Was this supposed to hurt me?" He mocked

"Inuyasha!" Kagome screeched, her eyes flashing blue fire, and the hanyou knew it would be a sensible notion to retreat. But whoever said he was sensible?

"I like you screaming my name." He murmured, dropping his voice to a low timbre he knew made most girls melt. Unfortunately, Kagome wasn't most girls

Kagome rubbed her eyes, cursing the pressure that signaled an impending headache. Ignoring the silly fluttering in her belly, she fisted her hands tightly in her lap, and bit her lip to stop her scream of frustration. The next utterance of his name was through clenched teeth.

"Inuyasha…" A deaf person couldn't miss the warning in her tone, but Inuyasha was too enthralled by the way she was biting her full bottom lip.

"Uh?" Was his intelligent response.

Unhappy at his dull reply, Kagome flung back the sheets, and marched angrily toward him, snatching a letter opener lying on her desk. "Inuyasha." She repeated, "If you don't remove yourself quickly…" She held up the sharp edge threatening. "You'll find yourself in a lot of pain."

Inuyasha didn't even flinch; instead, his eyes captured hers head on. "I dare you." He challenged, his voice as low as hers had been.?p

The staring contest lasted for mere seconds before Kagome slumped, the fight leaving her body. "You know I don't want to hurt you." She murmured. "But please, may I try to get some sleep?"

Inuyasha appeared to contemplate the request, before nodding slowly. While none of her shouts or threats had even alarmed him, her pleading eyes and wary face caused him to crumble. He didn't want to see her unhappy. "Very well." He conceded. Taking a deep breath of her scent coating the room, he tried to hold it in his lungs as long as possible, and strode through the door, closing it behind him.

Kagome released a sigh, turned and attempted to head back to her bed before she spied a red object from the corner of her eyes. Changing direction swiftly, she realized that Inuyasha had left his shirt. Wondering whether she should return it to him, she decided against it. Instead, she moved cautiously toward it, listening intently for any signs of the hanyou returning to demand his clothes. However, it appeared Inuyasha had forgotten about. Picking up the discarded shirt, she smiled: it was warm, and smelled strongly of pines, woods, mixed with a touch of wildflowers. Slipping back under the sheets, she snuggled tightly against the shirt, her nose buried in it as she allowed the scent to kill all her misgivings and confusions. Kagome fell asleep within seconds, feeling safe as she dreamed of pine forests and meadows.

Friday morning brought with itself a light drizzle and cloudy skies, but Kagome had slept like a baby the whole night through, clinging tightly to the shirt from which the calming scent was emitting. The gentle rumbling of her alarm clock switching to the jazz station roused her. Fluttering eyelids lifted themselves, revealing dreamy liquid browns. Ignoring the gentle music playing in the background, she yawned and stretched like a feline, feeling refreshed, pointedly ignoring the scrap or red peeking from under her dawn-colored comforter. Taking a moment to orient herself, she slipped off the bed to turn off the alarm clock, before grabbing a sport's bra from her drawers. Contemplating for a moment, she choose her favorite pair of low-rise jeans and a cashmere high-collared fawn shirt with three-quarter sleeves – on exam days, comfort came before everything else, not to mention it appeared as though it was rather cold outside.

'Note to self: buy slippers', Kagome reminded herself as she walked into the bathroom, the soles of her bare feet meeting the cold tiles and sending a chill up her spine. Brushing her teeth swiftly, she took a quick shower. Her hands were through and precise, even as her mind preoccupied itself by reiterating all the formulas and their derivations she'd need to know for the test. It took her less than fifteen minutes for her to be ready and downstairs. To her ultimate surprise, Inuyasha appeared to be still asleep.

"Good morning." Kagura greeted her cheerily. "Sesshoumaru and Dad are already at the office, something about a conference meeting with their partners in the States. Because six o'clock in the morning corresponds to three o'clock in the afternoon for them, yesterday, both of them left rather early. But Mom will up soon; she arrived home late as she was going over the last minute details with the staff members of the charity event for tonight in the fight against AIDS." She explained. Kagome could only continue to marvel at how much time the Lady Izayoi, in her exalted status, spent helping the less fortunate.

"Is Inuyasha still not up?" Curiosity tinged the wind demoness's voice as she peered into the stairway behind Kagome, bringing aforementioned girl out of her thoughts.

Kagome shook her head. "I don't know, Kaze-sama…"

"Simply Kagura would do" The older woman interrupted.

"Yes, Kaze-sa… I mean, Kagura-san." The younger girl smiled sheepishly, having momentarily forgotten that the Takahashis didn't hold with formalities in this mansion. Sometimes she still was amazed that she was included in such a day to day occurrence in her dealings with such an illustrious family. Of course, she had no doubt that with their resources and power, they had probably done the most thorough research on her background in the past decade and apparently, she'd passed. "I haven't seen him yet." She continued.

"Then he might be late." Glancing at the Gucci watch adorning her slender wrist, she wrinkled her forehead. Turning, she dropped two packets of sugar and half a container of cream into a cup of steaming coffee. Her gaze soon found Kagome's again. "Would you mind waking him up? Or he won't have enough time for his morning coffee, and if that happens, each of us is in for a bad case of earache." She winked, but her statement gave Kagome a good estimate of just how cranky Inuyasha would be if he didn't receive his daily dosage of caffeine.

"Not at all." She quickly assured her, turning to take stairs, missing Kagura's rather mischievous grin.

Trying to open the door adorned with Inuyasha's symbol, she wasn't surprised to find it locked. However, she was surprised to discover that there was no response when she knocked.

"Inuyasha?" She called, again harshly rapping her knuckles against the frame. "It's time to rise, or we'll be late!"

Still no response.

"Inuyasha?" She called again. When she still received no response, she gave up on the door. Instead, she stepped into her room, vaguely remembering that Inuyasha had forgotten to lock the connecting door. Reaching for the door handle, she wondered briefly it locked on contact, and was pleased to find that it didn't. Seconds later, she stepped out of familiar territory and into the unknown.

Kagome blinked, trying to clear her vision. For a split second, she believed that Heaven and Hell had met and combusted to form Inuyasha's room. Bold silver interwoven with fiery red and unfathomable black marked the walls. If not for the thick silver lining, his room would have resembled Hell. However, now, it radiated power, authority, and danger: all aspects which Inuyasha exuded in each breath and move. In style and structure, it resembled much like hers, but whereas her room gave light and warmth, his sucked the light and reflected it as part of itself. Flickering on the light-switch next to the frame, she was delightfully surprised by a warm glow of a single paper lamp rather than the glittering bright lights she'd expected to the shine from the elegant chandelier or the strategically placed floor lamps in each corner. Biting her lip one moment in indecision, she squared her shoulders and continued to inspect the room by the soft radiance illuminating the chamber. Next to the door sat a heavy desk, complete with laptop and various assortments of documents he apparently had been reading, and a thick book lay haphazardly on an edge, open with a highlighter right next to it. Kagome unconsciously raised her eyebrows: she had been under the impression that Inuyasha did not understand the concept of studying. Shaking the ridiculous thought from her head – he might have been smart, but that still did not mean he'd be able to absorb all his knowledge through osmosis without actually reading it – she continued to inspect the room. To the right of the desk were a set comprised of five drawers, each one neatly labeled with its contents, and a printer sat securely on top of it, equipped with paper and a stapler within reach. All of them were the darkest black Kagome had even seen.

Only four feet above the desk were two sturdy oak shelves nailed to the wall, complimenting the book shelve on the opposite side of the printer. Her mouth dropping open, she was stunned to see that his books were organized by subject, and then height. Peering closely, she realized that half of the volumes were in foreign languages, among them English, German, Latin, French, and Chinese. 'What the heck?' Kagome furrowed her brow. Did he honestly know all these languages? She herself knew only enough to recognize the languages (with the exception of English – but only because she had been studying for the LSAT), but did not have the faintest idea what the titles meant. Some were thicker than the side of her head, and not a single one looked to be a novel. She spied a further, smaller shelf of the left side of the bigger one, and this time, she smiled. For this one was made of redwood, and held famous plays, dictionaries, fantasy novels, and – to her great delight and surprise – an entire genre of books like Awakening by Kate Chopin, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. 'So, he likes feminist novels.' She mused to herself. 'Who'd have thought?' Further down, on the lowest rung, there was a stack of satiric comedies by famous authors as well as thick volumes of historical novels on illustrious royalties of the ages past. About to move on, she noticed a set of magazines partially hidden by a glass ornament in shape of a leaping dolphin. Cautiously moving it aside, she curiously pulled one out, and nearly snorted – the words "Playboy" in bright letters stared up her. 'Figures.' She mused. 'he is male.'

Further left, with its back aligned after the wall, was a full-length leather couch, so plush as though it had never been used. Directly opposite was the singles seat, complete with a foot stool at the perfect length. Between, the love-seat fitted exactly into the ninety-degree angle created by the two sides of the wall and the enclosed space between the three seats housed a delicately crafted crystal coffee table, and even in the dim light, Kagome could make out the soft edges and precise lines. With the crystal table came a build-in wine cabinet, and Kagome raised her eyebrows to notice that the hanyou seemed to prefer French red wine at least two decades old; she had pegged him as a hard liquor or vodka, maybe even brandy, type, but apparently Inuyasha had more class than she had thought. Tucked neatly into the open space further on the wall was an expensive set of stereo complete with a high stack filled with CDs of every kind, ordered alphabetically and by genre. Directly next to the stereo was another niche holding a 42" LCD TV placed securely on a dresser, complete with glass doors, a set of game controls, and what appeared to be every DVD and game ever published.

On the side adjacent was the walk-in closet, the mirror reflecting the darkness of the opposite wall, and Kagome was surprised to notice the height of the mirror cut off exactly the silver margin on the ceiling, making the room appear even larger and darker than it already was. Though her hands itched to open the closet to see whether Izayoi's worry of her son's trouble in color-coordination rang true she fought back the urge as a sign of respect. Just because he decided to invade her privacy did not give her right to do it, too. After all, two wrongs never made a right. The gilded portrait of a golden mermaid lounging on the sand – adorning one side of the closet – was odd, but natural. It spoke of blue water, fine sand, and splashed different colors in contrast to the dark and red of the room, yet it seemed to fit perfectly fine with the surrounding. On the other side, instead, was a picture of a blood-red butterfly, leaving a trail of shimmering dust trail in its wake. A dresser next to it had exactly five drawers, again each labeled with a kanji character for its contents. Kagome bemusedly realized Inuyasha's room was most likely any burglar's wet dream. After all, there would be no need to search for things with all the labels, unless he purposely mislabeled the contents – something she would definitely not put past him.

Kagome stepped further into the room, startled as her bare toes met something soft and plush. Her mouth dropped open – the silk carpet was a royal blue and 22' by 16', and if her eye was right, hand-woven and probably cost more than her motorcycle, which wasn't exactly ten a grand. The edges were whiter than snow and embroidered with a howling dog in full flight and entwined around its body, in intricate lines, was the kanji for the word Inu – there was no way they sold it in stores, it must have been custom-made. The carpet was so flush that Kagome felt like she could sink in it. Amusedly, she wondered how soft of a bed it would make. She mentally made to a note to buy some furnishings herself for her room. After all, she'd be there at least for half year, so she might as well as add some personal touches.

The full-length window next to it held brand-new heavy red curtains through which the sunlight filtered, lightning everything around as if on fire. The darker side of Kagome reveled in the raw power the sight filled her. The beautiful darkness engulfed the flames, and she glorified in the feeling of mastery it offered. She swayed, watching in fascination as her shadow blocked parts of the sunlight, yet the flames seemed to always twirl around her body, no matter how she twisted.

A gentle snore broke the magic, and Kagome turned swiftly, opening her mouth to wake-up the slumbering hanyou, but the words died in her throat. For there, lying on the sheets, was Inuyasha, as naked as the day he was born. His defined arms clutched his pillow, and he was drooling, absently smacking his lips. His chest was plastered to the covers underneath him, so only his backside faced Kagome, but the sight of his round behind and powerful thighs were more than her mind could handle. Kagome did the only thing her brain could think of (and it definitely woke the hanyou up): she screamed bloody murder.

Kagura raised her head from her coffee at the resounding shout that reverberated throughout the mansion. Raising her eyes to the lady who had just entered the room, she chuckled. "I believe Kagome has just found your son, Mom."

Izayoi grinned. "Oh dear. I better make certain both are still alive."

Still smiling to herself, Izayoi moved toward the staircase, marveling at the girl who had managed to bewitch Inuyasha.

Kagome had no idea what had possessed her to scream her head off, for now she was faced with an angry hanyou, who – completely heedless of his nudity – was glaring her with an expression of doom.

"Where is the fire?" He snapped, irritated.

Kagome blinked. "Fire?" she repeated, as though he had uttered a foreign word.

Inuyasha swung himself from the bed, taking enough notice of her discomfort to wrap the sheet around himself, before nailing her with a look of absolute exasperation. "Unless there is an emergency," he began patronizingly, "normal people do not tend wake others by screaming as though they've discovered their first white hair." Kagome opened her mouth in outrage: was he calling her vain? But she never received the chance to vocalize the retort dancing on the tip of her tongue as he continued. "Only witless individuals believe the most theatrical way is the best; any being with an intelligence higher than that of a beetle realizes serenity is a trait much desired nowadays and attempts to avoid any needless dramatics."

By the time Inuyasha had finished, Kagome was so indignant she was surprised she was still breathing. First he accused her of self-absorption, and now he called her a simpleton?

"Very well." She replied with forced calmness. Her victories on the floor were not won with shouting matches, but irrefutable logic; she was not about to lose that coolness now. "In the future, I shall let you oversleep, then."

Shooting him a last icy glare, she prepared to stomp from the room, only to hear Inuyasha cussing up a storm. Incredulous, she slowly turned to face him, her eyes wide. "Pardon me?"

He barely spared her glance. "What the fuck do you want now, wench?"

She scarcely acknowledged the name-calling, still trying to recover from his colorful vocabulary. Her face flushed a startling color of red as some of his more choice words registered. "Nothing." She managed to squeak, and before the amber-eyed male could interrogate her any further, she fled the room.

Inuyasha raised an eyebrow at the slamming door before shaking his head in bewilderment. "Strange woman." Then he proceeded to take the fastest shower in the history of hanyou-kind, determined not to give his father an excuse to dream up sadistic ways to punish him. He shuddered as he remembered Inutaisho's words during his last torture session. 'Perhaps a wife will tame you, Inuyasha'. Like hell he was going to give his father another reason to toy with that idea!

Fleeing Inuyasha's room in a haste, Kagome growled under her breath as her bare feet slipped on a fallen page of a newspaper, nearly sending her crashing headlong into a cabinet. Regaining her balance just in time to save herself from a disgraceful fall, her eyes sought the offending piece of danger. However, she did a double take as the picture registered in her mind. Her orbs grew wide, her jaw going slack in shock. There, right on the front page, was she in the arms of one Hojo Futarumo. Dropping to her knees next to it, she scrutinized the picture. No, it was no mistake, nor were her eyes playing tricks on her. If the picture wasn't proof enough, the caption and a quick scan of the article confirmed her fears. Her sight darted to the top left corner, and her brow furrowed in consternation. The paper was dated Tuesday; so why had not anybody warned her of it, instead of laying it there in floor to give her such a rude awakening? And since it was in the house… "Oh, what must the Takahashis think of me?" She mumbled, hiding her face in her hands.

"What must we think of what, dear?" A melodious voice floated from the end of the hallway.

Kagome jumped a foot, barely muffling a cry to see the gentle face of Izayoi. "Izayoi-sama." She stumbled over her words. "I did not realize you were there." She hastily tried to hide the newspaper, but managed nothing more than to draw Izayoi's attention toward the crinkling edges which her foot was furtively pushing into a unobtrusive corner.

Raising an eyebrow, the older woman rescued the pages. Scanning the article quickly, she gave a soft laugh at the end.

Kagome wanted to die of mortification.

"Oh dear." Izayoi continued to smile.

"I'm sorry." Kagome muttered, a little unsure what she was apologizing for, but certain it was the appropriate response.

"It's alright, dear." Izayoi assured, placing a motherly arm around her. "We of all people know how the paparazzo enjoys embellishing each story so that the result only contains a few grains of truth. Everything else is speculations, and more often than not, it turns to be out to be false. With no juicy details, how can it keep its readers entertained?"

Kagome frowned. "So the paparazzo tells its readers what it wants to read, rather than newsworthy events?"

Izayoi shook her head. "No, the paparazzo does what it needs to sell itself; very few of the newspapers and magazines are government subsidized – they are profit-seeking investments. Most of their income is received from advertisements posted in their papers." Izayoi gave an elegant shrug. "It is like a vicious cycle. The more subscribers and readers they have, the more money they can ask of a spot in their paper. The more money they receive, the more eager they become to attract new readers and keep the old ones."

Izayoi paused, before winking rather playfully at the pensive girl. "Besides, wouldn't the passionate reunion between the youngest teacher Shikon ever hired and one of their brightest students be a newsworthy event?"

Kagome could swear her cheeks resembled over-ripe tomatoes. "It's nothing like that." She hastened to correct. "Hojo and I are old school-mates, and that scene" she waved a hand the picture "was a pure accident. He managed to stop me from falling when I… was a bit unsteady on my feet. I did not realize someone had captured it on film."

If Izayoi noticed the hesitation in her sentence, she made no indication. "You don't have to explain, dear." Turning her eyes toward the space behind Kagome, she inquired. "Is my son awake?"

Remembering the scene rather vividly, Kagome smiled ruefully. "I believe so, Izayoi-sama."

"Excellent." Izayoi asked no more questions, and for that, Kagome was grateful. Every time she looked into those lovely lavender eyes, she felt like the woman knew much more than she was letting on. It made her slightly uneasy, though Izayoi's manner was both light and cheery. "If Inuyasha is not moving quickly enough to evade a tardy, perhaps the fact I am making lunch for you both will accelerate his pace."

"Oh, please, don't trouble yourself, Izayoi-sama." Kagome swiftly replied. She didn't want to be a burden.

"Nonsense. It's no trouble." The older woman rejected just a quickly. "That cafeteria food cannot be healthy." And then she was gone, leaving Kagome to wonder once again whether the Takahashis were for real. No one in her circle did their own cooking unless they had a passion for it, especially not if they had as good a cook as Ichigo had proven herself to be in the last few days. That woman made the best cream puffs and braised salmon on this side of the continent. Just the thought of it made her mouth water, and she couldn't wait to know what other tricks Ichigo had up her sleeve. Maybe she'd be able to pick up a few tips.

"Going to leave that paper to allow more people to stumble upon your shameless behavior?" A snide voice remarked. Kagome startled, only to see Hana slip smoothly around the corner, a cruel smirk deforming her lovely features. The raven-haired girl shuddered – Inuyasha's smirk spelled disaster for her precious virtue, but Hana's spoke of unspeakable horrors she wished to inflict, and at that precise moment, Kagome was unsure which she preferred. And she had no doubt the newspaper had been left there deliberately by the owner of the clear topaz eyes glaring hatefully at her. However, she gathered her wits quickly and lifted her chin.

"Perhaps no one would be in such danger had you been vigilant of your duties." She remarked icily, implying the maid's incompetence.

Hana stiffened. "Lord Inuyasha is perfectly satisfied with my service."

Kagome's expression didn't change, though she conceded that the maid was certainly not a brainless idiot if she had managed to catch the hidden meaning. "Service? I do not doubt it."

Hana flushed, understanding the slight inflection of Kagome's voice. "That's none of your business!" She defended.

Kagome stayed quite for a minute, studying the maid. She grudgingly conceded that Hana had a point, and perhaps her comment earlier had been rather rude. She hadn't had the time to even touch the cleaning supplies since she moved into the mansion, but her room was spotlessly clean: no visible dust whatsoever, the carpet flush and clean, the toilet bleached and polished, and the sink and tiles gleaming like crystal. Her room was as orderly as ever, and Hana – so far – had managed to refrain from wrecking her belongings, unlike she'd feared in the beginning. Furrowing her brow, the dark-haired girl continued to scrutinize the other girl, barely noticing Hana's discomfort. Kagome had to admit that Hana was extremely pretty, with clear topaz eyes and hair the color of firelight framing a heart-shaped face adorned by a plush mouth, a gentle nose, and impossibly long lashes. Though small and petite, Hana had more curves than the PCH with clear, golden skin. Next to her, Kagome suddenly felt like a six-year old playing dress-up. And Hana clearly had a brain behind that gorgeous exterior; Kagome wondered just how much depth the girl contained.

"You are a cheetah youkai." It wasn't a question, but a statement.

Hana looked taken back for a moment, but then her eyes narrowed. "And I wager that bothers you."

Kagome shrugged, wondering how Hana had picked up on that particular sentiment, and not quite sure herself as to why. "Why should it?"

Hana's smile oozed satisfaction and malice. "Because I am part of the neko clan, and you believed an inu-youkai would dislike that particular scent. It may mean less competition for you." She slinked closer. "Well, let me clear it up for you." Hana's eyes drilled intently into Kagome's own brown ones. "It is only the scent of lynxes he hates. I consider myself blessed to have been of the cheetah breed."

"Why?" Now Kagome's curiosity was spiked. Metsuki was as lynx youkai, and Kagome found her extremely pleasant; she had always been kind and sweet. Why did Inuyasha hate lynx youkais? "Why lynx youkai?"

Hana simply stared at her for a second. "Miss Higurashi," she began coldly, "My duties are to oversee the hygiene and the orderliness of the second floor, not play 'Interrogation' with you." She inclined her head. "Now, as you pointed out earlier, newspapers lying on tiles present a haphazard to any one taking this path, and as the Takahashis have been nothing but generous to me, I would like very much like to eliminate any dangers to their health." The fact that Kagome was not mentioned among those the paper could present a danger to was not lost on either of them.

Without another word, Hana swept away, leaving Kagome to wonder just how deep the Cheetah's relationship with Inuyasha was that she knew so much about the mysterious hanyou.

Kagome was a bundle of jittery nerves as lunch rolled around. Sitting at what Inuyasha had called the 'usual' table – located right under a large acorn tree heavy with falling nuts – with the hanyou, Sango and Miroku, as well as Haku, Ginta, a pretty brunette by the name of Elaina, and a gorgeous scarlet-eyed demon named Hiten, Kagome stared desolately at her unopened lunch box. Inuyasha had already started on his, and the rest of the group did not seem to notice her discomfort.

"I suggest you start eating." Inuyasha advised, somehow managing to talk with his mouth full. "Souten and Manten will be here in a couple of minutes, and they love my mother's cooking."

Hiten looked up, obviously in a sour mood. "And what am I, chopped liver? How come I am not taking into consideration when Izayoi-sama has decided to grace the two of you with her culinary skills?"

Inuyasha growled. "Because your brother and sister are not – as you put it – taken into consideration, either. I am just warning Kagome."

"I'm a bit nervous." Kagome murmured softly as Hiten pouted. Her hands rose to play listlessly with the zipper on the lunch bag.

Sango raised an eyebrow as she started munching on her burger. "About wha…" She suddenly stopped talking, looking surprised. "Heh, this spicy chicken burger actually tastes fairly decent." She took another large bite.

Ginta made a choking sound. "There is nothingbut spice. Kinda like having a fire going off in your mouth."

Sango laughed. "What can I say? It's one of the advantages of being human; we are not sensitive to strong food. Think of all the wonderful tastes you are missing out on because you can't stomach it." She picked up a bottle of mustard and dangled it teasingly in front of the wolf-demon. Ginta turned a sickly shade of green.

"Keh, that's why being hanyou is the best." Inuyasha had finished his lunch in record-time – apparently he loved his mother's cooking – and was inching toward Kagome's untouched one. "Great food with strong senses…"

"…and a life-time of mockery." Elaina's voice was sweet as a nightingale's, and there was a wealth of compassion in her lovely eyes. Inuyasha froze, an unreadable expression flashing in the cold orbs. His golden gaze darted around the perimeter, but nobody was looking at him. They – with the exception of Kagome – all knew why Elaina had done that, but that didn't mean they enjoyed it. A sudden hush fell over the table.

A second later, the monk's bright and cheery voice surrounded the eight occupants. "I love Fridays!" Miroku shouted loudly. "Two full days of no school."

"Right." Sango caught on quickly, following Miroku's lead in trying to restore some normalcy to the environment. "Going to theaters, the beaches, malls…" Nobody saw the need to mention the chilly weather prevented any excursions to the beach.

Quickly, everyone but Kagome and Inuyasha started a conversation about inane events, trying to cover up the awkward moment. They were some of the coolest kids in school, and thus, they had a reputation to maintain. It was not wise to lose sight of that at a place where money, status, and reputation was all that separated the royalty from the rabble.

"Hey," Kagome intoned softly, realizing Inuyasha had still not moved. "I think I really understand the concepts and calculations of the Production Costs. Thank you so much for helping me." She brushed a strand of hair away from her face. Inuyasha didn't need pity – he needed someone who would treat him as Inuyasha no matter what others said or thought.

Inuyasha chose not to respond. Instead, he opened her lunch bag almost violently, and in one swift movement, he removed the lid of the Tupperware, placing it before her. Kagome's eyes widened: the Tupperware was split into seven separate compartments, and each one contained a part of her meal. On the top right hand corner were a half a dozen nigiru-sushi with braised eel and smelt egg, in the upper left corner was an orange, sliced into bite-size pieces, while the middle contained shrimp tempura. The bottom four parts enclosed orange beef, broccoli and mushroom, rice, and a cup of green tea, respectively.

"Now that's what I call a balanced lunch." Haku had slid over to the seat next to her, and was now smiling charmingly at the raven-haired girl. Kagome felt herself blush. The dragon demon was extremely handsome, with jet-black hair, laughing dark eyes, and chiseled features. He was muscular and build, but not bulky, while his easy-going manner made her feel immediately at ease.

She smiled at him, and sighed. "Well, it is a good idea to keep one's body healthy and fit."

Haku gave her a once over, his eyes raking her form appreciatively. Her fawn shirt molded to her round breasts and showed off the indention of her trim waist. Her jeans, though not tight, outlined the gentle sloping of her hips and her long legs.

"Definitely fit, I'd say." He smirked, and Kagome blushed further. Neither acknowledged Inuyasha's warning growl.

Grinning more widely, he produced a single red rose from behind his back, and handed it to the blushing girl. "So what does a pretty lady like yourself say to a date to tonight's ball?"

"She's going with me!" Inuyasha was unable to keep quiet any longer.

Haku sighed dramatically. "Ah, damn. You always did have the best of luck with women, Yash." He winked at her. "But make sure to save a dance for me."

Kagome gave a shy nod. "Certainly."

"Haku, let her eat!" the hanyou sounded thoroughly annoyed.

Haku grinned, well acquainted with Inuyasha's temper. "Sure. The pretty lady here wouldn't look so pretty if she'd lost that figure." He grinned rakishly at her, before excusing himself.

"That was rude." Kagome rounded on Inuyasha the minute Haku was gone from earshot.

"So you liked him hitting on you?" Inuyasha growled, grabbing a spoon from his bag and digging into her lunch.

"It's was only some harmless flirting!" Kagome protested, her fingers absently stroking the petals of the rose.

Inuyasha raised an eyebrow, noticing the gesture, and brought a spoonful of food to her lips. "You like roses?"

Kagome lowered her eyes. "No one's ever given me roses before."

The hanyou frowned, irked that the first to grace her with such a gift had been Haku. "Open up." He commanded. When she shot him a startled look, he gave a short bark, and Kagome obediently opened her mouth on reflex, allowing him to feed her.

"What about Valentine's day? Surely you've received roses then?" He continued with his interrogation, determined to get to the bottom of this.

She shook her head, swallowing quickly in order to respond. "Never. It was always candy, cards, and…" She broke off suddenly, looking very embarrassed, and quickly grabbed a sushi piece, filling her mouth.

"And?" Inuyasha prompted, curious to her expression.

Kagome only shook her head, chewing busily. But Inuyasha was patient, waiting until she'd finished the bite to prompt her again. She ignored him, taking a moment to comment on the spoonful he'd fed her.

"Nice. The beef is juicy and tender, the rice fragrant and soft, and the broccoli and mushroom fresh and flavorful." She took a deep whiff of the tea. "It smells wonderful."

"Kagome…" The tone indicated just what exactly he thought of her changing the topic.

"Please, Inuyasha, drop it." Kagome pleaded. But the hanyou shook his head. However, when she still refused to answer, he knew it was time to pull out the big guns. "Perhaps, it would be more profitable if I did a little research and called up some of your old class-mates."

Kagome quickly grabbed his arm, her eyes full of terror. She could only imagine the catastrophe if he managed to get the number of one of those idiots who'd sent the notes. "Wait, I…"


Taking a furtive look around, and after making certain that no one was watching them – at least for the moment – she whispered low enough only for his ears to hear "They were invitations for a night in a hotel room."

The spoon broke with a loud snap. Immediately, five sets of eyes focused on them, and Kagome squirmed, uncomfortable to be the center of attention. Inuyasha was too stunned to notice the looks.

"How cute." Sango snickered, eyes zeroing on the utensil. "You're feeding her."

"Inuyasha's training for motherhood." Miroku remarked, grinning devilishly.

"Who's the unlucky mother?" Ginta called out.

"Yes, Inuyasha, which unfortunate damsel have you managed to seduce into your bed again?" Miroku lecherous nature was showing through again.

"Isn't it obvious?" Hiten, snorted, apparently still miffed. "It's…"

"Yajima Hiten!" Elaina's sharp call cut through the thunder demon's answer, obviously unhappy with what he would be saying.

"… Higurashi Kagome." Miroku finished off.

Two things happened simultaneously. A pair of soft arms wound themselves around Inuyasha's neck, while Kagome, murderous intent in her eyes, reached out for a handful of acorns. Taking four – one between each of the fingers on her right hand – she fired them off all at once, two of them hitting Miroku right between the eyes, one after another, while the third bonked him on the nose, and the last one made contact with his forehead.

"Ow!" Miroku protested loudly just as the new voice remarked. "Well, I'm jealous: the lucky girl to have found favor in the eyes of the youngest son of Inutaisho." A pretty girl Kagome recognized as a sophomore seated herself elegantly on Inuyasha's other side, smiling sweetly at everyone present before she kissed the hanyou chastely on the cheek. "What's the matter, handsome?"

Kagome kept a growl at bay at the other girl's affectionate display, but relaxed as Inuyasha swung an arm in brotherly fashion around the younger girl, and she seemed completely comfortable with it. "Don't worry it about it, sis. Kagome here took care of it."

The girl giggled, her eyes twinkling. "My big, strong brother needs a girl to defend him?"

Kagome raised an eyebrow. "Sister?"

The girl smiled friendly, again. "My name is Souten." She introduced. "Inuyasha has taken care of me ever since Grade School, so he's like my big brother and he treats me like a sister; since my own dear brother was too busy picking on me." Her gaze found Miroku who was still grumbling under his breath. "That's a neat trick, firing off four acorns at the same time. Precise, quick, and definitely useful. Now, super-girl, what's your name?"

"As loud-mouth" she shot Miroku a scathing look "there said, my name is Higurashi Kagome."

"Ah!" Souten scarlet eyes, the exact same shade as Hiten's, lit up. "So you're the one Inuyasha's been talking about! It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"He's been talking about me?" Kagome wasn't sure whether to be anxious or not.

Souten gave a soft laugh at Kagome's look. "Don't worry, it's only been good things."

Kagome still looked unsure. She seriously failed to think what she'd done so far in the presence of Inuyasha that could be considered 'good'. Perhaps he'd mentioned that she was a hard hitter? The raven-haired girl sincerely hoped not. She doubted that would be a recommendation for a friend.

Inuyasha looked embarrassed. "I just said that she'd skipped a grade."

"And that's more than you'd be able to say about most of the student body." Souten reminded him. She smiled at Kagome again. "Well, now I know who to look for when I need help in my studies."

Deeming that part of the conversation finished, Souten turned once more, and regarded the swivel-eyed Miroku with clear fascination. "So, how did you learn that neat little trick?"

Kagome smiled, her eyes locking onto her best friend. "Sango taught me when we were little."

"That was only to protect yourself, not to…" Sango protested, but bit her lip quickly.

"Yes?" Kagome never lost her focus, daring the older girl to finish her sentence. She knew Sango had been about to protest the use of her own technique on the houshi, but that would have been admitting that she actually cared about Miroku's well-being, and both of them knew exactly the rumors that would result from such a revelation. But Sango was not one used to keep her emotions to herself; she was direct, forth-right, and known for speaking her mind. Here was a battle between Sango's two most basic instincts, and Kagome enjoyed seeming her squirm. After all, Sango had just thoroughly embarrassed her by drawing attention to herself, and a little payback would even out the score.

"Nothing." The older girl mumbled quickly, averting her eyes.

"I knew it was nothing." Kagome smiled sweetly – a little too sweetly.

Souten looked between them, and voiced what everyone was thinking. "Am I missing something?"

"Don't worry about it." Sango quickly assured her, relieved when Kagome didn't contradict her. Sometimes, the raven-haired girl was vicious.

"So, where's Manten?" Inuyasha inquired, fetching another spoon and continuing to feed Kagome.

Souten rolled her eyes. "Sucking face with Yura, where else? Which reminds me" her scarlet orbs pinned the hanyou. "I believe you'll be receiving some sort of challenge from him for sleeping with her."

Inuyasha shrugged. Manten was strong and fast, but so was the hanyou, and the thunder demon was definitely no match for his skills.

"Well, I'm done." Elaina rose in a fluid motion, tossing her head and causing her long and thick chestnut locks to tumble down her back in a magnificent waterfall. "I'm heading to class; see you guys later." Without waiting for a reply, she hosted her bag, and strode towards the hallway.

Kagome quickly roused herself as well, and pushed her unfinished lunch toward Inuyasha. Grabbing her own bag, she slid from her seat. "Bye-bye." She waved a farewell, before running after the other girl who had just turned a corner.

"Kagome, don't forget we have a test in ten minutes." Inuyasha reminded her.

"I know! I won't forget." She called back, catching up with Elaina as she turned, placing herself outside of the hanyou's sight range.

"Wait, Elaina, was it? Could you tell me…"

The brunette stopped, but did not turn around. "Higurashi Kagome." She acknowledged.

"Yes." Kagome replied, unnerved that Elaina refused face her. "I would like to know…"

Elaina interrupted her again. "Nagasaki Kikyou's cousin?"

"Yes." Kagome replied, frustrated at being cut off of twice. "I was wondering why…"

"Then you can just keep on wondering!" Elaina snarled, finally turning to face her, and Kagome involuntary took a step back at the pure hatred shimmering in her violet eyes.

"Excuse me?" Kagome was unable to comprehend Elaina's sudden hostility.

However, the other girl didn't answer. Instead, she shot one last contemptuous look toward Kagome, before leaving without a backward glance.

Kagome stood there, her mouth open, all thoughts of her exam leaving her.

Two hours and twenty one minutes later, the chalk-white students trotted out of their last class into the streaming sunlight, two-thirds of them babbling about funeral plans. Inuyasha, instead, was snorting in disgust.

"Wimps!" He said haughtily. "It was not that bad."

Kagome refused to answer. She wasn't all that sure that she did not need to make arrangements for a funeral. Sango's ashen face mirrored similar thoughts.

"I don't even remember reading about Returns to Scale." The older girl muttered.

Inuyasha only shrugged. "That was actually one of the easier problems. With the Cobb-Douglass function already given, all you had to do was take the given numbers, plug them in, take the derivative to find out the value of 'a' and 'b' and then add them together. If the sum equals exactly one, then it's constant returns to scale, if it's larger than one, then it is increasing returns to scale, and if it's less, then you have decreasing returns to scale." He paused thoughtfully. "I believe there was a footnote at the end of chapter six…"

"Footnote at the end of chapter six." Sango intoned faintly, looking even paler.

"I couldn't remember how to find the optimal combination for work and capital." Kagome mumbled, her face pasty.

"Find the MRTS" Inuyasha promptly answered. "By setting it equal to the price of work divided by the price of capital, you find out the value is one to one, which means that Capital and Work is equal. Because 'a' and 'b' are both 0.5, the optimal number of hours worked is exactly 100. And if I remember correctly, it also asked for the Total Cost, and that turned out to be 400."

"And profit maximization on problem 14, with a price of 50 and Total Cost equaling to 100 plus 10Q and Q squared?" Sango pressed.

"2 approached are available." Inuyasha began. "You can either use Total Cost and Total Revenue to find the profit, respectively denoted by TC and TR, or you can use Marginal Cost (MC) and Marginal Revenue (MR), whichever you prefer. I personally believe the second approach is simpler. You just set MR equal to MC, since the slope equals zero at its maximization point, and since MR is equal to price of the good, and take the derivative of Total Cost and set them equal to each other…"

Both girls had stopped listening somewhere around the third sentence. Now, Kagome sidled carefully next to Sango, and whispered. "How much do you think our grade will be affected if we murdered Inuyasha and his perfect score?

"Non applicable." Sango replied just as softly, eyeing the maniacal glint in Kagome's eyes warily. "It's a capital offense to kill Inuyasha, and with us dead, would grades matter?"

Kagome sighed, re-focusing her attention on the hanyou in front of them, who was now muttering about the professor's inconsideration by not specifying the assumptions and instead leaving them to speculations.

Sango turned disturbed eyes upon her friend. "There were assumptions?" She whispered, horrified.

Kagome looked equally unsettled. "Not according to me." She exchanged a significant glance with Sango, and both strode forward simultaneously, clapping a hand over the hanyou's mouth.

"Not another word." Sango threatened.

"We might not be able to physically kill you," Kagome continued, "but we could always detach some parts of your body."

Inuyasha didn't even appear to hear their words; instead, he puckered his lips and placed an open-mouthed kiss on the younger girl's palm, allowing his tongue to teasingly draw a circle. Kagome snatched her hand back as though she had been burned.

"Delicious." Inuyasha murmured, amber orbs darkening in a sensual promise.

Kagome flushed, and looked away.

"Right, I almost forgot." Sango tossed her head, determined to change the topic from their testing results. "You mentioned about being nervous about something during lunch. What was it?"

Kagome sighed, shaking her head. "It's after the fact now, but I was nervous about the exam."

Sango laid a hand on the other girl's shoulder, giving it an encouraging squeeze. "Don't worry." She assured. "You'll do fine. The School Board wouldn't have allowed you to skip a grade if they didn't think you'd be able to handle the work load."

Kagome gave a grateful smile, though she was still troubled.

"Inuyasha?" She spoke up. "I'll be taking my bike back, all right?"

The hanyou laughed. "Geez, since when do you ask my permission to determine your ride?"

Kagome blushed furiously, wondering when she'd fallen into that habit. "I just wanted to tell you so you wouldn't waste time waiting for me." She protested.

Inuyasha continued to smirk. "Sure, wench."

Kagome sighed and turned. "Well, I'll be heading back then."

However, the hanyou caught her hand quickly, and with an inexplicable emotion in his face, he gently pressed his fangs into the inside of her wrist. Kagome cringed and hissed in pain, but Inuyasha refused to release her. Kagome continued to whine and turned uncomfortable eyes upon her best friend, but her plea died a miserable death halfway up her vocal cords. Sango was watching the scene with a calculating look, her features as unreadable as Inuyasha's. Kagome yelped softly as the hanyou retracted his fangs suddenly; that had hurt more than when he had first bitten her. Curling her wrist protectively to her chest, she breathed an inaudible sigh of relief to notice that the puncture wounds were not bleeding profusely, before turning angered eyes upon the white-haired male.

"What was that for?!" She growled. She longed to suck on her wrist to soothe the stinging, but placing her mouth on a spot where Inuyasha's had been previous was not a welcoming prospect.

Inuyasha was unfazed. Instead, he slapped her lightly on the ass, earning himself a surprised squeal, and pointedly began walking in a different direction. Stopping a short distance away as he recognized the missing footsteps, he turned toward Sango, and demanded. "You coming, or what?"

Sango looked a little uncertainly between the hanyou and her best friend, before she gave a quick nod. "Yeah. I'm coming." Waving a bit to the startled Kagome, she hurried to catch up with Inuyasha.

For the third time that day, Kagome had witnessed a question with no answer. 'Perhaps Fridays were cursed?' She mulled, as her confusion mounted to heights necessary to surpass Mount Everest . Shaking her head in exasperation, she determinedly ignored the curious part of her that screamed for explanations.

"I assume you haven't told her yet." Sango murmured, glancing at the white-haired male lounging casually against a pillar of her manor. Her parents were off on a business trip and Kohaku would be spending the day – and night – at the Higurashi's townhouse, so she had the whole place to herself: one of the biggest reasons why her and Inuyasha had decided to start – and hopefully finish – their project at Sango's.

The hanyou shook his head, watching her pass every security measure installed. "No." He affirmed.

Sango raised an eyebrow as the retina scan was completed and she was now being subjected to fingerprint scans. "Because you don't trust her?"

Inuyasha shrugged. "She hasn't earned my trust yet."

Sango only gave a nod, and began to type in the 16-digit code to open up the gate. Next to her, Inuyasha gave as close to a genuine smile as he could. Sango's ability to sense what he could not say and accept his reasons – whatever they were – made her special and one of his closest friends. She never questioned his motives, but acknowledged the tidbits he let slip. Her powers of deduction and loyalty had earned her a place as a trusted companion of the suspicious hanyou. Of course, coming from a prestigious family background did not hurt. And for some inexplicable reason, the strong-willed exterminator had charmed both his father and mother to the point where they doted on the girl like a favored niece. Also, Sango was down-to-earth and lacked the snobby attitudes so common in their circle. The girl was like a ruby in a crowd on diamonds; rare and special but not deemed as worthy as those around her.

The gate creaked open and Inuyasha flattened his ears at the high-pitched noise. "Shit, San! When was the last time you oiled this thing? Sometime in the last century?"

Sango shot him a wry glare. "No, Inuyasha. Unlike those with youkai blood, ordinary humans' live-spans do not usually cross into the triple digits."

Inuyasha snorted. "Ordinary my ass. Try telling that to the last five youkais you slammed into prison and they'll tell you a great deal on how ordinary humans differ from you."

The exterminator chuckled softly, leading the way into the hall. Sango bypassed the large foyer, breezing into the kitchen only to return a moment later with a large pitcher of iced lemonade and a tray of hors d'oeuvres. Setting both on what she had deemed her 'personal workplace on projects' – otherwise also known as the dining table – she flopped down on a hand-carved cherry wood chair. "Hey, Inuyasha? Are you ready?" She called out, realizing the hanyou was nowhere in sight.

"In a sec." A voice sounded from next room. Footsteps echoed in the empty house before Inuyasha stepped into her line of sight, a pensive look on his face. "San, that weapons collection on display in the other room… Are they made from…" Inuyasha trailed off, sliding into a chair next to the girl.

"Youkai bones?" She finished for him. "Yes."

"How old?" Inuyasha's attention sharpened suddenly.

Sango sighed. "Why the sudden interest? You've passed that case every time you've been here – which is quite a bit – and you've barely mentioned it before today."

Inuyasha didn't reply, but repeated, with much more force "How old?"

Sango barely kept from rolling her eyes. She knew the hanyou wouldn't be that easily deterred. "From ancient to modern, though some are only replicas of the real things."

Inuyasha gave a curt nod, and started pulling out his notes as to avoid looking at her. "Yeah, I noticed. Like the replicas of Tessaiga and Tensaiga."

Sango was silent for a moment, watching him. Inuyasha was always a bit sensitive when his past came up. She didn't push for more, though she knew there was a reason he had specifically mentioned the twin blades. Inuyasha would let her know when he was ready to talk about it.

Placing his notes on the ornate table, Inuyasha debated whether to confide in her. Sango was one of his best friends, but that still didn't mean that she was privy to all his secrets. 'She's never judged you.' A little voice reminded him. Inuyasha contemplated for another moment, reaching a decision. Sango had stuck with him through everything in the past eight years, and she had earned the right to know the truth. But, his mind reasoned, she didn't need to know everything about the legend, just enough to ease her curiosity. He would decide when she earned the right to know the deeper youkai secrets. Besides, it was likely that she could help him.

"You know the legend of the two brothers, the twin blades, and the Shikon no Tama?" He asked.

"Naturally." Sango replied promptly, no hesitation in her tone.

Inuyasha hesitated for another second, shuffling the pages in his hands. "I was driving Kagome home three nights ago, so she could pack." Inuyasha paused, before gazing at the girl again. "Did you know that Kagome's grandfather collected relics from various religions and legends?"

Sango suddenly smiled. "Of course! How could I not know?" She choked back a laugh to explain. "On Kagome's fifteen's birthday, he gave her a mummified kappa hand as a talisman. Then, on her sweet sixteen, her grandfather presented her with petrified oni's tongue as a good luck charm. The year afterward, she received the preserved remains of a stuffed three-eyed bird. And when she left for college…" By this time, Sango was so overcome by laughter that she became unable to utter another word.

Inuyasha leaned forward eagerly, intrigued despite himself. "Yes…"

Sango started choking, trying to bring her laughter under control. "He gave her" she chuckled again "six petrified legs of a centipede youkai, advising her to sleep with it under her pillow. Apparently, it would ward off nightmares and misfortune!"

This time, Inuyasha joined Sango in her mirth. "So what did she do with all of them? Speaking of which, were they even real?"

"Oh, they were authentic all right." Sango confirmed. "I took a peek at a few of the objects, as she opened all her presents in my presence. As to what she did with them… "Sango gave another chortle of laughter. "Ever heard of Buyo?"

Inuyasha raised an eyebrow, the name triggering a vision of her in the nurse's office. "Her cat?"

"That's the one. Any clue to how much that orange ball of fur weighs?"

Inuyasha was thrown by the unexpected question. "Since you called him a 'ball of fur', I'll take a wild guess and say quite a bit."

Sango laughed again. "That's putting it kindly." Lowering her voice, she whispered conspiratorially as if imparting a heavily-guarded secret "Buyo weighs close to 10 kilograms."

Inuyasha's jaw dropped. "And it's still alive?"

"Yep. Now, take another wild guess and tell me from where he gained all that additional weight."

A slow smile broke out on the hanyou's features. "Don't tell me…"

Sango continued to laugh. "Yep."

Inuyasha made a disgusted face. "He actually likes things that have been dead for a couple centuries?" Suddenly, something Kagome had said once resounded in his head. 'But certainly, Inuyasha. I am certain that Buyo's food would work just as well for you. After all, aren't both cats and dogs carnivores? And considering the fact he hasn't died yet, it's safe to assume the food is non-toxic' He shuddered inwardly; had she also been referring to the preserved remains of creatures long dead? He sincerely hoped the girl wasn't quite that cruel… however, considering how unhappy Kagome had been with his comments – not that he could blame her, hell, the chick was an excellent cook – he wouldn't put it past her.

Sango only shrugged. "Well, it was definitely 'special'." She grinned at him. "It's quite rare to see petrified or mummified anything listed among the ingredients of modern cat food. Besides, Buyo will eat anything that moves – doesn't matter if past, present, or future."

Inuyasha grabbed his throat in an expression of absolute distaste. "What did Kagome's grandfather think about the cat eating all his presents?"

Sango continued to grin. "He spent most of her birthdays chasing the cat around, yelling about how youngsters nowadays don't appreciate antiques. At their place, Kagome's birthday usually marks the day jiji-chan exercises the most." Her gaze became reminiscent but never lost their mirth. "He spent the day chasing after the Buyo screaming about how kids nowadays have no respect of the old ways."

"Old ways? Ways as in how kids don't twist themselves into pretzels to follow their elders or ways in how people were raised or ways how women were supposed to act?"

Sango rolled her eyes. She should have seen that last one coming 'Chauvinistic pig!'. "Yes to all three, though you forgot the most predominant – respect for the legends, myth, and supernatural."

Inuyasha snorted. "Well, the old man certainly is a bit senile. He should have gotten her interested in diamonds, instead. Hell knows they take long enough to form… and it's the family business."

Sango pursed her lips. "Well, they say a diamond's a girl's best friend, but that doesn't hold true for Kagome. She was never fond of them."

"Oh?" The hanyou raised an eyebrow – that was a first. "Then what does she like? Emeralds, rubies, gold…"

"None of the above." Sango laughed. "Actually, she is very fond of pearls, though the occasional topaz or platinum makes her pretty happy too. As far as precious stones go, she likes sapphires the best – as long as they are dainty and delicately made. Kagome hates gaudy jewelry; she absolutely loathes them – something about how people don't know how to show love and try to make it up with a big wallet. She once mentioned that if anyone presented her with a rock larger than her eye, she'd label it as granite and call the guy desperate." She looked at Inuyasha slyly. "Why that sudden curiosity? Thinking of buying her something nice?"

The boy's reply surprised her, for he laughed. "Better not."

Sango seemed unconvinced. "No?"

Inuyasha continued to grin. "If I buy the chit a rock, Miroku would feel like he has to match a similar gift for his newest flavor of the month. And considering he doesn't like her all that much already after that acorn incident, I feel it prudent…"

"… not to test his patience by forcing him to pay for jewelry." Sango finished for him with a matching grin.

Inuyasha laughed, and winked at her. "Great minds think alike."

Sango's smile was wry. "I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not." Then she rolled her eyes, pitching her voice as though proclaiming an infallible truth "The distinction between a ningen and the mighty supernatural youkai has just blurred." The last sentence fairly oozed sarcasm.

The words triggered Inuyasha's return to their previous topic. "Speaking of the supernatural, Kagome mentioned a prophecy…"

pPushing her ponytail over her shoulder, she tilted her head, shuffling the two-hundred-and-so pages before her. "So?"

Once again, Inuyasha hesitated. Tugging the sheaf of paper from her hands, he began flipping through them in order to avoid looking at her once more. "She mentioned a prophecy." He repeated.

Sango was nonplussed. "So what? Old legends have tons of prophecies. Kagome was not brought up the traditional Shinto way, but listening to her grandfather must have caused her to remember some of the tales he wove."

Inuyasha continued to avoid looking at her. "There was an unfulfilled prophecy about ages past in one of the legends…"

Sango shrugged, wrestling to extract a page from the stack in the hanyou's hand while he kept a firm grip on the others. "And? Jijii-chan is full of them. He talks about them all the time."

"And the prophecy of the two brothers, the twin blades, and the youngest Takahashi and his mate?" Inuyasha snapped.

Out of the corner of his eye, Inuyasha noticed Sango freezing in digging through her bag. 'Bingo!' He thought. She definitely knew something. However, a second later she continued as though nothing had happened.

"Ah." Sango offered carefully.

"Well, what do you know?" Inuyasha demanded impatiently when it became apparent that she did not feel inclined to reveal more.

Sango chose not to answer.

Inuyasha huffed in annoyance. "Tell me what it said." Sango still ignored him. "Damn it, San, I need to know!" Inuyasha was nearly roaring at her.

The chocolate-haired girl bit her lip, indecision warring in her cinnamon-hued eyes. "Wouldn't it be more appropriate to ask Kagome? She began the story, and it might be better to receive the full legend rather than bits and pieces or a biased version from someone else?"

It was with great difficulty that Inuyasha managed to restrain his temper. "Well, halfway through the bitch clamped her mouth shut as though someone had threatened to rip her tongue out if she uttered another word. Personally, I don't think anything but a threat to do that could have opened her mouth again. And you know me, I'd rather not detach such a delectable appendage from her. It could come in useful…"

Sango was too tensed to be amused or irritated by the hanyou's lecherous mind. "What about researching it?"

Sun-kissed orbs rolled dramatically. "Would I be asking you if I could find it online or something? I must have gone through half-a-dozen manuscripts about ancient relics and there isn't a mention of a prophecy anywhere! Makes one wonder why those old geezers decided to go into history rather than myth… heaven knows they'd make a lot more money that way." Her golden gaze found her, and frustration ripped through him at her continued resolution to not look at him. "Damn it, San, what is so important that you can't tell me?"

"Have you tried other educational sources?" Sango inquired instead, staring at her papers as though they foretold the stock market rates for the next decade.

Inuyasha sighed, running a frustrated hand through his sterling locks. "Haven't found anything, and it's definitely not from the lack of trying. I told you, I have gone over at least a dozen history books and an unknown number of horrifying manuscripts, and not a single one talks about the contents of the prophecy, though two of them mentioned a prediction. You'd think these historians would not leave something that important out. What's the point of mentioning it if they refused to speak of the contents?" Inuyasha cut himself off. "So, tell me what you know. Please, San."

There was a long moment of silence so staggering and heavy that it was suffocating. Sango's cinnamon eyes had become hard and cold, boring into Inuyasha's golden eyes, as though if she stared long and hard enough she could be able to discern and decipher the lurking secrets of his soul. Finally, she sighed. "I had hoped this day would never come." Standing up sharply, she motioned for Inuyasha to follow her.

Curious and somewhat apprehensive, the hanyou followed her. His golden eyes widened when Sango stopped right before the display case, her long fingers digging into tiny niche partially concealed by a large boomerang. A second later, the niche made a giggling sound, before the display case swung aside right in front of the hanyou's startled eyes. The blank wall behind it began to reform, allowing a monitor the size of a notepad to materialize from which a voice issued: "Voice check, please."

Sango opened her mouth and began to sing. The hauntingly beautiful melody rose and fell in harmonious waves, telling of a woman faithfully awaiting her husband to return from the war, of her crushed hope to finally realize that he would not return, her ghost lingering still, crying mournfully for her lost loved one. Though the song was short, but by the time Sango finished, Inuyasha felt the woman's pain as acutely as if it were his own.

"Voice check confirmed." The mechanic voice broke through the spell, and the hanyou shook, irrationally angry at the emotionless tone. "Please verify your identity."

"Sango Susanne Kuwajima, slayer, first class, lieutenant, code pink, 6783-2386-5433-6654-9970-6217-8474-6521." Sango rattled down the thirty-two-digit number as though it was as natural as the tea she drank everyday.

"Thank you. Please proceed." The voice fell silent and Sango stepped forward, drawing an indistinct symbol on the pad. At Inuyasha's curious look, she explained "Fingerprint check and unlocking pressure." Both noticed she had omitted telling him what the symbol had been.

A second later, there was a soft beeping sound and the wall slid apart, followed by a retreating crate of steel, a brick fence, a flaming wall, and finally a purifying barrier. By the time a small entrance was revealed, Inuyasha's mouth was hanging open; even if someone managed to break in, it would be virtually impossible to pass all five sets of defenses without the proper codes. Something extraordinary had to be hidden here. However, Sango stepped confidently in, and called back to him, "Make sure to follow my steps exactly to avoid triggering the defenses."

Inuyasha frowned, his eyes following Sango's sock-clad feet. "And what might those defenses be?"

"Arrows, chains, ropes, laser beams, and the like." He could almost hear the smirk in her voice as she continued nonchalantly. "Just the regular stuff."

"Wouldn't it be safer than for me to stay outside?" He groused sarcastically, irked that she believed he'd be clumsy enough to set off the alarm.

"Why not?" Sango commented, and this time he could definitely hear her amusement. "Provided, of course, you are able to retrace your steps."

Grudgingly, the hanyou conceded that she had a point – everything looked identical, and since he hadn't managed to figure out a pattern yet, there was no choice but to keep up with Sango. It was a better choice than accidentally stepping on the wrong tile and being shot to death. Heaven knew his spirit would never live it down; having survived so much and then being killed in a dark corridor by pre-programmed ningen weapons was downright the most disgraceful way to die. His sharp eyes spied the little holes in the bricks – just large enough for jumbo-sized arrows to pass through – and sharp edges peeping out between the walls. Judging by their distance and arrangement, he had to guess they were the kind used in medieval animal traps in which the prey was held immobile by ropes and then clearly pierced through by a square of spikes coming from opposite directions. He shuddered; it was an extremely painful and messy way to die. And he had no desire to experience it first-hand. Vaguely, he wondered how many other devices were installed.

"How much longer?" He called.

"Patience is a virtue you desperately need to learn." Sango's voice was overly smug. "Anyway, we are here."

Sango had arrived a little circular room, which was dimly lit by an ornate chandelier. Taking a closer look, Inuyasha realized that it wasn't the room that was circular, but rather the bookshelf that lined the walls – filled with dusty volumes, the youngest looking older than his great-grandfather. Sango, however, gingerly slid one – that appeared to the oldest, dustiest one – from the shelves. Using his enhanced eye-sight, he was able to make out the cover image: a pentagon inside a circle, each point interlinked with another in a never ending spiral. The leather of the cover looked fragile and worn, but the symbol's lines were bright and distinct, appearing to glow almost reddish in the low light. Inuyasha took a step forward, reaching for the book. But he jerked his hand back as though yanked the minute his fingertips grazed it – the book was warm, as though it had been lying in the sun for hours.

Sango glanced at him sharply, and there was no surprise on her face. He took it to mean that she had guessed his reaction, before she turned to head back so swiftly around as though she suddenly could not bear to stay in the niche another second.

"Let's go back," she murmured. And for once, Inuyasha followed her without another word. This time, walking back, Inuyasha gave up trying to figure out a pattern; instead his mind was focused on the secrets the book might harbor. The hanyou desperately wanted an answer to his questions, and it seemed that he finally was getting somewhere.

But alas, it appeared that Sango had different ideas.

Once back by the display case, Sango marched – there was no other way to describe the way she moved – to his backpack, and carefully allowed the book to slide among the folders with a reluctance as though giving away her firstborn.

"Hey, I was about to read that!" Inuyasha protested, reaching for his bag.

Sango stopped him with a stern look. "Not now," she told him severely, before a quick smirk slid across her face. "I've given you one what contains one of my family's deepest secrets; the least you can do to repay me is to get started on this infernal thing called a project." She handed him the stack of two-hundred plus pages.

Inuyasha snorted, silently relieved the heavy air had cleared with Sango's last remark. "Remember, this is a partner project. What do you mean, I should get started? You've a part to do, too."

"In that case," she held out her hand "You can spend a couple other sleepless nights wondering what Kagome's been hiding from you. And I'll spend that time figuring out what the professor wants."

Inuyasha grumbled under his breath, irritated that Sango was secure in the knowledge that his curiosity wouldn't allow him hand back that book. "You don't play fair."

Sango simply shrugged. "Nothing in this world is free, you know."

Heaving a long-suffering sigh, Inuyasha finally conceded. Yanking out seven pages hiding inconspicuously in the middle, he held them out to her. "Thank you for wasting finite resources," He offered sarcastically. "Kill the whole forest while you're at it, why don't you?" Waving his hand holding the stack of papers, he continued "These are the only ones you need to complete the project."

Sango did not appear the slightest bit interested in this lecture; instead, her eyes followed Inuyasha's hand, before she snatched it from him. An eyebrow rose in consternation as she quickly skimmed through them. "Is this a joke?"

His answer was a shrug. "How so?"

"Balance sheet, Cash flow statement, Income statement, and Retained Earnings are all we need? With a couple pages of explanations on some of the stuff?"

"This stuff is grouped into assets, liabilities, and equity – please address them by their proper names." The hanyou pretended to cringe at her improper usage.

Sango was not amused. "That's it?" She snapped.

Inuyasha was offended. "You're doubting me?"

"Hell no!" A slow grin spread across Sango's face. "If that's all we need, then I'll take it any day. Anything beats having to rummage through all that."

Inuyasha could only sigh. Was there any point in arguing with her?

Sango, however, was still eyeing him, and it was making him uncomfortable. "Geez, girl, take a picture – it will last longer."

She scared the hell out of him when she didn't rise to the jab, but continued to smile as though she had just discovered the secrets of achieving a higher education – and maybe she had.

"That's it." She announced, pinning him with an authoritative glare. "I'm claiming you as my partner for the rest of the year."

"I wasn't aware I could be claimed" He retorted.

Sango was nonplussed by his less-than-friendly attitude. If putting up with his mouth meant a dozen less hours spent per project, she'd welcome the trade with open arms. "You know what I mean."

Inuyasha suddenly grinned. "Get in line." He told her. "Miroku made me promise I'd do the next project with him since you got to me first this time. " He struck a cocky pose. "Apparently, I'm a hot commodity."

"Miroku?" The girl snorted, her delicate nostrils flaring. "You know you'll end doing the entire project by yourself if you partner with him."

Golden orbs twinkled at her. "True." He grinned. "But think what he'd be doing while I'm getting us a good grade."

Sango cringed at the mental image. She could image only too well what the lecherous monk would be doing in the mean time: dreaming up pranks that would end with both of them getting expelled – if anyone could catch them. Normally, she'd welcome some distractions from the monotony of her mundane school life; except, Inuyasha and Miroku's pranks usually resulted in unwelcome outcomes for the rest of the student body. She vividly remembered that time when – somehow – the two of them had managed to get hold of the water supply designated for refreshing the shrubbery, and exchanged it with oil – greasy, unrefined, metal oil. For those unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity when the faucets had turned on, it meant hours of scrubbing before strands of hair could be separated again. Needless to say, the entire grasslands on and around the school grounds had to be replaced. Or that other time when the two boys had disappeared off hiking for a weekend, and cleared every pond in the fifty mile-radius of leap frogs, only to set them loose during the lunch hour after locking all the exits with a master key Inuyasha had swiped from his father's study … It was like one of the ten plagues had broken out in the cafeteria as people screamed, with a few more dramatic damsels fainting. Or that memorable time when they had placed a dozen dung-bombs in a classroom, forcing everyone into the hallways where the air was so thick with tear-gas that it was nearly impossible to step into it. It had been an unpleasant choice between either option. And of course, the two devils had made sure their excuses and alibi were air-tight in order to avoid coming to school and being linked to the incident. No, having those two together with no supervision and nothing to occupy both their time was a disaster waiting to happen. There was a reason Inuyasha and Miroku had been best friends since kindergarten – it was more than their mutual love for women.

"Give me a fair warning of the next fiasco happening inside the prestigious Shikon University." She growled.

Inuyasha stared up at her with an utmost innocent expression. "Whatever do you mean, Sango-chan?"

"You know exactly what I mean!" She repeated her earlier words. If he called her Sango-chan, it meant that he was either playing the blameless card or he wanted something from her.

The hanyou only chuckled again, his head bowed over the balance sheet, his fingers flying over the keyboard of a laptop he'd removed from his backpack. "I do." He admitted. "But rest assured, I'd prefer to choose my own partners rather than others trying to 'claim' me."

Sango furrowed her brow. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

Inuyasha never looked up from his sheet. He knew Sango would not be pleased with his next answer, and her glares would be not conductive to his concentration. "There are a few people I'd like to pair up with this semester. Your best friend, for instance."

"Kagome-chan?" Sango was surprised, before she suddenly burst out laughing. "Sheesh, Yash, are you a glutton for punishment, or what?"

"Come again?"

Sango continued to grin. "Just about every person in that class wants you for a partner, whether because of your brains or… possible other benefits." She explained. "Yet you choose the one person who has shown an utter lack of interest in anything you have to offer. And may I remind you that some of those indications of 'lack of interest' have proven to be somewhat painful in the past?" She was obviously reminiscing about Kagome's violent tendencies.

Inuyasha could only shrug. "What can I say? I like them feisty."

Shaking her head exasperatedly, she decidedly ended the conversation. "Let's get this done. Both of us still have to get ready for the dance."

"Sure." Was the short answer, and she suddenly found a calculator thrust under her nose. "Calculate the Quick-acid ratio, the current ratio, and all the ratios dealing with inventory and employment."

Sango heaved a sigh. And here she thought she'd gotten out of doing work.

Muttering about arrogant hanyous and traffic jams, Kagome gunned the engine when the light turned green. She was irritated and the extended trip home – rented room, she mentally corrected herself – had not improved her mood. There was a ton of homework she'd neglected in the past couple hectic days, and she definitely was not looking forward to completing the pile. Then there was the dance that was cutting into her already over-flowing schedule, where she'd be playing the besotted mindless chit – at least in the eyes of everyone who did not know her and knew of Inuyasaha's reputation, which in other words, meant the majority of the room – forced in attendance by an arrogant and overbearing hanyou. Add that the confusions of the day and the exam from hell, and she had acquired a major migraine. All in all, it was shaping up to be a crappy Friday.

Turning onto the mostly deserted road that led to the Takahashis' mansion, she tugged off her helmet, fairly certain that she was out of range of any public speed limits and police officers. Stepping onto the gas pedal, she revered in the fierce joy of the wind whipping harshly through her long hair, allowing an unconscious smile. The soft purr of the motor under her seat and the smooth motion was exhilarating. She'd always loved how the speed made her feel free, leaving behind all her worries and confusions.

However, as she rounded the bend for the house to come into view, a question filled her that even the wind could not banish. Kagura had mentioned that none of the reporters knew of this place, but how was that possible? These noisy journalists were notoriously good at digging up information normally preferred to be private. 'Mud-diggers' were not only proficient at exposing infamous personal lives of little dirty secrets, but also renowned of uncovering many hidden facts. She'd bet the whole of her bank account that there was something special about that mansion that kept the reporters away. Not that she could imagine what that would be. There had to be a repellent force surrounding it since she hadn't seen any attacking youkais that sent all uninvited guests scurrying for cover. And even if the mansion entailed these protections, she should have been surprised that none of these 'guests' hounded Inuyasha at Shikon University. There was no way he could just casually serve press members for lunch without any objection. Also, with the fame and money came a public image he'd have to uphold. She doubted he had the ability to act as he pleased and yell and storm at people holding microphones under his nose. Having personally experienced Inuaysha's temper, she doubted he'd handle it well. Aside from reporters, the half of Shikon Unviersity's population had to be dying to know where he lived. A shudder coursed through her. Stalkers were sometimes comical, but most of the time they were downright scary. And she had to desire to get personally close and intimate with one, whether she was the object of obsession or not. She returned to her previous thoughts. Even if Inuyasha's hanyou reflexes were good at avoiding unwanted admirers, there should still have been a horde of people waiting at his car every day just to discover where he lived. Yet she'd had not encountered any unwelcome presences near his car – as a matter of act, people avoided parking next to him!

Her brow furrowed as she neared the gates opening the tall mansion. Judging from how the sheer amount of people who reported even the tiniest bit of gossip, she was silently grateful that whatever stopped the story from spreading in relation to herself. Had there been no protection, she'd be sure that her face would have been plastered across every newspaper's front page as the mysterious girl who had moved in with Inuyasha. She internally cringed at the field day the media would have had.

Kagome sighed, determined to focus her mind on her studies rather than the mysteries surrounding the mansion as the gates creaked open without any noticeable reasons. Shrugging, she paid it little attention, guessing that the security Inuaysha had mentioned had most likely detected her presence and allowed her entry. Making a sharp one-eighty that caused the wheels to screech, she brought the cycle to stop and leaped gracefully off. Kagome shook out her hair, heaved the backpack strapped to the cycle from the backseat onto her shoulder, and moved to push her motorcycle into the monstrous garage. Once having stored her precious ride in its designated space, she stepped up to the front door, an eyebrow rising in surprise as she noticed a small patch of grass right by the wall curving to the wide backyard appearing to be scorched, dry and black. Pursing her lips, she made a note to tip the Takahashis about the little spot in the otherwise immaculate lawn. Or maybe she should just talk to the gardeners. However, the minute she stepped into the foyer, she was greeted by a sight that drove everything from her mind.

Kagura stood there, apparently awaiting someone's arrival, dressed in a long dark dress with a dark pink flowery print. On anybody else, it would have looked tacky and pretentious, but on the wind youkai it looked like it belonged on a runway. Next to her, Jaken was pushing a cart higher than itself which was heavily laden in what appeared to an entire cosmetic store and different swashes of colored silks and an entire array of beads, threads, and needles.

"There you are, Kagome." Kagura greeted without a preamble, apparently pleased to see her. "I'm been waiting for you."

Kagome eyed the cart apprehensively. "Whatever for, Kagura-sama?" She inquired cautiously.

The wind youkai purposefully strode forward, grabbing the younger girl's hand in a gentle but firm grip. "We need to get to you ready for tonight." She explained, towing Kagome toward the elevator with Jaken fighting to keep up.

'Oh, no! No, no, no… there is no I am putting an effort into looking like a pet.' Kagome panicked – the dancing and public event was bad enough, but to actually be worked on like a Kagome Barbie as a pretty accommodation to Inuyasha's suit? Oh hell no! She wanted her own taste in her get-up – as she mockingly called it in her head – but doubted Kagura would allow any feathers or shells on her person. "But, Kagura-sama, I have homework…" Kagome protested half-heartedly, steadying her footing as the elevator lurched, and cursed whoever had alerted Kagura to the dance before wondering why the youkai bothered.

The older woman waved her partially-formed objections airily away. "Nonsense. You have the whole weekend for that. This is clearly much more important. It will be first time you'll be attending a public event officially as Inuyasha's date!"

It was with great difficulty that Kagome stopped herself from snorting. "I believe that is a title that every pretty girl has claimed. It is common knowledge he never goes with the same girl twice." She flushed darkly as she realized how that sounded. "Meaning no disrespect to the family, Kagura-sama…"

Kagura laughed, charmed by Kagome's frank way. "None taken, dear. You only spoke the truth." She turned to Kagome, a fierce glint in her eyes. "However, no one will ever forget you after I'm through. You'll be the belle of the ball tonight!"

Stopping before the rose door, Kagome attempted one more time to protest, but Kagura stopped her with a stern glare. "Kagome-chan, how you are dressed tonight will affect the family and Inuyasha. You wouldn't want Izayoi and Inutaisho to be placed under public scrutiny because of you, would you?"

It seemed Kagura had realized that she was sucker for guilt trips. Sighing dramatically, she opened the door, surprised when Kagura ordered Jaken in. Pursing her lips, the wind youkai glanced around, before pinning Kagome with an authoritative look. "Your dress?" she demanded.

Dragging her feet to delay the inevitable, Kagome moved like a snail, but quickly hastened her pace as Kagura began tapping her feet. Sliding open the closet door, she tentatively pulled out the dress still in its white and pristine garment bag. Wordlessly, she held it out to Kagura, suddenly anxious how the pretty dress would look under the eyes of an expert. What if she disappointed Kagura with her taste in clothes? Anxiously, she awaited the youkai's judgment.

With precise movements, Kagura quickly unfastened the wrapping, and slipped out the dress. Giving it a quick once-over, she eyed the objects on the cart, and then nodded hesistantly. "I guess it'll have to do – it might be pretty with some modifications." She glanced up. "Now, I'll work on this dress, and you go take your bath. Be out in no more that an hour!"

Kagome could only hang her head in defeat as Kagura energetically pushed her toward the bath, handing her a bottles upon bottles of cleansing items, all unscented of course.

Kagura smirked as the door finally closed, her nimble fingers already reaching for tread and fabric. Oh, there was no way Inuyasha was going to even see another woman tonight with Kagome besides him!

Finally finished! I feel like I've been run over by a truck. Anyway, next chapter will the long-awaited ball and Kouga will appear!

Note 1: There were numerous references referring to Thursday night when they spent the night together. Thus the lack of scent is only comparing those two nights – it does not mean that neither slept the nights before Thursday.

Note 2: Sorry I was away so long, but I had to have surgery for both eyes, so there was a long time when writing was high on my prohibition list.

Note 3: Sango's character may seem paradoxical at places, but that's because she realized Inuyasha's temperament may be volatile. Don't people act differently with different people? It doesn't mean it's 'them' as less, it just means it's another side of them.

Note 3: A whopping 16,000+ words on the story along, and a shocking 21,400 words including the review responses and notes. Hope it was worth the wait.

See the "Review" button down there? Please click it and make me happy, and I'll try to write faster. By the way, does everyone prefer longer updates and longer chapters, or shorter breaks in-between and shorter updates?