Wow…this took such a long time to post, considering it was already written by the time I posted the first chapter. Go figure.

THANK YOU REVIEWING PEOPLE! You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Annoying Little Twit: Thanks for the compliment, and yes. Yes, I feel very spechial indeed.

agapeNuria: Err, well, here it is… Hurrah…!

Amysteriouswhisper: You do! Wow, that's a compliment in itself, considering how much crap I have a tendency to send you…

Sinor: YAY! We should ALL own Psycho Washing Machines of Doom. It would make the world a better place. How did it eat Kurama? …The world may never know. Heaven knows I don't.

BratCat: THANKIE! …And it is kept-ed.

Disclaimer: …Look. It'll happen the same day as the apocalypse, okay? So just look for that.

Chapter Two: Nice to Meet You?

Kagome yawned and settled herself down on the couch. If nothing else, the day had been…interesting. "Well, Yusuke, I always knew you were a freak, but did you need to take it to the next level?" Kagome whispered quietly, before mentally whacking herself in the head.

She didn't mean to be cruel to Yusuke, but it wasn't easy having an alcoholic for an aunt and a juvenile delinquent for a cousin. At least that whole bizarre introduction was over.

Washing Machine Boy had refused Yusuke's assistance and soon left after their meeting, dragging the boy who was sleeping on the couch out with him. Sign Girl (if Kagome recalled correctly her name was Botan) was still asleep leaning against the couch. In fact, that was the very couch that Kagome herself was sleeping on at the moment. Kagome prayed that she wasn't going to be murdered in the middle of the night. Inuyasha was sleeping in with Yusuke, and Kagome half wanted him to strangle her cousin some time during the evening. However, she loved Yusuke enough not to fully wish that fate upon him.

"Well, this is going to be interesting," Kagome said to herself as she began to drift off. "Maybe even as interesting as the feudal era…"

"RISE AND SHINE, PEOPLE!" shouted a cheerful voice.

Kagome groaned and snuggled deeper into her pillow. "Too early," she mumbled.

"C'mon, up and at 'em," the same cheerful voice said, this time almost in her ear. "It's a school day, you know!"

Kagome shot up in alarm. "You mean I'm late!"

"Hardly," Yusuke mumbled sleepily, shuffling past her in pajamas and slippers, a cup of coffee in his hand. "It's only six." He glared at the owner of the cheerful voice. "Botan, you're insane."

"No," corrected Botan, "I'm punctual. Yusuke, you may go to this school every day, but the rest of us have preparation to worry about, you know!"

Kagome stared blankly. Was this really the same tired wrathful girl from the night before? Yusuke noticed his cousin's incredulous expression.

"What you saw last night was Botan pushed to the limit. This is her real personality. A freakishly energetic airhead."

"Yusuke…you're so mean!"

Kagome just stared a bit longer. Botan had completely changed. Her purple eyes shone as though it were the best day of her life. Amazingly enough, she was beyond ready and in her school uniform.

"Is she always this…uh…upbeat?" she whispered doubtfully to Yusuke.

"You have no idea," her cousin murmured back. Kagome took that as a yes and reluctantly dragged herself out of bed.

"Ohayo Kagome," slurred Inuyasha sleepily, wandering in from the kitchen with his own cup of coffee. Much to her surprise, he was already dressed in his school uniform. Even more surprisingly, he looked GOOD in it. Somehow she figured he'd look awkward, but in his human form it looked like he did this every morning. Or maybe she just needed more sleep.

"So, this is your first day, too, Botan-san?" Kagome asked as the trio headed in the direction of the school. Yusuke had decided to get a little more sleep, despite Botan's early wakeup call. The three of them, however, had to get everything sorted out for their first day there.

"Hai, Kagome-chan," Botan replied. She seemed to be looking for someone. "Ah, Kurama, where are you?" she hissed under her breath.

Inuyasha's head snapped up. "Who's Kurama?"

Botan went wide-eyed. "Kurama? Who's Kurama? I didn't hear anyone say Kurama!" She laughed a little too loudly.

Inuyasha looked at her strangely. "Well, if you didn't say Kurama, what name DID you say?"

"Huh? Oh! Shuichi! I said Shuichi! You met him yesterday."

"Oh yeah, the idiot that fell into the washer risheen."

"Washing machine," Kagome corrected in a furious whisper.


"Ohayo, minna-san," came a quiet voice from behind her.

Botan beamed. "Hi, K-Shuichi-kun!"

Inuyasha just mumbled something unintelligible and most likely rude. Kagome shot him a glare before turning to welcome the newcomer. And then her mouth just dropped.

Kagome hadn't thought much of Shuichi last night, having been exhausted, bummed about having to stay with Yusuke, and generally irritable. Shuichi hadn't exactly been at his prime either, soaked to the bone and covered in soapsuds. But now that she really looked at him…he was GORGEOUS. Long, silky red hair that would have been the envy of any magazine model, large emerald eyes full of compassion, soft smile, slim tall form--he was the ideal man. Kagome couldn't believe it. Was this guy for real?

"Uh, h-hi," she said awkwardly, still openly gaping at him. "I'm, uh, I'm…" For some reason, her name seemed to escape her at the moment.

"Yusuke's cousin Kagome, am I correct?" Shuichi supplied politely.

"Yeah, that's the one!" she agreed, although if he'd said she was the Grim Reaper she probably still would have said yes. Botan looked back and forth between the two and giggled. Inuyasha was practically green with envy, although Kagome was too absorbed in staring at Shuichi to notice.

"I'm new to this school as well," Kagome's new dream boy was saying. He turned to Botan. "I think it would be better if you didn't lead…"

"Don't be ridiculous, I know exactly where I'm going!" Botan protested.

Shuichi gave her a warning glance. "I seem to recall the Dark Tournament…"

Inuyasha looked suspicious, Kagome drooled, and Botan drooped in defeat. "Oh, yeah, that…okay, so I'm directionally challenged! Lead the way, K-Shuichi!"

"You're all in the same grade, am I correct?" the guidance counselor asked, shuffling through her papers pensively. When they all nodded, she gave a sigh of relief. "Well, that makes my job a lot easier. Let's see…Anshi, Hanyou, Higurashi, and Minamino. Here you go." She gave each of the teens their schedule.

Kagome peered apprehensively at her schedule. She didn't need to look at Inuyasha's; she'd ensured beforehand that their school days would be identical, just in case. However, she glanced over at the silent Shuichi. "Ano, Minamino-san, what room are you in?"

"Room 360," he replied.

Botan clapped her hands together. "Sugoi! So am I!"

Kagome's heart sank. She was in room 325. "Can't win 'em all," she sighed dejectedly to herself. Once again, she failed to notice Inuyasha's incessant twitching.

"Well, that wasn't so bad, now was it?" Kagome said to Inuyasha cheerfully.

He'd been remarkably well behaved during the school day, sitting silently in the back. There had only been one incident, which was with the history teacher, since they were learning about (ironically enough) the feudal era. Kagome had been very tempted to 'sit' him, but that probably would have just made matters worse. Fortunately, Inuyasha remembered his lack of claws halfway through the argument, so no blood was shed.

"Hah! Speak for yourself," Inuyasha snapped. "THIS is the pointless drivel you listen to every day? Why don't you just stay with us all the time and miss this crap instead!"

"I can't!" Kagome protested. "My grades-"

"Screw grades! They're just a bunch of numbers!"

"Yeah, a bunch of numbers that DECIDE MY FUTURE!"

"Your entire life is based on a few little scribbles on a piece of paper? Man, what is WRONG with you people?"

"Nothing that you'd understand," Kagome muttered. The two stood in stony silence the rest of the time they waited for Yusuke.

"Well, you two look like you had a WONDERFUL time at school today," Yusuke commented, walking up to the bickering pair. They both gave him a flat, evil glare. He put his hands up in defense. "Y'know, there IS a good reason I skip so often."

"You're still skipping!" Kagome yelled.

Yusuke moaned and covered his ears. "Not today, since I knew you'd throw a fit, but yeah, usually I skip once and a while. Well, actually a lot, but hey, who really needs school. And isn't that why you got kicked out your last one? Not intelligent enough my ass. You're smart, you just missed so many freaking days of school that you ended up failing."

"Don't compare me to you!" Kagome screamed. "I had a GOOD reason to be out of school so much!"

Yusuke arched an eyebrow. "And that reason would be…?"

Kagome bit her lip. She didn't know how to explain this one. "None of your business," she muttered.

Blatantly ignoring her cousin's smug grin, Kagome began stalking off in the direction of the Urameshi household just as Botan showed up. The blue-haired girl fell into step beside her.

"Something wrong, Kagome-chan?"

"Why do you care?" Kagome snapped. "You've only known me for a day."

"Yeah, but friends will be friends!"

Kagome blinked. "Well, you're awfully trusting now aren't you…?"

"That's me!" Botan giggled happily. "Now, what's your problem?"

Kagome sighed. "Evil psycho cousin of doom is at it again already."

Botan nodded in understanding. "That's Yusuke for you," she agreed. "Can't get along with anyone."

"How long have you known him for, anyway?" Kagome asked.

Botan shrugged. "Oh, only a few years' time. But we've been through a lot together."

Kagome's ears perked up at this statement. "You aren't trying to replace Keiko, now are you?" she asked suspiciously.

Botan's eyes widened in sheer horror. "Never! Yusuke and Keiko are MADE for each other! Any interference would be an absolute CRIME!"

Kagome sweatdropped heavily as the girl continued to rant on their way home. Inuyasha and Yusuke had long been forgotten and left behind. (Oh, that's just the kiss of death.)

"…And you wouldn't BELIEVE what lengths they'd go through for one another! I mean, look at that time with Suzaku-"

Kagome cocked her head to the side. "Suzaku?"

Botan immediately clamped her mouth shut. "Um…just an evil crime lord. Uh, you see, Yusuke did a few years of community service as a detective's assistant. That's where I met him, in fact. And…uh…yeah, that's it."

"Okay then," Kagome said slowly. She had a feeling that there was something the other girl wasn't telling her (especially since that story was full of more holes than Swiss cheese), but whatever it was, it was Botan's business, not hers.

"Anyway," Botan continued, obviously trying to change the subject. "Anyone special in your life? A crush, perhaps?"

Kagome opened her mouth to say that it was too early in their friendship to be gossiping about such things when a certain green-eyed redhead flashed into her mind. She blushed darkly. "Um…well…"

Botan grinned. "And the infamous Minamino Shuichi nabs another one!"

Kagome's blush deepened. She couldn't help it. After all, Shuichi DID seem like the ideal guy. Smart, drop-dead gorgeous, polite, compassionate, and most importantly of all… With a guy like Shuichi there wouldn't be any worrying about evil demons attacking her in the middle of the night. With a guy like Shuichi she could go to the movies and not have to worry about that little charm or baseball cap falling off and revealing his hanyou nature to the entire world. With a guy like Shuichi she'd never be known as 'that stupid girl' or 'shard detector'. With a guy like Shuichi she didn't have to worry about him loving someone who looked just like her…

Kagome snapped out of it. Okay, the stress of the feudal era was finally getting to her. Suddenly she realized what Botan had said.

"What do you mean, 'nabs another one'?"

Botan sighed. "You wouldn't believe how many girls were after him at his old school. It was at least half the populace! He's still unhappily single, though. Eh, oh well. Someone will net him someday, poor guy."

"He's…single?" Kagome repeated. So there was hope after all! Botan didn't really seem to like him that way, so the way was free for her! Of course, if he was STILL single, that must mean that he'd rejected every other girl up until now. Why should she be different? No! She must not think like that! She was special! She was unique! She was…your average dud. Kagome deflated her swelled ego. So much for that approach.

"You know," Botan cautioned, "it's not really a good idea to go after Mr. Unattainable. Isn't there anyone else you like?" She gave a sly feline smile. "That Inuyasha seemed pretty jealous at how much you were staring at Shuichi-kun." Kagome ceased for a moment in her obsessing as her heart gave a pang.

Inuyasha…the first love of her life and the most indescribable jerk she had ever met. But nevertheless…she still loved him. He was a creep at times, sure, and Kikyou seemed to be his number one priority, but he could be so sweet, so caring. He didn't even seem to realize how much compassion he really had. Or perhaps, she reflected, he simply didn't want anyone else to recognize his weakness. This thing with Shuichi was sudden and unexpected and so far merely physical. After all, she'd just met the guy this morning, and she'd barely talked to him at all. And she and Inuyasha had been through Hell and back together. She couldn't just forsake him like that. But still…Kikyou…

Botan winced guiltily at the other girl. "I'm sorry…did I bring up something painful?"

Kagome looked up and forced a smile. "It's nothing. Oh look, we're here!"

Botan looked startled as she turned and found she was facing the front door of Yusuke's house. She recovered herself quickly, though, and fiddled around with the key for a moment before pushing open the door. Kagome rolled her eyes and tried not to gag as the smell of old sake, despite the amount of cleaning done by Botan and the others the day before, inevitably wafted through the doorway.

"Oh, joy. Home sweet home."

Yusuke rolled his eyes. "'None of your business,'" he mimicked in a high, mocking falsetto. "Tch, she's my cousin, you'd think she'd tell me a little something for once."

"Stupid, lazy, self-absorbed bitch," Inuyasha mumbled mutinously beside him.

"If you're talking about Kagome, I agree wholeheartedly," Yusuke told the dour boy.

Inuyasha looked up at him with newfound respect. "How long have you known her, anyway?"

Yusuke snorted. "Are you JOKING? My entire freaking life! She's a control freak, she takes advantage of me, she guns down every idea that I've ever had, and she yells at me for being myself. I mean, why doesn't she just take a shotgun and shoot me herself, huh!"

Inuyasha raised an eyebrow. "To think Kagome can be on par with Sesshoumaru…" he murmured thoughtfully.


"My brother," Inuyasha elaborated with a weary sigh. "Stuck-up jerk is out to kill me, I swear."

"Yeah, well, everyone thinks that about their siblings," Yusuke said wisely.

Inuyasha's eye twitched. "No, seriously. He's out to kill me."

Yusuke sweatdropped heavily. "Okay…" he said slowly. "You're not like, on meds or anything, are you?"

Inuyasha blinked. "Meds?" He noticed the way Yusuke was staring at him. "Are you suggesting that I have some kind of mental disorder!" he shouted angrily.

"Of course not!" Yusuke replied hastily, but he became a great deal more open toward the other boy after that little exchange.

"Kagi and me are like oil and water," Yusuke was saying. "You can shove us together as much as you want, but we're never going to mix." Both boys paused for a moment.

"Y'know, if taken out of context, that could actually sound kind of…"

"Wrong?" Yusuke supplied.

"Sick," Inuyasha agreed.

Yusuke leaned against the wall and sighed. "Kagome and Botan are waiting at home, so…let's not go there."

Inuyasha gave him a sidelong glance. "What are you suggesting?"

Yusuke grinned. "To the arcade!" he announced dramatically.

"The what?"

The gel-haired teen shook his head in sorrow. "Inu, Inu, Inu, you really ARE a sheltered freak, aren't you?"

"Temee--" Inuyasha began, but Yusuke was already dragging him away.

"NOOOOOOOOOOO! Kenshin-kun, watch out!" wailed both girls simultaneously.

Kagome hugged a pillow to her chest. "I can't take the suspense!"

Botan was staring, wide-eyed, at the screen. "C'mon, Himura! Use that Hiten mitsurugi-ryu!" she shouted. The pair gave a groan of disappointment as it cut to a commercial break.

Kagome stretched. "Where did Inuyasha and Yusuke-baka go? They've been gone for over an hour." Botan just shrugged, fiddling around with her hair.

"Hey, I'm gonna get a drink," Kagome announced. "Want one?"

Botan shook her head absently. "Nah, I'm good."

The black-haired teen headed toward the kitchen.

"Jeez, Yusuke, don't you ever throw anything out?" Kagome mumbled, rummaging around in the refrigerator. "Can't even find a simple soda in here." She finally found a grape one. "Well, that took an eternity."

She slammed the door shut. "AAAAAH! Where the hell did you come from!" she screamed, pointing a shaking finger at the boy in black. He was a little on the short side, with crimson eyes and spiky black hair with a white starburst. And he had mysteriously ended up in Yusuke's kitchen.

The boy just gave her an icy glare. They stood there for a full minute, one petrified and the other deadpan. Then he held out a folded square of paper.

"Give this to Botan," he said simply.

Kagome took the letter and stared at it. The front was blank. "Okay, but who exactly are you?" she asked, looking back up. The kitchen was empty. Kagome sweatdropped. "Okay…I'm officially creeped out." She went back out into the living room very quickly.

Botan looked up at her curiously. "Are you okay? I thought I heard you scream, but it's kind of hard to hear over the fighting in Rurouni Kenshin."

"It's back on! What did I miss!" Kagome exclaimed, then remembered the creepy kid in black. "Um…"

She held out the letter.

Botan stared. "What's this?"

"I dunno. I was in the kitchen and this really scary guy in a black cloak popped up from out of nowhere--"

"Oh, that's just Hiei," Botan interrupted. "Don't worry, he's always like that."

"Is he now?" Kagome said squeakily. Just what she needed. Sure, she left the creepy characters of the feudal era behind, but OF COURSE Yusuke had friends of his own that would make her feel right at home.

Botan unfolded the letter and read through it quickly, then stuffed it in her bag and went back to watching Kenshin. Kagome decided not to pry. Whatever Scary-Lurking-Guy had to say was his own business. Well, at least the stay wasn't going to be BORING. She just prayed that Yusuke didn't force Inuyasha into doing anything stupid, wherever they were.

"Oh, what do you do with a drunken sailor!" Yusuke and Inuyasha sang together, along with half the bar. However, they were the only two doing a staggering dance on the table. Everyone else was safely on the ground, clapping along to the beat. Yusuke and Inuyasha Do-Si-Do'ed before Inuyasha tripped over a conveniently placed bottle and vanished into the crowd. Yusuke just grinned sloppily. This was the best.

After Yusuke had gotten over the shock of Inuyasha's ignorance toward video games, the pair had headed to the arcade, where Yusuke had promptly fixed that problem. In fact, it was almost rather scary how quickly the older boy had gotten hooked. It had been surprisingly easy for Yusuke to get along with Inuyasha. In fact, he reminded him somehow of Hiei…only more temperamental and less withdrawn. Well, that and the fact that he wasn't quite as paranoid delusional and didn't carry around a katana to hack people into tiny bits with. And he wasn't a freaky half-and-half youkai. And the fact that Yusuke had never been able to drag Hiei out and get him dead wasted. But other than that…

A portly man with balding black hair and a toothless grin raised his glass. "Another round on the house!" he announced with a hefty slur. The bar echoed with happy and clearly drunk cheers.

Angry sparks danced around in Kagome's chocolate brown eyes. "DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU!" she screamed. Both Inuyasha and Yusuke cringed.

"Ow…" Yusuke moaned. "Kagome…hangover…pain…"


Botan's cerulean head popped up from the couch. "Oh. So you're back. Took you long enough," she yawned. "What is it, 11 at night?"

Kagome continued fuming. "Try 4 in the morning," she informed her cerulean-haired friend.

"WHAAA? YUSUKE, WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS!" Botan screeched.

"Make it stop," Inuyasha whimpered. Botan and Kagome exchanged a glance.

"You two get to fight over the couch tonight," Kagome announced, grabbing Botan's arm and dragging her into Yusuke's bedroom.

Inuyasha shot Yusuke a death glare. "Okay, so the bar fight was cool, but I'm still gonna kill you once my head stops feeling like it's being crushed by a rampaging oni."

"Suuuure, whatever," Yusuke muttered, dragging himself to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

I promised myself I wouldn't do it, but I did. I fell victim to the vaguely crack cross-pairing that is Kurama/Kagome. Oh, the shame.

Okay, that's something of a lie. I actually began this a few years (yes, YEARS) ago, when the pairing didn't really exist. But still, it's the principle. Whatever. I'll stop ranting now. Uh, until next time…or something…geez, I never know how to end these things…