SM: So I suppose that I should prove that I'm alive and well, twitching at least, every once in a while. Thus, here I am doing something which I promised myself I wouldn't. Starting another fic. Here, I pray that it's short so I can finish it, get it out of my system, and update other things. Unfortunately I've been bitten by a writing bug that doesn't want to stick to any particular story...or even theme. Bleh

Summary: (AU) SessKag. Summertime is no time to lose one's wallet, but for Kagome, it leads to more than chance meetings and strange jobs in her little town. Becoming a member of the exclusive summertime resort also wasn't in the picture. And she never thought that she'd get her wallet back in such strange circumstances.

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Beach Mate

Chapter One

Kagome padded quickly after her friends, her suitcase rolling safely beside her. She knew this because the left wheel was a bit squeaky, and she comforted herself with that rhythmic squeak. Whenever the wheel stopped squeaking, then she had a problem.

She hurried along, her ticket, wallet, and passport clutched in one hand, while her other grasped the handle of her suitcase. Her friends were way ahead of her. She pushed her glasses up her nose. They were running late for their flight, and she had been slow getting through customs. But hey, it wasn't her fault that her examiner didn't know how to open a stuck zipper she mused as she pushed her glasses up her nose.

Her steps quickened as she began to lose sight of her friends in the ever thickening crowd of the airport. Damn…why did she have to have slept in late today of all days? But it seemed odd. She distinctly remembered setting her alarm clock the previous night. But it never went off… Maybe she turned it off without fully waking up and went back to sleep? It was possible.

Well, now was not the time. Her friends were way ahead of her now. She pulled her bag in closer and sprinted after them. Not the best idea she quickly realized, as she slammed into another body. Her stuff scattered to the floor, her glasses clattering beside them.

"Omigosh! I'm so sorry!" Kagome stood quickly, giving a low, but hasty, bow. "I'm really in a hurry and late for my flight. I hope you're alright. My deepest apologies. Sorry sir!" She called. She stooped down, quickly recollecting her fallen articles before dashing off again, heedless of the man she had just run down. She ran, replacing the glasses on her nose as she puttered forward.

The man stood slowly, brushing himself off and bending to pick up his wallet. "Strange girl." He murmured, golden eyes following her hasty beeline through the crowd.

Kagome made it to the gate to see Inuyasha on the other side, urging her to hurry along. Everyone else had boarded the plane already. She gave a breathless nod, walking up to the attendant. She handed over her ticket and passport. The ticket cleared no problem, but the attendant gave a slight frown at her passport. "Miss?" The attendant asked, holding up Kagome's passport.

Her eyes widened. What the hell? Huge goofy glasses had been drawn onto her image in permanent ink. That wouldn't be too much of a problem, but the glasses had been shaded in, effectively cutting out half her face. That wouldn't be accepted! Her face fell. She was going to kill her brother for this. Only her brother would have done such a thing to her.

"It's not that big of a problem, miss." The attendant said politely. "Do you have other forms of identification? Driver's license?"

Kagome brightened. "Yeah!" Her wallet was already in hand. She opened it to pull out her drivers license only to find a stranger's face staring back at her. Complex kanji decorated where her name should have been, and a face she'd never seen before had replaced her own. What? She flipped through the wallet. Credit cards, business cards, and a wad of money that wasn't hers filled the spaces that should have held her phone numbers, boba cards, and the pittance she called her allowance. Oh god, this wasn't her wallet. She must have switched wallets with the guy she knocked over!

She paled, shaking her head sadly at her bewildered friend. "Sorry Inuyasha,"

"What? You lost your license!" He stared incredulous at her. His head swung back toward the plane as they announced the last boarding call. "Kagomeeeee…" He whined, stamping a foot. "Come on! Give 'em your school ID, a library card, jeez, even one of those stupid sticky pics you make me pay three bucks for in those booths will do!"

"Umm…" Kagome shifted, looking down at the open wallet in her hands. She would have gladly handed over any of those items…if she had them. Unfortunately, they were all stowed away in her wallet, the one she was currently not in possession of… Man, she hoped that the other man wouldn't be too angry with her when he discovered the wallet he was holding wasn't his.

What should she do? She needed to return this wallet. Why oh why did he buy the same cheap black wallet that she did, and then stuff it full of expensive stuff? She wanted to find that man right away and give him back his wallet, but the trip! They had been planning it for months. She had been saving for weeks! She clenched her eyes shut and turned to face her friend. "I'm really sorry, Inuyasha. It looks like I can't go. Just go on and have a good time without me." She said smiling, the slight sad note in her voice betraying her true emotion. She really had wanted to go…

Inuyasha gaped like a landed fish. "WHAT?"

The attendant gave her a pitying look. Kagome seemed to be an honest girl, and obviously the victim of a cruel prank.

"It's against regulations…" She began quietly, motioning with one hand. Kagome quickly understood that she meant that the attendant would turn a blind eye if Kagome boarded. But Kagome shook her head, clutching the wallet to her chest. She had to return the wallet and get hers back. She needed the contents of her wallet more than she wanted to go on the trip. They were going to fly to some of the Southernmost islets of Japan to play on beaches and climb mountains. She had been looking forward to it so much...

"Sorry Yasha…" She said sadly.

The attendant nodded. "Alright miss. Sorry about that. Perhaps next time." Then she turned and placed a hand on Inuyasha's shoulder. "Sir, if you'll come this way. It's time to board the plane."

Inuyasha's body turned unresistingly, but he kept his gaze focused on Kagome. Confused and slightly hurt, he mouthed 'why?'

Kagome could only offer him a small shrug, her shoulders hunching in guilt. She stood at the gate until the plane had taken off and was lost to her sight. She sighed, bowing her head. Well, this turned out to be the start of a rather crappy summer. Well, might as well see if she could get her wallet.

She walked to the Lost and Found and asked if a wallet identical to the one she held had been reported or turned in at all. There had not been. She frowned, figuring the man to have either left the airport already, or for him to be in a place she could not reach for it had been sometime before since they had swapped wallets. Well, either way, it did not seem that the other man realized that he had the wrong wallet for she had not heard any reports about the missing wallet. She assumed that a rich person like that would want their belongings returned right away; especially since the wallet contained cards for some very costly expense accounts.

Next tactic. She flipped open the wallet and looked at the identification. Shirou Sesshoumaru. Hm…that name rang a bell with her, but she couldn't place it. Shrugging she found a business card for the owner of the wallet and looked up the contact numbers, which there were several. She pulled out her cellphone and began dialing. Twenty minutes later, she snapped her phone shut with an exasperated sigh. Each and every number had some haughty secretary on the line, dutifully informing her that 'Shirou-san' was away on vacation and could not to disturbed.

Whatever.

She was tired, annoyed, and exhausted. Time to go home and raise hell.

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Kagome slammed the door behind her. She knew her brother was in the next room. She could feel his smirk radiating from him. She marched in, dropping her bags noisily along the way.

Ah, there he lay in the living room, sprawled on his stomach on the couch, clad in shorts and a tee. Hair tied back, book in hand, smiling so innocently. Grrrr…the monster.

But instead of running over there and trying to peel that smirk of his face with her bare hands as she oh-so-really wanted to, she restrained herself. She folded her hands behind her back and smiled sweetly. "Hello onii-chan." She greeted.

"Oh? Back so soon already?" The devil's smirk was inlaid in that voice.

Kagome nodded. "Yup. It seemed there was a problem with my passport." She answered sweetly.

Her brother's eyes did not stray from the book in his hand. "Really? And what would that be?" Was the innocent reply.

"That some jerk decided to be an idiot!" Kagome screamed and started slapping at her brother's head with her passport.

"Gaaah!" The book went flying as the hapless man tried to cover his head.

"Why-did-you-do-that-to-me!" She demanded, punctuating each word with another smack to the head.

"Hey!" Grabbing a hold of his sister's arm, he managed to wrench the passport away and fling it across the room. "C'mon Kagome, it was just a joke." He said grinning.

Kagome glowered at him. "Well, you can stuff it. You're the unfunniest man I know, Naraku!" She shouted before twisting from his grip and running up the stairs. She ran to her room and slammed the door behind her. "Jerk!" She yelled.

"But at least it kept you here for the summer, with me." Naraku murmured to himself.

-:- -:- -:-

Kagome allowed herself a scream of frustration into her pillow. She didn't get him, not at all! Sometimes, Naraku was so kind to her, and at other times he became the devil himself, the older brother from hell.

Granted that they were not related by blood, but rather they had been placed together at the orphanage due to their rather close ages. As time passed, all the way into entering adulthood, it seemed as if no one wanted to adopt the two children with strangely colored eyes. It kind of hurt to realize that they were unwanted children, but at least they had each other.

But as much as she loved him, she wondered at times, why he felt it necessary to torment her the way he did. He knew how much the trip had meant to Kagome. She didn't exactly have a lot of money, and she worked hard for her earnings. Her other friends could afford the trip much easier than she could, so there would be other trips for them.

For Kagome, she had taken off her entire summer to go a trip with close friends and forget about her troubles at home. It was selfish of her, but unlike her, Naraku had a much simpler time earning money. He was one of those people who could afford to go out often. So she hadn't felt too bad about leaving him behind as he often left without her. Although, to be fair, he had always asked if she wanted to come along, and each time she had declined due to school or work.

Still, it wouldn't be until next year until she could go on such a trip again, and even then, she wasn't sure she would go. The summer held a lot of job opportunities, a good chance to make some relatively easy money.

Kagome sighed and weighed her options. Might as well not dawdle away her summer. She decided that tomorrow she would go out and look for a job. After all, whenever Inuyasha and the others returned, she would want to be sure to get them each a nice gift as an apology. She had not been the only one looking forward to Kagome attending the trip.

But for now, she was exhausted. It had been a long day, and the lengthy bus ride to and from the airport had taken its toll. She rolled over in bed and closed her eyes.

-:- -:- -:-

"Bahahahahah!" Bankotsu threw his head back and laughed as his best friend glared at him from over the rim of his drink.

"Shut up." Naraku muttered.

Red in the face and a huge grin on his lips, Bankotsu leaned forward. "She hates you now man! That's too funny!"

Naraku shot him a sour look. He swirled his drink absent-mindedly, frowning to himself. That had not been what he wanted. He had simply wanted to keep Kagome from leaving, that was all.

Bankotsu sobered at his friend's expression. "Well, what did you expect?" He asked seriously. "You kind of did screw her over unexpectedly."

Naraku shrugged. He had done what he had to do to keep her with him, even if that included turning off her alarm clock and vandalizing her passport. He had even sabotaged her suitcase so the stuck parts would become even more difficult to unstuck.

Bankotsu's lips twisted. "You know, you can't keep doing this to her. Sooner or later, she's bound to figure it out. You're probably better off if you tell her yourself. Before things get weird."

Eyes narrowed to crimson slits, Naraku lowered his glass, the cup landing on the table with a barely audible thump. "Things will never become weird between us." He iterated icily.

Bankotsu threw his hands up in defense. "I didn't mean it like that, but you know what I meant. She doesn't have a clue, she's too focused on trying to do things for others and better herself. Being her 'older brother,' you know she looks up to you, though I don't know why. You make money and seem to be successful without even trying. She's just trying to catch up. Jeez, I bet come tomorrow, she'll already be dressed up all pretty and looking for a job."

A dark brow quirked. "She probably will be." Naraku muttered. He should have anticipated that. Kagome was too industrious to sit still for long. Simply because a vacation had been denied to her didn't mean that she would sit quietly at home and wait for him to return from work. He would have preferred that as it would keep her safe within the house, but she would hate it.

The next best thing would be to keep her near… He could do that. After all, The Beach was hiring. They were always looking for new bodies, but he'd have to take precautions. He wouldn't want her to be Invited, ever, especially by those who roamed The Beach.

-:- -:- -:-

"Where are you going?" A deep voice asked from behind her.

Kagome stopped short, her hand on the doorknob. She turned. What was Naraku doing up so early? He rarely ever woke before noon. But there he was, lounging at the kitchen table. He looked as if he had been waiting for her.

"I'm going out." She replied ambiguously, still miffed about her brother's antics from yesterday.

Crimson eyes scanned her. "Not like that you're not." He replied smoothly.

"What's wrong with how I'm dressed!" She demanded angrily. Who was he to nitpick her? She'd seen him go out once in only a pair of boxer shorts and a hair tie!

Naraku refrained from frowning. There was nothing wrong with how she was dressed. She wore a pair of form-fitting capris, a v-neck cut shirt, and a light jacket. In all, she looked very nice, but that was the problem. He didn't want her to look so nice outside. "Where are your glasses?" He asked.

Her lips twisted. "I'm wearing my contacts, or has that become a crime in this house?" She asked sarcastically. Most of the time, she avoided her contacts because they were uncomfortable. She just couldn't get used to having a lens sit directly on her eye. And as much as she loved her glasses, she might as well be wearing bottle caps. The lenses of her glasses were thick and round, magnifying her eyeballs so it appeared as if it swallowed half her face. Not the best impression for a job interview.

Besides, they lived on the coast, and for some reason, one saw fewer people with glasses on the coast than in the city. She couldn't help it if she was a beach loving girl, so contacts it was.

Naraku's lips thinned. He turned his head and said nothing. Kagome huffed, dismissing her was he? Why was he being such a jerk? She stomped out of the house slamming the door behind her. Her brother was such a jerk!

He frowned as he watched her leave. Damn it. He ran a hand irately through his hair. He hadn't wanted to piss her off, but somehow, he just wasn't able to convey what he wanted to her clearly. It got jumbled terribly along the way and she always took it badly. He just… He frowned. He didn't want her to leave him.

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Kagome's ire evaporated quickly as she walked down the streets. She just wasn't a person to hold onto grudges or anger. She sighed. Maybe she had been a bit too hasty in snapping at her brother, but sometimes he just made her so mad. She kind of wanted to run back and apologize…

She shook her head. No, it wasn't her fault. Her brother was wrong in this instance. She wouldn't apologize. But maybe on the way home, she'd pick up some special groceries and cook him dinner. He'd be bound to be home late, he always worked late. She would wait for him though. It'd be nice to eat together.

A half smile on her lips, Kagome strode down the boulevard, a newspaper clipping of help wanted ads grasped in one hand.

-:- -:- -:-

"Where is she now?" Naraku demanded, unconsciously pressing his cellphone closer to his ear.

"Hang on, hang on! Damn that girl walks fast! Whoops!" On the other end of the line, Bankotsu dove behind a car as Kagome turned slightly. All the while, he wondered how it was that his friend had roped him into trailing his sister for the day. He felt like a stalker.

"Okay, she just entered the sandwich shop." He reported dutifully, meanwhile his stomach grumbled. He had skipped his lunch to stalk his best friend's sister. He should just walk in there and grab some grub, it wasn't like she knew that she was being followed. Besides, he was starting to get some weird stares.

"That's fine. I know the owner. He won't hire her." Naraku replied easily.

"That's cold man. The owner's a nice guy. What'd you get on him that he wouldn't hire her. He loves that girl, everyone does." Bankotsu muttered into his phone.

"The owner's also a gambler with a hefty debt. I helped him out last month." Naraku answered smugly. He had stayed up late last night hunting through the wanted ads and the dirt on those that had put up the ads. For the most part, he had many of the employers under his thumb one way or another. He couldn't help it if he was a rather well known guy in this tiny suburb.

Naraku heard his friend sigh over the line.

"Whatever man. Look, I don't think she's gonna get a bite today. Looks like you did a good job, nothing but bad news all day. I'll keep an eye on her while she's still out, but, I'm gonna have to hang up on you. I need food. Call you if anything comes up." Bankotsu said tiredly. He was really hungry.

"All right." Was the easy reply.

Bankotsu shook his head. He could hear the smirk in his friend's voice. "Yeah, well you owe me for this. Later." He hung up quickly. His stomach came before courtesy.

He strode over to the sandwich shop in time to see Kagome coming out from the back. Her face, while not dejected, was a bit disappointed. Bankotsu had expected this. As high spirited as Kagome was, one could only be rejected so many times before she got a little down. So he grinned. "Hey Kagome, whatcha doing here?"

"Oh!" She started slightly, not expecting to have run into anyone she knew, mostly since all her friends were on vacation. "Hello Bankotsu. What's up?"

He smiled. "I'm here for a late lunch and you're looking a bit down. Care to talk about it? My treat?" He waved his hand to indicate the shop.

She gave him a weak smile. "Um...how about the café across the street?" She asked blushing. She'd rather not relate to him the story of her utter failure of a day while in one of the shops she'd been rejected from.

"Alright." He answered grinning. Then he saw the shop. Crap, it was Howl. Well, he had already agreed... That and Kagome was already halfway across the street. He jogged to catch up with her.

She paused at its entrance. "I've never been here before." She murmured as she peered through the glass.

"There's a first time for everything." Bankotsu grinned. He held open the door for her.

"Thanks." She bowed her head slightly as she entered.

"No problem." He smiled.

The café was nice, he had to admit. The ceiling was domed and painted a deep indigo reaching into black, and was dotted with tiny lights. A full moon was offset from the center of the dome, giving off a soft luminescent glow. The walls were painted as deep forest, covering all the walls, the trees reaching to the ceiling. Small bulb lights were attached to the walls, giving the only other illumination beside the moon. All the furniture and counters were of dark polished hardwood.

The café was dimly lit, and dark in appearance, but it gave off a homely feel. It was soothing but lively. Soft rock music played from speakers set around the café, strategically utilizing the acoustics from the dome. A brilliant set up really.

Bankotsu followed Kagome to a small booth near the corner. It almost looked like she was hiding to him, but he sat down wordlessly. Today must have really affected her, he realized. He'd have to go scold Naraku later. As much as he liked Naraku as a friend, he couldn't keep doing this to his sister, it wasn't right, even if Naraku had his own reasons for it.

They were joined shortly after by a pigtailed redhead waitress in a dark green outfit. She smiled winningly and jotted down their orders, a club sandwich with fries and coke for Bankotsu, and BLT with avocado and curly fries and a Dr Pepper for Kagome. She grinned and left.

Bankotsu gave a tiny sigh of relief. He hadn't been recognized. So far so good. He turned and smiled at Kagome, who was wolfing down her food. At least her appetite seemed unaffected. She gave a sheepish smile in reply.

"So?" He began. "Why are you so down?" He asked.

She sighed heavily. "Well, um…I guess I'm just too unskilled."

He raised a brow. What did that mean?

"I was out looking for a summer job, actually." Kagome continued. "But I came up nothing everywhere. Heh, maybe it's how I look. I mean, I still do pass for a High Schooler." She added wryly.

Bankotsu held his tongue from making a rather crass comment. It was only her naiveté that kept her young. Her body definitely wasn't that of a High Schooler.

Their waitress returned with their food and drink, and Bankotsu changed the subject. He never liked to see a girl frown, especially not Kagome. He gave a partial account of him running into her, how he had 'accidentally' followed her for a while, and began to receive strange looks from the people who saw him. He had 'stalked' her. She laughed good-naturedly, never believing that he would actually doing something so shady. Bankotsu gave an inward smile of relief. Her brother had acted in what he thought was her best interest, even if he was being selfish. He figured it wa the least he could do, since Naraku had roped him into such a hideous scheme, to at least raise her spirits up a bit.

It wasn't Kagome that all the people were rejecting, but Naraku's fear that they were accepting, but she couldn't know that. Naraku would never let her know what he did for her.

Bankotsu finished his food rather quickly, his stomach never being one to be denied. He sipped his soda and waited for Kagome who was only about two-thirds done, when his cell phone rang. He answered.

"Renkotsu? Ah….yeah. Now? You're kidding…" His eyes slid over to Kagome.

She smiled, knowing his internal debate of whether to go help his friends or be polite and remain with her. "Go ahead. I'll be fine by myself. I'm heading home right afterwards anyway." She offered. He would worry about her if she wandered off on her own, but she wasn't a child. She could take care of herself.

He covered the mouthpiece. "You sure?"

She nodded.

He cast her one last worried glance before slapping down a bunch of bills on the table. "I'm really sorry about this, but it looks like Jakotsu got himself into a bit of trouble. I gotta go save him and Renkotsu before they make the problem worse. I'll take you out to dinner some other day to make up, okay?" He gave her a stern look. "And order some dessert before you leave. If I find out you didn't, I'll have to take you out to ice cream too." He waved a finger at her as she laughed, nodding her head in compliance.

Then he was up, the cell pressed against his ear as he jabbered questions to Renkotsu.

Kagome finished her food, crunching down on ice cubes as she allowed her stomach to settle. Ah, nothing was as good as bacon and avocado and curly fries with an ice cold soda. She smiled. Yummy.

The waitress stopped by again. "Oh, your boyfriend left?" She asked with an eyebrow raised. The way the guy was talking to her, he seemed a bit more protective than to leave his girl by herself.

Kagome flushed. "N-no." She stammered. "He wasn't my boyfriend."

"Older brother?" She asked.

"A friend of my brother." Kagome replied.

"Ah." She nodded in a way that Kagome didn't understand. "Well, he's a gentleman, for sure." She indicated the bills Bankotsu had laid down. It was more than enough for both their meals with plenty left over.

Kagome briefly wondered what he had wanted her to order for dessert.

"Would you like anything else?" The waitress asked politely.

"Um…" Might as well not allow Bankotsu's philanthropy go to waste. "May I have a slice of chocolate cake to go?" Chocolate cake was Naraku's favorite, and Bankotsu had never specified that the dessert had to be for her.

"Sure. No problem." She picked up the plates and cleared the table. Then as she was turning away, she suddenly swung her head around. "Hey, I was wondering if you were looking for a job. I saw you wandering around town earlier today, and all your stops matched today's wanted ad." She called over her shoulder.

Kagome blushed deeply. So someone had seen her rejections. "Uh…"

The waitress grinned reassuringly, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, don't worry about those other shop owners. They have no idea what they've let go. Just do a quick interview with my boss. I'm sure he'll give you a job. You're suited for this place." She said confidently.

Kagome smiled back. That was certainly nice of her. And the café didn't seem too bad. "You're hiring?" She questioned. Kagome hadn't seen anything in the paper about this café.

"Starting today. We just lost a waitress, and it's a bit hard by myself." The redhead replied with a grin.

"Oh." She held out her hand. "Thanks for the offer, then. My name's Kagome, and I'd be glad to try out for a position here."

The waitress laughed, taking her hand. "No need for formality." She pointed to her nametag. "Ayame. Nice to meet you."

With something akin to a mix of joy and relief in her voice, Kagome smiled back and replied, "you too."

-:- -:- -:-

Bankotsu ran into Kagome as she was exiting the café. His eyes widened. Was she just leaving now? He'd been gone over two hours since he had left her. "Kagome?"

She turned, beaming at him, a white paper box tucked under one arm, another larger box tucked under the other. "Banktosu!" She cried happily. She set her parcels on a nearby bench and jumped to hug the man. "Thanks so much!"

"Uh…for what?" He asked confused.

"I got a job!" She beamed at him. "The owner here is really nice, and hired me right away. If it weren't for you, I was afraid I'd go home today after wasting a day." She bubbled.

"You…got a job?" Banktosu paled. "Here?"

She nodded.

He was so dead. Naraku was gonna kill him.

Then she turned. "Oh, here he comes now!" She exclaimed, oblivious to Bankotsu's paling demeanor.

Bankotsu's eyes snapped up to the café's door.

"Oi, Kagome, I just wanted to wish you a safe trip home…" The trailed off as he spied Banktosu. "Hey, Bank." He said carelessly.

"Hello Kouga." The braided man replied tonelessly. Shit! Of all the places and of all the people, it was Kouga and his cafe where Kagome had found a job. Well, for her sake, he wouldn't tear into the wolf-like man, just yet.

"Oh, you two know each other?" Kagome asked innocently.

Kouga shot her a winning grin. "Not per se. We just have a mutual acquaintance." He answered cockily, shooting a glare over her head at Bankotsu, who glared back. Then he patted her shoulder, his expression softening. "Can't wait to see you tomorrow. You think you got it down all right?"

She nodded. "You're a great teacher. I think I'll be okay." She bowed her head gratefully, meaning every word.

"I'll keep an eye out for ya." Kouga offered.

Kagome bowed again. "Thank you." She started slightly as Bankotsu grabbed her arm, still glaring at the other man.

"Let's go Kagome." He said, his voice tight with control. "I'm sure your brother is waiting for you."

"Oh yeah. I have something for him." She picked up her boxes. "Thank you again. I'll see you tomorrow." She waved.

Kouga waved back. "No problem. Later girl."

Bankotsu turned sharply with Kagome in tow, after taking her boxes from her. He silently seethed at the friendly way the man had treated Kagome. It bothered him deeply how casually the two had acted together. Kagome had always been kind and outgoing, but that Kouga was probably born with hedgehog pins! It was obvious that Kouga had been rather taken with Kagome for him to have acted so openly. That pissed him off. Kagome, oblivious to the source of his ire, looked at him concerned.

"Are you okay?" She asked worriedly.

He nodded stiffly. She frowned, looping her arms around his shoulders in a loose hug. "Smile now, Bankotsu. Frowns don't suit you. And you didn't get any dessert yet. So, come over for some cake. Your treat." She grinned and opened up one of the boxes she carried to reveal a lovely chocolate frosted whole cake. It was one of Howl's specialty cakes. Moist black chocolate cake with a bittersweet chocolate cream frosting, and sweet-glazed strawberries.

He laughed. So that's what she had done with his money? No, those cakes were rather expensive. Kouga have probably given it to her. Well then he was sure to eat it, even if Kouga had meant it to be a personal gift, it still came from her. He nodded, giving her a genuine smile. "Okay." Might as well enjoy the calm before the storm.

-:- -:- -:-

Sesshoumaru entered the office, nodding politely at the elder man seated behind the large, dark polished desk.

"Is there anything I can offer you Sesshoumaru?" The man greeted as the white-haired man sat down in the proffered seat.

Sesshoumaru seemed to consider the offer for a moment. He had come to this coastal city with the purpose of reinforcing his late-father's contacts and contracts. He would make it so that there would be hardly any loss in power during his transition as head of his father's business. And if he could help it, perhaps strengthen such links. He had many much more ambitioius ideas than his father had dared to pursue. Yet the man he dealt with currently was a more 'fun-loving' person, so to speak. Beginning straight-off with business was sure to make him appear less interesting in the other's eyes.

"I am looking for a woman." He answered.

The man raised his brows in surprise. "I never figured you to be that type of man." He commented, a grin in his tone.

"She has something of mine of some importance." Sesshoumaru clarified.

"Oh?" His curiousity perked. "Who is she?" The man questioned.

"I do not know." Sesshoumaru replied. "I encountered her as I was leaving the airport yesterday."

"Hm...any interesting traits? To have captured your attention she must have had something special about her." He asked, raising a hand to his chin. Sesshoumaru had taken an interest in a woman? And only after one encounter. It was intriguing. He had entertained the rumors that Touga's eldest had been gay. It had made things more interesting that way. He had once sent a male stripper to Sesshoumaru's office, but to his disappointment, Touga had intercepted his gift. Ah, he could only picture the look of horror had his package made it through security. And to think that he wasn't gay after all. Darn.

Well, whoever this woman was, he was going to find her, if only to see what kind of woman could capture Sesshoumaru's attention so.

"Black hair and blue eyes. About twenty years old. Japanese. Youthful." Sesshoumaru described concisely. A flash of brilliant blue eyes, framed by the darkest black hair had flashed through his mind. Out of all the faceless people he had seen in that airport, ranging from the flight attendants who had flirted to him, to that nervous man who was his chauffer, only her face had stood out to him.

"Hm…strange coloring for a Japanese." The older man said consideringly. "Perhaps…there is a place I frequent. They specialize in odd coloring of attractive people. They collect the exotic beauties you could say. It is possible she is employed there, that is, if she is still in Japan."

"She is." Sesshoumaru replied confidently. With her wallet in his hands, there was no way she could have boarded a plane without her identification. "What is that place?"

Ryuukossei smirked. "It's called The Beach."

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SM: I hope I didn't lose anyone on this lil trip. No idea when updates will come around, but they will, just like all things, come eventually. (smile)

And remember, I keep misc stuff in my livejournal, every once in a while posting a rough "something" in there, but mostly it's just me ranting and making excuses to why I'm not writing.