Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha or any of the characters involved. All credit goes to Rumiko T. for her creative genius. I also do not own Rihanna's song "Break it off," or Hellogoodbye's song, "Here in your arms."

Author's note: Ok, so I had decided to try something a little different – writing 25-30 page long chapters. As anyone who looks at update info can tell – that STILL didn't work out so well for me. Boo – hiss… I am terrible and for that I am terribly sorry! Work got CRAZY, and then I moved back from Korea to the states, and then I met my NOW husband, eloped, and have been spending the past (almost a year) months looking for work here. Which is ridiculously hard to do. Then I finally landed a job teaching, which I love, but even though I only have classes 2 days a week I am usually working 7 days a week. Ha! Anywho, I kept thinking about this story and I just really want to get back to it. I am so very sorry it's been soooo long, but I am going to try to get back to it. I feel like I've said that a million times though, so if you don't believe me, I don't blame you! But I will be TRYING! I want to finish this, too. I don't know if anyone will still read this, but for those that might, and for myself – I really want to keep writing this ridiculous tome of a story… it's now at 446 pages (typed 12pt font) so… it's getting pretty darn long! It may be a little bit till I can get chapter 15 up, what with the holidays and finals coming up BUT know that I will be trying to work on it whenever I can! Also, um, this is my early Happy Thanksgiving present to anyone who still likes/wants to read this little story.

Secondary disclaimer: I haven't written in this story for ages, so if it is crappy, please forgive me. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things and keep it from being crappy, but I'm only human and it's been forever, so I don't know how well I can do. Also, with a document this large, I'm sure there are some typos that I've missed, but you've all waited long enough so I'm swallowing my fear of this being horrid, and I'm just going to push the "publish" button, so to speak. Let me know what you think if you do read this, though…


Previously on BOABW:

An unholy cacophony sounded next to my ear and I groaned, "Nooo…"


I pulled the pillow over my head and clamped it over my ears stubbornly.


"Die," I growled, flinging a single arm out and smiling sleepily from my haven under the pillow as I heard the satisfying crash that signified the death of my alarm. Sleep, mmmm….

"Breakin' it off and settin' it off in the real way, makin' the girls them chill their mind, makin' them have a good time," Sean Paul declared from my phone — on the other side of my bed. Out of arms' reach.

"Blast," I mumbled, lifting up the edge of the pillow to stare at the offensive device. I glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that it was only 6:30… A.M.!

"What the—"

Rihanna cut in loudly, "Break it off boy this has got me feeling naughty, I wanna know boy if I could be your shorty! Set it off boy, make me hot all over my body — break it off tonight!"

"I am so not feelin' naughty," I grumbled, as I crawled across the bed like a clumsy lizard, limbs tangled as per usual in my sheets. "Sleep. Why? Why are you on?" I growled, slapping the device, fingers scrambling on the slick surface as I tried to bring it to my face. Peering at it through heavy lids that refused to open completely, I tried to get my drugged brain to put together an explanation for the ungodly hour at which I had not one, but two alarms going off.

Sean Paul added his two cents as I tried to find the right button to cancel the alarm, "Struggle and pain wha she fell all da while and she want a good man to give her da style — wild child, so she dere pon me file!"

What does that even mean really? She dere pon me file? Is that even Engli-

"Ah," I sighed happily, flopping back onto the bed face first. "Silence."

"I like where we are, when we drive in your car. I like where we are…Here!" Hellogoodbye sang out sweetly, a true juxtaposition to the murderous thoughts that scrambled through my head at the new interruption.

"Cause our lips can touch, and our cheeks can brush — our lips can—!"

I snatched up the phone making the song cut short and growled into the phone in the most threatening voice I could muster, "Red-rum, red-rum."

"Good morning to you, too, Kagome, " said a smooth, masculine voice with a hint of amusement in its rich tones.



Chapter 14: Springs & Sparks

"Red rum, red rum," she growled like an angry demoness and despite the oddness of what she was saying — why in the world is she talking about alcohol this early in the morning? — I couldn't help but shiver as her aggression made my youki stir in response.

Oh now this is pitiful, I thought with a mental shake of my head. Even growling like a monster, I find her attractive.

"Good morning to you, too, Kagome," I said, not really knowing how else to respond to her opening growl about rum.

She let out a surprised, "eep!" on the other side of the phone and I chuckled darkly.

"Sesshoumaru," she gasped breathlessly, "wha- what are you doing calling me at 6:30 in the bloody morning?" She ended with a dangerous growl and I smirked.

"Well you see," I purred, "I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd give you a call."

She snorted in a decidedly unladylike fashion and retorted, "Naturally, you'd call me. The person who doesn't like to wake up until at least after 12 if she can help it."

"Well, it was your fault that I couldn't sleep so," I let my sentence dangle suggestively and I didn't miss the telltale intake of breath that meant she was probably blushing about as red as a cherry. Oh she is too easy, I thought mischievously.

"Wha-" she spluttered, completely flustered as her mind obviously went down into the gutter. "My fault? What do you mean my fau-"

"Yes, all your fault," I continued to tease. "Now, since we are both up, what do you say to breakfast?"

"As much as I like you-" she started, voice hardening slightly.

So apparently there was a time where I was not irresistible, contrary to what she'd claimed at other times. A chuckle rumbled up out of my chest and I turned up the charm, "Just the two of us. I could come over, make you breakfast in bed and…"

I heard a thumping, scratching noise on the other side of the phone as she placed her hand over the mouthpiece in attempt to block the sound on her end. She shouldn't have bothered, her squeal of, "Oh my go-" still audible to my sensitive ears. It was adorable how often she forgot about my special… talents.

"Oh but then," she groaned and another series of scratching, rustling sounds preceded her next declaration that was actually directed at me, "Wait, wait. My alarms were going off before you called. I just remembered. Did we have plans or something?"

"No," I answered innocently. I glanced back at the car where Miroku and Sango sat patiently waiting, grinning wickedly.

"But then why," she mumbled more to herself than to me. "Oh! Oh! Nikko! I'm going to Nikko!" she shouted suddenly and I winced, pulling my cell away from my ear as fast as I could. Glaring at the offending device as my ears rang uncomfortably I continued to hold it at arm's length.

"You're going to Nikko?" I shouted back, afraid she wasn't done with her excitable exclamations.

"Oh geez," she groaned, "what was I thinking? How did I let them talk me into-"

"Well," I coughed, bracing myself as I brought the phone back to my ear. "I guess we'll just have to postpone breakfast in bed for another day then." I heard a muffled pounding sound and added wickedly, "Too bad, I had something really great in mind."

A stream of inaudible curses floated out from behind the pillow she was shouting into. I couldn't help the self-satisfied smirk that spread across my face. Apparently I've regained my status, I thought with a snicker.

The smirk quickly fell off my face though when she finally spoke. Her voice was rough and husky with obvious desire and I felt an answering heat deep in my gut as she said, "You're killing me."

"Likewise," I responded, swallowing thickly as my mind took its own trip down Sordid Alley to places that are better not mentioned.

She let out a frustrated growl and finally huffed irritably, "Curse it all, but I'm going to be late if I don't let you go now. Promise I can have my rain-check?"

"I'm looking forward to it," I purred. "See you soon."

"Not soon enough," she grumbled and the phone disconnected with a resounding click.

I burst out laughing, and glanced up at her doorway before retreating back to the car. I hadn't even gotten the car door shut before Sango's phone went off making her jump. Eyes wide she scrambled for her phone and snickered when she saw Kagome's name flashing on the screen.

"Yes," she drawled in an obnoxiously chipper voice.

"You owe me," Kagome's voice growled from the other side of the phone, audible to all the occupants of the car.

"Oh really?" Sango asked, her lips twitching as she tried not to laugh. "Why's that?"

"Details aren't important. Just know this: You. Owe. Me. Big time."

"But I thought you were excited about going to Nikko?" she asked, doing her best to sound wounded.

"I was. But now," Kagome paused and cursed. "I'll be down in ten. But I just wanted to let you know: you owe me."

"Alright then Ms. Sunshine, see you then," Sango said, her voice warbling dangerously as she began to lose her grip. As soon as the phone clicked shut she and Miroku dissolved into helpless laughter, leaning on each other. Impish grins split their faces and Miroku turned to give me a high five.

I leaned back into the seat, getting comfortable. This was the first time that I could remember getting together with a group of adult friends and going on a lighthearted trip. I frowned slightly at the thought. I was centuries old and this was the first time I'd done something so normal.

What in the world was I doing when I was younger, I thought to myself, a little flabbergasted. Fighting. Killing. Conquering. Traveling to do more fighting and conquering until the dawn of technology brought an end to that. Of course, it simultaneously brought the more subtle forms of warfare into our lives in the form of business and multi-million dollar projects and buy-outs.

It was refreshing actually to do something different and I wasn't surprised when a little giddy feeling bubbled up in my chest as I sat quietly awaiting Kagome's arrival.


I was scrambling around my house trying to brush my hair with one hand while picking up various garments with the other and throwing them in a higglety pigglety pile in my little overnight bag. Just a couple comfy lounge pants, some t-shirts, unders, and my cosmetic bag were all I needed to pack — we were going to stay at some old onsen ryoukan up in the mountains so most of the stuff I needed would be provided.

I'd thrown in an extra sweater and jacket for good measure when an impatient knock sounded on my front door. I jumped in surprise — normally Ran would have let me know someone was coming before they even knocked, but she was staying at a doggie daycare for the weekend.

"Kagome," Sango barked on the other side of the door, "you said ten minutes ten minutes ago!"

"You know ten minutes really means at least twenty," I retorted grumpily, still cranky due to the early hour and the fact that I was going to miss out on breakfast in bed with –

No, no, no, I shook my head determinedly. Don't go there, you'll just make things worse for yourself.

Right. As if they weren't bad enough, what with him using that seductive, sexy voice of his, wooing me with his enticing innuendo riddled comments.

Damn him.

I opened the door a little more roughly than I meant to and she raised an appraising eyebrow, giving me a one over. "That's what you're wearing?" she asked dubiously.

"Ya," I shrugged, looking down at my outfit of skinny jeans, mismatched socks, and an off the shoulder baggy sweatshirt, "why not? It's not even 7 a.m. yet. And we'll be in the car for two hours — this is the time for comfort and relaxation Sango."

"Ok," she giggled nervously. "If you say so."

I squinted at her suspiciously and she twitched. "What's wrong with you?"

"Me?" she gaped, wide eyed like a gold fish, "What do you mean?"

"You seem nervous?" I pressed as I stepped closer.

"Nervous? No," she shook her head.

"Ya, you do," I poked her in the shoulder, pushing her a little bit. "Is this because of what I said earlier?"

"Maybe," she drawled, looking caught.

"Oh geez, I'm sorry if I'm a little grumpy. I am excited about going, I swear. It's just-" I cut myself off, closing my mouth with an audible click.

"What?" she pressed, eyes dancing with curiosity. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

"Well," I looked at the ground, scuffing my big toe on the floorboards, "Sesshoumaru called and offered to do.." I blushed violently and coughed, trying to keep my voice from betraying the desire that I'd felt fill me when we'd been on the phone earlier.

Really my reaction to him, to nothing but his voice — even if he had been spouting sinful insinuations that would have had any hot-blooded woman's heart pounding in anticipation — was reaching a ridiculous level. I sometimes wondered if my body had a mind of its own and operated on a more basic, instinctual level. A more carnal level, shall we say?

I'm turning into a veritable cave woman, I decided just as Sango shook me from my internal contemplation.

"Offered to do what?" she screeched. "For pete's sake, Kags, you can't just leave a sentence like that hanging without an end. People could assume all kinds of naughty things when you just drop off like that!"

"Oh!" I blinked guilty. "Right, um, sorry. He offered to uh, do, um, breakfast in bed," I finally managed to stutter with my cheeks flaming brilliantly.

Her head fell back and she let out a peal of belly aching laughter and threw an arm around my shoulder, "No wonder you were peeved." She flashed a Cheshire grin and turned us back towards my room, "Let's get you packed so we can get on the road though. You can sleep in the car and fantasize all you want about breakfast in bed with your lover boy, how's that sound?"

I punched her in the ribs playfully and she smacked my stomach, chuckling good-naturedly. Her amusement died however when she saw the shambles that was my bedroom.

"Good Lord," she eyed it with horror, "what happened in here? It looks like it's been hit by a tornado."

"Ehe," I giggled guiltily, "well, I've been busy and so…"

"How long has it been since you cleaned?" she gave me a condescending look.

"About uh," I rolled my eyes skyward, biting my bottom lip as I tried to remember how long ago it had been. "Over a week ago," I finally chirped.

"And you were going to let him come over here? To this?" she cocked an eyebrow doubtfully.

I looked around at the room with its piles of various garments thrown willy nilly, stacks of papers and other miscellaneous school supplies strewn about and covering the floor, bras hanging off of my closets doors. Cringing I admitted, "Ok, on second thought. Maybe you don't owe me."

"Ha," she smirked. With a quick tug she zipped up my bag and strode back to where I stood in the door, seeing my room in a whole new light.

"Damn," I huffed, "I'm going to have to clean as soon as I get back."


"Maybe just a little."

"Just a little."



"So Grandpa, what's this super secret plan you have?" I asked, plopping onto the couch next to him, bouncing a little on the plush cushion for fun. He looked down at me, grinning with a devilishly mischievous glint in his gold eyes.

Wrapping an arm around my waist he pulled me into his lap as he pushed a button on the DVD remote. "See for yourself," he chuckled happily as the TV jumped to life and revealed Uncle Inuyasha seated in a meeting room with none other than that pretty, tall lawyer lady that had been at Kagome's birthday party. The one that was her cousin.

I watched in surprise as Uncle Inuyasha stood across from her and seemed to get angry, leaning forward and gripping the arm rests of her chair tightly. She reared back a bit and they exchanged words before my Uncle grinned and sat down across from her.

"Why isn't there any sound?" I asked quickly, looking to my grandpa for answers. I was dying to know what they were saying. Even if it was technically none of my business.

"Unfortunately there's no audio on that room's security camera, but if you can read lips," he shrugged, "then it's not much of a problem."

"Read lips?" I blurted incredulously. "I can't – what?" I barked as he put a finger to his lips and pointed at the screen. My eyes widened and my mouth form a silent 'o' as I watched Uncle Inuyasha place a finger on her lips, making her eyes go as wide as saucers, and then brush his fingertips over her collarbone. I blushed a little at the odd look on my Uncle's face. I'd never seen him look like that. I'd seen him with some of his girlfriends over the years, sure, but he'd always seemed kind of carefree with them. With the lawyer though, Kikyo — that was her name — he seemed more intense. Like a lion stalking its prey, I thought, cocking my head as I continued to watch the drama unfold silently on the big screen.

Suddenly Kikyo looked angry, offended even, pointing at herself emphatically and my grandpa narrated for me, "Your Uncle just said that he, 'may like her.' She seems to find this offensive, because obviously she has a lot to offer and has plenty of guys who are interested in her."

I giggled and snuggled closer to my grandpa as my Uncle took her pretty face in his big hands and said something to her, no doubt trying to soothe her ruffled feathers. She simply shook free of his grasp and scowled at him. Their conversation continued at length, at one point my Uncle did something with a pencil and when Kikyo moved it his face lit up victoriously.

I honestly have no idea how adults' minds work sometimes, I swear.

"Oh now here's the good part," my Grandpa smirked as Uncle leaned forward again and look at her intently. "He's asking her out on a date."

"What?" I gasped, more than a little delighted. "Does she say 'yes'?" I nearly squealed.

"She doesn't want to," he snickered, pointing as the woman in question as she visibly tensed when their noses touched. They bantered back and forth and my Grandpa said, "Finally she asked him if Sunday night would work, but as you can see from that priceless look of horror on her face, she probably hadn't meant to agree at all." He chuckled merrily and I joined in.

"So why'd you show me that video, Grandpa?" I looked up at him. "You know Uncle would murder you if he knew that you had this, right?" I teased, waggling my eyebrows at him.

"Which is why I'm trusting you to keep your lips sealed," he grinned wolfishly, pinching one of my cheeks playfully. "So my little dear-heart," he whispered conspiratorially, "what do you say to a little reconnaissance this weekend?"

"Oh, I'm so in!" I chirped, jumping up and down excitedly. "Best weekend ever!"


"So I said to him," I chattered happily, trying to keep Kagome occupied up until the last possible second as we made our way down the stairs and through the parking lot to the car, "Kousuke, if you wanted me to write a serious article then I'm your girl, but this fluff piece just isn't my style."

"Uh huh," she nodded, shrugging her bag farther up her shoulder to keep it from falling off. We'd only taken another step when she froze suddenly, eyes widening, then blinking owlishly before closing to slits as she stared at the car. I could practically see the wheels whirring in her brain and the steam pouring out of her ears as she tried to get her still drowsy brain to process what her eyes seemed to be seeing.

"Is that?" she mumbled dumbly.

"What?" I asked; face the perfect picture of faux innocence.

"That's Sesshoumaru," she pointed, whispering theatrically.

I made a show of squinting at the car and shaking my head with a long, "Nooo…"

"No, that's Sesshoumaru. In the car. I'd know that white head of hair anywhere," she turned and glared at me. "What is going on here Sango?" she hissed under her breath, clutching my arm with an iron tight grip, nails biting into my skin.

"Ow," I snapped, trying in vain to shake her off but she might as well have been a pit bull. For such a petite thing she could be surprisingly strong sometimes.

"Sango Takahashi, do not tell me you invited Sesshoumaru along on this road trip of ours," she said in an eerily deadpan voice.

Uh-oh, I thought, wanting to back away out of reach but her hand anchored me to the spot like a block of cement around the ankles. I know that tone. This does not bode well… Shi-

At my silence, her eyes narrowed and she let out a short scream of frustration and yanked me back towards the stairs, marching us quickly under them where we were partially hidden from the occupants of the car. I supposed she wanted us to be out of hearing range. Somehow I didn't think we were far enough but I wasn't about to tell her that when she was as flustered as she was.

Better just to keep my lips sealed, I thought as I eyed her warily. This is so not the reaction I was expecting. I thought –

"What were you thinking," she hissed frantically. She finally let go out of my arm and I rubbed the abused flesh there with a pout.

"I thought you'd be delighted that he got to come along," I frowned. "I certainly didn't expect this," I retorted petulantly.

Her shoulders sagged and her breath left her in audible whoosh. She smiled tentatively in apology and whispered, "I'm sorry, it's just you know I don't process well in the mornings and well, I can't help but worry about going on a trip like this with him and the trouble it could cause. In theory, the idea is wonderful and sounds great. In reality, I'm not so sure how good it would look in the tabloids. I mean my boss can only put up with so much before she decides she'd be better off with a fuddy-duddy old lady to teach my class."

I drooped, smacking myself in the forehead. Of course she'd be worried about that. She was still Rin's teacher and even though we all knew that this trip was perfectly harmless if the paparazzi or the tabloids caught wind of it, they would spin the most fantastical versions possible.

"Geez, Kags, I didn't even think of that," I groaned apologetically. "Some journalist I am."

She shook her head with a little laugh, "Well, you're a real journalistic Sango, that's the difference. You don't spin lies. Besides I know your heart was in the right place. You were trying to do something nice for both of us."

"Yeah," I ran a hand through my hair, feeling like the world's biggest bimbo. "I was also trying to think of some way to kind of repay him for his extravagant wedding gift."

"Oh no," she gasped, "what gift? What did he do?"

"Oh, just got us a private suite at that place in Santorini," I shrugged nonchalantly. "For a whole week. You know, no big deal or anything."

Kagome stared at me wide eyed for minute, her jaw shut so tight I saw a muscle jump and then she burst into a fit of loud guffaws. I giggled and pretty soon we were both hanging on each other consumed with laughter, tears streaming down our faces.

"Does he even know the meaning of normal?" she wheezed, holding her ribs. "Does he not know anything other than over the top?"

"I'm beginning to think no," I snickered. I straightened and wiping my eyes, put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her up. "Come on missy, he's here already, we might as well try and enjoy the trip. We'll just have to do everything we can to keep it under the radar. Besides, we're going to the middle of nowhere, surely we won't have to deal with anybody out there."

"God, I hope you're right," she prayed, eyes pointing heavenward as we came out from under the stairs and approached the car. "Otherwise I think I'll be unemployed by the time we get back." She giggled and I jabbed her in the ribs with my elbow.

"Don't say things like that," I chided, "it's bad luck!"

"Ya, well, at least I know I'll have breakfast in bed to console me later if that does happen," she replied flippantly with an impish twinkle in her eyes.

"Mmm, I can just imagine the naughtiness you two could-" I started but she clamped a hand over my mouth, shooting me a death glare.

"Don't go there," she growled. "It'll just make my mind go to a place it really shouldn't be going."

"Fine" I tried to say from behind the hand covering my mouth but it came out more like, "Phaammn."

She let go of me and linked her arm through mine. "Later, when we are in the hot springs I want you to get me caught up on everything," she grinned lasciviously and I blushed.

"Everything?" I squeaked, suddenly embarrassed.

"Everything," she insisted. "The wedding, the day to day, the pillow talk — everything."

"Deal, but only if you promise to do the same," I grinned, bumping her hip with mine and making her miss a step.

"Ooh," she scowled, "you drive a hard bargain, but alright. So be it."


"To road trips!" she declared, throwing a fist dramatically up into the air.

"You," I cast a sidelong glance at her, "are such a dork."

"Took you this long to figure it out?" she stuck her tongue out at me. "What is your IQ level, like, below the starting line on the charts? Oooh, too bad for you."

"Punk!" I laughed, pushing her roughly to the side as we finally reached the car.

Sesshoumaru and Miroku stepped out grinning like two boys who'd found the secret stash of candy and Miroku asked excitedly, "Were you surprised?"

"We saw you two having a confab under the stairs and wondered if we needed to intervene," Sesshoumaru smiled, but a brief worried look flitted across his features and I wondered how much he'd heard.

Kagome laughed and stepped forward to throw her arms around his neck and place a chaste kiss on his lips, but Sesshoumaru quickly deepened it, his strong arms wrapping around her narrow waist.

"Oh gawd," Miroku pretended to gag, "would you two get a room?"

"Where's my kiss," I asked, hands on hips as I gave him a meaningful look. All the teasing mischief left his face and his eyes darkened noticeably as he gave me a long look, eyeing me from head to toe. With a single long stride we stood toe to toe and he pulled me in for an earth-shattering kiss.

My heart pounded in my ears and I could feel my blood heat up as his lips continued their torturous ministrations, claiming mine in a dance as old as time. When am I ever going to get used to this, I wondered somewhat giddily as if I'd had too much champagne to drink.

I lost track of time and my surroundings for a moment until Kagome shattered the spell with a loud, "Look at the kettle calling the pot black, Sesshoumaru."

His answering chuckle sounded as we both split apart, blushing slightly as we suddenly remembered that we had an audience.

Miroku and I coughed as Sesshoumaru and Kagome simply smirked indulgently at us. "Well," I all but squeaked, "shall we?" I didn't wait for their answers as I scrambled into the car and buckled myself in, trying to hide the fact that my mind was still stuck somewhere in the proverbial rabbit hole of perversion. All it took was one look, one touch, one meeting of lips and I was a goner.

He cast me a knowing smile as he sat in the driver's seat next to me and I felt butterflies flutter in my gut at the adoration I found in his eyes. Sometimes I still couldn't believe that this was all real, couldn't believe how lucky I was.

But here he was, the best gift I could have ever hoped for. It was reality and I was determined to enjoy every moment of it to the fullest.


"Number one ni naranakutemoii," I said in a sweet, teacherly voice.

"Number one ni naranakutemoii!" the rest of the car shouted.

"Moto moto tokubetsuna Only One," I continued and Miroku, Sango, and Sesshoumaru all belted out the lyrics in unison.

Miroku and Sango had idiotic grins on their faces, where as Sesshoumaru just looked bemused; a single aristocratic eyebrow arched in silent contemplation as we continued our ridiculous game to pass the time in the car.

It was all his fault really, that we had ended belting out old SMAP songs anyway. Well, actually it was Sango's fault for popping in the SMAP best hits CD — apparently she'd wanted to take a trip down memory lane, reliving the glory days of our adolescent youth when those songs had first come out.

But then Sesshoumaru had admitted that he didn't know, "who this SMAP band was," and we'd all about lost it.

"How can you not know who SMAP is?" I asked incredulously, eyeing him like he'd grown a second head. "That's like saying you don't know who N*sync or Britney Spears is!"

"Ya man," Miroku shook his head, "I mean you don't have to like them to know them. I'm not a big SMAP fan myself, but you can't not know who they are."

Sango turned around in the seat and stared at him, eyebrows drawn together in consternation, "Seriously, where've you been the past 15 years? Living under a rock or something?"

"Apparently," Sesshoumaru had muttered, looking thoroughly abashed. "Believe me though, if I'd known admitting my ignorance would've caused this much of a reaction I would have kept it to myself."

I'd laughed, and pinched his cheek in a teasing manner, "Well, there's no helping it. We're just going to have to educate you."

"Oh really?" he'd asked, quirking a single eyebrow. Gawd, I'd thought dreamily, he's so handsome when he does that eyebrow thing.

Sap? Who me?


"Brilliant idea, Kags!" Sango grinned, clapping her hands in excitement. "Since you're the teacher, I say you do the honors!"

"Oh no, are you two going to do that ridiculous, 'repeat after me' gag you used to do on road trips in college?" Miroku moaned and got a smack on the arm from Sango for his whining.

"Ouch," he pretended to pout and she simply stuck her tongue out at him like a four-year-old. Sesshoumaru snickered in a surprisingly boyish fashion and I couldn't help but smile. It was a little strange to see him here in a situation that seemed so… mundane. Not to say that it wasn't fun, it was just so normal — a road trip with friends, easy banter, jokes, and teasing — yet he was usually so regal and I realized I'd never really pictured him in a setting like this. But he looked good; relaxed and content, seemingly happy to let the conversation flow around him with only the occasional comment.

"Alright Kagome, let's do this," Sango grinned wickedly and punched the play button on the cd player once again to start up the song.

So an hour later we were on the last song Sekai ni hitotsu dake no hana, occassionaly breaking into giggle fits as I quickly said the lyrics just before they sang, as if I was teaching a group of elementary students. The three of them would then belt out the lyrics with the CD, half of the time out of tune just for the fun of it.

Don't ask me why we were so entertained. Maybe it was because of the way I was speed reading the lyrics. Or maybe it was because they sounded like a pack of howling dogs half the time. Or maybe it was the ridiculousness of seeing a business tycoon and two journalists crooning out old SMAP songs — whatever the reason, we were enjoying ourselves, and the time flew by. Before we knew it, we'd arrived in Nikko and were driving down the little, narrow "main street" towards Shinkyo bridge.

When we pulled into the parking lot across from the iconic red bridge arching over the small blue, green river Sango and I couldn't help but "oooh" and "aaah" appreciatively. The red wooden bridge with its old world constructs of wooden begs and interlocking beams arched over the pristine river with an evocative grace that made you feel like you could step back in time. The river wound through Nikko, adjacent to and even running under its quaint main street of restaurants, while hot spring resorts and local hotels clung to the side of the mountain running the length of the river. Shinkyo bridge with all it's timeless grace, bright red like an apple at harvest, stood watch over the river, nestled at the corner of main street and the hotel lined road — the only other "large" road in Nikko proper. If you looked at the bridge alone, you could forget about the two concrete atrocities that stood behind you and to your right. There was only the bridge, the bubbling river beneath, and the steep mountains on either side that showed their fall colors like the plumage of colorful birds, vibrant hues of red, yellow, and orange under a crisp blue sky dotted with a few fluffy white clouds.

As soon as Miroku had the car in park, I was out the door, eyes bright and eager. I stretched, reaching my hands up to the autumn sky and filled my lungs to bursting with the cool mountain air, relishing in the clean earthy scent of dirt and rock and vegetation.

"It's gorgeous," I exhaled happily, a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon splitting my face as I turned back to everyone else who was still getting out of the car.


"Mm," Sango breathed in appreciatively and nodded in agreement. "Man it feels good to get out of the city."

"You've no idea," Sesshoumaru chuckled, sniffing the air more delicately than the rest of us. "It's not untouched by any means, but you have no idea how much of an improvement it is."

"For someone with a super nose like yours, you mean?" I giggled, flicking my finger against the tip of his nose playfully.

"You laugh at my suffering," he quipped. "How sweet."

"I know I am," I snickered and turned away to skip towards the entrance gate, flicking a careless glance over my shoulder. His lips twitched in amusement as he and Sango and Miroku trailed behind at a more leisurely pace.

Once I'd purchased my entrance ticket I turned around to watch the others walk across the parking lot. Miroku reached out and took Sango's hand in his and I didn't miss the look of adoration that passed between the two of them. They were adorable enough to be on a Hallmark card, I swear. I couldn't help but go a little googly-eyed at the picture they made. Sesshoumaru saw where my eyes were and glanced over at the other couple and an odd look crossed his face. When he turned his eyes back to me my breath caught in my throat at the intensity in the golden depths that held my eyes captive.

He was breathtaking as always, but there was something in the way he was looking at me now that made my knees go weak and left me with an aching hunger in my chest. I didn't know exactly what it was that I saw in his eyes, I couldn't label it per se, but I knew enough to know that it was significant.

It was the little moments like this that showed me that I wasn't in some casual relationship of passing fancy. This man, for whatever reason — I certainly couldn't fathom what his reasons might be — was serious about me, about us. Of that much, I had no doubt.

He was as serious as a heart attack, and honestly sometimes he made me feel like I was having one — what with his uncanny ability to steal my breath, freeze my lungs, or stop my heart with a single look or word. Sometimes all of the above.

Damn him.

I managed to catch my breath and plaster an impish smile on my face as he reached me; only to have him claim my lips in a short kiss that somehow still managed to convey a wealth of feeling. My head swam pleasantly as he released me. I realized I was staring stupidly at him when Sango snickered wickedly behind him, brown eyes dancing.

"Shall we?" I squeaked, giving myself a mental shake.

"Certainly," Sesshoumaru smiled, handing over the money for the ticket before wrapping an arm around my waist and leading us toward the bridge. A group of young women was just crossing back over the bridge to exit the area when they spotted Sesshoumaru and they ground to a sudden halt, eyes going wide.

Of course they could have simply been in awe of his Adonis-worthy good looks. Despite the fact that he was in modern clothes, here in the surrounding old world beauty of Nikko, he looked like he could have stepped straight out of a Japanese folk tale. Tall and pale, flashing gold eyes and hair as white as spider silk, magenta stripes adorning his high cheekbones — he was two parts exotic and equal parts dangerous. Here in this area touched by nature and surrounded by barely controlled wilderness he seemed to exude an animalistic power that I often missed amongst the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. He seemed more raw here.

That was the only way I knew how to describe it. Either way it seemed to increase his undeniable magnetism tenfold.

I had no doubt that was why they stared at him with blatant looks of carnal appreciation, but I suspected the other reason they'd stopped to stare was because they knew who he was. My suspicions were confirmed as several of them began whispering excitedly to each other and his name floated toward us on the wind.

Then someone whispered, pointing none too discreetly, "That's his lover, the one in the magazines, right?" Sesshoumaru tensed momentarily, the hand on my waist tightening briefly.

Golden eyes slid towards me, worry swirling in their depths as our eyes met. He frowned apologetically and started to open his mouth when another girl piped up, loud enough to be easily overheard, "She's not much too look at. I mean, god, what is wearing?"

"No kidding," another snickered. "I mean, the nerve! Going out in public like that with someone like Sesshoumaru Taisho."

"What does he see in her anyway," another snickered, flicking her long, silky hair over her shoulder. "Any one of us would be a hundred times better suited to be with him than her."

Sesshoumaru eyed them coldly and let out a snort that was decidedly undignified. I blinked up at him with some surprise and wondered what he was he going to do. He looked nothing short of disgusted with a good helping of ire on the side.

In a loud voice that projected easily over the distance he declared, "And it's women like that that kept me from pursuing women for centuries."

I gasped and clasped a hand over my mouth in surprise, but I couldn't help the bemused smile that tugged at my lips behind my hand. "Sesshoumaru," I coughed, trying to hide how amused I was by his verbal retaliation. After all they had been really nasty. But still… "You shouldn't say things like that!"

"What?" he glanced at me and waved a careless hand in dismissal. "It's the truth. Besides, who are they to talk about what you are wearing?"

I risked a glance at the group of women who'd all turned red in the face, some of them with embarrassment, others with offense.

"Can you believe tha-" one of them was spluttering, nearly frothing at the mouth.

"You'd look better dressed in a burlap sack than they would in a high priced Gucci gown made for a princess," he added, voice loud once again as he sent them a condescending glare.

"Oh my go-" I yelped, flushing red with embarrassment as the women hissed at the insult.

"What a pig," one of them snarled before she threw her nose in the air with an audible, "Hmph!" and strode away towards the gate. After hurling several caustic glares in our direction the rest followed suit, hips sashaying as they stomped away.

"Sesshoumaru!" I chided, whacking him on the chest. "You can't-"

"I just did," he smirked, watching them with a victorious light dancing in his eyes.

"But," I started, but he looked down at me and his eyes caught mine.

My jaw clicked shut and he said, "I'm sorry if it made you uncomfortable, but I was only telling the truth and I couldn't allow them to say such hateful things without responding in some way. It would have been disrespectful."

"Ya, well, you didn't need to defend my honor. I know they're just shallow, petty women who are jealous because they aren't the ones with you," I shrugged.

He shook his head, "I'm glad that you know that, but it doesn't change the fact that it would've been unforgivable for me to let them say those things about you right to your face without voicing some form of rebuttal."

"Next time tho-" I started but he silenced me with a finger on my lips.

"Kagome," he smiled sweetly, "you're worth it. Please don't make me promise not to stand up for you when it's appropriate."

He had a point. It had been reasonable. I couldn't deny that I felt all warm and fuzzy over the things that he'd said. I guess I was protesting mostly out of some misplaced dislike of conflict for my sake. But if I tried to put the shoe on the other foot, I had to admit that I'd have gotten positively rabid if someone had said something like about one of my friends in front of me.

Well then, I thought, I stand corrected.

"Fair enough," I nodded after a moment. "I would've gone Kujo on them in a heartbeat if they'd been talking smack about you or someone else I cared about. Let's be honest." I chuckled and looked up at him with a smile, which he returned, eyes twinkling.

"You? Go Kujo?" he feigned surprise, eyebrow raised.

"Kujo?" Sango interjected, drawing even with us finally. Miroku glanced back at the group of women that had already passed through the gate.

"Ok, what did we miss? Those ladies were frothing at the mouth," he snickered, eyes flicking between the two of us.

We looked at each other for a heart beat and then turned to them with choirboy smiles and shrugged. "I've no idea," I shrugged lightly.

Sango's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Liar," she accused but I just laughed.

"Maybe," I grinned cheekily. "But don't let your curiosity bother you too much. We're here — let's just enjoy it!"

"Fine," she grumped. "I suppose it's fair punishment for the prank I pulled on you this morning." She gave me a push on the shoulder as she pouted, "But still, you vile, vile wench."

"Aar," I growled wickedly, "that I be! But that make ye a scallywag!"


"Hey! Look in the mirror!"

"Are they always like this?" I heard Sesshoumaru asked Miroku under his breath as Sango and I bounced away, trading insults and jabbing each other with elbows or stiff fingers.

"You have no idea," I heard Miroku chuckle just before we were out of earshot.


I was pacing back and forth across my living room, scowling at the floor as if I could find answers somewhere between the strands of carpet.

Why was I in such a mood, you ask? Well, in a word: Kikyo.

Blasted woman was still messing with my head — something I thought she wouldn't be able to do once I'd manned up and admitted that I liked her, for whatever reason. I'd thought once I'd admitted it to myself and to her and asked her out on a date that I'd be able to return to my carefree, suave ways. I was never nervous about dates. I was comfortable with women and enjoyed their company. I mean, it wasn't like I was some young newbie — I was a pro when it came to dating and wooing women.

So why was I so worked up over this one little date?

Why was I stalking the floors like an agitated tiger in a cage, questions and uncertainties swirling around in my brain like dust motes in a disturbed attic.

I released a growl of irritation and threw my arms up in the air. "This is ridiculous," I shouted at no one in particular and stomped grumpily towards my liquor cabinet, pulled out a bottle of whiskey, and poured myself a generous tumbler full. Leaning back I took a long swig, relishing the way the alcohol burned a fire-hot path down my throat and past my lungs to settle comfortingly in my gut.

"Oh whiskey," I smiled languorously at the glass in my hand, "my old friend. How've you been?"

Ok, I'm officially losing it, a voice known as Reason piped up in my head. I gave myself a shake.

Seriously, what was I doing? First, I was talking to myself; then I started talking to a bottle of whiskey.

I was really going mad.

And it was all her fault.

I'd thought admitting my feelings and asking her out would be the end of the hard stuff.

"Well," I muttered dryly, "I stand corrected. Apparently when it comes to Kikyo Sagai, nothing is ever easy."

My words came back to haunt me. I'd said that I liked the challenge she presented.

Ok, enough challenge. Enough challenge, I thought pitifully. Just tell me what to do! I let my head fall back and stared at my ceiling as if the heavens would appear and little cherubs — or something — would appear and I'd know what to do for our date tomorrow.

There were no trumpets and there were no heavenly proclamations.

Don't look so surprised.

"Bane of my existence," I muttered irritably and threw back the rest of the whiskey with gusto.

"Fresh air," I decided. "I need some fresh air. A walk is just what I need. Right," I tried to convince myself, but failed miserably. I decided to go to the nearby park anyway, desperate to get out of my own scrambled mind even if it was just for a moment.

I stepped outside and took in a deep breath of air, only to cough as the acrid pollution in the air assaulted my nose. Frowning, I left my front stoop and turned left, heading towards the park with long, tense strides, my hands shoved deep in the pockets of my basketball shorts.

When I got to the park I looked around at the manicured bushes and the trees with their fall foliage and felt my shoulders start to relax just a little. A few birds twittered merrily above my head and families frolicked through the park, some with dogs that jumped playfully at their ankles.

Ah, I thought with a happy sigh, just what I neede-


"What the-" I started, reaching up to touch my head. Too late I realized my mistake as my hand came into contact with something wet and hot as it slid in a sickening path down my hair.

"OH for ****'s sake! Bird crap? Seriously? You had to crap on my head! Could this day get any worse?!" I bellowed up at the birds that squawked in alarm — completely forgetting about the other occupants of the park.

As one, everyone turned to look at me. Dogs froze; frenzied barks dying in their mouths. Parents' eyes bugged comically and children stared at me with morbid fascination.

"Geez man," one young man in a hoody chastised, "try and keep it PG. You're in a park for crying out loud!"

"Oh, who made you the park police," I snarled, flashing my fangs at him angrily, causing him to pale slightly.

Brilliant, Inuyasha. Just brilliant – what a stellar, witty reply. I turned on my heel and with my dignity in shreds I stomped off, shoulders hunched, and headed back toward home and a hot shower that was now absolutely necessary.

Never mind the fact that I'd just had one less than half an hour before.


"Don't freak out, don't freak out," I repeated like a mantra as I tried to ward off the panic I felt bubbling in my chest.

I stared at my phone as if it was a deadly pathogen-carrying monstrosity. It sat on my polished wooden table, glowing brightly. To another person, no doubt it would have looked harmless enough. But a passerby wouldn't know the history between the sender of the text message and myself. The message in question flashed on the screen, demanding to be opened, but I had yet to oblige.

I'd been eating dinner, enjoying a bit of Vivaldi and a glass of red wine when my cell phone had danced wildly across the table, clattering noisily against my plate. I glanced at it carelessly as I picked it up, not really expecting it to be anything important — just something work related — so when I saw it was from an unknown sender with the subject line of, "Tomorrow's Date" my heart had lodged itself in my throat. I spilled a bit of wine as I simultaneously dropped the phone back onto the table, where it had been sitting since —silently goading me as I stared at it for a good ten minutes trying not to panic.

Somehow between that encounter in the meeting room on Thursday I'd managed to push the impending date out of my mind. I think deep down I'd hoped that he'd change his mind and not call me about it. Now I had to think of some way to weasel out of it, but I had no idea how.

He was my boss' son. I liked my job. I'd like to keep my job. It didn't seem like flaking out would be a wise decision since I had agreed to the date in the first place. It just didn't seem like a good option.

"There has to be a way," I muttered, distractedly wiping up the wine with a cloth napkin. "Just think, Kikyo. You're a lawyer, for heaven's sake. This should be a cake walk for you."

I glared at the phone, wishing I could just make it disappear in a puff of smoke and sparks.

"Well," I sighed, reaching out and picking it up. "First step: read the message to see what he says. Second step: devise an appropriate tactic to counter his message. Right" I nodded decisively and jabbed the ok button with my finger.

"Tomorrow, 7 o'clock at Shinjuku station. Wear your dancing shoes."

I raised an eyebrow at the last line and was about to start formulating how to fake sudden illness when my phone shook in my heads and the words "Unknown Caller" flashed across the screen. I was going to ignore it but as I was reaching for the button I accidentally accepted it instead.

I swallowed the curse on the tip of my tongue — no way I could feign missing the call now — and brought it to my ear with a sense of trepidation.

I needed a plan. Like now. But none were coming.

Come on, come on. Think! I cried frantically in my mind.

"Hello," I said out loud, grimacing at how flustered I sounded. Squaring my shoulders I added in a professionally clipped tone, "Kikyo Sagai speaking."

"Kikyo — It's Inuyasha," his voice sounded over the phone and a shiver ran unbidden down my spine, leaving me feeling absolutely mortified.

"Oh," I pretended to be surprised. I'll just take a page out of his book: play dumb, I thought smugly.

"I sent you a message about tomorrow because I thought you might be busy, but well," he paused and actually sounded — dare I say nervous? "Call me old fashioned, but it just doesn't feel right texting you about a date. It seems so impersonal and sloppy."

My traitorous stomach flip-flopped happily and a tiny voice squealed intelligently in my mind, Aaaaaw!

Quickly silencing that ridiculous, asinine voice I scowled and replied, "Oh yes, I got your message. I was busy, sorry."

Liar, another voice piped up accusatorily.

"Are you ok to talk now, or should I call back later," he asked thoughtfully. He spoke so differently now. It's just so weeeeeird, I thought with a shake of my head. Du-du-du-duuuuuu, du-du-du-duuuuuu the Twilight Zone theme ran through my mind and I nearly giggled despite myself.

Ok, I glanced at my nearly empty glass of wine, maybe I've had a little too much of that


Oh shoot, right, I have to respond. "Sorry, um," I tried to collect my wits — what had he been saying again? "Yes, I can talk now — as long as it's brief."

One point for me, I thought giddily. Keep it short, good idea!

"Right, well, about tomorrow — I just wanted to make sure you weren't planning on faking getting sick or something," he chuckled, a low, rich sound that made my heart flutter.

"It occurred to me that you might be tempted to back out, but I really hope that you don't do that," he continued.

Now what am I going to do? I wailed mentally. I can't text him tomorrow and say I caught the flu or something equally gross and unattractive.

When I didn't respond right away he let out a barking laugh, "You were planning on it, weren't you? Let me guess, you were considering the flu. It's serious enough to warrant canceling and also gross enough to discourage suitors from coming over with hot soup and the good intention of taking care of you."

Wha-? I thought, eyes wide, this is just beyond irritating. How did he—

"I'm insulted," I retorted snippily, stamping out the little guilty feeling that niggled in my gut. "I would never dream of doing something so juvenile."

"Of course," he responded, voice placating, but I suspected he didn't believe me for a second. "Well in that case, I'd like you to meet me at Shinjuku station, exit 5, at 7 o'clock tomorrow."

"Why not just meet wherever it is we are going?" I frowned. "I'm assuming we are going out to eat — why not just meet there?"

"And ruin the surprise," he scoffed. "I'd rather not, if you don't mind."

"Fine," I grumbled.

"It's just one date, Kikyo, I promise you it won't kill you," he teased.

"I'm not so sure," I shot back snarkily. "I wouldn't be surprised if it did."

"Well, you'll never know if you don't show up," he chuckled. "Besides, if you did decide to be a no-show, you'd have to live with the fact that you, hot shot lawyer, had actually backed down from a challenge."

"The horror," I mocked.

"Indeed," he intoned seriously, "well on that note I'll let you get back to whatever you were so busy doing. Tomorrow, 7 o'clock."

"I'll be there, I'll be there," I groused to which he responded with a chuckle before I snapped the phone shut with a satisfying click.


"Aaaaaaaaaaah," I let out a long, happy sigh as I settled down in the steaming hot spring at the 300-year-old onsen ryoukan we'd made reservations at. "Now this is what I'm talking about."

Sango eased a foot in and winced slightly, quickly withdrawing the appendage. "Dear Lord," she grumbled, "I don't know how you can just get in. It's practically boiling!"

"Weakling," I teased, sticking my nose up into the air. I wrapped my little white towel around my hair, which I'd pulled up into a messy topknot. "Seriously, Sango. Everytime we go to a hot spring or a public bath, I tell you the same thing — you just have to suck it up and get in."

"I know," she snapped, jabbing her foot back in the water and cringing, "but it's so HOT."

"That's kind of the point," I teased, standing up and walking over to the edge of the large pool where she stood stark naked in the cold air. "If you don't hurry up, you are soooo going to catch a cold, dork! Come on," I said as I grabbed her arms and gave a mighty tug, pulling her into the water up to her knees.


"No duh," I snickered, splashing her with some of the hot water. "Stop being such a baby. This was your idea I'll have you remember! Besides, you're going to disturb the other guests." I glanced over at some older women that were standing watching us, whispering disapprovingly at the top of the stairs that exited the main building. "Case in point."

She looked back at them and then glared daggers at me as she stood statue still in the hot water. "It's not that I don't love hot springs," she whined, "It's just…"

"You have sensitive skin," I teased. "I bet Miroku loves how sensitive your skin is when he-"

"Kagome!" she gasped, face turning dark as a beet.

"When he touches your-" I whispered, but was suddenly cut off when an absurd amount of hot water slammed into my face and left me spluttering. I coughed and opened my eyes after a long moment, reaching for the towel that had fallen in the water behind me. Sango stood across from me, grinning sheepishly. "Well," I said, a smile tugging at the edges of my mouth, "Look at you. You're finally in the water."

The older women muttered under their breaths and shaking their heads retreated back inside to the indoor hot spring, where they must have decided there was less of a risk of being disturbed by noisy youngsters.

Giggling uncomfortably after they shot us a final, collective, chastising glare, we moved to the far edge of the pool where we could really appreciate the view. This particular pool was located outside and the entire thing had been constructed out of beautiful, smooth stones the color of a stormy winter sky. Great wooden beams, the color of dark cedar, held up the roof overhead and along with more dark stones made up the walls on the left and right, leaving the front side of the pool completely open to the elements. Just on the other side of the rock wall that formed the far side of the pool where we sat, a clear river burbled past, steam rolling off its surface in great clouds like swirling smoke. It was so close, if you leaned over the side of the wall, you could brush its surface with your fingertips. On the opposing bank it was solid trees growing up the steep hill, and behind the trees, well out of view, was the secondary building of the hotel where guests could enjoy traditional dinners in the evening. To the right, we could see the surrounding mountains of the National Park the old hotel was nestled in, and to the left the river continued on past an old swinging rope bridge that hung between the main and secondary buildings. It was quiet, with only the sound of the flowing river, singing birds, and rustling leaves breaking the silence.

Sango drew in a deep breath then let it out with a happy sigh. "No cars. No honking horns. No trains rattling by. No bicycle bells. This is a slice of heaven right here."

I smiled lazily, laying my arms down on the rock wall and resting my chin on them as I let my body float up to the top of the water. "I couldn't agree more. This is luxurious."

"I wonder how Miroku and Sesshoumaru are doing," Sango mumbled and I suddenly remembered that somewhere down the river – to our left – the men were alone, naked, in a similar pool designated for the male guests of the hotel. Somewhere down there – Sesshoumaru was naked.

Sweet mother of go-

My face must have changed as my brain short-circuited from the perverted path it had been taking, because Sango immediately started to laugh. "You are too funny," she chortled. "Thinking about your man naked, are we?"

"No!" I yelped in blatant denial.

"You were!" she crowed victoriously.

"Was not!"

"Were too!"

"Enough!" I squeaked, "Don't tell me you weren't thinking of Miroku naked, because we both know you were!"

Sango feigned innocence, "No, I wasn't. I was honestly wondering how they were doing — like what are they talking about?"

I blinked owlishly, realizing that she had a point — whether or not her claims of innocence were true or not. "You're right," I whispered conspiratorially, "what in the world could they possibly be talking about?"

"A business tycoon and a journalist…" Sango said slowly, the wheels in her brain visibly struggling to turn.

"A taiyoukai and a mere mortal…."

"Oh how I wish I were a fly on the wall for that conversation," she grinned mischievously.

"No kidding," I laughed. "But speaking of conversations, I think you owe me one with scintillating details about you and your lover boy," I turned on her, grinning wolfishly.

"What?" she tried to play dumb.

"You heard me, you weasel," I grabbed her ponytail in one hand, threatening to tug on it if she refused.

"Uncle, uncle!" she squawked, "Not the hair! Anything but the hair…."

"Spill," I ordered, giving a little tug.

"Ok, ok, but hands off — deal?"

"Deal," I smirked haughtily. "So have you two, you know?" I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively and Sango spluttered loudly, choking herself on her own spit in her embarrassment and surprise.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'."

"No!" she yelped, waving her hands frantically.

"Whatever you say, you naughty girl, you," I cackled.

"No! We haven't! I swear!"




"No!" a feminine voice that I knew as well as my own echoed down the river.

My head shot up and I saw a wicked smirk twisting Sesshoumaru's lips. We had both been sitting in companionable silence enjoying the steaming hot water and the blessed quiet of the nature surrounding us when the girl's conversation floated down the banks.

"Whatever you say, you naughty girl, you," another voice I recognized laughed wickedly.

"No, we haven't! I swear!" Sango shouted desperately.

I couldn't hear if Kagome said anything in response, but after only a few seconds Sango let out a bloodcurdling, "Kagoooooooooome!"

Eyes wide, I turned back to look at Sesshoumaru who was grinning like the cat that had caught the canary. "What in the world are those two shouting about?"

"Whether or not you two have participated in carnal acts together before matrimony, of course," he responded in a nonchalant voice that belied the predatory look in his lion-like eyes.

"Oh," I coughed and slid off the stone bench along the wall of the pool, happily letting the water close over my head. Hmm… I think I'll just sit here and drown from mortification…





† End Chapter †

Please review, if you feel so inclined! And thank you to anyone who took the time to read - I hope it wasn't terrible, and that at the very least there was something in it (hopefully more than one thing) that made you smile, or giggle, or maybe even laugh! Thank you! :) Happy Thanksgiving (a week early, but so be it!)