Hooray for Inuyasha.
Hooray for Takahashi.
I don't pretend I made 'em,
So there's no need to squash me.
Kindly enjoy this final chapter.
"...can't believe the way you acted earlier but at least you agreed to settle this like a man," Kagome's human tagalong was prattling on. "Now don't get distracted by the crowd because I simply won't want anyone saying I hit you while you were blah blah blah..."
Inuyasha felt one eyebrow rise like a hawk on a thermal. Was this kid serious?
Well, finding Kagome in all this mess might have turned out to be more difficult than he'd expected, but at least there was some entertainment to be had in the meantime.
"Are you going to tell me your name or are you just Number Thirty-Four to me?" asked the puffy-faced human.
Inuyasha was only too happy to oblige, "You can call me Inuyasha," he said, jabbing one glove-encased thumb toward his chest. "And you'd better do it soon because you might have some trouble after I crack open that skull of yours."
Hojo rolled his eyes. "I meant your real name."
"Huh?" Inuyasha blinked. "That is my real name."
"Yeah right," Hojo waved one red fist, "who do you think you are, some gangster?"
What was a gangster? Inuyasha didn't stir anything during dinnertime; Kagome or Miroku did that shit.
"Can you even get that made into a name seal?" Hojo blathered on. "How stupid do you think I am? Like any mother with an IQ over twenty would name her son that."
Inuyasha felt his cheeks get red. He wasn't sure what this dude was talking about, but it was pissing him off. "My dad named me that!" Inuyasha stepped forward, rapping a glove against Hojo's chest. "And ofukuro's eye cue was," he floundered, "...way over twenty!"
"Evidently," Hojo answered pointedly.
Inuyasha growled, not caring if anyone heard him. How the hell could this bleating boy still have two unbroken legs and – Inuyasha leaned in –all of his teeth?! To hell with Frecklehead and Puffercheeks. If they couldn't take this boy out on their own, then there was something wrong with both of them. There was something wrong with this whole stupid, stinking city! Inuyasha shook his head. "No wonder Kagome acts so fucking weird!" he muttered.
"Hey!" snapped Hojo, tapped one glove-entombed hand against Inuyasha's chest. "Don't you use that kind of language about a lady!"
"I'm gonna use whatever I want about a lady!" Inuyasha snapped. He poked back, mirroring Hojo's move with his own gloves. Fatface hadn't mentioned this alongside jab, hook and cross, but maybe it was some kind of pre-fight fight thing.
Hojo poked back harder.
Inuyasha poked back harder still, until the tapping of glove on chestguard pattered like a pent-in rain.
"All right, you two!" shouted the umpire. Hojo stopped immediately. Inuyasha felt no such qualm but pulled his fists back anyway. Better to save his energy for a real blow.
The metal wand in the umpire's hand gave an eldritch squeal as he raised it to his mouth.
He'd taken out all those other skipping human striplings without hurting them. Okay, without trying to hurt them. This one was making him rethink going to all that effort.
Kagome felt as though she were sinking, down and down and down into the earth. Unfortunately, the fluorescent lights overhead and that chatter of her three friends refused to get any futher away.
"Yay, Hojo!" cheered Yuka
"Yay for our friend with the yoga fetish," leered Eri. "Someone, please drop something for him to pick up!"
"Eri!" squealed Ayumi.
The white-haired fighter was facing away from Kagome, but she didn't have much in the way of doubts left. She couldn't see his face, but she could see Hojo's. The class champion was shaking his head, mouth set, eyes resolute with all the strait-laced gumption she'd seen him show the cola boy.
Kagome had to admit: under other circumstances, it might be kind of cute. Hojo might offer local hoodlums his unsolicited opinion, but he was probably the only spotless schoolboy in a fifty-mile radius who could actually back it up. The boy who'd spilled soda on her earlier – and who was now very very conspicuously absent – might not have swallowed his words but there would've been plenty of blood in his mouth to make up for that.
Hojo and the white-haired figher took their places in the ring. Inuyasha seemed lighter on his feet than ever. The back of his head tilted, helmet and all, and Kagome could imagine those bright yellow eyes flicking up and down Hojo's lean frame, looking for just the right place to slam those terrible fists.
Kagome's mind worked quickly. Inuyasha had been loose in the tournament probably since it had started. No one had yet been carried out in a body bag, so he must have been careful, or at least careful enough. The two fighters rotated into their start positions and Kagome bit down on her lower lip. She'd seen that look in Inuyasha's steel-gold eyes before, namely all the times Kouga showed up. She had a funny feeling that Hojo wasn't going to get out of this with just some dust on his headband and his tail pulled out of joint.
She flicked her eyes toward the trio of her supposedly fellow junior high girls. Well... There were worse things in life than hearing Eri hit high G when she learned what she thought was a scandal.
The referee lifted his hand. Kagome tensed in her seat, not sure what she should do.
Inuyasha threw a jab at Hojo's mumbling mouth.
"Yeep!" a shrill squeak escaped the boy, but he managed to twirl out of the way in time for Inuyasha's glove to touch nothing but air.
Huh. That one punch had worked on most of the other bleeding striplings that the judges had propped up in front of him as opponents. Inuyasha narrowed his eyes as Hojo half-jumped up and down in front of him. Maybe this stink-scented kiddo did have something going on.
He struck again and Hojo hopped to the side, just like a pugnacious bunny that had watched too many combat movies. Inuyasha shook his head inside the confining helmet. Damn, but he wasn't used to these restrictions! A white puffball over his ears, red puffballs over his hands, and he was only allowed to use three different moves, none of which would be worth owl shit in a real fight.
He felt his smirk grow beneath the confines of his cheek guards. Not like he'd let that stop him. The twerpish human ducked to the side in what he probably thought was a feint. Inuyasha pulled back one mighty fist and threw hard, downward. The human ducked again. This time it was too late to do anything but follow through. Inuyasha gritted his teeth as his fist slammed hard into the mat.
Inuyasha's eyes narrowed, watching Hojo bounce on the balls of his feet. All right, so maybe he would have to break a sweat after all. Inuyasha sent a cross to Hojo's shoulder. Predictably, he moved left. He sent a hook to his jaw. Moved right, sure as sunrise.
A smirk formed underneath the helmet. He had just the thing. Inuyasha jumped backward, pulling his arm into an arch. This move had a fifty-fifty shot against Kouga, and this boy was no Kouga. He tensed, ready to dart forward and knock not-even-good-enough-to-be-wolf-turd flat on his ass.
Inuyasha's neck twisted toward the sound. He knew that shrill voice! He scanned the crowd. Damn these echoes! She'd probably ducked down.
"Hey, Kagome!" his opponent shouted cheerfully. "It's sweet of you to cheer me on, but don't distract me during the fight."
Inuyasha growled audibly as his head snapped around, "Oy! Kagome!" he shouted.
Koouff!! One gloved hand connected with Inuyasha's round cheeks. Served him right for failing to pay attention in the middle of a fight. Kagome would have to wait.
"All right, human brat!" Inuyasha said darkly. "I hope you enjoyed that punch, because it's the—"
Hojo narrowed his eyes and jumped forward with a hook-jab combo.
Inuyasha leapt neatly to the side. "—last—"
Unfazed, the boy tried again, feinting slyly to the left.
Inuyasha dodged again. ''—you'll—"
There was a hideous fweeepp!! and Inuyasha clamped his hands over his cowering ears. Damned pouf of a helmet! A human in striped gear stepped forward. "Audible!" He waved an arm between Hojo and himself.
"One point!" said Stripegut, backing swiftly away.
"We lose points for swearing?" Inuyasha asked.
"Yes!" huffed Hojo. "Didn't you read the rule book?"
"Fuck, no!" answered Inuyasha.
"Audible!" Stripey yelled again.
"Whatever." He jabbed a carpeted claw at Hojo. "Get ready to have your ass handed to you!"
"Please stop that," Hojo sounded like he was pumping exasperation into his voice with a mainline. "If you do it enough, they'll disqualify you and I want to win this bout with my own skill and perseverence, not your bad manners."
"God, you're annoying!" said Inuyasha. He looked back at the striped man, "Can I hit him again, yet?"
"No!" shrilled a voice from the stands.
"You stay out of this, you stupid girl!" Inuyasha shouted back.
"Hmm!" tsked Hojo.
"I can hit him if I want; the rules say so!" Inuyasha's searching ears finally homed in on the familiar sound of scolding. His eyes darted through a flock of three little magpies fluttering around her elbows and settled on Kagome's face.
Inuyasha gulped hard. Perhaps fighting her pet human hadn't been such a good idea. He saw her eyes narrow. Even coming all this way to the tournament was starting to look less brilliant than it had just a second before.
He tried to raise his hands but it was too late.
"In-u-ya-shaaaaaaaaaa!!" Everything slowed down. Kagome's mouth opened, showing perfect, terrible white teeth.
Inuyasha braced and took a dive into the mat—
—and sprung right back up again, looking left and right in confusion.
"Osuwari!" she yelled again.
Inuaysha was back on his feet in record time, a strange expression on his face. "Hey!" he shouted, poking at the floor with his feet. "The fuck? This stuff is great!"
There was a terrified shriek from the stands. A familiar voice shouted. "Dammit! Oooooh, Osuwari!"
"It's okay, people!" Hojo had reappeared at Inuyasha's elbow and was waving both gloves in the air. "She has Tourette's!"
Inuyasha was back on his feet in record time. "That didn't hurt!" he shouted into the crowd. "Ha! You can do that all you want, bitch!"
Her nose screwed up. "Osuwari!"
Down –smack!– and back up! Inuyasha laughed out loud, his momentary freedom. Oh but he was so going to get it later. He could feel Kagome grit her teeth. But she so couldn't give it to him now and she knew it.
And he knew it.
"Hey!" Hojo shoved Inuyasha hard on the shoulder. The human's round face was turning purple. He screwed up his fists. "Stop making fun of Kagome's problem!"
Inuyasha's head flipped to the left in time to see a big red puffball smack straight for his nose.
"Kagome, do you know that boy?" asked Ayumi.
"What did you yell just now?"
"Can you introduce me?"
Kagome barely heard them.
This wasn't working. All she'd managed to do was stir up the girls. Inuyasha's attention span must have been feeling more tolerant toward smashing another stupid boy into the mats than it was to dragging her feet-first back to the sengoku jidai. Under other circumstances, she would have been thrilled.
She jumped to her feet, "InuyashaIswearifyouhurthimmorethanyou'resupposedtoIwillmakeyouwillregretitfortherestofyourlife!!"
"Huh?" asked Yuka.
"Did you say 'Inuyasha'?" said Ayumi. Her eyes lit up like firecrackers. "Yoga boy down there is your no-goodnik boyfriend?"
"EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" squealed Eri. "No wonder you let him get away with being such a jerk. Why didn't you tell us he was hot, Kagome?"
Kagome's spirit sank as Eri and Yuka gasped in adolescent horror. Inuyasha just stood there, grinning widely, not the slightest bit fazed as Hojo popped him another one in the mouth. Kagome swallowed hard. Inuaysha flicked both eyes toward her and – damn him and his red shorts – he smiled.
Jab. Jab. Hook. Cross. Hojo was starting to look confused. Jab. Hook. Jab. Cro—
"What the—?!" Hojo found himself wiggling all four limbs in the air ladybug-style as Inuyasha pulled both claw-muzzled red fists around his waist and pulled him over head.
"You've had this coming for a long time, human!"
"Inuyasha put him down right now!!"
The referee's whistle fweeped angrily.
"You keep that up, boy, and you're disqualified!"
The hanyou frowned, still balancing the wriggling Hojo over his head. "Disquali-what?"
Kagome smacked herself over the eye. If there were anything less likely to discourage a superpowered knucklehead on the rampage...
"I'm going to count to three!" called the ref.
Inuyasha shrugged, gaining a frustrated squeak from Hojo, "If you say so."
"Put me down now, you cheater!" shouted Hojo.
"Keep dreamin' pal!"
Inuyasha spun Hojo overhead like a top.
The whistle squealed again.
"Match! Put the boxer down, sir!"
"Inuyasha!" Kagome called from the stands. "The fight's over!"
"No it's not!" Inuyasha called back, "He's still got both his arms stuck on yet!"
"Okay, okay..." Inuyasha dumped Hojo unceremoniously on the mat. Hojo didn't quite manage to get up as quickly as Inuyasha had, but he'd staggered dizzily to his feet in time for the referee to grab him by the forearm.
"Winner!" he shouted.
"What?" snorted Inuyasha.
"Umm..." Hojo frowned dizzily. "I ...don't know if this should count as a win for me. Not that I'm mistrusting your judgment, sir."
"Fuck right it's not a win for you! What the hell?!"
"Oh boy," whispered Kagome.
"Ooooooh!" Ayumi chimed in.
"Is he going to pick a fight with the referee?" asked Eri.
"No," said Kagome, slipping up from her seat. "No he's not." She turned to Ayumi and Yuka with what she hoped was a sincere smile in her eyes. "Would you girls do me a favor and see that Hojo gets home?" she asked sweetly. "And thank him for the invitation for me?"
"Okay..." said Yuka, "but what are you going to do?"
Kagome's feet were already halfway to the stairs as all the sugar left her voice. "I'm going to drag him out of there by his ears."
"Can I watch?" asked Eri.
"Seriously, it's not like I care who wins this stupid thing," Inuyasha explained, "but if you have a guy up in the air and flopping around like a fish, then he is not the one winning."
"The fight is over, contestant," said the striped human. "Please leave the ring."
"I will be more than happy to fight you another time," Hojo tacked on, his twitching eyes focusing somewhere over Inuyasha's right shoulder, "after you've learned a little more about boxing!"
"Oh, I'll box you," he snarled back.
"Inuaysha!" someone was tugging at his elbow.
"Just a second," he answered, taking another step towards Hojo.
"Inuyasha!" the voice insisted.
He shook his head, "Oh what is—" he blinked. "Kagome!"
"Kagome?" asked Hojo, head wavering.
"Hello, Hojo! You fought very well today!" she answered brightly before turning to Inuyasha in a half-growl. "We are going home right now!"
"About time someone here made any sense," Inuyasha agreed. "Sango and Miroku oughtta' be ready to leave by the time we get there; there have been rumors of a shard in—"
"I meant my home!"
"Oh, sure. Just give me a minute," he held up one hand and reached back toward Hojo.
Kagome grabbed his arm and pulled, "No more of that! You're done!"
"No! Besides," Kagome practically growled, "if you want to beat the daylights out of someone, I have the perfect victim in mind."
"No, Hojo, she said she had to go," said Ayumi sympathetically.
"It was really an emergency," added Yuka emphatically.
"It was so nice of you to invite all of us," finished Eri, looking at the boys headed toward the locker room.
"Thank you, ladies," said Hojo, the fingers of his freed hand going loose around his trophy. "I hope you had a nice time," he said, his head twitching slightly as he forced his eyes into focus.
"I would've had a nicer time if yoga boy hadn't already had a girlfriend," muttered Eri.
"I said I couldn't have had a nicer time even if the contest hadn't been won by my friend," said Eri.
"Oh. Well, would you excuse me for a minute? I have to go change before I get a ride home and feed the cucumbers."
"Uh..." said Yuka. "Sure."
"We'll be right here," said Ayumi.
Hojo stode off, his gait as confident as ever. He walked smack into the wall next to the doorframe, righted himself, patted the wall until his hand found the doorknob and walked into the locker room.
"Sometimes I worry," confessed Eri to no one in particular.
"Ugh, tell me about," said a freckled boy who'd materialized at her elbow.
"I know, after all wedo for them!" she replied.
"There's just no help for it!" he said.
Eri shook her head and looked away.
"Hey," the boy prodded her elbow. "Do you want to go make out?"
"Oh hell yes," answered Eri. She waved to Yuka and Ayumi. "Check in with you later!"
Bertram gasped and forced himself into a sitting position. He blinked heavily. Yes... his head was throbbing like a porn star's ass, his bags and number were missing and he suspected that someone had stuffed stinkbugs down the back of his shirt before chucking him under the bush.
Lucky thirty-four his beetle-basted ass!
"Oh, man!" he cried. "Not again!"
The evening air was soft beneath the goshinboku tree. The smell of dinner was already making its way toward them from the kitchen window. Souta was completely unfazed.
"Sis," he intoned stoically, crossing his arms. "After all the crap I got after you ratted on me, this—" he waved one hand in the empty air around his head, "—is nothing!"
"So this was about the Hello Kitty doll?" asked Kagome.
"It's Fuzzie-dono-sama to you," answered Souta, his standup hair swaying slightly. "And now we're even."
One eyebrow quirked. "You're taking this awfully calmly," she said.
"I was expecting something like this." Souta folded his arms, "But I know that Inu-no-nii chan isn't going to hurt me after I told him how to find you."
"He's right Kagome," said Inuyasha, shifting his grip on Souta's ankles as he held him upside-down over the grass. "I really wouldn't."
"You shut up!" hissed Kagome.
"My revenge is complete!" cried Souta, tossing both fists groundward.
"Drop him," said Kagome.
"No," said Inuyasha.
"Glak!" Inuyasha dive-bombed int the ground, captive Higurashi and all.
"Get off me!" Souta yelled in muffled panic.
"I can't," Inuyasha answered wearily. "Just got to wait it out. Take a deep breath—"
"But I can't breathe under here!" Souta's arms and one free leg flailed, catching Inuyasha upside the head. Kagome turned and walked toward the house. She probably had a good forty seconds. Plenty of time to start some tea.
"Ow! Human, let go of the ears!"