A Time for Pizza
Summary: [Crossover YYH's Spirit Detectives get curious about Kagome and 'invite' her over for dinner. Too bad they neglected to actually ASK her… [Completely romance free.
Author's Note: Set sometime after the 20th Inuyasha manga, and after the Dark Tournament. We'll pretend they coincide.
Disclaimer: I own no characters or settings, and I ate the last of the pizza for breakfast. Oh, I also disclaim the quote from the sci-fi series Doctor Who that slipped in here totally and completely by accident.
ON WITH THE SHOW!
There was no way around it. Inuyasha was moping. Moping and moaning and generally making everyone miserable. Kagome rather thought he was overreacting.
"You're not the first person in the world to come down with a cold, you know," she lectured him, or at least to the general area. "And trust me, you certainly won't be the last."
She was sitting on the porch of the house they had stayed the night in. Once upon a time it had been quite rich. And then it had been abandoned, thanks to the petty demon that had made a habit of launching raids down from the unnaturally snowy slopes of the adjacent mountain. Livestock, hunters' game, corpses, small children…almost anything organic and portable had been snatched.
Its latest prey had been Shippo, and in the course of rescuing the little fox-demon, Inuyasha had been shoved squarely into a very deep snowdrift. The sudden shock had not agreed with his metabolism, and within a few hours of descending the mountain, Shippo in relieved tow, he had developed what was definitely a cold.
"Shaddup," Inuyasha responded, somewhat muffled by the layer of boards between him and Kagome. "This is all the brat's fault."
Kagome sighed and tuned out the rest of his complaining for about five minutes, after which she lost patience and left him sermonizing to three snails and a rock against snow, Shippo, blizzard demons, mountains, Shippo, and stupid human diseases.
It was going to be a long two days back to the Bone-Eater's Well.
Kagome had thought she'd been acquainted with the concept of 'uncomfortable', but the trip back to the Bone-Eater's Well and Inuyasha's home forest gave a brand new depth of understanding to it. By the time they got there, Inuyasha was definitely sick, and everyone else was sick of him.
A succession of cajoling, suggesting, and just plain ordering the half-demon to at least talk to Kaede finally paid off. Kagome had considered giving him some of the aspirin she kept in her bag, but didn't know what sort of effect it would have on his system. She didn't want to end up poisoning him. Unfortunately, the herbalist, who refrained from laughing at the sulking demon, ended up ordering him to stay out of trouble…and the water…for a full week.
Inuyasha was not happy.
Miroku, Sango, and Shippo had made tracks as soon as they could, promising to come back and meet up again in a week. Inuyasha, bored and pissed off, was no fun, and Inuyasha all that, sick, and not having had a bath for a week, was likely to be truly awful.
Kagome, like her friends, had seized on this excuse to make a quick escape down the well and back to her own time, leaving Inuyasha to grump at no one in particular.
Blinking blue light from her eyes as she landed at the bottom of the well, the force of her fall dispersed by the transit through time, Kagome sighed with relief—and coughed. Yes, you could always tell which time period you were in, just by breathing. The Feudal Era might be dirty, rough, and full of demons and humans who were just as bad, but it did not have downshifting trucks and all the fumes they generated.
She was forced to admit that Inuyasha had a point. The same half-demon who was perfectly alright with being covered with demon blood absolutely loathed the smell of petrol exhaust. At least demon blood was natural.
"All right! That's it!" she said aloud, shaking her head to dispel the thoughts. "I'm starting to think like him. Do I need a break or what?"
Hoisting her yellow bag over her shoulder, Kagome climbed out of the ladder her grandfather had lowered into the well as a permanent installation. Dropping the bag on the floor at the top, Kagome headed for her house with a sigh of relief.
"Hi Mom! I'm back! What day is it?" Kagome called as she slipped her shoes off at the door.
"Hey sis! You've got mud on you!"
"Mud is the least of my problems," Kagome informed her little brother archly. "Where's Mom?"
Souta spoke through the lollipop he was eating. "Out shopping."
"Leaving you to make lunch out of whatever you could find, huh?"
He grinned, a sticky, gummy, purple production. "Pretty much. And it's Wednesday."
"Thank you. Ok, I'm going to go take a shower, and then a nap. And then maybe another shower. Tell mom I'm back, will you?"
"Sure thing, sis. You want a lollipop?" He generously offered her the luridly purple thing currently glued to his hand.
"Uh…no thanks, Souta, you eat it."
Kagome beat a fast retreat up the stairs to her bathroom, where she debated with herself between a bath or a shower. Realizing regretfully that she would no doubt fall asleep in a hot bath, she started the shower running and kicked her grubby clothes into a corner to deal with later, possibly with an incinerator.
Thursday: fun with school, which was just as stressful as the Feudal Era without being potentially fatal—with the usual exception of math class—and boasting the usual display of Hojo-evasion tactics.
"I've been away in the country," Kagome told her friends, her teachers, and anyone else who asked, "for my health." This was technically true, although it had been healthy only because if Inuyasha had continued to hang around her house and bug her about coming back through the well and resuming their search, she would have started a fight that would have left all concerned very unhappy.
She managed to get through the day without anything too awful happening, although the news that she'd missed two math tests and the full contents of an important book in Literature did nothing to lift her mood.
"Let's get out of here," she said to her three best friends as the final bell rang. "Go get a snack or something."
Armed with sleeves of popcorn, the four girls wandered down to the nearby park to sit on the swings and chat.
"Oh, too late," Ayumi said disgustedly at the sight of a gaggle of high school girls festooning the kiddie-age playground. "That lot isn't going to move any time soon."
"I wonder what they're doing here." Eri pointed out. "I mean, it's nowhere near any high schools; the closest one is a few miles away."
"They're high schoolers, Eri, I bet they all drove," Kagome reminded her. "Still, there's no reason why they can't share."
Eri eyeballed her. "Wow, you have been gone a long time, Kagome-chan. Teenagers aren't like that."
Kagome wasn't listening. "Hi," she addressed the mob cheerfully. "What are you all doing over here?"
"Waiting for someone," one of them told her.
"Someone in particular, or just anyone?"
"Don't be stupid, we know where he is," the blonde told her. The dye job looked patchy, and Kagome was willing to bet she'd done it by herself. "He's in there."
"What, and you're all of you waiting for him? Popular guy."
The blonde winked at her obnoxiously. "You girls going on the trail back in the woods there?"
For the sake of argument, Kagome shrugged. "Maybe."
"If you see him, don't tell him we're here."
"No problem." Kagome left the blonde to her shared vigil and walked back to her friends. "You were right, Ayumi. They're not going to budge."
Ayumi rolled her eyes. "Well, as long as we're here, there are a few clearings along that trail over there. What'd you say we go and hang out in there?"
Kagome didn't have the heart to be the naysayer, despite the fact that she was sick and tired of walking through the woods. She tagged along behind her friends, pitching popcorn in the direction of various pigeons. By the time they hit the first clearing, there was a flock bobbing hopefully along behind them.
"What! Yah! Where'd the birds come from?" Eri yelped as she sat down and looked around. "Get 'em away!"
"Sheesh, Eri, they're only pigeons," Kagome told her. After dealing with demons for eighty percent of the last year, she didn't quite see how anyone could be worried about stupid, fluffy, little birds.
"I don't like them, Kagome-chan! Lead them off, will you?"
Kagome rolled her eyes (with her back to Eri so her friend wouldn't see) and walked off further down the trail to distract the pigeons. To avoid a repeat of Eri's tantrum, she waited until she had rounded several bends in the trail before dumping the remains of her popcorn sleeve out on the ground.
About to turn around and head back to the girls, Kagome stopped suddenly, squinting. It was diluted through the entire area, but she could distinctly see a demonic aura!
She restrained an urge to groan, wanting to keep quiet lest the demon realize she was relatively alone and unarmed. Casting around on the floor, she picked up a stick and hefted it. It wasn't a bow and arrow, not by a long shot, but it was wooden and straight. Maybe, if she threw it, she could fool her power into working anyway.
Thus armed, Kagome took hold of her courage and crept forward down the rocky path.
Entering the next clearing down the line, she looked around. The aura was growing a little bit stronger, but she couldn't get a fix on where it was coming from yet. When she shifted her vision from the dreamy world of auras to the real one, she jumped in the air with shock.
"Oh! Sorry! I didn't see you there…hah…"
The strange boy looked steadily at her, waiting for her to finish. He had very long red hair that clashed gruesomely with the magenta school uniform he was wearing. The uniform rang a bell in her mind.
"Um, I think there's a group of fairly horrible girls out on the playground looking for you…at least, I think it's for you," she hazarded.
He sighed. "Are they still there? I thought they might have gotten bored by now."
"They probably won't come out here, but I don't think they're planning on leaving any time soon."
"Oh, they'll leave eventually. They always do."
Kagome's eyebrows lifted. "What, this is normal?"
The redhead smiled at her. "Unfortunately, there's nothing I can really do about it without getting in trouble. Why are you holding a stick?"
Her mouth opened, and nothing came out. 'I was going to hit a demon with it when I found out where it was. The demon, not the stick. Er.' didn't sound very good.
"In case I needed it," she said finally.
He seemed to dismiss this. "Thanks for telling me about the stalkers. The last thing I want to do is walk into them."
"What are you going to do?" Kagome asked as he pulled himself to his feet, not looking remotely stiff or sore from sitting on a forest floor for a while.
"Just leave in another direction, I suppose," the redhead shrugged. "I think I remember where these woods come out, if you break off halfway down the trail. It should be a safe distance away."
Kagome had barely gotten over the beginnings of surprise that he was casually suggesting hiking through the woods, off the trail, before he offered her his hand. "I'm Shuichi Minamino, by the way. I appreciate it."
"Kagome!" Kagome stuttered, taking the proffered hand briefly and dropping her stick in the process. "Kagome Higurashi! Um, you're welcome!"
"I think your friends are calling you, Miss Higurashi," he offered over his shoulder as he left. "You'd better get back to them."
"What?" Kagome said brilliantly half a second before her trio of absolutely normal friends came round the corner in pursuit of her.
"There you are, Kagome!" Yuka cried, putting her hands on her shoulders. "What on earth takes so long just to distract a few birds?"
"Er, sorry," she apologized, still confused. "Met someone. Said hi."
"And?" Ayumi prodded, always on the lookout for a story.
"And nothing, Ayumi-chan! I'd never seen him before in my life—"
"Oh, so it was a 'him'!" she cooed, grinning at the exasperated look on Kagome's face.
"—and I will never see him again, so there," Kagome completed her sentence. "Now, what were we talking about?"
She didn't even notice when the demonic aura fell off her internal radar.
"Are you all right, Kagome?" her mother said over dinner.
"Yeah, I'm fine, Mom. I just feel a little odd. And no, Gramps, I didn't step in front of any evil occult spells this time."
Her grandfather 'hmph'ed into his bowl. "Ah, but you might not have noticed!" he rallied bravely.
"Gramps! I most definitely would have noticed!"
"Maybe you're coming down with a cold," her mother tried.
Kagome giggled. "Oh, I'm not the one with the cold," she said, and had to explain that one. She made them promise not to mention it to Inuyasha next time he showed up. Not even in passing. "Unless," she amended, "he's being a jerk. Again."
"Well, I must say it's nice to have you with us for dinner for once, Kagome," her mother said as they loaded dishes into the dishwasher once everyone had eaten their fill.
"I like coming home," Kagome said sunnily to her. "It's refreshing to be normal. You don't get stuff like dishwashers and oven-baked lasagna and, and, music on the radio back then. It's all campfires and demons and arguing over who has to get up to play sentry in the middle of the night."
"Surely that's not all."
"Well, no. But sometimes it is. And it's really nervous. I mean, we've had a few incidents over here, but compared to back there, the creatures that show up here are just small fry. I think all the demons must have died out with industrialization, or something. All the trains and people from overseas coming in and making life different. They probably just couldn't handle it."
Mrs. Higurashi was going to ask about what she wanted to do this weekend, but she abruptly had to step in and save the handful of utensils Kagome had dropped everywhere as she raced out of the door screaming, "Someone's messing with the well!"
Lights flicked on all over the house, and Mrs. Higurashi prudently hit the switch for the outside lights, flooding the yard with fluorescent yellow light.
When she got outside, it was to see Kagome standing puzzledly in front of the door. "Kagome, dear, what's wrong?"
"That's weird," Kagome murmured, opening the door to the little shrine. "There's no one here."
This was backed up by Souta yelling "Sis, come back inside, there's no one out there!" from inside the house.
"Weird," she muttered as she trudged back to the house, face an interesting shade of bright pink with embarrassment.
The next afternoon Kagome came straight home from school, only to find to her disgust that nobody was home.
"I travel through five hundred years to spend time with them, and what do I get? Ignored!" she complained to herself, tramping from room to room irritably. Realizing she was being a bit of a brat, she occupied herself by changing out of her school uniform, which she'd spilled juice all over at lunch time. This may have been partially responsible for her bad mood.
Her temper was only stoked by discovering that all her favorite skirts were in the wash, courtesy of the Warring States Era. She had to settle for very old jeans instead.
As she sat down on the couch and busied herself flipping through channels, yet another twentieth-century activity she missed sometimes, she found herself unconsciously tensing. Taking stock, she found that her heartbeat was racing a mile a minute.
"What on earth?" she said aloud, looking around.
She dropped the remote and jumped to her feet, running in circles to try to find shoes she could slip on in a hurry. Kicking on the nearest pair she could find, she sprinted out the door before she realized that doing so might not have been her best move.
Her first instinct, when confronted with a demonic aura that large and that aggressive, was to run for the Bone-Eater's Well, where she could at least escape until she could return to sic Inuyasha on it. If it turned out to be able to follow her, she could always enlist her pack to help beat it up. First instinct confounded: it was coming from the direction of the Bone-Eater's Well.
She dithered for a second, then turned and ran down the one-million-and-five steps as quickly as she could without breaking her ankle. Got to get away, she thought frantically. I'm so glad Mom and Gramps aren't home! I can lead it away from them!
Clutching at the bit of Shikon Jewel that she wore around her neck, she glanced left and right, evaluating her options. "Yeah!" she said aloud. "Bus!"
Kagome rooted in her pockets for the bit of loose change that always ended up in the pockets of old jeans, racing the bus to the nearest bus stop. Luckily, it was only a block away, and Kagome was used to outrunning demons. Phys Ed was turning into her best class at school, when she actually got to attend.
As the bus pulled up, Kagome jumped in front of the few people who were waiting for the bus, scattering apologies to the offended people trying to get off, which she was pushing through quite rudely. Dropping her coins in the till before anyone tried to get on her case about paying fares, she waded through the bus to press her nose to the window.
No sign of anything demonic charging down the road in her wake, although her inner radar was still screaming at her. Well, she considered, maybe modern-day demons could look like cars, or something? Were there car demons by 1998?
"Hello again. Kagome Higurashi, wasn't it?"
Kagome managed not to squeak as she turned around suddenly to face the red-haired boy from yesterday. He was standing casually in the aisle, watching her with the same bright green look of interest as yesterday.
"Oh. It's you," she gasped. "Sorry. Yes, that's me. And you're…Shuichi. Shuichi something with an M?"
"That's right. Are you running away from something?
"No!" she said too cheerfully. "Nothing at all."
"Really? Why were you running, then?"
As the adrenaline died away, it turned into aggression. "I said I'm fine!" she hissed under the noise of everyone else on the bus. She reached out to poke him. "Just fine!"
He caught her elbow, dodging the offending finger adroitly. "Are you all right? You've gone pale."
"You can't complain," she said, suddenly very tired. "You're all out of focus…"
When she came to, it was to the sight of a wooden ceiling, lit only by a few spare lightbulbs. Ok, not the Feudal Era, then, she thought, and was proud of the coherence.
"Wait a second, where am I?" she said aloud as she sat up, spilling futon blanket onto her lap. Or she tried to. It came out as "Whhhhhh?" and a desperate grab for an abruptly throbbing head.
She massaged her temples for a few seconds as the ache died away. Cracking one eye open, Kagome saw a glass of water placed a prudent distance away from the futon she had woken up on. There were beads of condensation still slipping down the side.
"Okay…" Kagome said skeptically, squinting at the glass as if it were responsible for all her problems and was refusing to answer any of the 239 and one-half questions that occurred to her right at this moment. She picked up the glass and sniffed at it. As she had apparently been kidnapped, she didn't put it past her kidnappers to have drugged the convenient glass of water.
It smelled like cool, fresh water. When she cautiously dipped her finger in it and licked the few drops that clung to it away, it tasted like plain water, too. Deciding to risk it, Kagome took a tentative sip—and then gulped it down. Water, she decided, had never tasted quite so good.
With her headache going away, Kagome tentatively tried her feet. They held. Now that she wasn't distracted by the thudding in her temples, she could take stock. Weapons? None, unless she could find something aerodynamic that she could theoretically charge with her come-and-go powers.
However, the room itself relaxed her somewhat. Rather spare, it held, at the moment, only her, the futon, the empty glass, and a few candles, unlit but burnt halfway down, on a windowsill. The window above the sill had shutters that were currently drawn, and when she tried them, proved to be locked. The air smelled of incense, forest, and wood polish, all at once.
Kagome jumped, startled, at a knock on the door, which swung open at the soft cry that had involuntarily slipped from her. She had assumed that the door was locked tight like the window blinds.
"Miss Kagome? You're awake!" The teenage boy who looked around the edge of the door was quite tall, slightly awkward, and smiling. He was wearing a white trench coat that looked like it had survived an explosion or two and had red hair of the type that was most fairly called 'carroty'.
"Who are you?" Kagome challenged him, balling her fists. For all the good it would do against a youth at least a head and a half taller than her. Her senses all told her he was human, but something she couldn't pinpoint warned her that there was more to the story.
He opened his hands wide in response to her fists and beamed at her. "I'm Kazuma Kuwabara, Miss Kagome. But you can just call me Kuwabara. Almost everyone does."
Well, since one question had gone over so well, Kagome decided to try her luck again. "And what am I doing here? How did I get here? What do you want with me?"
Kuwabara held up his hands defensively. "Whoa, miss. No one's going to hurt you!"
"Yeah, well, in the last two days I think I've been spied on, stalked, kidnapped, and now pretty terminally confused," she exploded at him. "Now what is going on?"
"Ok," he shrugged. "I'll start from the beginning. My name's Kuwabara Kazuma, and me and some of my friends fight demons."
Kagome opened her mouth, shut it again, and reconsidered. "That doesn't sound like a beginning," she finally came up with.
He smiled even wider. "Yeah, but the beginning isn't my story to tell. You'll have to talk to Urameshi for that one."
Before she could shake him off, he took her by the elbow and led her out of the room. "Let's go find him!"
"So what have I got to do with you guys?" she asked as he towed her along. "I'm not a demon!"
"No, but the fox says you smell of some and that there's some really weird machine or something you're involved with, and we can all feel that power booster you're carrying," Kuwabara pointed out. Reflexively, Kagome grabbed for the Shikon Jewel before realizing that if they had wanted it, it would have been taken while she was out cold.
"You can see auras?" she quizzed him, just the first of another five hundred questions (and rising) she wanted to ask now.
"Of course! We've all got some kind of spirit power. 'Cept for the demons, of course." Right then they emerged out into the central room of what was obviously a large, if somewhat rundown, temple. A large statue was mostly concealed in the shadows, although its presence was easily felt in the sense of looming it cast over the whole room. Incense was burning somewhere, although now it was overpowered by the smell of fresh forest air, breezing in through the double doors, which opened out onto a stone pathway that bisected a bare yard. The edges of what was obviously a mighty forest imposed on the starkly brushed surface.
"Wow," Kagome said absently, looking around with the practiced eye of one who had been raised in a shrine. "This could be really beautiful."
"Master Genkai keeps threatening to rope us all into doing repairs if we keep hanging around," Kuwabara told her. "She says if we're going to use it as a clubhouse, we can damn well make ourselves useful."
Kagome could hear the quotation marks. "I know that name," she said aloud. "I'm sure I've heard that name."
"Could be, she's pretty famous. Wait here a sec." Kuwabara jumped off the veranda and barreled off into the woods, shouting "Urameshi! Urameshi! Where the hell've you got to, you…" at the top of his lungs.
Desperately confused, Kagome sat down on the porch, legs swinging freely, and wondered whether to run away or not. On the one hand, the one person she had met so far seemed nice enough, and any group that hung out in and around a temple with the full permission of its caretaker couldn't be too bad, right?
On the other hand, they had kidnapped her. She still wasn't sure how that had been managed. The last thing she remembered was running onto the bus and talking to that kid from the high school. After that, it was all black until she had woken up here. Had the shock of being knocked out erased part of her memory? And if so, how much of her memory? What day was it?
Just as she was working herself into a right fit, Kuwabara returned, brushing leaves and twigs out of his thick hair, with another boy in tow. They were arguing, but with no particular venom. And if Kuwabara looked like mischief, this new kid was Trouble, capital T and all.
"Hi there!" the boy said cheerfully, planting himself next to her on the edge of the porch without thought for invitation or permission. Up close, he smelled of hair gel and sweat, with a suggestion of the woods his friend had dragged him out of. "I'm Yusuke Urameshi, nice to meetcha."
"Um," Kagome said, confronted with manic energy and absolute arrogance. "Would you mind explaining what I'm doing here? And," she took a deep breath, a signal that her pack would have recognized as a danger signal but this kid knew nothing about, "what you think gives you the right to kidnap me!"
"Back off, lady," Yusuke laughed, not at all intimidated. "You can go back home whenever you like. I just wanted to talk to you."
Kagome jumped to her feet, fast losing her temper. "Then you could damn well pick up the phone or just walk up to me in the street like a regular person!"
"Yeah, and you'd think I was crazy or out to mug you or somethin'. Sit back down, will ya?"
Kagome gaped at him.
He sighed. "Or not. As long as you're here, kin you tell me what you're doing that involves so much psychic power, cause if it's gonna blow up or start mass-producing demons or somethin', it's gonna be my all problem."
"Why would it be your problem?" Her curiosity was at least piqued.
"Well, that's my job. If it's supernatural and mean n' nasty, me and mine go stomp on it before it eats Tokyo or something. We get enough of that on bad films without it really happening."
Kagome sat down again and ran this through her head. "You're demon hunters?" she said finally.
Yusuke thought this over. "Yeah," he drawled finally. "Close enough."
"We're the Spirit Detectives," Kuwabara chipped in from her other side. "Like the Ghostbusters, only we're better at breaking things."
"Oh." It seemed to be the only suitable comment at the moment.
Yusuke prodded, "So, that's our side of the story, what's yours?"
Trying to eye both of them at once, which was awkward, as they were sitting on opposite sides of her, Kagome hazarded, "Promise you're not going to blow it up or anything? I get enough of that from Inuyasha."
"Yeah, sure," Yusuke said easily. "We won't blow it up unless it blows up first."
She decided not to try examining that sentence too closely. "All right. The well is a time portal leading five hundred years into the past. To the Warring States era."
The two boys exchanged wide-eyed looks over her head. "Now this," Yusuke proclaimed, "sounds like one hell of a story."
"Yeah, it is."
Yusuke bounced to his feet. "I've got a great idea," he announced. On her other side, Kagome could almost feel Kuwabara getting ready to run. "Miss Kagome, do you like American-style pizza?"
"What?" Kagome came out with, and was pleased that she'd managed that much.
"Um, yeah. I suppose."
"Good, me too. Hey Kuwabara, are there any pizza places that we haven't completely creeped out yet?"
The taller boy thought for a second as Kagome gaped from one to the other, speechless. "Sure, if we can talk Kurama into going to pick them up."
"Right, come on. I know Grandma's got a phone somewhere. Whaddya want?"
"Anchovies! And that crunchy stuff that was on the last pizza we got, remember?"
"Yeah. Uh, the demons will eat pizza if it's got meat on it. And I think they do a vegetarian pizza that Master Genkai might like. Miss Kagome, what about you?"
Kagome was lost. "I, um, haven't had enough pizza to know the difference."
They grinned at each other. "Right. Anything," Yusuke looked particularly evil.
Unconsciously and automatically, Kagome assumed the demeanor she always used for threatening Inuyasha. "Don't put anything stupid on it," she ordered them.
They were (mostly) not intimidated, but some of the smirk died away. "Yes ma'am," Yusuke said with a mock salute as Kuwabara fumbled in his pocket for money.
"I'll get the fox to make up the difference, and I won't even ask him how he did it," Yusuke added over his shoulder as he headed into the temple to find the phone.
"You all right, miss?" Kuwabara said anxiously, hovering over Kagome, who had sunk back to the step the moment she felt she was safely not being paid attention to.
"You lot are weird," she told her arms.
Kuwabara just laughed. "Miss Kagome, you haven't even met the demons yet."
Yusuke tossed her another jaunty salute in passing and wandered back off into the woods saying something about 'finding the only person around here that can drive'. This left a still rather confused Kagome with Kuwabara, who offered to show her around the place.
Kagome spent the next half hour exploring Genkai's temple, which included meeting the elderly fighter herself.
"I don't think she likes me," Kagome said regretfully as she and her gangly escort left the woman to the video game she was thrashing.
"What're you talking about? She liked you! Just between you and me, she's harsh to everyone. Usually a lot meaner than that! She was just annoyed because we interrupted her game," he added sotto voce, making Kagome smile.
Kuwabara explained that yes, the forest was infested with lesser demons; no, it didn't bother them, quite the contrary; and yes, there were demons that worked with them. He added on to this a basic outline of how their job worked before getting back on topic.
"Half our team is demons!" Kuwabara said. "And we get along OK, I suppose, although short stuff's half crazy and treats me like I'm stupid. But we haven't killed each other yet, and that's the important thing, right?"
Kagome agreed that that was indeed the important thing, thinking that a similar principle applied to her own motley pack.
Dragging her by the hand enthusiastically, Kuwabara dragged her off to meet a sweet young demon girl named Yukina, whom he fawned over devotedly even as he introduced the two girls. Kagome took almost at once to the ice girl, and they would have spent a good while chatting if Yusuke's voice hadn't intruded, yelling "Guys! Pizza's here!"
"What I can't understand," Kagome said agreeably to Yusuke as they examined the available types of pizza, "is how you lot tracked me down in the first place. Kuwabara said you could only sense the well if it was transporting me at the moment."
"That would be my doing, Miss Kagome," a cool, familiar voice informed her. "Plate?"
Stunned, she took the paper plate Shuichi Minamino held out to her on automatic. "You?" she stuttered. "But I didn't sense any power from y— Oh." Now that he wasn't hiding it, he positively glowed. But not with the same bluish-gold spirit energy the humans had. The aura cloaking him was incontrovertibly that of a demon.
"You gotta come clean, Kurama!" Yusuke hooted. "The rest of us all did! Hey, speaking of 'the rest of us', where's Hiei?"
"It's not my job to keep track of him, Yusuke," the redhead replied. "He'll turn up when he wants to. As for me, Miss Kagome, it is very difficult to sense the powers of a plant master when he has distributed it through the local flora. Although I do apologize for sedating you on the bus."
Kagome sat down cross-legged and took a reflexive bite of her pizza. She decided to work that little trick out later and focused on something related. "So your name's not really Shuichi, then?"
He smiled ruefully. "For the moment, I am living as a human. Most of the time. And then, yes, my name is Shuichi. But I am Kurama to my friends."
"And your enemies."
Kagome jumped in surprise once again, nearly dropping the plate balanced on her lap. The new demon had just appeared, without any warning at all.
"Good point," Kurama acknowledged, not startled in the least.
"Hey, Hiei," Yusuke greeted the little demon. "Come for the free food?"
"No one with any sense refuses free food, dimwit," Genkai scolded, helping herself to the pizza.
"We got you the vegetarian type you said you and Yukina liked, Grandma," Yusuke said hopefully.
"She's your grandmother?" Kagome asked, trying to sort everyone out.
"When hell freezes over," Genkai rasped.
"That's just what he calls her," Kurama said helpfully as he took a slice off Kuwabara's plate, who was passing by on his way back from the pizza boxes.
"Hey! Fox-boy, give that back!"
Kagome laughed. This felt like home, she thought—and was startled to realize that she meant eating meals in the Feudal Era, with Miroku attempting to be dignified and a fight that she'd have to referee beginning between Inuyasha and Shippo. There was even a flirtation going on, although Yukina showed no signs of hitting Kuwabara with something big and heavy any time soon.
"What's so funny?" Yusuke asked her, handing her a plastic cup of soda. "Here. It came with the pizza."
"I assure you, Miss Kagome, if we regularly ate meals together, this would be normal," Kurama added.
"No, I'm not laughing at you," Kagome attempted to explain.
"You probably should," advised Genkai.
"It's just that this feels like dinner with my friends in the Feudal Era. Five hundred years and nothing changes."
"Shame if it did," Yusuke said happily. "This is fun."
"The Feudal Era?" asked Hiei, who clearly hadn't been in on whatever little memo had gone around.
"That's right!" Kuwabara exclaimed. "You were going to tell your story, Miss Kagome! Um, please?"
Kagome looked around at the small group, hesitated, and made her decision. "Hand me a couple of those cinnamon sticks and I'll get started."
The box passed from hand to hand, losing a few along the way, and ended up next to Kagome. Kurama borrowed her drink to refill it.
"Well," she said, munching a cinnamon stick, "it started on my fifteenth birthday, when my cat Buyo—fattest thing you'll ever see—wandered into the well-house on my family shrine. The well inside had been boarded up for, oh, decades, and I figured that only made sense, because it was a long way down. Turned out, though, that wasn't the only risk. So I pick up Buyo, right, and turn my back on that well, which is making sort of cracking noises, and then all of a sudden this like, half-naked woman, half-mutant-centipede-thing leaps out of it and grabs me! Well, what would you do? Personally, I screamed. Fat lot of good that did me…"
Gesturing, illustrating, and occasionally wildly digressing, Kagome managed to narrate the thrust of her adventures in the Feudal Era despite frequent interruptions from her audience. She soon learned how to deal with them, however, thanks to Genkai ('Just yell shut up! at them if they get too loud'). Leaving out some things, like the undead priestess Kikyo, whom she really didn't want to talk about in too much detail, she tried to bring the Feudal Era to life for her new friends. She felt like she was trying to explain television to Sango and Miroku (a lost cause, alas) or amuse Shippo during one of their long walks.
"So do you know why the well doesn't work for everyone?" Kurama, who had somehow gotten the last cinnamon stick, asked. In response to some unheard threat, he tore it in half and handed one piece to Hiei.
"No idea," she admitted freely.
"We oughta go over there some day," Yusuke volunteered. "I bet Koenma—that's our boss, by the way, Kagome—could figure out how to make it work for all of us. We could come help you kick that idiot Naraku's butt!"
Kagome could not restrain a giggle at the image. It was really tempting. "Maybe you can," she said generously. "Just, before you try, give me a chance to warn my friends you're coming, will you? Especially Inuyasha," she added, provoking a wave of chuckles.
"But really," she said, looking around at them all, "we'll be expecting you." She picked up her half-empty plastic cup. "Here's to new friends."
"Hear, hear," Kuwabara toasted, and the sentiment was generally echoed.
Author's Note: Wow, it's been a while since I've written anything for Inu-Yasha. This was one of the fragments that float around in my head when I can't get to sleep, and it's finally turned into a full-length, rather aimless, story. I have seen some very good IY/YYH crossovers in which Yusuke follows through on that offer, and this is nothing on, for example. One for the Ages by Gan Xingba or A Mission of Epic Proportions by The Celestial Tiger (you can find them in my favorites, and Ages is in my C2). I hope you enjoyed this!