Chapter Eleven: Steps Forward

Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?

-Friedrich Nietzsche

"Hey, you all, cut the talk and start working!" The class leader for Kagome's class was downright irate after there's was the class that had the lowest scores and was forced to help with set up. Kagome frowned a little at his attitude but kept helping with the curtains that would be hung around the ballroom. He ignored her and stalked past up to Yuki, who'd been quiet the entire morning.

He actually growled at her before he started yelling more. "Cross, you were daydreaming since then...What on earth are you thinking?"

Watching the other girl Kagome had to admit the muted attitude didn't fit the other girl at all. It was bizarre how quiet she'd been the past day or two, at first she'd just assumed it was studying for the test but that was over now.

"This is all your fault!" the class leader continued while Yuki looked on with only vague concern on her face. "Making my class take care of the backstage preparations!"

He held a finger up at her, waggling it aggressively while holding some of the heavy curtains in another hand, impressive considering he was actually shaking with anger. "You only wrote your name on the paper!? Then you handed it in empty?!"

He balled up both fists, still not dropping the curtains or even having them unfold. "If I can't dance with Ruka because of you...!"

Kagome was about to get up and say something but the door opening distracted everyone, Zero stepped inside his usual calm but annoyed looking self. He moved over toward the class leader.

"Kiryuu..." Losing his momentum the class leader gestured for the silver haired boy to follow. "Come on we can use you over here."

"Zero..." Yuki blinked and commented for the first time, staring at her adopted brother.

Kagome just smiled a little, him walking around as normal was a good sign, what was wrong with Yuki she wasn't sure but she didn't want to mention anything yet as no one had approached her about the attack that night. It seemed ages ago now, as if she'd watched it on tv it was so surreal. No one had even commented on the lack of Maria, most of the day class students had never mentioned her much and she hadn't seen any night class students either recently. Once they finished preparations and she went and got dressed then she'd be faced with a room full of them. She was afraid to eat too much, while the other night she hadn't really gotten nauseous it was only Kaname who she was getting used to...all the rest in one spot she wasn't looking forward too.

She wanted to talk to Zero, ask him what happened after Sesshomaru left with him, but she didn't get the chance, they were kept too busy by the class leader. He was obsessed with finishing in time so that they could take turns dancing. Kagome was glad to be busy but growing a little restless that the attack still hadn't been brought up after all this time. Was Kaname just messing with her then that he couldn't allow someone to be attacked on his watch? Did he figure out how the woman was tied with Sesshomaru or Zero.

By the time they finished they only had an hour to get ready for the event and she was hurried by one of the girls that had gotten her to agree to allow her some of the space in Kagome's room to get ready. As she was still staying by herself it was fine with her if they needed it, and by the size of their gowns she understood why it was a good idea. Her gown didn't take much to get into and the girl helped her tie a nice bow with the sash around the center. She took the time to check her wound and it was almost completely closed now...she took the bandage off cause it looked more conspicuous than not having it on. She added earrings but the lack of a necklace made it slightly lackluster, the girl using most of her bathroom agreed and apologized profusely that she'd already let other friends use her extra jewelry.

Kagome shrugged it off with a smile, she wasn't worried about dancing with any of the other vampires anyway so she didn't care as much. She was mostly hoping to use some of her time not helping to speak with Zero and find out what happened.

She managed to get back a few minutes before they wanted her to help start setting out drinks, it would be dark soon. So far it was almost all day class students but the vampires would arrive soon enough.

Sadly Zero and Yuki were apparently on security detail so Zero was watching outside the front so if she tried to sneak off she'd only end up with a lecture from the class leader. The chairman was outside talking to him anyway so she continued to put out glasses of punch dutifully. Some of the night class she didn't recognize by name had come in and people had begun to dance a little, the band was playing a slow sort of waltz and most of the students seemed to be able to keep up with the fairly basic dance.

Kagome was a little glad she was the help, she hadn't danced in ages and while she did have a ballroom class as a young teenager she barely remembered it. She was passing out some glasses of the punch while another girl made more and grumbled about being the class forced to help.

"I'm gonna take some out on a tray to give to people." Kagome stated, they had the trays for it and while she wasn't much with balance if she didn't load it up too high she'd manage okay. The class leader at least seemed to approve of the idea.

It was a way she could approach Zero and offer him some, grinning at her own deviousness as she approached. His usual poor attitude was firmly back in place. "Hey, have some of the punch, it's not too bad."

"Mmm." He answered, glancing at Kagome and looking her over with the gown and the simple way she'd pulled up her hair but then laid it over the place where he'd bitten her days before. "You okay?"

"I managed all right." She answered with the smile dampening just a little. "Are you okay?"

"Better than some days." He returned cryptically, accepting a glass of juice. "You should be careful with that, you'll end up ruining some poor girls dress by tripping."
Kagome frowned a little. "You don't have to be so mean."

It was unlikely she could ask about what happened that night here and if he was gonna be so mean she'd just go back to work then. She missed the small smile the silver haired student sent after her back. Something about riling her amused him, he wasn't sure why but the way he pouted at him when he did it made him feel a little better.

Kagome felt a twinge of jealously when she glanced back a moment later to see Yuki adding a rose to the lapel of his uniform. She wasn't surprised he didn't dress up for it, but the extra detail belonged to the girl that lived across the hall. Instead she focused on the rest of the room, most of the students were glowing, it was something they worked hard for and looked forward to since the events at valentine's day. She was slightly amused at seeing what she could only presume was Ruka turning down the class president in one corner of the room given the utterly defeated expression on his face.

Some of the night class students still danced with themselves exclusively and seemed a little bored, some of the day class seemed to accept being stuck with dancing with each other as well. It was a interesting thing to watch for certain, sort of like a lesson in the complex psychology between humans and vampires laid out in front of her.

Kagome was surprised that she was already having her place switched out so she could find a dance, apparently at least some of the members of their class wouldn't be disappointed come Monday morning. She decided to ask Zero to dance, even if it would start more rumors, she might as well try if everyone else could.

Though she found herself pausing as the other girl that had mentioned liking Zero at the store was nearby nervously wringing her hands. "Um...can you dance with me?"

She already heard whispers from other students stating that she was very brave and didn't want to appear to be stepping on toes so instead backed off a little to watch.

"I'm sorry, I'm very busy so I can't dance right now." His reply was nicer than he usually was, he walked off toward one of the doors. Kagome had to admit she was curious so she slipped off, not wanting to see the girls response to the no. She hadn't wanted him to say yes even if it was a bit mean.

She was about to head off after him when she was slammed into by a girl being shoved, the result of a fight over who could dance with Ichijou. It made her frown and send the girl that started it a dirty glare before reaching to help the classmate. Instead of her hand she found herself being touched by Ichijou and withdrew quickly. He smiled at her and then helped the girl up from the ground.

"Are you both okay?" His voice was the kindest of any of the vampires she'd heard, it just made you believe that he was a nice person. The other girl blushed like crazy and immediately said she was fine. Kagome meanwhile dusted herself off and nodded without the girly gushing.

Then the night class member was pulled away by the larger one, Cain. They started whispering conspiratorially and Kagome just frowned at the whole scene. She finished dusting off but found herself shocked at a the hand holding out one of her earrings to her, it must have come out during the fall. More surprising was it was the lovely hand of Sesshomaru, minus the crimson lines he'd had there the night before. He no longer had the tattoo's on his face or the strange boa that had been wrapped over his shoulder.

"I believe this is yours." He commented, ignoring the whispers that cropped up around them by night and day class alike. "Please come with me, I'd like to speak to you a moment Ms. Kagome."

That of course earned them many more whispers and shocked glances but she nodded and followed after the professor dutifully, glad she would finally learn what exactly had gone on sense she'd last seen Sesshomaru run off after the vampire woman.

They found a side room where no one was and he held it for her and then closed it behind himself.

"Are you okay?" Kagome found herself blurting out before she'd given him the chance to talk. "What about Zero, what happened?"

He stared at her a long moment with golden eyes that made her quiet more after the initial outburst. "It was irritating but the creature was found and dealt with. Though from what I know things here may be targeted by other remains of the pest Naraku."

"Huh?" Kagome knew the name was bad but figured somehow that the woman would resolve things.

"It is still unknown so best if details aren't given. You did well not telling anyone directly my involvement. Kuran probably suspects but you couldn't give those suspicious feelings pause." He commented. "Zero will be better than he was but still have some difficulties for a time. He will not descend to a level E though, I've studied enough of their culture to know what stopping it takes."

"What's that?" She was curious.

"He needed to drink the blood of the one that changed him." Sesshomaru replied. "He was stubborn but eventually gave into his own needs over his personal morality. Between that and the creature protecting her much has been resolved."

"The guy with the mask?" Kagome was still able to clearly picture that night, even if it did seem distant.

"Yes. If history is correct it was for the best." Sesshomaru was the one being cryptic now. "Either way this Zero you have taken such a liking to will adjust after a period. Your blood I imagine will make it easier on him."

"Mine?"

"You are a priestess, even if you don't completely have access to your power your blood holds it." Sesshomaru explained, then seemed vaguely annoyed, digging something from a pocket and handing it toward her. "Here, take this. If you ever find yourself in need, break the bulb."

She glanced down at what he'd placed in her hands, it was a silver chain and a small pendant of the same metal curled as a quarter moon around a pale pearl colored bulb in it's center. When she looked back up to ask him what it would do he'd already left and the door was hanging open. She sighed a little.

"Why do all the men in my life have to be all 'Insert riddle-like statement' then 'ninja-vanish'?" She sighed again then muttered about it, using a mirror in the room to put the chain on with the extra bit. It went well with the dress, giving it a more elegant flair, she had to still smile even if it was unexpected. She had a friend in the strange professor from her past, demon lord if he was to be believed.

She headed back into the main dance area and decided that at least things had quickly returned back to the attention of the vampires and she wasn't nearly as important. Just as well really given some people might have noticed her new necklace. Though the way the girls and boys both were staring at the night class she doubted it was possible, she could easily get away with saying she had it the whole time.

Instead she found, on passing the doors to the terrace, that Yuki and Kaname were dancing outside. Ignoring that possible awkward situation she headed to take back up post helping again when she noted Zero re-entering. She waved at him and walked over.

"Hey you owe me a dance sometime." Kagome said nonchalantly with a smile. "You never took me to that movie."

"Actually you delayed the movie." He reminded silently, not showing his amusement when she pouted a little at him. "Though I suppose I won't mind if you owe me."

Kagome smiled a little more again and reached out a hand.

"You aren't going to walk all over my feet are you?" He asked, resisting the grin at the short glare she sent him.

"Why do you keep implying I'm clumsy?" Kagome asked as she took the proper stance and began to follow his lead, surprised he danced rather well for as unsocial as he seems.

"I wonder." The sarcastic remark got her to purposely step on one of his feet. "Didn't we talk about you starting to be a little more polite?"

"Mmm." He offered, frowning a bit at the pain she left him with, heels weren't comfortable to be stepped on with. If it wasn't for the fact that he was stronger after the professor had forced him to feed from Shizuka he probably wouldn't have taken it and kept dancing.

He still wasn't sure completely how he felt about it, he was glad she was dead, but annoyed because he felt like the self-proclaimed demon had done more than he'd told him about. He couldn't remember much of it clearly except for when he finally fed from Shizuka and came to his senses. It'd washed away the worst of the hungry and helped re-align the self-control that had almost completely frayed.

It was still there, the hunger, beneath the surface, he still hated what he was...what she'd made him become...but somehow he thought he'd be able to survive all right for the first time. Once they'd stopped picking on each other the dance was nice, it was easy to tell a lot of people were whispering and that he'd probably hurt the feelings of the girl that asked him earlier.

"Mind if I dance with the girl that asked me before?" He leaned closer to ask Kagome, somehow it seemed it would be better if she approved. "I think it would be better to not leave her sad."

"I guess." Kagome said, glad he asked her but with a bit of jealously rearing before she agreed. She didn't want the other girl to hate her. "I need to go back to helping soon anyway mr. security. Keep on goofing off without me."

She grinned at having the last word and winked at the end of the dance, turning to head back to her station at the drink table. She was excited, feeling a little giddy, glad to have the chance to be girlish even if it was just for a minute.

The dance perhaps wasn't the worst idea after all.

End Chapter

This marks the most major turn from the original plot. As in the manga/anime it was Kuran that killed Shizuka before Zero could drink from her. Obviously there was also the lack of the turning force that is awesome Sesshy. Anyway, it was a fun chapter. Hope folks have as much fun reading as I did writing.

-Nera

P.S. Above 40,000 words with this chapter yay!

To my reviewers:

Twilight-Sin - Thank you. Yes I know I have problems sometimes on quick updates.

iheartanime43 - I find them at various places. I search and look over things until I find one that I feel fits the chapter. Sometimes I put a good hour into finding one I like. Usually after that long I'll pick one that I'm satisfied enough with.

Kage Otome - He's back already! And Shizuka was the descendant of a vampire that killed Rin. Sesshomaru is hunting out all the vampires that were involved with Rin's death.

kinky-kitsune - Thank you. I liked that part too. Primal seemed like the best word to use, predatory is used a lot so I wanted something else.