Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
Bleary eyes, uncooperative limbs and a severe case of bed head were what greeted Kagome on the morning of her eighteenth birthday. She was highly tempted to simply turn over and bury into the bedclothes once again; refuse to go to school at all.
She might have refused to greet the morning at all, had it not been for the derisive snort that accompanied her retreat under the bedcovers. Darting back out of the bedclothes like some kind of startled Meerkat, she peered at the vision of perfection that was leaning against her bedroom door, mug of tea in hand.
"Gah!" she shrieked, tossing a pillow sharply at Sesshoumaru, her neighbour, childhood tormentor and, unfortunately, maths teacher.
Superior smirk firmly in place, he dodged the cushiony projectile with insulting ease and continued to stare down his nose at her.
"You'll be late for school," he pointed out, tone of voice bored, chin tilted in an aloof manner.
"Why are you even in my house!" she screeched, jumping out of her bed in order to kick him out; forcefully if necessary. But she just ended up getting tangled in her bedclothes, falling to the floor beneath Sesshoumaru's feet in an undignified heap.
"So, you have finally learned your place?"
Below Kagome's room, in the kitchen, Mrs Higurashi glanced up at her ceiling upon hearing her daughter's screech and smiled indulgently. "So energetic in the morning!"
Souta, sat at the kitchen table, glanced up at his mother. "Why is Sesshoumaru-san here anyway?"
Mama's eyebrows shot up her forehead in surprise and then her face blossomed into a warm smile. "I'll bet he just wanted to wish Kagome a Happy Birthday!"
Souta rolled his eyes as a loud thud followed by a slam of a door echoed through the house. "Sure."
Tie askew, spectacles on wonky, hair slightly mussed, Sesshoumaru appeared in their kitchen; eyes alight with mischief.
"Ah! Sesshoumaru-san!" Mrs Higurashi enthused, "Would you like some tea?"
In the bathroom, Kagome slumped against the sink in exhaustion, the cold tile felt good against her flushed cheeks, but she lamented the fact that the obnoxious demon could still make her blush like that as she turned the shower on automatically.
Living next door to Sesshoumaru for most of her life had taught Kagome several very important things; smiles weren't necessarily nice, demons sometimes just knew and that Sesshoumaru could be an ass, but then, just as suddenly as a lightning strike he would do something completely sweet to make her heart skip a beat.
"Jeez," she grumbled as she splashed her hot face with cold water, "what's wrong with me?"
Glancing at herself in the mirror, she growled at the sight of a hand curling around the edge of the door. Spinning on her heel to give Sesshoumaru a piece of her mind, she was drawn up short when she realised there was no one at the door.
Blinking mutely, she reached out and yanked the door open.
An empty corridor was revealed.
"Well, now I'm seeing things," she murmured disparagingly to herself, eyes on the empty corridor; wary for a birthday prank from Souta or another surprise visit from Sesshoumaru.
Her hips hit the basin sharply and in the same instant a shiver ran down her spine.
It felt like… like someone with cold breath was breathing on the back of her neck.
Twirling with a speed that almost made her dizzy; she glared accusingly at her own reflection in the mirror, which glared back just as accusingly.
Shaking her head dismissively, she decided with a fierceness about her that she was merely over excited about her birthday; it wasn't everyday you turned eighteen.
Maybe it was her complacency that made her miss it, or maybe it was the fact that she was too preoccupied with getting to school on time. But, whatever the reason, as Kagome Higurashi sprinted from her bathroom, still trying to put on her school socks, she missed it.
She missed that her name had been scrawled across the bathroom mirror using the condensation.
Growling as she half-ran to school like an errant wasp had stung her in the behind, Kagome promised herself that next time she saw Sesshoumaru, she'd rip his stupid fae ears right off his pretty head. He'd known she was running late and that it was her birthday and yet he still hadn't waited for her with his shiny, entirely out of place in their neighbourhood, car. Sesshoumaru was rich, being a teacher this was surprising, but the money was merely inherited from ridiculously rich relatives and he had decided to teach instead of making more money. Kagome could remember him telling her mother that he had wanted to mould the minds of the younger generation into better people. Kagome had snorted and asked him if that was code for making them obedient to his every whim.
She might have been sprinting and wearing a terrible scowl on her otherwise pretty face, but that didn't stop Myoga-ojii, sitting outside their local ramen stand, from calling out to her.
"I hear you're a lady today, Kagome-kun!" Myoga carolled happily, "Happy Birthday!"
Though she was in a very pressing rush, she decided she could deal with talking to Myoga for a little while; Ito-sensei, the homeroom teacher, was nice enough to ignore her if she was a little late.
"Thanks!" she grinned cheerfully.
"Be careful of mirrors today, Kagome-kun," the old Yokai advised conspiratorially.
Clasping her hands behind her back, she leaned in to the old Yokai with a smile; used to his tall tales and superstitions. It was a trait he shared with his frequent shoji opponent; her Grandpa. "Why's that, Myoga-ojii?"
A scandalised look crossed his creased face and he mopped at his forehead with a handkerchief. "What do they teach you in schools these days?" he grumbled.
"Well, it's said that on the day a Miko becomes a woman, the evil in the other world uses portals, namely mirrored surfaces, to transverse into our world and snatch her. They devour her soul for their sustenance," he confided, "and seeing that it's nearly Halloween, I'm sure that the portals will be easier for evil to transverse."
"I'm not a Miko, Myoga-ojii," she cajoled, "I just grew up in a shrine."
Myoga frowned at her. "I'd recognise a Miko's aura anywhere!" he harrumphed indignantly.
Kagome crooked a brow, deciding to humour the old flea. "So you mean that today I'm really tasty to demons?"
Myoga shook his head and flapped his hands at her blatant misunderstanding. "No! To evil! You can't say that this little flea is evil, now can you?"
Kagome nodded understandingly and glanced at her watch before panicking. "Ah! I promise I'll be careful Myoga-ojii!"
Surprised at the speed at which the young girl vanished, Myoga shrugged and settled into his stool as he watched her leave. He had the strangest feeling that she'd be fine; there was a faint impression of a dark aura following her protectively. An aura that had adopted the shape of a dog.
Turning back to his ramen, Myoga smiled tenderly. "Looks like she'll be just fine, thanks to Sesshoumaru."
Kagome skidded into the classroom on her indoor shoes, precisely two minutes and seventeen seconds late and sighed in relief. Ito-sensei only minded if you were really late, not only a minute or so.
"Higurashi-kun," an unwelcome voice intoned coolly, "late."
Spinning slowly on her heel, she blinked at Sesshoumaru, or Tasiho-sensei as she was forced to call him in school, stood behind the desk instead of Ito-sensei.
"Ito-sensei is ill," he murmured, golden eyes seemingly glinting with a sadistic satisfaction.
Kagome slumped into her seat resignedly. Great, just great.
Shouldering her satchel at the end of another long and arduous school day, Kagome half-ran to catch up with Eri and Ayumi as they made their way towards the school gates together.
"Kagome-chan! Hurry up!" Eri cajoled as Kagome hopped over to them, still putting on her outdoor shoes on the run.
Ayumi stomped her feet, fixing her hands into her pockets as the breeze threatened to turn freezing.
Kagome grinned as she looped her scarf around her neck, ducking her chin as the breeze maliciously attacked all available skin.
"Where's Yuka-chan?" Kagome asked, absentmindedly holding her skirt down as an errant gust of wind tried to steal her modesty.
"Sorry!" Yuka cried, appearing as if their words had conjured her from thin air, "Sensei wanted to talk to me."
"You mean Taisho-sensei," Kagome spat darkly.
Eri put a consoling hand on her fiery friend's shoulder. "Calm down, Kagome-chan."
"It's fine!" Yuka waved the anger away with a dismissive flick of her wrist, "I just did bad in the last math test."
Kagome huffed and folded her arms crossly. "The only reason you did bad in that test was because you were ill!" she fumed, "Sesshoumaru is a damned perfectionist bastard."
Eri clapped her hands over Kagome's mouth and hissed, "He'll hear you!"
"Demonic hearing is really scary!" Ayumi murmured, darting a nervous glance up at the school building.
Kagome scowled up at the window that belonged to Sesshoumaru's office.
Patting Kagome's arm calmingly, Eri chastised, "It's okay for you to complain about sensei, but not all of us are childhood friends with the most beautiful demon ever; if we complain he'll just put is in perpetual detention."
Kagome rolled her eyes. "He might be pretty, but he sure as hell isn't nice."
"Heaven forbid," Eri needled, a cheeky grin fixed firmly in place.
"Why are we even stood around here talking about grumpy sensei anyway?" Yuka asked imploringly, "It's Kagome-chan's eighteenth birthday and we said we were going to karaoke!"
The young women laughed at Yuka's enthusiasm and, shrugging and giggling away the cares of their school day, they set out on their expedition into town.
Silently, the golden eyes of Kagome's secret spectator watched her disappear down the street with her friends.
"Troublesome," he murmured, clawed hand contracting around the Hello Kitty compact mirror in his hand, shattering it.
Kagome ferreted around in her school bag as Eri and Yuka worked their way through yet another song. Kagome had been coerced into singing the first as it was her birthday and she'd submitted genially. Ayumi preferred to spectate rather than participate but Kagome hoped that she would eventually step up to the microphone; out of the group of friends she was by far the superior singer.
Grumbling under her breath as her fingers closed over her lip balm but evaded detecting her Hello Kitty compact mirror, Kagome tried again, delving into the deepest parts of her bag hopefully, but to no avail.
"Ne, Ayumi-chan, do you have a mirror?" Kagome asked in an undertone.
Ayumi blinked and peered over at Kagome thoughtfully. "I thought it was bad luck for a Miko to be around mirrors on her eighteenth."
Kagome sighed. This again? Myoga is to be expected but I didn't know Ayumi was superstitious. "I'm not a Miko, Ayumi-chan, I just live in a shrine."
Ayumi pursed her lips, appearing to consider Kagome denial, but then shrugged helplessly. "I don't have a mirror anyway, Kagome-chan. And Yuka refuses to carry one around after she broke Eri's."
Kagome blinked. What are the chances of that? Four teenage girls and not one mirror between them. Picking up her drink, Kagome pulled at the straw pensively before shrugging it off and throwing herself back into enjoying her evening.
Later, as Ayumi had been bribed into taking to the stage, Kagome slipped out to go to the bathroom.
The bathroom was a clean modern mirrored affair and Kagome almost laughed at her strange trepidation upon entry. Did I let Myoga-ojii's tale get to me? She mused as she carefully fixed her hair, tucking the wisps and tendrils that had fallen down from her topknot back into the fastening meticulously. She almost smiled at the strange nostalgia; Sesshoumaru used to do this same routine when he'd worn his hair in a topknot back in his teens and he'd carefully done the same for her on more than one occasion in the past.
Kagome blinked as she heard her name being called and glanced around the bathroom suspiciously.
"Is there anyone here?"
"Eri?" Kagome called out, cautiously opening one of the stalls and peeking inside. Empty.
There was no one in the bathroom.
Was this some kind of practical joke, she wondered, backing up until her hips touched the basin behind her. Shaking her head, she calmed herself down and decided to just go back to the room. She'd just gotten a little paranoid about Myoga-ojii's story. "I'm not even a Miko," she grumbled.
"But, Kagome-chan, you taste just like one," the voice whispered.
Kagome tensed and looked around frantically. There was no one there. Was it some kind of trick being played on her by a demon wearing an illusion?
"I'm right here," the voice whispered, and this time she felt the cold breath against the back of her neck as a tentacle type appendage wrapped around her mouth, silencing her, and dragged her backwards.
Thrashing and biting, Kagome frantically tried to stop it from taking her into the mirror. But whatever had a hold of her had a hell of a lot of tentacles and soon she didn't even have a free limb to flail with.
The tentacle around her mouth jerked away for a moment in response to her ferocious biting, and she took in a breath to scream.
Stood outside the karaoke place, collar turned up to the wind, Kagome's unpaid, underappreciated and unassuming guard dog straightened at the sound of his name. Or, at least, the sound of most of his name.
The hint of panic in Kagome's tone was enough to rim his eyes in red and before any of the humans in the street could register it, he'd stolen inside the building in search of the little woman.
Kagome crashed to the floor in what seemed to be the same bathroom room and groaned. Whatever had been holding her had let her go pretty fast and she'd hit her head on the way down.
"What just happened?" she wondered, glancing around at what seemed to be the bathroom tentatively in case the tentacle-monster appeared again.
Calming slightly as it appeared to have departed, she glanced around for her discarded school bag and frowned.
I'm sure I dropped it by the sink, she mused confusedly, but, after she staggered to shaky feet, she discovered that it wasn't the only anomaly. The door was gone. Where the door had been was another mirror, as if there had never been a door their at all. Turning to the mirror above the sink she shrieked when she realised that it wasn't a mirror, or at least it wasn't reflecting her.
"Where am I?" she demanded.
That voice returned, this time cackling manically. "You are in between."
"This is the in between world," the voice elaborated, "and I was banished here."
"What are you?"
As she said that, a giant skull drifted from the mirror – where the door had once been – surrounded by fog like tentacles. It's eye sockets were black with pinpricks of red light.
Kagome levelled it with a flat look. "You look like a bad Halloween decoration."
"I'm insulted," it sniffed, "I am the amalgamation of all the evil ever banished to the in between."
"And you're going to eat me?" she asked, privately amazed at the calm that she seemed to possess under pressure.
"But of course!" the voice cheered.
"Hn, doubtful," a new voice intoned, and Kagome thanked anyone who would listen at his timely arrival. Normally she cursed Sesshoumaru's penchant for appearing out of nowhere, but today she was thankful for it.
"Who are you?" the skull demanded shrilly, "no one can enter this world without my say so you mutt!"
Kagome flinched; calling Sesshoumaru a mutt was never a good idea if you wanted to keep your head attached to your shoulders.
Sesshoumaru cracked his knuckled ominously and spared Kagome a brief sidelong glance. "Close your eyes."
Quickly doing as bid, she also covered her ears; unwilling to hear Sesshoumaru live up to his name.
The careful brushing back of her hair with a clawed hand made her peel her eyes open and she sighed in relief as she met Sesshoumaru's gaze, her knees giving out on even attempting to hold her up.
Luckily for her, she as instantly crushed to a dog-demon's chest in a hug that made her ribs creak and her eyes water.
He loosened his hold by a fraction, his face dropping to her hair as he picked her up and leapt through the mirror; passing from the in between back to the real world. Once he landed in the bathroom he strode from the place, his pace almost frantic; not something that Kagome thought Sesshoumaru capable of. He didn't stop walking until they reached her shrine steps and even then, he kept a firm hold of her.
Kagome patted Sesshoumaru's shoulder as he cradled her; unsure of why he was acting as if he needed comforting. She'd been the one who'd been kidnapped!
"Sesshoumaru?" she asked tentatively as he held her at arms length and examined her critically.
"Are you hurt?" he asked with gruff authority.
"Are you scared?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, sir," she murmured, throwing in a cheeky salute for good measure.
"Hn," he uttered, leaning down until their foreheads kissed.
"Sesshoumaru? Are you okay? You're acting strange…"
His thumb gently traced the curve of her lower lip and she froze automatically. His eyes seemed to be hypnotised by the pouty appendage and she almost gulped when he leant in even closer, until she was breathing him in.
"Happy birthday," he murmured, just before he stole her lips in a firm, but gentle kiss.
Shocked didn't even begin to cover her disbelief as he released her lips and smirked down at her.
"Say thank you," he prompted gently.
She blinked owlishly at him and then scowled. "For stealing my first kiss? I don't think so!"
"No," he chuckled once, a sharp bark that echoed, "for saving you."
Cheeks colouring in a rush, Kagome examined her shoes for a moment. "Thank you."
Blue eyes shot back up to his face in confusion. "No?"
"Say thank you."
"No," he tried again slowly this time, "say thank you, say thank you properly."
"How?" she queried, befuddled by his insistence.
"Like this," he murmured, stealing her lips once more. Kagome melted again, relying on him to keep her from tumbling onto the floor again. But there was something she needed to know, she pushed hard against his shoulders; freeing her mouth but allowing his wicked lips and teeth access to the column of her throat.
"Wait… so am I a Miko?"
He paid no attention, seemingly more enthralling in kissing and suckling every inch of her throat, which was immensely distracting in the best of ways but she wanted answers, damn it!
Tugging at his hair, she repeated the question once more, this time directly into one fae ear, easily garnering his attention by punctuating her question with a nip to the pointed tip of his ear.
Sesshoumaru's smouldering gaze met her own. "Miko… shut up."
And she found her lips occupied once again.
Well… I guess I got my answer, she mused before she lost the ability of cognitive thought.
A/N: This was written for Rikayu's Halloween Challenge! I hope you enjoyed it.