I've waited here for you
Tonight I throw myself in two
Out of the red
Out of her head she sang"
-"Everlong" by The Foo Fighters
Kurama wasn't a man easily distracted. He understood the importance of focus and utilized it to his every advantage. Without focus information could be lost forever; information that could be vital to his grade on a exam or (when dealing with the Spirit Realm) the lives of his companions and himself. Distractions weren't worth the risk - even if kitsune curiosity demanded otherwise. So he simply didn't allow himself to become distracted. Knowledge was power after all, and with the intensity that Kurama put into everything he did he ensured that he would never find himself short in that particular subject. As Yusuke liked to point out on an annoyingly frequent basis, he was "The Brains". He was proud of the role he had made himself within the team but, truly, the title could use some work.
Of course, even he was subject to an occasional lapse in attention - especially considering Koenma had found it to be in his interest to put a large, distracting window in his office (no doubt in order to spy on the staff). So of course his eyes wandered a little during the meeting, it was natural for him to follow up on the flash of movement he saw out of the corner of his eye. Unfortunately, what was meant to have been just a passing glance quickly turned into (how he hates to admit it) an undeniable distraction of such a grand scale that it startled even himself.
It was the color and extravagance of her kimono that first held his attention. With her back turned to his gaze, all he could see was the sweeping folds of dusty blue silk that hung so loosely that it seemed to flow off her and exposed the rich purple kimono underneath. Her long dark locks tied into a unruly braid that she had tossed over her shoulder carelessly, so casually compared to her attire. His eyes moved, intending to pass over her - to write her presence off as interesting but not note worthy. She wouldn't have been the first woman he had seen in the Spirit World, even if she was the most elaborately dressed.
Then he saw her face.
Just a slight turn of her head and Kurama found his attention entrapped and Koenma's voice faded into the back of his mind. Her cheek was smooth and pale without the assistance of make up and her intense blue eyes (so amazingly similar to her outer kimono) were fringed with dark long lashes. Her delicate mouth moved softly as she spoke casually to one of the ogres; lips curving with a gentle smile that showed a sense of familiarity that Kurama himself didn't feel in this realm. She was beautiful, but that fact alone wasn't what held his attention. She moved with a wizened grace that seemed inhuman for someone with the face of a young human. And the way the ogre awkwardly responded to her with overexagerated gestures of compliance and respect . . . it contrasted so sharply that he couldn't possibly have kept his curiosity reigned in. Not when a puzzle was so obviously thrust upon him. His brow furrowed, and his head tilted to the side as he continued ot watch her from behind the glass.
So distracted, he had hardly realized he had been asked a question until the room became uncomfortably quiet. He quickly turned (the majority) of his attention to his teammates, not entirely surprised to see them staring at him as if he had grown a second head. He coughed, embarrassed, into his fist. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"
Koenma, with a wary look in his eye, opened his mouth but was quickly cut off by Yusuke. "Oh hell no! You aren't getting off that easy!" He pushed past his other teammates so he was right next Kurama, peering out the window eagerly, "I wanna know what the hell is so interesting that - oh." He blinked as if surprised before a huge grin threatened to overtake his face. "No shit!"
Kuwabara immediately clambered to the window while Hiei rolled his eyes at their behavior, even as his own carmine eyes drifted to the window. Kuwabara looked around comically, hands leaving large prints on the glass. "What? What is it? I wanna - oh wow . . ."
Yusuke slapped Kurama on the shoulder roughly, causing him to stagger forward a step. The detective's goofy grin remained in place despite, or maybe because of, the fox's mounting embarrassment. "Gotta admit I was wondering if you had it in you! Can't blame you for getting distracted! She's -"
"Beautiful," Kuwabara sighed, face pressed against the window and fogging up the glass.
The spirit detective shrugged, "I was going to say a hot piece of ass, but sure I guess that works too." He nodded to the smaller demon who was still stubbornly leaning against the wall. "Seriously Hiei, come look at this chick! I bet even you could appreciate a girl with a rack like - "
Koenma's fists slammed onto his desk, "ENOUGH!" A tense silence followed, broken only by squeaking rubber as the child ruler ground his teeth against his pacifier. "Now, get away from the window and focus." Still seething, he turned his harsh gaze on Kurama. "Do you have any plants with paralyzing agents that we can harvest for this mission?"
He gave a stiff nod, "Yes, I have several that we can choose from." Behind him, Yusuke scoffed.
"Look, the plant talk can wait. Who's the girl toddler?" he threw his arm over Kurama's shoulders, "We got to get these two love birds introduced!"
Koenma's coloring was reaching a dangerous level of red. "There will be no introductions!"
Yusuke frowned, "Why is she taken?"
Small fists hit the desk with a resounding echo. "Of course not!"
"Then what the hell's the problem?!" Yusuke shouted back, a stubborn frown creasing his brows. "What, you got a crush on her or something?"
Koenma sputtered, "What?! No! I would never - "
Yusuke threw his hands up, "So what's the big deal?!"
"She is off limits!" Before the detective could ask why, he continued. "She is a very important figure in the Spirit Realm - one with whom is to be treated with the utmost respect. She is not to be bothered by the whims of curious bystanders!" He gave the group of them the most menacing glare he could manage with a pacifier still placed in his mouth. "So forget you saw her and focus on your mission!"
Yusuke grumbled but otherwise remained silent like the rest of them. Koenma determinedly rambled off information about their upcoming mission as if it were never interrupted, and Kurama tried to do what he did best - focus.
It was over a year later that Kurama finally saw her again, though it was not for his lack of looking. Ever since Koenma noticed his interest it seemed that the child ruler had taken every extra measure to make sure that their paths didn't cross again. Yet it seemed that not even Koenma could delay the inevitable forever.
King Enma had declared that there would be a ball held for for all of Spirit World in celebration of his six hundred years of rule. Normally, Kurama would have declined such an invite. Fancy dance parties were hardly his idea of a good time, even though people often seemed to find his mannerisms to be quite well suited for such a scene. But no, he would rather have his solitude or the company of a few close friends then such a public and, by the looks of the invitation, regal affair. Perhaps it was simply a matter of self preservation; an avoidance of the undoubtably many single women who would be flocking to such an event. Most definitely safer to decline, have a nice quite dinner, and retire early for the night. But as he moved to throw the invitation away (as apparently RSVP's were of no consequence to the Spirit World) his eyes lingered on the expensive gold lettering and the ornate scrollwork and was suddenly reminded of heavy steel blue and purple silk. Surely, he thought, a woman as exquisite and influential as her would be required to attend such a large, important event.
He let the trash can lid close with a metallic snap, and pinned the invitation to his fridge with a magnet his mother had bought him as a house warming present. With every glance he gave the heavy and (as he later realized) fragrantpaper over the next two weeks, his determination to indulge his curiosity grew. By the time the ball was only three nights away there wasn't a force on earth that could have kept him away.
As the invite had suggested, Spirit World had gone all out for the occasion. He had expected for her to be harder to find in a room full of flashing gowns and sweeping kimonos, but as it turned out she had made herself very easily spotted - though not easily approached. She sat between Lord Enki (who was looking very uncomfortable and awkward in a tux) and a watchful Koenma at the head table overlooking the extensive ball room. She was just as beautiful as he remembered, and even more intriguing. She wore a different kimono than the one he had last seen her in, though it was no less extravagant. A deep crimson silk accented with a gold obi and trim enhanced the paleness of her skin and drew his attention to the fact that she had painted her lips red for the occasion. Likewise, she had her hair pulled up into an elegant bun that showed off her slender neck to its greatest advantage. Yet despite the make up and the elaborate hairstyle, the lack of smile made her beauty cold and distant - like a doll behind a glass case that could be admired but never touched.
Fortunately, Kurama had never believed in boundaries. Especially when what was considered "off limits" was being flaunted in front of him. More so, he suspected that it was high time for Koenma to learn the importance of sharing.
It was with this in mind that he formulated a plan of action that would surely send Koenma into a tantrum. Somehow Kurama couldn't bring himself to care; thankfully neither could Yusuke once he recruited him. But then, Kurama doubted his fellow spirit detective would ever make a point to avoid their employer's wrath - he found too much pleasure in it.
With Yusuke busy, obnoxiously, distracting their boss (he made a mental note to apologize to Keiko profusely by the end of the night) he approached the head table, fully aware that he would have to deal with Koenma's wrath at a later time for what he was about to do. Still, some things were worth the risk and some puzzles were meant to be solved. Right beside her elbow he gave Lord Enki a friendly greeting, shaking the large demons hand with familiarity and spoke loud enough for her to overhear. As Kurama expected, while Lord Enki did rule over the Demon Realm he wasn't completely without manners.
The red skinned demon laughed heartily at one of Kurama's more clever jokes before seeming to realize how silent his neighbor was. "Ah, excuse me Lady Kagome," he scratched behind one of his pointed horns with an awkward smile, "Sometimes I forget my manners." He gestured to Kurama, who (gladly) turned to give the woman his full attention. "Have you met Kurama?"
Her eyes slowly examined him, head to foot, before catching his green eyes with her blue ones. Kurama couldn't be sure but a small mischievous smile seemed to play in the corners of her lips. "No," she chimed, "I can't say that I have."
Kurama matched her smile, bowing respectively. "A pleasure," he hummed.
Blue eyes twinkled and Kurama saw the warm beauty that she had exuded in the office. "I'm sure."
At her coy response, he couldn't help the wide grin that spread across his face. Obviously her beauty didn't come at the expense of her intellect. He gestured to the dance floor, which by that time was being well utilized. "Forgive me for saying so Lady Kagome, but I'm surprised you haven't taken the opportunity to dance yet."
She hesitated for just a fraction of a second, eyes darting to her left where Koenma was still arguing avidly with Yusuke. "I'm afraid I'm not too fond of dancing." She gave him an, obviously fake, smile. "I've never been good at following a tempo."
Kurama had always been a man of planning, and he had predicted that Koenma would most likely try to keep her on a short leash. "Ah, Lady Kagome I believe you must be too hard on yourself." Kurama's eyes glinted, a mischievous smile still in place. "You're right foot has been tapping in perfect tempo all night." He held out a hand, leaning towards her and lowering his voice, "Besides, I'm fairly certain these sort of things are put together for dancing. It would be rather rude of us not to participate. Don't you agree?"
For a moment she just blinked up at him, her blue eyes drifting to his offered hand and back to his face with the most curious expression. Then, to his well masked relief, her parted lips slowly spread into a delighted smile as she placed her delicate hand in his awaiting palm. "Well with that logic, how could I possibly refuse?"
She rose from her seat gracefully, her warm hand still placed trustingly in his. Her gaze didn't falter from him once, and Kurama could have sworn that her eyes were seeing more than just his physical appearance. With the intensity of her stare she may have very well been looking into his very soul. Of course, it was then that Koenma decided to completely shatter the moment. "Kagome, where are you going?" The child ruler may has well have thrown his glass against the stone floor with his lack of subtleness. He was obviously chastising her for so much as thinking to leave her seat. When his eyes landed on Kurama, his eyes narrowed dangerously and the red head vaguely wondered if the prince would really throw a tantrum in such a public setting. "What exactly do you think you're doing Kurama?"
Kurama planned on answering honestly. After all, even Koenma couldn't possibly justify firing him for asking a woman to dance. However he was surprised when Lady Kagome spoke for him. "Kurama here was speaking to Lord Enki and I decided that I would very much like to dance." She rose an eyebrow challengingly, her words sharp as honed steel. Kurama quickly realized that she wasn't even close to being under Koenma's control as he had originally suspected. "Surely that won't be a problem at a ball."
Koenma's complexion was rapidly coming to resemble Lord Enki's. "I don't like this Kagome."
"Well then, it is very fortunate that my happiness is not contingent on your own." She bowed mockingly, her voice remaining terrifyingly neutral. "Now, excuse me your Highness, while I go and enjoy my night." Rapidly, before the prince could stutter out an enraged response, she turned on her heel and left the table, her silk kimono swishing with her unrestrained movements. With his hand being gripped by her own, Kurama followed her dutifully to the dance floor; not completely unaware of the stares they were receiving as she finally found a spot for them in the center.
She turned to him expectantly, and Kurama wasted no time placing his hand on her hip and readjusting their hands. In a matter of moments they were waltzing along with the crowd and the spirit detective confirmed that she had lied drastically about not being able to follow a tempo. In the circle of his arms she danced beautifully. "I must say, I'm surprised Koenma isn't throwing more of a tantrum. He's quite used to getting what he wants most of the time."
His dance partner scoffed. "Koenma wouldn't make such a scene in front of so many people, his father would have his hide for it." The corner of her lips twitched, "Besides, it's good for him to be reminded that the world doesn't revolve around his whims."
Kurama chuckled, releasing her tiny waist so that she could spin away from him. It was promptly replaced when her well placed feet sent her back to him. "I don't think I could agree more. Even if saying so may very well be considered treacherous."
She shook her head, a smile spreading across her lips. "I'm afraid you have larger problems then that my dear detective. This dance may very well may cost you your job."
Surprised, his eyebrows arched up to his crimson bangs. "So Koenma has mentioned me I see." Her head tilted in question and he chuckled. "I do not recall mentioning my occupation. And, being how hard Koenma has made it to approach your table, I think it would be safe to make the assumption that he must have been the one to provide you with such information."
"I can see that you have a very sharp mind," she started, her feet still moving her body fluidly along the room's marble floors. The slyness in her smile was reaching into her crystalline eyes. "I'm sure you are used to being right about such things. As such, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that, in this case, you are wrong."
"Truly?" he asked, honestly surprised. She was, after all, right in saying that he was very unaccustomed to being wrong. "Who then?"
"George," she lowered her voice to a conspiratory whisper, "He tells me all sorts of things he shouldn't. Koenma believes it best for me to be in the dark about these sorts of matters, but dear George is sympathetic to my need for knowledge. He speaks very highly of you and your friends." She lowered her eyes and Kurama thought that he could see her cheeks pinking ever so slightly beneath her make up. When she looked back up it was through the thick frame of her lashes and she spoke to him as if she were admitting an embarrassing secret. "As such, I must admit that while we may not have been properly introduced prior to tonight, I feel that I have already met you."
Wearing such a shy, openly innocent expression, Kurama suddenly realized how young the woman in his arms really looked. Her face was without the blemishes of sun spots or laugh lines, and without the distant aloofness or sharp wit to age her she seemed no older than seventeen. "Well, as long as we're confessing, I suppose I should tell you that I informally met your acquaintance a little over a year ago." He took a moment to bask in her widened, surprise filled eyes before leaning in closer to her ear to whisper. "Koenma had just installed that blasted window in his office and I saw you across the room talking to one of the ogres. You were wearing the loveliest blue kimono."
She gasped quietly, but as Kurama pulled back it was not her surprise he saw but rather, her pout. The tiny hand on his shoulder tightened. "So it was you then? Koenma has banned me from the office area for the past year now without any reasonable excuse!"
He frowned, "Well, it would certainly explain why I haven't seen you since."
For a moment she was completely silent, looking up at him with an odd expression. "You were looking for me?"
His next step faltered, but he managed to maintain his composure enough to transfer his weight so that his mishap wasn't obvious. However, he knew he wasn't so lucky as to escape her sharp blue gaze when her brow raised marginally. He sighed. "I suppose it's too late to deny it."
"Just a bit," she hummed in amusement.
"Right. Well in that case," he grimaced, "I would like to admit that my curiosity may have gotten the better of me and to assure you that my looking for you was certainly not in the interest of stalking you." She looked at him skeptically, though Kurama considered it a success that she hadn't screamed for the guards. "Truly," he said with utmost sincerity.
She nodded, her wary expression melting into one of curiosity. "I suppose I understand, though I don't see how I could have inspired such an interest."
He carried them through the following steps quietly as he mulled over her inquiry. The music and chatter filled the silence. "It was the way you moved." When she frowned, her head tilting slightly in her bafflement, he elaborated. "A young human girl doesn't move with the grace you do. Even dancing with me now, it is as if your every movement is measured and calculated to give you the most without extra energy. Lady Kagome, there are hundred year old demons that seem to walk like toddlers when compared to you."
She stared at him, her large eyes widened in wonder. Shakily she gave a single small nod. "You are very perceptive Mr. . . ." she trailed off, as if suddenly realizing that she had never heard his last name.
"Minamano," he offered. "My given name is Shuuichi Minamano."
Lady Kagome nodded in acknowledgment but seemed distracted by thought. Finally, "Mr. Minamano I'm not human. Not anymore at least." Her head tilted to the side as she regarded him. "But I suppose you've already figured that out."
"It was a suspicion," he admitted, "But with the lack of youki . . ." He didn't finish, because if she wasn't a demon then there was only one other explanation.
She smiled sadly and the song they danced to ended. Reluctantly, Kurama lowered their hands and released her waist. Before she could completely pull away from him, however, he brought her hand to his lips and laid a chaste kiss on the back of her knuckles. "It was a true pleasure to dance with you Lady Kagome," he raised his eyes, "I hope to do so again in the near future."
A light blush dusted her cheeks and she nodded, seemingly entranced by his lips on her skin. "I would like that very much Mr. Minamano."
He pulled away but held onto her hand a moment longer. "Shall we set a date then?" he asked, only half joking.
The sadness returned to her eyes and tainted her smile. "I assure you there will be no need . . . I'll be here when you look for me." She retracted her hand from his and he immediately missed her warmth as he watched her slowly make her way back to the head table. In his mind he understood what remained unspoken between them and felt a twinge of pity for the beautiful woman.
He would find her here because spirits were given no where else to go.
AN:Well, for those of you who have been following my other stories, this is where my five hundred words a day has been going (three weeks and I have not missed a day ladies and gentleman). Word wise, approximately half this story is written in bits and pieces (I'm expecting it to be around 20k once finished, so definitely a shorter chapter story). I was suppose to finish one of my other fics before posting this . . . but, well, I couldn't help myself. This story bit me rather hard (I fear there will be an everlasting mark) and I believe part of this may be because I tried to read "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" a month or so ago and was so disgusted with it that I felt the need to make it up to Kurama and Kagome now that I'm more of a skilled writer and less of a screaming fourteen year old fan girl.
Also (and I mention this only because it would bother me terribly if I was the reader) I know Kagome seems out of character, especially with her elevated level of diction. There is a reason for this dear readers, I promise you. Everything will be fully explained in time.
To those of you following "The Good Dog", the next chapter is halfway done and should be coming shortly.
To everyone, thank you for reading and I hope you will make the time to gift me with some (much appreciated) feedback.
P.S. I don't own the song "Everlong" either in this chapter or those that are upcoming. I will say this now because I certainly won't remember to say it later. Also, as you may have guessed, I don't own Inuyasha or Yu Yu Hakusho. Once again, I say it now and will not be saying it again later.
Thank you, come again!