-*-* Fun With Chemistry! *-*-
An Inuyasha One-Shot by Tobu Ishi

((Disclaimers -
1) I don't own Inuyasha; Rumiko Takahashi and whoever she licenses it to own all rights etc. So don't send the flying monkeys after me. ^_^
2) I take no responsibility for anything that happens to anybody who reads this doofball fic. That includes milk-out-the-nose, confusion, and any feelings of genuine stupidity. -_-* Oh, and this is kind of in honor of back-to-school and all. Enjoy!))


"Oi, wench, whatcha doing now?"

Heaving a deep sigh, Kagome didn't even bother to lift her eyes from the accursed book before her. She already knew what she'd see; a disgruntled and impatient, not to mention over-curious dog demon crouched on her windowsill, peering into the mess that was her room.

*I don't have time for this!* Kagome groaned to herself. To Inuyasha she snapped, "I'm studying for a Chemistry exam. Now go away."

"Chemi-what?" Inuyasha asked, looking puzzled. He hopped into the room, padding over to shove his face next to hers and stare over her shoulder at the thick textbook that lay open on Kagome's desk. Kagome brushed away several strands of long silver-white hair that had fallen inconveniently over the problem she was working on, barely noticing the hanyou's presence, so deeply was she concentrated on the deep, vital, pressing question at hand...

What exactly *did* HCl and NaOH make when combined?

"Studying your spellbooks again, huh?" Inuyasha inquired, breaking her concentration. He leaned in for a better look, once again covering the problem at the bottom of the page with his hair; Kagome elbowed him in the ribs.

"They're not spellbooks, Inuyasha. If they were, I would have already cursed you bald," she snapped, fighting the temptation to yank the annoying strands.

"You what?" the hanyou yelped, leaping back and holding onto his precious mane with both fists. Kagome smiled in spite of herself.

"That's better," she said, and bent over the book again, paging back through the chapter for a better explanation of the formula that kept giving her trouble...

It didn't last, of course. A second later, there was a soft thump from behind her, then several clattering and plinking noises. Spinning around in her swivel chair, Kagome saw Inuyasha standing sheepishly over the old plastic natto container where she kept her spare change. It now lay on its side on the floor, and the coins were scattered to the far corners of the room.

"Argh! Inuyasha-"

"I just wanted to look at them," he protested before she could say the 'O' word. "They're different from what we use in the Sengoku Jidai. I didn't think it would be so light-quit looking at me like that, wench!" he snapped, going pink-cheeked with embarrassment.

The look Kagome was giving him *was* a bit embarrassing. She resembled a very tired mother, shaking her head at a problem child. Slowly, Kagome got out of her chair, kneeling on the floor and silently beginning to pick up the coins.

Inuyasha felt the familiar prick of guilt poking him in the innards. He grimaced. "Listen, Kagome, I was bad, okay? I-"

"Osuwari!"

"ITA!"

"Hmph." Tossing her hair over her shoulder as she got to her feet, Kagome dropped back into her chair with a sniff and left the hanyou twitching on the floor...

For a few moments, it was mostly silent in Kagome's room, excepting of course the various grunts, frustrated mutterings, and disgruntled sighs that always accompanied Inuyasha whenever he was scraping himself back into one piece after an encounter with that thrice-cursed necklace. Eventually even those faded, and Kagome took advantage of the rare moment of blessed quiet to begin digging into that stupid question again.

Then she felt a warm breath on her ear, and sighed inwardly. Here it went again... But to her surprise, Inuyasha didn't say anything; he didn't even poke her, or drape his hair over the page. In fact-

Kagome stole a glance over her shoulder, and had to hold back a giggle. The hanyou's golden eyes were skimming over the pages, and his brow was furrowed. The tip of his tongue was just visible at the corner of his mouth. In fact, with that intense look on his face, Inuyasha looked for all the world like he was...well, studying.

And as a matter of fact, it made him look absolutely adorable.

It took the hanyou a second to realize he was being stared at, but when he did, the studious look vanished, replaced by a frown. "What?"

Kagome blushed, looking quickly away...had he caught her watching him? How embarrassing...then again, it wasn't like she'd never spotted him with his eye on her...and usually in a much more compromising situation, too! After all, she wasn't the one always catching him in the nude-far from it! She...she...

Her thought processes stumbled slightly, backtracking to that last sentence. Him in the...oh, no you don't! Kagome intercepted the image before it could form, fighting to keep the blood from going even brighter in her cheeks. The last thing she needed to think about right now was...gwahhh!

"It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all," Kagome sang under her breath to distract herself, shutting her eyes tightly...

And felt a hand settle on her shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"Inuyasha!" she yelped, and winced. "Um, yeah, I'm fine...I just...got a little sidetracked." It didn't help having him so close, either...oh, gawd, was Miroku starting to rub off on her? She sighed. "Um, I was just wondering what you were looking at. That's all." All he needed to know, anyway...

Fortunately, Inuyasha took the bait without asking any more awkward questions.

"Oh. Well, it's these symbols here, the funny loopy ones," he said, tracing the outline of her copy of the periodical table with one clawtip. His eyebrows were drawn together in puzzlement. "I don't recognize them."

Kagome couldn't help giving him a startled look.

"You can read?"

Inuyasha scowled at her, crossing his arms. "What do you think I am, a moron? Of course I can read. My mother taught me everything she knew, and she wasn't stupid, either...she didn't want the son of a taiyoukai growing up an illiterate fool."

Realizing she'd hit a nerve, Kagome tried to ease things with an apology and a smile. "I'm sorry, Inuyasha, I wasn't thinking...of course you can't read these, they're romaji. They come from across the ocean, and people in other countries use them to write with. Each of them makes a sound, see?" She ointed at the top left corner of the diagram. "That's an H, and it makes the 'huh' sound. In the language that this chart is in, it stands for hydrogen."

"Hydra-what?" Inuyasha asked, his eyes widening. "A hydra? You mean, this is a spell for summoning monsters?"

Kagome couldn't help laughing. "Of course not, it's just a gas. Hydrogen is a fancy word for a kind of gas." Inuyasha wrinkled his nose.

"Ugh, like at the hot springs..."

Kagome giggled again. "No, not that kind of gas. That's sulphur. See? Suphur's right here." She pointed, and Inuyasha leaned in to see. "All sorts of gases are on here, all listed out in order. And if you put them together in different ways, you get all sorts of neat colors and explosions! Boom!" she shouted, throwing her hands high in the air to illustrate her point, and nearly bonking the startled hanyou in the nose.

"Hey!"

"Sorry," Kagome said, grinning sheepishly. "Chemistry class is fun when we're doing stuff like that. It's just the tests that bother me...the writing part, you know?"

"The whole thing seems pretty useless to me," Inuyasha snorted, giving the periodic table a dirty look. "Just a bunch of exploding gases...you can see that any day back in the Feudal Era with us. Doesn't interest me."

"Oh, but it's not just gases," Kagome interrupted, clearly getting into her subject matter as she pointed out different bits of the chart before her. "This one here, the letters Au? That stands for gold! And this one's silver, and here's..." Suddenly, her voice trailed off in what sounded like amazement. Curious, Inuyasha leaned in again.

"What? What?"

A chuckle of amusement escaped Kagome's lips. "I don't believe it..."

"What?!" Inuyasha insisted, his patience wearing thin...

Kagome looked up at him and grinned. "I found iron on the chart," she stated, the traces of a smile still playing across her face. "You know, like in the tetsu bit of 'Tetsusaiga'? And most of your attacks?"

Inuyasha nodded, not sure where this was leading... "Yeah, so I've got a lot of ties to iron...so what?"

"Well," Kagome said, "the word for iron in this language is 'ferrum'...so guess what the abbreviation is."

Inuyasha blinked, staring at the pointy little figure on the page in front of him, with its smaller, chubby-looking sidekick. "Um, I have no idea-"

" 'Fe'!" Kagome gleefully exclaimed, a grin spreading brightly across her face.

Inuyasha facefaulted.

"That's...I..." he muttered from his place on the floor. "I didn't...I...oh, feh!! I mean-" he stammered, eyes wide as he realized what he'd said. "I-I didn't mean to say that!"

Kagome giggled harder. "That's what's funny," she explained through her laughter, getting off her chair to sit by him on the floor. "It's just so...you!"

Red-cheeked, the hanyou ducked his head in embarrassment. "I still don't see what the use of all this is," he grumbled, trying to get back on topic. "Why are you supposed to know this stuff? Seems to me a good lesson in swordfighting or something would be a lot more helpful."

Kagome shrugged, leaning back against her bedstead to gaze up at the ceiling in thought. "In a way you're right, but only for me," she said after a moment of contemplation, during which Inuyasha had settled next to her, mimicking her relaxed pose with a sigh. "I mean, I don't think there are many junior high students out there who fight monsters on a regular basis. I guess there's always the kendo club..."

"The what?" Inuyasha said, pricking up his ears in curiosity.

"Never mind," Kagome said, luckily recognizing that subject as one that they could go on about all night, and that would be better saved for some boring night around a Feudal Age campfire, instead of her valuable study time. "I'll tell you some other time." Pausing, she glanced out the window at the sky outside. "Still, I suppose there are some things about chemistry that even you could learn something from," she mused after a moment.

That got Inuyasha's attention. "Really?" he said, and then seemed to realize he was acting way too interested in this, for he followed it up with a slightly self-conscious, "Not that I care or anything."

"Mm-hmm," Kagome said, nodding and deciding to ignore his usual nonsense about not caring a whit for her world. Well, except for the ramen maybe. Sighing, she tilted her head to look him in the eye. "I mean, some of those chemicals are pretty poisonous...take those two I was trying to figure out a second ago, for example. Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide."

Inuyasha debated trying to repeat those, then gave it up. Better to remain silent than sound like a babbling dolt. "What about them?" he said instead.

"Well, on their own, they're both pretty nasty," Kagome explained with a grimace. "They set off nasty reactions if you touch them; they can even make you go blind if they get in your eyes. But if you mix them together..." Reaching for a piece of paper and a pencil, she settled back against the bedstead and scribbled for a moment, her face tense with concentration.

Inuyasha stared, watching the funny little charcoal-stick leave more of those loopy romaji things on the paper. What on earth was the point of this?

"Ah!" Kagome cried happily, as apparently something went right with her spellcasting. She held up the paper, showing him the little marks she'd made. "See, if you mix these bits here and those bits there-the hydrochloric acid and the sodium hydroxide-then they stir themselves up and separate into new mixtures instead, and all you end up with is H20 and NaCl!"

"Which are...?" Inuyasha asked, trying not to be awed by the fact that he was actually, sort of, understanding some of this...

Kagome shrugged. "Plain old water and salt. Two nice, useful things that don't hurt anybody...and that help a lot of people very much! Neat, huh?" Turning to grin at him, she stopped short when she saw the odd, faraway look on the hanyou's face. "Inuyasha? Um...you awake?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah," he said, his eyes still kind of distant. Kagome's words had knocked him for a loop. Did she even realize the possible meaning of what she'd just said? Glancing up, he saw her still watching him, a worried look on her face. He took a deep, shuddering breath.

"Inuyasha?" Kagome said, frowning at him. "Is everything all right?"

"Out of two kinds of poison..." he murmured, his face turned away from hers, "...come two good, useful things. Things that help, instead of harm." He looked up then, meeting her gaze with eyes full of an odd irony. "Remind you of anyone we know?"

Kagome sucked in her breath, struck by the truth in what he'd said. "But...poison? What-"

"Your past," he interrupted softly. "Your powers...and the Shikon's curse that you brought back into our time."

"And you?" Kagome asked, then sighed as she saw the answer on his face. "Yeah, I guess you were just...you."

"Poison straight through," Inuyasha agreed with a surprisingly acceptant laugh. "It's a miracle you survived meeting me."

"Well, I guess most chemical reactions are a little violent," Kagome punned with a wry smile. "But hey, look what we got out of it! I'd say we improved each other, wouldn't you?"

Inuyasha hesitated for a moment, then nodded. "Of course," he said, his face warming into a smile. "You seem to have that effect on everyone you meet."

"But especially you," Kagome teased. Instead of taking it as a joke, though, Inuyasha nodded with uncharacteristic gravity.

"Especially me," he agreed, and paused, falling silent...

Gazing out the window, Kagome suddenly felt a warm hand grip hers, pulling her gently to lean against the hanyou. Inuyasha's other arm settled around her shoulders, and before the human girl quite knew what was happening, there she was, wrapped in an awkward yet very welcome embrace...

Kagome's eyes fluttered half-closed, and she nestled her head against his shoulder. "Inuyasha," she whispered, her heart beating rapidly within her chest...

She'd saved him, Inuyasha realized. He'd saved her from countless monsters, yes, but this little human girl had saved him from the worst enemy he'd ever faced: the walls of apathy and anger that he'd built up inside himself all his life. Smiling, he rested his cheek against her hair and breathed in her sweet scent...

It was, of course, right in the middle of that very special moment that a certain little slave-driver decided to check on his ane's scholastic progress.

"Kagome-chaaaaan! Momma said to see if you were study--eep..."

The couple sprang apart, Inuyasha stumbling over the natto tub he'd left on the floor and falling flat on his back as Kagome leapt to her feet.

"Souta!" she shrieked, stomping toward the saucer-eyed little face peeking through the doorway. "For the millionth time, stay out of my room!!"

Souta gulped. "Mommaaaa!" he yelled, turning and fleeing the scene. "Kagome and that puppy boy are at it agaaaaaaaiiiiin!"

"What does he mean, 'again'," Inuyasha griped, sitting up and rubbing his head where he'd hit it on the corner of the bedside table. "Nosy little brat..."

Rolling her eyes, Kagome helped him to his feet. "Sorry about that," she apologized. "Souta can be a problem sometimes..."

"No kidding," Inuyasha sighed, but made no attempt to go after the boy, to Kagome's relief. He really had mellowed out, she thought to herself. And she'd gotten tougher, more able to take care of herself and others...so maybe there really was a point to that mutual improvement stuff after all.

And that reminded her...

"Ack!" Kagome yelped, making a face. "My homework! It's nearly seven and I still haven't done it yet!" Whirling around, she hurried to her desk, frantically shuffling papers as she tried to find where the periodic table had gone...

Suddenly, it appeared in front of her. "You knocked it off the table," Inuyasha offered with a smile, holding out the precious sheet of paper.

Taking it gratefully from him, Kagome smiled back. "Sorry about this, but I-"

"-have tests," he finished for her with a snort. "I know, I know. Look, just get them over with quick, okay? We need you over there. And besides-" he made a face- "Miroku says I'm miserable to live with without my better half around to calm me down when I get in a stink about something. His words, not mine."

"Sounds like him all right," Kagome said with a smile. She paused, glancing down at her homework. "Um..."

"Right," Inuyasha said, nodding reluctantly. "I guess I'll...see you later, then?"

"In a couple of days," she agreed, trying not to let her emotions show. Just when they were finally getting somewhere, something always happened! Kagome shook her head. It seemed the odds were terminally against them...

Suddenly, Inuyasha reached out and caught her shoulder, leaning forward-and planted a kiss on her forehead. Then he was out the window and down the tree, before she could say a word.

"Later!" Kagome heard him call as he raced across the yard and into the wellhouse-she ran to the window, but he was gone...

As she stood there, a small smile crept across Kagome's face. She reached up to press her fingers to the place where his lips had touched her skin...

"Better half, huh?" Kagome Higurashi murmured, smiling broadly now as she turned to go back to her chemistry work, her mood definitely improved. "I guess there's only one reply to that kind of nonsense...

"Feh!"


*-*-*-*


Well, there it is, folks...another one-shot by yours truly, the one and only Tobu Ishi. This one's kind of an apology for not finishing Merry Christmas, Inuyasha for so long...and for getting so melodramatic with it in the middle chapters. I tried to keep this lighter and more humorous. What did you think? Did it work better, or did you prefer Merry Xmas? Should I finish Xmas, or just move on and leave it where it is? Give me your opinions, ne? Arigatou!

-seriously (not!), Tobu Ishi
^_^

ps - The 'iron' puns are actually all based on fact. The archaic term for iron, as used in the periodic table of the elements, really is 'ferrum'...and it really is abbreviated as 'Fe'. Too ironic, ne? In fact, you can blame that little fact for getting this fic incubating in my mind. Over and out! (now that you've learned something and all that... :p)