Disclaimer: I own only the very particular make-up artist.
Author's note: They characters are out of character because… they're not yet in character.
Summary: (A/U) A summer's day in Sengoku Jidai? Not quite. Youkai, hanyou and humans conspire to nudge Sesshoumaru in asking Kagome out.
The sky was a startling shade of blue, as cloudless and clear as only summer skies could be. It was not even mid-morning, but it was already hot and it was getting hotter still. The humidity was almost a living entity; it lay thick and stifling, causing the busy humans to perspire profusely even when doing the lightest tasks.
Three pairs of inhuman eyes – two pairs red and one of cold, cold gold - watched the humans going briskly about their businesses from the shade.
"Kagura…" came Naraku's voice, a hint of polite request in its inflection.
Kagura gave a curt nod. Lifting her fan, she brought it down sharply with a practised flick of her wrist. The air moved at her summoning, moved and surged until it became a cool breeze, alleviating the clamminess in the air. The humans paused in their tasks and turned gratefully in her direction. A smattering of applause and cheering broke out from them.
"Thank you, Kagura-san!"
"You're the best, Kagura-san!"
Kagura nodded and waved her fan shyly at the production crew, plucking uncomfortably at the small towel lining the edge of her kimono's collar. She sank back into her chair and snapped open her fan, waving it in front of her face.
"I do hate filming in summer," she murmured.
"At least you don't have to put on armour," Sesshoumaru groused, pushing up the voluminous sleeves of his costume to reveal nicely toned arms.
"Or sprint around swathed in a fur pelt," Naraku sighed, slumping a little in his chair.
The heat could really get oppressive sometimes and with the voluminous raiment they had to wear, it was a wonder that no one has succumbed to heatstroke yet.
"Hey guys!" A cheerful female voice called out to them.
Kagura smiled and waved at the newcomer. Naraku sat up and blinked in surprise at the sight of the approaching girl. Sesshoumaru swallowed convulsively, ducked his head and pretended to examine his claws. Damn, the inuyoukai thought with nervous agitation, she was downwind.
Sneaking a glance at his white-haired co-star, Naraku spoke to Kagura in a stage whisper, "I think someone's really getting hot and bothered."
He was rewarded with a dirty glare from Sesshoumaru. Kagura rapped Naraku's forearm with a folded fan.
"Quit teasing the old dog," she said.
"I'm not old," Sesshoumaru hissed.
"Though you look more like a lovesick puppy right now," Naraku said aloud to no one in particular, "You are old enough to be her ancestor." Sesshoumaru reached out and flicked the hanyou's ear, earning himself an exclamation from the dark-haired male.
"Whose ancestor?" Kagome asked. She was within earshot when Naraku made the statement. Naraku merely grinned at her, one hand pressed against his reddening ear.
"Kagome-chan, what brings you to location?" Kagura asked. "You don't have a scene to shoot today, do you?"
Kagome set down the cooler box she had been lugging. Her hair was pulled up into a messy bun and a cap shaded her eyes. She was clad in knee-length cargo pants, a t-shirt that had the logo 'A Feudal Fairytale' emblazoned across the chest and 'CREW' printed on the back, and her feet were encased in a pair of well-worn sneakers.
"I'm here earning karma," she laughed, bending down again to open the cooler box.
"What's this? Our female lead can't be going around doling out drinks!" Naraku chuckled teasingly.
"Come off it, Naraku-san. You've rolled up your sleeves and put your many appendages to good use before. Anyway, you three look as if you are about to melt." Kagome retrieved a can and handed it to Kagura. "You favourite, Kagura-chan - peach flavoured tea. Ice-cold too! Kikyou-chan and Sango-chan are somewhere helping out too. The boys are around as well. Somewhere." She crouched over the cooler and rummaged around, muttering.
"Oh, you're an angel!" Kagura sighed as she pulled the tab of the can open. Kagome handed her a straw without looking up.
"Use a straw, or Kikumi-san from Make-Up will decapitate you for ruining that pout she painted on your lips! She gave me hell for smearing my lipgloss. Smearing happens when you kiss, but that's not acceptable to Kikumi-san… Ah, here they are," Kagome exclaimed and stood up, brandishing two cans. "For the dashing duo. Your favourites." She handed the drinks to Naraku and Sesshoumaru, who thanked her gratefully. She swiped her damp fingers on the seat of her pants, leaving dark streaks on the fabric. "I'll see you guys later." Picking up the cooler, she waved a hand. Naraku watched Sesshoumaru as the inuyoukai surreptitiously watched Kagome when she sauntered away.
"She called you dashing," Naraku remarked, waggling his eyebrows at Sesshoumaru, who exhaled noisily through his mouth. "That's a good sign, isn't it?"
Sesshoumaru slumped lower into his folding chair, groaning.
"Quit that!" Kagura admonished. "You'll get wrinkles in your costume!"
Sesshoumaru wished that he was just like the character he played – cool and fearless – but outside the set, he was quite the introvert. He rarely joined the rest for after-hours supper or drinks, preferring to spend time unwinding alone in his apartment.
Kagura gave the moping Sesshoumaru a sidelong glance and rolled her ruby eyes again. Leaning forward in her seat, she said, "Sesshoumaru, if you had been a little more social and mingled around more, you would know that Kagome-chan's birthday is tomorrow, and just this morning, Inuyasha, Kouga, Sango-chan, Kikyou-chan and Miroku planned to give our leading lady a birthday surprise after work."
When Sesshoumaru remained mute, Kagura made a strangled noise in her throat and the wind blew a little more wildly, attuned to Kagura's annoyance.
"Kagura," Naraku warned laughingly as his long wavy tresses began to whip about. "You'll ruin my hair."
"Sorry," the red-eyed woman murmured, subsiding in her seat. "Look, Sesshoumaru, get her something nice. Ask her out. If you don't, someone else might beat you to it. Kouga-kun has been trying to ask her out, you know."
It turned out, the 'birthday surprise' which the younger cast had planned involved the birthday girl being hosed down as she was slung over Inuyasha's shoulder. Both young woman and hanyou were soaking wet, shrieking in glee and mock indignation, much to the enjoyment of cast and crew.
Sesshoumaru watched, his envy mingling with amusement, as Inuyasha spun around with Kagome on his shoulder, making her shout in delight and scold in protest. The hanyou stopped, caught Sesshoumaru's eye and smirked.
"Hey, Sesshoumaru," Inuyasha called. "Catch!"
Suddenly, Kagome was tossed high into the air in his direction, arms pinwheeling and screaming, "Inuyasha!"
Sesshoumaru acted without thinking. He sprung up and caught the young woman mid-air, and using his youki as cushion, floated gently to the ground, clutching a breathless, starry-eyed co-star to his chest. She was giggling and blushing, her arms wound tightly about his neck. Sesshoumaru was suddenly aware how close she was. And where their bodies made contact, water from her attire was making his own clothes wet, but he didn't really care and that he didn't really want to let her go even when they've touched terra firma.
"Are you all right?" he asked, voice husky and soft.
"Yes," Kagome breathed giddily.
Looking over her head, Sesshoumaru glared at Inuyasha, who had his arms crossed and was grinning madly. Ask her out, the hanyou mouthed at him and the reprimand on his tongue died instantly, anger swiftly giving way to trepidation. He dropped his gaze to Kagome's flushed face, aware that he may be blushing himself, and opened his mouth. She was still clinging to him, watching him expectantly. Sesshoumaru allowed himself to hope.
"Your birthday is tomorrow?" he asked.
"Mm-hmm," Kagome nodded. Oblivious to the two, the cast and crew had taken a couple of steps closer around them, and watched shamelessly with bated breath. Sango, Kagura and Kikyou were clasping one another's hands, silently rooting.
"Would you - " his voice was strangely pitched and he cleared his throat to try again. "Would you care for dinner tomorrow, Kagome?"
"I'd love to," Kagome said, smiling sweetly.
And all around them, their audience broke out in whoops and cheers, and began singing a rousing birthday song for Kagome. That was, until Naraku took it into his head to turn on the hose again, drenching everyone this time.