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Bell, Book and . . . What, Now? by Freya Ishtar

Bell, Book & . . . What, Now?

(Credit for this goes to PRVN with whom I had a very silly discussion via the forum thread for this challenge that she & I agreed could easily be strung together & fleshed out to create a quick, if completely ridiculous, one-shot.)

(Am slowly going through & fixing typos & mis-wordings, as I typed this up quickly & without the benefit of spellcheck)

(The title is in tribute to an old supernatural romantic comedy, Bell, Book & Candle.)

Challenge: Old Wives' Tales Subject: Bells

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any affiliated characters.

Bell, Book & . . . What, Now?

It was completely, absolutely . . . one hundred percent . . . unbelievable. Kagome looked up from the old, worn tome with its cracked and weathered leather cover open in her lap at the sound around her, then. The chimes carrying to her ears as heavy winds shook the bells strung up here and there throughout her family shrine. Sleek, dark brows lifting in surprise, she dropped her gaze back to the words before her as the bells continued to chime. Maybe the gods listened sometimes, after all.

Still . . . . she frowned a little, setting the book aside and shuffling to her feet. It seemed ridiculous, but maybe it could give them an edge. Sighing, she cast a cautious glance over her shoulder, blue eyes darting back and forth before she set her head straight and nodded to herself. She was only going to borrow them, it would be fine. Unconsciously dragging her feet, she stepped up to the closest pillar and lifted her fingers to untie the red string of one of the bells.

"Kagome!"

She nearly jumped out of her skin, immediately spinning on a heel and lowering her gaze to see the gnarled and chubby shrine priest staring up at her through squinty, narrowed eyes.

"Yes, gran'pa?" she managed, clasping her hands behind her back and forcing a bright smile.

The miniscule octogenarian scowled up at the girl for a long moment. "What are you doing?"

"I . . . I was . . . well, okay . . . ." She let out a loud sigh, her small rounded shoulders slumping in defeat. "I was going to borrow the bells to see if what that book says is true."

For all she knew, it could be, they really hadn't encountered the sound of ringing bells in her travels with her friend in the Feudal Era. And at this point, wasn't anything worth a shot? Things were falling apart on the other side of the well. Kikyou had finally, officially, really and truly died . . . maybe, Naraku had all but Kohaku's shard, Kagome had given up on her pursuit of Inuyasha- even with Kikyou possibly gone for good, she didn't like the feeling of still being second fiddle to a dead woman- and the person she'd found her eye falling on since . . . barely tolerated humans being in the same breathing space as him. Even if she thought he was eyeing her from time-to-time, too. That was just her romance-deprived teenage-girl imagination getting her hopes up, she knew it was. But Inuyasha- who never seemed to notice anything- had noticed the direction of her attention lately, which only served to create tension between them.

With all these things going wrong, something had to work in their favor . . . even if it did seem wholly implausible.

After a long moment of thoughtfully tapping his chin, the old man murmured quietly, "I understand your need and your curiosity. And I think you should find out."

Nodding with relief, Kagome turned back to the string.

"But!" he barked somewhat jovially. "Not with those . . . those belong to the shrine."

Kagome's shoulders slumped again, "But gran'pa-"

"No!" he responded sharply, swatting her on the wrist.

"Ouch!' she squeaked, covering the area with her other hand. "Gran'pa!"

"Well, I . . . " the pint-sized man folded his arms across his chest, "want you to know I'm serious."

". . . Fine," frowning darkly, the girl scooped up her book and began trudging back toward the house.

She had to put the book back and retrieve her bag, she was due to traverse back through the well any minute. It wasn't like the battle would wait until she could run to the corner store. With another loud heavy sigh, she entered the house and slid the tome onto the end table just inside. As she set foot on the stairs to head up to her room for her worn yellow backpack she heard a chiming.

Bolting upright, she turned slowly, scanning for the source of the sound. There, at the other end of the room her pudgy cat, Buyo was hunkering himself down for a nap. Dangling from the collar around his neck was a shiny . . . golden . . . bell.

Quirking a brow, she slowly stepped back down and turned toward the feline who was, in turn, cracking an eye open to watch her suspiciously. She quietly inched towards him, her hands reaching out slowly . . . when the cat seemed to pick up on her nervousness- along with her already mildly harrassed state- and opened his mouth wide to give a warning hiss before it leapt up and darted across the house.

"Oh, c'mon," she groaned, spinning on her heel to run after him, grumbling under her breath, "you are so going to get it!"

* * *

Kagome did well ignoring the quizzical looks she received as she pulled herself out of the well and into the Feudal Era a scant ten minutes later. Shippo seemed about to ask why she had band-aids- as he'd learned she called the strange, sticky little bandages- appearing to be all but holding her face together when Miroku caught a glimpse of the miko's already seething expression. The monk swept over to the kitsune and scooped him up, clamping a hand over the tiny demon's mouth.

"OI!" The words rang through the air instantly, causing Miroku and Sango to immediately exchange worried glances as Kagome's shoulders hunched while Inuyasha stormed up from behind her. "Kagome, what the hell took you . . ." he grabbed her elbow and spun her to face him, his words dying on his lips, both at her already battered appearance and the scorching glare she was giving.

She wrenched her arm from his grasp. "I don't want to talk about it," she muttered stomping around him and starting off.

Even Sesshomaru, standing some distance away by himself, seemed perplexed by her appearance, not that he was about to grace anyone with his mention of such, but as she marched determinedly past him, she held her hand up, palm toward him. "EH!" was all she said as she continued on.

Gold eyes darted around briefly in confusion before a perfectly arched silver brow quirked and he pivoted slowly on his heel to follow her, only vaguely aware of the others filing behind them as well.

* * *

She didn't want to use it, deciding to leave it as a last resort since she doubted it would work, but she was already so drained. The fighting raged on around her, her muscles were sore, her face hurt from that stupid cat . . . she'd gone to so much trouble over something so stupid . . . . To hell with this . . . .

"Naraku!" she hollered suddenly, stopping in the middle of notching her arrow.

Despite the surrounding din of battle, the angry shout startled her companions, causing faltering and pausing amongst them. Everyone turned to watch in amazement as the miko dropped her arms, marched directly up to the creature and threw down her bow.

Indeed, even their enemy seemed shocked by this, for a moment too surprised to work up one of his usual mocking taunts.

"I can't believe I'm even doing this," the girl grumbled to herself, not realizing that Sesshomaru's impossibly sharp hearing had picked up the moment of self-chastising.

Much to the awe and disbelief of all watching, the Shikon Miko withdrew from the waistband of her skirt . . . a strange, mangled strip of leather with a shiny golden trinket dangling from it. Closing her eyes and turning her head away, Kagome shook the thing at him, the ringing of the little bell tinkling lightly through the air.

It was still silent, and she cracked an eye open to look at her target. Naraku was merely staring at her, an eyebrow raised and his fingers drumming tiredly against his chin. "Oh, crap," she said loudly.

Little Shippo's tiny jaw dropped, turquoise eyes going wide. "Oh no . . . I think we broke Kagome."

Crimson eyes blinked at her in shock. He was sure the miko and the fox kit had both just spoken, but . . . nothing. "What?" the corrupted hanyou shouted, cupping a hand to his ear.

Kagome's head tilted to one side before she lifted Buyo's collar again, her gaze darting from it to their enemy and back again. After a moment a hand slid around her elbow, spinning her around. She expected it to be Inuyasha, ready to yell at her . . . again, but her mouth fell open a little at finding his brother staring down at her.

"S-Sesshomaru . . . ."

"What bit of nonsense is this?" he asked levelly.

"I . . . I read somewhere that it's believed that demons- evil ones, so I figured it wouldn't harm you or Inuyasha, 'cause you're sort of . . . neutral and Inu's just . . . cranky- but it's believed that demons fear bells because the chimes cause them pain. I thought if it worked, it could catch him off guard enough that we could get an edge over him. And well . . ." the girl shrugged, gesturing over her shoulder to the dazed crimson-eyed demon, still wringing his ears with his hands, " . . . see? It sort of worked."

Sesshomaru stared down into that naive, bandaged face. She was so stupid it was a wonder she could walk two steps without falling down. She had marched right up to their enemy, prepared to do battle with such a flimsy, half-cocked plan. It was completely moronic . . . which was what made it so terribly and strangely brave.

She swallowed a gasp as he gently cupped her face in his hands and lowered his mouth, brushing his lips over hers. In the distance, an irrate Inuyasha stepped forward, but Sango stopped him with a hand on his shoulder, her head shaking at him as she gave him an imploring look- he'd had his chance, he needed to understand that.

Kagome slid her hands up over the daiyoukai's, gaping up at him, awestruck as he pulled his face back from hers a little. "Dear gods, but you are an idiot," he whispered evenly.

"Hey-" she began with a scowl, but instanly he relinquished his hold on her and was pushing her bow back into her hands.

"Let us finish this first," he murmured, nodding almost imperceptibly to the deafened creature.

"And then . . . ?" she asked, curious as to what would follow that kiss.

Golden eyes danced over her lips as he replied in his usual, detached monotone, "I shall continue telling you how severely you lack for intelligence."

She nodded, notching an arrow. "Will it . . . be in the same way you just told me I'm an idiot?"

Sesshomaru unsheathed his sword, nodding slightly, "More than likely."

"Okay," she responded simply, hiding a bashful grin as she aimed her shot between the distracted hanyou's glittering red eyes.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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