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Convivial by The Hatter Theory

Halloween

Convivial

By: The Hatter Theory

Chapter 1: Halloween

Disclaimer: I don't own Inu Yasha. 

TW: Attempted assault, drinking

~*~

Who could she be, if she could be anyone? The question posed to her had been rolling around her skull for days, ever since Eri had demanded she go to a Halloween party. Her friend had told her she could be anyone, anything, no matter how strange or sexy or frightening.

The only issue was, she liked being Kagome. Being something else, someone else, was a disagreeable notion after years of working through identity issues concerning herself and her former incarnation, her role in the past and her place in the world as it was after the completion of the jewel. She was -had been- a time traveling miko. The time traveling part was no longer applicable, but the miko part was, in a very loose sense of the term. However, Eri had told her the entire point was to be someone else, something else.

Of course, it also seemed like an excuse for her friend to dress in as little as possible. The other girl had modeled costume after costume until finding a skimpy little maid's outfit that made Kagome blush even as she envied Eri's confidence. And from Eri's declaration, the skimpiness of the outfit was in fact the norm.

The norm was definitely not for her, not that it ever had been. At twenty two, she had just come back to Tokyo to begin the next stage of her schooling and found Eri going to the same college as she was. After working so hard to get into college to begin with, she hadn't indulged in the normal collegiate pursuits, parties, dating, drinking, and concert hopping. And definitely not Halloween. It hadn't even occurred to her that people her age dressed up anymore.

"If I could be anyone," She mused. She couldn't dress as a miko, that was just too easy, and she was a miko, so it would be pointless. But she definitely couldn't dress up in one of the teeny tiny outfits her friend was wearing either.

"I suppose I would want to be my polar opposite."

Which meant a youkai. But how would she impersonate a youkai? Most were so strangely formed that it would take months to pull a proper costume together. Even the more humanoid females had dressed in outfits too elaborate or revealing for her to even consider wearing.

"But," She thought aloud, swirling the straw in her soda. If she was going to be her polar opposite, why not go as a male youkai? After all, the males had almost always worn enough to completely cover themselves, and there had been a wide range of styles to their clothing.

"Inu Yasha?" She asked herself aloud, immediately striking the thought out. No, while she no longer pined for the hanyou, she didn't feel like dressing like him, and if her family somehow saw the costume they would undoubtedly worry that she was still avoiding dating because of her feelings and not because she was busy with school.

Kouga? No, she realized almost as quickly, because his clothing had been on the revealing side. Shippou was also out, because his furred vest would be impossible to make or find, and the idea of wearing something like it made her vaguely uncomfortable. The more she thought, the more she realized that most youkai had worn clothing impossible to reconstruct or so outlandish that she would never feel comfortable wearing it herself, even as just a costume.

"There's always Sesshoumaru's," She joked aloud, and realized that it was one of the few viable options almost as soon as she said it. She tried to picture it in her mind's eye, laughing to herself even as the viability of the idea came together. If she didn't include the armor, it would actually be the most simple costume to make. Finding the base garment would be easy, and all she would have to do is find a way to get the design on it. A wig would be similarly easy, and the facial markings as well. Even finding fake swords would be simple.

"I suppose that's it then," She murmured, looking down into her soda with a smile. It would be the first time she had dressed in a costume since she was fifteen. A strange thrill of excitement shot through her at the thought, and she opened her laptop, eagerly pulling up a search for local clothes vendors.

~*~

"Kagome, what are you?" Eri asked, her eyes narrowed skeptically. "A kabuki actor?"

"I'm an inu youkai," She said proudly as she closed the makeup case. And she was proud, the entire thing had come off wonderfully. After bungling the first costume with fabric paints, she had scoured the internet for a means to print the fabric and come up with resistance dying, which had been simple after the first three failures. Her kimono matched the daiyoukai's perfectly, as well as the sash wrapped around her waist. Everything else had been child's play, from the swords to the boots. Even her make up was perfect, and she had purchased a size too small sports bra to flatten her chest. She wasn't as tall or fair, but she very definitely didn't look like herself. More than once she'd had to stop doing her make up to laugh, knowing the real Sesshoumaru was probably spinning in his grave.

The costume had the effect of making her feel-Confident, maybe? Relaxed, at least. She wasn't Kagome, and had none of Kagome's worries for the night.

"You look like a boy," Eri accused.

"I know, that was the point," She laughed as she tucked her cell phone into the discreet pocket in her kimono sleeve. "I wanted to be the opposite of what I was."

"You're going to get hit on by girls," Eri whined.

"We can just pretend I'm your date," She suggested with a grin as she closed the door to her apartment behind her.

"No," The other woman said firmly. "I fully intend to go home with a stranger tonight. After all, I'd never do it in real life, so it fits."

Kagome wasn't sure if that was the point of Halloween, but she didn't gainsay her friend as they rode the elevator downstairs. Eri's car was a pile of junk, but it ran, and she was the only one between them that had her license, much less a car. Kagome got in, pulling her swords onto her lap and staring forward.

"Why couldn't you have chosen something a little more-" Eri began as she started the car and pulled out of the parking garage.

"Normal?" Kagome supplied.

"Sexy," The other female deadpanned.

"Because it's Halloween," Kagome intoned, affecting what she remembered of Sesshoumaru's narcissism. "I'm supposed to be the opposite of what I am all year."

"Oh you are so full of it," Her friend laughed, beginning to smile for the first time since she had seen her. The gauntlet thrown, their teasing began in earnest, each one poking at the other mercilessly.

When they arrived at the apartment building where the party was being held, Kagome looked up at it in awe. The building was obviously for the rich, it's sleek design nothing at all like her own rather small building.

"The party's here?"

"Jigen's the one throwing it, and his parents got him a place here when he turned eighteen," Eri informed her as they walked inside.

"Must be nice to be so rich," Kagome muttered, feeling slightly inadequate in the face of such obvious wealth.

"He's a jerk, but everyone off campus is coming since he's got an open bar and a live dj."

The elevator ride up was almost excruciatingly long, and when they got out, there was only one door on the floor. Music thumped and bumped, vibrating through the floor and making her feet tingle through the leather soles of her boots.

"You ready?" Eri asked, beaming over at her.

"Of course, come on!" Kagome laughed as she walked ahead of the scantily clad maid and knocked on the door. No one answered, so she tried the knob and it swung open, revealing a very large condo that easily took up two floors. She hadn't even known there were such palatial homes in the city.

And everywhere she looked there were people in costumes talking and drinking. Catgirls and maids, punks and vampires, prisoners and movie stars of bygone eras. Gangsters lounged with plastic cups in their hands while a toga swathed group of people drank from cups she presumed they had brought, big plastic goblets covered in equally plastic jewels. At least she hoped they were plastic.

"Come on, let's get a drink and mingle," Eri urged her, trying to make herself heard over the music.

"I thought you were driving us home," She protested.

"We won't be leaving for hours yet, and by then one drink will have worn off," The other girl reasoned. "Come on, this is the first party you've come to all year. Relax, meet people."

Apparently 'relax, meet people' was code for abandon ship, because Eri pulled away from her in that exact moment while squealing some other girl's name at the top of her lungs. Holding in a frustrated snarl, she walked over to the bar and waited for the bartender to notice her. Within minutes a female in a glittering leotard came over, the color of the costume itself lost in the myriad flashing lights.

"Well?" She huffed impatiently.

"Surprise me," Kagome told her, shouting to be heard over the music. The bartender's eyes widened at the feminine voice coming from the 'male' and she blinked slowly, then turned behind her and pulled several bottles and began pouring.

"I've never seen you here before," A voice said next to her. "Nice costume by the way."

She turned and saw a man wearing a dark suit and shades staring at her over the top of the tinted lenses.

"It's my first time here," She admitted. "Thanks, you too."

"So what are you supposed to be?"

She didn't answer immediately, as a plastic cup was shoved in front of her. She thanked the bartender and looked back to him. He was staring down at her looking vaguely impressed.

"I'm a youkai," She finally told him.

"A cross dressing youkai. I like it," He laughed, and the sound put her off for some strange reason. Chalking it up to the slight slur -and she couldn't blame him, because everybody seemed to be drinking- she mumbled a shy thanks.

"And you are?" She asked.

"An assassin."

She wondered if she should give him points for originality, or take them away for lack of trying.

"So what's your major?"

"Classic literature."

"A lit major?"

"Yeah. You?"

And then it started, and she realized her error. Apparently he had only asked her what her major was so he could launch into a lengthy explanation of his own, his chest puffing up with it's own self importance. Within minutes she not only knew his major, but his intended career, his obsession with american musicians, and his overwhelming love of self.

After thirty minutes, she was beyond trying to figure out how to politely extract herself, and was considering drastic measures. Like forcing herself to vomit. It wouldn't take much, she was already dangerously nauseated from the sickeningly sweet way he referred to himself and his passions. It was narcissism in the extreme, made all the worse by how much he'd imbibed.

Just as she was about to flee, thinking he wouldn't notice until she was long gone, he pitched forward, the people behind them shouting and cheering. He flailed and grabbed for support, his hand clamping on her shoulder and his lips moving saying something she couldn't make out. However, her sharp cry of dismay was heard over the music as his drink, something foul smelling and colorful, spilled down the front of her kimono and hakama. She couldn't be sure because of the multicolored lighting in the room, but she was almost positive it was blue.

"Please excuse me," She muttered, not even caring if he could hear. Looking around, she made for the stairs and climbed up past the other costumed students, ignoring their angry curses as she stumbled against them in her haste. Hoping she would get lucky, she opened the first door and almost slammed it shut, but something caught her attention.

It was Eri's face. Her eyes were closed and she was obviously enjoying herself. So much so that she didn't notice her best friend staring at her.

Mortified, she slammed the door shut before her friend could see her and rushed to the next door, knocking on it loudly before opening it. It was sheer luck that it was not only the bathroom, but it was also empty. She'd expected a line. It was with a sense of trepidation that she approached the sink.

In normal lighting, she could see that the drink, whatever it was, was going to permanently stain the outfit she had worked so hard on. A bright blue stain ran all the way down the front of the kimono, right over her left breast and down the kimono, standing out in vivid contrast.

"That's what I get for wearing white," She muttered angrily, dabbing at the silk. "How did he keep his clothes so clean back then? It must have been a nightmare!"

The door behind her opened, and she looked up to tell the person she'd only be a moment when she caught the 'assassin's' eyes in the mirror.

"Hey," He slurred.

"I'm sorry, I'll be out in a minute."

"No need," He cajoled, his tone coming out like syrup, too sweet by half. It made the hair on the back of her neck stand up, warning shivering through her. Despite six years having passed, she recognized that tone, remembered how terrified she'd been when she'd heard it. "I've never done it in a bathroom before."

"Done what?" She tried, searching for an easy way around him.

"You know. It'll be wild," He told her, coming closer.

"This is really not going to happen," She told him, trying to slip past him.

"Don't play so hard to get. You've been checking me out all night," He told her, reaching for her hand. She moved just out of distance and slipped out the door, slamming it closed behind her.

Not even thinking about Eri, she rushed down the stairs and pushed through the crowd of dancers that had amassed in every open spot of the floor. Rude expletives were shouted behind her as she struggled to get to the door. The room felt too small, and at some point people had started smoking. The air was thick and her lungs struggled to drag in air, but the sweat tinged, humid gasps she inhaled did nothing to ease the constricting dizziness of adrenaline. When she finally made it to the door, she flung herself outside and slammed it shut.

"A bus. Eri will understand," She told herself as she made for the elevator. People were just getting out and she asked them to hold it, grateful to be taking it down alone. The doors were almost fully closed when a hand stuck itself between them, making them open again.

The assassin smiled at her as he stepped in. She decided then and there that the lighting at the party had been very kind, because his smile was absolutely loathsome, and reminded her too much of Naraku's self-satisfied smirk. His hand went to the button panel and with a quick glance, he hit the metal circle that closed the doors behind him.

"I've always wanted to try fucking in an elevator," He declared, swooping down to kiss her. The elevator began it's descent to the lobby, and she moved to the corner on the other side. He followed.

"Stop playing, I'm serious," He laughed, as if the entire situation was amusing.

"No, I don't want to have sex with you," She snapped, wondering how he could take her fleeing as 'playing'.

"Oh come on now, you've been flirting with me all night."

"No, stop."

His hands began roaming over her sides, and his mouth missed hers entirely, ending with her cheek covered in his alcohol ridden saliva.

"I said no!" She shouted, pushing him back. He stumbled, balance off from drink, and she pulled one of the wooden swords free from her sash.

"Stay away," She threatened, waving the sword in his face as he tried to approach. He darted forward, and she brought the tip up into his face, striking it squarely in the center. Blood spurted from his nose. Obviously deeper in his cups than she had initially thought, he touched the broken cartilage and then glared at her.

"You stupid bitch!"

She swung the sword wildly in the small space, pushing him into the back corner and keeping him there. Doing her best imitation of Inu Yasha in full youkai mode, she snarled and kept her movements unpredictable and wild. The sound of wood hitting the metal walls dinged and echoed in the tiny space, harsh to her ears.

"When a woman says no it means no!" She finished shouting as the doors dinged open. She walked out still facing him, sword held threateningly in her hands as she drug in deep lungfuls of air, each one better than the last as she put space between herself and her drunken attacker.

"Fucking tease!" He shouted as the doors began to slide closed. When they shut, she turned and saw a stricken looking gentleman in a business suit looking at her as if she had escaped from an insane asylum.

"Umm, you'll probably want to take the stairs," She muttered, skirting around him and heading for the doors. The minute he was behind her she began running, feeling free the minute she was outside in the cool night air.

"It's too late for a bus," She groaned, realizing the time. Not anticipating having to shell out money for a cab, she tucked the sword into her sash and reached into her shirtsleeve, feeling for the pocket sewn into the billowing fabric. When she found it, there was no tell tale bump that marked her cell phone.

With a sinking feeling, she looked on the inside of the sleeve and then dropped it. An angry scream rent the air, making itself heard over the cars rushing past her.

"Oh come on! Is Sesshoumaru punishing me from beyond the grave for dressing like him?" She shouted at the sky. "I know I'm just a human, but it's Halloween. Kami, this is such utter-"

"Would you like a ride?" A voice asked behind her. She turned and looked at the owner of said voice, the businessman she had unknowingly denied elevator access to.

"Please don't take this personally, but some guy just tried to assault me. Testing my luck by riding with a stranger just seems like a really bad idea right now," She told him, readying herself for a long walk and hoping she would find a taxi on the way.

"I would be more difficult to swing a fake Bakusaiga around in a car," He remarked in a dry voice.

"It really wou- What?"

He said nothing in response to her question, and for a minute she wondered if -in some sort of adrenaline fueled delirium- she'd imagined him saying 'Bakusaiga'.

"Your sword," He finally said.

"I know. You called it Bakusaiga," She accused, earning a derisive snort from the man.

"I called it a fake. An imitation."

"How do you know what it's modeled after at all?" She screeched, pulling it out and pointing it at him, all the while praying it wasn't some enemy from the feudal era in her time. In spite of the wood being woefully inadequate to deal with such an enemy, it made her feel slightly better, even if she did look crazy.

"Because your costume, such as it is, is modeled after me, miko," He gloated. "I will take your imitation as the flattery it is, and provide you with a ride home."

"You-" She sputtered indignantly, too angry to be confused. "Sesshoumaru."

"Yes, it is me," He told her smugly.

"You are still a vain egomaniac," She snapped, too frustrated to care that she had just insulted someone offering to help her.

"You are still a loud little woman. And you reek of alcohol. Are you drunk?"

"Am I-No! That jerk spilled his stupid drink all over me and then tried to make out with me! I drank maybe three sips from whatever I had."

"There's blood on you," He informed her, changing the topic completely.

"So? It's not like it ever bothered you before."

"Come with me," He commanded, turning back to the building.

Because the night could not get any stranger than it already was, she decided to follow. After all, if he was going to kill her, he would have done it. At least she thought he would have. Somehow she couldn't imagine him trying to kill her after offering her a ride home. He pushed the elevator button for up, and when it finally arrived, it was loaded down with drunken revelers.

She noticed the undisguised loathing in his eyes as the drunken college students stumbled out into the lobby singing a song at the top of their lungs, horribly off key when they managed to remember the lyrics at all.

"I take it that brat Jigen is hosting the event?" He sighed as they stepped in. She noticed blood still dotted the floor, and had smeared in places.

"Yeah. I take it you don't like him?"

"He is an annoyance," He intoned as he pushed the button for the top floor.

"I can understand."

"And what of the male seeking your attentions?"

"I have no idea who he is, I couldn't hear his name. I do know he loves himself more than-" Here she stopped, because the next word that had been about to escape was 'you' and she had a feeling he was going out of his way to be nice to her, for whatever reason.

"So?" She asked, looking at the numbers over the doors slowly begin to escalate.

He said nothing.

"What have you been doing for the last five hundred years?"

"This and that," He replied enigmatically, a smirk gracing his features. "And yourself?"

"I haven't been around that long," She quipped. "I got back about six years ago. I'm working on my degree in classical literature."

"Any particular culture?"

"Japan's."

"You would be able to understand it better than most," He said with a chuckle. The doors dinged open and she followed him out and to the innocent looking door only a few feet away. Suddenly she wondered how he lived. Did he have a family? Or did he live alone? Would Jaken still be around?

"Ever curious," He mumbled as he slipped a key into the lock and opened the door for her, gesturing for her to step in. Feeling timid, she took a hesitant step over the threshold, looking around the apartment, if it could even be considered that. Even bigger than Jigen's, it's outer walls were made entirely of glass and steel, giving a breathtaking view of the night sky above and the city that poorly imitated it below.

"It's amazing," She breathed, walking over to the glass and completely oblivious to his smile. "You can actually see the stars up here."

"I designed it that way," He told her.

"You designed this?" She broke her gaze on the sprawl of Tokyo and turned back to him.

"Hn. I am an architect in this life," He said with a genuine smile, further throwing her. Sesshoumaru was smiling, a nice smile, and it scared her just as much as his smirks from the past.

"This life?"

"I have had many lives, many occupations. It helps to pass the time."

Feeling even more off balance than she had ten minutes ago when he had first declared himself to her, she tried to figure out what had changed, and came up with 'everything'. Even his appearance had changed, the opposite of what she remembered.

"Are you still, you know?" She tried.

"I'm afraid I do not understand."

"Do you look like this still?" She asked, gesturing to herself. "Or have you dyed your hair and-"

He stopped her by removing a bracelet, and his whole image flickered and blinked like static before settling as his former self, albeit with shorter hair and a business suit. Feeling slightly more at ease now that he at least looked like the daiyoukai she remembered, she nodded once, unsure of what to say next.

"Follow me," He commanded, taking charge of the situation. She did, marveling in the strangeness of her surroundings and the man -youkai, she reminded herself- sharing them with her. They walked up a flight of spiraling stairs and he showed her to a door.

"This is the guest bathroom. I will find you a change of clothes."

His tone left no room for argument, even though she wanted to. Stopping herself, she tried to tell herself that if she saw someone dressed in a mockup of her former life, she wouldn't be exceptionally pleased either. Nodding once, she stepped in and closed the door gently behind her.

The bathroom was as lush and expansive as the rest of the house, and so unlike her own that it was akin to stepping into a fairy tale. There was a standing shower and a huge jacuzzi bathtub, and the towel rack was also a towel warmer. With a sense of utter indulgence, she switched it on and turned to the shower.

First she slipped off her outer kimono, folding it carefully despite the stain. Hoping she could bleach the blue mess out, she followed it with her socks, then her under kimono. Then, with some difficulty she took off the size too small sports bra, breathing easily now that her breasts were not flattened against her chest. She untied the knots of the hakama and finished stripping, folding the last of her garments and setting them on the pile.

The marbleized glass doors to the shower opened and she gasped in delight. There were several shower heads, four on the ceiling of the shower to rain directly down, one on the top of each wall, and beneath those, set at about the height of her belly button.

Bottles of obviously expensive soaps and shampoos lined a small shelf built into the shower wall.

She turned one of the knobs experimentally. Warm water began to rain down from the ceiling. The second knob had the ones at the top spouting out water. Ignoring the last knob, she stepped in and immediately relaxed.

"I wonder if he designed this room," She murmured as she picked up a random bottle of shampoo and opened it. Strangely lacking scent, she poured some in her palm and put the bottle back before beginning to lather her hair.

Steam clouded the shower, and she lost herself in the impromptu pampering she was receiving. Despite the lack of scent to the conditioner and soap, she still felt like a princess as she cleaned herself, shedding the smell of alcohol and the feel of her would be attacker.

When she finally turned the knobs to off, she felt more like herself again. Steam billowed out of the stall when she opened the door, and she reached blindly for a towel. When she found it, it was warm to the touch and soft enough to sleep in.

Enjoying the sensual delight of the soft cotton on her skin, she rubbed small circles dry all over her body, then moved to her hair. When she finished, she looked around, wondering if there was a robe somewhere for her, or if she would have to poke her head outside the door. Surely he would have heard the shower end, and would be ready with some clothes.

But he was a disconcerting two steps ahead of her. On the counter where her costume had been folded neatly were a set of blue silk pajama pants with a drawstring waist and a clean white shirt. Wondering when he'd been able to sneak in, she pulled the pants on, tying them tightly. They were far too long on her, and very baggy. With a start, she realized they must be his. Sesshoumaru wore pajamas. There was something distinctly bizarre about that realization, as peculiar as the sight of him in a business suit. The shirt followed, once again too long and baggy, but comfortable and soft. In fact, the entire ensemble felt ridiculously decadent for being pajamas.

Hanging the towel over the bar, she turned the towel heater off and stepped out of the bathroom, wondering where the daiyoukai had gotten off to.

"I'm downstairs," A voice called, as if reading her thoughts.

'He's a youkai, he heard the door open,' She mentally berated. Walking down the stairs, she looked around the huge expanse of the first floor of his home and saw movement in the corner of her eye. Turning to it, she realized he was in the kitchen.

Walking over, she marveled again at the open area. There were no walls, merely open space with counters to mark the kitchen itself off from the other areas.

"Would you like a glass of wine?" He offered, pouring a glass.

"Yes, please," She murmured, afraid to refuse.

He filled the matching glass next to it and handed it to her after setting the bottle down. The rich red color in the glass reminded her of his markings in the dim light.

"It is one minute to midnight," He observed.

"To Halloween," She laughed, raising her glass. He raised his own in salute before taking a sip. She followed him once again into the main seating area, or living room. Several comfortable couches made a square and she sat on the one closest to the windows, sitting sideways and tucking her feet beneath her form.

"Thank you," She finally said, breaking the silence. "You didn't have to help me like this."

"On the contrary," He rebutted thoughtfully, swirling the wine in his glass as he stared into it. "Despite your absence all of these years, you are still part of the pack. Pack takes care of it's own."

"I am?" She gasped, almost dropping her glass.

"You were a part of Inu Yasha's pack, and therefore my own, as I am patriarch."

"Inu Yasha is still alive?" She bleated, flinching when he smirked at her.

"Hnn. He lives in America."

That made more sense than she cared to contemplate. Inu Yasha, if he hadn't changed as drastically as Sesshoumaru had, would fit in in America.

"Which means you are under my care."

"Oh." Because that wasn't at all strange to contemplate. So strange in fact, that she accepted it. Otherwise she was sure she might honestly lose what little remained of her composure. "Did anyone else make it to this time?" She asked him quietly.

"Shippou lives in this building, two floors below this one actually. He's currently in Europe for a gallery opening."

"This is so weird," She finally mumbled before taking a healthy swallow of her wine. "My life. Of course."

"Imagine how strange it is to see a human female dressed as you were centuries ago, shouting your name at the sky," He chuckled. Kagome gaped, knew she looked stupid but for the life of her couldn't stop. Sesshoumaru was chuckling. Even if it was at her expense, it was being followed by a threat. It challenged almost every memory she had of the daiyoukai.

"I think it can be excused after having to deal with that-That asshole," She quipped smartly, though far too late to sound anything but petulant. She punctuated it by draining her glass in a single gulp. He rose and walked over to the kitchen, bringing the bottle back with him.

"He will not do such again," Sesshoumaru promised as he poured more of the dark crimson liquid into her offered glass.

"What did you do?" She asked, tilting her head to the side.

"I merely informed him that in the event of another such attempt, his arms would have no chance of healing, as I'd rip them off."

"Healing?"

"He will not be able to use them for some time," He intoned flatly, although she would swear there was a trace of a smile on his lips.

"You-"

"Fulfilled my duties and right as patriarch. Any male willing to treat a woman as such should be informed of the consequences that follow."

Quickly she reevaluated her opinion of the daiyoukai. He might have dressed in modern clothing and unbent enough to smile and laugh, but he was still obviously violent, and very much the lord of those he considered his.

And somehow, by some screwed up twist of fate -and such twists in her fate were always a bit screwy- she was one of his now.

"So tell me about the pack," She asked, wanting to shy away from the uncomfortable thought that her life was irrevocably someone else's interest and possibly -in his eyes at least- responsibility.

"Inu Yasha is mated to an American youkai, although they do not call themselves that. One of those that was revered by their natives. As a representative for her lands, she could not leave, so he moved to be with her. They have three pups, all of which are still in childhood."

He paused there, as if awaiting some sort of reaction. She shrugged and smiled.

"I'm glad he found someone to be with and start a family with."

"I am aware there is a history-" He began.

"And it's just that, history. I was sixteen when the well sealed itself. I couldn't moon over my teenage crush forever," She laughed. He seemed to approve of her statement, nodding once.

"Shippou is an artist, and enjoys world recognition as a painter and sculptor. For years he has been pursuing the last thunder tribe female, and she leads him on a merry chase. I expect them to announce their intent to mate soon."

"Souten?" She gasped.

"That is her name," He agreed, moving to refill his glass. Kagome burst into laughter, remembering the angry little girl that had challenged Shippou to a duel.

"You find the pair amusing?"

"They met when she challenged him to a duel to the death," She giggled, brushing a tear from her eye. "It ended in a duel over crayons."

"I was not aware," He said with a smile. "It makes sense then, this strange courtship of theirs. I had begun to wonder if the kit was a glutton for punishment."

"No, that one was probably destined from the moment they met," She giggled, slightly tipsy after finishing the second glass of wine. "Youkai don't ever seem to do things in the normal fashion."

"Meaning?" He asked with a raised brow as he moved to pour the last of the bottle into it.

"Just, like Inu Yasha and Kikyo, they attacked each other at first, and Souten and Shippou-" She laughed.

"Inu Yasha and Tala did hate one another on sight," He mused, leaning back into the sofa. "I suppose it might be true that youkai do not follow the pattern of human courtships."

"Probably for the best," She sighed, tipping the glass back.

"Perhaps you will indulge me," He started, looking at her now empty glass. "Why dress as me, as a youkai at all, for a costume party?"

"Eri said that Halloween is about being anyone you want to be. After everything with Kikyo, I liked being me, like being me," She answered honestly. "So I figured I might as well try and be my complete opposite."

"Even cross dressing?"

"Well yeah. It could have been fun if-" She paused and shook her head. "I guess it worked out for the best though. I'm kind of sad the jerk ruined it with that stupid drink."

"True," He sighed. "How did you recreate the designs?"

"I tried using the normal fabric paints first and it was a disaster," She recalled with a smile. "And then I did some research. Resistance dying seemed easier, and after a couple of false starts I got something that looked like your old kimono."

"It is an almost perfect replica," He admitted, looking impressed. "I was surprised when I looked at the details."

"Thank you. So, what have you been, in your different lives? I'm trying to figure out how you came to be an architect."

He spoke of how he had not stopped being the lord of the west, although the title had changed and he had become Daiyoukai of Japan, and it's representative on the council, something he did not further explain, though she was curious. She listened as he talked about becoming a businessman, an engineer, a silk baron, a martial arts teacher, and finally an architect. His mellow, smooth voice mixed with the wine in her system, creating a cocoon of safety in the wake of her attack. Unable to help herself, she slipped further down the couch until her eyes closed and she slept.

 

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