Something warm brushed over his skin, waking Toga from a deep sleep. It took him a few moments to figure out what it was, and when he did, he couldn't help but smile.

"Wake up, Toga . . . I thought you said you don't need sleep."

"Don't stop," he complained, his voice still thick from sleep.

Sierra kissed his shoulder again. The bed dipped a little as she sat up and draped herself over him to kiss his cheek. "You know what today is?"

"Uh huh," he agreed without opening his eyes as he pulled the blanket closer to his chest. "Saturday."

Sierra sighed and shoved him playfully. "Besides that!"

"It's your fault," he argued. "You're the one who kept me up all night."

"Right," she countered as she tugged his hair. "You cooperated."

"I didn't. You took complete advantage of me," he protested. "I've been so used . . . . Sometimes I think you only love me for my body . . . ."

She snorted and sat up. "All right," she told him. "You asked for it."

Cringing when she blew a loud, short whistle, Toga dragged a pillow over his head seconds before Kirara bounded through the door with a resounding crash and landed on his chest. "Oof!" he complained, his voice muffled in the pillow.

"Get him, girl!" Sierra coaxed.

With a playful growl, the golden retriever yanked the pillow away. Toga didn't get his hands up in time to warn off the dog, and he groaned in protest as Kirara licked his cheek. "You win," he grumbled as he sat up, pushing the dog off his chest. "I'm up."

Sierra sniggered. "And?"

"And I won't go back to sleep," he agreed.


He hid his smile. "And I'm hungry?"


He chuckled as he sank his fingers into Kirara's thick fur, holding the dog's face to stare at her. "Get your ball, Kirara! Get your ball! Mama will play with you."

Sierra snorted.

Kirara barked happily and leapt off the bed, her paws slipping on the hardwood floor as she loped toward the doorway again.

"Ow!" Toga hollered when Sierra brought a pillow down on his head. He turned on her, catching her and knocking her back against the mattress as she shrieked in surprise and dissolved into fits of giggling. "Say you're sorry," he demanded as he tickled her sides, careful to keep his fingers bent so she didn't catch his claws.

"No- way!" she managed between giggles.

He tickled her a little more.

"Okay," she gasped. "I'm sorry!" He stopped tickling, and Sierra gasped for breath. "I'm sorry," she repeated with a mischievous glint in her eyes, "that you're a pain."

Toga shook his head and sighed, making a show of his mock-dismay. Instead of tickling her again, he rolled toward her, pinning her body with his. She pushed at his shoulders, and he laughed at her feeble attempt to move him. "We could stay in bed all day," he suggested, unable to keep the hopeful tone out of his voice.

"Could we?" Sierra countered breathlessly as she stared at him.

"Sure," he agreed just before he leaned down to kiss her. She stopped trying to push him away and with a sigh, her arms wrapped around his neck.

"Happy six-month anniversary," she murmured as he trailed kisses down her chin, down her throat.

He paused and leaned back to smile at her. "Six months . . . doesn't seem that long."

She started to answer but stopped when the doorbell chimed.

Toga didn't move right away. "Think they'll go away?"

Sierra shrugged and pushed him back as she rolled to the side. "What if it's important?" she asked him as she tugged on her pink silk robe and tied the belt.

He cocked an eyebrow at her as he propped his head on his hand. "What if it isn't?"

"It could be your parents or your aunt and uncle," she pointed out.

He snorted. "Or it could be one of my baka cousins . . . or both."

Sierra grinned as she shook her head and hurried out of the room. Toga watched her go with a defeated sigh before tossing back the covers and grabbing the first thing he laid hands on: in this case, the jeans he'd worn last night. Still buttoning the fly, he strode out of the bedroom and down the hallway to see who dared to intrude.

Sesshoumaru stood in the living room with an odd look of irritation on his face. Toga stopped short and frowned. He couldn't remember seeing his stoic father looking quite so put out, and he had to wonder just what might have caused that sort of reaction. "Father?"

To Toga's surprise, Sesshoumaru's expression darkened even more as he met his son's gaze.

"Something bothering you?"

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed slightly, reminding Toga of the few times he'd gotten into real trouble. Something told him that now wasn't really much different.

"I had a meeting yesterday, did you know?" Sesshoumaru remarked, his tone tighter and more controlled than normal. "Berman Industries . . . their American office."

"Kentai-san?" Toga asked.

"Yes, Kentai-san," Sesshoumaru agreed.

Toga flopped down on the sofa as Sierra slipped back into the room. She sat down beside him, pulling her legs up as she casually sipped a steaming mug of coffee. "Was I supposed to be there?" Toga asked, wondering just why Sesshoumaru was acting so strangely.

"Oh, no . . . your presence there was really . . . unnecessary."

Toga took Sierra's mug and winced as he swallowed a healthy gulp of the nasty brew. "So . . . what's the problem?"

Sesshoumaru pursed his lips as he regarded his son with the same cold stare. After several moments of stilted silence, he sighed and shook his head. "Toga . . . did you do anything I might find . . . questionable . . . while you lived in Chicago?"

Toga frowned. "No . . . ."

Sesshoumaru blinked without a change in expression. "I see . . . no . . . calendars or . . . anything . . . ."

Toga's back stiffened as the memories of the photo shoot came back with a vengeance. "Oh . . . uh . . . that . . . ."

Sesshoumaru nodded. "Yes, Toga, that."

Toga shot Sierra a glance. Sierra scooted closer to him, offering him her quiet support but not offering to explain the situation. Toga winced inwardly. "Well, it was for charity," he explained slowly.

Sesshoumaru wasn't impressed with Toga's answer. Rubbing his forehead in a tired gesture, he let out a deep breath, as he seemed to struggle for words. "Toga . . . do you have any idea just how badly your mother will take it when she finds out?"

Toga shifted uncomfortably. "You're going to tell her?"

"Kentai-san's wife is on the school board. I think my telling your mother is a moot point."

"It was a good picture," Sierra spoke up. "Toga looked very nice."

"That's hardly the point, Sierra," Sesshoumaru argued. "Never mind . . . I'll tell your mother you . . . I don't know, I'll think of something. I knew I should have kept you away from that baka brother of mine."

Toga clamped his mouth shut until after the door closed behind his father before he burst out laughing. Sierra laughed, too. "I feel kind of sorry for him," Sierra admitted between giggles. "Your mom might not take it well."

Toga let her take the coffee cup and set it aside before he pulled her back against his chest. "I don't think she'll take it as badly as Father did."

"I love how your father always blames InuYasha for things."

Toga laughed again. "To hear him talk, you'd think I was perfect before Uncle Yasha came through the well."

"Weren't you?"

Toga snorted. "Feh! Would you love me if I was?"

Sierra considered that as Toga nibbled her lips. "No," she agreed absently as her eyelids fluttered closed. "No . . . I don't think . . . I would . . . ."


Final Thought from Toga:

Now about that 'happily ever after'

Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Defiance): I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga. Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al. I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.