“So you’re telling me,” Koga Matsuno said, with all the smarmy self-righteousness of Satan himself, “that you have more than two friends.”
If they weren’t in the board room surrounded by glass walls, Inuyasha would have long punched his co-worker. As it stood, there was only about an hour left of their four-hour power session for a particularly stubborn client and Inuyasha didn’t want to be blamed for nothing getting done. Miroku and Sango had stepped away to grab some more coffee to get them through. In hindsight, he should never have allowed himself to be alone with the mangey wolf demon.
“Yes,” Inuyasha replied through gritted teeth. “I do.”
Koga, of course, snorted. He slouched in his chair, arms crossed and blue eyes half-lidded. The urge to punch him was somehow even stronger. Inuyasha was positive that Koga’s existence was his own special brand of hell. “Who?” he demanded. “Because you sure don’t have friends in any of those women from Copy. They flirted with you and all you did was grunt at them.”
Inuyasha bit the inside of his cheek. Punching his co-worker would be bad. Kaede would get really mad at him, again, and he was trying to achieve zero incidents within a month. This challenge, too, was a special brand of hell, brought upon him by a tired Kaede who actually had a whiteboard with his name on it and the number of days since he last got into an argument with someone. So far, Inuyasha was at a record high of sixteen.
“How do you even get laid?” This was more of a drawl, purposefully lazy and infuriating. “I mean, does the grunting work for you prior to sex? Are you still a virgin?”
Inuyasha closed his eyes for a moment. Where the fuck were Miroku and Sango with their goddamn coffees? “You’re going to need to shut up now,” he stated, voice barely more than a rough growl. That tended to happen when he was angry, completely against his control.
Koga snorted because he was, in fact, the worst person alive. “No wonder you’re perpetually single. It all makes sense now.”
“What makes sense?” The question came from Miroku Tsujitani, who was propping the door open with his foot so that Sango could shuffle inside. Both of them had their hands full with coffees and what looked like snacks. They clearly raided the vending machine on the second floor again.
“Inuyasha is a virgin with only two friends.” Koga swept his arms out in a dramatic gesture of so-called brilliance. Even his grin – toothy and pearly white, oh how Inuyasha despised him – made Inuyasha want to send his co-worker through the wall.
Sango, ever the mediator, sighed heavily. “Can’t I leave you two alone for ten minutes?”
“It was closer to twenty,” Inuyasha gritted and yeah, his voice still hadn’t gone back to normal.
“Wait,” Miroku interjected because he had no priorities. “How did you come to that conclusion?”
Koga rolled his eyes. “How hard is it to come to? Does he have any friends outside of you two? I’m his nemesis and voilà: we’ve already reached max quota on the number of people he speaks real words with. The guy has never had a girlfriend and he turned down Yura, from accounting.” Koga said this like Yura wasn’t a crazy psychotic lady that just wanted to play with his hair. Inuyasha could feel his irritation bubbling over, body flashing cold and then hot. He was going to say something. He was going to say something or he was going to leap across the table, take Koga by the throat and chuck him through the glass window of the thirtieth floor— “Clearly, something’s wrong with him.”
“Stop being an asshole,” Sango snapped, just in time for Miroku to laugh overly loud, hand slapping at the table like he’d been told the best joke of all.
Inuyasha stared at him in confusion, prior feelings of murder dissipating.
Until, of course, Miroku opened his dumb fucking mouth. “I don’t know where you get this shit from,” he said, “but Inuyasha’s had the same girlfriend for three years and trust me, he’s no virgin.”
What the fuck.
“I mean,” Miroku went on, easy as anything, “why do you think I wanted to move out so badly?”
Instantly Koga jolted upwards, blue eyes snapping from Inuyasha to Sango, and then finally back to Miroku. “What the fuck?”
Inuyasha’s thoughts exactly.
“Why do you think I wanted to move out so badly?” Miroku repeated, talking to the wolf demon like he was a small, particularly dumb child. “The walls of our apartment were thin as shit.”
“Fuck off,” Koga replied immediately, scoffing. “You left because you’re dating Sango. Don’t twist this to protect your best friend.”
Miroku shrugged and Inuyasha had to hand it to him, his acting was extraordinary. He was the picture of exasperated, head shake and all that spoke volumes of how much he pitied Koga. “Believe whatever you want. I don’t care. But saying shit like that is only going to make you look like a huge asshole when people find out how wrong you really are.”
Silence descended in the conference room. Inuyasha didn’t know if this was better or worse than before. Would he have preferred Koga’s nagging, even if it resulted in him being frog-marched to Kaede’s office yet again for disturbing the peace?
The wolf demon glared at him. He even had the audacity to leave a canine poking out of his mouth, grimace firmly in place. “No shit?” he asked.
Inuyasha rolled his eyes. “Why the fuck would I tell you anything about my personal life?”
Beside him, Sango sighed. “Can we please get back to work now?”
Koga was too shocked to argue, which was a first. Miroku nodded and opened up a bag of chips, popping one in his mouth like he hadn’t just enacted an Oscar-worthy performance. Sango turned her laptop back on to continue with their brainstorming session.
And Inuyasha, dizzy with both relief and confusion, rolled with it.
Because this was Inuyasha’s life, and because Koga was put on this earth specifically to torment him into an early grave, ‘rolling with it’ turned out to be a big fucking mistake.
To the surprise of no one.
Well, to the surprise of Miroku, but that was what you got when you had an idiot for a best friend.
“Inuyasha,” Kaede chided, weary and exasperated and fond. He truly didn’t understand how she could fit so much expression in his name alone. “Just bring your girlfriend to the party.”
“No,” he replied, incredulous. “Are you kidding me? I come in here to ask you to make a PSA that my private life is none of their business, and you’re telling me I should bring my girlfriend to our holiday party to appease the morons?”
“Those morons are your colleagues.”
“Even worse,” Inuyasha cried out. “Fuck ‘em!”
“Inuyasha.” Kaede rubbed at her forehead. This was probably how she got so many wrinkles. Seriously, she looked old. She probably was old. Inuyasha never thought to ask. “You stood up on your desk and shouted to everyone – and I quote – ‘All you friends can suck it. My girlfriend is hot, I have one, and you all can go away.’”
Inuyasha scowled. “Definitely not a quote. I believe I said ‘all you fucks can suck it’ and I’m pretty sure I told them to fu—”
“Yes, yes, I’m aware,” Kaede sighed.
“Then why did you say ‘and I quote?’”
His boss glared at him. “If you’re trying to win me to your side, you’re failing.”
“This is an invasion of my privacy!”
“You put post-it notes on everyone’s laptops that you did, in fact, have a girlfriend.”
He didn’t understand why this wasn’t getting through. “That wasn’t me! Koga did that. I don’t want people knowing about my private life.”
Kaede’s thin lips pressed into a line. Inuyasha was pretty sure he saw a vein throb in her forehead. “I don’t care what’s going on between the two of you. This ends. Bring your girlfriend to the holiday party or don’t, I don’t care. But I don’t want to hear another word of it.”
“Thank you,” Inuyasha groaned emphatically. “That’s all I fucking want. Was that so hard?” With a huff, he whirled out of the office hair and left Kaede’s office. He had to be careful not to be too rough with the glass door. Why modern offices were built with so much glass, Inuyasha would never know.
Before he vanished completely, he saw Kaede out of the corner of his eye stand up, whiteboard eraser in hand, as she wiped away the 19 day total and switched it to a sad-looking zero.
It only got worse.
“So what?” Miroku asked, nudging him companionably. “It’s not a big deal.”
“It is a big deal,” Inuyasha replied, rage-eating his sandwich from the deli across the street. “Koga’s winning.”
“Is there really a winning in this scenario?” Sango asked. The minute the question left her mouth, she winced, clearly regretting it.
Inuyasha glared at her in pity. “Because I refused to answer questions about my girlfriend, Koga’s turned the tide against me. Everyone was so shocked, they believed it. Now the asshole has made it so everyone thinks I’m lying. I’m getting pity hellos.”
“What does it matter?” Miroku sighed, exasperated.
“Do you know me at all? I don’t want to talk to them!” Inuyasha stared incredulously at his best friend. “I’ve had to grunt my way through more conversations than I’ve ever had to before because of all the pity greetings. Who the fuck wants that?”
Sango sighed. It was basically all she did. It was her raison d’être of the group, which was probably depressing if looked at too closely. “So what are you going to do? Jump on your desk again and yell at everyone on the thirtieth floor? Kaede is already seconds away from firing you.”
Firing him was a bit of an exaggeration. Stabbing him with a pen wasn’t, though, and Inuyasha really didn’t want to be stabbed again. One time was enough. “I just have to bite the bullet and bring my girlfriend.”
There was a moment of silence and then Miroku, always the first to react, whined. “Uh, buddy? You don’t actually have one.”
Inuyasha was aware, thank you very much.
“Not to make it worse but Koga was kind of right.” Glaring at Sango in utter betrayal, he watched as she rolled her eyes at his dramatics. “Calm down. I meant about the ‘talking to other people’ thing. I mean, I love you, but you really don’t bother with other people.”
What did Lizzo say? Something about the truth hurting? Inuyasha scowled. “I willingly talk to people besides you two.” Any communication with Koga was, clearly, unwilling at its highest, purest form.
In unison, Miroku and Sango raised their eyebrows at him. The dating thing made them eerily in sync. Secretly, Inuyasha wondered with something akin to horror if they would slowly start to look like each other like all those researchers said couples do.
“I do.” Well, maybe ‘people’ was a stretch.
‘Person’ would be better. A singular person.
“You’re early this morning.” Kagome Higurashi, as always, was her usual friendly self. A little tired, a little self-deprecating, and perpetually stressed. A PhD candidate in her final year, Kagome first came into Inuyasha’s life two years ago when she bumped into him and spilled coffee all over his jacket.
Inuyasha tried not to panic. Oh, internally he was screaming, but Inuyasha hadn’t stayed up most of the night last night pep-talking the shit out of himself to back down now. Kagome was his last hope – his only hope – considering she was that singular person he was referring to yesterday.
“Your usual then?” Kagome asked, already grabbing a large cup and scribbling his name across it. “Want an extra shot of espresso since it’s so early?”
Right. Kagome spilled coffee all over his jacket because a clumsy barista she’d been training had bumped into her, making her lurch forward and practically toss an entire cup of coffee onto him.
Kagome Higurashi was his barista.
The kind of barista that was obligated to talk to you.
This was the only other person Inuyasha willingly spoke with. Had she not been the only way to feed his caffeine addiction, there was a strong likelihood that his People I Willingly Communicate With total would remain at two.
“Sure,” Inuyasha replied. He leaned on the counter, surreptitiously checking out the tiny café to make sure there was no one around to bother him. It was still exceptionally early – far too early for the morning rush – and Kagome’s opening co-worker was still in the back prepping for the madness that would descend likely in the next thirty minutes. The clock was ticking. There was no backing out of this now.
They were friends, kind of. Good acquaintances? It had been two years of regularly seeing each other. Kagome always worked the early morning shift six days a week. Inuyasha always came in to get his coffee from her five of those days. That was over five-hundred days of…acquaintanceship. Friendship.
“Look,” Inuyasha started, feeling his face heat up without his explicit permission. Maybe this was a really bad idea after all. “This is going to sound weird and you can say no, but I kind of need your help.”
Kagome had big brown eyes. They were stunning, dark until the sun hit them just right. Probably not a normal thing for people to notice, but Inuyasha never really gave that much thought. Now, those eyes were focused on him, intrigued. She smiled, her hip cocked on the counter like she had all the time in the world. “Oh really? You need my help?” The delight that poured from those words made Inuyasha wonder if he’d regret this. “What was it you said to me all those months ago, when you were trying to do quick math and I told you the answer and you were like ‘oh no,’” – and of course she mocked him with a growly voice that sounded nothing like him – “‘I don’t need your help.’ What happened there, Inuyasha?”
“You’re still holding on to that?” Inuyasha retorted, flinching when his voice came out all growly.
Kagome burst out laughing, her arms wrapping around her middle as if to contain herself. “Oh my god, you’re my favourite, I swear.”
He didn’t flush at that. The heat on his face had always been there. “Are you going to listen or not?”
“Fine, fine.” She waved a dismissive hand at him. “What can I help you with?”
Now or never, Inuyasha chanted to himself. Now. It had to be now. “There’s a holiday party at work and I need someone to go with.”
Instantly, Kagome got it. Her smile got even larger. “You’re inviting me to your big fancy corporate holiday party?”
“There will be freeze booze, free food and I’ll pay for everything,” Inuyasha stated immediately, setting the terms.
Kagome raised an eyebrow at him. “What if I need a new dress? I’m a PhD candidate. The dresses I have probably aren’t swanky enough for whatever it is you corporate drones roam around in.”
Rolling his eyes, Inuyasha ignored the ‘corporate drones’ comment. “I can buy that, too.”
“This is starting to feel like a sugar daddy situation.”
“I’m only three years older than you.”
She paused. “Escort?”
Unable to help himself, Inuyasha snorted. “Really, you want to go down that route?”
“No.” She unwrapped her arms from around herself, instead bidding her time by tapping her nails rhythmically against the countertop. The sound was overly loud in Inuyasha’s sensitive ears. “There has to be a catch.”
Inuyasha would not flinch. He practiced in the mirror until four-fucking-a.m. for a reason. “You have to pretend to be my girlfriend.”
She blinked at him, mouth parting on a tiny gasp.
He had to rip off the metaphorical band-aid. “My girlfriend of three years.” He would keep the part where they supposedly scarred Miroku with their loud sex to himself.
Of course, before Kagome could say a word, another customer walked in. The distraction of the bell above the door had them both whipping around. She chirped out a cheerful, “Be with you in a moment!” and then stared at Inuyasha. Hard. Like she could stare into his soul if she dared to. “Let me get this straight,” she started. “I have to pretend to be your loving girlfriend of three years for one night, and I’ll get all the booze and food my heart desires, and you’ll pay for my cab and dress and everything?”
Inuyasha nodded, hyperaware of the woman standing in line behind him. His heart was beating so loudly, the pulse of it echoed in his ears.
With a flourish, Kagome grabbed at the still-empty cup with his name scribbled on it, and grinned. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”
And thus had begun Inuyasha’s campaign in being The Biggest Idiot The World Had Ever Seen.
“Hey Inuyasha!” Koga called out, overly loud in the middle of the office. His stupid, toothy grin was on full display. “Want to tell me again why your so-called girlfriend isn’t coming to the party?”
Inuyasha clicked save on his presentation with more vigor than was necessary called for. It took him a moment to prepare, so that when he met the taunting gaze of his nemesis, his face was as calm and as innocent as possible. “No.”
Koga sneered. “Yeah, because Miroku was just making up lies—”
“No,” Inuyasha repeated again, firmer. “Because she’s coming to the party after all. She got her shift switched at work.”
The wolf demon balked, grin slipping off of his face. Inuyasha didn’t need to be a half-demon to hear all of the whispers that instantly started to float around, all those phrases that went along the line of wow he really has a girlfriend after all! He bit the inside of his cheek to keep his straight face from slipping.
In the cubicle behind him, a chair whirled around. Inuyasha turned his own seat to face it, to see the subtle lines of delighted surprise on Miroku’s face.
No fucking way, his best friend mouthed.
Inuyasha smirked and turned his chair back towards his monitor.
In the cubicle to his right, Sango sighed.
The Biggest Idiot the World Had Ever Seen campaign technically began the day he asked her to be his fake girlfriend, but it officially launched the Monday before the party. Kagome, being smarter than him, crooked her finger his way the moment he entered the café. Inuyasha would have been lying if he said that the moment he entered the coffee shop every morning he didn’t automatically seek the woman out. He’d be lying, but that didn’t mean he would ever admit it.
“Over here,” she called out, as if he wasn’t already tied around her fucking finger, heading towards her.
She was tucked in the corner of the far end of the counter, nearest to the storage room door. He had to push his way past the long line-up and baskets of coffee product, a few customers eyeing him warily as he did. Inuyasha ignored them all, plastering himself to the wall because his desire to touch random strangers was less than zero.
Kagome watched him with a barely repressed smile. “Good morning.”
“Morning,” Inuyasha grunted, dodging around the last display caught between them. “What’s up?”
“What’s up is that we need to get our romantic love story straight.” There was a second where her eyes widened, like the incredulousness of her statement shocked even her. Then it was gone, like it had never existed in the first place, and was replaced by the usual smile. “For your holiday party.”
Oh. Inuyasha hadn’t really thought of that. He fought against the urge to cross his arms, shifting a little in place. They had to get their story straight? Well, Kagome was probably right. After everything Koga had done to spread his private life across the office, and then had worked just as hard to make everyone think Kagome wasn’t real…
“Yeah,” he admitted, wincing. “That sounds like a good idea.”
“Thought so.” Holding out her hand, Kagome waved to one of her co-workers, some sort of signal he didn’t understand. He didn’t understand the hand that was hovering between them either. Inuyasha frowned at it.
Kagome squirmed, a blush rising before she made a face at him. “Your cell phone, obviously. So I can give you my number?”
Her number. Inuyasha coughed, hands flying so fast to his jacket pocket to take his cell phone out, he was surprised it didn’t slip from his grasp. The moment he put it in her hands, Inuyasha instantly crossed his arms and then barely let out a groan for doing so. So much for trying to not look defensive or weird. Whatever.
Kagome was kind of used to him, anyways.
She was, at least, oblivious to his mental plight. She tapped away at his phone and then held it out with beaming satisfaction. Her name, when he saw it, was Kagome.
“We aren’t in high school,” Inuyasha stated, horrified.
“You’re a closet softie, don’t lie to me,” Kagome replied easily. “I already sent myself a text and on my break I’ll send you a bunch of pictures.”
His eyebrows furrowed. “Of what?”
“Of me.” She stared at him like this was obvious. Maybe it should have been. “So you can put one of them as my contact photo? Aren’t we supposed to be dating for like three years? You’d have a bunch of photos of me.”
That…made sense. Inuyasha nodded, feeling strangely out-of-depth.
“You should send photos back.”
“I don’t take photos of myself.”
Kagome sighed. “Trust me, if we were dating, I would make you send me selfies all the time. You’re too—” She paused, flushed harder, and then waved at him like that meant anything at all. “Just trust me.”
“I’m what?” Inuyasha pressed, because his heart was beating so fast he thought he may be dying. This was imperative. Suddenly, he had to know. Because Kagome? The only other person besides Miroku and Sango that he would willingly speak with? Kagome was a sort of never-going-to-happen fantasy that Inuyasha had never let himself indulge in. Koga being an asshole changed all of that. Well, Miroku lying and telling Koga the asshole that he had a girlfriend changed all that.
If he’s being specific, Koga being an asshole and Miroku telling him that Inuyasha had a girlfriend so that said asshole spread enough lies to force Inuyasha to challenge him directly about the girlfriend thing is really what had changed all that.
“I’m what?” he repeated, when Kagome simply stared at him with those big brown eyes and looked pretty worried.
“What? Nothing. Here!” With an excited wave, she grabbed the coffee one of her colleagues had put by them on the counter a couple minutes ago. “This is yours.”
“My coffee?” Now he felt stupid, accepting it and letting himself be distracted.
“On me, considering waiting in this line would take forever and I’ve already made you late.” Kagome smiled at him again, but this time it seemed almost forced. “Anyways, we should get our story straight so text me when you’re free and we can get dinner.”
Inuyasha, too confused and staring at the coffee in his hands, jerked his head up so fast at that the tiny hole at the top of the lid sloshed out some of the bitter liquid. “What?”
“Or just coffee,” Kagome amended, gesturing wildly again. “Whatever you want. But if it’s coffee, please not here. Anywhere but here.” She took a step back, face still a little flushed. “Anyways, I have to go back to work. So text me. We’ll plan, or whatever.”
“Dinner,” Inuyasha stated, feeling his heart trip twice after saying it.
Her resulting smile was immediate and then she disappeared into the storage room.
Inuyasha left the café in what he could only assume was a daze. It continued throughout his trek through the lobby, overcrowded as it always was first thing in the morning. It continued through his first meeting, and then his second, and then Inuyasha stared blankly at his email until all of a sudden, his cell phone started buzzing. And buzzing. And buzzing.
“Please no,” Inuyasha whispered to some unknown deity up above. Internally, his mind screamed please yes.
He opened his phone and there, in the open chat of his singular text message to Kagome, was now a bunch of photos. Cute photos. Just…pictures of her, smiling or with someone who looked enough like her to probably be family. Inuyasha counted the total number of them – five – and then stared at them each in turn for so long that he felt creepy.
Kagome was just helping him out.
So what if she sent him a photo that was pretty normal, and smiling, but where her hair was blowing beautifully in the wind with the sun behind her? Just a good photo. She probably saw it and thought: this is a photo a boyfriend would take. Which would make sense. Inuyasha was going to be her fake boyfriend for the evening. In fact, the photo was perfect because he could show it to stupid Koga and laugh at him about it.
That’s my girlfriend, Inuyasha would snarl and then jump on his desk just to be an asshole. Kaede would yell at him and then glare while she erased her whiteboard of incidents, and Miroku would be so proud he’d be in tears.
Of course, none of it was real.
Inuyasha frowned, picking up his phone. Well, wasn’t he just the biggest idiot the world had ever seen?
As if on cue, his phone buzzed again. This time, it was an actual message. Dinner?
Inuyasha was a colossal idiot, but he would be even more stupid to turn down any time spent with her. It would be fine, he reasoned. He’d get one extravagant evening pretending to be in love and then that was it. It wasn’t like his brain would get confused.
>> Tomorrow? He sent it quickly, locking the phone and turning it down and away from him to get back to work.
It buzzed seconds later and Inuyasha growled at the ceiling in despair before grabbing it again, weak. He was a weak, weak idiot of a half-demon. If only she hadn’t looked so fucking beautiful with that sunlit fucking background—
Looking forward to it! Kagome sent back.
There was a high-pitched keening sound and it took Sango throwing a post-it note pad at his face to realize that the noise was, in fact, him.
Ah yes, he thought wryly. Everything would definitely be fine.
Kagome sat across from him, taking a sip of her water with her hand tapping out to the rhythm to the music playing in the background. The restaurant was casual, small and family-run but unmistakably good. Inuyasha had never visited such a place and while he wanted to look around, his attention was fully on the woman across from him.
This wasn’t a date, he reminded himself. This was…like a business lunch. A discussion between potential partners, strategizing.
“How’s work going?” Kagome asked, propping her chin up in her hand. “Besides, you know, the holiday party.”
“It’s fine. Kaede is made at me again. Her whiteboard is back to like 3 days and she’s disappointed.” Inuyasha took a look at her blank face and realized that, yeah, he never really talked to anyone about this. He never really talked to anyone period.
“Three days?” she asked.
“It’s—” Wait, wasn’t this an embarrassing thing to share? Too late. Too late. There was no chance to abort. “So my boss, Kaede, has this whiteboard where she tracks the number of days since I last pissed her off.” She stated it was between his fights with others (namely and near-solely: Koga) but Inuyasha had watched her wipe it away after a particularly poor development plan meeting.
Kagome blinked at him. “Does she have a board for everyone?”
“Just me.” Inuyasha couldn’t help but smirk at that, even though this was definitely not something to be proud of. “It’s not my fault though.”
Laughing at him, Kagome shook her head in disbelief. “You realize you sound crazy, right? Like you have a whiteboard just for yourself? Tracking down your days since— What? Your last incident?” He shrugged and she laughed some more. “That’s insane.”
Maybe he shouldn’t have told her this after all. “I’m not—It’s just Koga, really,” he argued. “He’s the worst.”
“Uh-huh.” Kagome grinned at him. “How is he the worst?”
“Well, he always bothers me, no matter what I’m doing.” Inuyasha paused, noticing that her dark eyes were still on him, never moving. Like she was genuinely interested in the story, no matter how strange. In the last three years, they had always talked but never like this. It had always been quick conversations, drawn-out to a maximum of twenty minutes depending on the rush of the shop. Those conversations had been important, but short-lived. Bits about her research for her PhD, bits about her co-workers and his nemesis, the work he did and the long journey she had to take to get home from campus.
There was no time limit, now. Nothing to stop them from talking, and Inuyasha felt his attraction to her grow. That small part before that always told him it would never happen was disappearing, little by little, as wrong as it was.
He told her about Koga, about all the ways in which he was the worst. He told her about Miroku and Sango, his two best friends, and how the four of them were forced on this project together at work.
“It has to be him?” Kagome asked, wrinkling her nose. “Don’t you have any other web specialists?”
“No,” Inuyasha sighed. This was a thought he lamented on frequently. “Or we do, but none of them who are good enough and fast enough to finish by the timeline we need. It’s his fault this whole thing is happening at all.”
“What the—” Kagome raised a brow. “The fake dating thing?”
Inuyasha winced. “Yeah. Well, Miroku’s fault mostly.”
“Okay, so I need to hear this story,” she told him, waggling a finger at him. “I need to know everything. How else am I supposed to be the best girlfriend to have ever existed otherwise?”
The unfortunate part was that Inuyasha’s mind immediately jumped to a number of ways in which she could be; namely, being his actual girlfriend as a start. “It’s not that exciting,” he said instead, grimacing. Was there anything he could talk about tonight that wasn’t going to be extremely embarrassing for him?
“Still,” Kagome pressed, leaning forward across the table. Those dark eyes were practically dancing with mirth. “It’s important I know!” When Inuyasha made a face at her, still trying to piece together in his mind the best way to explain without sounding like an idiot, she sighed. “Inuyasha, if we were really dating, you would have told me this story, right? So it makes sense that you have to tell me now.”
With that kind of logic, Inuyasha couldn’t refuse. He groaned. “Fine. Fine. Koga was being an asshole because that’s his default mode. He kept going on how I only have like—a limited amount of friends.” Two, he very much didn’t say. And a half, with the half being you. “And somehow that naturally transitioned into my dating life.”
Kagome raised a brow, sitting back in her chair to grab at her glass of water and drink from the straw. It was…horribly distracting.
“Uh,” Inuyasha said, like an idiot, until his brain came back online. “I didn’t want Kaede to yell at me because I was on a record streak of days without incidents, so I didn’t do anything. And then my best friend came in and ruined everything.”
“Yeah. He’s on my team, him and his girlfriend, Sango. We used to be roommates but that’s—that’s another story. Anyways, Miroku overheard and thought the best course of action was to say that I already had a girlfriend I’d been dating for years, which was why he wanted to move out.”
Kagome finished another long sip of her drink before putting it down on the table with a thump. “Why would that make him move out?”
God, he was terrible at this. The very, very worst. Truly, he was the biggest idiot. Inuyasha groaned and shook his head. “That’s not important.”
“I think it is.”
“Kagome.” And no, he wasn’t pleading. This was just…a passive exclamation of her name.
It did nothing to stop her. “Just tell me!”
Whether it could be called saving or not, the server returned with their food. It was an older woman with kind eyes and a knowing smile. She placed the plates down, eyed them both and then asked with a friendly smile, “Do you need anything else?”
“No, not me.” Kagome smiled at her and then sent that entrancing image his way. “Inuyasha?”
God, just the way she said his name. Inuyasha needed to remind himself over and over that there was nothing real about this. At most, the two of them were friends. Inuyasha would count himself lucky if by the end of it, they could be that. Kagome was—
Well, it was obvious, wasn’t it? She was cheerful and effusive. Smart, too, since Inuyasha tried but barely understood half of what her research was about for her doctorate. He wasn’t dumb, but he wasn’t Kagome, in any of these areas. He was told he was stubborn as fuck and easily irritated and a host of other things. Now, a lot of it came from Koga whose opinion meant literally nothing.
But Inuyasha remembered, so maybe that was a sliver of something.
“No, I’m good, thank you,” he managed to mutter out. The server left them with one last knowing glance and Inuyasha wanted to pull her back, to ask her exactly what she thought was happening. His expression must have read a certain way to Kagome though because when he returned his attention to her, she looked a little chagrined. Her cheeks were a little flushed and her gaze flitted from him back to her food.
“You don’t have to tell me,” she said suddenly, picking up her utensils. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have pried so much.”
She was apologizing to him?
Inuyasha blanked for a moment before shaking his head. “No, it’s fine. It’s—” Ugh, she was going to make him say it, wasn’t she? “I don’t want you to think it’s weird.”
Staring up at him from under her lashes, Kagome seemed to take that in before nodding, once and firm. “I won’t,” she assured him. “I mean, tons of people pretend to date.”
That was news to Inuyasha.
“Besides, you’re you.” Kagome waved her utensils at him, gaze skirting his face and shoulders before returning studiously to her food. “No one would ever imagine I’d be fake anyways.”
Confused, he let that settle while tucking into his food. It was fantastic, flavourful and nearly shocking. Inuyasha inadvertently made a noise and Kagome laughed at him from across the table, pleased.
“It’s good, right? I was so happy when I found it when I first moved here. Saved my life. They have specials every weekday, so I basically lived on their cooking.” Kagome hummed appreciatively.
“When did you move here?” he asked, unable to stop himself.
“About seven years ago?” Kagome scrunched up her nose, thinking. “I transferred here from another university partway through, and then stayed. Eventually I’ll move home, I think. I don’t know. I like it here but I miss my family, too. Do you have family nearby?”
Inuyasha shook his head. He didn’t really want to get into the whole parents-being-gone thing, not when this wasn’t actually a date. Friends probably talked about it, he imagined, but Inuyasha was still trying to come to grips with even that. “No. I have a half-brother that I try to forget about, but he lives hours away.”
“Good to know.” Kagome gave him a small smile and just like that, changed the subject. “So if I promise not to think anything is weird, will you give me the whole story?”
Inuyasha wasn’t sure if the whole thing was a trap. The switch in conversation, the ease back-and-forth. Was Kagome naturally this good at getting people to talk, or did she just get him? “Miroku is a bit—” How would he describe him? “His head is perpetually in the gutter. So he moved out because the sex I was supposedly having with my girlfriend was annoying to him.”
Nodding, Kagome didn’t even make a face. She ate more of her food, humming in thought. “And how long have we been together for again?”
“Uh, three years?”
“When did he move out?”
Inuyasha had no idea what was going on with the twenty questions. “Last…year? He and Sango wanted to move in together.”
“So crazy in love then.” Kagome nodded like this was a decision. “What kind of boyfriend are you?”
“What?” Inuyasha echoed.
“Like are you big into PDA or are you minimally tactile or not touchy-feely at all? Do you want me to be? Do you like quiet girls or bubbly or what’s your type?”
This was a lot. A lot to process and a lot to think about. Mainly because Inuyasha hadn’t seriously dated since school which was…a long time ago. Still, because he was the Biggest Idiot the World Had Ever Seen, he asked intelligently, “What?”
Kagome rolled her eyes. “If we’ve been dating for three years then clearly I’m the kind of girl you’d like. So I can’t show up to your holiday party acting like someone you would never date. That makes no sense.”
No sense. Of course. Obviously. This was for the plan, which was the purpose of their meeting for dinner. This wasn’t a date and they were only friends. Only going to be friends. Inuyasha needed to keep repeating that like a mantra through his skull. “I don’t—I don’t think it would be an issue,” he tried. “Only Miroku and Sango really know me and they both know for obvious reasons that the girlfriend story is fake.”
Kagome gestured at him to continue on, which Inuyasha figured meant he wasn’t going to get away from explaining to her whatever she wanted to know.
“I don’t know?” Maybe if Inuyasha played dumb, she would give up. Based on what he knew of her, this was highly unlikely. “It’s been a while. I’m not into big PDA.” Not like Yura at last year’s party that brought some random man and decided to eat his face in the middle of the lounge. “But like…small things? That’s fine.”
“And your type?” Kagome pressed, leaning forward on the table again. Her food was pushed aside, mostly finished. She seemed to be entirely focused on their conversation, like what he was about to say was very important. It made him warm.
“Probably—” Why was this so hard to get out? You, unfortunately, was the first thought to crowd his head. There was no way in hell he could say that though. “Friendly,” he said instead, shoulders dropping. The chant of idiot, idiot, idiot sang in his head. “I’m not overly friendly, especially to strangers or people I don’t care to meet, so whoever I’m dating would always be the first to make a move. Because I…wouldn’t.” Inuyasha glared at his food. His was only half-eaten, mostly because he’d been talking so much.
“Okay, I can work with that.” Kagome grinned at him then, hand tucking part of her hair back and over her ear. “And at this party, are we trying to just blend in?”
Inuyasha nodded but then winced, shaking his head. “Normally I’d say yes but because of everything, that’s not going to happen.” He watched her eyebrows raise again, invitingly, and he sighed. He didn’t need to be told again. “Koga didn’t believe Miroku initially when he said I had a girlfriend, so we argued about it rather loudly.” Inuyasha winced at the memory of Kaede with her whiteboard eraser, glaring holes into his head. “So then everyone in the office believed me. But then everyone started asking questions about you all—” He balked. “About my fake girlfriend all the time, and I don’t know if you’ve picked this up or not but I don’t really like to talk.” He let that sit for a second. “To anyone.”
Laughing, Kagome propped her head back in her hands, still leaning forward on the table like every word out of his mouth was engrossing. “You’ve always talked to me.”
“But you have coffee,” he replied. “I had no choice.”
“Wow!” Kagome laughed again, shaking her head. “That’s a stab to the heart.”
“No, I mean—” Inuyasha growled. “You know what I mean.”
She waved him off, still laughing. She even dabbed at her eyes a little, like there were tears forming. “I do, it’s fine. I’m teasing. So what happened then?”
“Koga started saying that you were a lie and since I wasn’t answering any questions, people started to believe him instead.” Inuyasha shrugged. “And then Koga pissed me off, because he always pisses me off, and so I told him that my fake girlfriend was coming. And here we are.”
There were actually a couple steps in between, mostly Inuyasha talking himself up to asking Kagome to pretend to be his fake girlfriend, but she absolutely didn’t need to know that.
“Did you want to rub it in their faces then?” she asked, and the look in her eye was daring and thrilling and Inuyasha could feel the smirk tugging up on his face without his consent. She was some kind of dangerous, he thought, to be doing these things to him. He’d need to have a good talking to himself that night, a reminder that this wasn’t real. It wouldn’t ever be real.
It was fun, though, he thought.
“Mostly just Koga’s,” he answered. “If you don’t mind.”
“Not at all.” Kagome grinned, bright and pleased. “I have the perfect dress in mind.”
The next couple of days were a series of text messages that made Inuyasha’s heart flutter and stop in equal measure.
[Kagome: Favourite colour?]
[Kagome: How convenient! Mine is pink. Any pets?]
Inuyasha had no idea how that was convenient, but he never really had all that much time to think about it. He answered as quickly as he could, learning about her in tiny snippets between emails and meetings and bantering sessions with Miroku. Sango, beside him, sighed because that was what she usually did anyways.
[Kagome: Name one thing on your bucket list.]
[Kagome: Flat or sparkling water?]
[Kagome: Are your friends going to be there? What do they look like? It’s Miroku and Sango, right???]
[Kagome: Do you like to read?]
On and on it went. To say it was the best part of Inuyasha’s day would be a lie.
It was more like the best part of his whole year, which. Was sad. He definitely couldn’t tell any of this to Miroku or Sango.
[Kagome: If we have to kiss, is that a no-go?]
Inuyasha had to put his phone down and look away from it for a moment. It just so happened that in that second, Sango poked her head around the cubicle wall, a frown on her face. “Have you looked at the pitch deck yet for Totosai?”
“What pitch deck?” he asked.
Sango raised a brow at him. “The one I sent to you for review this morning? We need to send it off within the hour.”
Right. That. Yes, that.
“I’m almost done,” he lied like an absolute liar.
Sango stared at him for a moment with those judgemental magenta eyes and sighed. “This holiday party can’t come fast enough,” she grumbled, before returning to her own cubicle.
Inuyasha thought that was rather rude.
Still, his hand automatically sought out his cell phone, forgetting temporarily the question Kagome asked. He read it again, like an idiot, and then realized he had to answer. Not answering would make it weird, wouldn’t it? Inuyasha was pretty sure his palms were sweating.
[Inuyasha: It’s fine.]
Fine. Fine. Like kissing Kagome would be any kind of hardship.
Biggest Idiot the World Had Ever Seen, indeed.
To make as much fanfare as possible, Inuyasha agreed to Kagome’s plan of meeting in the lobby of his office party. As she explained, everyone would be paying attention to him from the moment he walked in. Better for him to step in alone, make all the rumours fly, and then have Kagome join him in the midst of everything for the biggest impact possible.
Or something. Inuyasha didn’t care. He just wanted Koga to eat his words.
The party was traditionally held at a banquet hall just down the straight from their actual offices. It was overly lavish, something that Inuyasha always found rather tacky, but he made himself go inside without even taking in the decorations or strings of lights. After checking his coat, he tugged nervously on the cuffs of his shirt, a dark red that Kagome questioned him on for a good twenty minutes – but what kind of dark red? – before realizing that it was a lost cause anyways. He looked the way he looked. This wasn’t a real date. This was a fake date. Kagome was his fake girlfriend of three years who he loved.
He just had to keep it together for one night.
“Hey, you finally showed up.” Miroku was instantly at his side, pressing a flute of champagne into his hands. Inuyasha hated champagne. “Koga has been running around telling everyone you’re too embarrassed to show. Since you’re, you know, lying.”
Inuyasha grunted, looking around the room. Everyone was definitely staring at him and not in a good way. It was those pitiful gazes again which made him irritated enough that downing the champagne in one go actually seemed like a highlight. “It’ll suck for him soon enough.”
“When is she coming?” Sango asked, virtually appearing from nowhere. She pressed against Miroku’s side and instantly his best friend smiled at her, because they were beyond sickening as a couple.
“Any second now.” Inuyasha caught one of the ladies from Design eye him up and down, which actually made him take a sip of his drink. He instantly regretted it. Bubbles were gross.
Miroku leaned in then, whispering, “Her name is Kagome, right?”
“Yes,” Inuyasha sighed, reminding him for the billionth time. “It is. Honestly, you’re more likely to blow this for me than me. Considering this is all your fault, you better fucking not.”
“Hey!” Miroku frowned and clutched at his chest. “I would never! Aren’t we—”
But before he could finish, a familiar, irritating voice called out to him. Koga. Of course it was Koga. His nemesis was leisurely – and loudly – strolling through the crowd of co-workers to join them. “Looks like you came alone after all. Some girlfriend you have, huh?”
Inuyasha rolled his eyes. “She has other obligations than coming here and proving your stupid face wrong,” he replied. “But she’ll be here in a minute to do that anyways.”
“Right,” Koga snorted and Inuyasha’s grip on his champagne flute tightened. Punching him would be bad. “Your totally real girlfriend is just conveniently late after you made such a big deal about her coming. I’m surprised you even showed up.”
Sango nudged the wolf demon, glaring. “Shut up, will you? Can’t you stop being such a jackass for one day?”
“This has nothing to do with you,” Koga replied breezily, as if batting away a fly. Sango looked murderous, which meant he probably wanted to sleep with both eyes open that evening. “Inuyasha brought this on himself. I mean, I wasn’t the one who stood up on my desk and yelled to the office about he had a girlfriend.”
“No, you just sent left a post-it note on everyone’s cubicle that I did,” Inuyasha replied. “Someone seems a little obsessed.”
Koga sneered, mouth opening on what was likely going to be something exceptionally stupid, when Inuyasha felt someone plaster themselves against his side, an arm wrapping around his hips and pushing at his arm. It was weirdly seamless, the way Kagome just entered and put herself into his space, making him wrap his own arm around her like they’d been doing this for years.
Which was the goal.
But how Kagome managed to make it happen was near shocking.
Gaping would have been bad so Inuyasha bit the inside of his mouth to distract himself. Kagome beamed at him and it was only then that he was able to take in— Well, everything.
And holy shit.
Kagome was always beautiful. Inuyasha had accepted this as fact since the first week he had met her at the coffee shop. Beautiful in an absent sort of way, because she was untouchable and so there was no point in really thinking about it. Tonight, somehow, was on an entirely different level that had transitioned her from beautiful to mind-numbingly stunning, like a taser to the heart. Her dark eyes were touched up and made to seem more intense, imploring. Her lips were painted a darker rouge, which only held his attention for a few, too long seconds before he realized it matched her dress.
The dress was somehow both appropriate and wildly sexy. It was tight, with a high-necked collar and no sleeves. It matched even her shoes.
Inuyasha was going to die. Or give himself away. Or both.
“Hi love, sorry I’m late,” Kagome murmured, focused only on him. She leaned into his side slightly before her eyes took in the glass of champagne, clearly half-consumed. Without hesitation she took it, still smiling idly before having a small sip.
God, she was so attractive. Inuyasha wasn’t going to survive. This was a bad idea. A huge, massively bad idea. He was the largest of idiots and that was fact, written in stone.
Kagome finally turned her attention to Miroku and Sango, and the smile she sent them was excited. It was the greeting of old friends, like she knew them personally rather than just through a single photo Inuyasha had sent the other day. “Hey! It’s so good to see you.”
“Not everyday we get to dress up and pretend to be fancy,” Miroku remarked. At least his acting skills were still on par with that first day lying in the conference room, starting this whole clusterfuck of disaster. “Doesn’t Sango look amazing?”
“This can’t be real.” And that was Koga, of course, blustering in yet again. Even though that was the whole point, Inuyasha felt irrationally angry at the wolf demon’s presence. He felt even angrier when he realized that Koga was just standing there, eyeing Kagome up and down like she wasn’t his girlfriend.
“Why the fuck are you still here, Koga?” Inuyasha snapped, unable to help himself.
Kagome shot him a bemused expression, like someone who was long used to this. “You could be a little nicer.”
“No,” Koga answered for him, “he really couldn’t. You’re his girlfriend?” The way he said girlfriend nearly sounded like an insult.
She only smiled at him, but it was confused-looking. Inuyasha watched as a few nearby co-workers not even remotely subtle tried to listen in. “Yes? Who do you think I am?”
Koga’s eyes narrowed. “You’re his girlfriend of the last year.”
Inuyasha opened his mouth, hand automatically tightening around Kagome’s hips, but she simply shot Miroku and Sango a puzzled look before shaking her head. “No? We’ve been together…What?” She smiled up at Inuyasha, the glass of champagne in her hand brushing against his chest. “A bit over three years?”
“Oh my god,” someone whispered outside of their little circle and Inuyasha had already had enough. The situation was resolved. They knew Kagome was his girlfriend, Koga looked like an idiot, it was the best end-of-year party ever.
“Anyways, it was nice to put a face to a name, Koga,” Kagome finally said, and while she sounded sincere, Inuyasha was sure there was something on her face to suggest otherwise. “But I’m starving. I’ve been staring at nothing but a computer screen all day. Is there food?”
“Yeah, they’ve got a little set-up over here.” Sango tugged at Miroku, gesturing with her head towards some tables on the far side of the hall. Inuyasha couldn’t help but throw one last smug grin over his shoulder before disappearing with his friends.
The whispers in the room were insane. Inuyasha tried his best to tune them all out.
As promised, there was enough food and drink to keep Kagome more than happy. The entire night, the two of them stood with Miroku and Sango, his friends regaling her with stupid stories from within the office. Kagome, for her part, seemed absolutely delighted. She laughed, especially at the stories of Kaede harassing Inuyasha around the office, and she’d bump into him playfully and smile his way and do a large number of things that made Inuyasha temporarily forget that this wasn’t, in fact, real.
At one point, Kaede stood on a small stage and thanked everyone for a wonderful year. Inuyasha watched as the old woman chastised them like a stern mother, and praised them equally for good work done. He shouldn’t have been surprised when she pointed him out in the crowd, and congratulated him on a record-high of nineteen days without incident. It was an office joke, so quite a few people laughed, but it was made even better when someone in the crowd yelled, “It was Koga’s fault!”
Followed by, “His girlfriend is real!”
Inuyasha felt Kagome laugh beside him, reaching out to intertwine their fingers in a minor display of affection. He couldn’t help but to smirk at her, and someone in the crowd whooped, and Miroku nearly choked on his laughter because he was pretty sure there had never been so many people on Inuyasha’s side before.
After that, the party was in full swing. It wasn’t much more than chatting, some staff even feeling bold enough to dance on the main floor. Inuyasha was content to keep talking with his friends, until Sango and Kagome returned from the bathroom and pointed out the photographers that had been hired for the evening.
“Evidence,” Kagome told him cheerfully, and Inuyasha was helpless but to follow along.
There was an entire set-up in one of the corners by the door, something Inuyasha had clearly ignored when he first arrived. There was a wall set up with a wintery, colourful background, and a huge box of props. Miroku was drawn to it like a moth to a flame, instantly digging through to find the most absurd, ridiculous hat to place on his head.
Sango sighed, but one poke from him and she was breaking out into a smile, endearingly amused.
They took a series of photos, Miroku pretending to use a giant fake candy cane as a staff to protect Sango with. With each photo, Sango laughed more and more, and Inuyasha could only watch them with something he’d probably call fondness.
Never out loud, obviously. But in his head was safe.
“They’re so cute,” Kagome told him. She pulled out a glittery pair of oversized glasses and grinned. “These corporate parties are far too extra. Who does a photobooth?”
“Everyone,” Inuyasha replied, somewhat sadly. “Like every event there’s one. They like to keep the photos and post them into a shared drive so that we can all pretend we’re good friends.”
“Ah yes, because you’re one big and happy family.” At Inuyasha’s sour expression, she laughed. “It’s like that everywhere. We do it at the shop, too.”
“Next!” the photographer called, and Inuyasha realized only then that they were holding up what was now a fairly long line. He and Kagome stood in the main spot, and he was unsurprised when she immediately started posing, clearly having a great time. Inuyasha’s face was nothing more than a series of horrified expressions or possibly a smirk, though there was one time that Kagome kissed his cheek.
Inuyasha was almost scared to see what his face looked like there.
“Hey wait!” someone called from the crowd. Inuyasha couldn’t see them but it sounded suspiciously like someone on Koga’s web team. Hakkaku or something? Ginta? Inuyasha always got them mixed up. “You should have the mistletoe!”
And then there was a fake sprig of mistletoe being thrown at them, perfectly timed.
Inuyasha glared at the camera, unamused. He was pretty sure the photographer took a shot of it anyways.
“Well,” Kagome said lightly. She offered the fake sprig to him, dark gaze looking up and cheeks a little flushed. “Uh, shall we?”
Yes, Inuyasha wanted to scream, about as much as he wanted to wail, oh god no. Because he knew that once he kissed her, he was doomed. Doomed and done for. This wasn’t real, he reminded himself. There was no way this was real.
Instead, he held up the mistletoe above their heads, licked his lips and stared.
Kagome huffed, something like amusement curling in her smile. “First moves, huh?” she murmured quietly, much to his confusion before she went up on her toes and kissed him soundly on the lips. It was the sweetest press of her lips, firm and then gone. This was a corporate party, after all. But Inuyasha was pretty sure the entire world had changed around him because when he opened his eyes, all he could see was Kagome.
“Next!” the photographer yelled.
“You can probably put your arm down now,” Kagome reminded him gently, tugging at his other hand. And—
He threw the mistletoe back towards the bin of props and then let her drag him away from the photobooth area. Unsurprisingly, Miroku and Sango were waiting for them with glasses of wine in hand. Sango seemed amused while Miroku kept wiggling his eyebrows and then nudging Sango, only to do the same motions all again.
Inuyasha watched as Kagome accepted her drink from Sango. All he could think about was that kiss.
There was more talking and laughing. Inuyasha even had wine in his hand. He probably even ate an appetizer or two.
But that kiss.
“Inuyasha?” The sound of his name stirred him, made him realize that Miroku was staring at him funny, like he’d been calling on him a few times already.
“What?” he asked, and maybe that was a bit of a growl. Sue him.
“We were thinking of heading out soon,” Miroku explained, though the curve of his lips suggested he knew exactly why Inuyasha was distracted. “It’s getting late. Kaede left so that means we’re all free to either get smashed or disappear.”
He was right. On the dancefloor, a bunch of staff were going a little harder than was probably okay considering it was a party with your co-workers. The bar looked far busier than before. When he looked towards the main entrance, he noticed that the windows were dark and it was, actually, late. He hadn’t realized so much time had passed already.
“I’m good for whatever you want to do,” Kagome told him, her hand finding his to lace their fingers together. “We can go for one last walk around the hall, if you want.”
“No.” The answer was immediate because he knew what Kagome was suggesting there: a way to show her off just as the night capped off. But that wasn’t what he wanted. He had already made Koga look like an idiot, mission was accomplished.
Plus, he couldn’t get that kiss out of his head.
Why would he want to show Kagome off if none of it was real?
There was a bit of a silence, but Sango easily covered it. “So we’ll all go then?”
“Let’s head out,” Miroku confirmed, and Inuyasha let himself be dragged along. There was only a small line at coat check, a few others having the same idea as them. A few of them he even recognized – the guy from accounting, for one – and they all sent him smiles and wished him and Kagome a nice evening, which—
“I thought you said you didn’t like talking to people,” Kagome murmured to him softly, pressed up against his front.
She laughed, a tiny gust of air. “Well, they certainly like talking to you.”
“Only because you’re so exciting,” Inuyasha answered, and then bit at the inside of his mouth again to stop from saying anything else foolish.
Miroku and Sango bid them farewell, Sango grabbing Kagome’s number with a wink before the two of them headed off. This was the part where Inuyasha was supposed to call Kagome a cab, but he figured it would make more sense if they just took one together. Even if it was out of the way, it was the least he could do to ensure she got home safe. Especially in those heels.
And that dress—
Inuyasha shoved his hands in the pocket of his coat to ensure he didn’t do anything dumb. It didn’t really help; Kagome just curled an arm around his elbow and huddled in close. They stood in between two sets of sliding doors, close enough to see their ride pull up but far enough away from his co-workers to avoid any more conversation. Kagome was oddly quiet, and Inuyasha didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
He really couldn’t stop thinking about the kiss, about the way she so easily pressed up against him, her hands clutching the front of his shirt. He couldn’t believe there was a photo like them, of him and her, on that photographer’s camera. He knew they’d get a link tomorrow, but honestly the whole thing seemed surreal. Impossible.
Kagome wasn’t actually his girlfriend, he reminded himself for the billionth time. It wasn’t real.
“Oh look,” she said suddenly. Inuyasha’s gaze immediately went towards the street, wondering if she spotted their car. Instead, he noticed that she was pointing at something above them. It was mistletoe, hanging against the beam on the sliding doors in front of them.
Inuyasha was one hundred percent going to die this time.
“We’re not actually under it,” Kagome said slowly. Maybe it was desperation, or maybe it was just a lot of unfounded hope, but Inuyasha was sure he could hear a pause in her statement. Like a what if was coming. Or a but. “Isn’t it bad luck to not kiss if there’s mistletoe?” she asked.
Inuyasha looked down at her, even though her gaze was still stuck on the sprig hanging above the door. That, for some reason, gave him the courage to continue. “Is it?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “It could be. Maybe.”
“Probably better…” Inuyasha was absolutely not going to suggest anything. He wasn’t. This was fake. Fake. Not real. “Probably better to not chance it, right? Bad luck would be bad.”
Bad luck would be bad. Jesus Christ.
“Right.” Kagome tilted her head up and somehow they were already kissing. Maybe he had leaned in. Maybe he had closed his eyes and she had filled in the gap between them. Either way, Inuyasha felt heat along his front as Kagome curled into him, her free hand grasping at his hip. It made him suck in a breath, mouth parting, and then they were kissing. No more of that chaste, light-hearted shit. This wasn’t for a photograph or his co-workers of anything else. This was them, standing under fucking mistletoe and kissing.
The sliding doors opening had him pulling away, Kagome flushed and breathing heavy against him. Inuyasha glared murderously at a woman who was leaving, though she at least looked extremely awkward in passing. She stared outside at the cold winter, inside at the two of them, and then chose wisely to leave.
“Huh,” Kagome said then before laughing.
Inuyasha bit his lip, watching the way she smiled. Not real, he tried to remind himself. Not really. But maybe. Maybe.
“You know,” Kagome started, making sure that there was absolutely no room between them. “I think there’s mistletoe at my place. Mistletoe which I haven’t been kissed under.” She stared up at him from under her lashes, just like she had at the restaurant, and Inuyasha was a goner.
“That’s probably bad luck, too,” he said mindlessly.
“So you should come to my place.”
“And we can continue this.”
“And…” Kagome made a face, dark gaze dipping to stare at his coat before stubbornly looking back up. “And tomorrow you can kiss me too. And we can keep doing that until we decide we don’t want to anymore.”
Inuyasha was pretty sure that would never, ever happen. Like, in a million years. He was so thrown by one kiss alone, he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to get tired of it. There was only one way to find out, anyways.
“Inuyasha,” Kagome said, because apparently quite a bit of time had passed and he only stared at her like an idiot. “This is me, making the first move. Also, I think I meet your type, which you said is friendly? And I think I’m pretty frie—”
Inuyasha took her face into his hands and kissed her quiet, because it had to be done.
The ride home was nearly unbearable.
Kagome kept sneaking these looks at him, her hands wandering to his leg before dancing away. It was almost like she was nervous, though Inuyasha had no idea why that would be the case. If anyone had any right to be nervous, it was him.
Thankfully, her place wasn’t too far. She lived in a condo a few blocks away from the entertainment district, a bustling part of the city. As they stepped out of the cab, a crowd of people wandered by, even with the late night. The city around them was bright, filled with sounds and colour, and Inuyasha ignored it all to look at her.
She took him by the hand and brought him home.
If asked, Inuyasha wouldn’t be able to say what floor she lived on, or what her condo number was. He was too entranced by her, by her facial expressions, by the slight tightening of her grip in his hands. When she finally unlocked her apartment door, Inuyasha wasted no time in pushing them inside. Kagome was waiting, clearly on the same wavelength, because she slammed the door shut and was on him so quickly, he was the one who was pressed into the wall.
Kagome shoved his coat off, being absolutely no help at all for removing her own. It was the best kind of struggle and Inuyasha managed to undo all of the buttons before twisting her into the wall, pushing the coat off so that it hung awkwardly behind her as he pressed in close. He wanted to catch every little hitch in her breath, every sound. His hands traced the line of her body, the snug dress showcasing every brilliant curve.
“Bedroom,” she panted, her hands already tugging uselessly at his dress shirt. One of them may have popped open, but the rest were a concern for being torn off.
“Isn’t there mistletoe we should find?” Inuyasha didn’t actually care, rucking up her dress just enough to grab at her ass and lift her. Kagome’s head hit the wall with a dull thud, legs wrapping around him. He was already hard, dick straining near painfully in his dress pants. There was no way she couldn’t feel it, his body rocking into her without conscious thought.
Moaning, the sound of it driving him absolutely fucking insane, Kagome bit at the corner of his jaw before panting, “Mistletoe?”
“The mistletoe,” Inuyasha reminded her. He was unceremoniously shoved back, near staggering, but Kagome grabbed his hand and started to drag him into the dark recesses of her apartment. “Didn’t you have some?”
“Oh yeah.” Kagome went through a doorway and hauled him inside. He had only a moment to see a dresser, a chair covered in clothes and what was unmistakeably a huge bed before being dragged onto it. Above her, Inuyasha could barely see the flush on her face from the city lights blaring through her window. Her chest rose and fell quickly, lips parted and shiny. Every bit of her was like a fantasy he had never had the gall to imagine.
Slowly, her legs wound around him, shifting the tight dress further up her hips. She was a picture and Inuyasha took in the fan of her dark hair, her heated gaze, the tantalizing show of her underwear from a dress that was too tight for words. Kagome reached out, tugging at his shirt to pull him down with her. “There’s no mistletoe.”
Inuyasha hovered above her, desperate to kiss her once more. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from her lips. “What?”
“No mistletoe, not in my apartment,” Kagome murmured. This close, she was able to fumble the buttons of his shirt open, one by one. When they were nearly all undone, she smoothed her palms across his chest, down his abs. It made him pull in a heavy breath, desperate for her hand to be just that much lower. “I lied.”
“You told me you had mistletoe so you could convince me to come to your place,” Inuyasha breathed. “Really?”
“I had no choice,” Kagome whined, at the same time as she lifted her hips to rub against his dick, the quickest pressure. “You never picked up on my flirting and then you came to me with this ridiculous idea—”
“I thought you said it happened all the time—”
“Are you nuts?” Kagome let go of him suddenly, laughing with her head thrown back in the duvet. She was the most stunning thing to look at and Inuyasha couldn’t bear to be away any longer. He grabbed her waist and shifted her up the bed, enough to be able to lie down on top of her without falling off. He took off his shirt, watched the way Kagome licked her lips as she let her hand roam the planes of his upper body. “No. People don’t do that. But I’ve had a crush on you forever and if this was going to be my only chance, I couldn’t have you back out.”
“You fucking liar,” Inuyasha whispered, batting away her hands so that he could press against her, could lick and suck and bite at her neck, rocking against her.
Groaning, Kagome tilted her head to give him more room, hands grabbing his back to tug him impossibly closer. “You lied first, dog boy.”
Inuyasha pushed up, needing to see the way she raised a brow at him, a challenge and a request all in one. “If it’s all my fault, what should I do about it?”
“Take this dress off.”
“I like your dress.”
“I bought it specifically to be on my floor,” Kagome told him, pushing herself up onto her elbows to better glare at him. “Take this dress off now.”
And what else could he do but listen?
It was a struggle to do, made harder by the way Inuyasha kept distracting himself with the tilt of her neck or pout of his lips. He had to make sure every bit was marked, swollen, bruised, until Kagome looked like his. When the dress finally made it to the floor, Kagome climbed him like a tree, pressing against him as he sat on his knees, barely able to stay balanced. Her hands carded through his hair, pressing his face into the swell of her breasts.
Her bra was the next to come off, tossed somewhere behind him. His hands slid up the smooth line of her thighs, wrapped so nicely around him, to her hips and waist. He licked at her breast, teasing her with teeth until he sucked a nipple in only to hear her keen. She was so responsive to every touch, every lick. It wasn’t until she was panting above him, his name a repeated oath on her lips, that he even realized she was saying something else.
“Off, take them off,” she demanded, hands working at his dress pants.
He gently pushed her off and down onto the mattress, watching her fall into the softness of the duvet before getting off the mattress. Inuyasha had never cared about how he removed his clothing, but the way Kagome watched him undo the buttons and slide down the zip made him conscious of just how he must have looked. She seemed far too pleased with herself.
Grabbing the waistband of his boxer-briefs, he shoved them down too. Kagome bit her lip, sitting up instantly. One palm traced along the lines of his abs while the other wrapped around his cock, the pressure of it loose but so fucking good. It was a tease more than anything, a prelude to what was coming next. Kagome kissed the skin above his bellybutton, nosing down his treasure trail before deviating to his hip and pressing a bruising kiss there, sucking. It was the sweetest torture, the heat of her mouth biting and licking, his hand in her hair just to feel her. Her hand still slid up and down his cock, far too dry yet far too loose, driving him slowly, slowly insane.
When she finally released him from what would be a giant hickey come morning, she looked up at him with those dark eyes and smiled. “Fuck me?”
“God yes,” Inuyasha whispered, letting her go so she could fetch a condom. She wasted no time in ripping it open, giving his dick one last slow stroking tease before she rolled it on. Inuyasha couldn’t take his eyes away from her, from the way she licked at her bottom lip to the way her breasts rose with each quickened breath. Finished, she started to skirt back onto the mattress before Inuyasha grabbed at her, dragging her back. Her hair was wild, spread out above and around her like some darkened halo, the duvet ruined around her. Inuyasha wanted her just like this. He wanted to watch her just like this.
Inuyasha leaned down to kiss her, loved the way she instantly wrapped herself around him. It was like she couldn’t get close enough, a feeling her mirrored, so turned on his body ached with it. He let his hand roam down her body, fingers teasing beneath her thong. She was wet, hips tilting to press against the warmth of him, and Inuyasha had to press into it, coating his fingers and listening to the way her breath hitched against his lips. He pulled his hand back only to search out her clit, waiting until groaned, spreading her legs wider to get more of him.
“Fuck your beautiful,” he said, tracing her clit with slow, torturous strokes of his thumb. His eyes soaked in every time she arched her back, desperate to get more friction. The way she keened, her own hands dragging up her body until they were high above her head, a stunning spread below him.
He stopped only to hear her groan, a glare peeking behind half-lidded eyes. “Don’t you dare,” she told him.
Inuyasha smirked. Letting his hand trail free of her underwear, he tugged on the straps just to see what she could do. Her legs clung tighter but she pressed closer with her hips, asking for friction. He teased the wet slip of cloth away from her, letting his cock slide against her folds. Kagome whined, grinding against him, and that was it. He was lost, desperate, and he grabbed at one of her thighs, clinging.
“Yes?” he asked, because he had to know, had to hear it from her lips.
“Yes,” she demanded. “Yes, fuck, Inuya—” But the rest of it was lost on a gasp as Inuyasha slid into the tight heat of her. He let go of her thigh to grab at her hips, tugging her closer to the edge of the bed where he stood, pulling her onto his dick until they were both groaning. Inuyasha couldn’t help rocking into her, tiny thrusts as he figured out the best way to move her, the best way for her to cling to him. Kagome’s hands were fisted in the duvet, barely any leverage, but Inuyasha had everything he needed, readjusting his grip so that his next thrust was harder, a slap of skin that had Kagome whining.
There was no way he was going to last, not with the way she was constantly grinding into him, taking each of his thrusts so beautifully well. Inuyasha swallowed, gripped her tighter and slowed. It was a dirty, torturous drag, pulling out until the head of his cock teased just inside of her. Sliding back in was like fucking bliss, made all the more sweeter by the way Kagome gasped, a sound ripped from her chest in surprise. He did it again, and again, listening to the gorgeous sounds of her coming apart around him. It was both so much better and so much worse; there was no way even this pace was going to make him last any longer. Heat was building through him, waves cascading with each and every thrust. He gave up the perfect grip to touch her, fingers seeking out her clit over the cloth of her thong, listening for her involuntary cry. She was skirting up the bed, no longer held fully in place, and Inuyasha lost any semblance of rhythm just to fuck into her, nearly dying when Kagome cried out beneath him, legs tightening so hard around him.
Inuyasha fell down onto the bed, braced half-up by an elbow, and was gone after a few more thrusts into the heat of her, her name falling from his lips.
Half-off the bed, Inuyasha took a moment to let his brain come back online. Kagome was boneless underneath him, one hand sliding up and down his back in a soothing motion that would probably put him to sleep if given the chance. He groaned, twisting until he was back up on one arm to look down at her.
Kagome smiled at him, her hair a disaster around her, chin and cheeks red from her kissing. “Hi,” she murmured.
“Hi.” Inuyasha shook his head, leaning over to kiss the smile from her lips. She gave it to him willingly, her dark brown gaze on his as he slowly stood up and pulled away. He tied off the condom, heading into what he hoped was the bathroom to throw it out. He didn’t want to be away from her, this strange new situation they were in. It felt delicate, precarious in a way that was only a prelude to what could be more, rather than something dangerous.
He shouldn’t have worried. Kagome was properly on the bed, hair still an unbearable mess on the pillow. The duvet covered her up to her chest, collarbones and shoulders bare. She sat up a little when he came back in. “Hi,” she said stupidly.
Inuyasha could feel his lips tugging up, unable to stop them. “Hi.”
“I guess I should invest in mistletoe after all.”
He shrugged. “I really don’t think I’ll need the excuse.”
“No?” When Kagome stared at him, it was full of questions that he maybe didn’t have the words to, even if he had the answers. “Will you stay?”
Inuyasha let his actions speak for him, slipping under the covers. It was already warm, made warmer by her body immediately pressing up against him. He could feel his dick give a desperate, valiant twitch. “Do you have anywhere to be tomorrow?”
“Work, in the afternoon,” she sighed, burying her face in his chest. “So we can have breakfast. Or lunch. Or both?”
Inuyasha hummed his agreement, enjoying the way her arm had wrapped around him to continue stroking his back. “If we ever leave this bed.”
Kagome shifted just enough to peek one eye at him, pleased. “Just lunch then.”
“Big word,” Kagome mumbled, hiding once again. “But yes, because I’m the best girlfriend ever.”
And there was nothing fake about that.
“So you’re telling me,” Koga said, with all the tired resignation of a man who had lost against his betters, “that Kagome is really your girlfriend.”
“Yes.” It wasn’t even a lie. Inuyasha smirked, glad for this moment with his nemesis since Miroku and Sango were once again out of the conference room fetching coffees. “She is.”
“I still can’t believe it. She’s way too hot for you.”
Inuyasha shrugged. For the first time in his life, he didn’t disagree with the asshole.
“Three years,” Koga muttered, disbelieving. “Three fucking years.”
More like three days, but that secret would never be told to the office. Better to let them all think he was the better man here, especially since Kaede kept eyeing him with her whiteboard eraser in hand, waiting.
But it was nearly a new year. Inuyasha had a feeling it would be the best one yet.
“Why don’t you say something else asshole-ish about me,” Inuyasha suggested suddenly, pleased with himself. “Tell me I’ll never get a promotion, or something. Say that I’ll lose to you in some sort of office contest for the most attractive co-worker.” Koga glared at him but Inuyasha was feeling good about himself. “Please, let’s make these last few days the best yet. Tell me one last thing so that I can rub your face in all of your mistakes.”
“Fuck you,” Koga replied, flipping him off for good measure.
It was just then that Miroku and Sango entered the conference room, coffees and snacks in hand. Miroku looked between them, glee written all over his features, and sat down across from him. “Oh, did you share the good news?”
“What news?” Koga asked flatly.
“About the pregnancy,” Miroku continued, shit-eating grin on his face.
Koga choked. Sango screeched. And Inuyasha?
Well, Kaede put the whiteboard eraser to good use. Days Without an Inuyasha Incident: 0.