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Closing Time

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Kagome sighed, resting her chin in her hand as she leaned on the counter. She should have been home, celebrating with her family. She should have been out ice skating, or caroling, or something. Anything other than where she was.

Stuck at work on Christmas Day. 

Sango had called her, desperate: apparently Shippo hadn’t shown up for his shift, and was nowhere to be found (typical kitsune, Kagome thought with a grumbly smile), and Sango really needed someone to work until close. Apparently she had some "big family event" with her boyfriend (which Kagome wondered if that was even true, but whatever), and just couldn’t possibly work the entire day. 

So it fell to Kagome, who was a pushover and could never say no (she would completely and totally admit this) and plus, Sango had promised Kagome that she would owe her a big favor...and Kagome had immediately claimed it. New Years Day off, so that she could…

Sit at home and drink a bottle of champagne. Alone. Watching New Years Rockin’ Eve

Did she mention alone?

As she surveyed the cafe, she couldn’t help but be annoyed. It was Christmas, and while Sango had told her that the morning rush was still pretty busy, it was now after noon, and the shop was basically dead. No one around to order coffee; no one around to make coffee for. 

The only other person in the shop besides Kagome was a half-demon; she could tell he wasn’t a full demon by the two silvery white, fluffy, puppy dog ears that were perched on the top of his head. Kagome thought they were adorable; she thought he was absolutely gorgeous: his long silvery hair was tied up in a high ponytail, but some of his hair still escaped around his face, giving him a dreamy look. He sat at one of the tables, his back slumped back against the chair, his golden eyes squinty as he scrolled through his phone. He’d already ordered two cappuccinos, three bagel sandwiches, and two waters. And he’d sat there and ate, and drank, and scowled, and scowled.

Kagome couldn’t help but feel for him. His golden eyes looked so sad, despite the scowl on his face. She noted how every time his phone pinged, he looked at his texts, sighed, and typed something back, then sighed again and scowled. She wondered why he was sitting in a coffee shop, on the middle of Christmas Day afternoon, when he should be home, somewhere, with someone

And yet, the only person with him? Was her.

He looked up from his phone, right at her. She gasped and looked away, busying herself with cleaning the espresso machine, and didn’t notice when the young man huffed and turned back to his phone, but his ears stayed focused on her.

Three o’clock on Christmas Day, and Inuyasha was stuck sitting in a coffee shop, with only his phone and elevator Christmas music to keep him company.

And the barista. How could he forget about the fucking barista?

She was beautiful. Her blue-black hair was pulled back in a braid that hung lazily over her shoulder as she rested her head in her hand at the counter. Her blue eyes shimmered; her nose was an adorable button; her lips a luscious dusky rose that kept his gaze quite focused on them. Her body was covered by the standard black t-shirt and apron, but he could see how the t-shirt hugged her form, how the apron tied perfectly at her hips as she moved. 

Inuyasha scoffed, and turned back to his phone, keeping one ear on the barista in case he needed to quickly shift his attention.

He wasn’t supposed to be in a coffee shop on Christmas. He really wasn’t. But there was a blizzard in Chicago, and he was in New York, and unless he got in a car and drove there himself (and into a blizzard? Not a fucking chance), he was stuck here for the holiday, far away from his family. His half-brother was in Boston, and his sister-in-law had invited him to spend the holidays with them, but in all honesty Inuyasha would rather poke out his right eye than spend more than two hours with his asshole brother. But that meant spending Christmas at home. In his apartment. With his roommate. 

And his roommate’s girlfriend.

He liked Sango; he liked her a lot. What he didn’t like was how she and Miroku fucked like rabbits every time they were together, which was every night. And with Inuyasha’s superior demon hearing, he could basically hear every. Single. Thrust. And every. Single. Time. their bodies slapped together. 

Like Inuyasha’s family, Miroku’s family was also in the path of the massive winter storm that was barreling through the Midwest. And also like Inuyasha, Miroku had opted to stay in New York for the duration. However, unlike Inuyasha, Miroku had a girlfriend who he had an insatiable thirst for. And their apartment was barely a two-bedroom as it was. So when Miroku told Inuyasha that Sango was coming to spend Christmas with him, Inuyasha immediately said “I’m out,” and left the apartment (stormed out, banging absolutely everything in his path as he made his way to the door, more like) and headed out into the street, looking around wildly, trying to figure out where he could go. Unfortunately, most places were already closed by the time Inuyasha was looking for a place to hide from his fuck bunny roommate and his roommate’s significant other. Sign after sign after sign said that the buildings would close at 1, or 2, and Inuyasha needed to be out of the apartment until at least 5, by which time he was hoping they would have tired themselves out. 

The small coffee shop on Carmine Street was one of the few that said they would have hours until at least 5pm. But when Inuyasha pushed through the glass door of Carmine Street Coffee, he hadn’t been expecting to be the only one in the place, save for the barista.

The beautiful, sexy, barista. 

Her sparkling blue eyes followed him when he came into the shop—not because he was a half-demon, but because he was the only other one in the shop. He knew: she had to be wondering what he was doing there, alone, and Christmas. Her adorable face shone happily when he approached the counter; her lips were delicious, and he found that he couldn’t stop staring at them. Inuyasha was so entranced that he could barely mumble out his cappuccino order, but she simply smiled and asked if he wanted any flavoring or an extra shot. 

“Extra shot,” he’d replied, and he blushed a little when she smiled again and accepted his credit card for payment. 

And then when she brought him his drink? He’d reached up to accept the cup, and their fingers had brushed. And she smiled again: a brilliant, beaming smile that seemed just for him. His eyes couldn’t help but focus on her lips again, and how full they seemed, even when smiling at him so kindly.  

“Let me know if you need anything else,” she’d said, and the warmth in her voice made him feel like he definitely would be asking her for lots of things.

Which he did. Another cappuccino, waters, bagel sandwiches...he wasn’t that hungry, to be honest, but he also felt like he really wanted to try and make sure that his presence there was okay. He knew people came into coffee shops and ordered one coffee and sat for hours, and he didn’t want to do that.

And then, his phone had started pinging. His mom, his asshole half-brother, his sister-in-law, Miroku...was he having a good Christmas? Why didn’t he want to come to Boston? When was he coming back to the apartment?

When you and Sango have exhausted yourselves, he texted Miroku after the last text from his friend. He growled and put his phone away. He heard the clinking of metal, and saw that the pretty barista was cleaning out the espresso machine.

He found that he didn’t want to answer any of those annoying texts coming his way. He wanted to talk to a real person, about real things.

He wanted to talk to her.

But would she want to talk to him? Would she think he was lame, a bore? What could he say to her? Did he dare?...

Before Inuyasha knew what was happening, he was on his feet and heading towards the counter. She was washing the parts of the espresso machine; the sound of the water running drowned out his steps. He leaned on the counter and watched her with interest; he’d never seen someone so graceful as her when they cleaned. Her arms moved in perfect rhythm with the running water; her entire body seemed to follow the rhythm, making it a kind of beautiful dance. He was...completely engrossed by her.

Inuyasha realized: he needed to know who she was. Her name. Her favorite coffee. If she even likes coffee. Her favorite Christmas traditions. What she was doing after she closed up for the night.

“Oh!” Her surprised tone brought him back from his reverie. While Inuyasha was daydreaming, she had finished washing up the equipment and putting it back together. Her blue eyes were wide and shining, and his eyes dropped from hers to her lips. Those decadent, silky lips.  “I’m—I’m so sorry,” she said apologetically. “I just cleaned the espresso machine. I didn't think you’d want anything else.”

“I don’t want coffee.” His voice was smooth, confident, and completely unlike anything he’d ever heard himself use in his life. 

She leaned on the counter. “Oh?” Her voice had a teasing edge to it, and he gave him courage. “Is there something else you want?” Her eyes were light, playful.


At the Counter

Commissioned Artwork by kalcia

She turned to the pastry display. “Some dessert?”

He looked at the desserts. They looked good, for sure, especially the cannoli. 

But not as good as her.

“Sure,” he said in a choked tone. “How about two?”

She smiled. “Coming right up.” She opened the display door and took out two cannolis. She set them on a plate and placed the plate on the counter, sliding it between them. She looked up at him; he could see that her eyes, still playful, were also suddenly shy. 

“Anything else?” she asked.

He tried to scan the menu, looking for something that would be easy for her to prep. 

“Some iced tea?” he tried. “Unsweetened?”

He could hear her heartbeat increasing; he could see her pupils dilate slightly. 

“You bet,” she replied, and went over to the iced tea dispenser. She poured some tea into a cup, grabbed a lid and a straw, and placed those on the counter for him, too.

“Anything else?” she asked.

He nodded. “There is, yeah.”

“Okay,” she said to him. “What would you like?”

He took a deep breath. “ know your name.”

She gasped. “My name?”

“Yeah,” Inuyasha replied. “Your name. I’m...I’m Inuyasha,” he added, “Inuyasha Taisho. I live about two blocks from here.”

“Inuyasha,” the barista murmured. “That’s a nice name.”

“Keh,” he said. “It’s fine.”

“I’m... I’m...” She looked at him; his golden eyes were vibrant, and glowing; his face (he hoped) was warm and open, a small smile playing on his lips.

“I’m Kagome,” she said at least.

His small smile became a huge grin. “It’s nice to meet you, Kagome,” he said, and she smiled back.

“So, Inuyasha,” she continued, leaning forward on the counter conspiratorially, “what brings you to a coffee shop on Christmas Day? In the middle of Christmas Day?” Her face became clouded with concern, and her lips—her fucking gorgeous lips—were pursed in a slight frown. “Do you have somewhere that you can go?”

“What? Wait! No!” She had the wrong idea. Really the wrong idea. “My mom’s in Chicago, and there’s a huge snowstorm there, so my flight was canceled. And I’d rather cut off my left arm than go to see my half-brother and his family in Boston.”

“Sooo…” Kagome gestured around her. “Coffee shop?”

“Well…” He blushed; he couldn’t help it. “My roommate is...his girlfriend is over.” 

Luckily, she got the hint, and she blushed too. “Well…” she said, popping out her phone and checking it, “I do have to close up here in about 15 minutes. So…” She paused. “Will that give you enough time?”

Inuyasha’s heart froze. He didn’t want to go back. Not yet. Not when he had just learned her name. Not when...what was happening at his apartment was probably still happening. He frowned. “Probably not,” he said, “although I could give them a heads up.” His head dropped; he was sure that his ears were droopy, too. “Okay,” he added, “I’ll see you around, then, Kagome?” He paused. “It was so nice to meet you, Kagome.” He turned to leave; he would find another place to hide. Maybe Washington Square Park?

“Wait.” Her voice was hesitant, but clear. He paused, and turned back. 

Kagome’s eyes were shining, blue sapphires against her creamy skin. Inuyasha stared at her, one eyebrow raised. “Do you want to….to stay?” she asked quietly. “Help me clean up? Will that give you a little extra time?”

Inuyasha’s ears perked up, and he saw her giggle. “I would--I would love to stay and help you,” he said. 

Her laughter, and the way her whole face lit up, made her answer worth it. She clapped her hands excitedly, and he couldn’t help but grin at her response. “Wonderful!” she exclaimed. “We’ll get done so much faster if there’s two of us.”

He tried not to show it, but the idea of finishing up faster? Well, that wasn’t okay with him. Because he wanted to take all the time in the get to know her, to spend time with her, and maybe, just take her out somewhere after this.

“Come here,” she said, and instantly he obeyed, without even thinking. He rounded the counter, and she opened up the side to let him in. Suddenly, he was completely surrounded by her scent: vanilla and lavender. How had he not noticed before how good she smelled? How her scent… well, fuck. It was like a balm to his soul. He may have closed his eyes for a moment, to let himself take her fully in.

“So, it’s right over here,” she was saying, and he snapped his eyes open to focus on Kagome. She was smiling, and showing him the trash. “The dumpster’s out back; here’s the key so you can let yourself back in.” She handed him a small keyring, holding onto the key that would let him in and out through the back. He nodded, grabbed the trash bag out of the container (minding his claws didn’t rent the plastic, of course). He tied it off, accepted the keys, and went through the back, looking for the exit.

And so they worked, side-by-side, for the last fifteen minutes that the shop was open. They wiped down tables and counters; Inuyasha stacked the chairs, and cleaned the windows and the floor; and Kagome counted out the money for the day and put it in an envelope for the safe. While they worked, they chatted. Inuyasha learned that Kagome was a recent college grad who had majored in English, but that she lived at home with her parents, in an apartment in Chelsea, while she sorted out what she was going to do next. She hadn’t decided if grad school was for her yet, so she was trying out working in the coffee shop while she applied for jobs and for grad school, and then depending on the opportunities that fell her way, she planned to make a decision then.

Inuyasha, in turn, told her about himself: he was working in finance on Wall Street, applying to MBA programs, trying to sort out his living situation and his future. They were both ecstatic to learn that they had each applied to both NYU and CUNY for grad school; Inuyasha found himself hoping that she would take that path, so that they might spend even more time together. 

He learned that she loved holiday movies, especially Elf, and that her favorite kind of holiday drink was spiked hot chocolate. He also learned that she loved cats, and that her family had an old house cat who was her baby, and he told her that he could cope with that. The way that she giggled at his response made him realize that maybe she might bring him around to meet Buyo.

Because he was slowly realizing that he wanted to be around for many, many more things in Kagome’s life.

She disappeared into the back while Inuyasha cleared out the pastry display; his own cannolis were still sitting on the counter, but he snagged a container and wrapped them up to go, too. His eyes lit up as he closed the plastic lid. Inuyasha...had an idea. 

And he hoped that Kagome would take him up on it.

“I think that’s everything!” Kagome said at last, leaning against the counter and wiping her forehead. The two of them looked around the shop: the chairs were stacked on top of the tables, the floor was freshly washed and shining, and Kagome and Inuyasha turned their gaze from the shop to each other. Inuyasha’s breath caught; even after all the cleaning they had just done? She was beautiful.

“Thanks for helping, Inuyasha,” Kagome said with a smile. “I’m just sorry that you have to go back to your apartment now with your...very active…” here she gave him a wink, and he chuckled, “...roomate.” She paused. “Are you going to go back home now?”

“Well…” This was his chance. His moment. To make that move he had been thinking about before.

“I have two cannoli, you know,” he said. She nodded, her blue eyes warm and bright. He swallowed thickly, and continued. “And I thought that maybe...if it’s not too cold…” He paused. “Would you want to walk over to the park and eat them and maybe...continue our conversation?”

Kagome stared at him, her eyes still shining. She smiled. “Inuyasha,” she breathed, “I have to tell you.” 

His heart dropped right into his stomach, and his face fell. 

She has a boyfriend, he thought dully. She has a fucking boyfriend.

Kagome took a deep breath, then reached forward and took his hands in hers. She pulled him a little bit closer, and looked deeply into his eyes. “I am so, so happy that you came into my coffee shop today,” she told him. “Not only because I got some awesome help cleaning up--” here she winked, and he felt hope soar through his entire body “--but because...I needed the company. Your company.” She sighed a little, looked down, as though she were gathering strength, and then looked back up. “When you first came into the shop, I thought you were so...cute... “ she giggled, “...but you seemed so sad. And I was hoping that maybe you would talk to me? Because I know that I wanted to talk to you.”

Inuyasha...didn’t know what to say, except…

“Kagome,” he breathed. “I wanted to talk to you, too.”

She smiled. “So I think that, yes? I’ll close up the shop, and then yes, let’s go to the park, and eat those cannolis. And if you’re up to it, would you like to come to my apartment, have some late Christmas dinner? Give your roommate and his girlfriend a little bit more time to be together? And to maybe...give you some of that family Christmas feeling that you’re missing, because you can’t be with your mom?” Her eyes were bright with unshed tears suddenly, and Inuyasha’s heart felt as though it might burst at the sincerity of her invitation. “I promise we humans don’t bite,” she said playfully, “although Buyo may try, and my grandfather may want to purify you.” Inuyasha’s ears wiggled at her, and she giggled. “But I’ll protect you,” she added softly. “I promise.”

He squeezed her hands gently, warmly. She was...offering him a date, and, a chance to be with a family at Christmas. A real family. Not a family that would argue and bicker (well, maybe they did that; he didn’t rightly know), but a family that would hopefully welcome him in. 

Kagome’s family.

He...liked the sound of that.

“Okay, Kagome,” he said, just as softly. “It looks like we’re on for a date, and for a ‘meet the parents’ scenario. Are you up for that?”

Kagome was quiet for a moment. Inuyasha’s heart was pounding. What would she say? Did she know what she was asking him to do?

“Yes,” she replied softly. “I’m totally, and completely up for that.” A beat. “And maybe...a little bit more.”

But then, before he even knew what was happening, Kagome leaned forward and gently pressed her lips to his. Inuyasha’s heart started pounding even more wildly: her lips were soft, and gentle, and caressed his, as though exploring every little dip and line. He dropped her hands and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him. She felt…

She felt amazing. But more importantly, Kagome felt right.

Like she had always belonged there, in his arms. 

How was it possible that he could feel this way, after only a few hours and a few moments of conversation?

He didn’t rightly know. But he did know that...he wanted more. 

So much more. 

And all with her.

“So,” she said lightly, breaking the kiss, “I hope that tells you exactly what I’m up for?”

He was fucking speechless. She kissed him, and then she teased him? All Inuyasha could do was nod, dumbly, and Kagome laughed.

“Then I say,” she added, “that you go get your coat, and I’ll get mine. And once we close up this shop, we get to have the Christmas that we want. How does that sound?”

Inuyasha couldn’t help it; he leaned in and kissed her again, and she moaned softly at the contact. “I think,” he whispered, ghosting her lips, “that sounds like the perfect Christmas Day.”