It all began in a coffee shop.
Cliche, I know. Trust me, I fucking know. But… that’s where it began. Sue me. Or rather… sue Miroku, it’s his fault.
For all intents and purposes, it was a normal Saturday. I woke up, I checked my phone, I begrudgingly answered Miroku’s incessant and needy text messages, then I met him downtown for some form of to-be-determined debauchery he was always dragging me along for. Traffic was horrendous for some godforsaken reason and I was running late because of it. I parked the car in a spot that was probably just a little too small and squeezed through the space between the driver’s side door and the asshole who couldn’t fucking pull in straight, while cursing the existence of my oldest friend.
Because, clearly, it was his fault I was late to meeting him, trapped in my car because some douche nugget was given a license without knowing how to park a goddamn sedan.
It took half my life, but I finally pulled myself through and walked into the coffee shop, rolling my eyes as I spotted Miroku in a seat sort of toward the back, but also in the middle. It didn’t matter, besides us there were maybe two students in the corners typing furiously and completely zoned out. I walked between the tables, listening to the jazz-
Except… it wasn’t jazz. I stopped in my tracks, head involuntarily tilting to the side as I took in the music. Miroku had dragged me to this particular coffee shop at least a dozen times over the last few months and it was known for two things. The most annoying thing it was known for was stereotypical coffee-shop music that at best was some flavorless indie garbage or over-hyped jazz that lulled you to sleep despite the double shot of espresso you just paid too much for. The other thing it was known for? Overpriced espresso.
I checked just to make sure the espresso prices were still garbage, and yup, they were. But the music was definitely better, better than better… it was… familiar.
“Holy fuck,” I mumbled to myself. I could count on one hand that amount of times I recognized a song in a place like this. But without a doubt, I would know that voice anywhere. After all, I had followed it around Europe, attending concert after concert during one of their last tours. Miroku had thought I was deranged.
So too did my ex. Hence why she was, well, my ex. I didn’t need that negativity in my life.
“Hey!” Miroku waved, pulling me out of my thoughts and forcing me back to the here and now. “What’s with the face?”
“What face?” I growled. He just had to instigate, didn’t he?
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost or something.”
“What’s with the music today?” I asked, looking around trying to get my bearings. It was strange, like walking into a room you expected to be warm but was actually a bitter cold. It shouldn’t have caught me as off guard as it did, I mean it wasn’t like it was death metal raging through the speakers or some shit. It was alternative, but it was some of their more tame stuff. Nothing from the early days, which was a little disappointing.
“Ah,” he chuckled knowingly. “It’s like this every time Sango and her friend have shifts together.”
Sango was the barista that Miroku had a thing for. Like, a stupid, big, all-consuming crush-thing for. It was beyond annoying, in fact, and most days it was the bane of my existence. Hearing him go on and on and on about this woman like there weren’t a million more women just like her in existence.
“I didn’t realize Sango listened to-”
“She doesn’t, but Kagome does.”
I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t the worst name in the world, I guess.
“Want to meet her?” Miroku asked, leaning over the table, an ambiguous glint in his eye. I hated that glint. He got it every time he was scheming, every time he thought he was putting two and two together. Most of the time he was right, but I still didn’t appreciate the smugness of it.
“No-” I tried, because, really, I didn’t. What was the fucking point of meeting her? I’d joined Miroku here multiple times and never run into her and it would probably be another several months before our paths crossed again. I’d miss her taste in music, sure, but meeting her just seemed a little too… I don’t know… formal?
“Come on, let me at least get you a coffee,” Miroku pressed.
I groaned in protest, but followed. Despite my clear lack of interest, he was going to make me meet her. Fucker never offered to buy my coffee, but suddenly when Ka-go-me is here now he’s all for it. Ridiculous. I should have seen the obvious trap he had laid, but… I did need coffee. He took advantage of me in my state of weakness.
“Kagome!” He called, leaning over the edge of the front counter, smiling while keeping an eye on the back door. It instantly irked me the way Miroku acted like he was best friends with these women. I mean, it was downright gross how he hit on Sango like it was his day-job. I couldn’t imagine how he would treat Ka-go-me.
“You’re gonna like her,” he whispered, violet gaze still intently watching for them. “Kagome is really great. She’s strong, smart, and…” he paused, for dramatic effect… I suppose, “she won’t judge you for that time you spent in Europe. She might even think it’s cool.”
I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms. “Why do I feel like this is some sort of set up?” I sneered, glaring down at him.
“Because… it kind of is,” he replied, having the absolute gall to smile at me while sharing that little tid bit. The fucker had brought me here under false pretenses. Rude as shit.
“Miroku-” I began, ready to rip him a new asshole when the back door flew open. One woman, I instantly recognized as Sango, the other woman, the one that Sango was pushing out of the back I did not recognize, but I immediately understood why Miroku liked her.
She wasn’t totally hideous.
“You’re an ass,” I hissed before turning and trying to walk away.
Never doubt Miroku’s conviction. When he’s set his mind on something, he sticks to it. Makes it his life’s mission. Evidently my meeting Kagome was his life mission that day, because he wrapped his hand so tightly around my wrist I lost circulation to my fingers then he yanked me back toward the counter and didn’t let up.
“We’re just getting you a fucking coffee,” he spat, that forced smile working over time to stay in place as he bit out each word in a hushed tone so as to not alert the women. Not that they were paying attention to us anyway, it looked like Kagome was just as hesitant as I was.
Sango, like Miroku, would not be deterred. She got the leverage she needed and shoved Kagome forward, practically body slamming the woman into the counter.
“Hey!” Sango exclaimed, trying and failing to act nonchalant as she kept her forearm pressed against her friend’s back to prevent her from escaping. She was just as insane as Miroku. They were a good fit for each other. Scary, but good.
“Hi,” Miroku answered gleefully, elbowing me in the side.
I growled. It’s kind of my thing.
“What he means is that he will take an Americano.” Miroku corrected, forcing a creepy smile that didn’t touch his eyes and made him look slightly manic.
I was about to correct Miroku, when Kagome moved. Her face, previously hidden by her dark bangs and several raven tendrils that had broken free from her hair tie, was illuminated as she tucked her hair behind her ear. To be clear, it wasn’t her totally average face that caused me to stammer, but the tiny tattoo painted on the back of her ear that stopped me. I would recognize that silly thing anywhere.
I’d seen it repeatedly on the band members and on other fans throughout the years. A small little triangle with a horizontal line through the middle. Once upon a time I had almost gotten one myself.
“You’re gonna like her… she won’t judge you for that time you spent in Europe. She might even think it’s cool.”
Now I understood the joke. This Ka-go-me wouldn’t judge me, in theory, because she loved the band too. Clearly enough to permanently embed a symbol of it into her skin.
Miroku cleared his throat, attempting to pull me back. I was just staring at that spot behind her ear that was now covered by her hair, all three of them looking at me like I was the problem and not Sango’s overly aggressive tactics to force her friend to interact with me.
“Inuyasha,” he hissed, elbowing me again.
“I’ll get that Americano,” Sango mumbled, releasing her hold on Kagome who was no longer fighting the inevitable force of Sango and Miroku getting their goddamn way.
Kagome, to her credit, immediately straightened herself out and flashed what I was sure was a genuinely fake smile that she had perfected eons ago after dealing with inane customers - like Miroku for example - day in and day out. “Hi,” she stated, clearly and with not a hint of malice.
I expected malice. I did. I’ll be honest about that. People aren’t usually big fans of me. Maybe it’s the permanent scowl or the look of disinterest I spent years working on, or maybe it has something to do with my abrasive personality, maybe it’s all of the above! Regardless, I’ve never been in the running for Mr. Popular. It was one of the things that had made my prior relationship hard to end. Kikyo had maybe loved me, but she was probably the only person that would ever date me. I’d stuck it out longer than I should have because of that fact and well… here we are. Me, a highly-skeptical and bitter fool, awkwardly standing before an unfailingly generic woman while my best friend looked between us with unfettered and misplaced glee.
Point being, I expected this Ka-go-me to look at me with contempt or to treat me with something similar. She didn’t. That was another strange thing about her. That and her totally normal and not at all special brown eyes that were so brilliant and rich in color I felt like I was drowning in warm delicious chocolate. Her mundane smile made my heart flutter in agony.
I hated her immediately. She reminded me way too much of my ex. Kikyo had been good at hiding her prejudice too until it was impossible to fake. I just needed to wait Ka-go-me out. She’d sneer at me eventually. They all did.
“H-hi,” I fumbled, blinking quickly and ignoring the pained expression Miroku wore next to me.
“So, you’re, uh, you’re Inuyasha?” She asked me, chocolate gaze dragging over me. I waited and watched. Surely she would frown at me or something in her face would twitch because no one could hold a fake smile that perfectly for that long. I would know. I’d watched it a million times. Except… her face didn’t twitch or frown… the corners of her mouth curved upward into a truer smile.
What fresh hell was this?!
“Here’s your drink, sir,” Sango teased, placing the steaming hot beverage down loudly in front of me. She was smirking like an idiot. I hated her too. She was in on the joke. The joke being… me. Clearly. “Miroku, can I, uh, can we talk over there?” Sango asked.
The man hopped out of his seat and practically ran back over to his table leaving me with Ka-go-me.
“Yes,” I answered more sternly than I intended.
“My name is Inuyasha,” I replied, ignoring the stupid fucking drink that I didn’t like that sat neatly between Ka-go-me and I.
Kagome looked between me and the coffee next to me then back up, her smiling curving down in a way I really didn’t like at all. She shouldn’t frown. “You don’t like those do you?”
“Is it that obvious?” I asked flatly.
She nodded lightly, a hand coming up and scratching the side of her head.
“When did you get the tattoo?”
I wasn’t even fucking sure why I had asked about it. It just… came out. Clearly, my subconscious was a masochist determined to be tormented by totally ordinary women with dark hair and big bug eyes. Though, Kikyo’s had been darker… colder. Ka-go-me’s were… like a vat of chocolate or caramel, something brown and overly sugary that would eat away at you if you let it.
“Oh, the one behind my ear?” She laughed nervously. “I got it right before they got the world record-”
“You went to New York for that?” I asked, surprised and jealous. Really jealous actually.
“Ye-yeah,” she mumbled, a pink tinge coloring her ivory cheeks. “Miroku said you were a fan.”
“Spent a lot of 2011 following them around for that tour.” I admitted.
“Did you really?” She asked, a broad smile accompanying her wide eyes. “That’s so cool! Did you go to the 300th show?”
“Nah, I had run out of money by then,” I answered, trying in vain to stop myself from grinning.
“Hmm,” she murmured, biting on her bottom lip in a sickeningly cute way. “Can I get you a coffee you will actually enjoy?”
“Just black is fine.”
I turned back to glare over at Miroku only to see the fucker and his doppelgänger both clapping in excitement. I would strangle them both. Really. I was planning it.
“Here,” Kagome stated, forcing me to turn around. “I hope this is more to your liking.”
I looked forward at her, surprised by her sudden intense blush and the aversion of her eyes. A moment ago she had been practically staring into my soul, but now she was fidgeting with her fingers and almost pretending I wasn’t there. I picked up the coffee she had prepared, already planning my escape when I realized why she was blushing.
She wrote her number on my fucking cup.
I put the cup down immediately, sighing loudly before pulling out my phone. I could see her nibbling on her lip and watching me, eyes a little wider than they should have been from a fear that was misplaced. I wouldn’t hurt her. Ever. I typed in her number and sent her a text. I was half-expecting it to be a fake number until I heard a phone ding and watched her pull hers out of her pocket and sheepishly smile at the message.
“Thanks for the coffee,” I muttered, grabbing my cup and walking over to Sango and Miroku. Sango quickly scattered, clearly knowing what was good for her. “This isn’t over,” I spat, glaring at him.
“Oh, I certainly hope not,” he grinned back, entirely unimpressed with my attempt to invoke the fear of God into him.
* * * * *
It didn’t end there. Not by a long shot.
That evening she called me and asked me out. I knew she was crazy when she called to do that. Who the fuck calls anyone anymore?! Regardless, after giving her shit for calling me, Ka-go-me asked me out.
Thank fucking God that Miroku was not there to witness that total meltdown of my brain. I would have never heard the end of it.
“So it’s a date then?” She pressed, refusing to take my stunned silence as a no.
“Yes,” I eventually replied.
“Great, let’s meet at the coffee shop tomorrow night.”
“But… I don’t want coffee…” I didn’t. Who the hell wants coffee after meeting at a coffee shop?
“Trust me,” she purred through the phone. “See you at… 7pm?”
“Yeah, see you then.”
* * * * *
I was there ten minutes early and already livid. Please, someone, tell me why the only free parking space was next to this dingbat that could not fucking park?! It was insane! It was like the goddamn lines didn’t fucking matter!
I grumbled expletives as I shimmied, yes… I had to shimmy… out of my car and along the side of this goddamn sedan to get out… Again. I was contemplating keying this fucker’s car when I heard the lights beep and saw them turn on. I swiveled around on my heels quickly, determined to explain to this human equivalent of garbage how driving works, but stopped and gaped at a very familiar woman, swinging keys in her hand and grinning like she wasn’t the epitome of everything that was wrong with humanity.
Fucking Ka-go-me was giggling and watching me shimmy out of my car so that I could meet her.
“Having trouble?” She asked as if it wasn’t entirely her fault I was in this mess.
“What makes you say that?!” I asked, voice dripping with sarcasm. “You do know how to fucking park, right?”
She nodded, still smiling up at me with a tenderness I hadn’t seen in years. It was odd and sent my mind reeling. I was being mean, on purpose, and she didn’t care. She even seemed to take delight in having gotten me worked up. “Miroku said it had ticked you off yesterday, I thought he was exaggerating.”
Ah, so it was just to get a rise out of me. Ha. Ha.
“Is this really how you want to start the fucking date?” I sneered, shoving my hands into my pockets and not glaring per se, but narrowing my eyes and skeptically waiting for her answer.
Kagome shrugged, completely unbothered. “Come on,” she replied, turning and walking back the way she came, gesturing for me to follow her.
“I really don’t want coffee,” I stated, though I still followed her.
“Good, because we’re not having coffee,” she smirked over her shoulder, that delightful wavy midnight hair freed from the constraints it had yesterday and swinging delicately over her shoulders and back as she moved. It was almost hypnotic.
I looked around, brows knit together trying to understand what the hell we were doing if we weren’t getting coffee. I still followed her… right passed the coffee shop and down several streets. It was strange seeing the city this late on a Sunday. Normally it was quieter because most people were at home getting ready for Monday. Not this Sunday though. Sounds were bouncing off every towering building creating a cacophony I didn’t understand.
But as we rounded a corner and another huge building, I could hear it all more clearly. The screams and the shouts. The laughs and the sound of metal scraping along metal. I slowed, looking around and trying to figure out where all the goddamn noise was coming from. Kagome noticed. She paused for a brief moment, taking me in with that warm, rich gaze then she reached out. I felt her fingers curl around mine and she tugged gently before turning. Kagome led me through the streets until I finally saw it, the source of all the noise and the source of all that fucking traffic from the day before; a carnival.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered dryly.
“Oh come on! It will be fun, I promise!” Kagome gushed, gripping my hand more tightly, as if I would ever let go.
That was a thought that smacked me in the face. I’d known her for all of five minutes and yet the idea of letting go of her sweaty, clammy little ass hand caused me genuine pain. She was still staring at me, those bright eyes pleading with me to give her a shot. I nodded dumbly, wincing only a little when she squealed in excitement and pulled me through the final street that separated us from the carnival.
The rancorous war between the scents of fried food and sugar absolutely coated the air that hung around the event space. All the voices of the various patrons sounded like they were right in my ear as we walked up to get our wristbands. Fabric tents and wooden booths decorated the space, providing cover for games, food, and little shops. Small-transportable rides like a kiddy roller coaster and a bumper car arena complete with a ferris wheel as the coup de gras filled up the far end. All of which seemed abhorrent to me, but when I looked over at Kagome, you would have thought she was seeing color for the first time the way her eyes absolutely lit up with wonder.
It was sickening.
And… I… I kind of liked it?
“What should we do first?!” Kagome exclaimed, vibrating with an inane sense of joy that was oddly infectious and debilitating at the same time.
“I don’t know, whatever is least annoying?” I commented, pulling my gaze off her, with considerable effort, and looking around.
She cocked an eyebrow, sizing me up for a moment. “I know what we’re going to do first.”
“Oh, do you?” I teased, looking back at her and having to remember how to breathe. That totally average face with the eyes of melted chocolate looked nothing short of radiant in the fading light of the day. Her ivory skin practically sparkled and her lips looked like fucking candy. And that smile… I wanted to bask in it for the rest of my days.
I was going to absolutely murder Miroku for introducing me to this… this… temptress of fun laughs and good times who would surely murder me with a pillow one of these days if not this evening after spending more than five minutes in my surly presence.
“Mmhmm,” she murmured, grabbing my hand again and dragging me through the space. I would have been upset but I had begun to feel starved by our lack of touch when we’d separated to get wristbands. Now that the pads of our fingers were together again, I felt such a renewed sense of ease wash over me that almost made me sick.
I hadn’t felt like this about a person ever. Let alone a person I just fucking met.
She drugged me, didn’t she? That had to be it… the bitch drugged me.
“Tada!” Kagome exclaimed, pulling me into a rather large tent with a very strange carousel.
“What?” I asked, looking around and walking up to the edge staring at the odd shaped horses and tacky lights. “How the fuck do you sit on those?”
Her ridiculous school-girl giggle was like the lost melody to my soul. I turned to see her laughing and shaking her head while pointing to the red booth on the side of the tent. “It’s a bar,” she explained. “The back of the horses are tables. You stand, sip a cocktail, mellow out, and just have fun.”
“What’s fun about drinking and spinning?” I pressed, “isn’t the point to avoid making the room spin?”
“Just try it with me!” She begged, a delicate hand landing on my forearm, while her other hand still remained tangled with mine.
I swallowed down the reflex to argue with her, falling deeply into the spell of those eyes as they force fed warmth into my cold dead heart. “Fine,” I begrudgingly acquiesced, letting her lead me over to the bar.
We got our drinks, waited for the ride to pause, then found a horse she said was the most “pretty” girl in the room. Kagome was insane. I knew that now. Certifiably insane to think that any of these horses were pretty, especially with her standing next to them. They all looked about as delightful as roadkill when Kagome was in the space taking up all the air with her laughs and giggles and smiles that left me clawing for something akin to sanity. It was madness, all of it. The only thing that kept me grounded was the familiar and bitter taste of my whiskey.
That taste and smell and warmth I knew well. The burn of the liquor as it slid down my throat was the only thing I had reminding me that this was real. That Kagome was real. The way she looked at me with such unabashed intrigue and a kind curiosity was so foreign I wasn’t sure if it was the drugs she gave me (because obviously she had to have drugged me this was just not possible otherwise) or a dream all together.
Maybe it was the fucking spinning of the carousel or just the impact of her presence, but nothing about this felt… stable. I wasn’t on sure footing anymore. I didn’t know where I stood, where I would stand, and what any of that meant. I had felt things before, something like this but… not… It wasn’t as all consuming or immediate. It had felt like a slow crawl toward a weak embrace whereas this felt like stepping straight into a wildfire. It tore through me and left me gasping.
Not even one drink in and I was stumbling around on the goddamn carousel that “pretty” horse mocking my entire existence as it remained perfectly upright while I faltered.
“You okay?” She asked, her voice far too comforting and far too alluring to provide any real assistance to my scrambling mind.
The room was spinning, as I guess was the goal, and I was already feeling lightheaded. Looking at her made it all the worse. Her raven hair fluttered around her from the movement of the carousal and fuck, she looked heaven sent in that totally banal yet awe-inspiring green sundress of hers. Her arm was around me, her hand pressed against the small of my back to keep me steady because I was both literally and metaphorically off balance in front of her.
She was short and her arms were the equivalent of noodles, but I had never felt so secure. That was terrifying.
“Fine, I’m fine,” I bit out, cringing at the harshness of my tone. I was embarrassed and unable to process everything around me. Still, Ka-go-me smiled and she didn’t let go.
“Right,” she answered sarcastically, rolling her eyes. “You know… the bars are here to help provide balance…” She pointed at the bar that held the damn horse in place and laughed.
I grabbed it with my free hand, taking a sip of whiskey while glaring at her. I waited for her to swat me the way Kikyo used to when I was ornery or even to let go now that I had somewhat regained my composure. Kagome did neither. Her hand stayed right there, as if letting me know that if I fell her and her totally mediocre noodles would catch my dense ass before anything bad actually happened.
It was a promise I knew no person could ever keep. Bad things happened, but she seemed determined to weather them with me.
“So,” Kagome began, biting her bottom lip for a split second, drawing my attention back to those plush lips that would haunt me for days to come. “Tell me about yourself.”
“Oh, is this an interview now?” It was meant as a joke, but normally people don’t find me funny. All they hear is the dry tone and all they see are the narrow glances I give them while waiting for a response. Like I said, I’ve never been Mr. Popular and frankly, I’ve never really been that social either. Why do you think Miroku is my only friend?
She didn’t seem to give a shit though. I watched a single brow rise in challenge before she spoke again. “Are you formally applying for the position of boyfriend? Because… I don’t think I have your resume on file…”
I blinked at her, not because I found her response particularly funny or witty, but because I realized with abject horror that the idea of being her boyfriend didn’t completely and utterly repulse me. I swallowed down the bile rising in my throat and decided to answer her initial question, or… try to. “I, uh, I live in the city. I have a half-brother who I would prefer not to be related to in any way. I like the color red. Um…”
“This is riveting stuff. Really,” Kagome teased, smiling up at me after taking a sip of some fruity hell that would definitely give her a headache if she drank too many of them.
“Okay then,” I scoffed, “what’s so interesting about you?”
“I come from a long line of priestesses!” She exclaimed. “I’ve been to nine different countries. When I was little I was in a baby commercial!”
“Are any of those supposed to impress me? Because you sound like every other barista in the city,” I joked, watching her feign offense and shake her head.
“Hmm,” Kagome murmured, “I guess… what makes me different?”
“Yeah, other than your really strange taste in men.”
“What’s wrong with my taste?!”
“Well for one… you asked me out… How often did your parents drop you on your head?”
“Only a few times,” she giggled.
“Are you secretly an ax murderer? Are you going to try to purify me with some old family ritual?” I joked. My eyes weren’t narrow anymore, I had them opened to a normal amount. Why mention this? Because it was so rare that I didn’t look at someone with total and absolute skepticism for the entire time they had the misfortune of interacting with me. But… I wanted to see her. To really take in this obnoxiously bubbly and overly kind woman who for some reason that I would never fully comprehend had asked me out.
“I would never kill you with an ax!” She exclaimed, “too messy and I’m not nearly strong enough to chop you up.”
“That’s comforting…” I remarked, only a little concerned for my safety.
Her head fell back in a fit of giggles, her cheeks tinged pink as the liquor in her drink worked its way through her system. She gripped me tighter as she leaned back. I wanted to reach out for her, the same way she had reached for me… but I paused. I missed the moment and before I could summon the courage to act, the carousel came to a stop.
“See!” Kagome beamed, “that was fun right?”
“Yeah if you like vertigo,” I sneered, blinking quickly as my ears, eyes, and mind adjusted to the abrupt stillness of the space around me.
Kagome removed her hand from my back and I was on the verge of whimpering in protest before I felt her fingers interlace with mine, guiding me away and on to the next activity. I had no idea where she was taking me, even as she was telling me what we should do next because I was too enraptured.
I never liked holding hands before. Hands were sweaty and covered in germs and some people held on too tightly. It also gets weird with height differences… Plus, a lot of women have really cold hands, like ice cold. Kikyo had icy hands that always sent a chill up my spine when she reached out for me. Point being, hand holding isn’t simple and it’s not always pretty, but Kagome’s silly little hand fit perfectly in mine, neither of us straining to feel comfortable as we walked. I’d let her lead me to hell with those hands.
A gold hue illuminated the carnival as she weaved us through people and activities toward the back. I didn’t mean to… but I gripped her hand tighter. The carnival had hundreds of people mulling around and I didn’t want to lose her for even a second. She squeezed back, briefly turning to throw a smile over her shoulder. It was quick, it was light, but it was more than enough to have my chest explode into a hundred warm tingles that made it harder to breathe. At this rate she wouldn’t need to smother me with a pillow, all Kagome would have to do is smile at me long enough and my body would seize and do the rest for her.
When she finally stopped I ran into her.
“Excited?” She asked, as if I didn’t almost just knock her onto her ass because I was too busy trying to quell the rapid race of my heart.
“For?” I questioned, completely ignoring my surroundings as I drank in her smile and scent.
Kagome, tilted her head to the side, blinking back at me in confusion as she pointed to the fucking activity literally right next to us. I turned, the cogs in my mind taking entirely too long to process the words and the scene.
“Oh, no…” I whispered, exhaling loudly. “Really?”
“Of course!” She squealed, wriggling in anticipation. “We have to!”
“Can’t we just go drink on the horse again?” I whined, watching various other patrons purposefully crash into each other and laugh at the whiplash. It was a downright sadistic game.
“Inuyasha, just trust me!”
I sputtered and she took that as acquiescence pulling me into the line for the next round of bumper cars. Meanwhile, I was in the middle of an entirely new crisis. I’d heard her say my name before, but not like that. Not with such confidence or sentiment. It was the same way you would speak to someone you’d known for years, someone that you enjoyed.
Only one person had ever dared to utter my name with such emotion embedded into each ridiculous syllable; my mother.
Kagome clapped in excitement as we were ushered into the arena. I stared at the tiny car with contempt. The shitty little fucker that was too small for my adult legs needed to know I hated it.
“Gosh, what did that car ever do to you?” She teased, sliding into one roughly ten feet away.
I sighed heavily and just… got in. A feeble buzz of electricity washed through the arena, bringing the cars to life. I closed my eyes tightly and shook my head. I really needed to put my foot down, both to get the car going and with Kagome. I was letting her drag me into these situations…
Begrudgingly accepting my fate for the time being, I placed my foot on the gas pedal. I drove around the ridiculous little track avoiding the children, and by that I am including the adults cackling like the lunatics they were that launched themselves at other cars haphazardly.
While learning to appreciate my peaceful stroll amidst the stench of burnt rubber and rusted metal, a particular heathen came up to my side, her overbearing smile and devious glint reminding me a little too much of Sango. I pressed harder on the gas to get away from her. It was and will forever be the only time I ran from Kagome. But… she was resolute in her desire to send me and my dumbass car careening into a barely padded wall.
I knew I just had to wait her out. Just keep swimming as they say.
That’s when the universe intervened and one of those children I had mentioned earlier blocked my path. Suddenly I was stuck, with a maniac behind me who had already proved that she was a terrible driver given that she couldn’t fucking park a sedan. Sure enough, Kagome slammed into the side of my car, forcing the shitty little thing to spin around aimlessly as she cackled like a goddamn witch clearly reveling in her victory.
I glared at her as she passed. That’s how she wanted to play? Fine. I could play.
I dug myself out of the fucking dog pile of cars that had formed and raced after her. I could see her turning around and keeping an eye out for me. She knew I was coming, which was fine, it’s not like those shitty vehicles could sneak up on anyone even if they were deaf. Still, I could taste my revenge. It was sweet, it was savory, it was… Not meant to be.
Just as I rounded the corner, within striking distance, practically salivating, a cackle of my own hiding in my throat, the electricity cut.
My silly little car floated along the surface for a good two seconds before gently tapping her car. Kagome doubled over in laughter, taking endless joy in my immediate and pronounced deflation.
“Oh my god,” she could barely breathe, her face turning red, still slumped over her steering wheel. “Ugh! That was priceless! You should have seen your face!”
“I hate this,” I commented weakly, rolling my eyes.
“Come on,” she muttered, wiping a stray tear from her eye while climbing out of the car. “I’ll treat you to something that will make you feel better.”
“Nah, but it’ll definitely fatten you up a bit,” she grinned.
“And here I thought you just cackled like a witch, but you must be straight out of Hansel and Gretel.” I sneered, letting her take my hand in hers again as we left the track.
She turned to me and paused just outside the exit, her warm eyes sweeping over me with a new vigor and heat that stopped me in my tracks. “Oh don’t worry, when I take you home… you won’t be asking me to stop…”
Not “if” but when. That’s what she had said. She was already thinking ahead to the next thing. I hadn’t been able to think about anything except the sweet sin in front of me the entire date but Kagome was, evidently, already planning round two or three or however many until she would… eat me? Whatever she was planning I wasn’t going to object, not with the way the mere look in her eyes had every nerve in my body swimming in jubilation. But… that was for later… apparently.
“Hungry?” She chirped in her normal sing-song voice.
In a sense, yes, I was fucking starving, but I doubted she was referring to that hunger anymore. Regardless, Kagome didn’t wait for my answer; she marched forward toward the food stands.
“I have a brother too,” she stated, walking next to me along the line of food choices. “Not a half-brother, full brother. He’s younger and I love him.” I listened, not entirely sure what, if anything, I could or should contribute. “I really like chocolate cake and music, obviously.
“But here’s the thing,” she continued, pausing in her step to look at me, “I am stubborn, I am headstrong, I am empathetic to a sometimes debilitating degree, and I wear my heart on my sleeve.”
“Just… wanted to get that out there.”
“You’re not very open,” she stated. I knew she purposefully hadn’t framed it as a question. And I knew that she’d push back if I attempted to refute it.
Normally I would. Even if it was true, I didn’t like having people peer into my heart or even try to. Kikyo had tried under the guise that it would bring us closer and help us understand each other better; it would save our relationship. She’d guessed wrong many times. She’d offered up solutions that were often less palatable than the problems. During my worst days I had even thought some of her solutions were good ideas.
Kagome didn’t seem to be guessing though. It made me wonder if maybe… maybe I wore my heart on my sleeve too but that I was too willing to bite first to notice.
“I like you,” she stated, clearly and firmly, making sure to speak in a manner that was unwavering so that it wouldn’t be misunderstood or missed by the noise around us.
“You don’t know me,” I replied.
She narrowed her eyes at me and smiled. “You’re honest to a fault, you’re temperamental, and deceptively shy.”
I frowned at her.
“You wanna know what I like the most about you though?”
I rolled my eyes. I did… but that wasn’t the point. “What is that?” I asked dryly, already feeling that traitorous blush skim across my cheeks. I waited, avoiding her gaze, letting the silence settle between us before looking down at her. Her breathtaking gaze was already looking up at me through long, thick lashes that looked soft and sultry, her bottom lip caught between her teeth as she smiled with the same courage that I had always expected to see from Kikyo.
“Fun?!” I exclaimed. Bitch really was crazy. I’d been called a number of things over the years but fun was never one of them. Irritating - yes, exhausting - occasionally, dense - all the time, but fun?
She nodded, squeezed my hand, then dragged my stunned ass to the fried dough stand where she quickly procured two massive fluffy treats that were drenched in powdered sugar.
Kagome dug into it like I imagine a starved child might, with ravenous desire and an almost animalistic nature to it. I just stood there, watching, a little impressed, as she demolished the fried dough piece that had been larger than her face. I hadn’t even touched mine and hers was gone.
“Oh, what now? You don’t like dough either?!” She exclaimed, pointing at the uneaten dough in my clutches.
“You have fucking sugar all over your face…”
“Wanna lick it off?” Kagome giggled, before grabbing a napkin and cleaning herself up. I handed her my fried dough. “Awe, you really don’t like them?”
“No, you just look like you want it more,” I teased. “I mean, did you even breathe when you ate that other one?”
She tore a big chunk into the one I’d given her, smiling as she chewed and shrugging off my jest. “What about a chili dog?”
“What about them?”
“What is with you and having dessert as a meal?” I asked, noticing that the dough I had just given her was already half gone.
“Hmm,” she murmured, taking another bite and looking around at the different booths. “Pizza?”
“What? Where?” I questioned, looking around and straining to see down the different rows of booths. I could not for the life of me figure out where she had spotted my favorite food. That… that I would consume with the same gusto she managed for that sickeningly sweet and fried garbage she was shoving in her mouth.
“Over there,” Kagome pointed, moving toward what was in fact a little soup stand. She was walking over before I was, still taking overly large bites of what was left of the dough, getting sugar all over herself, but gaze set on the noodle place.
She was a woman after my own heart the way she powered through the people and forced her way into line. Kagome made quick work of getting me a styrofoam cup full of it. I tried, I really did, to remain calm and composed while eating the ramen… I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I had that cup of heaven in my hands.
I had, after all, thought that this would be a normal date with normal food and shit. I should have known that that wasn’t in the cards for me. Normal wasn’t really my thing. Clearly, because I was on a date with a nut case.
Kagome leaned against the fence nearest the ramen stand, watching as I super gracefully dumped the entire contents of the cup straight back into my stomach, trying to cover her laughter with a palm over her mouth.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, slurping up the last of the noodles.
“Just… wasn’t aware of your… passion for noodles.” She teased, her chest shaking with constrained laughter.
“You still have sugar all over you and you’re really giving me shit about how I eat?”
Kagome looked down and laughed even harder. “We’re quite the pair, I guess.”
“I guess,” I murmured in response, cheeks hotter than I would have preferred. I liked that idea, of us as a pair, as something that meant something more than just two people filling up time on a date.
Her pink nails danced along her chin, chocolate eyes still looking me over. I looked back, noticing the way her smile broadened and her eyes sparkled just a little brighter as I did so. It sent my heart reeling through my chest, leaving every cell aflame with a heat and affection that I couldn’t yet comprehend. I wanted that feeling to follow me around until I ceased to exist, because in my short life there had been nothing quite as exquisite.
“I think we should play a game.”
“A game?” I repeated, having forgotten where I was and wondering what game she had in mind. Truth or Dare? Never Have I Ever? Spin the bottle with only two people?
“Yes,” she purred, leaning closer to me, batting those dangerous lashes in my direction before tilting her head away from me and toward the fucking ring toss booth. What a goddamn tease.
“You wanna play that?” I asked incredulously. “You know that shit is rigged right?”
“Yeah, but it’s still fun to play.” She countered, sliding her hand along mine, the pads of her fingers tapping playfully along my wrist then down my palm, until she wove her fingers with mine again. “Let’s give it a go… who knows? Maybe we’ll win something.”
“A snow ball has a better chance in hell,” I responded.
“We could always do the dunk tank?” Kagome murmured, speaking slowly and raking her eyes over me as if she would absolutely love to see a drenched dog.
“Hard pass on that one,” I scoffed. “Lead the way to the ring toss.” I bemoaned, though I certainly wasn’t as upset I had tried to make it sound like. Her smile and wonder were, well… At this point I was sure that whatever drug I was on I was pathetically and hopelessly addicted to because I couldn’t refuse her if I wanted to. The only thing I wanted in the whole fucking world was to see that smile. I wanted it glued to the back of my eyelids so that it could haunt me at all times.
And, as we approached the ring toss booth with the bored looking teen attending it, I knew what I had to do. I had to win her a goddamn teddy bear. It wasn’t even a choice. It was do or die time. I needed to prove that… I liked her too. Because as we walked over to the booth I realized with abrupt and limitless horror that earlier I had not actually told her that I liked her back.
I looked at the bored teen sternly as he demonstrated in a monotonous tone how to play the game. I also noticed that his ring was made of rubber. Why did that matter you may be wondering? Because the fucking plastic rings that they normally give you are designed to bounce off… so that even if you get close to the bottleneck the ring won’t just sit on it or gently loop over the lip of the bottle, but will ricochet off of it. I wasn’t here to play this kids game.
I stared at him hard as he put the rubber ring in a space off to the side, away from the bin with the other rings. Kagome, innocent Ka-go-me, took her rings and threw them haphazardly, each ring bouncing around like a bullet in a steel room. She was having the time of her life making a mess. While the kid was distracted watching her with eyes that were a little too appreciative for my liking, I tossed my rings on top of and around the rubber ring, knocking all of them to the floor.
“Hey,” I muttered, keeping my face as expressionless as possible - channeling my inner Sesshomaru if you will. “I’m a bad shot and threw my rings over there…”
“Okay,” he didn’t so much as look at me. Perfect.
“I’m just going to grab them….” I murmured quietly, resisting the overwhelming urge to growl as I watched this fucker overtly stare at Kagome’s chest.
“Yeah that’s fine.” He mumbled not so much as blinking. I wanted to punch his lights out, but I had bigger fish to fry and maybe five seconds before he realized he should have probably charged me for another game instead of letting me go to his side of the booth and grab more fucking rings.
I grabbed the rings, including the rubber one, and a few extra because he wasn’t fucking paying attention. I slid a few more to Kagome who cheered instantly, then I tossed a few of the plastic ones for practice. Then… then I threw the rubber one and watched it caress the side of the bottle for the briefest of moments before it snuggly fit over the lip and landed securely around the neck.
“Oh my god!” Kagome squealed, “you won!” She nudged me, leaning over briefly. “Guess hell really did freeze over.”
Now the teen was paying attention. He looked beyond stunned, staring at that ring that was nestled so nicely against that bottle. “Uh,” he muttered in disbelief.
“What are you going to get?” Kagome asked, her big eyes looking over the bears longingly, a hand oh so innocently placed on my bicep as if I would ever be so selfish as to forget that I was there on a date with her and it was expected that if I won anything it would be for her. Which… was the entire purpose of cheating… to get her that goddamn bear. But I digress.
“Hmm, well let’s see… my options are… bear… bear… or bear…” I teased, leaning down and smirking at her as she turned to face me.
“Yeah but… they are different colors…”
“Which color do you like best?”
“Oh… I couldn’t possibly…” she replied, feigning disinterest in the bears she clearly had heart eyes for, her gaze falling on a brown one that looked like it was roughly as soft as a chinchilla.
“Oi,” I snapped at the teen who was still looking like he couldn’t believe his eyes. “Can I get that bear at the end.”
“The bear…” I growled, “grab it and give it to her.”
“Me?!” She expressed, a hand hovering over her chest in fake shock.
“Oh for the love of…” I mumbled, looking up at the darkening sky.
The teen handed Kagome the bear, which she promptly squeezed and shoved her entire face into.
“Okay, we should go… now…” I murmured into her ear quietly, placing my hands on her back and ushering her away from the ring toss. The teen was undoubtedly seconds away from realizing how I’d won the bear and I was not about to give it back after Kagome smashed her stunning and radiant face into it.
“Wha-” she began, her feet moving quickly as I guided her away from the booth. As we rounded the corner and out of sight I heard the teen grumble expletives under his breath. Guess he figured it out…
“What was that all about?” Kagome asked, turning toward me as I stopped pushing her, her face barely an inch from mine. I watched her gaze drop from my eyes, briefly sweeping across my lips before returning, her pupils incrementally larger than before. Apparently the bear wasn’t the only thing she wanted.
“I cheated,” I admitted.
“What?” She pulled away, surprised by my admission. “How?”
“I stole the rubber ring so that it would go on the bottle instead of against it.”
Kagome looked down briefly at her bear, lips pursed in contemplation. I saw her grip around it tighten and I immediately laughed.
“What?” She pressed, only a little irate that it seemed as if I was laughing at her.
“We’re not giving the fucking bear back, don’t worry. We just… can’t walk by that booth again.” I snorted, laughing and basking in the relief that washed over her when I told her she’d get to keep the silly thing.
“Did you do that… so that I couldn’t make you play more games with me?” She asked.
“I hadn’t even thought of that…” I replied, grinning and nodding at my incidental two-for-one victory.
“Pfft,” she scoffed, looking around at the rest of the carnival. The gold hue that had decorated the space for the last hour or two was beginning to deepen, slowly bleeding into a vibrant orange and red as the sun began the final length of its descent below the horizon.
“Hey,” Kagome murmured, wrapping her fingers around mine again. I immediately knew she had selected another destination for us to attend. I didn’t even wait for her to continue or to ask, I closed my fingers around hers and followed as soon as she stepped forward, the bear cradled against her. “There’s one other thing I really want to do tonight.”
*Artwork by KarinaInuPhantom*
She was already moving as she uttered those words, and I was already following.
“Okay,” I replied, no interest in questioning her. I just… wanted to be near her. To experience the world with her. For fuck’s sake she had made me enjoy bumper cars! I couldn’t even begin to fathom how enjoyable things I liked would feel with her.
We moved through the crowd, passed the food stands and the bumper cars, coming face to face with the coup de gras itself; the ferris wheel at the back of the park. I had to hand it to her, the sunset from that thing would look nothing if not spectacular.
Kagome paused at the entrance to the ferris wheel, her lips curled upwards but her gaze questioning as she perceived me.
“What?” I asked sharply, wondering why on Earth was she looking at me like that.
“You’re not fighting me…”
“Do you want me to?”
“Honestly? Yeah, kind of,” she laughed. “You have literally resisted everything I picked out today.”
I nodded. She was right. Might as well put on one more show for her. “Oh… no… please not the ferris wheel, anything but the ferris wheel!” I exclaimed flatly.
“Never quit your job for acting,” she teased, giggling into the bear.
“Noted,” I mumbled, looking down just as she tucked a piece of hair behind that ear with the tattoo. I think she must have noticed, because while we waited in line, she leveled those amorous chocolate eyes at me, locking with mine. I’d had a hard time pulling my gaze away from her earlier and in that moment it was impossible. I could only imagine that we looked like the biggest fucking saps in that line, both just staring at the other, neither wanting to let go of that moment where the most comfortable silence seemed to bring us closer, where all the sounds of the world ceased to exist and we were just… there. Together.
Her cheeks burned and I felt that same outbreak of heat skim through my chest, except it didn’t stop there. The sensation of warmth and true contentment tingled even at the tips of my fingers. Nothing about Kagome was mundane or common, not to me, not anymore. She was a light far more radiant than the sun and infinitely warmer.
But I still needed to tell her that…
She looked away when the person behind us tapped on her shoulder. Her face flushing crimson before she apologized and yanked me forward.
Evidently we’d held up the line.
I heard her swallow thickly and take in a sharp breath. She looked like I had earlier on the carousel, off balance and searching for an anchor. So I gave her one. I released her hand and I placed mine on the small of her back, practically wrapping my arm around her. I felt the tension she had gathered melt away right before she leaned into me.
We only stood like that for a brief moment before it was our turn to step into the now empty car on the ferris wheel. We awkwardly parted, neither really that thrilled to let go. Kagome slid into the car first, picking the side that would have the best view of the sunset. I moved to sit on the opposite end, as I had always done in the past, when she pouted.
She was a full grown adult and she was pouting at me…
I opened my mouth to respond, but she grabbed my wrist and reeled me in. I crashed next to her on the bench and rolled my eyes, but there was no malice or venom or even sarcasm in it. It was playful and we both knew it. She knew I just needed the invitation to quell my nerves. I hated to admit it… but maybe she did know me.
The ferris wheel jolted before it began to slowly crank. Pausing as each car reached the top to give every patron a good view. Slowly, we continued our ascendent. With every stop, Kagome moved an inch closer to me and my heart raced a little faster.
“Just so you know…” I began, looking anywhere but where I really wanted to look; at her. As I spoke it felt like I had peanut butter or something in my mouth. It was hard to get the words out and I had to speak slowly with plenty of enunciation or risk my nerves making it all come out in a jumble.
“Yes?” She purred when I paused, encouraging me to continue.
“I… I do like you,” I practically whispered, just proud to have said it. I was sure that my cheeks were a flaming red if the heat under my skin was any indication.
Expecting a response that never came because she was waiting for something.
I gulped down my embarrassment and slowly turned my head, unprepared for the ineffable look of pure adoration in her eyes and the rosy blush that stained her cheeks. I had stepped wholly and completely into the fire and I’d never enjoyed the burn in my chest or the lack of oxygen as much in my entire life.
Our car moved up again and the vibrant hues of the sunset made her look like a true fantasy come to life. I’m sure the sunset was something wondrous that night, but I’d never know because I was too busy beholding something far more intense in its brilliance and leaning in to the emotions she evoked from my tired, beaten heart giving new life to a surly and ill-tempered man.
I’d never known this feeling, but I wanted it all with her. All the mess be damned. Give me the baggage, give me the hell, because whatever came was worth it.
The best thing about her? She’d seen me. At the coffee shop and all evening. Kagome had seen me.
As scared as I was, which was fucking terrified, as I leaned in, I wasn’t scared of her. She wouldn’t hurt me. And she didn’t. She leaned forward as well, pressing her lips into mine.
She tasted far sweeter than the sugar that coated her lips and I immediately craved her more than even the finest ramen. Kagome was… wild and haunting in the best of ways. Her image would be in every pleasant memory I had from that day forward. Her scent would take over my mind and drown me in a euphoria I was just beginning to familiarize myself with. Her embrace would never leave me, a security blanket that would give me strength on even my worst days. I knew that this wasn’t the end, not even close to it. It was just the beginning and by the depth and richness in her eyes I knew that she felt it too.
I wanted to spend the rest of my days like that, living like life was a dream because with her… it was. And I would spend the rest of my days making her mine. To my immense relief and excitement, she didn’t seem to have any qualms about that either, as she draped her arms around me and brought me closer to her. She murmured something about the best first date ever, but I wasn’t really listening. I was too busy drinking her in.
It started in a coffee shop but it would never end because… love never really does.